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Harder to Kill Radio 050 - James Fitzgerald| StupidEasyPaleo.com

How to Find the Right Trainer

On this week’s episode of Harder to Kill Radio, I’m happy to introduce you to James Fitzgerald, founder of OPEX Fitness.

Harder to Kill Radio 050 - James Fitzgerald| StupidEasyPaleo.com

Meet Episode 50’s Guest, James Fitzgerald

If nothing else, James Fitzgerald is a man of strong opinions and even stronger integrity. He’s taught and influenced tens of thousands of people on the topic of fitness, but what stands out to me isn’t what he’s accomplished…it’s how he’s done it.

Fitzgerald’s approach to fitness isn’t one of marketing hype, tapping into people’s fears about their bodies, or chasing the newest, shiniest, sexiest methodology. Rather, it’s quite the opposite.

Tune into this week’s episode to hear some honest, real talk about how to really build a stronger, more robust body and in turn, living a longer and more prosperous life.

In This Episode of Harder to Kill Radio, You’ll Learn:

  • How & why James got started with a lifelong pursuit of coaching & fitness
  • His advice for finding harmony in life even when you’re very dedicated to a sport
  • How to read the signs & listen to your body
  • James’s formula for building body awareness
  • OPEX’s principles in fitness
  • How to find the right trainer for you
  • Where we’re failing our kids in school
  • Fitness & nutrition strategies for living long & prospering

Links & Resources Mentioned In This Episode:

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Harder to Kill Radio 050 - James Fitzgerald| StupidEasyPaleo.com

Harder to Kill Radio 050 - James Fitzgerald| StupidEasyPaleo.com

How to Find the Right Trainer – Full Transcript

Steph Gaudreau
Welcome to Harder to Kill Radio, a top rated health and fitness podcast. On this week’s episode, I’m joined by James Fitzgerald, founder of OPEX fitness. We’re talking all about how to find the right trainer for you how to read and listen to your body signs, and his best fitness and nutrition strategies for living long and prospering. Let’s do this.

Hey there, welcome to episode number 50 of Harder to Kill Radio. I’m your host, Steph Gaudreau. Thank you so much for taking some time out of your day to tune into the show and hear from my guest, James Fitzgerald of OPEX fitness. You know, my goal on Harder to Kill Radio is to find the most fascinating people in the world. These are folks who are dedicating their lives to building unbreakable humans through the pursuit of fitness, nutrition, and mindset.

And then of course, to share their expertise with you so that you can apply it to your life. Be sure to visit stupideasypaleo.com/fifty to get the show notes from this episode and links to everything that we talked about. Okay, time to jump into the show.

Welcome back to harder to kill Radio. I’m very honored to have today’s guests with me. This is James Fitzgerald of OPEX fitness. Someone who has indirectly sort of one degree of separation actually influenced a lot of my training in the past and anyone who’s ever done tempo squats, knows, perhaps of some of these methods. So welcome to the show.

James Fitzgerald
It’s great to be here. Spooky Lee had a part to play in your athletic prowess.

Starting OPEX

Steph Gaudreau
I remember the article. So the quick backstory here is I used to be an athlete that trained at Invictus in San Diego, I still live in San Diego now. I’m just a weightlifter. So I’ll say that but that I did. Yeah, I did train at Invictus for a couple years. And I very distinctly remember the first time I ever saw the 30X0 tempo on the board. And we all had to sort of have a powwow and discuss what that meant. So so your your influence is quite wide reaching, and you have quite an interesting history.

And you are in charge of quite an interesting business now located out of Arizona, but having worldwide reach. And so I’m really excited to talk with you today about sort of your story, why you do what you do, why you’re so passionate about it. And a lot of these other I know burning questions that people want to know, I just saw a very interesting video you had about nutrition. And so I think that’d be a cool thing to ask you about.

But, man, well, we’ll get into all that stuff as we go. But But yeah, so tell me, I know your backstory, but people may know you as OPT, they may know us OPEX in our house, we call you OPT because that’s sort of the era that we’re from in terms of that fitness era. But you know, tell people how you got your start. And then eventually, you know, how did that lead you to where you are now. Maybe the semi condensed version of that? Or give us the highlights, I guess?

James Fitzgerald
Yeah, for sure. At any point, you could you could still call me OPT. Legally, it may be your issue, not mine. I’ll just nod my head. No, I have. There’s two audiences, you know, the audiences today that know me as James Fitzgerald, who works at OPEX. And then there’s, you know, us or the other group that will always know me as that moniker for my life in CrossFit.

I was, the condensed version. Yeah, I was an athlete as a kid, I loved athletics, and became a really good at soccer, and then had a big injury in soccer and recognized that I really didn’t develop any other parts of my life besides my identity as being an athlete. So went through a really depressive state at 18 years of age, when I thought I was like the shit, and I was fearless and was going to conquer the world, and then recognize that I was just a frickin number, you know, and, and really, you know, had had a hard time dealing with that man, you know.

There’s light at the end of the tunnel of this story, though, because the, obviously but I fell in love with fitness because I started recognizing that getting back into shape for my injury made me actually stronger than what I was as an athlete beforehand. So I was like, Ooh, there’s something really cool inside of this. And so that initial spark, started a journey of me trying to grow fitness.

Principles of Fitness Coaching

So I went through academia to do that became, you know, came out and how do you you know, put that trade into practice? You become a trainer, you got to teach other people about it. And so I did it all the time, and a lot of it and went around the world trying to search out who was the best at it and who was doing that. And ironically, when you talk about tempo, I mean, it’s just stuff that’s been handed down for years from other people, but I offered it to this functional fitness group, I think, in a way of just fixing things.

So just try to, you know, hone my practice and, you know, develop some great practices in that, that gave me success within business, business models for how it was delivered. And then over time, you know, people start asking questions on, you know, well, how can I do that? And how can I do those things that you’ve done in order to create this process of success? And I didn’t have an answer for them.

Because like, ah, there’s so much you know, because you can’t learn experience, you know, you can’t teach someone, you know, 15 years of being in the trenches. So what I did do, though, is put together, you know, a systematic method of different areas of fitness, we call them principles in different areas of life coaching, nutrition assessment, program, design and business, that if people would go through, they’d see the things in there that I fell in love with, and created success.

So brings us to me today, I coach, you know, 1000s of coaches around the world, within their fitness business on how to become, you know, the best coaches possible. And we also coach people online who are really serious about fitness, and want to compete at it.

Creating Fulfillment

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, and I think you’re being a bit modest. You guys have had, you’ve written over a million program designs for clients and coached 10s of 1000s of people. So, you know, what do you kind of think about online, if people listening are sort of into the, you know, into finding finding workouts online, or you kind of Google the latest thing.

I mean, you guys are, are legit, you guys have have, like you said, you’ve been in the trenches, you’ve put in a lot of the work. So don’t, you know, don’t be too modest there. But you’ve announced your your coaching for coaches has obviously a multiplied effect, because those people are going out. And, and using that methodology.

James Fitzgerald
Yeah, no, I’m that, you know, that’s what that makes me smile, you know, it, it really makes me get up in the morning to kind of keep duplicating those coaches. But, you know, I made that statement, you know, a couple of years ago, when people ask me about my fulfillment within the process, and what really fulfills me now is having those other coaches, you know, create autonomy within what they’ve learned from what I’ve taught them to, like, really affect hundreds of other people. And that makes me feel good. So yeah, but you asked for the condensed version. You know, I could, I could lead into number of different stories that would explain that intricately, but.

Steph Gaudreau
So I want to go back to something you mentioned earlier, because I think it’s a very common experience. And it’s something that I’ve experienced as well. And anyone who’s training, I would say, with some degree of regularity, and with intensity, and who has certain goals, at some point, you may get hurt. And for a lot of people, for whom they’ve been athletes, perhaps their entire life, or they’ve just found something new and gosh, they’re so like, it’s changed their life, right. And so now they’re super dedicated to it.

That sort of identity crisis of, you know, I was this, you know, this was my whole life, my culture was, you know, I was a soccer player, everything was soccer culture, I was, I knew who I was there. And then you go through this event, and all of a sudden, your life gets sort of tipped upside down. And I sort of described when I got hurt, I kind of described it as like a, you’re like a boat, kind of without a sail or just kind of drifting, you know, used to have all these goals written down and things you wanted to do, and you knew when you’re going to train and you knew your competitions were going to be.

Finding Balance with a New Fitness Passion

How do you deal with or how do you counsel the athletes that you work with through those times? Or what kind of advice do you have for people out there who may be sort of recognizing the same things in themselves? They’re like, I want to be I know, I need to be dedicated to what I do. Or, you know, I’m not going to necessarily, maybe I won’t reach a certain level of performance that I want to reach. But, you know, how do you sort of, I guess, balance that or how do you find the harmony within life?

James Fitzgerald
Yeah, I think that, well, the first thing we want to make those individuals aware of, is the fact that, you know, they have to really think about the rest of their life in how they’re defining who they are, and what makes them up. And what it does, it creates a big vulnerability. But there’s only true growth, I think, in humans, when you do become vulnerable. And so, you know, the actual act of what happened, obviously, you gotta catch them when they fall. And you have to be there to hug and hold on and kind of have those discussions.

But it can’t go without mentioning the fact that they really need to recognize how they lined everything up, you know, for that event to happen, and so So when you know, and then secondly, is the greatest learning, which what I did in that situation, which took me a couple of years, honestly, is to really hone in on the, you know, what is the preparation? And what are the things that I can do that don’t allow me to lose consciousness to get into the point of failure or fatigue or pain again.

So you can see that those things happen in your life for a reason they happen for you to make the feedback loop better the next time, and the universe will keep punching you in the face if you don’t get that lesson. Recognized, right? So it’ll give you the bad shoulder or you’ll have the knee injury, whatever. That’s a sign saying, Hey, wake up. Like you’re, you’re not really on an awareness track of what you thought you were.

You’re not listening to your body, you’re not listening to the signs you’re not, you know, I’m saying so it’s a feedback loop that allows people to recognize where they’re going, and what the purposes of going there. So you know, two things there. Just to recap, you got to see that without that physical phenomenon, or something that you’re searching for, you’ve got to have something to fall back on. Right?

You’ve got to be right here good with what this is, with no activity, no grandiose goals, or no grandiose awards, you’ve got to be good with numero uno right away. And secondly, let’s learn from what happened and improve that feedback loop so that you learn from it. So you don’t get into it again, because it’s not fun.

Listening to Your Body in Fitness

Steph Gaudreau
No, no. And I think that’s such great, great advice for people who are maybe not quite as seasoned athletes, or maybe they’ve just not been, as you say, like you kind of are aware, you’re just kind of conscious of it. When you say sort of listen to your body. I know people ask me this all the time.

They’re like, but what does that mean? You know, what am I looking for? What am I trying to feel? And I think for people who are a bit newer, or like I said, who haven’t been cultivating the awareness that they certain things might surprise them? So sort of as a coach, you know, what do you cue your athletes or to look for our field for or what were some of the signs of listening to your body?

James Fitzgerald
Yeah, I think if, you know, I think there’s been, you know, actual practices been been done on this in a non fatigue setting. I think fitness kind of screwed it up to make people like really aware of their body. The way I like, the way I like to say it is like, we put people into this room who really needed like gymnastics and proper tempo weight training. And we were like, just go for it. You know, just whatever happens. Let’s just figure it out. You know?

Yeah, that’s, that’s the new concept of fitness. So the fact that, you know, you know what, you and I are even discussing that. I can’t fix the answer to that question, right. I can’t fix it. You know, you know, what you how you can fix it. You don’t put people into social situations where they’re like, how did I get injured? My question is, what the hell are you doing getting injured in a fitness program?

Yeah, right, that makes absolutely no sense. So if you are actually doing a fitness program that had an excellent base support, which of course, you may need to look to a person to help you with that, and not marketing or like, what current media is dictating what fitness is, they would tell you that you need to do you know, this aerobic work, which allows you to get insight into like, oh, there’s my breath. That’s what it feels like to increase my breath, right? I mean, that’s how Yogi’s teach people in classes is like, you have to figure out where your body is in space, and your breath.

Gain Awareness of Your Body

And so how do we figure out our body in our space, we do resistance training, right? I don’t know, anyone who learned how to do resistance training from the get go, that got hurt, where they’re like, whoa, you know, I can feel the fifth rep coming on with this weight now. And I can tell something’s gonna happen. They don’t say that, right? This is what happens, they get into a fatigue based setting where they weren’t prepared for that they weren’t supposed to be doing it.

And then they’re like, I don’t know what just happened there. But now my back hurts, you know? And so how do you fix that, you just, you just make the design a whole lot better. So if people are trying to figure out that as to how to, you know, listen to the body, I think really basic premise is the entry level of everyone coming into fitness, they should learn, you know, let’s call it what can be listened to, for the public as gymnastics and body awareness, they need to gain awareness of their body and where it is in space, then they need to learn how to overcome resistance of their own body and move that in space.

Then they need to learn how to overcome resistance more than their body with external resistance. At the same time, they should be learning how to breathe, and then breathe more uncomfortably over time in a non fatigued state. If you combine those together for a long period of time. Now, you deserve to do this extra fancy shit on the back end, if that makes sense.

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, everybody wants to do sexy stuff, right?

James Fitzgerald
This is what we’re giving people is like, Ah, screw this whole, you know, fundamental process that you need. 10 years of doing, let’s just jump in and do the dance. You know, I’m sorry, but that’s not gonna work.

Steph Gaudreau
Ya know, and I very much respect that and it’s it’s easy to want to get impatient and say, you know, like, I just want to do the cool looking stuff that people over there are doing. And yet the foundation has has not really been laid. And you’re

Your Physiology Isn’t as Fast as Information Consumption

James Fitzgerald
Well, this process. I mean, it’s our fault. Really, you know, because we, we it’s really well, it’s it’s partly your my fault, but we we drank the Kool Aid of, but we forgot, hey, what was our background that actually got us to the point to be able to do that. And if we go back and look at my background, it was lots of aerobic stuff and lots of weight training, which allowed me then to get into intensity, but I get in there, and I’m like, Oh, this shits really cool. Everyone can do it. No, not everyone can do it.

They need to do the exact same life pattern of doing that. But I do understand stuff. Because really, today, if we want an answer to something, we Google it, right, it’s just like, I got the answer. I can get that. So people think, Oh, if I want the answer to fitness, I just get it. No. See, this is how we’re it’s different. Yeah, you know, females are still after 100 years, you know, it takes them nine months to get pregnant, that hasn’t fast tracked, you know, when you cut yourself, that shit doesn’t happen quicker, you know.

So we forget that physiology is not as fast as what technology and people’s consumed consumption of information is today. And we think it is. And so we’ve we’re selling everyone, the fast fitness market. And that’s what eventually leads to your question of like, how do I figure out listen to my body? It’s actually it’s actually crazy that we’re actually to that point,

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah. It’s such a such a great point. It’s such a moment to ponder. I really

James Fitzgerald
Deep one, right? Where are we, today on that market where people are formulating their questions. And instead of abandoning their questions, we’re like, why are you asking that question? Like, how are you possibly answering that question?

Mind, Body, and Spirit in Personal Training

Steph Gaudreau
So one of the things I think you guys do incredibly well, is, you know, your, your well, OPEX is really well known for coaching extremely high level athletes. Right. And you guys coach, I guess I would say sort of everyday folks, as well. But I mean, you produce some workhorses. These people are monsters, they’re beasts, right? Their their work capacity is crazy.

And so somebody sort of listening to this might think, well, if I were to go and peek into your gym, or if I were to go to your blog, or listen to you speak at a conference or something, it’s going to be all about hammering the body. And, and you got it.

And that’s what again, I think that’s that this conception of like, fitness is all about just no pain, no gain, like how much can you make yourself hurt? And you guys are pretty clear about and it even says on your website, that it’s it’s mind, body, and spirit? And, you know, so can you kind of explain to me why you think those things are all necessary and building stronger people? Yeah. And, you know, Where where are we sort of going wrong with that stuff?

James Fitzgerald
Yeah, well, I think that, you know, we’re, we’re going wrong. And this is not my doing, but we’re taking fancy athletic programs and trying to slap it on top of regular human beings. And just in your comments of, you know, what people may see as OPEX. And where we sit on that? Yeah, we have, we have no regrets that we have connections to a lot of people that have worked hard to become really good in fitness and duplicated that and other models where coaches have done that too. But the thing is Steph is that it’s the principles that are making those people good, it’s not the no pain, no gain mentality.

Any of those coaches of those athletes, or any of those athletes will tell you, yeah, I worked hard, just like anyone who has to learn a skill or get better at something, it’s just that they’re more resilient than regular human beings. So it looks like you know, they just do this unbelievable pain efforts all the time. It’s actually not the case. But what OPEX offers is an understanding to coaches of principles in fitness.

And when you get those principles and fitness, like dialed in, you create an understanding, you can offer fitness to anyone, and including elite, you know, performers in fitness, you know, where you taking your example, CJ Martin, who looks at those principles and goes, you know, I could crush the CrossFit market with correct kind of coaching for people the way I want to see it just by using a baseline of principles plus his own, you know, vision of how those principles are supposed to work. You know, you’re responding of that, right.

Measuring Success

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, absolutely. And I think that’s, you know, it’s really interesting. You talk a lot about recovery. And I was sort of listening in on some of the stuff you were talking about with, you know, what dictates success? What what makes somebody successful. So you might think, Okay, well, I’m gonna have this sort of like, I guess more, I would call it like a more multifaceted approach or a more holistic approach, a mind body spirit approach, where there are multiple sort of loops feeding into that athlete.

But ultimately, you know, when you kind of look at things, what’s your what’s your take on that? That question, I guess what dictates success like what’s going to make one person have an advantage? To over another if if you can kind of, sort of get everybody trained to roughly the same point, or you give them all the same training program, you know, or they’re all sort of, we’re looking at the CrossFit Games and spoiler, for those of you who don’t know, James was actually the first male winner of the first crossfit games ever, right? 2007.

So you’re not just one of those guys, that sort of, like tells everybody what they should be doing. Like, you’re quite the athlete yourself. You know, at those elite levels, what is really separating one person from another? Or why do we see people sort of start to crumble? Where can we get some insight there?

James Fitzgerald
Yeah, well, I’m gonna answer, you know, not really answer in detail, because it’s deep in terms of the really big rabbit hole of like, what dictates success? I think first, you have to have a measure of what success means. So just we can flow through that. And the second question is actually a pretty simple one. That I believe I know, what dictates that but there’s obviously a lot of things underneath that. I think there’s one guiding principle that allows people to be better than others in that situation, is that they’re really fast adaptors, and they’re more resilient than other human beings.

And so resilience is largely dictated by perception, and the environment. And so the perception, one is what I really hit on, and I see it in layman’s terms. So really hit home hits home, if you want to be better, you got to think less and do more. And so when people get that recognition in their mind, when you think less, you perceive less, if you perceive less, you’ll have a better opportunity in the environment to adapt quicker to stressors.

When Does a Skill become Habitual?

What is a Metcon? It’s a new stress, it’s a new task, how do you become better other people don’t think about it, just do it. Right now, if you if you don’t have the characteristics, or the physical aptitude, or the social learning, or all the other things that go into that, and you need some training on how to become better at that, then yeah, you can go from like 200, in the reason to 40 with some really fine tune training.

But ironically, the people that just keep climbing up and getting better and better, there’s not this magical, systematic approach to getting better, they just perceive less. And they’re more resilient, meaning that every stress that they they do, they they see the task coming, and they adapt to it and do it just the way they’re supposed to do it, to ensure that there’s a survival moment. So they can do another task to come, whether that be another rep of a heavy clean, or another workout in three hours, or whatever it takes in order to do that,

Steph Gaudreau
To what extent this sort of, I guess, practicing a skill till it becomes more habitual and or does visualization factor into any to either of those things?

James Fitzgerald
Yeah , well, both of them, because you can’t just have, you know, let’s take the extreme measures of both of them, let’s say we have someone who just comes in and without any thought just doing things all the time, right. Whereas we have someone who just sits in a chair and is like, it’s going to be beautiful, and they don’t do it, you know, they don’t do a thing. So there has to be, there has to be a combination of and this were a great coach can come in and say when you’re swinging back and doing this, I need you to feel this, this is the rhythm that you should be feeling when you do it.

And the athletes like I can sense that. So you see that they’re visualizing it right already. And now they go up, but there has to be a mechanical connection, you have to have actual physical electricity happening, to connect those tubes to the emotion that was created or the visualization that was created. So I think they go hand in hand with one another. And I think what athletes do, or really good athletes do, but they’re not and take the straight way they’re not intellectual enough to speak about how they do it, is that they can see how shits gonna happen better than we can, but they can’t explain how they can see it happening.

So when Josh Bridges looks ahead for a 16 minute workout, I don’t give a shit what the reps look like, but he can do unbelievable work for you know, compared to any other human being, he can see further ahead than you and I can he does a better job of that. So what is that that’s just called an X factor of resilience. You know, you just feel this unbelievable resilience to understand what’s coming ahead and how to do the work exactly perfectly based upon what you’re capable of to do that better than another person. Yeah. Fascinating shit inside there.

Steph Gaudreau
It really is. I mean, when you when you sort of break

What’s Inside the Athlete?

James Fitzgerald
Problem with this Steph is that we can’t, you know, ironically, and I’ll say it like it is the medium. The medium that’s being used to understand these athletes is effed. It’s, I’ll use your explicit it’s fucked, right? You get a we get a poor medium to really understand these humans because it’s all based upon entertainment and drama. And it’s not based upon really getting sight and understanding the beauty behind I what’s inside of these athletes?

Steph Gaudreau
And it’s so complex, and this world is sort of reduced to, you know, clickbait headlines and viral videos and stuff like that. And so, yeah, it sort of it misses the point. I mean, and you kind of touched on this really quickly, for people who aren’t keyed in, there was a video that was posted of an incredible performance.

And, you know, there was a lot of online arguing about reps and this and that, and were they valid, and, you know, it’s sort of, sometimes you just want to unplug from everything, and just kind of like, be away from that. But, but yeah, we sort of trivialize and reduce people to these new algorithms, like news headlines and, and or video clips. And it’s, it only very rarely scratches the surface of what is sort of going on with that person and what they’re, you know, they’re capable of doing and all the factors that go into it.

James Fitzgerald
Yeah, my God, no one understands those factors, right? You know, what, anyways, let’s not go off.

Steph Gaudreau
We won’t go off on that tangent. So. So I know a lot of people listening will probably be thinking, Okay, I’m not an elite athlete. I’m not, you know, I’m not gonna win the Olympics, I’m not gonna go to the CrossFit Games, I just care about getting stronger, I want to be a better functioning human being. And as I sort of approach age 40, I’m like, You know what, like, competing is fun for me. But I also want to make sure I’m sort of getting stronger and preparing my body for older age.

Like, I think there’s probably nothing less dignifying than not being able to get off the floor or off the toilet, or sort of take care of yourself. And, you know, it’s I think there are a lot of people who are more keyed into that. Now, they’re like, being strong, and being mobile and performing basic tasks, like a human being should, is important. So they go to the gym, and they’re like, I don’t know, I joined 24 Hour Fitness, or like, I hire a trainer. And they don’t really know how to even assess whether that person sort of knows what they’re doing. Right.

And so I think one of the things it’d be interesting to discuss is sort of, you know, you guys take a very hard approach in terms of, you need to assess what people are doing when they walk in the door in terms of, I’m a trainer, I’m a coach, like, I can’t just have people doing whatever we need to know where they’re at. But if you’re on the flip side of that, you know, you’re the client, you’re the trainee. I mean, do you have any advice for people in terms of how do you know if what you’re getting is crap? Or is it worthwhile? You know, from that point of view,

Coach Client Relationship

James Fitzgerald
yeah, for sure. Well, in that relationship, you know, the coach, just so you can look, wherever you are on the coach or client, the outside of that, or just us looking at the outside as an observer, I think within that coach client relationship, you know, the coach has to ask some questions, really, about who they are, you know, and who they are as a person, and why they do anything that they do, you know, what gets me out of bed in the morning, you know, what makes you feel alive? You know, what’s your, what’s powerful in your personal space?

You know, these are questions that we ask people, you know, so we can really get some insight into, like, you know, if you’re gonna do this fitness thing in the gym, first of all, we asked that question, why are you doing it? Right? So if their answer is to lose weight, to, you know, all these things, I don’t give a shit about those until I find out who that is behind that, because all the shit that I hear on the outside is what the market generally or someone else has told you, you’re supposed to do for fitness. And so do you think you’re going to enjoy that, if I’m selling you that program based upon the fat loss?

No, you’re not gonna enjoy it, and you’re not going to sustain with it. Whereas if I taught you about something that’s going to happen in there, that’s going to change your life and transform your mind, that’s going to connect to making you better at the things that you value on the outside. That’s the shit that sticks that makes people want to go in there every day, because it makes them better at the shit that they value on the outside, whether it’s taking care of their kid, you know, building a house or doing whatever it takes in order to do that.

The weird side of this is that we’re actually as a human race become so low resilient, that we actually have to do fitness. Now, to get us back to a point of homeostasis, right. So just think about that. People are lining up to get in a fitness facility to backtrack to get them back to homeostasis. So just think about that. Imagine, imagine a world where there’s no fitness facilities, and there’s no fitness to be offered, right? It actually makes more sense, right? And you know, what caused all the problems? Well, industrial, we can go deep industrialization, sugar, blah, blah, blah, processing down the road.

Okay, so we are at that point. So the question has to be asked, which really creates tears for coaches and gym owners and also the aspect is, you know, why are they coming to you? How did they get to this point? have disease and dysfunction, right? What was the case of that? And what are you going to fix? Are you just going to beat the shit out of them to get them back to zero? No, you got to fix all the things that got them to that point, no sugar, you got to move, you got to get some sunshine, you got to have purpose, you got to drink water. Yatta, Yatta, yatta yatta.

A Personal Trainer for You

But that’s not sexy. And it’s not sellable. Right, it’s not sellable. So instead, we sell them this package of like this is, you know, so anyways, I could go, I could go on and on around, you know how to get to that point for it. But on the outside looking in, if you’re a consumer, and you want to do fitness, you have to get someone in front of you, who’s going to ask you questions like, Where are you currently? And why did you get to this current state? That’s what they have to ask.

And if they dig deeper into those pieces by looking at your movement, your metabolic function, and how well you do work, which is the three things that I teach coaches, they should give you an excellent design to help you based upon that. But this is the this is the the weird thing is that 95% of people who show up in front of coaches actually don’t love fitness the way we do.

Yeah, right, they don’t, but they do it to serve a value, because there’s a void in their life that fitness is going to provide for them. So we have to make them connect fitness and the practice of it for what’s really important for them, raising kids, you know, as I said, doing all these other things, and we get so caught up in making it like a dysfunctional band aid that people hate it. And that I have a problem with that. I have a major problem with that.

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, you know, I, I know that core values are important to you. And they’re important to OPEX as a business, it’s on your I mean, how many fitness blogs and what happened with fitness websites you go to they’re like, by the way, here’s not only the story of how it came about, but here are our core values. I mean, you really have to have integrity, and then back it up to put that stuff online and then go, Hey, by the way, like I’m declaring this to the world.

First of all, no one’s doing that. Second of all, I think it’s incredibly important. And I can’t agree more that at you know, getting to the root of what’s important to people and like, finding a way to sort of work toward those core values through that modality is, it has to be the way to go because you’re right, people are like, I hate working out exercise sucks. It’s, it’s boring, it hurts I hate it’s hard.

Teaching People to Connect to Their Body

James Fitzgerald
You know what, that I got a major problem with that, like, what, why have we gotten to that point? Think about that? How have we gotten to that point, that’s really sad. Because it’s just, it’s just effing up the entire, the entire physical culture of connecting people to their bodies. And, you know, that needs to be, you know, that needs to be taught. First of all with kids, it needs to be just as important as math in school, but it’s now kicked to the curb.

You know, we set these kids up to be to become corporate leaders and, and smart as engineers, but we don’t give a shit about their their ability to know what their bodies are, and what kind of foods they should eat, you know, where they’re gonna learn that they can learn that at home from an over fat parent who’s stressed and hates their job? No, they’re not gonna learn that from them. So there needs to be, you know, obviously, these things ingrained in another generation, because we’re certainly not doing a good job with adults right now with their vision of fitness.

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, I used to be a high school teacher, so taught for 12 years in public high schools, mostly in California, some in Arizona as well. And it was really hard for me as someone, you know, for someone who, like you said, there’s a physical culture, I mean, I hate to sort of reduce like human movement to just exercise because it’s so much more than that, right? It’s, it’s fundamental, it’s a fundamental part of who we are to be able to move and be able to move in these in these ways. And express that and have the kinesthetic awareness of our body and all that basic stuff.

But one of the things that sort of really, I had a hard time with was seeing kids not get PE or, you know, not have sports available to them and watching what they ate in the cafeteria. And I always used to joke, it was sort of like the brown lunch or the I would call it the the beige lunch, because the whole tray would be beige, you know, all the beige foods and, and kids would ask me, and they were sort of curious, and that’s the part that makes me so mad is that there’s an innate curiosity there.

So even with high school kids, you know, we think, Oh, they’re checked out and this and that. But they, you know, I would share a little bit about me, and I would say, you know, I tell them about my training, and they’re like, Well, how much do you squat? Like, how do you do that? And they would get so are like, Why are you eating that thing? What is that that you brought for lunch? And there’s that desire to know, and I think the system is, is just a disaster. And you know, I don’t know what we can do to sort of to fix that other than people like you offering what you do and saying here, there’s another way.

Fitness as a Function not Sport

James Fitzgerald
Yeah, no, we will. Well, go deep into it. But we are working, you know, mechanically to help that we have a close connection to a coach, whether we get involved or not, to a coach that has been trying to run an innovative course, called functional fitness through Texas, she just got approved for a number of different school board associations to have this innovative course run exclusive, her program to really take over what what physical education is for young kids.

And to put that into schools, where it becomes important, it’d be you know, becomes pass or fail. And kids have to, you know, use fitness and movement as the base support and not sport, physical education effed up everything, because we chose sport as the end goal to develop all these awarenesses. And that just turned kids off honestly, from understanding physical movement, you know, and not to poorly another sad story. But that’s where CrossFit went wrong.

You know, it went wrong by jumping onto the sport bandwagon. And really, the love of it for what it can do for fitness was lost, and they’re so connected to it now, it’s gonna be tough to get out of it. But I think within the school setting, if you make kids fall in love with movement and get better at movement, and understand that I think you got a generation you can change. So kudos to that group that is going to try to get to try to benefit from that from our principles of CCP that are inside of her teachings for it.

Steph Gaudreau
Well, I’m wishing you guys all the best with that. You know, it’s funny, my husband’s very, very much never been a competitor. We happened a couple years ago, we’re in Salt Lake City, when the US Nationals for weightlifting for senior nationals was in town and we happen to be there visiting a friend we went into, went into the hotel, like walked in, it’s like double stages, lights, this and that.

And I was like, Oh, I can’t wait, I totally want to do this. And he’s like, I think I’m gonna be sick. I’ll read. I’ll be right back. That’s super nervous. And so he’s not a competitor. And you’re right. Like he, like the sort of competitive aspect of, of movement and through sports through school, kind of like really turned him off. He’s definitely a gym going guy and he loves squatting. And we train each other and it’s really fun. But he’s like, Yeah, I don’t want anything to do with with competing.

Being a Role Model for Your Kids

James Fitzgerald
No, but imagine, imagine if like movement was just like breakfast, you know? Yeah, like, we it’s just so effed up that kids have homework, but they won’t come home and like dedicate 30 minutes to coming up with an exercise routine? Because we’re like, oh, no, that’s, that’s for adults for facilities and machines. It’s like, how dumb Do you think kids are? Right? These kids are smart.

Like, if my kid can watch me do dumbbell snatches and jump rope in the gym, and may not even instructor but her be curious on picking up a lighter dumbbell and doing the same goddamn thing. That’s a signal, right? That’s a signal that they can be, you know, we can be role models for them to say, This is my practice, right? I’m doing practice of working on my body. Right? And that’s important to answer the questions, like you said, of living long and prospering.

So when that that person gets in front of a trainer, they should say, Well, what do you want to do? Well, I want to live long and prosper. And without pain. Do you really think you need to be in a class doing intense fitness to get that? I don’t think so. Yeah, I think you need to eat good. You need to walk a little bit, you need to do some resistance training. And that’s really what’s gonna get you to the end game for what your function is, especially if they’re like, Oh, I just sit down eight hours a day. And I take your kids. I mean, what’s the real function that’s involved in that are snatches and clean and jerks involved in that? I don’t know about that. Yeah, I don’t know about that.

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah. And I think that’s such a good point to make, because a lot of people, I’ve had several people come up to me at book signings and stuff like that. And they’re like, I’m sorry, I don’t do CrossFit. Or I’m sorry, I don’t do like, Olympic weightlifting. And I’m like, You know what, that’s okay. Like, not everybody has to do that.

And I think that kind of leads into another question, which is, you know, Can we can we kind of, like get real right now about, like, how much training somebody needs to sort of be at a baseline of living long and prospering. I mean, do we need to be in the gym six days a week doing double sessions? If people ask me this all the time, and I’m like, uh

Resistance Training and Aerobics

James Fitzgerald
We kind of got to be hush hush on it. Because we’re, we’re selling, you know, you know, we’re selling this opportunity for, for people to really like, really, why are people coming in front of you, it’s to it’s to reverse themselves, right? It’s to get back to homeostasis. That’s why all the market is in front of us. And guess who’s not in front of us. Either people that can’t afford it, or can’t do it or don’t know about it, or they actually don’t need you.

They don’t need to do that. You know why? Because they’re living long and prospering. So and what is the answer for those people? I’ve seen this over a lifetime now. So I can see from older people who could say, if I look back and see what I did, this is what got me to this point to enjoy this. It’s been simple resistance training, simple resistance training and easy aerobic work.

So the two ends of the spectrum you know, you know in the charts have power curves. There’s the glycolytic involvement, there’s the aerobic involvement, and there’s the CEP system. The two, you know, content ends of the continuum is where people need to go to live long and prosper. The middle zone. The middle zone is only for fight or flight, which is built inside of us. But this is the thing, you don’t need to train it to live.

Steph Gaudreau
I always I always say, you know, somebody’s like, I’m going running and I’m like, but who’s chasing you? You know, it’s kind of become the joke. I full disclosure was an endurance athlete prior to picking up a barbell. So I don’t say that, you know, I did the same thing. But yeah,

James Fitzgerald
That becomes easy. And it’s aerobic for them over time, then good for them. Yeah, right. That’s excellent. They’ve made walking really, they turned it into running, which, ironically, is a primal pattern that everyone’s had a hate on. Because over fat people honestly had been doing running. Well, that makes no sense whatsoever. But you don’t hate running super, because people are doing it and getting injured. That’s not the problem.

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, absolutely.

James Fitzgerald

Sorry to cut you off on that.

Fueling for Fitness

Steph Gaudreau

No, no, no, no, no, it’s fine. It’s fine. So one question, I didn’t want to ask any of you’ve touched on this a couple times. Because people come to me all the time wanting to know, you know, what do I eat pre workout? What do I eat post workout? What am I? How many macros am I supposed to eat? Like, you know, how many cheat days can I have every every week? What’s the right answer for me?

And recently, you posted a very interesting video about sort of taking it back to basics when it comes to food and nutrition. And I’m wondering if you would talk to us very briefly about that, like, what are some of the mistakes I guess people are making when it comes to their nutrition with wanting to get maybe a bit too complicated, too fast, and maybe skipping over the basic stuff?

James Fitzgerald
Yeah, it’s kind of the same idea where we want to, you know, sell this idea. And so it becomes very easy to the market to make people fear certain areas in terms of food. But just like I spoken about in fitness, nutrition. When it’s done, you know, correctly, I guess, quote, unquote, for longevity, as well as some opportunities of performance to as well as fitness. It’s not that complex. Okay, we make it complex, because we slap on intensity and performance or whatever, to people who just need to live long and prosper.

So the basics of couple of things to answer your question about mistakes, I’m just going to pick on a couple of them. Number one is inadequate hydration. So it’s a it seems like it’s a you know, beating people over the head, and it looks like oh, just because our friends are carrying water bottles around that people are doing well with water. No, they’re not. And so the liquid that people are taking on during the day, relative to the current stress of individuals is poor. And so starting with something simple, like half your body weight in ounces, it’s not a perfect score, or perfect thing to think about. But it’s certainly a starting point for individuals.

And if you’re like, Well, I gotta pee often, well, boo hoo, you know, listen, you know, that’s life, you know, 50 years ago, you could just squat down in the woods, you know, and now you’re in a meeting, and you got back to back meetings, and you’re wearing a dress, and you’re saying, Oh, I can’t do that, because I can’t pee. That’s not, that’s not, that’s not your answer to lowering hydration. So don’t give me that. So it’s a natural action that should occur throughout the day, and you actually have to do it to detoxify some of your organs.

Sit Down and Eat for Better Workouts

Secondly, we need to sit down and chew our frickin food. So we’ve lost this whole concept of sitting, first of all, to get into a parasympathetic state, and actually setting ourselves up for great digestion, all the basic premises of good digestion, including smelling your food has gone out the window. So smelling it, it starts this starts the process in your mouth, chewing, it enhances that process of what’s going to go into your system. It also I believe, would take away a whole bunch of our shitty issues that we have with lack of resilience at the gut if we actually chewed our food more appropriately. Yeah.

So I think, you know, those two major things people can start, you know, worrying about. And the third thing is really the anxiety over what you’re putting in your mouth. I think if we get back to a place of like, what makes sense as opposed to what’s good and what’s bad. It will make everything pretty simple. And then we won’t get into bandwagons on is gluten good or bad. And dairies here and dairies not and bulletproof this and holy shit, this and this high carb here and macros here.

It just creates such a complexity for people that I think we do that on purpose to make it look like we’re smart, and they’re stupid. So they need to follow our stuff and so we can sell it. And I think it comes down to real simple practices of whole foods that really are you know, based upon things you can name and they have no ingredients. And if we stick to that process, I think we’ll be we’ll be good to go.

Steph Gaudreau
I love it. I love that idea. And yeah, sitting down to your food, just chill out. And you know, I I think to the thing that I don’t know if you’ve seen the Michael Pollan documentary Cooked, have you seen it? And I was telling, I guess this yesterday, I did another podcast and the thing that just really sort of like sucker punched me in the gut.

And I was like, Duh, of course, this is this is a problem is like, we just have sort of like outsourced cooking now, you know, and I don’t even care if like, you don’t know how to cook or you don’t like it, it’s more like people are just like, I’m too busy to do that. And it’s, you know, when you think about it, it’s such a fundamental human thing to do.

Connecting to Your Nourishment

James Fitzgerald
Yeah, non foodies will be like, but you know, it’s easy, and it’s got the right macros, and it’s paleo and it’s wrapped up, and it’s frozen, I just put it in my microwave when I get it at work, and I can just get it and so it’s good. But people forget that there’s also there’s a first process that’s involved before the smelling. And that’s called the, that’s called getting your food, right.

And so when you get your food, because we can’t chase it down and kill it today, like, if you were to look at any of the previous, you know, groups that had to kill their food, they honored the kill. And there’s a reason behind that, because they would doesn’t matter. And this this way, it doesn’t get broken into vegetarianism or plants, you know, they’re gonna honor all of it right before they eat it. But the process of doing that is creating love and connection to what’s going to be nourishing you.

And so saying that you’re gonna get the right macros packaged up, and it’s paleo at lunch is no love, there’s no connection to your food that’s built inside of it. So if you’re outside of this listening, you know, if you’re listening to me, you’re either thinking two ways. Number one, you’re fucking crazy. That’s all we got to do is basically just eat food and absorb it.

And number two, what I’m going to tell you is that you’re going to talk to me in 30 years, when you’re going to try to figure out why you’re sick. And it’s because you’ve eaten all the right macros and the right food, but you had no connection to that food in itself and how it’s being absorbed. And that’s going to come back with cancers, and autoimmune disorders. And then we’re going to try to figure out why everyone is in that trouble. And we’re going to try to figure it out through cancer. Instead, we could just basically connect to cooking our own foods and fix it all.

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, you know. I mean, I’ve grown up in a city pretty much my whole life, but we had a chance to kill our own turkey this past Thanksgiving. Like go to the ranch where the turkey, heritage turkey was raised. We know the people that own the own the ranch and dispatch him. And I mean, let me tell you what, not only

James Fitzgerald

Tell me that wasn’t a better Turkey. Try to tell me.

Reconnect to Food

Steph Gaudreau

I totally everything I did to prepare. We called him Kenneth. We named him. Everything I did to prepare Kenneth was like, at a different level. I mean, I had my arm up inside the turkeys body like pulling his his entrails out. And I mean, there’s just, it was a, man, I don’t know, different process, it is a different process.

And I wish people would sort of understand that a lot of the things that that they’re doing, you know, to sort of make themselves busy, if we could just reconnect to food and cooking a little bit more and slow down. All the things you’ve been saying, right? Slow down, make it more simple. And sort of be be virtuous at what you do, like, do what you do really well. And, and don’t overcomplicate the system, and you’ll be so much better off for it.

James Fitzgerald
Yep, well, I mean, that’s what your job is to do. You got to spread that message. So you know, you’re gonna get a couple of listeners who will think about that, and they’ll experience it and they’ll benefit and then they’ll spread it to other people and empower others.

Steph Gaudreau
Absolutely. So we’re kind of getting to the point in the show where I ask my guests what they think is the most important ingredient in building unbreakable humans, and I have a feeling you’ve got some some good thoughts on this. So what do you think?

James Fitzgerald
Um, I think it’s, it goes back to my resiliency piece on perception. I think if, you know, if, so I’m on the end of trying to build people that are like that. But I think internally, I’m always trying to do that for the rest of my life. So I think it really comes down to a simple term of just trying to create awareness. Because if people create awareness, they understand how they’re perceiving things. And then if they can change even their mindset around perception, I think you’re gonna build ridiculously resilient individuals.

The Gauntlet

Steph Gaudreau
Wise words. I like it. So there’s one extra little part of the show that I didn’t tell you about, and it’s called The Gauntlet. It’s a few rapid fire questions, and I,

James Fitzgerald
Okay, I was gonna say, for a physical test, I can do it. I’m gonna get video going.

Steph Gaudreau
So I’ll just throw out a couple quick questions. And then you say the first thing that comes to your mind, yes, sometimes funny things happen. I never know. A ritual you do every day?

James Fitzgerald
Get up and stretch in the morning.

Steph Gaudreau
Oh nice. Do you have any particular routine that you like or things that you do you just kind of go by feel?

James Fitzgerald
It’s a feel, but it’s a routine.

Steph Gaudreau
Cool. I like it. Favorite, favorite vegetable?

James Fitzgerald
Brussel sprouts.

Steph Gaudreau
Nice. Would you rather do a mile of burpees or row a marathon?

James Fitzgerald
Row a marathon.

Advice to Give Your Younger Self

Steph Gaudreau
You’re the first person that’s ever said that. I don’t ask the same questions all the time. But I’ve asked this question about four times. You’re the first one that said that. So, already distinguishing yourself. Good question. Best place you’ve ever traveled?

James Fitzgerald
Ooo, Stockholm?

Steph Gaudreau

Oh, is it cold? There? It was.

James Fitzgerald

Yeah, but it’s so beautiful.

Steph Gaudreau
Oh, we’ve never we’ve never been up that way. But I’m sure it’s in the cards some day. Fitness trend that you would love to squash?

James Fitzgerald

Steph Gaudreau
I had a feeling you might go there. And then last question is advice you wish you could have given yourself when you were 20?

He’s thinking people who are listening

James Fitzgerald
I am. I’m deep in thought. Just don’t don’t sweat the small stuff.

Steph Gaudreau
It’s always a good one. Well, you have you’ve passed past The Gauntlet with flying colors.

James Fitzgerald
Awesome. I think my speed on the last one would fail me.

Personal Trainer for Women Over 40

Steph Gaudreau
You were going so well. And then tripped you up a little bit. Tell people where they can stay connected with OPEX and, and all that good stuff.

James Fitzgerald
OPEXfit.com. And we have all of our social media connections on there. Very cool. Yeah.

Steph Gaudreau
Well, this has been truly a pleasure. You are a man of strong opinion, but also strong conviction and and incredible integrity. So I really appreciate you taking the time out to talk with me and spread your message to everyone who’s listening and kind of get back to a more realistic approach to to life. Really. I think it’s been wonderful.

James Fitzgerald
Thank you. I’m better today after doing this.

Steph Gaudreau
James Fitzgerald of OPEX fitness, thanks so much for being on Harder to Kill Radio.

James Fitzgerald

You’re welcome.

Steph Gaudreau

Thanks again so much for tuning into the show today. Be sure to grab the show notes for this episode at stupideasypaleo.com/fifty to get links to everything that James and I talked about. And if you’re loving Harder to Kill Radio, I would be honored if you would share this with a friend or a loved one.

Your personal recommendation goes so far. And I know that the people in your life who you care about will love the show. You can also leave a review and your thoughts at stupideasypaleo.com/review. Join me next week for another incredible interview with a very thought provoking guest and until then stay healthy, happy and of course harder to kill.

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Steph Gaudreau

Hi, I'm Steph Gaudreau (CISSN, NASM-CPT)!

Nutrition and fitness coach for women, Lord of the Rings nerd, and depending on who you ask, crazy cat lady. My mission is to help you fuel for more: bigger muscles, strength, energy, and possibilities. We’ll do it with my signature blend of science, strategy…and a little bit of sass.


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