My Set-Ups

In my last video (which you can find here: A Crucial Fix For Your Lifts) I talked about the importance of set-ups for your lifts.

A few people asked me about my own set-ups so I thought I’d do a quick video showing my set-ups for the squat, bench press and deadlift.

This is not necessarily what you should do, but it will give you an idea of what to think about and the importance of having a specific procedure to get ready for each lift.

In this video I go over

  • my own set-ups from start to finish
  • the 2 things that should be a part of EVERY set-up no matter what
  • my personal “one thing” for each lift

Let me know what you think!


Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, Egoscue PAS, PN Level 2 Lean Eating Coach
Castro Valley Fitness
2861 Grove Way

A Crucial Fix For Your Lifts

One of the biggest problems beginning and even some intermediate lifters make is not organizing their thoughts before and during a lift.

In this video I go over two things that can help you figure out what to think about before and during a lift in a way that can help and not confuse you.

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, Egoscue PAS, PN Level 2 Lean Eating Coach
Castro Valley Fitness
2861 Grove Way



3 Hints to Help You Lose Weight

I’m sorry. I admit it. I just used that subject line to get you to look at this post.

I’m sorry

If you have followed me at all you know that over the last year or so I’ve gone through a pretty big mindset shift around weight loss. I’ve written about it many different times and ways. You can read some of what I’m talking about here Freedom From Weight Loss, here 3 Secrets Your Trainer Doesn’t Want You To Know!, here 4 Diet Red Flags Diet To Avoid and there’s a bunch of other posts, too.

It’s something that I feel very strongly about because I see firsthand the damage that diet culture has on people, particularly women. It is considerable and it is devastating.

I just want to simply sum a few things up in this post. Let’s keep it neat and simple.

1. Forget about losing weight.

I can’t say this enough.



Take some time to figure out what you think that is and I guarantee that you will experience a seismic shift in how you feel and see yourself and your results, in general.

2. Forgive yourself.

The multi-billion dollar weight loss industry thrives by making you feel horrible about yourself so you’ll continue to buy stuff. They push that agenda by making almost everything difficult.

Diets that are impossible to follow long-term.

Food that is scientifically created to make you want more, MORE, MORE!! And with no nutritional value on top of it. 

Ads that make it all seem so easy for everyone else and thereby making you feel like a failure. 

This is all part of a culture that is intentionally setting you up to fail! Once you start to understand that, you can start to see this in action and work your way out of it.

3. Understand that it’s not the food. 

You know you should eat vegetables.

You know an apple is healthier than a candy bar.

You know that grilled chicken is healthier is than fried chicken.

If you know these things, than you know about everything you really need to know about putting together a pretty healthy diet. That’s the truth.

weight loss Castro Valley Fitness

Once you realize that, then you’re free to do the work that really matters.

I hope this helps.

Let me know what you think.

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Level 2 Lean Eating Coach, FMS, Egoscue PAS

Castro Valley Fitness

2861 Grove Way





July Member of the Month – Zelinda Zingaro

Castro Valley Fitness Member of the Month Zelinda Zingaro

It is our pleasure to recognize Zelinda Zingaro (better known as “Zee”) as the CV Fitness Member of the month for July 2019.

Zee is a retired University Educator who joined CVF five years ago after moving to Castro Valley the year before.  She joined as an opportunity to make friends and improve her strength.  You’ll find Zee usually during a morning session with her partner Jim Gomes.  She suggests that everyone have a work out buddy to share the experience with.

Her goal is to continue building her strength and balance. She feels that setting a schedule and keeping to it helps her and others to be consistent.

Her advice is not to expect a physical transformation immediately – to look for other things to determine progress.  It’s okay to take longer breaks in your program and recommends doing more stretching.

Zee is a world traveler and always has great stories about her travels.

She finds the diversity of ages at CVF really fun. The three words that describe her experience are “enriching, fun, and satisfying”.  CVF is her happy place.

The Best Exercise For Shoulder Health

At Castro Valley Fitness the most common complaint we hear is shoulder pain. Way more than back pain, by the way.

What we’ve found is that shoulder pain is almost always the result of poor movement in the shoulder blade area.

One of the excersises we give people to combat that is the good old One Arm Dumbell Row.

In this video I go over
1. Why it’s important
2. How to do it
3. Common mistakes people make

Let me know what you think.

Mitch Rothbardt
Castro Valley Fitness

Freedom From Weight Loss

Happy Independence Day! I know that these are some difficult times in our country for a whole host of reasons, but I know we can all agree on two things:

  1. We are incredibly lucky to live in this country. It’s not perfect, but this freedom of speech thing is pretty great.
  2. Pupppies are the best!
Happy Independence Day Puppies

Yaaay Puppies!!

In the spirit of Independence Day I’d like to talk about freedom from something a little different.

Freedom from weight loss.

When I talk to people about what they want to do in the gym, the number one answer BY FAR is “lose weight”.

People talk to me all the time about their concerns over putting on a few pounds over the course of a weekend.

People who have gotten stronger, feel better, have less pain and have shown all sorts of health improvements still let the number on a scale determine their happiness.

There are a lot of problems with all of this. We are so conditioned to think that getting smaller is the only goal worth achieving that we never actually ask ourselves if we really want it and if we do, why.

What happens is that since we never really ask ourselves these questions we don’t realize that we don’t really know what we want which means we never reach whatever arbitrary goal we kind of set for ourselves. This leads to all sorts of issues with self-confidence, self-worth and most importantly self-knowledge. In other words, how well do we really know ourselves?

OK. This is getting pretty deep. Let me give you one more chance to take either the red pill or blue pill.

In other words, do you actually want to dig a little bit into yourself, thereby giving you a much better chance at success or do you just want to keep doing what you’re doing?

(Honestly, I don’t remember which pill is supposed to do what but I hope you decide to keep reading.)

Before we go on, let me say this:



In other words, people want to feel better, look better, get off some medication or whatever else, and they think that losing weight will get them these things. It’s not the weight loss itself that really matters.

For the record you can do all of the things I wrote above and a lot more without focusing on losing weight.

As a matter of fact, focusing on losing weight alone has been shown to result in very little weight loss!

Sounds a little crazy, huh?

Let’s get back to that freedom I was talking about earlier by answering a simple question:


How would you feel if you didn’t care about losing weight at all?


Why don’t you let that sink in for a minute.


How would you feel if you didn’t care about losing weight at all?


Would that change anything for you?

Would it feel like a weight was lifted off your shoulders?

Would it feel like maybe you could start thinking about other things that may make your life more fulfilling?

Would it feel like you could finally start doing some things you want to do without any guilt or second-thoughts?

Maybe after reading that you’re thinking to yourself something like, “This sounds fine, but I can’t do that.”

Why not?

What’s getting in your way?

Notice that I’m not saying that you can’t have goals. You should have goals. It’s just that your goals need to be important and meaningful and empowering for you. Losing weight is none of that.

Here’s where you need to do some work. Why do you want to lose weight? Really. Dig deep. Do you want to get healthier? Why? What would being healthier let you do that you aren’t doing now? How would that improve your life?

When we talk about health, these answers can come pretty easily. “If I’m healthier I can play more with my grandkids. I can get off these medications. I can travel and go for longer hikes, etc.” It’s pretty easy to see how all of that can improve your life, right? It’s pretty easy to see why this would be important to you.

Can you start to understand how much more powerful it is to think of your goals in terms of doing these things than just stepping on a scale? You’re not trying to lose 10 pounds, you’re trying to be able to hike another mile! You’re not trying to lose weight, you’re trying to be able to play with your kids longer.

Let’s get even a little deeper and likely a bit more personal.

As much as we want to be healthier, the driving force around weight loss is about one thing for most people, particularly women:

Looking better.

I’m not going to turn this into a whole thing about images in the media, etc. There is already a metric ton of evidence and writing about the damage that our media does to women and girls in terms of self-image. Hint: It’s not good.

Castro Valley Fitness Freedom from Weight Loss

It is drummed into girl’s heads from a very early age:

Smaller is better.

You must lose weight.

You must be attractive to a man.

You must not appear too strong.


Needless to say, this is all garbage.


We can even agree that this is all garbage.


That doesn’t make it any easier to disregard emotionally when we’ve been force-fed it all our lives.


Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong about wanting to look better, but I want you to ask yourself these questions and be very honest with your answers:

Why do you want to look better? What would looking better let you do that you aren’t doing now? How would that improve your life?

Think of the answers you just gave and look for anything that sounded something like, “I don’t like myself and if I look better, I will.”

If you found that kind of answer you need to understand looking better is not going to make you happy or like yourself any more than you already do. (Honestly, I really hate writing “looking better” because that is such an incredbily subjective term and in these cases is almost always defined as whatever societal norms and the media define as attractive. Let’s just agree that it’s an extremely flawed term but one that gets the point across of what I’m trying to say without any specific persons value judgements getting in the way.)

If you found that you answered something about looking for a boyfriend/girlfriend, again that’s perfectly fine, but not if you feel that you aren’t worthy of one until you “look better”.

Ultimately, this is an incredibly emotional and complex subject but if I could sum up everything I’m trying to say in two sentences it would be this:

Stop trying to lose weight before you do some important work on yourself to find out what your real motivation and values around weight loss and your body are. The weight loss itself means essentially nothing.

I know this is some pretty deep stuff, but it is very important for so many people. It is the reason so many are unhappy and feel unworthy and/or like failures. This just compounds the problem.

I hope this opens the door to how you think about weight loss and being able to free yourself from its real grip on you.

I would love to know how you feel about it.

Thanks for reading.

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Level 2 Lean Eating Coach, Egoscue PAS
Castro Valley Fitness at 2861 Grove Way

3 Tips To Help You Squat

The squat is one of the most important movements you can do. Have achy knees? A tender back? Tight hips? Squatting can help all of that.

Do you want to lose weight? Get stronger? Move better? Squatting can help all of that, too.

In this short video I give you three tips to help you squat better and improve on some of the most common mistakes people make when they squat.

Squats shouldn’t hurt and if they do, one or more of these hints can probably help.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Level 2 Lean Eating Coach, Egoscue PAS
Castro Valley Fitness at 2861 Grove Way
Castro Valley’s Premier Fitness Facility
We Help People Discover Their Strength

How You Really Want To Start Working Out


Wow. That’s as uninspiring a line as you’re going to hear, huh? Well, maybe not! Let me explain.

I think a lot of people are worried. About what? Well, about getting hurt, to be precise. I don’t blame them, either. Getting hurt hurts! Right!

I think as people get older they worry about moving. They’re afraid of hurting their back. Their shoulders probably already hurt so they’re afraid of making that worse, too. Who knows what else is going on? Knees? Hips? Feet?

Unfortunately, three things happen when people feel this way.

  1. Since they don’t move well or often, the body tightens up. Use it or lose it.
  2. Since the body gets tighter and tighter, people move worse and worse and injury becomes more likely and eventually inevitable.
  3. Once people become injured they convince themselves that movement itself is the cause of their problem and they start to actually fear it! This, of course, causes the cycle to perpetuate.

It’s a sad cycle. Especially since we know that GOOD movement is actually the cure to all of this! Good movement improves your range of motion, flexibility, mobility and just makes you feel better!

So let’s get back to what I was talking about originally. About letting us underwhelm you. I think a lot of people are afraid of exercise for the reasons I just talked about. A lot of times people’s only experience with personal training is what they see on tv. They see people yelling and screaming and crying.


As a trainer, let me assure you that making someone sore and tired is actually pretty darn easy. It takes absolutely no skill or thought at all. The thing is that making someone sore and tired doesn’t actually get them better. Much of the time this is exactly what people are afraid of. Barely being able to walk for several days isn’t most people’s idea of fun, after all. What usually happens when someone’s first workout is like this is that there isn’t a second workout.

That’s why we want to underwhelm in someone’s first workout. First of all, we’d like to make sure that there’s another one. Second of all, we want to start establishing good movement patterns so that people can start to get over that fear of movement. That’s not going to happen if our only goal is to make someone feel like they’ve been hit by a truck.

Making something more challenging is always possible and there are many ways to do it. You can slow something down, speed it up, add more weight, change the tool you’re using, add more reps. The list goes on and on. The key here is that all of this is only worth doing once someone’s form is good.

Let’s take a squat for example. Someone may be strong enough to squat with a 45 pound weight but if they’re rounding their back then that could lead to an injury. I’d much rather they fix those issues first even though it might not feel like they’re doing all that much at first. Once they get that fixed we’ll have plenty of time to make it more challenging and in a way that won’t hurt them.

I think the main thing I’d like you to take away from this is not to be afraid of movement. Good movement helps just about everything. Good movement shouldn’t hurt. When you’re starting a new workout program with a trainer or by yourself, focusing on good movement first will make sure that you progress without getting hurt.

If you need help with your movement, please let us know. We can help!

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Level 2 Lean Eating Coach, FMS
Castro Valley Fitness at 2861 Grove Way
Castro Valley’s Premier Fitness Facility
We Help People Discover Their Strength

3 Secrets Your Trainer Doesn’t Want You To Know!

One of the things I hate most when it comes to fitness and nutrition is gimmicks. “Lose 12 pounds this week with my horoscope diet!” “Do this secret exercise to torch your belly fat!”

None of this stuff works. All it does is confuse people. If one more person asks me about apple cider vinegar speeding up their metabolism I’m going to lose my mind.

Apple Cider Vinegar Fitness Lie

Tastes Awful And Does Nothing For Your Metabolism! Try Some Today!!

Besides, why would a trainer NOT want you to know something? Wouldn’t that make them an absolutely terrible trainer and just as bad a person? I don’t get it.

Anyway, what I want to do today is give you 3 things I hear pretty regularly that are just not true. No matter how many times you hear them.

  1. I need to do more cardio to lose weight! No you don’t. Let me say this one more time: nutrition is what determines 85%-90% of weight loss. NOT EXERCISE!! There are many great reasons to do some cardio BUT WEIGHT LOSS IS NOT ONE OF THEM!!!! As a bonus, doing more cardio in place of strength training is probably making it HARDER for you to lose weight!
  2. Women will get bulky if they lift weights. This one is infuriating on so many levels and is usually perpetuated by people that are, frankly, afraid of strong women. Thankfully, it’s not nearly as common as it used to be, but it’s still out there. Just look on the cover of just about any fitness magazine that is marketed towards women if you don’t believe me. Let me say this for the record: this is not true and for many reasons it’s actually more important for women to lift weights than men. (Osteoporosis anybody?) Don’t let people put artificial limits on what you and your body can do based on their own fears.

     3. I need to lose weight. This one deserves not only it’s own post, but it’s own book. This one is maybe the best I’ve read on the subject.

Diet Trap Castro Valley Fitness Myth

Click on the picture for the Amazon Link

The fact is that you probably don’t NEED to lose weight. You may WANT to, but you likely don’t NEED to. The fact is most people haven’t even thought about whatever their real motivation is behind wanting to lose weight in the first place.

Whatever it is I’ll bet that your real reason is not to stand on a piece of plastic or metal and see it reflect a number back at you. If that’s all you want, I’m sure you can find a scale that will allow you to adjust how it reads. As a matter of fact, here’s the link to one

Castro Valley Fitness Myth

Congratulations! You can weigh whatever you want!!

Here’s the truth:

  • you can get healthier without losing weight
  • you can look great without losing weight
  • you can be worth loving without losing weight
  • you can be a great spouse, partner and parent without losing weight

Weight loss is a multi-billion dollar industry that isn’t all that interested in you feeling good about yourself. Remember that.

I hope this gives you a little different way to look at some things. Thankfully some of these lies are running out of juice, but they are still out there doing major damage and that makes me angry.

Please let me know what you think.

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Level 2 Lean Eating Coach, Egoscue PAS
Castro Valley Fitness
2861 Grove Way



News and Notes from Castro Valley Fitness

Back in Boston in the 80s and 90s I’d always look forward to the Sunday Boston Globe. Specifically the sports section. The Sunday sports section featured two of the greatest sports writers of their, or any other, time, Peter Gammons and Will McDonough. On Sundays they’d write their “News and Notes” column which would consist of different tidbits and rumours from around the leagues. I loved it!

Anyway, I thought I’d do my tribute to those great writers and do a “News and Notes From Castro Valley Fitness” post.

Here we go!

News and Notes From Castro Valley Fitness

  • The all or nothing mentality will almost always get you nothing. If this your normal approach you probably already know that. Stop kidding yourself and cut it out! This is NOT the time it is finally going to work.
  • Training flexibility for flexibility’s sake is not only pretty pointless, it’s probably going to get you hurt. Especially if you’re not doing a good amount of strength training to supplement it.
  • Sometimes you have to listen to your body but sometimes you need to tell your body to shut up. Not every little tweak is worth worrying about.
  • If you have chronic joint or back pain, just hitting the gym 2-3 times a week won’t cut it. Even if you’re doing an appropriate program you need to do something EVERY DAY to see real results. (15-25 minutes of the right stuff can be very effective.)
  • You know if you’re working hard or not. Get with it.
  • Yes, pull-ups and the bench press are hard. You’re just not going to improve every single week on those exercises. Just accept it, work hard and progress will come. It just may take a longer than on some other exercises.
  • Sometimes the best way to lift more weight is to just put more on the bar. Get out of your own way.
  • Finally, As the great RuPaul says: Feeling aren’t facts. Keep this in mind when you are trying to justify what you’re doing if you’re not getting the results you want.
Feeling aren't facts at Castro Valley Fitness

Feeling Aren’t Facts

We covered a lot of ground here. I hope at least one or two things clicked with you. Let me know what you thought about todays post and please let me know if there is something you’d like me to write about.

Have a great day!

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Level 2 Lean Eating Coach, Egoscue PAS
Castro Valley Fitness
2861 Grove Way