The Psychology Of Fitness

Mindsets, Body Types and Everything In Between
Fun Day Fridays ~ 5/6/11

Fun Day Fridays ~ 5/6/11

This post is about how I’m still in this industry.  You see, I started working at New York Sports Club when I was about to enter my last year in college.  During that time I was about to graduate with a degree in Exercise Science and Psychology.  Working at NYSC helped me earn my NASM certification, shortly after I started working as a personal trainer. 

My experience there was fun and interesting….

You see, I worked my clients hard and I got results from them.  The problem is, there was only about one other trainer there at the time who worked their clients hard.  The rest of the trainers were more their client’s workout buddies than trainers.  Whatever, to each their own. 

Despite the degree and certification, I still had A LOT to learn.   Over the course of the next 4 years I would obtain another certification or two and attend some industry events where they talk about the latest in fitness. 

In retrospect, I feel duped by all the bullshit that’s made to sell, but doesn’t work.  Over the past three years, I’ve been earning more certifications, but this time from smaller certification bodies.  They may be “smaller” but they’re ones I respect.  The knowledge I’ve gained makes me feel like I wasted so much time before that point. 

Despite all I’ve learned though, it all started with 2 major shifts in my thinking and hence knowledge-base:

1 – After randomly hearing about gluten on Friday late night news report about 6 years ago, I’ve been gluten free ever since.  This one discovery has helped give me my life back.  Over the past 6 years I’ve had so many questions about what gluten is, how “hard” it is to not eat it, etc.  Last week, an article by Mike Rousell, did more justice in explaining what gluten intolerance is, without the typical fanfare of saying, “EVERYONE must eat this way NOW or you will die!”  I do think most people would benefit from eating a lot less gluten, and The Truth about Gluten is a great place to start learning about it, if you’re not familiar with what it is yet. 

2 – The second thing was I found T-Nation.  T-Nation has a plethora of knowledge from some of the best experts in their respective strength, powerlifting, bodybuilding, fat-burning fields.  I was at work looking up exercises when I went to the links page.  The first link was Testosterone: Muscle with Attitude.  It happened to be a Friday and TC had his Atomic Dog article, Like Hell You Could

I was hooked instantly.  No longer did I feel like something was wrong with this whole industry, but couldn’t put my finger on it.  There it was – right in front of me. 

Whereas the first revelation put me on a road to understand nutrition infinitely better than I had, along with trying to identify more natural ways of healing commonly misdiagnosed conditions, it also ate up a lot of my time trying to learn from an almost infinite amount of sources on what’s the best way for health. 

The second revelation allowed me to like building muscle again.  It lent itself to what I liked doing – pushing heavy ass weight and being better off from it. 

Over the past 3 years, I’ve been putting together those two concepts – health and aesthetics.  Where do those two concepts merge, where do they overlap and how do you go about incorporating those things into a workable program?  How do you effect a person’s psychology to have them want to look better and be healthier? 

During that time I’ve also learned how to pretty much take someone right out of rehab, from almost any condition and get them working towards their goals in the quickest and safest way possible.  I’ve learned more about gaining strength than I ever thought I would.  I’ve learned techniques to improve performance.  But none of these things truly mattered to my career – they’re just interesting tidbits.  

I think, more than anything else, is that by learning about all of these methods, you can distinguish the bullshit from what works.  You can separate the fads from the tried and true princples.  Probably and most importantly, you can acknowledge when two of those goals (health and fat loss) intersect and when two people are arguing methods when they have different goals (purely aesthetic versus pure strength). 

In other words, I haven’t drank anyone’s Kool-Aid, but I’ve sipped from a shitload in order to get to a point where I know the reason behind every exercise I recommend and the order that I put them in. 

Does this mean that I’m done learning?  Not in the slightest. 

It simply means that at the end of the day, you work off of the best knowledge you currently have – and right now I have a lot more than I did 8 Summers ago.  With that said, there’s so much more I still have to learn. 

So to acknowledge the long, often-times winding road to where I’m currently at, here are three articles that not only got my attention, but kept my attention long enough to keep me in this industry when all I was surrounded by was bullshit:

1 – The first is the first article I read on T-Nation, Like Hell You Could:

“Likewise, I’m big enough that strangers look at me and think meathead. The brave ones try to make conversation with me by talking about sports or the latest steroid scandal.
Mongo know very little about ways of world, so Mongo thank you for trying to relate to him on simple level. Mongo hungry now. Mongo want to know if you carry any lunchmeat in your pocket…
The thing that bugs me the most, though, is the line the non-lifters, the Zach Braff clones, lay on me at least once a week. It’s their attempt to provide a plausible but woefully untrue excuse for the condition of their ectomorphic or gelatinous body. Here is that rationalization, the one I hear all the time, the one I’m sure you hear all the time:
I’d look like you too if I had the time to work out all day.
Like hell you could.”

Read Like Hell You Could here

2 – My 8 “Ah-Ha!” Moments by Chris Shugart:

Ah-Ha Moment #5: Listen to Everyone, Idolize No One
In spite of their ridiculous drug use and Zeus-like genetics, I’ve learned a thing or two from pro bodybuilders…

I’ve also learned lots of things from coaches who specialize in athletic performance. The same is true for powerlifting coaches, strongmen, and Olympic lifting experts. But the worst thing I’ve ever done is embrace one training philosophy while disregarding all the rest.

Sorry performance coaches, but curling works, at least as far as bodybuilding is concerned. So do leg presses and several machine exercises. I get tired of hearing performance coaches bash training techniques and exercises that have built thousands of great physiques over the years. These exercises may not be “functional” or carry over to sports, but they build muscle, and that’s good enough for the aesthetic bodybuilder.

Read My 8 “Ah-Ha!” Moments.

3 – The latest article by TC,  Most Bodybuilders Look Like Crap, is all too timely.  What I mean is that this year, after years of talking about it, I actually wanted to get to 205.  This was despite the fact that at times I felt like a gelatinous pig.  It was more of a mental challenge than anything else and I’m glad I saw the goal through to completion.   With that said, I have a ways to go, to getting to my ideal of 8% bodyfat and maintaining at a weight of at least 180 pounds.  Here’s a small excerpt from the article:

And if you’re questioning my right to cast stones at your blubbery butt, go ahead, but I’ll confess, I’ve been there. I did the hand mirror thing last November and I freaked – not necessarily because my ass wasn’t as delectable as I’d imagined it to be, but how delusional I’d been, how warped my sense of reality was. I thought I was the work of a master sculptor when I was really a lumpy ashtray made by an ADD kid at camp who’d eaten 3 boxes of Skittles instead of taking his Ritalin.

Read Most Bodybuilders Look Like Crap

With articles like this, how could you not stay in this field?!

As always, if you have questions about this article or about having a personal trainer in Hoboken, email me at

Enjoy your weekend!

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