- Joey Atlas being interviewed by Craig Ballantyne of www.TurbulenceFitnessTraining.com
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CB: Joey, how did you go from just another trainer to a well known expert in working with female clients on helping them improve their legs, butts, hips, and thighs?

JA: From the start of my career, most of my clients have been women. I always made it a point to take note of the problems that came at the top of the list. It was very rare that a woman did not want to improve her lower body in some way.

Legs, butt, hips, thighs were always included in the desired improvements and quite often they were the only thing that a woman wanted to improve. So, I made it a point to focus my efforts on helping women get the changes they were looking for in their lower bodies.

Whether it was fat reduction and toning, cellulite reduction and shaping or building and sculpting – I have always enjoyed helping someone who is very confused about what to do or even unsure if they are capable of making any improvements at all.

CB: What types of exercises and workouts do you like to use for this purpose? Bodyweight, dumbells, machines? Do you ever get into kettlebells or barbells?

JA: I place emphasis on Bodyweight exercises. There is so much that can be done when you know how the body works in relation to gravity and one’s own bodyweight. So many people get lost in the machine and weight based workout routines and they miss out on so much that can be accomplished with a creative and balanced routine that is based on bodyweight exercises.

I’ll use dumbbells when appropriate and sometimes I’ll have clients use The Atlas Bag, which is a nylon bag I designed, with handles on each end. It holds most average size medicine balls and is very versatile and comfortable.

But the essence of this program – the thing that really brings the short and long term improvements is teaching women what they can do with no equipment – and just a few things that already have in the house. Its a lot of fun to see their progress and their emotional reactions about the changes.

CB: What would be a typical workout schedule for a beginner client with about 20 – 40 pounds to lose?

JA: We start with 5 – 8 minutes of lower body and core stretching. Then we’ll spend about 15 minutes on the mat, going through a series of beginner level, leg, butt, hip, thigh, ab and core moves. I teach this as ‘building a foundation’.

We may add some upper body moves while still on the mat and then it’s up to standing where the client is led through a series of beginner level lower body moves that lasts about 12 more minutes. This is followed by 5 minutes of lower body stretching.

This routine is recommended 2 – 3 times per week. One interesting note here is that even with women who tell me ‘they have been exercising’ or even if I know I’m dealing with someone who is clearly not a beginner – I’ll still run them through the beginner level program – because 99.7% of the time – my methods are different than anything else they’ve been doing, or may have tried in the past. And this surprises a lot of the female ‘fitness veterans’ – but it’s a pleasant surprise. – That’s why I get paid the ‘big bucks’, right?

CB: That’s for sure, Joey. How about something for a woman who is a little more advanced after going through your beginner and intermediate level program?

JA: For a more advanced client the outline is generally the same, but some of the exercise variations may be more challenging and the way the program is put together can also challenge a client beyond what they have been doing previously.

There is a cumulative effect that comes from how certain exercises are put into sequence with others. I like to take advantage this effect as opposed to ‘adding more weight’ or ‘doing more sets of the same exercise’. Again, 2 – 3 times per week is usually a good frequency.

If the advanced client is at a maintenance level – then it’s possible that once or twice per week is just fine.

CB: How do you educate your clients on nutrition and what are some of the tricks and tips you give to maximize compliance and results?

JA: I like to illustrate some of the long standing myths & misconceptions and re-educate clients about realistic, fitness promoting nutrition. Everything I teach is based on the proven concept of ‘daily caloric intake’.

As most, but not all, women want to lose weight – the biggest challenge is creating the daily caloric deficit needed to result in fat loss and toning. One of the ‘tricks’ I teach goes against what most experts are teaching.

I’m not saying those experts are wrong but I offer a different approach. It’s called ‘calorie shifting’…

Most people believe they are supposed to eat breakfast everyday because its healthy, etc, etc… However there are a lot of people who do this and find that it makes them hungrier and this causes them to consume more calories than they would like to over the course of a day. What I suggest, and I do this everyday as well – because it really works for me, is not to skip breakfast, but to push it later into the day.

For example, I’ll have a cup of tea or espresso with a little organic skim milk, at about 7am. But I don’t eat breakfast until 10:30 or 11am, lunch would be at around 2:30 or 3pm and so on.

In effect, all my meals are pushed back a few hours leaving less time for snacking and munching on unnecessary calories – making it so much easier to stay in the ideal daily caloric intake range.Lots of women who need to lose weight – who have been unsuccessful in the past – do well with this approach.

CB: And what about cardio? Do you use long cardio, intervals, or something else…a mix? What works best here?

JA: This all depends on the client. All of the above choices can work, but the key is to prescribe what they enjoy the most (this is rule number one) – because this makes long term adherence much more likely – and this is where permanent results are achieved.

Anytime you can get someone to stick with something for the long haul, you increase the possibility that it will become habit and harder to give up. Exercise is addictive when done properly. The results naturally follow.

CB: What are some lifestyle factors and obstacles that your clients have to avoid? What are some typical situations they find themselves in and how do they avoid temptation, setbacks or reverting bad habits?

JA: One of the more prevalent is vacation or holidays. For some reason people tend to put exercise on the back burner and on top of that they increase their food and beverage consumption, way more than they need to.

The root of this lies in whether or not the person has defined their values and if fitness is a part of those values or if it’s ‘just a way to look better in a bathing suit’ – which I consider a short term, superficial compulsion.

The more superficial the reasons for pursuing fitness are, the more likely there will be episodes of self sabotage, setbacks and most likely, failure. When fitness pursuits are based on getting the most out of life, for as long as possible, then a strong value system is in place and actions become based on these values.

The ‘sexy body’ is a natural by-product of the person’s values and matching ‘habits of daily life’.

CB: And finally, do you have any insights or tips that might surprise us…is there something that people think is good for fat loss but you disagree with…or vice versa? Any original tips would be great.

JA: I’ll go back to my ‘skipping breakfast’ concept mentioned above – calorie shifting. This takes a lot of people by surprise. Knowing that I have a masters degree in exercise physiology – they are waiting for some complex, scientific reason about why this works, when it goes against most of what we hear in the mainstream media.

And when I boil it all down – it’s simply a way of manipulating daily caloric intake in a way that makes it easier to implement and stick with. Women who want to lose body fat love it – because it’s easy and it works – that’s really all they want.

And here is something else that will become more prevalent in the mainstream media within the next 4 – 8 years… One of the things that people think is good for fat loss, but I strongly disagree with, is the number artificial sweeteners that are being used in the reduced calorie foods and diet drinks.

I won’t mention any trade or chemical names but these are substances I would not recommend to anyone.

This is one of the reasons I started creating my own healthy ‘fitness beverage’. I couldn’t find a truly healthy, all natural, tasteful drink that was low in calories and was really conducive to the fitness lifestyle. So I did some research and started making my own.

My clients are pushing me to bring it to the public, so I’m exploring that possibility. Oh – and here is something else that really gets me – these artificial sweeteners are also being used in regular versions of foods and drinks – with no notices on the labels. You have to find out by reading the ingredients list.

I know this because it happened to me. By chance, I was reading the label of a type of fairly healthy bread we had been buying for years. To my surprise – the company had started using one of the most widely used artificial sweeteners as an ingredient and didn’t even mention it on the packaging, except for in the very small ingredients list.

I thought this was an absolute joke and we simply stopped buying this company’s products.

CB: Thanks Joey – the info you shared here is great stuff – and will truly help a lot of women out there.

JA: My pleasure Craig – thanks for having me.

END OF INTERVIEW

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