1. What types of sports did you participate in as a kid?
Growing up I was generally athletic, loved sports and participated in just about every sport I could both in and out of school. I ran track, played field hockey, tennis and squash amongst others. Tennis is the one that stuck. I was on the tennis team in college and have played on and off for most of my life, the highlight of which was playing on a 4.0 team that won the USTA Georgia League State Championship some years back. I discovered strength training a few years after that, and the rest is history.
2. What are your 3 top Fitness tips for the post 45 athlete?
Incorporate resistance training in your fitness program, learn proper mechanics, and be consistent but smart about your training. Endless hours of cardio may help with cardiovascular endurance but that is only one side of the coin. In the long run, building muscle strength and endurance will not only also enhance cardiovascular health, it will provide much greater benefits in terms of overall health and wellbeing.
The issue of proper mechanics is also huge, particularly as we get older. If I’ve learned one thing from training with one of the best trainers in the business it is that exercising with improper mechanics will completely negate the benefits of resistance training, and likely end in injury.
Likewise, being smart about your training is essential. Wrecking our bodies by chasing numbers or to earn bragging rights is a sure path to injury and possibly long term disability, Learning how and when to push oneself, and how and when to give our bodies time to recover will reduce the chance of injury and ensure we remain fit and healthy in the long term.
Having said that, I think one of the keys, particularly as we get older, is finding a good, qualified and knowledgeable trainer. The amount of fitness related information available on websites, social media, YouTube etc. is simply overwhelming, confusing, and is oftentimes based on the latest fads and trends. While some of what’s out there is legitimate, much of it is not. Finding a knowledgeable trainer that can help a person filter the good from the bad, sift through the latest fads, provide guidance in terms of what constitutes a proper, and appropriate, training program, as well as proper nutrition is essential.
3. What adversity have you had to overcome as athlete and as a trainer?
As an athlete I can be my own worst enemy. I am very competitive and have very high expectations of myself, probably unrealistic at times. If I’m not careful I have a tendency to push myself too far, and over-train, which has on occasion led to injury. Learning how to pace myself, be smart about my training and listen to my body are lessons I’ve learned the hard way, and have to keep reminding myself of, even on days when I feel I could go on forever. I know that if I don’t, I will pay for it later.
4. For the advanced post 45 athlete who has plateaued – What advice would you give to get them to take things to the next level?
My advice would be to stop what you’re doing, take a step back and re-focus on fundamentals, particularly form and biomechanics. Overtraining, fatigue, lack of sleep, poor nutrition can all contribute to a lack of progress, but whenever I’ve hit a plateau it’s usually because my form and mechanics have drifted, and I’ve allowed compensation patterns to creep in. In fact, I have found that even the smallest deviations from proper form and mechanics result in inefficient technique and ultimately plateaus, not to mention an increase the risk of injury. All else being equal, de-loading and focusing on re-establishing proper form in the basic foundational movements will, more often than not, break the cycle.
5. What is your one injury prevention tip?
Learn and focus on using proper biomechanics!!!! I know I sound like a broken record but as I’ve already mentioned, it’s probably the single most valuable lesson I’ve learned in my years of training. Doing any exercise with improper mechanics is not only counterproductive, it is guaranteed to be the fastest way to injury. While there are those who believe there is no such thing as ‘proper’ mechanics, based on my own experience, and having had the good fortune to observe my trainer train dozens of people over the past 8 years, I am a firm believer in proper biomechanics. It is certainly possible to get away with poor mechanics for some time, but in the long run it will catch up with you and lead to injury.
6. What 3 supplements provide the most bang for your dollar for the post 45 athletes looking to maximize their performance in the gym?
Branch chain amino acids, glutamine and creatine would be the 3 I’d recommend.
Originally from South America, I obtained a PhD in Pharmacology and did my postdoctoral training at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the fields of cancer cell biology. After 6 years as Associate Director of UNC’s Center for AIDS Research Molecular Virology Core my family and I moved to Athens, GA., where I became involved in developing a four-year medical school program at the University of Georgia, in partnership with Augusta University’s Medical College of Georgia. I am currently Associate Dean for Academic Enhancement in the medical school’s Office of Educational Enrichment.
It was in the throes of starting a new medical school that I began my strength training journey. Initially it was mostly as an escape valve and the desire to exercise having had to give up playing tennis on a regular basis due to the long work hours. I was fortunate and blessed to find an amazing trainer and teacher who got me hooked, not just on the training but the science behind it. I have now been competing in figure for a number of years, with my best finish being this year at the 2019 NPC’s Masters National Championships in Pittsburgh where I placed 2nd in my division. While competing gives me something to work towards, I train for the love of training, because I like to continuously challenge myself, the sense of accomplishment, and feeling strong and fit. As a bonus I have found that my fitness journey has inspired others to pursue their own fitness goals which is icing on the cake! I hope to continue on this journey for a long time to come and eventually obtain my certification as a personal trainer so that I can help others achieve their fitness goals and live long, healthy lives!!