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!

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

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

Your Five Keys to Success

Today we are going back to basics. I can talk (or write) your ear off about all sorts of different fitness or nutrition topics. At Castro Valley Fitness we have conversations about all sorts of things along those lines but none of that really means much without the basics.

As you can see from this picture:

5 Keys to Success

we have what we feel are the 5 Keys To Success written on our wall. I can pretty much guarantee that if you aren’t achieving results then you aren’t doing one or more of these things.

Let’s get into it.

  1. Be consistent.

Simply put, nothing works without consistency. Any kind of real lasting improvement must be done intentionally, and that doesn’t happen without consistency. Very few meaningful things in life are accomplished all at once. It’s usually the end product of a lot of hard work.

  1. Work hard.

If consistency is number one, then hard work is 1A. There is no substitute for simple hard work. There are no secrets to anything, whether it’s losing weight, moving better, getting more flexible or stronger or anything else. When you exercise, work to the best of your ability and push yourself appropriately. Remember this: without consistency and hard work, nothing else matters. You won’t get anywhere.

  1. Be engaged.

If you have a coach, do your best to listen to their cues so that you get the most from your efforts. Pay attention to how the proper form and posture feel. Don’t just go through the motions. What are the things you’re doing supposed to be helping you with? If you can’t answer that question than how are you supposed to know what is working and what isn’t? If you don’t know that, then you are basically just throwing things against the wall and probably wasting your time.

  1. Ask questions.

Believe it or not, there are reasons behind a good exercise program. If you have any questions at all about your program ask your coach if you have one. If you don’t, then do some research and find out.  We love it when our members ask us about their program because we love to talk about this stuff! The more you know about why you’re doing what you’re doing, the more you can get out of it. By the way, if your coach can’t tell you why you’re doing something, that may be a red flag.

  1. Follow your program.

Any good program is written with your goals in mind, and there should be a reason behind everything. From the exercises themselves to the number of sets, reps, the order of the exercises, the rest periods and everything else, you and your goals should be taken into account. If you simply follow the program, you are giving yourself the best chance at success. By the way, if you don’t have a program you need to get one! There’s a million books out there and I also know a very good gym that could help!

Do you know a good gym?

I feel pretty confident that these keys can really help you out. If you feel like you’re having trouble with any of these things, please drop me a line and let me know. We’ll figure it out together!

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

Brushing Your Teeth and Back Pain: The Connection

One of the most important things we try to do as personal trainers is get people to understand the connection between what we teach as far as movement in the gym and the connection to movement outside of it. This is especially important for people who have some sort of pain. Back and shoulder pain especially.

We don’t teach people to deadlift so they can deadlift. We teach them so they can pick up groceries, laundry, kids etc, safely!

People don’t realize that it is their everyday movement performing menial tasks that really determines how their backs and shoulders feel.

In this video I explain why and show you some examples.


I Hate Motivation

This may sound wierd but I hate motivation. Yes, you read that right.


I’m sure you’re asking yourself what the heck am I talking about? Well, here’s the truth:

Motivation is the main reason people don’t reach their goals.

Yes, you read that right.

Motivation is the main reason

people don’t reach their goals.

OK. Now I’m pretty sure you think I’m crazy. Well, let me explain by asking you a question.

How many times in your life have you really been motivated to do something? Let’s take losing weight for example. You were ready to go, you had the diet thought out. You were going to hit the gym a few times a week and do it hard. You were going to start Monday morning. You were MOTIVATED!!

Well, how many of those times did Monday come around and when that alarm went off at 5am you weren’t so motivated anymore? What did you do then? Well, the answer to this question is the answer to how successful you were at reaching any meaningful goal in your life.

Let’s put it like this: If you relied on motivation to get up at 5am on Monday morning, you turned off that alarm clock and went back to bed. More then likely you used a whole lot of “ifs” when you were setting that alarm clock the night before. “I’ll get up IF I feel good in the morning.” Who feels good at 5am?

Using an “if” in this way is you giving yourself an excuse not to do something.

The real gold lies in forgetting motivation. When that alarm goes off you don’t allow yourself to question it. You just get up. You do that because you know that you need to if you really want what you say you want. You don’t wait for motivation to strike because it will always be much easier to do nothing than to do something. You do it because you know you should. That’s the beginning and the end of it.

You can call it discipline, desire or whatever you want to call it, but that is the key. If you rely on motivation to get you through you will ultimately be disappointed.

Don’t rely on motivation like sad Dawson.

Here’s another quick thing. People who rely on motivation wind up being even less motivated because they see themselves as failures for not being motivated all the time. Funny how that works. If this is you, you have to understand that no one is motivated all the time.

You are not alone.


OK. Let’s finish up with a few tips to help you get over the lack of motivation.

  1. Be OK with not being perfect. I know it may seem like everyone else has it all together, but believe me, they don’t. Beating yourself up over your perceived lack of perfection is a sure-fire way to not only make no progress, but to pile on a dose of low self-esteem and depression as well.
  2. Do what you can. You don’t feel like working out? No problem. Just give yourself permission to come to the gym and do what you can do. No more. You don’t go all the way through your workout? No problem. Something is better than nothing. I have yet to have someone come in for a workout and regret it. Accept progress in whatever form it comes.
  3. Don’t take no for an answer. By the way, the “no” is almost always going to come from you!! Tell yourself to be quiet and just get on with it.
  4. Stop talking to yourself. What are the types of things you probably say to yourself at 5am? I’m guessing they’re not that positive or ultimately helpful. Just shut up and get moving before the voices have a chance to get too loud.

I hope that helped. These are pretty common issues that don’t necessarily feel that way. Please let me know if you’d like to talk it through. That can really be a huge help.

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



What The Heck Am I Talking About – Set Your Core

Do you know what your core is supposed to do when you move? This is another in our series that explain common cues we give at our gym.

Set Your Core!

If you find your low back hurting when performing certain movements this might be a pretty important thing for you to understand!

Mitch Rothbardt
Castro Valley Fitness

7 Ways to Get The Most Out of Personal Training

I wanted to step out of the box a little bit with today’s post. I got this idea from an episode of a podcast I listen to (The Hardcore Self-Help Podcast). In the episode he talked about things that he felt would help people get the most they could out of therapy. I thought I’d do the same thing to help people get the most they can out of personal training. By the way everything I’m writing here is with the assumption that you are working with a good personal trainer. There are certainly bad ones out there just as there are bad lawyers, doctors and U.S. Presidents.

1 – Be consistent!!! Man, is this important! The most important thing to keep in mind when you are starting with personal training is to show up!! That sounds pretty basic but it needs to be said. I’ve never had a client get good results if they were inconsistent. Kind of like everything in life, huh?

2 – A personal trainer may motivate you, but not how you think. Let’s start with what a personal trainer does do to motivate someone:

  • Cares about your progress.
  • Provides a positive atmosphere for training.
  • Takes your goals, condition, likes and dislikes into account when writing your program.
  • Pushes you appropriately during your sessions. Appropriately is the key word here. It has many different meanings and varies with each and every client.

Here’s what a personal trainer does NOT do to motivate someone:

What I’m trying to say is motivation isn’t necessarily what you think it may be. That leads to number 3.

3 – If you are relying on motivation to carry you through, stop. Motivation doesn’t last. You need proof? How many times in life have you been super excited to start something only to fail on the follow through? Plenty. That’s motivation. What carries you through? Discipline and habits. Put something on our schedule and just do it. No questions. No excuses. Motivation wanes. BE BETTER THAN THAT!!

4 – Understand who the miracle worker really is. 

                                 It’s You!!!!

That’s right, it’s not your trainer. It’s you!! Personal training isn’t magic. You will get out of this what you put into it, no matter who your trainer is. You need to own your results. If you want more you need to put the work in. With both your diet and with your workouts! If you don’t know how then ask your trainer.

Also, one other point here. YOU decide how hard you want to work. Everyone has a different level of what they’re willing and able to do and that is up to each and every one of you to decide for yourself. This is the kind of thing that a trainer should understand and work with you on. We all have different things going on in our lives. Just understand that your results are directly connected.

5 – Be engaged. When you are with your trainer be engaged in what you’re doing. Pay attention to what each exercise is, how to do it and how it feels. Do you find that your trainer is giving you the same cues every time you do a particular exercise? Do you not know what an exercise is after doing it for months? You have to be engaged in what you’re doing to get the most out of it.

6 – Ask questions. This relates to our last point. If you don’t know what something is supposed to do or feel like, than ask! Don’t just blindly go through the motions. Oftentimes a small form adjustment can make all the difference in the effectiveness of an exercise. Other times an exercise just might not work for you. You’re not going to know any of this if you don’t ask. Also, if your trainer can’t answer your questions, that may be a red flag. There should be a reason something is in your program.

7 – Follow your program… but feel free to make suggestions. If you’ve hired a trainer to help you reach your goals, don’t pick and choose the things from your program that you do. Unless you don’t really want to reach your goals. If you bought a book on how to fix your brakes you wouldn’t just decide not to do step 4, right?

That being said, feel free to make suggestions on things you want to do and don’t want to do. There are many ways to do things and your trainer should have enough tools in their toolbox to account for that. This all goes back to being engaged and asking questions. After all you started personal training for a reaons, right?

I hope this helps you in your quest for fitness. If you want to talk about how to get the most our of your training, whether it’s with me or anyone else you can click here to schedule a time to do so.Have a great day everyone!!

Mitch Rothbardt, FMS, 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