We have started with the new interview series called “Fitness Spotlight” and we would be publishing interviews of some of the most popular fitness trainers across the globe.
This time we reached out to Michael Arroyo – A fitness trainer based out of Manhattan, NYC and had a conversation with him around various fitness topics. We hope this interview will help you to get some fitness inspiration and clear your doubts about anything related to fitness. So let’s begin:
In your own words, define Fitness?
Fitness is the physical manifestation of the mentality a person creates when they decide to live a healthier lifestyle. Whether that be a change in diet, the implementation of a workout regimen or simply being conscious of drinking more water on a daily basis.
Why and when did you decide to become a fitness trainer?
I decided to become a fitness trainer at the age of 18. Two years after beginning my own fitness journey – resulting in losing over 100lbs. I began that journey because of the degree of frustration I reached with myself and my body by the time I was 16. I had always been the overweight, t-shirt-in-the-pool kind of kid until I just couldn’t live with that anymore. I have to credit my grandfather for jump starting/guiding me along to where I am today.
Are you CPR-certified? What other certifications do you hold?
I am CPR certified as well as AFPA and ISSA certified.
Describe your typical day. What it looks like? How do you know when it’s productive?
A typical day consists of an 8-12 hour work day beginning at 7 am and ending anywhere from 3pm-7pm. Followed by a strength training workout ranging between 40-60 minutes with a cardio session to top it off anywhere between 10-30 minutes. To determine when a day is productive is completely subjective in my opinion as I see any form of progress as productivity.
What experience do you have with customer service? Describe how you handle customer service situations involving difficult fitness center members or prospective members.
In terms of customer service, I’ve worked with people in different fields since I was 17. My first job working as a laborer for a construction company allowed me to work with customers on a less personal degree. Whereas being a personal trainer from the age of 18-on, I’ve happily dealt with well over 200 different clientele – keyword being ‘different’. From your typical teenager looking to “get shredded” or “tone up” to the average 20-something looking to bring their physical form to a new level. Up to 30 and 40-somethings who desire to look like what they did when they were younger all the way up to 50, 60, and 70-year-olds (even a handful 80+) all of which are simply trying to live healthier lifestyles to prolong their existence on this earth. The one commonality they all have is their sheer will and determination to change a lifestyle they’ve been living for a set amount of time in order to benefit their future.
How important is nutrition to you in creating a client’s regime?
Nutrition is the absolute most important key factor in both my clients’ lives as well as my own. Throughout my 6 years in the fitness industry, I’ve heard countless times from a number of my peers that ‘nutrition and working out are 50/50’ meaning; you can’t just focus on one and benefit 100%. I agree with the latter however, I believe it’s more like 80/20 with 80 being nutrition. When you feel good on the inside, there’s nothing in this world that can stop you from achieving any physically taxing goal. But when you’re filling yourself with toxicity in the form of fast food, soft drinks, sugary snacks etc, you WILL notice your body working at less than its potential.
What is the one habit you would recommend others develop? (Think lifestyle habits, productivity habits, or drinking some secret ninja tea made from a flower found only at the top of the mountain.)
The key habit that I’d recommend trying to incorporate into their lives would be being more conscious of the things they put into their bodies. Not just food. We live in a world where certain advertisements (like fast food) can easily be shoved away when they’re so eagerly thrown in our faces. That “white meat” in those chicken nuggets at your local fast food joint can’t fool the seasoned health-conscious human being but there are other, more deceptive adverts out there.
For example; a supplement company may tell you to consume their protein product 3-4 times a day, 1-2 doses with their benefit claims being to build more muscle and burn more fat. Not only is this misleading because of how different and diverse people’s lives/lifestyles are but also because they’re simply looking for you to finish their product faster in order to get you to purchase more – solely for their own profit.
Describe how you handle a client who is unhappy with your work, or a client who doesn’t achieve her goals when you know the problem is with her level of motivation.
I’ve dealt with a handful clients who have been less than happy with their results over a certain period of time, I believe all personal trainers have/will at some point. If I believe it’s their own level of motivation or determination that’s hindering their results, I’ll sit them down and go over every aspect of their life in the last month (to give an example) and ask key questions;
- a) What has your diet been like / have you changed anything from the diet I provided?
- b) Are you dealing with any stress or extra stress within the last month or so that you can recall?
- c) Have you changed anything in your workout regimen provided? Are you overworking or underworking yourself?
- d) Are you getting enough sleep, resting after workouts and listening to your body when you don’t feel well?
I’ll also remind them that this is a lifestyle. I’ll use anecdotes to help drive my point home that nothing happens overnight and it took me 2 years to lose 100lbs and another year on top of that to recompose my body to a more muscular, aesthetically pleasing shape that satisfied my own desires.
To summarize; I remind them that they are not alone on this journey and I have been exactly where they are.
What are your thoughts about organic food? What are your thoughts on a vegan diet? When you encounter a client or prospective fitness club member who is committed to a diet that differs from your own, how do you remain objective?
My thoughts on organic/vegan diets or lifestyles are extremely open. I, myself do not follow any particular diet but rather I sort of guinea pig myself on a daily basis. By that I mean I tend to be very conscious of what I consume and how it reacts in my body as well as what that reaction does to me mentally.
For example, when I consume fatty steak it bothers my stomach initially, it’s hard to digest and thus makes me feel lethargic for a few days thereafter. When I consume an avocado, however, I don’t feel that same hard-to-digest, lethargic feeling. Instead, I feel energized and full to the point of satiety.
With that said, I’m open to any current diet that a client presents to me. If it works for them I won’t change it but I will suggest things that they could change if they feel the need to.
Give me an overview of a training program you would set up for a client strictly looking for weight loss and toning? What do you tell clients who are looking for instant results?
A training program I’d provide for a client looking to “tone up” would be much more strength training based than cardio which is where I’d say I differ from other trainers.
The logic: the more muscle you build, the more fat you burned over time by simply living. Sure you could burn 600 calories in an hour with interval sprinting but you may be depleting your muscles, breaking them down to the point where they can’t repair themselves as quickly. That leads to muscle loss which eventually leads to fewer calories burned over time. You would essentially have to work harder and longer just to get a result that you may not even want unless you just want to be skin, bones and a little bit of fat. But hey, no body shaming; if that’s the look you want there’s nothing wrong with that – it’s just not the norm from what I’ve experienced.
As for clients who desire “instant results” I tell them very honestly that there is no magic pill and there are no instant results. You do not begin a career as the CEO or president, you do not become captain of your army platoon the very first day of training. You will not wake up tomorrow with the body you desire but with hard work, consistency and an open mind you WILL achieve everything you want (and more) and that is a promise.
Do you have fitness goals for yourself? If so, what are they?
My own fitness goals vary. Currently, I’m just looking to maintain what I’ve built physically simply under the guise of stress from everyday life. When this stress subsides (and it will) I plan to step on stage again for another bodybuilding show as well as work towards a powerlifting competition and potential photo shoots.
If you could only recommend one book for our community to read, what would it be and why?
If I could recommend one book to read it would be The Art of War by Sun-Tzu. I believe the way it is translated to its readers is completely subjective so I’d say read it and make your own determination as to how it fits in your own life. Besides, it’s a great book!
Where does your personal motivation and inspiration to be successful come from?
My personal motivation and inspiration to become successful come mainly from my Mom. She has always been an enormous influence on me and from a very young age I’ve looked up to her like she’s Wonder-Woman. As a matter of fact, to me, she really is. The countless sacrifices she has made and acts of sheer generosity to allow me to live the best life I could live has truly opened my eyes as an adult. She pushes me to be the best me I can be and I’ll have that mentality to live by for the rest of my life.
Give me three essential exercises you suggest for all clients? Why are these in your top three?
Three essential exercises I recommend to all clients are;
- a) Push-ups: they can be done anywhere and can be modified for any fitness level.
- b) Bodyweight Squats: they can also be done anywhere and modified to increase or decrease intensity (i.e. Increasing or decreasing range of motion to corresponding with any fitness level)
- c) Reverse Crunches: I believe this exercise to be the single most beneficial core exercise to this very day. It allows the incorporation of every abdominal muscle including your lower abs, of which are difficult to engage during exercises like sit-ups or normal crunches.
How should people connect with you? E.g.: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, email, website, etc.
You can contact me via Instagram @michaeljarroyoyo feel free to send me a message there and we can further our communications if you desire!
Where are you located? Please include city + state + country (if outside the US).
I’m currently on the upper east side of Manhattan in NYC