Posts Tagged personal training costa mesa


I was sent some interview questions by a publisher that was interested in having me featured in a book they are making. Or so they said 🙂  Anyways, I thought that I would share my answers since the questions are pretty common:

Is it true that some exercises produce results faster than others?  Is so, which exercises provide the best and worst “returns on investment”? Yes. This usually depends on what the person’s goals are.  For example, a lot of “core” or stability exercises are great for overall strength and can help a person avoid back problems. Some people though, will do these exercises to develop their rectus abdominus (six pack muscles), when in fact they would probably be better off doing simple crunches and laying off the potato chips! One of the biggest mistakes I see most people make in exercise selection is actually during cardio. People spend so much time on the treadmill and elliptical just wishing their body fat away, when they could be burning far more calories and fat by adding resistance training or higher intensity, shorter duration cardio. My advice would be to at least talk to a professional about your goals and what you are currently doing to achieve them. Again, the problem isn’t the exercise; it’s WHY you are doing the exercise!

How should someone determine how many grams of protein and carbs they should be eating each day? There are many factors that need to be considered here. Age, sex, body type, lifestyle, goal… There are too many cookie-cutter approaches to diet and exercise nowadays. These diets aren’t necessarily bad, but two people’s bodies can react different to the same stimulus. Here is some diet advice that my clients have found helpful. Regardless of the diet plan that you are following, or how many grams of protein, carbs, and fat you are eating, there are two things that you MUST do to be successful.

1.) Log your food. You’ve heard it before, but it is crucial. People that write down what they eat are always more successful at body composition goals than people who don’t. It is even easier now with all of the calorie counting apps that people can use on their smart phones, so there are no excuses.
2.) STAY CONSISTENT! If you are all over the place with your diet and it is not working for you, what do you change? You won’t even know where to start! If you have been consistent and have been logging you food, it is very easy to look and what you are doing, change one thing, and see how your body reacts. Remember, people are different, so their diets shouldn’t all be exactly the same.
Is it a good idea for someone to workout if they have a cold? If they don’t have a hard time breathing, I say go for it. I would lay off of the cardio though, and wouldn’t recommend pushing it too hard in the gym. Also, if you have a fever or are contagious, stay out of the gym!!!

Is it better to perform cardio before or after lifting weights or should cardio be done on a completely different day? Go do 30 minutes of cardio and 30 minutes of resistance training after. Then, on another day, do the exact opposite. You will probably notice that you had more energy on the latter day. Both cardio and resistance training cause your body to burn through sugar that you have stored in your body. The difference is that your body NEEDS that sugar for resistance training. The sugar (glycogen) improves your strength, and because your brain is sensitive to blood sugar, it helps you to focus (which is important when you are holding a dumbbell over your head!). Do your cardio after. You don’t need to focus as much, nor do you need extra strength. You are working your cardiovascular system. That’s it.

Is it better to exercise every part of the body on the same day, or it better to focus on different muscle groups on different days?   This is another one that differs a lot depending on the goal. If a person wants to grow their biceps for example, they need to overload their biceps with multiple sets of different exercises. They will probably pick one other muscle to workout on the same day. They won’t have the energy, or the time to work every major muscle in their body this way. However, if your goal is more functional, or you don’t want to bulk up, you are better off doing more compound movements and total body exercises. Most women people fit into this latter category.
If someone doesn’t have the time to spend hours cooking healthy meals, how can they still eat healthy? My first advice here is to cook in bulk. Preparing meals for the next couple of days will save you time, save you stress, and make it easier to stick to any diet. If you are a person who travels a lot and cannot do this, there is some good news: eating healthy is getting easier every day! As different health trends catch on, more restaurants (even fast food) are offering healthier choices. Be careful though! Some things passed off as healthy aren’t what they seem. Try keeping apples and nuts with you so that you can snack regularly on healthy foods. This will help stop you from over eating later. Also, when you do go out to eat:

  1. Have a plan. Check the menu online first to see what the healthiest choices are.
  2. drink a big glass of water before you order your food
  3. eat your veggies first
  4. get your dressing on the side
  5. ask the waiter to NOT bring the bread basket
  6. look for the words “steamed” and “grilled”

What should a personal trainer take into consideration when working with each individual client?  Personal training should be personal! Even if 2 people have the same goal, they have different abilities, injuries, allergies, motivational factors, likes/dislikes, and they should have a program designed around THEM. Sometimes trainers forget that in order to get their client to change, they must change their approach. Some people need a drill sergeant, some need a cheerleader, and some need a therapist. Let’s say that a trainer charges $60 per 1hr session. That is $1 per minute. If the trainer isn’t giving their client value every minute that they are together, then that client should be shopping for another trainer!

If someone isn’t sore after a workout, does that mean they didn’t workout hard enough? If your goal requires that you gain muscle, then you’d better be sore after most of your workouts. Otherwise, if the soreness is hit and miss, that’s okay! You weren’t sitting on the couch or taking a nap; you were doing something good for yourself. Just because you don’t feel sore the next day doesn’t mean that you didn’t benefit from the workout.

The new fad seems to be “buying organic”.  Is there any validity to eating organic food over non-organic food?  What are the benefits and/or things to be aware of? This is where goals change. Whether or not your food is organic won’t effect your body fat. People eat organic when they are trying to avoid pesticides and harsh preservatives. I think that there is a lot to be said for eating organic. It means that you care. It means that you are trying to do something better. Unfortunately, it is often far more expensive to buy organic foods. One general rule is that if you are going to peel it, it doesn’t need to be organic. Some foods are more affected by pesticides and herbicides than others. My wife and I have a list on our fridge entitled “The Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen”. It lists which foods should be bought organic and which ones don’t need to be. A quick Google search and you should be able to find something similar.

Should people wait until they’re not sore from their previous workout to start working out again? If your legs are really sore from your workout, it may not be a great idea to do another leg workout, but using your legs during the workout or doing some cardio may help push the lactic acid from your legs and help them recover quicker. What i would do is a light warm up first. If the muscle group you wanted to work is still sore after a warm up, pick a new muscle group to work that day.

If someone reaches their fitness goals, should they still continue to work with a personal trainer? It depends on why they started with that trainer. I have had clients come in long after they hit their goals for one simple reason. If they didn’t have an appointment with me, they would stop working out. Even if this isn’t the case, I think it is a good idea to at least “check in” with your trainer to make sure you are improving, or to get some new ideas. Not everyone NEEDS a personal trainer, but EVERYONE can benefit from having one.

When people first start exercising, why do they sometimes gain weight initially? Multiple factors here again. I see this more with women. The initial weight gain can be from hormones changing, water retention, or muscle gain. Your body is going through all kinds of things when it is subjected to a workout program for the first time. Or maybe all the exercise is just making you hungrier! It sounds funny, but I know people who gain weight when they exercise more because of that reason exactly! Again, this is why I stress the importance of consistency with your diet. If you know how many calories, carbs, protein, and fat you are putting into your body then the initial weight gain shouldn’t scare you. It is the people that have no idea what they are putting into their body that should be scared. It could be the hunger that is getting to them!

If someone has a heart condition, can they still workout? After clearance from their doctor; yes. This person should get into it slowly, and put more of an emphasis on their cardiovascular training initially.

If someone has a job where they don’t move around a lot, what can they do to increase their activity during the day, when they’re not working out? Stand up as often as possible, or even use a stability ball for a chair. That will at least stop you from resting against the back of the chair, which is horrible for your posture. Set reminders on your computer that pop up every 30 minutes to an hour that remind you to stand and stretch out a little. When you do walk around, go ahead and take the escalator down, but always try to walk up the stairs. Park you car a little further away, and if you are in a structure park on the top and force yourself to walk up the stairs to your car. It really is about a mindset here. Some people just want to reach their goals more than others. When you put the extra effort in to little things like this it goes a long way.

Is it safe for pregnant women to workout? Absolutely! There are certain precautions a woman must take into consideration when working out, though mostly in the later half of the pregnancy (like laying on their back). Nowadays women see their doctor so often during their pregnancy that if there were any cause for concern in terms of working out, their doctor can tell them what needs to be avoided (if anything).


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Iliana has been Kicking Ass!

Iliana has been Kicking Ass!

Iliana has been an inspiration to so many people. I have had so much fun working with her; she doesn’t complain (a lot) and has no problem giving 100% during her workouts. It has been amazing to watch her grow as a person, while shrinking at the same time! She has completed her first 12 weeks. Please click the following link to read her blog and find out how great she has done so far!


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Why You Didn’t Stick to Your Resolution This Year. Or Last Year…

It has been a little over 7 weeks since the New Year and gyms everywhere are already starting to get empty again. Have you noticed? Or were you yourself one of the sheep this year?

Why is it that most people cannot keep their fitness resolutions? Are their goals too aggressive? Did their priorities change? Did they get burnt out on spinach and egg whites? I have a theory that you may or may not agree with, but I have watched so many people make these mistakes and I can often tell when someone will give up early on a fitness goal. First, let’s go over “SMART” goal setting:

S= Specific. Make sure you know exactly what you want to accomplish. Don’t tell yourself “I want to get in shape”. Round is a shape, but most of us don’t find that flattering. If your goal is in fact aesthetic, then find a picture of yourself or someone else (similar body type!) who you want to strive to look like.

M= Measurable. Are you trying to improve your running pace by 1 minute per mile? Or are you trying to  get your body fat % under 20%? You must first know where you are starting, then make sure to measure how you are doing as you go along. This can be done once per week, or even once per month depending on the type of goal and how aggressive the goal is.

A= Attainable. “I want to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated” isn’t something that most of us will ever accomplish, but losing 2 dress sizes is very doable! If you have a bigger goal, try breaking it up in to smaller, monthly goals.

R= Realistic. You really have to be honest with yourself here. You may want to be at 5% body fat, but do you know what that takes? Are you willing to do the work and make all of the sacrifices necessary to get your body fat down to that level? Why 5%? If you only get to 8% will you be disappointed? Then maybe your first goal should be 10%…

T= Time-bound. When do you want to accomplish this goal? Remember, this helps your goal become measurable, but make sure the time frame you give yourself is attainable!

So why not just leave you with this? Because when it comes to fitness goals, I think that there are a couple of holes in the SMART acronym. In order for you to be able to stick to most fitness goals, you need to change SMART to “SMARTLY”. Now I am not sure if that is even a real word, but hear me out:

L= Life-long. What is it that you REALLY want out of your goal? Is it to look better for your sister’s wedding? To look good in your vacation pictures? If you want to stick to your short term goals, you’d better have some long term goals to follow up with. I will use myself as an example here: I am a married man, and it is important that I live for a long time so that my wife never has to live alone. Because if this I eat better. I try to only eat whole foods (organic when I can), I make sure my weight and body fat % never get above a certain point, and I have cut unnatural things like aspartame completely out of my diet. These things that I do for my Life-Long Goals make my short term goals easier to attain, because I am never far off from where I want to be for MY vacation pictures! 🙂 I also spend more time doing various yoga poses and stretches, as well as certain “core” strengthening exercises, because I not only want to be there for my wife- I want to be able to walk next to her as opposed to having her push me around in a wheelchair.

Y= You. This isn’t anybody else’s goal. Getting healthier because your wife told you to, or getting in shape so your husband finds you more attractive is fine, but what is YOUR incentive? Why is this important to YOU? If there is nothing in it for you, you are far less likely to stick to your program. It is your body. Your health. Your life. Your health is one of the very few things in life that nobody else can control. The way that you will live the rest of your life is (almost) completely up to you. Take advantage of that. Be a little selfish. Think about what you want. Then make it happen…

Need help setting your personal goals? Please email me at:

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Iliana’s Journey

As some of you know, I am involved with a company called 12 Week Fitness Challenge. One thing that I am really excited about is 12WFC’s “Iliana’s Journey”.

Iliana has struggled with her weight for years. She has gone up and down, but has never been able to reach her goal. I am happy to say that starting December 5th, something is about to change! Myself, Scott Perry, and Parker Green are all trainers for 12WFC. We are going to help guide Iliana as she begins her weight loss journey for the last time! Forget about the Biggest Loser, where contestants live on a ranch, have meals prepared, and workout with trainers for 6 hours/ day! This is real. Iliana has to go to work every day. No vacations here! She has to prepare her own meals on top of her already busy schedule. She isn’t doing this for money. She is someone you can relate to.

We have asked Iliana to do 2 things. One, to not change her lifestyle until December 5th. Two, to blog everyday and document her journey.

Please follow along as she starts this new journey to a healthier lifestyle! She may motivate you to start your New Year’s Resolution early!

Click here to support Iliana!

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Wait, what? I thought that a Calorie was a measure of energy. Am I wrong?

Well, not exactly. First off, the correct terminology to use here would be kilocalorie, or kcal. 1 kcal is defined as being enough energy to raise 1ml of H2O by 1 degree Celsius. That means that when a calorie is being used it produces HEAT.  Does your food continue to get hotter and hotter as it sits there? No. This is because the energy is STORED in your food. The Calories that are in your food are not energy; they are POTENTIAL ENERGY. So when you exercise, your body starts to “burn” this potential energy. Heat is produced as a waste product, and your body temperature goes up.  Pretty simple, right? Are you wondering why am I explaining the difference between energy and potential energy?


People are always concerned about whether or not they have consumed enough energy to perform a task. The reality is though, your body is going to find this energy one way or another. Your body has energy stored in a couple different forms, the largest being fat. In the simplest of terms: if your body does not receive enough potential energy from food to survive, it will then pull energy from your fat storage. This is something that I have to explain over and over again to clients; even those who are pregnant or nursing (and have excess body fat). Here is how the conversation goes:

“My doctor says that I need to eat an extra 200-300 Calories per day because I am nursing”

“How many Calories per day are you currently eating?”

“I don’t know. I’ve never tracked it”

“…then what are you going to add 300 Calories to?”

This dialogue always makes me laugh a little bit, because we Americans are always concerned about not getting enough energy from food, when the reality is that we don’t have a starvation problem here in America. In fact, MORE THAN HALF OF US ARE OVERWEIGHT! WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH US?! We need to start looking at food as POTENTIAL ENERGY, because that is a healthier and smarter way to look at it. When you are looking at something you are considering consuming you should ask yourself, “am I realistically going to use all of this energy?” This might help you make better choices.

All that being said, it is important to give your body enough fuel to maintain the muscle mass that you have. Otherwise you will begin to lose your muscle (because your body needed more potential energy) and your metabolism will begin to slow down… But how do you know how many calories your body needs per day? That is a question that is easier to answer if you have had an accurate Body Fat % measurement done recently. Either way, there are websites that you can use to get a good estimate of how much energy (kilocalories) your body uses, both at rest and with exercise. Once you know that you will have a better idea of how much POTENTIAL ENERGY to consume each day.

Here is a great calorie calculator:  (click on “Advanced Options” to enter your body fat %)

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Is Your Massage Therapist Good or Knot?

Your body gets put through the ringer every day. Sitting, standing up, walking up and down stairs, running to cross the street, bending over to pick something you dropped, and hardly ever stretching. Regardless of your daily pattern, you have a DAILY PATTERN. What this means is that you are most likely repeating certain movements over and over again without realizing it. This can lead to muscles being shortened or overactive. Lets say for example that Muscle A and Muscle B help move a joint in the same direction, but Muscle A is the “prime mover”, and Muscle B’s job is to help keep the joint stable during movement. Muscle C moves the joint in the opposing direction. Now lets pretend that something has caused Muscle C to become shortened. Maybe you have a knot, or maybe it is overused and never stretched (happens all the time). If Muscle C is shortened, then chances are Muscle A will become lengthened and will only be able to produce a fraction of its normal force to help move that joint. What’s so bad about that? You won’t notice. That’s the problem. Somebody is going to have to take over for the work that Muscle A is no longer able to do, and that somebody is Muscle B. Muscle B, however, is only built to handle smaller loads, because his job is to keep the joint stable during movement- not to move the joint by himself. This can cause inflammation and discomfort  in Muscle B.

So now Muscle B is hurting and achy so you go to your local spa. It smells nice, they are playing soothing music to help you relax, and your massage therapist walks in and asks if anything is bothering you. You say “Yes!”, and you point to Muscle B. Here is where you know if you have a good massage therapist or “knot”:

Your rookie massage therapist is going to unleash his/her wrath on Muscle B. They will dig in and say, “Wow! This one is really bad!” Then they will dig, dig, dig some more. They spend a huge chunk of time on this one area. Two things can happen here:

  1. The inflammation can increase because they have prodded way too much on a muscle that was already aggravated when you walked in. This kinda sucks for you, but is also a great reason to find a new massage therapist.
  2. You can feel relief. What’s so bad about that? The discomfort is going to keep coming back, and you are going to end up spending WAY too much money and time on massages.

Why is the discomfort going to keep coming back? Read the first paragraph again and see if you can guess. Go ahead, I’ll wait… Did you figure it out?

A good massage therapist is going to be able to see that although Muscle B should be worked on to help it relax, it is not the problem. Muscle C is the one that caused all of this in the first place! Remember? Muscle C is the one that was shortened, causing Muscle A to leave it’s duties to little Muscle B, who is now screaming in agony because he is overworked.

This happens all of the time with people who sit in front of a computer every day. Do you know anybody like that? 🙂 They sit with their head and arms forward, their shoulders sloped. This shortens the Pectoralis Major & Minor (your chest muscles). If your shoulders start to stay in that sloped position, your Upper and Middle Trapezius Muscle fibers (run across the top of your shoulders and the back of your neck) can become overworked, from holding your head up all day.

Stretching helps a ton. The only problem is that you cannot stretch a knot. So try to find yourself a good massage therapist, or better yet, an Active Release Technique practitioner (ART). Here are some good resources in the Orange County Area:

Wellness Choice Center: Corrective Chiropractic and Massage Therapy,              

Dr. Sebastian Gonzalez @ P3 Sports Care, Inc: Active Release Technique and Chiropractic,

Dr. John Saddik @ Spinal & Sports Wellness Center: Active Release Technique and Chiropractic,



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I’m No Fool. How About You?

Jim Elliott, an evangelical Christian and missionary once wrote, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
This really spoke to me and I have been wanting to share it with you all.  What’s funny about it is that the more I thought about it, the more I was able to apply it to different things in my life. This is a fitness blog however, so I will try to stay on subject 🙂

What are some things that we cannot keep?
1.) Money. We are all eventually going to pass on from this life. Some of us believe that this is only the beginning, and some believe that this is it. Either way we all agree that once our time on earth is done, our money will be of no use to us personally. So why do we let making money become such a priority in our lives? Of course we have to eat, sleep with some sort of shelter, get from one place to another, and be able to communicate with each other. But how much money do we really need?
2.) Time. Time is limited. You can’t buy time. You can’t create time. Time is passing all the time and there is absolutely nothing that we can do about it. BUT, we do have complete control of how we use our (spare) time.

Now, what are things that we cannot afford to lose? Let’s start with our health! There are different aspects of our health that are very, very important:
1.) Stress
2.) Food choices
3.) Exercise

Stress: What causes stress in your life? Is it work? Money? Not having a purpose? Feeling down about your health or your appearance? Low sex drive?
What helps you deal with stress? Hobbies? Exercise? Better self-image? Working less? Having more money? Getting your libido back?
HMMM, it sure does sound like all 3 of these things are interrelated! Don’t you think?

Tying it all together…

I cannot speak for anybody else, so I will give you my personal take on this. The reason that this quote spoke to me is because I have always had that thought in my mind, but not in those words.

I don’t care if I die with $1 Million in my bank account or $0.01 in my bank account. So why work like a dog my entire life if that’s not what I want to do?
I cannot create time. So why spend all of my time working a job that I hate to make more money than I need, which causes me stress that I try to get rid of by spending my hard-earned money? What a vicious cycle this is, and I see people doing this every day. So I looked at what is important to me. Owning a home?? Nope. Driving a Mercedes? Nah. All I want to do is enjoy the small amount of time that I get to spend on this earth. How do I plan on doing that?

1.) Live for a long time- So I eat healthy, natural, whole foods that are free of preservatives and other harsh chemicals. I also exercise and stretch to keep my body strong and feeling good.

2.) Experience- I want to experience new people and places, so instead of spending money on owning  a house (which sounds stressful), or going out to fancy dinners, or buying wine, jewelry, etc,  I save money for traveling.

3.) Keep low stress levels- I avoid stress like the plague. If I catch myself doing too much work when I don’t NEED to, I cut back to a more manageable level. I also avoid interacting with people that cause me stress. I have even had clients that stress me out so much that I had to get rid of THEM!! Negative stress isn’t worth the money if my bills are already paid…

4.) Hobbies- I think that it is important to have something to look forward to. Maybe losing yourself in a book is your thing. That’s what my wife looks forward to at the end of her day; getting caught up in a fictional story helps her to focus on something besides work so that she can wind down. I started taking Jiu-Jitsu lessons a couple of months ago just to do something fun for my cardio. I am having a blast and have found something new to challenge myself with.

So do yourself a favor. As scary as it may seem: take an honest look at your life. Trim the fat. Get rid of any stress that is avoidable. Have you been putting off a goal or project? Do it! Make yourself happy, because today only happens once. I guess all I am trying to say is this: we only get to do this life thing one time. Make the most of it.


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