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5 Questions With Personal Trainer Tony Gentilcore

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A personal trainer, prolific writer, Arnold Schwarzenegger admirer, and Star Wars fan. Tony Gentilcore know’s what he likes, but perhaps there’s nothing better for him than the simple act of lifting heavy things. Tony is the co-founder of Cressey Sports Performance, and between that and his writing — which appears on his blog, Menshealth, Testosterone Magazine, Bodybuilding.com, and others — he does a lot to help others in reaching their fitness goals. We were lucky enough to get to ask him a few questions.

You’ve been a fitness fan ever since “Santa” brought you your first weights. Has that love continued until now or have you had doubts? How do you keep yourself inspired to work each day?

My parents (ahem, I mean Santa) gave me my first weight training set when I was 13, and I can’t remember a time since then that I haven’t been training or working out to some capacity. As part of my requirement to graduate in Health Education with a concentration in Health/Wellness Promotion, I had to complete a summer internship at a corporate gym just outside of Syracuse, NY. As fate would have it they hired me right out of the gate. I 100% had doubts. When I graduated – Magna Cum Laude, thank you very much – I thought I was hot s*** and knew everything there was to know about training people. Besides, I had biceps and abs….how hard could it possibly be to become a personal trainer? 

After being handed my first client I felt like I wanted to hyperventilate into a brown paper bag. I had NO idea what the heck I was doing. Thankfully, I survived. My client survived, and I managed to not burn the gym down. It was then that I knew my TRUE education was just beginning.

What would you say was your favorite step or moment in becoming the trainer you are today?

Back in 2004 I met this dude on the internet — Don’t worry, this isn’t the plot line of some low-grade horror movie. It just so happened that I became “e-friends” with Eric Cressey. He and I were part of a online fitness community via T-Nation.com as well as other various fitness sites. 

He suggested I drive out to CT because the gym he was working at was looking for another trainer. I drove out, interviewed, and before long I was trying to convince my family that moving to New England with a guy I had met on the internet – and whom I had only met once in person – was a good idea.

In 2007, Eric, myself, and our other friend, Pete Dupuis, opened up Cressey Sports Performance just outside of Boston, MA. You’d be hard-pressed to name any other gym on the East coast – if not the world – that has a better reputation of training baseball players than us.

The health and fitness area is broad and seems to be changing often with new science and technology, for example wearable tech and quantified health. How do you see personal and professional fitness changing in the coming years?

It’s awesome. The technology coming out every few months is still boggling my mind. I won’t lie, though: I’m about as technologically savvy as a snail, so I can’t say that I go out of my way to use a lot of it. I use social media like everyone else. And sites like YouTube have allowed me the opportunity to work with people from all over the world that otherwise would never have access to me. 

I have distance-coaching clients in Europe, Australia, and even Japan that are able to send me videos to watch which allows me the chance to “coach” them and offer feedback. I’ll be the first to admit that IN-PERSON coaching trumps distance coaching any day of the week. Having the ability to provide immediate feedback and coaching cues is priceless. But now we have things like HRV (Heart Rate Variability), Omega Wave, and other “apps” that use digital technology to give you biofeedback markers to ascertain your preparedness to train on any given day based off sleep patterns, resting heart rate, etc.

It’s amazing.

How do you keep on top of what’s new and decipher what works from the pseudo-fitness?

I have a pretty extensive network of smart people I can defer to if need be. I can’t expect to know everything, and it’s always nice that if I don’t know the answer to something I know someone who’s a phone call or email away who does. That said, my BS meter starts beeping whenever someone uses the words everyone, never, or always.

Everyone should avoid deadlifts.

Oh really? What if someone is completely healthy, has no injury history, is competent with their technique, and is looking to become stronger and/or looking to improve their athletic performance? 

Women should never lift anything over 3 lbs

I won’t name the “celebrity trainer” who’s notorious for the phrase above (I don’t want to give her the traffic), but suffice it to say, it’s absurd. Most women’s purses weigh more than 3 lbs, not to mention their children. So just because they go to the gym and start lifting more appreciable loads means they’ll grow an Adam’s apple overnight? Pfffft, whatever.

You should always avoid carbohydrates.

First off: ANY person or book who goes out of their way to advocate that people omit an entire macronutrient from their diet has some sort of agenda – usually based off faulty logic or “loose” science. For example, are we going to tell (elite) athletes that they should always avoid carbohydrates when we need them to perform at a high level?

Good luck with that.

If you could offer one tip, that you’d give to anyone that wants to lift heavy things better, what would it be?

Don’t expect things to happen overnight. It’s going to take a lot of hard work for a lot of years to get results. Don’t be so obsessed with outcomes….learn to enjoy the process.

Moreover, stop following programs that elite athletes or elite weightlifters are performing NOW. Emulate what they did 10, 15, 20 years ago, when they were first starting out.

You can read more about Tony on his website Tonygentilcore.com, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

 

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