Category Archives: Client Spotlight

Client Spotlight: Kartik's First Muscle-up

Kartik has been one of my most consistent and hardworking clients for a long time, so he’s no stranger to pull-ups and dips.

Despite a shoulder injury from before we met, Kartik’s built a considerable amount of upper-body strength and power in recent years and he’s now stronger and healthier than he’s ever been.

Always seeking to challenge my clients, Kartik and I decided it was time for him to begin training for his first muscle-up. After a few sessions spent practicing explosive pull-ups, straight bar dips and assisted muscle-ups, Kartik was ready to try the real deal. There were lots of unsuccessful attempts, but Kartik persevered and finally achieved his first muscle-up!

It's normal for one arm to come over first when you're learning to do a muscle-up

It wasn’t the best looking muscle-up, but nobody’s first one ever is. It’s normal to have to kick your legs and throw one arm over before the other when you’re first learning to get the movement pattern down. Do whatever you need to in the beginning – with practice you’ll learn to keep your legs straight and make the movement fluid. Don’t get hung up on perfecting your form before you can even do a single rep.

Now that Kartik got the first one out of the way, we can work towards improving his form. Check back this summer for an update on Kartik’s training and watch the video below to see his triumphant break-through moment:

For more information about muscle-ups, pick up a copy of my book, Raising The Bar: The Definitive Guide to Pull-up Bar Calisthenics.

Client Spotlight: Katie

When I first met Katie, she had worked with trainers before, but hadn’t been able to maintain long term fitness. Like many people, she seesawed back and forth with her dedication and often let life get in the way of her health. As a result, she was never able to make any significant gains in her strength and endurance.

Having shed a considerable amount of fat and built a healthy amount of lean muscle since we began training, Katie now recognizes that fitness can only be maintained with dedication and consistency. There are going to be bumps in the road, but Katie knows to keep the car moving.

When Katie and I started working out together, the idea of her doing a pull-up was out of the question, but now she can do one with confidence! We’ve also started working on more advanced leg exercises, like pistol squats.

Watch the video below to see Katie doing push-ups, Australian pull-ups and more during our last workout at Tompkins Square Park.

Client Spotlight: John

You might not know it by looking at him, but John is one hell of an athlete, having completed multiple marathons and Ironmans. Since his last marathon, however, John had gotten lax with his training and diet. Nothing lasts forever; if you don’t use it – you lose it!

A few months ago, John decided it was time to get serious again and enlisted me as his trainer. John has since lost over 25 pounds; his conditioning is coming back and he says he feels stronger than ever. Not bad for a guy who just celebrated his 40th birthday!

John loves healthy competition, so when he heard about the 100 Rep Challenge he wanted to give it a shot. I designed the following 100 rep workout to test John’s strength, conditioning and balance.

John’s 100 Rep Challenge consists of:
20 Push-ups
20 Lunges
20 Australian Pull-ups
20 Squats
20 Dips

All that is to be done in succession with as few breaks as possible.

Watch the video below to see if he can make it:

Don’t forget to check out the 100 Rep Challenge official website for more info.

Client Spotlight: Betsy

When I met Betsy last October, it had been a while since she had last worked out. As a former varsity tennis player, however, she was able to jump back in quickly, immediately becoming one of my most committed and consistent clients.

During the months that we trained together, Betsy made significant progress in her strength, endurance and agility. When she left NYC for California in February, we felt optimistic that she could continue building on the foundation we created.

Betsy recently got word that I was going to be in San Francisco for a wedding this week and she made sure to get a workout in with me. I was excited for the chance to see her and equally excited to see that she’s still got it! Betsy has been working hard and staying fit.

After seeing my blog posts about my own parkour training, Betsy had become curious to try it herself. We explored some parks in the area and worked on vaulting, precision jumping and handstands.

At first Betsy was a bit apprehensive, but with a little practice she quickly loosened up and started to get the hang of it. This is often the case when starting out. Parkour is as much psychological as it is physical – the challenge is more often in the mind.

Watch the video below to see how it went:

Client Spotlight: Alex

Alex is the most recent addition to my roster of personal training clients. In only a few short months, he has seen huge improvements in his strength, coordination and energy level.

Having never done any strength training before, Alex and I have been spending most of our sessions focusing on the fundamentals of body-weight training. Alex has built the strength to do push-ups and dips and we’ve even began working some plyometrics into our sessions.

Alex recently remarked that even though he’s gained a few pounds since we began our workouts, his pants are actually looser in the waist. His T-shirts, however, are fitting tighter around his arms and chest. Alex is starting to get diesel!

Check out this video clip from one of our recent outdoor workout sessions:

Water Jug Workout

When training at home, it can seem daunting to try to implement a successful workout strategy that doesn’t involve lots of expensive equipment.

However, you don’t need to feel limited by the fact that you might not have a lot to work with at home. The key is to get creative–an everyday object like a jug of water can be a useful workout tool. (A gallon of water weighs 8.35 pounds.)

Using a water jug for resistance training is efficient, practical, and it can also make for a damn good workout!

I recently did a water jug workout with my client Armen at her apartment. She doesn’t have any workout equipment (or a ton of space) but that didn’t stop us from getting it done.

Water is readily available and relatively cheap. After all, it’s the world’s most abundant resource. As a resourceful trainer, I’m happy to take advantage of that fact.

Watch the clip below to see highlights from the workout:

Client Spotlight: Sam

Sam CardonaSam Cardona is one of the most fit people I’ve ever trained.

Sam has completed two Ironman triathlons, including last year’s Ironman Championship in Kona, Hawaii, where he finished in 12:41:47. You read that right–over 12 hours of exercise!

For anyone who doesn’t know, an Ironman is a triathlon that consists of a 2.4 mile swim, followed by a 112 mile bike ride, and then a full marathon–26.2 miles.

When working with an athlete of Sam’s caliber, my goals are to constantly keep him moving and to challenge him on different fronts. It doesn’t require a lot of fancy equipment, though. Watch me give Ironman Sam a full body workout with nothing but a medicine ball and a pull-up station.


Client Spotlight: Barbara

barbaraBarbara Roche Fierman is living proof that everyone can (and should) exercise, regardless of injuries, their age, or any of the other excuses that people tend to come up with.

Barbara’s list of injuries includes a fused ankle, a cyst in her lower back, and a torn rotator cuff.

She’s also 72 years old!

But in spite of all that, I meet with Barbara 3 times a week and she gives it her best effort.

Regular exercise helps her to continue working full time as the CEO of New York’s Little Elves, NYC’s #1 cleaning service, and do all the things New Yorkers need to do to get around.

Take a look at this video from one of our recent strength training workouts:


Client Spotlight: Emma Robinson

Emma pullupEmma Robinson is a one of a kind client. As a former Olympic medalist (Emma’s won both sliver and bronze medals in rowing, at the 1996 and 2000 games respectively), she is no stranger to busting her butt in the gym. Emma is one of the hardest working, most determined people I’ve ever met. She’s also one of the strongest!

But when I first met Emma, it had been years since she had been on any type of strict exercise regimen. Even though she had at one point in time reached the pinnacle of athleticism, she was still a bit intimidated by starting over in the gym by herself. Throughout her athletic career, Emma had gotten used to working out with coaches, so she decided to take me on as her trainer.

Emma has come a long way since then, and while she no longer rows competitively, she knows how important it is to continually push her body to the limit. Emma loves doing pull-ups and dips, and I thought a little friendly competition might give her the extra motivation to push herself even harder, so I challenged her to a pull-up and dip contest.

Since I am a guy (and guys naturally have more upper body strength) I decided to do my pull-ups and dips with a 45 pound weight hanging from my waist to level the playing field.

For the last event, Emma selected power cleans–nice choice!!!

Watch the clip below to see how it went. Behold: The Al-ympics!

Client Spotlight: Mike Lieberman

Mike is gettin' diesel!

Mike is gettin' diesel!

Mike Lieberman has been a good friend of mine for a long time, but he recently felt inspired to get in better shape, so he got me to start training him.

Mike has had the nutrition aspect of holistic wellness down for a while. Now that he is stepping up his workouts, he can really take his health and fitness to the next level.

Mike is also very concerned about the environment and the green movement, so I make sure that the only energy expended during one of Mike’s workouts is his own. We’ll never use electrically powered equipment during our training (treadmills, etc.).

Mike’s goals include building more upper body strength and improving core stability. He wants to get better at pull-ups and eventually build towards doing a muscle up!

Watch this video of our most recent workout!