‘I Was Overweight as a Child…’

Danny.MatosWe sat down for a Q & A with Transform trainer Danny Matos, a graduate of St. John’s University who has been professionally training clients for more than seven years. Certified through NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine), Danny also holds certification in corrective exercise, fitness nutrition, and weight loss management. He has, in his own words, built a ‘bullet-proof approach’ to weight loss that encompasses smart movement, sensible nutrition, and proper mindset.

You were overweight as a child. How did you get into training?

‘When I became a sophomore in high school. There’s so much pressure at that time of life, and I felt desperate for something to change, so I changed my diet and began running. I liked running, though now I think back (laughs) I had no idea what I was doing. I guess I learned through trial and error.’

What do you feel is the biggest challenge facing people who’d like to lose weight and get fit?

‘I struggled for so many years with my relationship to food, so I find it counterproductive when you see pictures of people with six-pack abs to try and get people into fitness. Most people don’t see themselves in those images. It’s like someone with a limitless amount of money giving restaurant dining advice. Someone who’s never struggled with a fitness lifestyle or who has genes on their side doesn’t understand how detrimental this is. The person struggling ends up beating themselves up more for not getting it or understanding how “simple” something perceivably is. ‘

Can you give us an example?

“I remember going into McDonald’s one day and eating ice cream — I thought it was the end of the world! So I think it’s easy to fall into this all-or-nothing attitude where you’re either ‘on a diet’ or bingeing out. There’s also this weird social compartment around food when you’re eating out with other people. It’s a subject I’m really interested in – the psychology of how we approach fitness and nutrition. It’s not spoken about enough, but it informs my present philosophy and my work with my clients.

Do you have an ideal client?

I love training anyone, especially avid runners and any of your readers who are looking to lose weight and keep it off permanently. I train using TRX, kettle-bells, battle-rope, and sled work.

Where can we find you when you’re not in the gym?

‘I write and perform as a poet, emcee and hip-hop artist in and around New York. I also teach writing workshops, and I just released my first hip-hop project, “Nothing Without You.”’

Have more questions for Danny? Until January 31st get a free consult + free fitness assessment with Danny, plus 20% off any training package. Call or text: 917 804 1866. Or email: info@transformfitness.com

PHOTO CREDIT: DJ ZEKE

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lost Something?

1.15 Blog Post_edit3 Steps to Getting it Back :

It happens. How we lose our strength, mobility or flat stomach isn’t complicated. It happens day by day, almost without our noticing. The good news is, the process of (re)discovery is not unlike good detective work, and it offers your first clues to finding them again.

1. Identify the Problem

We’ve all spent enough time in our bodies to know when something doesn’t  look or feel quite right. If you’ve found yourself saying, ‘I know squats would be good for me, but my lower back or knee can’t take the stress,’ or wondering if all your clothes have all shrunk in the wash, you know exactly what we’re talking about. So take some time to notice where you feel the most restricted, weak or dissatisfied – because that’s exactly where you’ll need to start!

2. Make a Plan

You’ve located your weakest link (perhaps more than one!) – now what? If you’ve done any research on the internet or elsewhere, you’ll have seen how much conflicting information there is floating about. You need a plan, but where to start? What sort of workout is best? How much weight? How many times a week? What’s safe? Should I be stretching? What about yoga or running? What about my diet? And most important: When will I see results…??

3. Enlist Support

A qualified fitness professional can cut through the hype, ask the right questions, make an assessment, and come up with a plan tailored to you – and you only. Think of your trainer as a personal detective, aiding you in your quest to get back the particular thing that you’ve lost  - whether it’s  mobility, strength, muscle tone, or all of the above. As well as offering Lost and Found services (!), a fitness professional acts as an ongoing source of support, as well as advice on changing tactics and help in setting goals and deadlines. Best of all for many of us, they also provide that all-important accountability factor…

Need a plan? Until January 31st get your free consult and fitness assessment with one of our experts + an unbeatable 20% off on any session package, for savings of up to $1,150! Last two weeks!

P.S. In next week’s blog we’ll be turning the spotlight on a member of the Transform Fitness NYC team by getting up-close and personal with one trainer who took his own weakest link – and transformed it into a huge strength – for himself and his clients.

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How to Crush Your Goals

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At the start of each New Year, we ask our clients the same question: ‘How would you like to direct your goals in your training?’

Part of this is to do with measurement and the setting up of milestones. For instance, when we look at professional athletes it’s easy to forget that we’re seeing the results of years of training and conditioning. Whether you call this deliberate practice or the ten-thousand hour rule of mastery, you can be sure their progress has been rigorously quantified and measured by a whole team of experts! Most of us will never aspire to that degree of dedication; however our own path is still trackable, and we can ask the right questions – and keep asking them as time goes on:

  • What will it take to reach your goal?
  • Where are you right now?
  • What are the obstacles in your path?
  • What have you tried in the past?
  • How will you know when you reach your goal?
  • What will it look and feel like?
  • How will you continue to make progress?

Why is all this important? Working with a client is a collaborative experience, and as fitness professionals we rely on the information our clients give us as much as any that we glean from assessing their movements. As a child of science my business is to actualize clients’ goals, and since the way each of us defines fitness can vary, strategic questioning helps us make sure everyone’s on the same page.

As many are apt to discover after the first flush of New Year’s resolution enthusiasm, simply wandering into a gym once or twice a week to lift a few weights and use the Stairmaster doesn’t cut it. When goals and strategies are ill-defined and vague, so too will be your results. Which brings me to my last point: accountability. When you clearly articulate your goals and intentions to someone else (your trainer being a good example) and you allow that person to partner with you to make those goals a reality, you’ve built accountability into the system and you’re far more likely to succeed.

The New Year offers us all a chance to recalibrate, and to articulate our path with clarity. This month, whether you’re already a Transform NYC client, or seizing the day with a free consult, we’ll be asking you – and ourselves – the same question: ‘How would you like to direct your goals in your training?’

As an incentive this month Transform are offering 20% off any training package. Let us help you set your goals, chart a course – and most of all (as our existing clients can attest) enjoy crushing them!

Until January 31st new clients get a free consult + an unbeatable 20% off on any session package, for savings of up to $1,150!

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Here’s to a Healthy New Year

TransformGift_NewYear

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The Year in Transformation

It’s that time again. For some it’s been a challenging twelve months; for others a time of growth or personal achievement. For most, I expect, it’s been a bit of each. This week, as the more fortunate among us begin a well-earned break from the normal chaos of our lives, the end of the year offers an opportunity to reflect and take stock.

2014 has been a year of transition for me, with many fork-in-the-road moments. These have given me no choice but to pay more attention to what’s going on around me and to take actions that may offer greater risks – while also (it is hoped) offering greater rewards.

I have been lucky to see clients make significant breakthroughs in their acute or chronic problems, and recognize that the bigger frame of their issue often stems from a smaller one that has gone unchecked and undiagnosed. This has been the key to their relief from pain, and the doorway into strength they never realized was possible.

These past few years Transform Fitness has adopted and applied a strength system called Gymnastic Strength Training, made popular by it’s founder Christopher Sommer. As we move into 2015, our plans are for a gym re-tool and re-design that allows us to pursue this system more completely in all its applications. This will mean, for instance, more dedicated group-based training such as the amazingly successful seminar we hosted a couple of months ago with Kit and Olivia from Stretch Therapy.

We’ve also been busy bringing our staff up to speed, helping familiarize them with Transform’s newest strength and mobility training systems. After much diligence and hard work on their part, they’re now ready to provide the same incredible level of service that our members have grown used to. I’m so proud of them – and I’m excited to see all the great things they’ll achieve with us in 2015!

All these successes will also free me up to take care of a few management priorities. Though this means I won’t be taking on more clients myself, the good news is that it will allow me to spend time pursuing further training and education so that we can continue to explore new ways to build health, wellness, and fitness. As we grow, and continue act on our broader vision, this looks to be a year of great promise. A Happy New Year, everyone  – we’ll look forward to seeing you in 2015!

Before December 31st we’re offering five sessions for only $500 at Transform Fitness NYC. Or come in for a free consultation, and let us help you reach your fitness goals in 2015. info@transformfitnessnyc.com Call or text: 917 804 1866

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Messages from the Inside (Ankle Strain)

Messages from the Inside

How’s your day going today? If you’ve been sitting down for longer than an hour, get up and move around. If you’re a guy, try a Downward Dog into ten to-the-floor push-ups, or a Downward Dog into three push-ups if you’re a woman. How did you feel? If you noticed foot or wrist pain, chances are the problem has been there for a lot longer than you realized.

Recently I had some ankle strain brought on by overzealousness while pushing myself through a ballistic acrobatic move. Needless to say I was in pain – the kind of pain where you berate yourself for ignoring your body’s warning signs. I watched helplessly as the pain transferred to other parts of my body, and I realized that I had allowed my adrenaline to take over my decision-making. As a fitness professional, I was guilty of not taking my own advice!

Pain in our muscles and joints has profound physical effects on our ability to move. Suddenly, everything becomes a negotiated calculation: how to get up out of a chair, how to stand up from the ground or go up or down stairs. Every action takes on a new and unfamiliar dimension. And then there are the mental and emotional repercussions – irritability, frustration, weakness. For those of us who have taken our bodies for granted, it’s a watershed moment, and we might wonder if it will ever get better.

I have decided to think of this as an opportunity, akin to a huge STOP sign – although I should add here that the solution is not about taking a break from the gym. We can consider ourselves at a crossroads where we can choose to ‘push through it’ and accrue more injury – or – opt to change-up our approach. In other words, we can choose to address the problem directly, and in the right way. This is a very important point because studies have proved injured athletes heal better by strengthening the original spot that contributed to the injury.

In our last blog post we talked about how practices like meditation help us to notice our thoughts. As I have always told my clients, bringing awareness to our bodies has benefits as well. One of these is to bring physical problems to our attention and prevent needless injury. Although injuries, as I learned last week, give us plenty to think about. — Paul Watson

What do you think? Do you have an injured athlete in your life? Until December 31st give the gift of health and strength with our Transform Fitness NYC ‘Five for 5’ holiday gift card. You’ll get a fitness assessment and five sessions with an expert trainer for only $500! Call or text: 917 804 1866. Or email: info@transformfitness.com And talk to us on Twitter and Facebook. Photo courtesy of Rodrigo Quiroz.

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Mind, Wine, and Enlightenment

Wine Graphic

A copy of ‘Scientific American’ appeared in the gym recently. The cover story? ‘The Neuroscience of Meditation’. If only I had the time to read it, I thought, as I sped past.

The weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year seem to fly by very fast. We barely have time to catch our breath, let alone delve into arcane explications about how to achieve enlightenment. There’s shopping to be tackled and office parties we can’t avoid, so it’s no wonder that some of us feel as if we’re losing our minds.

Over the years I must have had hundreds of discussions with friends about meditation and mindfulness. (If I’d used this time to actually meditate instead I’d have achieved nirvana approximately ten years ago.) We all nod, and agree how beneficial it is – how it clarifies the mind and aids focus, and so on – and that we should do more of it. Afterwards, full of resolve, I’ll go home and crash out in front of the TV.

Meditation seems to require special effort, not to mention all manner of accoutrements – a quiet room, a cushion, a candle, and some soothing New Age music. When I’ve managed some facsimile of this, I’ve also managed to get hung up on how well I did and what I ‘achieved’. When I’m feeling stressed out, a big glass of wine or a stiff drink can seem way more practical.

The problem is that we tend to equate meditation with ‘achieving enlightenment’ or reaching some particular ‘destination’. We’ve made it too precious. Yet if we look at the concept of mindfulness in general, it means nothing more than being fully ‘present’ in whatever we’re doing – whether that’s wrapping presents or taking out the trash. (I suspect this is why a workout or certain types of sport can leave our minds feeling so amazingly calm afterwards.)

Opportunities present themselves during the day in the most unexpected of places, and in situations where it’s impossible to multi-task. I might find myself standing on the 6 train or brushing my teeth – and with nothing else to be done in that moment, I can choose to simply notice my thoughts. This is easier said than done, I know, and inevitably I’ll get dragged down into labyrinthine trains of thought. But once I realize this, I can also choose to gently and firmly bring myself back to the task at hand.

I don’t always remember any of this, of course. Half the time I’m much too busy being annoyed with others or by my surroundings! Yet mindfulness and meditation offer us an opportunity not to feel aggravated or to be a high-achiever, or to tick things off the list, but to simply observe our busy minds and, most of the time, to feel a little less worse afterwards.

Incidentally, once I made time to read the magazine, I discovered that someone else got there first and torn all the pages out. What to make of this? On the bright side, I’d say it’s good to know I’m not the only one seeking enlightenment. But if you’re the culprit, maybe you can enlighten me while you’re at it.

How do you keep mind and body together during the holidays? Let us know on Twitter and Facebook, or leave us a comment below.

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Defining Your Strength, or, How to Sit on the Floor

Adam Swartz

Adam Swartz

For many years as a trainer I pursued the most efficient means of making clients stronger. The reasons for pursuing strength were abundant in terms of their benefits: a faster metabolism, better muscle tone and definition, increased circulation, improved bone density, and higher cardiovascular conditioning.

Clients were thrilled to feel stronger and more energetic – not to mention looking better. Our workouts were also incredibly time- efficient: usually one or two workouts a week for no more than 30 minutes at a time. We moved slowly and controlled those movements, and no one got hurt, either. Not much downside.

I practiced what I preached as well, watching the amount of weight I could safely handle grows exponentially over time. I felt lean and strong and frankly kind of smart. Like I had it all figured out.

There was just one little problem. And like many great life-insights, it was actually my kids who brought it to my attention.

You see, I couldn’t sit on the floor.

Whenever it was time to play with my kids on the floor I would have to anchor myself against a wall or a couch. Even then, I would have about 10-15 minutes before I just couldn’t handle it anymore. My back, hips and legs would be screaming. I could leg press well over 500lbs quite handily, but for some reason I couldn’t survive a game of Chutes ‘n’ Ladders with kindergarteners.

My response to this conundrum? Denial, of course. It couldn’t be that I needed to change anything, could it? After all, I was a trainer. I was strong (and smart!). People looked to me as an exemplar of health and fitness. So I just shuffled along doing the same old thing – and avoided the floor like the plague.

After my kids, the other great instructor in my life is my business partner, Paul, who in most matters is generally a few steps ahead of me. He had been quietly seamlessly weaving disciplines such as yoga, gymnastics – and, yes, strength training – for years. In fact he and several friends were practicing yoga on a weekly basis right in the middle of our studio. And I had an open invitation to join them.

After several New Year resolutions to start, I finally made an appearance. That marked the beginning of a journey that I’m still on, a journey that typifies what Transform Fitness —and transformation— is really about. I still help people to get strong, but it’s a more balanced strength. I’ve kept a lot of the strengthening techniques I used before, but I have woven in the best practices that I’ve picked up from yoga, as well as from our resident acrobat Jan Manke. These days my clients are spending more time on the floor, and you can often spot me very comfortably sitting next to them.

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‘Seasons Feedings’

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Thanksgiving is the unofficial kick-off of the feeding season. Not surprisingly it comes towards the end of the year when, let’s face it, we’re all feeling pretty worn out with elections, economies and world calamities and are eagerly looking for an excuse to celebrate – You’ve earned it! Why not??

From leftover Hallowe’en candy, followed by holiday parties, family gatherings, and those ubiquitous bowls of M & Ms left by ‘well-meaning’ folk all over the office, it’s hard to exercise self-control. In fact, a recent study shows that not only do we eat more in the company of other people, the more people there are, the more we eat!

Of course, one biscuit is not going to break the bank, but weeks of eating and drinking is a recipe for the January blues. Too many of us wake up New Year’s Day feeling bloated and tired, and resolving – as ever – to do better next year.

For the NYC gym this sets up a huge post-holiday boom in business, but in the spirit of a happy and healthy New Year for us all, we offer some tips and tools for making it through to January 1st with health and waistline intact:

  • Be aware. (And now you’ve read this far, need we say more?)
  • Set realistic goals. Maybe a 5 pound increase is worth it. But how about 10? How will you feel having to lose it afterwards? How did it feel last year?
  • How will you achieve your goal? Set yourself strict limits – and keep to them.
  • Which brings us to our last tip: Enlist support! That’s right, tell your trainer, make a pact with a spouse or co-worker, and if others try to goad you into excess (and they will!) refuse to take the bait. After all, come January, you’ll have the last laugh…

How about you? What’s your seasonal strategy? Scroll down to the Comments section below, or share your tips on Twitter and Facebook.

Want to get a jump on your New Year resolution? We’ve extended our October Promotion! Schedule a free consult and get 20% off any package of training sessions. Call or text: (917) 804 1866 Or email us at: info@transformfitness.com

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‘Turn Your World Upside-Down’

Do you remember learning to walk? Possibly not, yet somehow all of us mastered the technique of supporting our whole body weight through our feet and the narrow area of our ankles – and we’re all so great at it that we now barely give it a moment’s thought.

Let’s imagine for a moment turning this whole process upside down and balancing yourself through your hands and wrists? What happens to your body when you’re trying to maintain your balance in this precarious position? And more importantly, are there any advantages to doing so?

Just as walking on our feet supports the whole leg hip, and knee area, learning how to balance on your hands strengthens your shoulder, chest, back – and core. Yes, that four-letter word that gets thrown around a lot in personal training circles, though we use our body’s core muscles constantly in our everyday lives. Like walking upright, we barely notice, but turn yourself upside down and that same area is forced to work really, really hard! Here’s someone who’s mastered it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yiq3MEw8tNw&sns=fb

Like any skilled performer, Mikael Kristiansen makes hand-balancing look simultaneously simple and impossible. Learning takes time, but the good news is that from your very first lesson the benefits are immediate. Your body gets a complete workout due to the massive effort involved in maintaining your balance in a physically unfamiliar position. In other words, it’s an extremely learnable skill with huge pay-offs.

Want to see the benfits for yourself? Come learn with us at Transform Fitness NYC in a class taught by handstand master Jan Manke. Sign up here.

And while we’ve got your attention, what would you like to see covered in our blog? Let us know in the Comments section below, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. Text or Call for info: 917 804 1866

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