A few months ago, I had the pleasure of getting a one-on-one personal training session with the fabulous Whitney Cole. Not only is she super motivating and caring, but Whitney has an IMMENSE knowledge of everything that has to do with health and fitness. Um, can’t you tell from her abs??!! Anyway, I am sure I’m not the only one who is vowing that 2010 will be the year of exercising consistently and eating healthier (this is seriously my never ending New Years resolution) and I hope this interview inspires not only myself but also any of you guys who want to whip your booty into shape.
Hey Whitney! Thanks so much for doing this. Can you tell our readers a little bit about how you got into fitness and personal training? – Sports were a big part of my childhood – swimming, soccer, cross-country, track, but I was pretty burnt out on competing when I started at the University of Virginia. However, knowing daily exercise was essential to my sanity and avoiding the “Freshman 15,” I walked my butt into the gym and started developing my own workouts. As I became stronger and more sculpted, training strategically to my needs, others began asking me for diet and exercise tips. A passion for fitness and recognizing an opportunity to inspire and improve lives through fitness and health education prompted me to earn my certifications and start training clients and teaching various group exercise classes. Flashing forward…finding it far more gratifying to help training clients achieve personal goals than advertising clients make sales quotas, I left the corporate world to pursue fitness full-time in 2006.
Describe your diet. What kind of foods do you stick with and what foods do you avoid? – My diet is called “The Arsenal,” in that my clients are armed with the necessary weapons to continue winning the battle of the bulge. They learn what to eat in ideal situations and in typically derailing ones. It’s a pretty natural diet –steer clear of processed foods, eat lots of veggies, fruits, lean meat and fish. While it sounds low-carb, it’s really not. The majority of calories from the almost limitless amount of fruits and veggies you may eat come from carbs, but they’re quality carbs, including fiber with helps us digest the lean meats and fish and vitamins and minerals to keep all the other body processes in full swing. My rule of thumb is that with few exceptions (like please DO cook meat and eggs to kill bacteria), the closer you aim to consume what was originally growing/grazing in the field/sea, the more nutrients will remain in your food and the fewer number of preservatives and byproducts will be added. While our brains and lifestyle have evolved greatly since caveman days, our bodies haven’t. So your body will best tolerate and absorb what it needs from the same foods Cro-Magnon could easily grab or hunt and cook. Unfortunately, CM didn’t find bags of bread, protein bars and boxes of cereal on any trees. I’m thinking about having “WWCMD” (What Would Cro-Magnon Do?) bracelets made. Thoughts? Haha…
What keeps you in such great shape? Pilates, yoga, running? – Pilates? Certainly – even if I don’t have a chance to do specific Pilates exercises on the apparatus or mat, I fuse many Pilates principles into every one of my workouts and that of my clients. I can make any traditional personal training exercise harder by making it be performed in a less stable environment. This gets people so much more coordinated from head to foot, and engaging muscles they never typically use, thus increasing their daily caloric burn and diminishing strain on overused muscles. Running? Absolutely – the long runs are my thinking time, and I love doing hill and speed intervals to “hit my 10s,” meaning on a scale of 1 (I think I’m awake) to 10 (I cannot take another step or I will pass out). I detest machine monotony but do frequently run on the treadmill to save my joints. I’ll occasionally an elliptical machine for part of my workout, but you won’t ever find me on one for an hour – huge time suck and I’m all about efficiency. I use few weight machines instead preferring to do strength training and quick plyo circuits for cardio with dumbbells, stability balls, Bosus, cables…it’s creative and fun. Would you rather do chores the old-fashioned way or have Mary Poppins wave her magic umbrella and make “the job a game?” Regarding Yoga, I do certain moves for stretch and recovery in between strength sets, but no, I’m not a big Yogi. I’ve found a few teachers that can keep me focused, but I’m really turned off by overly-repetitive regimens, preachy teachers, chanting, and the slow pace of many classes, hence the mean nickname, “slowga.” I’m so mean. I’m sorry.
OK here is the never ending question: cardio or weights, which is more important and why? – They’re both necessary parts of the perfect body puzzle, but the ideal combo of each varies with each person and his or her goals. I definitely believe in muscle confusion for weight loss and having fun so you stick with the program.
Can you describe a typical day’s worth of meals – Since I’m always on the run, and healthy food may not be easily accessible or available at the price I’m willing to pay, I do prepare about 90% of my own food and premake anything I can to be ready when I wanna eat it.
Breakfast a smoothie – usually a cup berries, very ripe banana, ½ cup soymilk, handful walnuts
Lunch is a salad typically with spinach, broccoli slaw, red peppers, avocado, and grilled fish or chicken. (I make five every Sunday – see my blog: “Brown’s the New Black: All the Cool, I Mean Skinny Kids Are Brown-Bagging” http://www.whitneycole.com/blog/?p=39 ) I’ll usually have an apple or a grapefruit and some unsalted almonds or a soy latte for a snack. Dinner might be a veggie omelet or salad again – what can I say I’m single and lazy and one bowl equals less cleanup. Besides my salads are affectionately known as “Bowls of Chaos.” If I’m out, I seek sushi – ah, another blog topic… http://www.whitneycole.com/blog/?p=40 Do I eat dessert? Sure…look at my blog, I have a penchant for baked goods and chocolate.
Where do you see your business headed in 2010? – Well, still a newbie to LA so of course I must continue to build my training clientele here. I’m adding some classes in Santa Monica & Beverly. Coming from DC, I’m used to charities dictating the social calendar. Had to search a little harder for the viable LA ones. I want to get involved with a charity providing healthy eating and fitness programs and education for obese adults, and children and teens. I’m also desperately seeking one that provides exercise therapy for Parkinson’s patients, as my father benefits so greatly from the training I can provided whenever I visit. I shall do more blogging and start doing fitness videos as I’ve gotten such warm, positive feedback from people from all over the US, who may never be able to afford a trainer. Learning that my words do inspire readers to make constructive changes in their daily lives confirms that I’m fulfilling a greater purpose. California, this holy Mecca of the health and fitness industry, is a better environment for me to get my initiatives off the ground. I’m so thankful that I found the courage to move earlier this year.
I know you love to cook. What are some of your favorite recipes and cookbooks? – I don’t own a cookbook. My mom is awesome but a little OCD regarding the fastidiously clean kitchen she maintains. Kids are messy so, we weren’t allowed to do much cooking and we grew up on convenience foods – microwave meals, cereal, granola bars… I started preparing my own food in college to save money and because I finally had the freedom to experiment. I’ll get inspired by something on a menu or a hideous dish I see Paula Dean on the Food Network make entirely out of lard and brown sugar. I’ll think how much I’d like to eat said dish but how much I’d love to make a healthier version first then chow down. Who doesn’t like a challenge?
For some of my favorite recipes like Pancakes with Ginger-Blueberry Syrup, Thai Fried Chicken, Rainbow Salsa, homemade hummus, and Gingerbread Soufflé, please visit my blog: www.whitneymcole.com/blog