OK. Next week is Thanksgiving. A few weeks after that is Christmas. The week after that is New Years Day.



As a personal trainer who has worked with hundreds of people over this time of year I am going to tell you that what you’re about to go through over the next six weeks is inhuman. There is no way out. You will feel stressed out. Terrible. Horrible. Like your head is about to explode. Like there is no end to the calorie laden, sugar-filled sweets that will literally be shoved down your throat unceasingly.

You will feel this way because it is the truth. You might as well face it. You will spend the rest of your life trying to recover from the damage that you will endure.

Of course I’m joking, but every year I do hear some version of what I wrote. I know this can be a stressful time of year for a number of reasons but I hope that at the end of it you can look back and realize that you enjoyed and appreciated it. We only get a certain amount of these, you know.

Let me give you three quick tips to help you with that.

  1. Breathe. If you find yourself starting to spin out of control take a step back, notice how you feel, know that it’s OK, and take just a few minutes to breathe and think about nothing else other than that. I know this isn’t easy to remember to do in those stressful times, but if you do it will make a huge difference. I promise you.
  2. Exercise. This is the time of year when people start skipping their workouts. I get it, there’s a lot to do. In January, though, I start to see the people that skipped workouts really regret it. Study after study shows that exercise is one of the best ways you can combat stress. Just do what you can. 15 minutes is better than nothing. Put it on your schedule and DON’T BREAK THAT APPOINTMENT WITH YOURSELF!
  3. Eat. Don’t be the person at the dinner table talking about how much cardio you have to do to pay for that extra helping of stuffing. Just eat and enjoy yourself. I personally plan on eating an entire 9×13 pan of pumpkin bread pudding with caramel sauce, Tillamook Vanilla Ice Cream (the creamiest ice cream I’ve found) and whipped cream. And that’s before I get to the Apple Pie!

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

The Danger Zone!!

We’re heading towards the Danger Zone! No, I’m not talking about Top Gun. I’m talking about the holiday season.

Every year I see people fall into the same traps. I know it’s not easy, but I also know that there are ways around it that can help you actually enjoy this time with your family and friends instead of stress over it.

Take a look and let me know what you think.

What One Thing Can Improve Everything?

What if I were to tell you that there was one kind of exercise that improved all others? That there was one thing you could work on that would help you lose weight, get stronger, move better, feel less pain, improve your flexibility and improve your mobility?

Well, there is!!

strength training

Strength training!

Yes, strength training can do all of that!

The mistake people make is that they think strength training has to look like this.

Well it doesn’t. It can look like this.

strength training

Or this.

strength training

Or this.

strength training

OK, maybe not this last one but she’s so cute!!!!

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that strength training can and should be adaptable to anyone, no matter what your condition or goals! In the strength training module of our Clearing the Confusion video series I talk about our Foundational Five exercises and how the value lies in the movement themselves, not the tools used to perform them. That may be a little confusing so let me give you an example.

Let’s take another look at some pictures I showed you above.strength trainingNow, it may look like these people are doing completely different things, but in reality they are doing the same thing! They’re just using different tools. Blaine, the guy on the right, is using a barbell and approximtely 950 pounds of weight. Katy, on the left, is using a kettlebell and approximately 18 pounds of weight.

Strength training should be challenging but that is relative. What is challenging to one person may not be to another and vice versa, but as long as what you are doing IS challenging you can get the same benefit from it!

strength training

What I’m trying to say is that strength training can help you! You may not think so, but here is the deal. If you can

  • Stand up and sit down you can Squat
  • Go up one stair you can do Step-ups
  • Pick something up you can Deadlift
  • Walk you can do Carries

These are only a few examples but I hope you can see what I’m saying. Anyone can do this and anyone can get all sorts of benefits from it. Here are some of them:

  • Improved strength
  • Improved body composition
  • Improved bone density, which is incredibly important for women
  • Improved mental state
  • Improved posture
  • Improved athletic performance
  • Improved immune function
  • Improved joint strength
  • Improved joint function
  • Improved mobility
  • Improved range of motion
  • Improved stability
  • Improved flexibility
  • Improved metabolism
  • Improved nutritional partitioning
  • Improved cardiovascular conditioning
  • Improved daily life function

For all of these reasons we really emphasize resistance training at Castro Valley Fitness.

I hope I was able to help you figure a few things out. Let me know what you think!

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

Castro Valley Fitness
2861 Grove Way

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Just Say No!

I was having a great conversation with one of our members a few weeks ago. She’d been having some trouble with consistency in getting to the gym.

I asked her a question. “Would the things that are getting in your way really be that much worse if you took just an hour to get a workout in?”

I’ve said this many many times before, but the number one most important thing when it comes to getting results is consistency. WITHOUT CONSISTENCY NOTHING ELSE MATTERS!! Do I need to say that again?


This is why I am on a campaign to get you to “Just Say No!”


What do I mean? I mean put your workout time on your schedule and JUST SAY NO to anything that would mean missing it. I guarantee you that the world will go on if you take an hour to yourself.

Listen, I know that things are crazy out there. We all have 1000 things that are screaming for our attention every second of every day. I know how hard it can be to balance all of it out. I also know that these things are not going anywhere, and that even though we are absolutely convinced that it will all fall apart if we step away for one second…..



it won’t.



So I ask you to just try it this week. Pretty please for me?


Put your workouts on your schedule and just do them. Whatever you have going on forget about it and go. See what happens.

I’m guessing that what happens is that you wind up feeling pretty good about doing something positive for yourself.

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



3 Things You Should Know About Cardio

One of the most potentially confusing things about exercise is cardio. I always hear people say they “need to do more cardio” when they want to lose weight that. Well, this isn’t necessarily the case.

Today I’m going to let you know three things you might not know about cardio, how it relates to weight loss and how you can get it to work better for your goals.

Let’s get started!

  1. You don’t burn that many calories when you’re doing regular cardio exercise. I’m sorry to tell you this, but you just don’t. For example, if you run at a 12 minute mile pace for a half hour, which for many of us is pretty darn fast, you’ll burn off about 250 calories. That means that if you’re feeling like you deserve a little something like this for your efforts: You will actually be taking in somewhere between 150 and 300 calories in excess of what you just burned! On top of that the better you get at running, the fewer calories you will burn as your body becomes better and more efficient.
  2. For weight loss, interval-style cardio training is the way to go. As we talked about last week strength training is the most important exercise you can do for weight loss. Having said that, if you are going to do some cardio, interval-style cardio the way to go. Interval-style cardio has the additional benefit of raising your metabolism after you are done. In other words, you will continue to burn additional calories even after you stop exercising. Now to get this to really work you must push yourself pretty darn hard, but that shouldn’t be a problem for you, right? 
  3. You can get creative with your cardio. At our gym we do all kinds of things to get that cardio effect. You don’t have to just walk on a treadmill or ride a stationary bike. We do different kinds of circuits. Try this one: 10 squats, 10 pushups, and a 30 second plank. Do each exercise as fast as you can (with good form, of course). Rest 30 seconds between each set and do 4 sets. If you’re not breathing heavy afterwards, re-read what I said above about working hard.

Well, I hope this gives you a few ideas you can use to help get more out of your cardio training. Please let me know if we can help.

Have a great day!

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

5 Ways to Help If You Don’t Like Exercise

I know I’m lucky. I like to exercise. I love it, in fact. I love it so much I made a career out of helping other people do it. Having said that, I know lots of people don’t exactly feel this way. I’d have to hide my head pretty deep in the sand not to realize that many people don’t like exercise at all, including some of the people I work with right now! I’ve got to say that sometimes I kind of feel like the vegetables that are pushed to the side of someone’s dinner plate.

don't like exercise


Having said that, I really do believe that everyone can benefit from appropriate exercise and I’ve yet to hear someone tell me they regret coming in after a workout, no matter how they felt beforehand.

Today I’d like to give you a few hints on how to get your exercise in even if it’s not your favorite thing to do.

  1. Schedule it. This is number one for a reason. Put it on your calendar and don’t let anything get in the way. Sure, things happen from time to time but deep down you know when you’re just using outside things as an excuse. One of our members Sue, just told me that she looks at her sessions the same way she looks at her job. You don’t skip work because you just don’t feel like it do you?
  2. Find people. At our gym we do everything in groups. We use personalized programs but people are just doing “their program” with other people there at the same time. The best thing about this is that our members get to know each other. They become friends and that makes their workouts more of a fun get-together. That way even if someone doesn’t exactly like exercise all that much, the community makes it a nice place to be and that makes the exercise more fun and effective!
  3. Understand the benefits. As much as you don’t like exercise I’m pretty sure you understand the benefits of it. Better, strength, flexibility, mobility, decreased pain, increased bone density, improves immune system function, better confidence, etc.
  4. Do something you like. OK. Like may be overstating it, but if you absolutely hate lifting weights or running or body pump classes than try to find something else. There are a ton of options!
  5. Forget motivation. This clip says it way better than I can. Take 4 minutes and watch.

If you don’t want to watch it essentially she essentially says that we are hard-wired to avoid things that are difficult and scary. The more we wait for “motivation” the more this hard-wiring kicks in and that means WE DON’T DO ANYTHING! In other words you’ve got to just suck it up and do what you need to do.

I’ve worked with hundreds of people over the past 8 years and I know these five tips have helped many of them, including the ones that don’t like exercise. I think they can help you, too. Have a great day!

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Level 2 Lean Eating Coach, FMS
2861 Grove Way in Castro Valley
Discover Your Strength!