The Psychology Of Fitness

Mindsets, Body Types and Everything In Between


Since my name doesn’t appear anywhere else on this site, I thought I would give you my name:  I’m John Leyva. 


I’m a Minimalist that likes to learn a ton of things.  I’m a hard-working fitness professional that likes to be lazy.  I’m a healthy eating guy that loves “junk food.”  In other words, I like extremes.

Have you met someone that enjoys working out but hates eating “healthy foods?” Yeah, that’s been me.

I love Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, pizza (gluten-free) and ice cream (Chocolate Peanut butter Cup Perfection from Coldstone).

With that said, I’ve learned techniques and “tricks” to stay lean despite those desires.  These techniques and methods allow me to enjoy the foods I eat without the negative consequences typically associated with “bad” foods.  For example, instead of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, there are two healthier options that I can eat:  Almond Butter with 85% Organic Dark Chocolate (one word – Delicious!) or a Chocolate Peanut Butter Lara Bar.  They “hit the spot” without the super sugar rush and insulin spike.

Between my desire to learn everything possible about a subject, my personality that leads towards the ends of the spectrum and my desire to not eat the most healthy of foods, I’ve learned almost everything about what different foods do to the body and how to work out any and all types of clients.

If you talk to me, when I’m not in a training session,  I’m a very laid-back guy who doesn’t need much to be happy – except maybe a good book.  During a training session though, I’m the person that will make you do the exercises that will push you to your limits.

Often times I’m confronted with people that like to say they “can’t” do something, while in the midst of doing that said thing.  In other words, I’m the guy that believes in what you’re capable of, more than you are.

If I could sum of my career in one sentence that would be it – I see what’s possible and I’m going to get you there.

So what experience do I have?

Currently I’ve been in the fitness field for over 8 years.  For the past 6 years, I’ve worked in the corporate fitness world, with the past 5 being a manager for a small fitness center.  At that fitness center I help those in the corporate world transform their bodies and lives through exercise.  During that time I’ve amassed teaching 1,000 group exercise classes (such as bootcamp, total body conditioning, etc) and 2,500 personal training sessions, working with over 100 separate clients.  I’ve run countless exercise adherence programs at work and have been able to “experiment” to see what works with getting people to transform their bodies.  Prior to that I worked 2 years in Commercial gyms and Physical Therapy clinics while obtaining a dual degree in Exercise Science and Psychology from Rutgers.  Below are a list of just some of the certifications I’ve held (or am about to receive):

National Academy of Sports Medicine -Certified Personal Trainer (NASM – CPT)
American College of Sports Medicine – Health Fitness Specialist (ACSM – HFS)
Functional Movement Screening  (FMS)
BioSignature Modulation
CrossFit Level 1
PICP Level I & II
Functional Diagnostic Nutrtition (FDN)
Precision Nutrition Certified

This isn’t even a complete list of the certifications I’ve amassed during the years and doesn’t include the continuing education seminars and workshops.  What these certifications have in common is that they are all different.  They span the spectrum of what fitness has to offer and I haven’t drank the Kool-Aid of any one system (except for heavy strength training). What this means for you is that you get someone that is able to objectively assess a training program based around your desires and abilities.

Yep that's me...

What is this Blog?

Every aspect of fitness starts and ends in our heads.   What causes people to not go to the gym, why would they make fun of someone that is in shape (“Oh, you’re obsessed with eating right…Haters!)?  Why don’t the people that need it the most even consider working out?

Psychology and Fitness are more interconnected than most people realize, and yet all you ever hear about the connection is the regular self-help stuff.  Set goals, visualize them and imagine what it’ll be like when you hit those goals.  BLEH!  I might puke.  If that’s the total game plan for helping people, then people are screwed.  If you’re not presented with that mindset, then you get the “Just Do It” crowd.  This crowd is composed of the typical 20 year old males, whose lives revolve around fitness and usually not much else.  I could easily fit into that category, but I like living, having other priorities and still incorporating fitness into my life.  There are some people that say that the fitness industry is a breeding ground for people with OCD and they’re typically right.  I’m not that guy.

You have to realize that psychology and fitness were and are my first two nerdy loves.  Learning about these subjects would’ve happened whether or not I went to college and I was intrinsically motivated to learn about them before I had chose them as majors.

What I quickly found when I chose them as majors is that I either need to know NOTHING, take action and learn along the way, or I have to be exposed to EVERYTHING before I can even start to act.  So before I had declared Exercise Science as a major, I worked out 4-5 days per week.  Afterwards, I barely went.  This problem only compounded when I started working at a commercial gym doing personal training.   My motivation was zapped. During the ensuing years though, I’ve learned so much more than I ever thought. Not only have I regained my motivation but it’s stronger than ever.

This blog then is ultimately a collection of the lessons I’ve learned on that journey and continue to learn.  I’ve gotten to the point and have been exposed to enough within both fitness and psychology that I can now start to form opinions.  Therefore, not only will you get the “lessons” I’ve learned, but my opinions on them. 

Although I would like to say that this is it, this is the Holy Grail of knowledge and after you read this blog and learn some information you will workout forever, I know that it’s not going to happen.  It’s not going to happen, because everyone is different.  Everyone has to become “The Scientist” and “The Subject.”  In other words, there are steps you have to take (do the experiment and be “the subject”) and after taking the steps, you have to see the results (be the scientist).

Therefore, if you keep an open mind, if you don’t cut yourself off from new information, you will realize that Socrates was a smart man when he said, “The more I learn, the more I learn how little I know.”

As you continue on your journey to making fitness a worthwhile endeavor in your life, I do the same with learning about the best methods for health and fitness.  So although I’ve been exposed to a lot, I haven’t learned EVERYTHING.  Instead I have been exposed to enough things to know what’s important, what’s not, and what to focus on.  Trust me when I say though that I am still learning, still failing, still making mistakes and loving every second of it.

This Blog is that story.  Hopefully it helps guide you to become more aware of your limitations and abilities so that you make the physical transformation that you desire.

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