A brilliant article I read and VEGGIES!!!!!

Earlier this week I read an article in the New York Times that spoke brilliantly on the immorality and damage our society’s unrelenting focus on the scale inflicts on people, particularly women.

Rather than take much time telling you about it, I’ll just urge you to read it. Especially if you:

  • Let your scale dictate your mood.
  • Still think there’s a direct relationship between scale weight and health.
  • Believe (even subconsciously because that’s where much of this occurs) that your value lies in being as small as possible, or at least smaller than you are now.

You can read the article here:

Diet Culture Is Unhealthy. It’s Also Immoral.

Please let me know what you think about it. Whether you agree or disagree I’d love to know your opinion. This is incredibly important stuff.

Lastly, every other week we get a box from Imperfect Foods. They offer fruits and vegetables from local farms and purveyors that would otherwise get thrown away due to minor cosmetic imperfections, as well as various grocery items.

We get all sorts of things from them and have always been happy with their products.

If you use this link you’ll get $20 off of each of your first 4 orders. (That’s $80 off!!!!)

Imperfect Foods Discount

Mitch Rothbardt

Castro Valley Fitness


P.S. The article – Diet Culture Is Unhealthy. It’s Also Immoral.

Imperfect Food Discount – Imperfect Foods Discount

This is NOT a “Make 2022 Your Best Year Ever” post. 😬

Well, here we are. The last day of the year.

I’ll be honest. New Years Day scares the crap out of me.

Every year. 

Why? I can’t stop thinking about all the crap that’s going to happen and what’s going to change in 2022, and it scares me.

Is anyone I know going to die?

Are my parents going to be ok?

Is something awful going to happen?

Puppy is like 15 years old. How will she be after another year?

This, ladies and gentlemen, is known as catastrophizing. That’s when you automatically assume the worst possible outcome of an event. The funny thing is I NEVER do this except when I’m looking far into the future. Weird, huh?

On a daily basis, I’m actually one of the most optimistic people I know. Why the difference? I don’t know. I plan on talking to my therapist about it when I see her in a couple of weeks. (Not a joke.)

In any case, I need some help from you to get me through this. I need you to let me know what you’re afraid of happening in 2022. It doesn’t matter what it is. Let’s do this together. I promise this will remain just between you and me. I’m serious about this.

It doesn’t matter if it’s outlandish and doesn’t make any sense, like a zombie apocalypse, or if it’s something that’s probably going to happen that you’re just dreading with every drop of your life’s essence. The only thing that matters is if thinking of it, you feel Dread’s icy fingers wrap around your stomach and squeeze just hard enough to let you know how much worse it can get.

Sorry Subscriber. I know this probably isn’t what you wanted to read this morning. I don’t know how many people are even going to help me with this, but I’m doing it for a reason.

To put it bluntly, we need to feel this stuff and acknowledge it. Everything we see at this time of year is about going into the new year and “kicking ass” and “setting big fat hairy goals” and having your BEST YEAR EVER!!”

That’s great and all, but what if that’s not what you’re feeling?

What if you’re full of worry and dread?

Does acting like you feel awesome help?

Does thinking you’re the only one having these feelings help?

Absolutely not.

It’s only when we acknowledge what really on inside that we can process that messy bottom-of-the-compost-bin mush of stuff and maybe – just maybe – really have our best year ever instead of just pretending we’re on board.

That’s why I need you. I can’t be the only one worried about 2022, right?

Just hit reply and let me know.

Mitch Rothbardt

Castro Valley Fitness


P.S. If you know anyone else who has these feelings can you please forward this to them. Just knowing there are others who feel this way can make a big difference in someone’s life. All it takes is a couple of clicks.

Do this for a better 2022

Well, here we are – almost through another year. 

12 months ago, we were hoping to leave 2020 abandoned in a New Mexico desert without food, water, and shelter. We hoped that’d be enough to render it impotent, over, deceased.

Now it feels like 2020 emerged with a smile on its face and its arms spread wide enough to squeeze us until our eyes bug out.

As we say goodbye to 2021, and hope for a better 2022, I have some advice. 

Normally I refrain from giving advice without asking permission first. If you’re wondering why, think about the last time someone told you you “should” do something when you didn’t ask for their opinion.

Did you take their advice?

Probably not. (For more on this, look up Motivational Interviewing.) Asking someone’s permission won’t guarantee they’ll take your advice, but it makes it more likely they’ll at least listen.

Anyhoo, since I can’t ask you personally if you want my advice on how to feel a little better heading into 2022, I’ll just say that if you don’t want it, delete this email and move on with your day. I won’t mind.

Moving on, my advice that may help as we move into the next phase of whatever-this-is can be summed up in three words:

Assume Positive Intent.

When we “Assume Positive Intent,” we believe that another person is acting to the best of their ability and/or that they mean well in their current circumstance.

Here’s an example.

We’ve all been cut off in traffic. It’s not fun. It’s dangerous and it’s almost always upsetting. Our initial reaction usually involves screaming and calling the other driver names.

We tell ourselves that when the other driver cut us off, their intention was to upset and maybe even injure us.

Why not tell ourselves that the other driver may have been hurrying to the hospital or was late for a flight because their child was sick that morning?

Heck, maybe they just made a mistake that had nothing to do with us and if they knew how it affected us, they’d feel bad and apologize.

Doesn’t that feel better? 

That’s what happens when you assume positive intent.

You put yourself in a more consistent and positive frame of mind. Why make a conscious decision to feel angry and disrespected?

For examples of what happens when we assume negative intent, please see Q’anon followers and people that think Anthony Fauci should be arrested for some reason. Is that what you want to be?

I hope this helps a little. I know it’s made a world of difference in how I view the world and go about my life, even if I have setbacks every now and then. It’s just too easy to be angry all the time.

Mitch Rothbardt

Castro Valley Fitness

P.S. We are hardwired as humans to always look for danger, which is why assuming negative intent is more natural and satisfying in the short term. It’s time we evolve and become better. 

P.P.S. If you want to read more about Motivational Interviewing, check this article out. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-motivational-interviewing-22378

I highly recommend it if you talk to people – and we all talk to people.

The most important thing you can get from a workout

Being a personal trainer for 12 years, I’ve worked with hundreds of people of all ages, shapes, and sizes. In that time, I’ve realized an important thing:

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

Last week, Rodolfo asked a simple, but complex, question:

“How much should I be working out per week, per session to get the most benefit from it? What’s the latest consensus/your opinion?”

Here’s my answer:

Whatever you can do consistently and with good effort. The key point being “consistently and with good effort.”

The desire for another workout builds consistency and consistency builds results.

Real results.

Not “lose 10 pounds this week” results, but “I’ve fallen, and I CAN get up and just move on with my day” results.

“I’ve reversed my diabetes” results.

“I can get on the floor to play with my grandkids” results.

“I’m recovering from my tweaked back in days, not months” results. 

You see where I’m coming from?

OK. I know you want something a little more solid here and I’ll give it to you but understand that what I’m giving you is general advice and doesn’t account for your own

  • schedule
  • goals
  • condition
  • likes
  • dislikes
  • And dozens of other factors that play a part in how often and what you do for exercise.

1. Shoot for an average of 20-30 minutes per day of moderate exercise like a brisk walk.

2. Shoot for an average of 60-90 minutes twice per week of more intense exercise like strength training. 

Focus on strength training because if done with proper intensity, it improves your cardiovascular health while cardiovascular training does NOT improve strength,

Strength training also gives you the results I talked about above. Cardio won’t help you get off the floor if you fall.

Could you do more? Yes.

Could you do less? Yes.

If you want more dramatic results, you’ll likely need to up the amount and intensity of what you do.

Why focus on strength training when I’m recommending only 60-90 minutes per week vs. 20-30 minutes per day of cardio?

Because strength training requires more recovery.

I hope this helps. I know it may seem complicated, but remember these tips:

1.     Let consistency and effort be your guide.

2.     Don’t worry about other people. Do what works for you.

3.     Don’t let the fitness industry confuse you into believing things need to be complicated.

Let me know if you have any questions and I’d be happy to help you.

Have a great day!

Mitchell Rothbardt

Castro Valley Fitness

P.S. I’d still love to hear from you if you have any questions or want me to cover a particular topic. Reply to this email and let me know.

P.P.S. I’m working on a couple of things outside of the gym, so 2022 is looking to be an exciting year! That being said, if you have a small business, work for one, or know someone who does, I’d love to talk with them. Just a few quick questions. I’m not selling anything. Just trying to do some research. This doesn’t have to be fitness-related.

P.P.P.S Over the years a lot of people have told me about friends or relatives that want to become personal trainers. I’m always more than willing to talk with and help them with any questions they may have. I had a lot of help when I was starting out and would love to pay it forward.

Hello Again: The Pandemic and Gyms


How are you doing?

I know I haven’t written lately…well for the last 8 months or so.

Honestly, this past year and a half has kicked my butt more than just a little bit and I’ve spent a lot of time just trying to figure out how Castro Valley Fitness and I fit into all this.

It’s been tough on all of us.

The good news, though, is that I’m back. I don’t know what I can commit to as far as writing, but I hope to be in touch at least 2-3 times each month.

I’ll be giving you hints on:

  • How to get the most out of your workouts
  • How to improve your chronic pain
  • Nutrition tips

But most importantly:

How to make fitness work for you! 

So, what inspired me to start writing again?

Well, in my opinion, the fitness industry’s reaction to the pandemic has been…well…disappointing.

Another way to put it would be self-serving.

Still another would be toxic.

See where I’m coming from?

Frankly, my relationship with much of the fitness industry isn’t great. I don’t believe an industry that makes over $800,000,000,000 (that’s billion) a year making people feel bad about themselves is an industry I want to be part of.

Not in that way, in any case.

I was hoping that the pandemic would cause some people to re-think their approach. 

Maybe realize that the relentless focus on weight loss doesn’t work.

Maybe stop telling women their main value to society lies in being as small as possible.

Maybe realize that most of what the fitness industry talks about isn’t really healthy at all.

At the beginning of the pandemic there was one question on everyone’s minds, “Are gyms essential businesses?”

My answer was a surprise to many people in the industry.


They’re not.

Health is essential.

Fitness is essential.

Good sustainable nutrition is essential.

Pre-pandemic, the fitness industry as a whole, espoused none of those things.

What did it focus on?

Making people feel terrible about themselves so they could sell more stuff.

Sure, they SAID they focused on essential things, but in reality…not so much.

It’s no wonder that when people asked if gyms were essential, they didn’t know the answer.

And the fact they didn’t know the answer? That was all the answer we really needed.

After all, no one needs to ask if food is essential.

Maybe, if the fitness industry ACTUALLY focused on health instead of the inessential garbage it focused on, the answer would have been different.

But after decades of…

“Lose 40 pounds this month!”

“Don’t ever eat carbs again!”

“Use this trick to get 6-pack abs next week!”

People know this industry is full of s**t.

The best part was when the industry started telling everyone how gyms needed to be open for everyone’s mental health after being one of the main drivers of women’s poor mental health for years. 

“Forget everything you’ve ever accomplished in your life, if you gained 5 pounds over the last decade YOU ARE A FAILURE! No cookies for you…EVER AGAIN!!!”

After everything we’ve gone through over the past 18 months it seems like the fitness industry would have learned something, but no. We’re now inundated with gyms trying to inspire people to lose their “Covid 19”. It would be pathetic if it weren’t so predictable.

This is what I’ve been fighting against for years in an industry I want to be proud of.

Fitness is for everybody. Every. Body. 

That is the belief I’ve built my gym on. You shouldn’t have to feel like you need to be in shape to get in better shape.

There are lots of ways that every single person can feel good.

There are a lot more goals than “losing weight”.

And for most people there are a lot impactful, empowering, helpful, and healthy goals than “losing weight”, too.

I’m here to help.


Have a great day!

Mitch Rothbardt

Castro Valley Fitness




2 Fitness Conspiracy Theories

One thing I’ve really learned about myself during these last six months is the depth to which I hate gimmicks. I hate them. Gimmicks almost always promise an easy answer to a difficult problem and they almost always fall apart with even the most cursory bit of critical thinking. Think:

This is an actual product carried at CVS.

Why have I been thinking about this? Two words:

Conspiracy Theories

Of all the disappointing things we’ve seen during this pandemic the most disappointing to me is the prevalence of conspiracy theories.

  • Donald Trump is saving us from a worldwide cabal of elitist pedophile cannibals.
  • Anthony Fauci funded the creation of Covid19.
  • Bill Gates is putting tracking chips in the Covid vaccines.
  • 5g towers are spreading the virus.
  • Emails between Bill Gates and the CDC proving they are complicit in the spread of the virus were hacked and will be put online for all to see anytime now. (I saw this one five months ago. Not suprisingly no emails yet.)

Every one of those is an actual conspiracy that people really believe and spread. I didn’t make any one of those up, I swear.

Very sad.

One of the awesome things about believing in a conspiracy theory is that you never have to admit you’re wrong. You just move on to the next one. When someone questions you about any conflicting beliefs or the nonsensical nature of it all you can just smile, nod and say, “You’ll see.”

How awesome is that!

Anyway, today I thought I’d talk about two of the fitness industry’s favorite conspiracy theories. Why do I consider them conspiracy theories? Mainly because they don’t make much sense when you really think about them yet they keep hanging around!

Well, let’s get started.

1 – You need to lose weight. 

What They Tell You: Losing weight is the only goal that really matters for your health and for your value to the world. Smaller is better. Especially if you are a woman.

The Conspiracy: The weight loss industry is a $72,000,000,000 industry that makes its money by making you feel bad about yourself. Here’s the process:

  • Tell you you’re unhealthy and have little value due to your body
  • Sell you something to lose weight that doesn’t work or is unsustainable
  • Blame you for it’s failure
  • Sell you something else

The Truth: Losing weight itself generally has little to no impact on our health. As a matter of fact, with some methods you’d be less healthy than before you started.

If you’ve been told, or you think, you “need” to lose weight, just ask why and go from there. I guarantee you whatever the answer is to that question, reacting and basing your actions on that and not the scale will give you much better results.

2 – You Shouldn’t Strength Train After 50.

What They Tell You: When you reach 50 you turn old and fragile and are a debiliating injury waiting to happen.

The Conspiracy: This is just based on an overall lack of knowledge about the body and how it works. I can’t put it any other way.

The Truth: Strength training actually becomes more important as we get older.

You want to know what protects your body when you fall?


You want to know how you’re going to get up?


You want to know how to protect your bones from osteoporosis?


I could keep going but you get the point.

If you aren’t working on your strength as you get older you are missing a huge piece of the puzzle.

There are plenty more of these fitness conspiracy theories out there (detoxes, anyone?) but I think you get the point. You know what really makes sense. If you’re not sure, just ask.

Take care and stay safe!

Mitch Rothbardt

3 Super Secrets Your Trainer Won’t Tell You!

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 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 or should do based on their own sexist BS fears. 

    3. I need to lose weight. This one deserves not only it’s own post, but it’s own book.

  1. This one is maybe the best I’ve read on the subject.

    Diet Trap Castro Valley Fitness Myth

    Click on the picture for the link from a great local bookstore

    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 https://www.amazon.com/Sunbeam-SAB602-05-Full-View-Scale/dp/B0014JRAAY/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=adjustable+body+weight+scale&qid=1560307855&s=hpc&sr=1-2.

    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.

  2. As a matter of fact, it’s goal is to make you feel BAD about yourself.

  3. 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



Two Simple Core Fixes

First off, I want to thank Jocelyn for suggesting this topic. It started with a simple question she asked during her training session today (don’t worry, we’re doing all of our training outside right now).

I’m paraphrasing here but it went something like this:

Why is my core always my weak point?


This is a question a lot of people have. What you need to know about Jocelyn is that she’s pretty darn strong and she’s very active. Most people naturally assume they need to strengthen their core when they feel like this, but in Jocelyn’s case she’s been doing that pretty diligently for a while.

So what’s the deal?

Well, there are two aspects to this. We all know about the strength part, and that is incredibly important, but it’s not the only thing.

The human body is an amazing thing. One of the ways that shows is how it compensates. That means when one thing is weak or doesn’t move well, something else just picks up the slack. This almost always happens without our even realizing it and core function is a great example of how it works.

This is why shoulder/neck pain or tightness, and back pain, frequently (usually) have more do with core positioning than your shoulders, neck or back.

In order for this to make sense you have to realize two things.

First: WHAT our core is. 

Many people think core = abs. Yes, our abs are a part of our core, but they’re not the whole thing. The core actually covers the front of our midsection all the way around our body like a cylinder.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Core!!

Yes. Sometimes, you may even consider the glutes and hips as part of your core.

Second: The true function of our core. 

That is stability.

To put it simply, our core stabilizes our body so that our arms and legs can do what they have to do.

Think of it like this. If you’re standing on solid ground and try to walk, it’s a fairly easy process. (In this scenario the ground is your core.) If you’re standing on Jello, that complicates things a bit.

Let’s bring this all home.

What happens if your core isn’t doing its job, is that either your shoulders/neck or your spine have do the stabilizing.

This brings us back to our original question:

Why is my core always my weak point?

If strength isn’t the issue, then the answer is positioning. In other words where you are holding your core in relation to your body and what you are acutually using for stabilization.

This is a topic that can (and has) taken entire volumes to fully cover so I’ll keep it very simple.

This book is a great start. Click the picture to order from a great local bookstore.

All I want to do today is give you two very simple things you can do to put your core in a good position.

I just want to tell you this before we start, though. You need to realize that even though these things are simple to understand and even do initially, if you aren’t diligent in how you approach these things, if you just do them once and forget about them, they will not work and you will naturally revert back to old positions. If this is an issue for you, your body has likely spent years forming habits that will not just vanish without vigilance.

Take things seriously.

Take time to FEEL the new positions, not just look at them.

You won’t have a mirror everywhere you go, but you will have your body and your nerve endings.

OK. Let’s get started.

Standing Position.

  1. Stand up and make sure your feet are pointed straight ahead. Both of them.
  2. Now look straight ahead making sure your feet don’t turn in or out.
  3. Take 2 deep breaths into your belly.
  4. Look back down at your feet.
  5. This is the important part: Notice what happens to your hips and weight distribution when you look back down at your feet. Your hips will likely shift back and your weight will move to your heels. 
  6. This is the second important part: Carefully move your head up so you’re again looking straight ahead, but keep your hips right where they were while you were looking down at your feet. 
  7. Now take a deep belly breath as you adjust your weight distribution evenly from heel to toe.

At this point your hips should be pretty evenly placed, thus putting your core into a good position. (This may not work for every single person, but it generally works pretty well.)

Now the second part.


This is where people start getting lazy.

“I know how to breathe!”

That may be true but, particularly if they have pain, people don’t know how to breathe well, and usually not in a way that enhances core function.

As a quick aside, let me say this just once:

If you have chronic pain and you don’t fix your breathing patterns,

your pain will never go away.

Anyway, here’s what I want you to do now.

Right after you complete all seven steps above:

  1. Put a hand on your belly without moving your hips or moving your eyes.
  2. Breathe into your belly so your hand moves.
  3. Here’s the important part: Notice what happens to your shoulders and how your low back feels every time you take a breath.

Feels kind of relaxing, huh?

Relaxed Kitty

OK. That was the easy part. The hard part is applying it to your life. The best advice I can give is to pay attention to how all this feels.

  • How do your shoulders feel when you breathe like this?
  • How do your shoulders move when you breathe like this?
  • How do your hips feel?
  • How does your back feel?
  • How do your abs feel?

When you are exercising, do these things before your sets.

Will it feel a little silly at first?


Should you care?

If you start to feel that familiar shoulder or back pain do these things.

Before you pick something up off the ground do these things.

You starting to get it?

The good news is that after a little while this stuff becomes habit, just like the habits that we’re trying to replace, and when that happens your core will work better!

You see what happens when I start taling about this stuff?

Anyway, let me know if you have any questions at all about positioning or anything else. There is a lot to talk about here that I just don’t have the time or space to cover.

Take care and stay safe!

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, Egoscue PAS, Pn2
Castro Valley Fitness
2861 Grove Way
The Cleanest Gym In The Bay Area! 



Friday Workout 20

This week we’re going to talk about hill sprints.

Hill sprints are GREAT! They’re easy on the joints and incredibly effective.

Also, if you live in the Castro Valley area, I put together a little handbook with a whole bunch of great hills around here.

The weather’s been beautiful so let’s take advantage!

You can get it here:


The Cleanest Gym In The Bay Area

Today I’m going to do something a little different.


I haven’t read this, but I hope it’s appropriate

That’s not something I usually do. Really, it’s not something I ever do, but in this case I think it’s warranted.

Here it goes:

Castro Valley Fitness is the cleanest gym in the Bay Area.

No kidding.

Over the past three or so months we’ve spent hundreds of dollars on spray bottles, disinfectant wipes,  CDC approved cleaner, hand sanitizer, and cleaning rags to make sure that we are as inhospitable to this virus as we can possibly be.

It is NOT welcome at our facility.

Let me give you a quick rundown of our cleaning protocols at Castro Valley Fitness.

  1. Since all of our sessions are outside, anyone who goes into the gym for any reason MUST wear their mask.
  2. Only 1 or 2 people are allowed inside our 1450 sq. foot gym at any one time.
  3. Before anyone does anything they wash their hands.
  4. We maintain social distancing protocols during our outdoor sessions with a maximum of three people and one trainer there at any one time.
  5. No one shares equipment.
  6. All equipment is cleaned and disinfected either before someone else uses it, or before it is put away, including weight plates and mats.

Yes. We are taking this seriously.

Frankly, it angers me that many other facilities aren’t. I find that insulting.

I’m proud of our outdoor set up (you can see it in the video below).

I’m proud that we are helping people improve their health both mentally and physically, both of which we know are crucial in helping with this thing.

I’m proud that, along with our members, we’re figuring out how to help people in this climate and with the restrictions that are in place. It’s a fluid situation and a work in progress for sure, but I’m proud that we’re doing what we can.

If we can provide any help for you in getting through this, please let me know.

Take care and stay safe!

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, Pn2, Egoscue PAS
Castro Valley Fitness
2861 Grove Way
The Cleanest Gym In The Bay Area