What made you want to get into the world of health and fitness?
Here is something most people don’t know about me, because I’ve never publicly shared in great detail my personal story: Growing up I wasn’t an obese kid, but I was heavy enough to be poked, prodded and picked on to the extent that I was typically the last kid to be picked for team games, activities, etc. And, while I don’t recall any significant bullying, the experience left a mental and emotional “mark” nonetheless.
On the flipside, I entered into a seriously dysfunctional and detrimental year and a half relationship with bulimia during my sophomore year as a wrestler. Originally, I planned to attend college and utilize my football and art scholarships with the intention of pursuing a career in commercial art or graphic design. I changed my major after the first year, became fascinated by the various health sciences and began learning as much as I could about the human body.
It was during an internship with an amazing exercise physiologist and her husband (a strength trainer for the University of Florida) that really opened my eyes to the possibility of helping people improve their lives through fitness.
How do you help people stay motivated to work out?
During the initial consultation I really drill down past all the superficial “fluff” and get down to the real reason they want to achieve a certain fitness goal. Once I know someone’s personal “why,” I can help them stay focused by keeping it front and center.
How can people begin exercising if they have a busy schedule?
Everyone is busy! It doesn’t matter who you are, what your schedule is like, how many kids you have, what your job requires or even how much money you have. Everyone can do something, sometime, somewhere, with or without someone. Improving your health and fitness does not require any specialized equipment, athletic ability, or long hours to complete. I can teach anyone, anywhere, anytime how to fit fitness in, where you are, with what you have.
What tips can you offer to people who want to begin an exercise regimen?
I encourage people to find some type of physical activity they enjoy and start doing it, or do more of it. It can be something as simple as walking. The key is to enjoy (or at least like) what you’re doing, otherwise, why bother? If you don’t enjoy the activity, then chances are you won’t stick with it. I would rather have someone walk three to four days a week over the course of a year versus having them run like crazy for 90 days, get burned out (or injured) and give up all together!
If you weren’t in this line of work, what would you be doing?
Maybe teaching, coaching or playing guitar in a band. Does retiring to the beach to give suntan lessons count?
If someone could do one thing to begin their process toward healthier living, what would that first step be?
First, I remind people that getting from where you currently are to where you ultimately want to be is a process – similar to the one they implemented to achieve their current state. Nothing happens immediately, overnight or miraculously.
To begin, find one thing in each category (training, nutrition, cardio) and commit to improving that single component. For instance, commit to lifting weights two to three days a week for 30 minutes to begin, or commit to eating a salad for lunch Monday through Friday, or commit to taking your dog for a 30 minute walk each morning. The key is to begin with a bite-size piece of your fitness plan and be consistent.
Can you name a point in your career where you really felt you had helped people?
There are four specific examples that I can instantly recall feeling like I truly helped others.
• Teaching a stretch/strengthen class in an assisted living facility for seniors
• Volunteering as a strength coach for the Special Olympics
• Making up therapy “games” to help my son recover from his amputation
• Starting AmpuCamp.org, a non-profit for amputees and their families and caregivers
What is the best piece of advice you received?
“Find your strength and make it freaky!” Basically, I was reminded to focus on (and be thankful for) what I do have, versus complaining about what I don’t.
What inspires you?
I’m continually inspired by my wife and son, who expect great things from me as a husband and father and to lead by example. I’m also inspired by the various people I meet through our amputee non-profit (AmpuCamp.org), where I’m continually reminded and blessed by the “gift of perspective” through others’ physical challenges.