Baristanet takes a coffee break with Michael W. Smith, head fitness coach and owner, North Jersey Adventure Boot Camp for Women
You’re passionate about fitness. How did it start?
Well, basically, freshman year of high school when I was 14 was when I first got introduced to weight training and fitness, in general. Every book I could get my hands on about nutrition, working out and even the sports psychology aspect, I was always interested in, as well–understanding that peak performance mentality.
I’m from Bloomfield, originally, and I went to Montclair State University to play baseball and I’ve always been involved in athletics–I was All-State baseball in high school. I transitioned in college from sports and fitness more into fitness full-time. I got my personal training certification when I was around 19-20 years old and really fell in love with it right away because of the positive effect you can have on someone’s life and their body.
After working at a gym in West Caldwell (New York Sports Club) for about 10 months or so, I started my own in-home personal training and some group-type training — five, 10, 12 people — outdoors and indoors. Four years ago, when I was 24 years old, I started this current program and business, Adventure Boot Camp for Womenin Montclair.
What is a fitness boot camp?
A boot camp is preferably outdoors and it’s a style of working out. The thing that makes it so different from any type of gym workout is that you want a nice big area outdoors. In the morning we have this whole turf field (at Brookdale Park). It is a fusion of body weight exercise, light dumbbell toning, different types of speed agility types of movement with a whole variety of different equipment. The main thing is that there is a constant flow. So you might go from two minutes of abs, stomach and core circuit and then hop up and immediately go do some interval cardio, whether it’s stairs, hurdles, speed ladders on the ground and then you might go back and do some dumbbell toning for the upper body. Then you structure the program–whether you do it two, three, four, five days a week, certain days are more of a theme type of day where you’ll do more cardio on one day or more abs and core on one day.
What’s the quickest way to lose weight/burn fat?
There are many answers here, but I want to offer you a different perspective. Start out by doing something you enjoy (tennis, golf, biking, exercising with a friend or group). This will create momentum and jump-start your body, and then begin to weave and work other and more complete exercise and fitness into your routine. Before motivation comes momentum, then the motivation will manifest itself.
Another simple thing that you can do is to let go of self-imposed limitations. Whatever you’ve told yourself to rationalize “why” it’s okay to not exercise needs to leave your vocabulary and your thoughts. Realize that most of your reasons are actually excuses. Most of your reasons for not working out and exercising are actually the main reasons that you should.
Interval training that includes muscle toning and strengthening is just about the quickest and is a long-term approach to losing body fat and burning fat. An example of interval training is this: If you do three minutes of cardio activity (jump rope, jogging, sprinting, stair climbing, etc.) then perform two minutes of core/ab exercise (plank bridge and knee tuck) and then perform two minutes of toning and muscle strengthening exercise (push-up with rotation, dumbbell lunge with shoulder press). Then repeat two more times for three interval cycles total. You have just done a 25 minute interval workout that challenges the entire body and most importantly, builds and tones lean muscle that will burn fat for you 24/7! Who doesn’t want that?
Who do you look up to?
Well, my mother is definitely my No. 1 role model. She overcame a lot to provide me with the foundation and drive to be a winner, to never quit and to use fitness to inspire and enhance lives.
Another role model is John Wooden, the famous UCLA basketball coach that recently passed away at age 99. I’ve read just about all of his books and I cannot say enough about him. He was the best coach of all time, but an even better man.
One of my favorite maxims from Coach Wooden is, “Be true to yourself, help others, make each day your masterpiece, make friendship a fine art, drink deeply from good books, and take care of your body and mind.”
In terms of sheer competitiveness and the desire to win, Michael Jordan really inspired me athletically. The intensity that he played with and the laser-like focus on winning that he had were a sight to behold. He got knocked down and kept getting back up. When he wanted to win, he won. That is how I live, that is what I think about. How can I help others “win” with their fitness, bodies, and minds?
I’ve taken that same mindset into my fitness business. Fitness is the best way to look and feel better about yourself, to help you accomplish your dreams. It inspires you in ever aspect of life, period.
How do you keep the people you train motivated to keep exercising and eating right?
By helping them realize that most limitations and roadblocks when it comes to fitness and exercise can be overcome with simple action. Just doing something to get the ball rolling, seek out help, ask questions, and make a plan and stick to it.
It’s also important to do things, or try things from time to time that are out of your fitness or workout comfort zone. Try a new style of workout, go for a run through a mountain, or sign up for a 5K. Whatever it is, when you get out of your comfort zone you will grow and move forward.
I have a fitness newsletter that I email out two times per month, and I include articles, links, videos, and strategies for fitness success. Emails are a great way to stay motivated.
Do the women you train in North Jersey Adventure Boot Camp have a specific person (e.g., celebrity) they would want to look like (Kelly Ripa, Madonna, etc.)?
Not so much. I think that the public and women have become educated enough regarding what they see in magazines or on TV to know that it’s more about how you feel when you look in the mirror at yourself. Call me biased, but the women and moms in our Adventure Boot Camp are the real role models.
Why just women — what about a boot camp for dads?
We just launched a new boot camp program for men and dads. It’s called IMPACT for Men, and Laura and I are super excited about it! The women in our boot camps have asked for a while, “Do you have something for my husband?” And now we do. It is a structured and cutting-edge workout system that we’ve developed that fuses bodyweight exercise, dumbbell exercise, and unique workout flow strategies that burns fat and builds lean muscle.
What do you like to do when you are not training people?
Traveling is my favorite thing to do. My girlfriend Laura and I travel whenever we get a chance — it’s a blast. I love traveling and experiencing different cultures. I went on a trip to Italy with my mom’s side of the family and we actually met family in Rome…it was amazing.
My family is very important to me. I love spending time with my cousins, grandparents, aunts, uncles and Laura. It’s my foundation and my rock. Baseball is my passion and I’m a big Yankees fan, and had the honor of attending Game One of the World Series last year. First time ever, it was a moving experience feeling that energy.
Is there anything else you think Baristanet readers should know about you?
I recently received my Master’s degree in Sport and Exercise Psychology; my favorite animal is a lion (hey, it’s King of the Jungle), and my girlfriend Laura and I have an awesome little Bengal cat. Not many people know that, so Baristanet…you’re the first to know!