Hosts James Wheeler and John Parker get to the nuts and bolts of what real strength training is, what it means to you and what your real focus should be on a day to day basis.
Karen Smith: Master Instructor
On today’s episode of Vital Metabolic, hosts James Wheeler and John Parker talk to Coach Karen Smith about body weight training, how the pandemic has changed her working style, the most important components for strength training, and more.
John and James begin by talking about how their exercise habits have changed over the last year, and how they appreciated being able to get outside and exercise. They talk about how to get the correct amount of protein in your diet, and what a big difference it can make for people. 9:10 - John talks about the adjustment he’s making to his workouts as the seasons change. 10:50 - They talk about the importance of everyone having a balanced diet. 11:15 - They introduce their guest, Karen Smith, who is an iron maiden like Rebecca Rouse. 11:50 - Karen lives in Texas, and while she was lucky enough to not lose power during the snowstorm, she knows many people whose homes have sustained damage. 14:40 - Karen is used to intermittent fasting, so she wasn’t worried about running out of food during the snowstorm. 16:45 - Karen has been doing online training for many years, so it wasn’t a difficult transition for her when the pandemic started. 18:00 - Karen has been in fitness her whole life, and she was a cheerleader, a gymnast, and a runner as a kid. 19:45 - Karen talks about how she helped to rehab a friend of her daughter’s who also cheers and who had pulled a hamstring muscle right before try outs. 24:00 - Karen, John, and James discuss how it feels to train other trainers to improve what they do. 25:45 - James asks Karen about the start of Strength First Body Weight training, and what she did to assist with writing the manual. 28:19 - James talks about the need to be well-rounded in order to pass SFB training and get the certification. 29:42 - There is a strict progression in body weight training because you have to build a solid core of strength before you can up the difficulty. 31:30 - Karen talks about tactical pull ups and the strictness of the form, including the fact that you can’t use your thumbs because you can’t put your thumb through a solid wall. 35:00 - Karen travels so much that she often lives out of a suitcase everywhere, including in her own home. When the pandemic started in the US, she flew home in mid March and didn’t leave again until July, and it was the longest she’d been at home for 7 or 8 years. 37:32 - Karen gave herself tendonitis years ago from doing pull ups incorrectly, and she’s been working since then to get her body back to that point. 39:00 - They discuss how body fat percentage is vital in doing pull ups, especially in terms of the number of reps you can do. 42:15 - Karen loads people with external weight before they can do a single pull up because it makes getting to being able to do a pull up faster. 45:45 - Karen has done certification trainings where people come in after a day or two and think they’re getting sick because of the strain they put on their bodies. 47:00 - Karen talks about the power of visualization, especially when she was training for the Iron Maiden. 50:22 - Now that Karen has been training for over 20 years, she has started thinking about her retirement. 3 Key Points:
There is a strict progression in body weight training because you have to build a solid core of strength before you can up the difficulty. Karen has been doing online training for many years, so it wasn’t a difficult transition for her when the pandemic started. Karen loads people with external weight before they can do a single pull up because it makes getting to being able to do a pull up faster. Tweetable Quotes:
“The physical aspect is one thing, but the mental aspect is the greatest gift.” - John Parker “As soon as I was able to travel again, I was hustling.” - Karen Smith “I really got into visualization when I was training for the Iron Maiden...I wou
Rebecca Rouse: The Iron Maiden
Rebecca Rouse: The Iron Maiden
On today’s episode of Vital Metabolic, hosts James Wheeler and John Parker talk to personal trainer and Instagram fitness guru Rebecca Rouse about starting her own business, the importance of strength training, and how the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted her approach.
4:30 - John and James introduce their guest for this week’s episode, Rebecca Rouse. 6:00 - Rebecca talks about how Equinox trainers are all trained in exactly the same way so that it’s universal across the board. 8:00 - Rebecca was a manager at Equinox, and she talks about how she went about hiring trainers. 10:45 - James emphasizes the importance of relating to clients as people in order to help them be successful. 12:30 - Rebecca left Equinox in August 2020 and started her own brand called Semper Stronger. 15:00 - The large majority of Rebecca’s clients are middle-aged women, but she does also train some military professionals. 16:25 - Rebecca has a background in gymnastics, which she did very seriously until she was 14. 17:10 - She hasn’t done any competitive power lifting, but she does Olympic lifting competitively. 18:20 - John and James discuss how perspectives on weight training for professional athletes have changed over the years, and that it’s become much more prominent for athletes across various sports. 22:20 - James says that he likes to introduce his clients to using kettle bells because they are universal and can be used anywhere. 24:10 - Rebecca talks about her Strong First certifications and shares her various lifting numbers. 28:00 - John talks about the difference between kettle bell sport and a hard style bell. Kettle bell sports are designed to be held with one hand, and it’s meant for endurance. Hard style is meant for maximum energy expenditure and is intended to be held with two hands. 30:00 - Rebecca believes that when it is safe to return to in-person gyms again, there will probably be a 50/50 split of people who choose to continue working out from home and those who choose to return to the gym in person. 33:30 - Rebecca feels that the pandemic has accelerated her personal plans and goals; she initially planned to start her own gym about 5-10 years down the road, but the pandemic motivated her to start her own business now. 36:10 - Rebecca talks about her Instagram fame and how that has contributed to her success and advancing her career. 37:50 - They discuss how it’s important to follow good people on social media who are actually knowledgeable and aren’t pushing products that don’t work or can be harmful. 40:00 - John talks about the importance of having medical professionals like chiropractors, acupuncturists, physical therapists, etc. to refer personal training clients to who need it. 42:00 - They discuss how particularly in the women’s fitness space there is an overemphasis on cardio on top of intense strength training. 46:00 - Cross training is good, but as personal strength trainers John, James, and Rebecca all agree that it’s their job to be open about what cardio can do for your body but that strength training is a base from which to build upon. 49:00 - They talk about HIIT training and how it can potentially be harmful and cause injuries, and that by itself it often doesn’t help to make real changes to the body. 3 Key Points:
John and James discuss how perspectives on weight training for professional athletes have changed over the years, and that it’s become much more prominent for athletes across various sports. Rebecca feels that the pandemic has accelerated her personal plans and goals; she initially planned to start her own gym about 5-10 years down the road, but the pandemic motivated her to start her own business now. Rebecca believes that when it is safe to return to in-person gyms again, there will probably be a 50/50 split of people who choose to continue working out from home and those
Mike Sousa: Brick House S&C
On today’s episode of Vital Metabolic, hosts James Wheeler and John Parker speak with Mike Sousa, owner of Brick House Strength & Conditioning. They discuss the Strong First training method and certification, how Mike structures his time with clients, his favorite recovery hacks, and some of his best tips for new trainers starting out their business.
1:45 - The new year is a good time for people to refresh your habits. 2:05 - Locomotion Athletics is doing alright and has so far weathered the storm of the pandemic, going digital like many companies have. 3:30 - James is hoping to get involved in Strong First coaching. 4:30 - The pandemic has given John an excuse to go outside more, which he has appreciated, including trying bow hunting. 5:15 - Businesses have to be adaptable or they’re going to fail. 5:45 - With at home/virtual training, figure out what makes it fun for you. 7:50 - Things like elimination diets or cycling through habits in that way can be helpful for you to rediscover what an appropriate balance is for you. 9:10 - Mike Sousa is the owner of Brick House Strength & Conditioning, which he literally built with his own hands. 12:20 - Mike structures the training at his facility in blocks. 14:31 - There are blocks of time where people can show up anytime within that block, which has helped reduce stress in his clients about showing up at a specific time. 15:45 - Mike sometimes has specific programs for individuals, and they’ll come in and do that program, but he also caters to individual needs on a daily basis like if someone has back pain and needs to adjust that day’s plan. 17:00 - This structure allows Mike to flow through the people and provide individualized attention. 18:05 - Standard group training can be an issue when everyone there is at a different level. 18:50 - Training in this semi-personal setting but being able to watch other people train can be encouraging and motivating. 20:57 - Mike builds his client base primarily through word of mouth because it creates a stronger community and doesn’t cause a revolving door of clients that he wants to avoid. 21:20 - Mike has also been part of networking groups and highly recommends it for small business owners. 24:45 - Mike watched Strong First develop and was part of the first ever certification course. 28:20 - The philosophy of Strong First is simple, not easy. 31:20 - Mike uses the concept of ladders to build his training program, where when you increase your weight on a movement, you slowly increase the number of reps. 34:50 - Mike used this method in his own training for how he accomplished double snatching a pair of 40kg kettlebells. 36:10 - People have a mindset that they’re afraid they’ll lose their gains, but you’d be surprised what muscle memory can do. 38:34 - Mike recommends at least 4-6 months of training ahead of time for a level 1 kettlebell certification in Strong First. 40:07 - If you’re new to Strong First, Mike recommends going to a one day workshop to try it out first. 41:41 - From the outside, the Strong First certification community can seem intimidating, but James says they’re some of the nicest and most helpful people he’s ever met. 42:48 - James also loves the strength test (or the “not-so-weak” test) where you have to prove your mettle. 46:20 - Mike thinks he’s taught upwards of 30 one day courses with Strong First. 47:44 - Mike appreciates teaching with Strong First because when he’s running his home gym, it’s only him, he’s there all day by himself, but he gets to meet people and have assistance and be with the community at Strong First events. 48:50 - Mike uses heat exposure in saunas to support recovery and has his own sauna at home that he uses almost every night. 50:05 - The initial discomfort of the heat in a sauna is good in the long run because it builds resilience, toughness, and focus. 50:26 - You have to learn breathing techniques to stay in the sauna for
Aisha Zaza: Pregnancy and Fitness
On today’s episode of Vital Metabolic, hosts James Wheeler and John Parker speak with Aisha Zaza, a CrossFitter, marathon runner, and new mom. They discuss fitness during and after pregnancy, nutrition when breastfeeding, and the inevitable emotional roller coaster of it all. Aisha also discusses her episode of Ultimate Tag on FOX!
1:00 - Aisha is a CrossFitter, marathon runner, and new mother. 2:39 - Aisha’s example of motherhood was her own single mother where she would have to do everything alone. 3:50 - She feared that parenthood would mean she would never have time to train for marathons or keep up with the things she cared about. 6:08 - Aisha stopped running at 15-16 weeks, mainly because her bladder couldn’t handle it. 6:44 - Along with the emotional changes, Aisha experienced her diet and cravings changing dramatically. 8:15 - When you’re pregnant, it feels like this is how it’s going to be forever, but that’s not true. 8:55 - Aisha would tell her pregnant self that it’s okay to have these feelings even if you aren’t necessarily in a safe space to express them, and you aren’t alone. 10:00 - She still ran when she could, but she was a lot slower and more out of breath. 11:10 - Any movement you can manage during the first trimester is good movement. 12:00 - Aisha feels very lucky to not have experienced postpartum depression, but found she had prepartum depression. 13:20 - Aisha didn’t give herself a hard time when she didn’t eat as well as usual, but also doesn’t want to suggest that women should use pregnancy as an excuse to eat anything. 15:05 - Aisha predicted that she would gain 25-30lbs during her pregnancy, but ended up gaining 42lbs. 16:25 - So much of what you gain is fluid, including 8 extra pints of blood, so you lose some weight quickly. 17:02 - Aisha believes she recovered from pregnancy and birth the way that she did due to the activity level and fitness she maintained. 18:25 - It’s possible to get moving again too quickly after pregnancy, when there’s literally a gaping hole in your body and you can do permanent damage to your pelvic floor. 21:37 - For breastfeeding, Aisha is conscious of eating her body weight in grams of protein and ounces of water, and a little more than that in carbs. 22:10 - Aisha is still taking a multivitamin and prenatal vitamin, along with red raspberry, vitamin C, and magnesium. 26:25 - Aisha was on the show Ultimate Tag on FOX and came in second. 30:38 - Aisha has a running stroller and is excited for her daughter to be big enough to take running. 31:02 - Aisha began hiking while pregnant and has taken her on hikes since she was born, in addition to sometimes wearing her while weightlifting. 32:55 - Aisha plans to run in the San Diego Marathon next summer. 34:10 - Aisha loves team sports and what kids can learn from them. 37:25 - She is working on training courses for pregnant women. 38:15 - As an everyday athlete adapting to pregnancy, Aisha realized she already had her niche. 40:27 - What has kept Aisha grounded is recognizing that we all have similar experiences even if we haven’t communicated them. 41:50 - It’s very easy to fall into the trap of comparison online.
3 Key Points:
Movement during pregnancy is good, but you also have to recognize your body’s new, temporary limits. You can accept your body’s changes, your diet changes, and your emotional changes without guilt, while still not using them as an excuse. If you open up about your experiences and struggles, you will almost always find that you’re not alone.
“Those things would get me super anxious. I loved my life & my lifestyle & I wanted it so badly to stay the same. I was resisting that change so hard, which made it even more draining because on top of just being super emotional, now you’re fighting the experience.” –Aisha Zaza “I think I was able to recover the way I did because of the activity that I
Lindsay Price: Becoming an Online Trainer
On today’s episode of Vital Metabolic, hosts James Wheeler and John Parker speak with Lindsay Price, NFL cheerleader and online personal trainer. Hear about how she approaches training her all-female client base, how she balances training with being a professional dancer and cheerleader, and her philosophy around nutrition.
1:10 - Lindsay has 17 years of dance training and has experience dancing professionally and as an NFL cheerleader alongside being an online trainer and nutrition specialist. 2:28 - Lindsay developed a love of weightlifting and changing her body, along with mindset and lifestyle work that intersected with personal training. 3:10 - She realized she could perhaps serve her clients better, and serve more clients, by moving her business online. 3:53 - The biggest obstacle was trusting herself to take the leap. 4:58 - Lindsay knew she wanted to work with women and decided to choose that niche, with an ideal client of her “old self.” 5:56 - When she was a teenager, she didn’t know how to diet correctly or know how to be healthy long-term. 7:00 - She started to feel bad, with bad gut health, hormonal changes, and more, so she transitioned into holistic healing. 9:04 - It isn’t about just being ripped all the time, but it’s about being healthy and sustainable. 9:55 - Lindsay’s nutrition recommendations to her clients aren’t especially strict because she wants them to be intuitive about their own bodies. 10:45 - Strict meal plans aren’t sustainable and don’t result in lifestyle changes. 11:45 - One of the biggest obstacles Lindsay’s clients face most often is their own mindsets. 13:38 - Lindsay has her clients imagine the end result of where they want to be to motivate them to propel through their own resistance. 15:00 - Lindsay dislikes running but loves walking and aims for about 10,000 steps/day. 17:34 - Most of her dance training is cardio. 18:27 - During the football season, Lindsay balances her personal training work by being very deliberate about taking her rest. 20:15 - On game day, Lindsay’s nutrition involves feeling as light as possible while still knowing how many calories she needs to perform optimally. 21:04 - Lindsay is strategic about her calorie intake, particularly for recovery. 21:28 - Lindsay doesn’t usually track her macros but eats an average of 2,000-2,400 calories and follows general strategic guidelines for things like protein and carbs. 23:00 - People who eat a plant-based diet have the most trouble meeting their guidelines for protein intake. 23:55 - Lindsay doesn’t usually suggest protein supplements, she prefers the nutrients come from whole foods. 26:42 - Sometimes it’s hard for people to accept that they have to eat more in order to achieve the lean muscle mass they’re looking for. 27:12 - It’s less about weight loss than it is about body recomposition, and it has to be addressed individually with each client. 32:30 - For Lindsay, it depends on accountability and knowing what your client needs. 34:00 - The responsibility for your success starts with who you choose as your coach. 35:55 - People should look for a coach who will be honest and transparent with them. 36:30 - The best trainers are the ones who keep it simple, aren’t overly focused on marketing, and build a business of referrals. 38:08 - Lindsay foresees a continued shift to online training in the wake of the pandemic.
3 Key Points:
Training can be less about tracking stats and more about trusting yourself and your body to intuitively understand what it needs. Be sure to take your rest and to eat enough to support your body through recovery. Every single person’s needs and goals are going to be different, so it’s important to know your client and tailor your recommendations to them.
“That’s a question that you have to ask yourself. Is the risk/reward worth it? Where do you actually want to be in 5 years? And to me it
Clifton Harksi: The Professional Trainer
On today’s episode of Vital Metabolic, hosts James Wheeler and John Parker speak with Clifton Harski, trainer and Director of Education for the Pain-Free Performance Specialist Certification. Hear Cliff share his tips to help new trainers get started and build their businesses, the pros and cons of online training, and whether you should spend time on Instagram marketing.
1:10 - Clifton Harski is the Director of Education for the Pain-Free Performance Specialist certification with previous Vital Metabolic guest John Rusin. 3:29 - Cliff’s business has been going well; he’s been working on the curriculum for the PPSC full-time and training their presenters to do the presentations. 4:16 - The business Cliff was previously a part owner of prior to COVID had to close. 7:35 - If Cliff was a new trainer starting right now, he would split his time between personal training and group fitness. 9:07 - In group training, you need to be able to fix someone’s form and come up with a solution very quickly, and that experience can be really helpful in one-on-one training. It also allows you to see many more and a wider range of people. 11:05 - You can also use the group setting to get to know people and develop them into higher paying 1-on-1 clients. 12:55 - A lot of marketing wisdom will tell you to hyper-specialize, but it’s better for a trainer to have range and be more general in your approach until opportunities to focus more present itself. 16:55 - You need to define what an “online trainer” means to you and your business; do you provide a program as a workout provider, or are you actually actively training people, providing feedback and coaching? 18:40 - Clifton did online training in 2012-2013, and started every client on the same 4 week program where the workouts were done live so he could see how the person moved before providing coaching and moving into the next phase of the training. 23:00 - Whether you’re doing online coaching, 1-on-1, small group, or large group training, you need to have a realistic expectation of deliverables. 25:35 - There are some Facebook groups that do reviews of the potentially shady social marketers claiming they can grow your following. 28:30 - People are so grateful for follow-up after a session. 30:10 - Go experience other facilities and other trainers and see how they do things, so you can generate ideas of what would be useful to apply to your own business. 32:13 - Set the expectation with your clients that you will be punctual, so you expect them to be too. 33:15 - Meet your client where they’re at in terms of communication; a millennial may prefer to text, but a client in their 70s may only want to use phone calls. 34:15 - Cliff predicts that after COVID, there is going to be a consolidation of who’s offering what; whatever businesses survive this are going to end up thriving. 35:20 - Convenience is the biggest factor in getting clients. 36:20 - Technology is catching up to allow virtual training to become so customized that it will begin to rival in-person training. 40:15 - Some trainers are even offering at-home gym designs, helping people build their own gym space. 41:05 - Instagram trainers give potential clients a false expectation. 42:00 - A lot of people who seem successful on Instagram actually aren’t, because they may have a lot of followers but they have very low engagement. 44:10 - Social media is saturated with trainers, and it’s likely time to start exploring other business models like a referral system. 46:00 - Decide if investing in Instagram is actually worthwhile to your business or if it is just going to feed your ego. 46:35 - Two examples of good Instagram use are John [last name?] and Kyle Dobbs because they both provide actionable, educational content. 48:23 - Think about the aspects of social media that you like, and start there with your content. 50:55 - PPSC is hoping to dominate the in-person education space. 51:35 -
Very informative with straightforward, easy to understand information. A good, fun listen by coaches who know what they are talking about.
Looking Forward To More!
Such a well rounded podcast. I especially enjoyed the episodes with Ryan Monahan & Ben Azadi. The conversation surrounding nutrition/FDN approach & keto in these episodes was incredibly fascinating, inspiring as well as eye opening. I really look forward to following along and listening to future episodes. Thank you for the raw truths and in-depth information!
New to fitness
I’ve been training with coach James for a few months now (minus some weeks due to COVID) and I genuinely look forward to each class. This podcast is so great in that it’s answering all the questions I didn’t know I had. It’s like a dose of science topped with spirit which I love.
I’m learning so much!