Keys to keeping at it in 2014: Fitness gurus share tips


How are those new 2014 workouts going? Need a little inspiration boost? We talked to four prominent trainers and fitness personalities in hopes of finding keys to helping you work out — successfully — for years to come.

Amen Iseghohi founded his first gym in 2009 with a unique approach to fitness – using body weight exercises centered around tires, or as Amen puts it, getting Primal. (ANNE CUSACK/LOS ANGELS TIMES/MCT)
Amen Iseghohi founded his first gym in 2009 with a unique approach to fitness – using body weight exercises centered around tires, or as Amen puts it, getting Primal.

Sharing inspiration
All you need is some trash and some inspiration, says Amen Iseghohi.

As a kid, he worked on his grandmother’s farm, played sports and ran. He grew up to be an executive. But then, one day, “I saw a kid considered overweight, and I thought it was a pity,” he says. “He looked like he lacked self-esteem, the way he walked.”

And thus an idea was born: Iseghoni would bring what he learned from his grandmother to the gym. As a boy, he was taught by her to use what you have. And so, improbably, recycled tires are the basis of Amenzone Fitness, Iseghohi’s growing chain of studios. “My friends and family thought I had completely lost my mind,” he says.

The first studio in the L.A. area opened last year in Manhattan Beach, Calif. There aren’t any mirrors or elaborate machines. But there are plenty of tires and inspiration, including messages on the exposed brick walls and a saying at the end of class. It’s a high-intensity workout that uses the tires as weights and steps and obstacles. (There are also classes for children.)

Q: What two or three words best describe your approach to fitness?
A: Empowering, movement.

Q: If you could have just one piece of equipment, what would it be?
A: Tires.

Q: Whom do you admire in the fitness world?
A: Billy Blanks (a fitness professional and martial artist), who opened the doors.

Q: What’s the biggest mistake newcomers to fitness make, and how could they avoid it?
A: They need to remember why they started when it gets challenging. There are going to be hard times.

Q: What innovations or ideas interest you?
A: How open-minded the public is being. People are not usually accommodating to change.

Stay active
Americans are over-exercising and underactive, Harley Pasternak says. And we’re getting mixed signals about fitness and health. “The more that science tells us that shorter, simple workouts and lower intensity daily activity are the best way for us to get healthy and stay healthy, the more we are bombarded by fitness programs and diets that delineate the exact opposite,” he says.

“It’s hard enough to go from being sedentary to being active, but asking people to hoist a barbell over their heads, hoist boat anchors and hip-hop dance till they throw up is the exact opposite of what we need to be doing.”

What we need to do is be active all day, Pasternak explains. It’s the “boring” advice we’ve been given for years: Park a couple of blocks away from the destination. Skip the escalator. Take walks.

Pasternak says he does 15 minutes of cardio and 30 minutes of weights each day, and he walks as much as possible to stay in shape. His latest book, “The Body Reset Diet,” includes a 15-day “anticleanse” with a daily regimen of three meals, two snacks, 10,000 steps or five miles, and brief amounts of resistance work.

But he warns: “Ten thousand steps is not enough to make up for a bad diet. The 10 healthiest countries all take more steps than we do. And they don’t know what a ThighMaster is.”

Q: Words that describe your approach to fitness?
A: Science, efficiency.

Q: One piece of equipment?
A: My Fitbit (a wearable fitness tracker — Pasternak endorses it).

Q: Whom do you admire in the fitness world?
A: Mike Mentzer, an intellectual bodybuilder from the 1970s and ‘80s. And Ira Jacobs, my graduate supervisor.

Q: Biggest mistake for newcomers?
A: Too much too fast too soon. And the lack of a plan. You need a strategy that is safe and effective.

Q: Interesting innovations?
A: Move all day.

Change expectations
Jason Wimberly often asks his students to close their eyes for a time during class.

“There’s far too much time spent looking in the mirror and critiquing ourselves,” he says at the Mansion gym in West Hollywood, one of the places where he trains clients.

“People have to start with accepting themselves and not plunge in to lose-30-pounds-in-30-day programs that leave them feeling like failures if they don’t lose it all.”

People frequently work against themselves in their fitness fervor. Taking two classes back to back, for instance, can lead to burning muscle tissue rather than fat, says Wimberly, who adds that too many people fail to include stretching in their workouts.

“You have to work hard, but you have to recover.”

Wimberly, who plans to manufacture a line of circular resistance bands this year, says he prefers workouts that lead to strength and flexibility without too much competition — and “no phones, no texts, no kids. It’s like mini-therapy.”

He also suggests being mindful of posture when walking or sitting in the car or at a desk. One look at him, and it’s easy to see why.

Q: Words that describe your approach to fitness?
A: Poised, precise, empowering.

Q: One piece of equipment?
A: The bands (he is having manufactured).

Q: Whom do you admire?
A: My father, who was at the gym at 5 and then in the office from 9 to 5. He’s never sick, doesn’t smoke and looks amazing. As a kid, I remember being so excited to go to the gym with him.

Q: Biggest mistake for newcomers?
A: Improper form. We could have careers just correcting form.

Q: Interesting innovations?
A: The science of high-intensity, short-duration workouts such as Tabata, based on a four-minute Japanese program for Olympians.



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