Why This Former Athlete Turned White Collar Pro Refocused His Approach to Fitness

From the minute I met Chris C. I was impressed. This former college athlete turned white collar finance professional has some very admirable goals and a commitment to them that is inspiring. He wanted help developing a program that would make his body more mobile, more endurant and strong for the long haul. There’s nothing wrong with aesthetic goals. I have them myself. But it’s uncommon these days for a man in his 20s to tell me he wants to move better, longer and stronger. That he doesn’t want his desk job to destroy his body and that he just wants to be the best version of himself possible. I am so lucky to work with clients like Chris (including his roommate and gym buddy Chase) and I’m honored he took time from his busy life to share his thoughts and reflect on his progress with me for this Q&A. - JJ

Talk to me about your fitness goals and what inspires you.

Coming out of college and ending my athletic career, I needed to reevaluate and refocus how I approached fitness in general. I knew that I wanted to move away from the low rep, high weight power lifting routines that I had done for football for 14 years and transition to a more endurance focused fitness plan – both lifting and running.

I find inspiration in those who push the extremes in what they do – those who lead and push it every day. Striving to emulate those types of people in all aspects of my life helps drive me.

How has it been transitioning into the business world after school? How have you had to change your approach to fitness and wellness?

The transition to the business world has been full of lessons. So many things changed so quickly that my head was spinning for a little while before I could focus again and attempt to bring my life into order. I found that writing (or typing) out my routines, plans, goals, or just thoughts in general helped tremendously. Forcing me to think about how to articulate everything that is happening in my head allows me to take a step back, narrow my thoughts, and subsequently, clear any uncertainty or confusion I may have.

In contrast to my athletic career, during which I always had a schedule and routine for every day both in season and off season, I now have had to actively make health and fitness a priority, whether it be workouts, runs, swims, or meal prepping. From the short time I have been in the “real world” I have come to notice that (and this is no secret) no matter how much you plan and build a set schedule for yourself, things get in the way and you have to adjust your approach, recalibrate, and/or change your course of action. Because of the inconsistency, discipline has been my anchor. Even with the changing environments, being disciplined in the aspects of my life that I can control and approaches to situations I take has made a huge improvement to my daily life - specifically the discipline to stick on a very regimented routine of workouts and eating properly. This requires planning, prepping, and adjustment – all of which (to come full circle) require discipline too!

What has it been like working both a strength program AND a running program at the same time? Why is running important to you?

It has been fantastic for a couple reasons. First, as I mentioned before, I wanted to transition my short burst, powerful strength to endurance, which aligns well with my desire to increase my running capabilities – this requires a balance and an integration of the two programs. This is where your [JJ’s] expertise has really shown – the strength program has done such a brilliant job of complimenting my body’s transition to running endurance without tiring it out and building my strength endurance as well. So far, I have had no injuries, my joints feel great, and I am seeing great improvement in both areas.

You're recently transitioned into a new program focusing on planes of motion and body weight. What inspired that?

After the first program you made for me, which really focused on training and building my endurance from the ground up, I was interested in a changeup but still working on a strength program that would continue pushing my endurance forward. As you advised, the next natural step seemed to be to add additional planes of motion. The tangential benefits of working the muscles that are used to move through the various planes of motion are very clear; currently at around 7 weeks of this program, I have seen numerous benefits including increased hip mobility, a decrease in some joint pain (specifically in my shoulder where I have a torn labrum), and an overall improvement in my strength. I am a competitive person and I respond well to anything that poses as a competition or challenge – that is exactly what attaining great body weight strength is to me. I have always been lacking in the body weight strength area (pull-ups, push-ups, burpees, pistol squats, etc.) so adding this to my routine not only helps with my broader goal of improving my endurance but also keeps me motivated to complete a challenge.

In a short time you've made great gains in your mobility, running and strength/conditioning. What's next on your fitness bucket list?

I have definitely seen improvements in my mobility, strength/conditioning, and especially running, however, I am not at the level I want to be. I am very fortunate to have had you to guide me through the transition of my fitness in all of those categories and I believe that my current program, that is, the additional plane of motion & body weight strength program, the half marathon running program, and the beginnings of a swimming program, will keep me on the path of improvement. Looking forward in terms of goals for this program, I will run a half marathon, comfortably do 20+ pull-ups & 80+ push-ups, and build my base swimming technique and stamina for a future, more pool oriented program.

What advice do you have for your peers who might be considering taking on a fitness challenge but are dragging their feet?

My advice is simple and can be summed up in one word: Now. I, and I know I am not alone in this thinking, have always had the absolute best intentions when thinking about and planning workouts and eating healthily. I had the best ideas for what I was going to do for workout routines and how that, coupled with eating the right things, would make me the best version of myself. The concept was fantastic but I would find myself doing what I had thought about doing for a day, a couple days, a week or more but slowly and inevitably fade off and what I was doing would devolve into what was comfortable and easy, which still could’ve been better than before, but I knew it wasn’t the best I could do. Sometimes the ideas wouldn’t even be put into action at all. I would always give into that little voice that is unbelievably good at producing a high quantity of the most enticing excuses to slack or give some leeway.

It became abundantly clear to me that I could not listen to that voice as I transitioned to the business world from school. All of the sudden, I really couldn’t afford to put off anything important without seriously feeling the consequences of a growing prioritization list. Not succeeding and not excelling was not an option so I began to completely shut out that little voice that comes up with excuses to put things off and tell myself, “now”… whatever it was, think now, do it now, plan now, act now. Simply, replacing the word “later” in any thought that contained the phrase, “I can / will ____ that later.” It could be the smallest thing like putting away a dish, to picking up the piece of clothing on my floor, to completing a project at work. This is the mindset that has driven me and continues to drive me to achieve my fitness goals because it is particularly easy for that voice to come up with excuses for not working out. Whenever I would start to think about sleeping a little longer or think that the conditions weren’t right for a run, I would shut it off, say to myself go now, and think about nothing but the goal to achieve in the moment. I never regretted and continue to not regret what I do when I ignore that voice and think now, be now, and do now. That doesn’t mean if your goal is to run a marathon to go run a marathon now, it means do what you know you have to do in order to run a marathon (prepare, plan, etc.) now.