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 saw an article in Men’s Journal that quoted Jon in about 2018 while traveling and was impressed that someone in St. John’s made that international magazine.  Jon spoke about an exercise called the Farmer’s Walk and I started working that into my routine at the YMCA. I tore that article out of the magazine and kept it, meaning to make contact, but got busy. Then I had lunch with an old friend Bruce Dyke. I hadn’t seen Bruce for a while and I remarked that he looked super healthy and fit. He told me about his, and his son Cas’, experience at JKC and then I remembered the Men’s Journal article! No coincidences!

The experience is unique on many levels – great people, camaraderie, passion, purpose, and dedication. Jon and Thomas are attentive, precise and understanding.  Their teaching has unlocked a new perspective for me with what our bodies are capable of. I still appreciate the YMCA, wonderful place, but I can’t imagine working out without Jon and Thomas now.

I recently turned 40, and I have been training at JKC since the summer of 2020. My partner Michael had already been training at JKC, so it came highly recommended. We had set up a home gym at the start of the pandemic, but needed to mix it up after the first lockdown. JKC differs from other gyms because of the personalized workouts. Jon, Thomas and Craig are great at challenging me to do more than I would on my own.

I chose JKC because I was looking for something different. I’ve seen and done the trendy workout programs before, I was looking for something that I knew I could see myself still doing a year from now! JKC has a lot of clients that have been going for years. That was a huge motivator for me! The small group coaching sessions are great and I really enjoy the format. It’s nice having 2-4 people working-out with you during your session. The camaraderie is great, everyone is very upbeat and positive – zero gym judgment!

I’m 43 and started at JKC just over a year ago. I started at JKC because of multiple recommendations from existing clients. There are 2 main elements that distinguish JKC for me. Firstly the sense of community. I’ve been to multiple gyms in multiple cities/countries, you just  can not manufacture the sense of community and support you get from other gym goers and the team. It’s very motivating and happy to say I’ve made some friends at JKC.

The other major distinguishing factor for JKC is the expertise and passion of the team. Jon, Thomas and Craig craft highly personalized programs based on my fitness goals and know how to push me best without being pushy. They pay close attention to ensuring my form is solid before encouraging me to take on more weight for the exercise. Plain and simple they love what they do and it shows.

The people and the training set JKC apart from other gyms or programs I’ve tried in the past. Truly Jon and Thomas meet you where are and help you get to where you want to be. There are no expectations and never any judgement. You can go there having the worst day and you always leave feeling better. Truly JKC has given me a level of strength and confidence I would not have had otherwise ❤️.

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