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.

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

Friday Workout 19

We’re gonna get buff today!

A nice upper body dumbell workout for you.

I figure it’s summer time so let’s get it rocking!

Or something like that.

DB Bench Press 4 sets 6-8

One Arm DB Row 4 sets 8-10

Lying DB Tricep Extensions 4 sets 10-12

DB Curls 3 sets 10-12

Rear Delt Raise 3 sets 8-10

Medicine Ball Slams 6 sets of 6

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, Pn2, Egoscue PAS
Castro Valley Fitness
2861 Grove Way

Don’t Forget To Work On This!!

I want to talk about something a little different today. I know over these last few months we didn’t really have much of a choice in how we exercised. We basically walked and used whatever equipment we had at home to get some kind of training effect.

We did this to get our heart rate up, to reduce stress, to maintain some level of general fitness, to maintain some level of mobility, to feel like we did something positive for ourselves.

Hopefully you didn’t allow yourself to get too tight or achy, although there were times it may have seemed a little out of your control.

You can do a lot this way and it is very important to do that. Especially when you don’t really have any other options.

The one thing it can be very difficult to work on under these conditions is strength. From a logistical standpoint, you need a few things to do true strength training. Namely, things you can use to increase load. That can come in many forms. Heavier weights and ways to use more of your own body weight are just two.

The key is that whatever you use, you use it with the goal to progress.

I don’t want to make this a very long post today but if you’ve read much of what I’ve written in the past, you know the value I place on strength training.

Let me leave you with a quick list of things strength training does for you:

  • increases strength
  • improves bone density
  • improves mobility
  • improves metabolism
  • reduces stress
  • improves confidence
  • makes you a heck of a lot more awesome!

The moral of the story is don’t neglect your strength whether you’re working out at home or not!

Take care and stay safe!

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, Pn2, Egoscue PAS
Castro Valley Fitness
2861 Grove Way




Friday Workout 18

We’re going to call this workout and workout and a half! You’ll understand why when you see the video.

It’s definitely a fun variation of these exercises!


Squat & 1/2 – 4 sets of 8

Pushup & 1/2- 4 sets of 8

Split Squat & 1/2- 4 sets of 8

Lawnmower Row w/one arm hold- 4 sets of 8

Pallof Hold & 1/2 – sets of 30s

Skater Jumps w/hold – 6 sets of 15s work/15s rest

Mitch Rothbardt
Castro Valley Fitness

Friday Workout 17

In this week’s Friday Workout we’re going to use a little different piece of equipment and I’m even going to tell you how to make one of your very own!

A Sandbag!!!

Sandbags are a very useful and versatile tool due to the fact that the sand itself is not very stable. This challenges your core stability big time, as well as being very effective in a number of ways.

Have fun!

SB Clean & Squats 4×8-10

SB Rotational Reverse Lunge 4×8 each leg

SB Rotational Overhead Press – 3×8

SB Waiters Walks – 3x30s-45s

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, Pn2, PAS

Castro Valley Fitness