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Interview With Robert Garza, CPT, RTS

Q. Can you give us some background about yourself?

A. Iíve been in the fitness industry since 1981 so this is my 27th year now. I have a background in exercise biomechanics that began back in 1991 when I was the Assistant Director of Biomechanics for the National Academy of Sports Medicine. My mentor, Tom Purvis, PT and Director of Biomechanics for the NASM, taught me how to think and analyze for myself with regards to the human body and resistance exercise and to not just trust what a college science book says.

I really donít list many of my certification letters after my name because only other fitness professionals really understand what they mean. Even then, they just argue over which one is the best so I just say that I am a professionally certified personal trainer.

However, back in the 1990ís I began collecting certifications with many of the major organizations such as ACE, NASM, NSCA, and also have credentials as a Resistance Training Specialist (RTS) and Certified Resistance Exercise Specialist (CREA). I did this because as a continuing education provider if I didnít have someoneís particular certification they wouldnít come to my seminars for fear that I didnít know their organizations way of thinking about how to train folks.

I currently co-own Beyond Fitness & Per formance, a personal training studio in Deerfield, IL as well as a workout membership website called, Q. What got you started in fitness?

A. My older brother is the who that got me started in fitness. He was naturally bigger and better than me in any sport that we participated. Therefore, in order for me to catch up to him I had to train smarter and not just do what was typical. So, I began studying every anatomy and physiology book I could get my hands on and found mentors wherever I could find them in the fitness industry. I couldnít train any harder than my brother so I thought thereís got to be a way to train smarter. Now, I use what Iíve learned to help others.

Q. What is it about fitness that you love so much?

A. Helping people by having them not waste their valuable time. If I could intervene and help someone get in better shape and condition without them learning through countless years of trial and error I have done what I set out to do in this industry.

Q. What adversities have you had to overcome?

A. Separating theory from what works practically in the real world. Iíve worked on the committees of the top certifying organizations only to see them pound into the trainerís mind that if you didnít have a PhD or Masterís degree in exercise science then you couldnít possibly help anyone in this industry. Meanwhile, as a fitness manager, Iíve witnessed many non-degreed personal trainers have their clients attain amazing results using practical knowledge while the degreed trainers lost their clients because they werenít g etting much results with them.

Another adversity was having a client think that unless they are sore for 4 days after a training session it wasnít a good workout. You know, in any other industry weíd call that an injury!

That, and clients that believe that you have to workout longer to lose fat. Both science and real world practical application demonstrate that isnít the case. Short, intense workouts performed with good form and control will build you a great body that can perform and shed body fat. Add in short bursts of cardio interval training and the results can come even quicker.

Q. What are your favorite and least favorite exercises?

A. Iíll start with my favorites. For cardio training Iíve recently been using the old Stairmaster Step-Mill. Thatís a killer cardio workout! As for resistance exercise Iíve always loved doing any variety of push-ups. Regular style, using chains with handles, hands on a medicine ball, you name it - if itís a push-up variation Iíll do it!

Now for my least favorites. Any cardio equipment that is done for more than 30 minutes - I just get too bored. So, I find myself hopping from one to another every 10 minutes or so. For resistance exercise I guess it would be overhead presses since the spinal compression bothers my back from years of heavy lifting in my younger years.

Q. What are your tips for the beginner, intermediate and advanced?

A. Beginner: Learn to micro-progress your exercises and workouts. Donít get hung up on just trying to go heavier and heavier as a means of progressing. By just perfecting your form and using exercise variety you can accomplish having a great body without injury.

Intermediate: When you reach a plateau, again, itís not just about going heavier and longer. I see so many intermediates go down the wrong path because they are beyond the beginner status but think they are advanced when they are not quite there yet.

No one seems to want to be an intermediate. To an intermediate itís like saying youíre just average! Beginners will admit when theyíre a beginner but then after a few months talk themselves into being advanced. Therefore, practice using proper exercise progression, variation and intensity manipulations. I cover these principles at and recommend everyone that joins to read this section thoroughly before doing any of the routines.

Advanced: Know what it means to be an advanced exerciser. That is, are you advanced because you compete or because you feel you know it all from working out for years? To me, an advanced exerciser is one whoís educated themselves to know how to manipulate any exercise to have it still work wonders for them. Thereís a saying that, ďThere are no bad exercises, just improper form and inappropriate use.Ē Use your years of workout knowledge to be able to go back to even a beginnerís routine and manipulate it so that it becomes one of the hardest workouts youíve ever done.

Q. Where do you stand on the use of steroids and supplements?

A. I feel that many individuals get into steroids early on without attempting to do everything in their natural power first. Plus, I feel that you really can accomplish your best without having to subject yourself to using steroids. I believe you should work with your natural abilities by educating yourself about the proper methods of exercise and nutrition. Besides, with all the steroid controversies in sports these days I think itís plain stupid to think you wonít be caught using them.

I think supplements are great if you use them for their intention; as a supplement. That means to use supplements as an addition t o good healthy eating, or to supplement when you cannot eat at your best any given day. I will say, though, that I really believe in post-workout recovery drinks.

Q. What are your future goals?

A. My goal is to grow my both my personal training studio and my online business, Xpress Workouts You Can Do in 30 Minutes or Less!. I am currently in the process of expanding my personal training studio, Beyond Fitness & Performance. It will now be over 8,000 square feet with two connecting gyms; one side for personal training and the other side for sports conditioning complete with field turf. Weíll also have massage, Yoga and Pilates rooms.

Q. What is the toughest part about fitness for you?

A. Breaking the barriers of protocol. Thereís so much talk about making personal trainers licensed by the state. This would require a specific protocol like with physical therapists. Go outside the parameters of the set standards and you could lose your license. And, whoís going to set those standards? Not personal trainers but other medical professionals who already want to limit what personal trainers do out of fear that we already step into their boundaries. I say we wouldnít have to if they were able to do their job in the first place. But their red tape of protocol and set standards prevents them from doing so.

With respect to all the physical therapists and medical professionals out there (because there are many great ones) in all my 27 years in this industry I have seen many more personal trainers help rehabilitate people. This, in part, is because personal trainers donít stop conditioning you when your insurance runs out. Itís funny how we have to call it post-rehab when, letís face it, post-rehab means ďafter rehab.Ē However, all our clients are needing some type of rehab with their bodies.

Q. Is there anything else you would like to say?

A. Iíd like to thank you for the opportunity to speak of what I really love and thatís getting people a healthy and fit body without wasting their valuable time. I also love that your site is devoted to drug-free fitness enthusiasts. I developed my website, Xpress Workouts You Can Do in 30 Minutes or Less! with the premise to provide a safe and effective means of creating an incredible and healthy physiques in just minutes a day and with or without tons of fancy equipment and without the use of drugs. Another added bonus is that itís filled with great educational articles!

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Neither nor the authors of this publication assume any liability for the information contained herein. The Information contained herein reflects only the opinion of the author and is in no way to be considered medical advice. Specific medical advice should be obtained from a licensed health care practitioner. Consult your physician before you begin any nutrition, exercise, or dietary supplement program.

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