How Intention, Data and a Few Barbells Can Change Your Body and Mind

I’m proud of all of my clients. It’s very hard in this busy, tech-driven world to find time for fitness. And not everyone sees the value in building a strong foundation by addressing mobility, posture and core strength needs before tackling larger goals like Olympic lifting and endurance running. But my client Julian has done things the right way. Over the years he has diligently done the work. Integrating resistance training, mobility work, massage and LOTS of data points, he has consistently and safely progressed. He has achieved his body comp goal of getting lean (hello, abs!) and his posture is on point. His running has improved. He is now safely starting to Olympic lift. As a trainer, I’m gushing over his success. So I asked him to share his experience and advice in this month’s client spotlight.

I've had the pleasure of working with you for over two years now. And you've always been a dedicated client. But over the past six months something has noticeably sparked in you. You've leaned out considerably. Your posture has improved. You are taking on more complex physical goals like Olympic lifting. To what do you credit this shift in your fitness?

Between leaving my job and iterating through ideas for my new venture, I had the unique opportunity to focus on a few things I always wanted to improve on but with frequent travel in my previous job never really found the right time to do. I wanted to be more intentional and focused with my workouts (build functional strength, improve my running), improve sleep consistency and lastly improve my diet.

I figured that this transitional period was the perfect time to build a solid routine that would help me stay healthy and become stronger physically and mentally. Besides that, I realized that I really enjoy the athletic challenge of being an amateur athlete - in a world where so many things are beyond your (personal) control, it's incredible to see how effective workouts can have a positive impact on your mind and your body - this really provided extra motivation for me.

Out of all of my clients, you're a "data guy" when it comes to your health. For you, what are the most important data points you track?

Yeah, I really appreciate a data driven approach when it comes to health and fitness. Of course, not everything is fully measurable and it's important to ultimately listen to what your body is telling you. That being said, it's incredible how data can help you reach your goals easier and faster while avoiding injuries. The main data points I track day to day are resting heart rate and heart rate variability (HRV) along with a bunch of other data points that my Whoop device is tracking for me. It turns out that especially resting heart rate and HRV are great indicators for stress and recovery, so I always know how much strain I can put on my body to get an optimal workout in. More importantly, the recovery is indicating if my training is effective and at the right intensity, i.e. am I reaching my goals and am I actually recovering well etc?

With your mobility/posture work, strength training and running how do you make it all a priority while balancing a new marriage, leading a start-up and having some time to breath?

Well, it's not always easy to be honest, but I think it ultimately boils down to a few things. One, it's important to have a general plan for your workouts and most importantly have a plan that works for you and your schedule. Two, it's also important to stay flexible and don't feel bad if you don't get a workout in because life happens. Three, relying on coaches and professionals to help keep you accountable to your goals. There is quite some motivation from knowing that JJ will be checking in regularly and I want to be able to have achieved some progress by then.

You recently added regular massage and soft tissue work to your routine. How has that impacted your body and performance?

Yeah, the results are quite remarkable. With added strain on my body, I realized that I needed to prioritize good recovery as well. It starts with consistent foam rolling (something I didn't do as regularly before we started working together) and getting a regular deep tissue massage. Obviously, I feel great after every massage (although sometimes a bit sore), but more importantly I noticed that my recovery time after workouts went down, days and sometimes even weeks after a massage and at the same time my ability to take on strain and actual running performance increased.

What made you decide to add Olympic lifting to your program?

I had toyed around with some Olympic lifting routines previously and was always curious about the functional strength aspects of it, plus there is just something special about training with barbells. At the same time, I never felt that I had actually fully mastered the techniques. Then I recently came across a program that specialized on lifting for running, so I figured that this would be a great opportunity to work with you on building some of these elements into my training and help me learn proper technique.