The Most Important Thing About The Gym

What’s the most important about going to the gym?

For most people, it’s taking what you learn there and applying it to your everyday life.

If you have chronic pain this is a CRUCIAL lesson and that is a major piece of living pain-free.

Oh, and by the way, we have a VERY SPECIAL GUEST that makes a surprise appearance. You don’t want to miss it!

Let me know if you have any questions.

Rows for Healthy Shoulders

If you have tight shoulders, neck pain, shoulder pain, or just a lot of stress in your upper body, learning how to row is a crucial exercise that can help improve those things.

If you missed my last video about head position in relation to shoulder position, I urge you to watch that first so you’ll understand the importance of your posture on shoulder pain. Posture is the key to this!

You can see it here:

Take a look and, most importantly, pay attention to how this FEELS. It may be difficult at first, but the more engaged you are with this, the better your results will be.

Mitch Rothbardt
Castro Valley Fitness


Head & Shoulders

I’m on a mission to help people realize the relationship between posture and chronic pain.

If I’ve said it once I’ve said it 1,555,902 times! The site of the pain is usually NOT the cause of the pain.

In this video, you’ll learn how important your head is when it comes to shoulder pain and you’ll find out how to test it for yourself!

Take a look and let me know what questions you have about this or anything else.

Mitch Rothbardt

What’s it like to have a personal trainer?

I’ve been a personal trainer for so long that sometimes I forget that many people’s only exposure to personal trainers is seeing one yell at a client on TV.

Well, after 12 years as a personal trainer and after having trained hundreds (maybe thousands?) of people I’m proud to say I haven’t yelled at anyone. What kind of person yells at a person asking for their help?

NOT a good personal trainer.

Yes, there are indeed some bad personal trainers out there. I can’t and won’t vouch for them. They’re embarrassments to an industry that’s already embarrassing for myriad reasons. I only want to speak about personal trainers that have our clients’ results, state-of-mind, and dignity foremost in our priorities. Like it’s supposed to be, ya know?

This is what we stand for.

We’re on your side.

We want you to succeed! A good personal trainer knows that success looks different for everyone.

Some of the most successful clients at Castro Valley Fitness are ones who’ve been with us for years after never before being able to stick to an exercise program for more than a few months.

I love hearing when our clients can get down on the floor to play with their grandkids.

That they can pick up a bag of soil or cat litter and carry it to their car. (I also love hearing how other people in the shop stare in disbelief while this occurs.)

That they’re feeling more energetic and in less pain.

That they look forward to seeing us because they know friendly people are there waiting for them.

We know how to make your workouts work for YOU.

Again, we know everyone’s different.

Different goals.

Different bodies.

Different needs.

What works for someone may not work for someone else for about a million reasons. A good personal trainer knows the principles behind the exercises and sees the big picture.

That way you’re sure YOU get a workout that works for YOU.

Uncle Sam wants YOU to get the right workout for your body and mind.

We help you progress.

I’ll let you in on a little secret…

Writing an exercise program isn’t hard. (Most trainers don’t want you to know that.)

You know what is hard? Writing the next one.

And the one after that.

And the one after that.

A good trainer knows how to progress someone safely, effectively, and efficiently.

We know things.

When to use more weight.

When to use less weight.

How to make an exercise stop hurting your shoulders or back.

The little tricks that help you feel an exercise where you’re supposed to.

How to work around an injury.

How to work around a stressful day. (Or a stressful life.)

How to pivot when you’re starting to get bored or your goals change.

This is stuff an app, book, or YouTube video can’t show you.

We make it fun.

I know exercise isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time, but understanding that is why I’ve had some of the clients I told you about earlier. The ones that don’t like to exercise but have been members of Castro Valley Fitness for years.

You see, the biggest thing any good personal trainer knows is this:

The most important thing you can get from a workout is the desire for another one.

What makes someone desire another workout is something a good personal trainer takes into account first and foremost, and it’s not usually the workout that does it.

Mitch Rothbardt
Castro Valley Fitness

P.S. I’d love to know if this changes your perspective a little.

P.P.S. If you want to experience these things for yourself, give me a call.

No One’s Favorite Exercise (Video)

The plank is no one’s favorite exercise, but it’s a great one nonetheless.

In this video, you’ll learn:

  • A set-up trick that guarantees a good start
  • The 2 mistakes that people make with their plank
  • Two tricks that activate your core like you wouldn’t believe

Take a look and let me know any questions you have.

Mitch Rothbardt
Castro Valley Fitness

An Unexamined Life

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” – Socrates

This has been an interesting few weeks for me. I won’t go into the reasons why. All I can say is that I’m 52 years old and at times it feels like I’ve lived my entire life to this point as a child. I think back to decisions I’ve made…and didn’t make…and think about why I thought the way I did at those times in my life…It’s a humbling experience.

To be clear, I’m not talking about anything illegal, but that doesn’t matter. As I’ve made my way through fitness, first as a beginner, then an enthusiast, then a starting personal trainer and now a more experienced one, certain things have become apparent. The biggest one that I not only see in the fitness industry but as a card-carrying member of society, is that despite Socrates’ quote, an unexamined life frequently seems to be rewarded, whether worth living or not.

It’s rewarded in the way people don’t have to make the effort of thought. Thinking is hard and frequently requires sacrifice. It’s easier to just react.

Early in my career I saw up close the effect of people’s focus on weight loss. It wasn’t good.

I saw the stress, the obsession, the destruction of self-confidence, the overwhelming feeling of failure in people that were doing everything “right” but didn’t know the reality of trying to lose weight.

It was the examination of these observations that allowed me to move to a much healthier focus for my clients and readers. Sure, it took time and a lot of work, but most importantly it took a lack of ego. It took a willingness to admit to myself that I was wrong. Believe me, I’m not patting myself on the back. I got into this to help people and I could never have continued doing what I was doing while I was seeing what I was seeing, but unfortunately, I frequently see people in this industry who don’t have those same values or lack of ego. I had a conversation with a fellow gym owner, for example, who wondered why so many of his clients started “falling off the wagon” at almost exactly the 4-month mark. When I mentioned that maybe it was because his program was unsustainable, he got angry at the suggestion. He wasn’t willing to examine further. Much easier to blame his clients and keep his ego intact.

It’s easy to see how often people’s beliefs, political and otherwise, are determined merely by which “team” they feel they’re on.

  • People declaring themselves pro-life while actively trying to take health care away from people.
  • People talking about babies as a sacrosanct while voting against a program to make more baby formula in a critical shortage.
  • People who decry abortion but rail against programs such as comprehensive sex education and easy access to contraception that are proven to decrease them.
  • People more interested in arguing over a slogan (Defund the Police) than talking about a policy (funding programs to hire mental health workers so police don’t need to respond to calls others may be better trained to deal with) that most people, including police, agree with.

This is exhausting.

It demeans and every one of us and makes the world a worse place. A place full of emotional overreaction and little to no advancement. A place full of fear of “the other.” A place where nuance goes to die.

I remember when I first realized this was happening.

During Obama’s first term a Facebook “friend” shared a clip of one of his speeches. It was a 10-second clip taken from a speech that probably lasted 20-30 minutes and when taken that far out of context it appeared as if Obama was speaking as if mothers shouldn’t be in the workplace to the same extent of men. My “friend” was furious at the assertion, as anyone would be.

As this seemed the opposite of something Obama would say, I took the extraordinarily complicated step of looking up the speech online. It took about 15 seconds. It became immediately obvious that Obama was saying the polar opposite of what the clip represented so I wrote a comment to my friend telling him of this fact. I expected him to react by saying something like, “Wow. I didn’t realize that. I guess my source was pretty messed up. I’ll take the post down. Thanks for letting me know.”

His reaction was more like, “I don’t care.”

Now when presented facts in this light, it seems pretty easy to take the side of thought and common sense, but the reality is that without conscious thought and effort that rarely happens. Study after study has shown that when we believe something and are shown incontrovertible facts showing the opposite…

We dig into our beliefs even harder!

Doesn’t make much sense, huh?

Yeah, we humans are kind of silly, ya dig?

We’re complicated. We’re emotional. We’re NOT logical creatures. Most of the decisions we make are done emotionally first and justified by logic later. You ever bought something you don’t need?

Advertising executives own 40-foot yachts because they understand this.

If we’re not careful, we’ll get to a place where facts don’t matter at all, emotion is our primary concern, and nuanced critical thinking is an afterthought.

Look at the examples I gave above. How can people believe such obviously contradictory things?

I know I’m rambling. That’s what this subject does to me. Just do me a favor: The next time you react strongly to something – ANYTHING –  take a breath, step back and ask yourself why you’re reacting that way. Ask yourself why the subject is important to you. I’m not even saying your reaction is wrong, just that it may warrant examination. Maybe you’ll even figure something out? Maybe you’ll change your mind about something? Maybe you’ll understand your beliefs, and yourself, even more?

So, what does all this mean? What am I trying to say? What’s the point of this convoluted post?

I just want the world to be a better place and I’m convinced the key to that is thought. Thoughts about:

  • what you believe
  • why you believe it
  • what those beliefs mean in the context of your other beliefs
  • what those beliefs will look like in the future

Yes, I know this will take time and effort. I know it may wind up damaging your ego a little bit, but is your own vanity really the hill you’re going to stake your claim on?

Get the f**k out of your own way and make the world a better place. It’ll take work, but this is work that needs to be done. There’s no other way.

Mitch Rothbardt
Castro Valley Fitness

What’s the deal with food?

What’s the deal with food?

Eat this!

Don’t eat that!

This is dangerous!

This is healthy!

No, it isn’t!

Don’t eat meat!

Only eat meat!

Yuk. What a bunch of garbage. Is there anything in this world we’re more in our heads about than our diets?

Our brains when deciding whether to eat a cookie

I’ve had people tell me I should write a book about nutrition. I always say one-page papers promoting simplicity and common sense don’t sell much.

Contrary to what most people believe, we already know just about everything we need to know. Don’t believe me? Let me ask you 2 questions.

  1. What has more nutritional value?
    a. An Apple
    b. A Snickers bar
  2. Should you eat fruits and vegetables?
    a. Yes
    b. No

If you answered “A” to both questions…


You’ve graduated from the “I Really Do Know What I Need To Know About Diet” course for confused adults.

I know the problem. You’ve heard so many conflicting messages your whole life. You’re in line at the grocery store and see Dr. Oz promoting the latest and greatest weight-loss supplement. You’re at the book store and see the “Blood Type Diet,” the “Keto Cookbook,” and the “Vegan Solution” all lined up in a row.

Which one is right? How can the best diet be based on blood types, eating mainly meat, and eating no meat, all at the same time?


Taking all this into account I’ve decided to write my book and publish it here.

Mitch’s Nutrition Book

What Is Important

Focus on lean protein.

Eat lots of fruits and vegetables.

Add in healthy fats.

Don’t be afraid of carbohydrates.

Drink plenty of water.

What Is More Important

Eat foods you like.

Eat foods that make you feel good.

Eat a little slower.

What Is Most Important

Don’t be afraid of food.

Overthinking and stressing over every single thing you eat is far more unhealthy than eating a cookie.

Fit food into your life, not the opposite. 

It’s OK to enjoy eating.

Weight loss should not be your main goal. 

Do some deep work to be able to trust yourself around food and uncover what really matters to you and why.

I know. Kind of simple, right? Or maybe it’s not. Especially that last part.

We’ve spent our entire lives absorbing damaging messages about food and our bodies. Especially if you’re a woman. The results of that are a constant barrage of negative self-talk every time we look in a mirror or eat or think about how we look or think about eating or plan to think about what we’re going to wear to that party or think about thinking what we’re going to eat at that party or…well…you get my point.

When we start to pick away at the Gordian Knot that is our subconscious we can finally start to get over the trauma of how we’ve been led to think about these things for so long.

Just have faith and know these two things:

  1. You really do know what you need to know. (You passed the class!)
  2. You are allowed to enjoy eating.

Mitch Rothbardt
Castro Valley Fitness














I Got A Recipe For You!

Earlier this week my son, who has an aversion to vegetables so deep you need to be this fish to see it, said he liked the cauliflower steak I made.

Ah yes. There it is!

As I got up off the floor, I realized one thing:

For the good of mankind, I must spread the word of Cauliflower Steaks far and wide!

So here’s my super-easy recipe!

You need:

  • 1 cauliflower head
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • turmeric
  • baking pan lined with tin foil or parchment

Get everything together. I’ll wait here…

Got everything? Great. Here we go.

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line your baking sheet with foil or parchment.
  2. Cut your cauliflower head horizontally into thirds.
  3. Lay them onto the baking sheet and brush them on one side with olive oil.
  4. Sprinkle that side with salt and pepper.
  5. Fill the back of a dump truck with Turmeric. Back it up and unload so much of it onto the cauliflower steaks that your entire existence will be yellow for the next 4-5 weeks.
  6. Put it in the oven for 15 minutes.
  7. Take it out and very gently turn the steaks over and repeat steps 4 & 5.
  8. Put it back in the oven for 11 minutes.


Every time I make these I use more Tumeric and the more I use, the better it gets!

I truly believe that if this recipe can make Robbie a veggie lover it can do the same for you and your loved ones!


Mitch Rothbardt
Castro Valley Fitness


10 Ways You Can Be Healthier Right Now

Who wants to be healthy?

I see you!

So…what is healthy? How will you know when you’re “healthy?” How long will it take to get there? What does it look like? Can you eat pizza and ice cream when you get there?

Well, “healthy” isn’t really a destination. It’s a direction. Think of it like going west. You never arrive at “west,” you just head in that direction. People think “getting healthy” takes hours of hard exercise and a restrictive diet. It’s overwhelming! That’s why so many never even get started and it’s understandable.

People are busy! Between work, family, and trying to keep your head above the rolling tides of insanity this world keeps throwing at you, the thought of adding hours of exercise and food prep to that feels like about 18 too many things.

The good news is you don’t have to do all that to get healthier. Just like taking one step west moves you in that direction, there are easy things you can do any time to move you towards “healthier”.

Here’s ten:

  1. Drink some water. It’s been estimated that 75% of people are chronically dehydrated, which can lead to cognitive and physical issues.
  2. Do some Wall Slides. Sit at a computer all day? Use your phone much? Do a set of 5 of these once or twice a day to open up your shoulders and get that tension out of your neck.
  3. Breathe. For some reason, people seem stressed these days. A great way to let your body know it’s OK to calm down is deep breathing. Get comfortable, put one hand on your belly and breathe deep enough that you can feel it expand. Take 8 breaths and see how you feel.
  4. Take a 10-minute walk. Get yourself some Vitamin D, relieve some stress, and get your blood flowing and you’ll also help your digestion if you do this after you eat.
  5. Read some Shakespeare. Come on! You gotta get that mind in shape, too!
    “The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.” – Shakespeare
  6. Do some foot circles. Don’t forget about your ankles! Bad ankles = knee, hip, and back pain. Make 20-30 smooth circles each way with each foot and be sure not to move your leg as you do them.
  7. Eat an apple. Know why eating an apple a day keeps the doctor away? Because they’re packed with nutrients!
  8. Do some Standing Cross Crawls. Stand tall, raise your left knee and touch it with your right hand. Now do the same with your right knee and left hand. Once you get the pattern, pick up the pace. It’s a nice way to work on hip mobility, your core, and raise your heart rate all at once. Do for about 30 seconds.
  9. Throw away your scale. Not sure? Close your eyes and imagine tossing it into a dumpster. Notice the full-body exhale and existential relief that washes over you? There is nothing healthy about a scale.
  10. Get more puppy kisses! Science has told us there is nothing healthier than puppy kisses!

Penny is such a cutie!


I know none of these things are difficult, but that’s the point. You don’t need to completely change everything about your life to take steps toward health. There are many ways to get there and they’re all valid. You just have to figure out the best path for you.

Mitch Rothbardt
Castro Valley Fitness





3 Reasons You Don’t Need To Lose Weight

Hi! My name is Mitch and you don’t have to lose weight.

I know what your doctor tells you.

I know what social media tells you.

I know that Dr. Oz told you about that new wonder supplement. (Wasn’t that the 13,982 wonder supplement he’s told us about?)

I know that so many messages about “health” talk about losing weight.

I know all that but I’m here to tell you something different.

I NEVER write anything without thinking it through and this is no exception. I’ve trained hundreds of people over the past 12 years and I don’t think I’ve ever had a client who “needed” to lose weight.

Are there exceptions to this? Sure. There are exceptions to everything, but unless you’re a weight-class athlete or you have a rare medical condition, you are likely NOT the exception. Exceptions are rare, after all. That’s why they’re called exceptions.

I don’t know how you feel after reading that, but you may be confused. Don’t worry, I’ll clear it up for you.

1) Losing weight has nothing to do with health.

You heard me.

Yes, I know that flies in the face of so much of what you hear all around you every day, but it’s true. To understand why, you have to realize that “losing weight” and “getting healthier” are two different things.

One involves:

  • Improving your stamina
  • Improving your strength
  • Decreasing chronic pain
  • Getting off medication
  • Improving your blood work
  • Improving your mobility
  • Functioning better in your daily life
  • Being able to play with your kids and/or grandkids
  • Decreasing your stress levels
  • and a ton more

The other involves:

  • Changing a number on an appliance

Let’s go a little further

2) It’s bad for your mental health.

Here’s a scenario I’ve witnessed time and again.

Someone’s been coming to the gym for a few months and they’ve made great progress. They’re:

  • Moving better
  • Experiencing less chronic pain
  • Getting more mobile
  • Getting stronger
  • Feeling more energetic

But the scale hasn’t moved.

So every morning they stand on the scale and let the number dictate whether they’re a success or failure.

I wonder if I’m a failure today?

That’s not healthy!

Here’s some facts:

  • The weight loss industry was worth $71,000,000,000  in 2020.
  • Over 95% of people that lose weight gain it all back, usually plus some, inside of two years.

That means people spent $71,000,000,000 on something that worked less than 5% of the time.

How do they stay in business?

They’ve set themselves up so when it doesn’t work –


It goes like this.

  1. Tell you to lose weight – for “your health.”
  2. Tell you that you need their “SECRET” diet/supplement/workout to do it.
  3. Sell you an unsustainable diet and/or workout plan.
  4. Blame you for not following through on their impossible-to-follow-through-with plan.
  5. Make you feel like a failure who “didn’t want it enough”.
  6. Sell you something else.
  7. Rinse and repeat.

Imagine if Sony sold you a TV that didn’t work 95% of the time then blamed you for not wanting to turn it on bad enough.


Here’s another thing.

2) Losing weight isn’t physically healthy, either!

The fact that almost no one sustains their weight loss tells you it requires extreme methods to do it.

That means that people are required to, quite literally, live their lives around these weight loss methods.

That means:

  • Mental fatigue
  • Physical fatigue
  • Bone density issues
  • Poor recovery
  • Loss of strength
  • Loss of libido
  • An all-encompassing mental focus on food

For more on this look up the Minnesota Starvation Experiment.

This was a study done in 1944. 36 men were put on a semi-starvation diet and the effects? Not good.

Here’s the kicker. The amount of calories in the semi-starvation diet? About 1600. That’s 300-400 MORE calories than many diets currently call for. You know…for your health.

And again, if all that made you healthier overall maybe it would be worth it, but it doesn’t.

The truth is that losing weight by itself generally makes no difference at all in your physical health.

So…what are you supposed to do?

Change your focus.

Instead of looking to the scale as the main indicator of your success, look to the things you thought weight loss was going to give you.

  • More energy.
  • Getting off medications.
  • Moving better.
  • Feeling more confident.
  • Less chronic pain.

Now take positive steps to make those things happen and the awesome thing is that these steps FEEL EMPOWERING!

You can:

  • Move in ways that feel good to you.
  • Eat foods that give you pleasure, energy, and taste great.
  • Do things that make you feel excited and fulfilled.
  • Concentrate on things you CAN do vs. things you can’t.
  • Take time for yourself.

These are things that can make you healthier right now, no scale required.

And you’ll find that even without losing a pound you’ll feel better and more positive and that’s what this is supposed to be about.

This is a complicated topic and one on which entire volumes have been written, but the bottom line is that pursuing weight loss alone doesn’t take into account so many reasons that people think they want to lose weight in the first place.

Don’t feed a $71 billion dollar industry. Feed yourself.

Mitch Rothbardt

P.S. I know this topic is triggering for a lot of people. Just getting out of the weight-loss mindset requires untangling of lifelong habits and belief systems.

Especially if you’re a woman.

I’ve seen the damage it causes or I wouldn’t feel so strongly about it.

If you need to talk this through or just clarify a few things I’m here for you. This isn’t a sales pitch. I don’t care if you’re a client or not, I just know how painful this can be. Reply to this and we can talk in person, on Zoom, or just through email.