MY FITNESS JOURNEY
Let us begin my long and bumpy fitness journey at approximately the age of nine. I can recall locking myself in the family bathroom before heading out with my parents for an evening with family and friends. I would be in there for probably 15 minutes, doing whatever physical exercises my nine-year-old brain could fathom. I felt fat. I felt uncomfortable. At the time I didn't know why I had to do these things - these exercises - to feel somewhat normal and just a little bit better.
…But now, in my adult mind and experience as a fitness professional since 1997, I can recognize a metabolic dysfunction when I see it.
It was the 1970's for God's sake; I lived on junk food cereals. All the 'good' stuff...Lucky Charms, Froot Loops, Cocoa Pebbles, Trix, Corn Flakes, and the list goes on. A few years later my Mother divorced my Father. She was an immigrant from Europe, now a single mom. She was focused on making a good life in the United States. And she did a great job, but health and wellness was not part of that equation. She smoked and ate....whatever. Exercise attempts were hit and miss and her work life was chained to a desk. This was all I knew at that time and it was certainly the path I was being groomed to take. It wasn't even a question in my mind as to why the majority of my family was obese. But somehow I knew that something was off. My body was flooded with insulin at a very young age. And excessive insulin release will make anyone feel fat! It's the hormone of fatness.
...So that's how it all started - trying to burn my sugar-induced fat off in the bathroom.
I was never an athlete. If anything, in gym class I was always in the "c" group. The "a" group played the sports and were competitive. The "b" group got involved with activities that were less competitive but still somewhat structured. And then there was the "c" group, which consisted basically of me and my Asian friend (I don't think I ever knew his name) who taught me how to do wall sits.
…Right, we were not athletes. We were wall sitters, watching the athletes.
I continued to dabble in exercise programming - beyond just wall sits - throughout my late teens and well into my twenties, but at that time it was mainly limited to studying bodybuilding techniques. That's where the focus seems to go in the younger years...the physique. I would later discover a whole new level of fitness training that takes the entire body into consideration for optimal health and fitness. The answer was not in isolated bodybuilding moves, at least not for a strong, healthy, and functional life experience.
…I was still a ways off from seeing the big picture.
Fast-forward to the 1990's - I became Executive Vice President for an alternative health products and media production company. One of my responsibilities was to coordinate and facilitate health studies for the organization. All the data went through my hands - approximately 12,000 participants over 10 years! I began to notice a common thread amongst the people who weren't quite getting the results we were hoping for. The only way I could describe the commonality was that they were setting themselves up for failure when it came to a consistent fitness practice. Whether it was joining programs that were ultimately injurious to them or engaging in very seasonal activities, the one thing these people had in common was that they discontinued exercise or at the very least were very irregular with it. And somehow this correlated with no real improvements and in many cases poorer results in their blood tests, body composition, and even appearance (we took before and after photos).
…This piqued my interest.
At about the same time, I got interested in marathoning. I began training in distance running and subsequently entered the NYC marathon at about 29 years old - not old - but I could feel the wear and tear that endurance running was having on my knees. This definitely got me concerned as I envisioned a future in which I eventually wouldn't be able to run because of some sort of damage to the knees. I had gotten to know some older folks who lived with exercise-induced knee pain and so I figured this wasn't all that uncommon. And then one day as I was taking a cab up toward Central Park South, I noticed a woman jogger running with a brace around her right knee. I had seen her before on numerous runs in the park but this time the image hit me hard. Here she was; limp-jogging through the park because of her obsession with running.
…I can only imagine now, about 25 years later, she's no longer able to run.
That was the moment that defined the foundation of my purpose. My goal was to start a fitness service that was the ultimate support system for people of all levels of fitness to call home. And within that system, my main training agenda would be to devise programs that protected the joints. I am convinced that if we engage in low-impact movements (I learned power formulas later) that don't compromise the integrity of our joints and if we are able to stay motivated and consistent with our training that's when fitness magic can happen. The body eventually adapts, grows stronger, more vital, and youthful.
…Literally reversing the aging process.
I got certified as a Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor by the American Council on Exercise and even though these A.C.E. studies were invaluable; it was truly my introduction to "Non-impact Range of Motion" training that crystalized how I eventually structured all my programs. "Non-impact Range of Motion" training taught me how to calculate and estimate the number of calories (energy) expended in all movements against gravity. In this way, I was able to maximize the energy output (calories burned) of all my workouts. This is the Power Formula that put the sugar-free icing on the cake. And it is these formulas that I applied to eventually break fitness world records
…and even get a featured picture in the Guinness Book of World Records.
I started my first fitness studio on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in 1997. I have since gone on to train and influence thousands of people in fitness, produced fitness videos, and co-produced health and wellness videos that have been broadcast Nationally on PBS-Television. In 2012 I began online fitness training in addition to my in-person work. However, it wasn't until the pandemic that I switched entirely over to online fitness training.
Workout Wizard is now a growing community of like-minded people from throughout the United States and Europe, staying motivated and connected in fitness and increasing physical power and youthfulness with each and every workout.
My Story's Takeaway: What started as a physically painful youth in the haze of a sugar-induced unwellness (a very common story, I'm sure) put me on a life-long journey to find secrets of fitness and vitality. It's occasionally been a discouraging and seemingly endless, twisting and bumpy road. But I've seen the road-signs so many times that now I have a map that can get anyone, who is willing to come along, to a better fitness destination.....I hope you hop on board and enjoy the view because the feeling this view brings is truly magical and available for everyone.