photo credit: Jim Mullowney Photography

15 years ago was the first time I got paid to say “drop and give me 20” (or something to that effect). The idiom time flies when you’re having fun couldn’t be more appropriate. 

Artist Teiko Reindorf

I was working in my last co-op work term at a fitness studio in Vancouver called Symmetrix when I got my first client. I was almost done my Kinesiology degree and wasn’t sure what I was going to do next. I did my first co-op term at a different gym in Vancouver where I signed up new members, cleaned equipment and folded towels. I worked as a brace fitter and managed the front desk at a pedorthic clinic. I also worked at a physio clinic teaching exercises prescribed by physios. 

Funny enough, at the time I graduated from SFU, I said to myself I didn’t want to “do” personal training. Fast forward 15 years and I can’t picture myself doing anything else. It’s true that I love my job but what I love more is positively changing people’s lives through fitness. With that said, to celebrate 15 years in the biz, here are 15 fitness tips that you may find useful:

1️⃣Any kind of exercise is good exercise. I used to be a snob and judge people on what type of exercise they did, but I’m long past that.💦

2️⃣Don’t be attached to any particular exercise. You don’t HAVE to squat, bench press or deadlift or do any exercise the majority of people do to have a good, effective workout.🤯

3️⃣If it hurts, stop.🛑

4️⃣Just because someone does an exercise one way, doesn’t mean you have to perform it the same way. Do what works for your body.🙌🏻

5️⃣There is no such thing as a fat loss workout. Nutrition trumps any workout you can do to lose fat.🥦

personal training gym st. john's

6️⃣Spot reduction doesn’t work, but spot enhancement does.😅

7️⃣If you want bigger arms, you have to do isolation exercises for your biceps, triceps and delts, contrary to what many coaches or articles say (compound exercises like chin ups, bench press and rows are not enough).💪🏼

8️⃣Most people cant overhead press with ideal form due to restrictions in mobility. Steep incline shoulder presses or landmine presses are a better option.👊🏼

9️⃣Training 2-3 hours a week is not enough postural correction work to improve your posture. You need to look at the other 165 hours in the week and make adjustments there.🙂

🔟Every single new client I’ve ever had said they did planks in their workouts but never did them correctly. Remember “ribs up” and “bum in” the next time you try a front plank.😃

1️⃣1️⃣Circuit training is not strength training. Boot camps and circuit training focused workouts/gyms are a great way to combine weights and cardio, but it’s a subpar method at building strength and muscle.😅

1️⃣2️⃣Hip mobility is super important if you have low back pain. Core strength and excess abdominal fat are also important factors that should be addressed.🧘🏻

1️⃣3️⃣Most people go too heavy when they exercise. Learn how to connect with the muscle better by lowering your weights when building muscle. Similar suggestion goes for building strength. Learn how to coordinate your muscles better when squatting, bench pressing or deadlifting (or doing any other compound exercise).👍🏼

1️⃣4️⃣Use internal cues (feel biceps contract to bend elbow) when building muscle and external cues (push floor away when deadlifting) when building strength.💪🏼

1️⃣5️⃣Most people have weak feet and are disconnected from feeling the ground. Your feet have muscles too, which also need to be strong. See if a minimalist-type shoe could work for you.👟

Hope you found these quick tips useful. If you want more info on training, you know where to find me and the rest of my team. 💪🏼🐲

~Jon🏋🏻‍♂️

Jon-Erik Kawamoto, MSc, CSCS, CSEP is a Strength and Conditioning Coach, Co-owner and Founder of JKConditioning. With 15 years in the industry and over 10 years as a freelance fitness writer, Jon has helped many change their lives through fitness. To inquire about coaching, workshops, presentations or writing, you can contact him through our Contact Us page. (photo credit: Jim Mullowney Photography)

I had been struggling with work-life balance resulting in not exercising or playing hockey as much as I had been doing in the past. In addition to being out of shape, I was starting to experience some back/shoulder issues and realized I needed to make some changes. Around this time, a friend (who was also a client) recommended JKC and that’s when I started!

You really feel part of a community where everyone is welcoming and supportive. You get a program that is designed specifically to achieve your goals, with the ongoing coaching, progress tracking and support required to achieve them. The JKC team are very knowledgeable about fitness and conditioning, and very engaging with everyone to answer questions or discuss anything and everything training related. I also like the flexible scheduling and gym times that work for my schedule (I like early mornings and evenings).

I had virtually no real experience using weights and felt intimidated going gyms. I avoided gym-goers using free weights, especially when hearing that loud crash, as they would drop weights to the floor. I thought this was to show everyone around them that they owned that area and that I shouldn’t go anywhere near! So I guess I just wanted to learn how to lift weights safely in a gym environment.

I spent over 18 years in the British Military, so I got to use some nice gyms. 99% of my time and experiences in those gyms was spent doing cardiovascular workouts, because I could just jump on a treadmill, plug in my head phones and do my own thing! JKC is different, because they have given me the confidence to use free weights and equipment that I had feared for years. Their demonstrations and knowledge is impeccable and I thank them for their continuous belief and support they show me at every session.

I’ve been weight training on and off for years but never really had a specific goal or target in mind so routinely stalled out, plateaued or stopped training all together. Before I joined JKC I was definitely in a fitness slump and needed something to motivate me and get me back on track. I did a bit of digging online, looking at various personal training options and gyms around town but JKC seemed like the best option by far. I’ve tried big box gyms and other personal trainers in the past but none of them have had the perfect combination of goal specific fitness programming, welcoming and supportive environment, and the knowledge and passion to back it all up that you’ll find at JKC. Jon and Thomas are great to work with, they know how to motivate you if you’re having an off day and are well versed in all the different ways to make your muscles burn! I also have noticed some major improvements in my deadlifts since I started with JKC and was really happy with the result.

log overhead press

I had tried JKC based on the recommendation of a parent of one of my students. I originally started by attending Saturday drop in classes. I was hooked. I decided to join full time when I I had taken a year off from teaching and it was the best thing I have done for myself.

First and foremost the trainers at JKC are extremely knowledgeable. I feel like they are as dedicated to my success as I am. The workouts are tailored to me, my skills and my goals. This is important. Jon and Thomas truly want the best for their clients no matter what level of fitness they are starting from. I also like being able to book a session at a time that suits my schedule. This also helps keep me accountable. Once the session is booked I am not likely to cancel!

I was referred to JKC by my sister-in-law and had heard good things about it from many people in the running community. I also saw Jon’s picture on the wall at lululemon years ago! I really like the personalized training and the variety the guys provide. I started for strength training for running. I love cardio and do tons of it but wasn’t motivated to do much strength work on my own. Jon mixes up my strength work week to week so I don’t get bored but also lets me work in a hard circuit for the last 20 minutes of most sessions to get my cardio fix 

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