Personal trainer Kelvin Gary on why you should skip the workout machines

Kelvin Gary is the personal trainer behind Body Space Fitness, a newly-renovated boutique gym in NYC offering a unique, time-efficient, and affordable approach to working out. With a background in business, Kelvin knows the physical constraints of an office job, and works with clients (pssst..we hear Rebecca Minkoff is one of them!) of all different fitness levels to help their bodies function at their best capacity. We worked out with Kelvin before our interview, and we have to say -- he's the real deal. Read our Q&A with him below to find out why you should be avoiding workout machines, why "ab days" and "arm days" don't always make sense, and how you can stay fit at the office.

You started out your career in the corporate world. What pushed you to make the jump to personal training?
Kelvin Gary: I was in corporate finance, and before that I was a manufacturing engineer. Long story short, I got to the point in my life where I was like, "You know what, I'm 26 and I'm overweight, and my knees are hurting. It's not just my diet or that I have a stressful job, it's that I'm stuck behind a desk." So, I got my personal trainer certification. I did it more for me in the beginning. I wanted to figure out what was going on with my own body as the result of being stuck behind a desk most of the day. Next thing you know some of my friends from business school found out i was a personal trainer, and they said "OK, you gotta start training us!".

SL: And then you opened Body Space Fitness?
KG: I started to think that maybe I'd missed my calling when I realized I enjoyed training and helping people get results -- whether they want to lose weight, run faster, or move around pain-free when they run around with their grandkids. I decided this was what I'm meant to be doing, not sitting behind a desk running numbers. With that in mind, I left my full-time job and went into training.

SL: What makes Body Space different than other gyms?
KG: I think more people should have access to good trainers. I knew that doing it in the fashion we do it, it would allow people to get a customized, individualized program, and lower the price point -- that makes it more accessible. I want the gym to be a place people like to go, where they can be comfortable and not feel judged, and know that the people there are going to guide them to do the right thing for them. We definitely wanted to create a different environment, a positive mental space. Change is as much a mental thing as it is a physical.

SL:What's the training style like at Body Space?
KG: We say full-body training style is the way to go, meaning your body is one unit and needs to be trained as one. If you do a squat, you do it holding something. If you do a lunge, you do it holding something. Find ways to get your upper body and lower body integrated into one move -- training the body the way it was designed. Athletes train that way, and a lot of times people don't realize that they have an inner athlete. I have clients who may say, "Well, I'm not an athlet, I'm a mom!", and I'll say, "Well, you're a mom, but at one point in time you're going to reach down to grab a grocery bag while you're holding a kid, and you'll throw a diaper bag over your shoulder at the same time." You gotta use your whole body. You gotta use your core. That's not much different than a linebacker trying to tackle somebody. People don't realize that life calls for certain things you need to train for. You can train this way for all kinds of different goals. That's our training methodology -- train everything, all the time.

SL:A lot of trainers we know are proponents of segmenting body parts -- doing "ab days" or "leg days". But you do things differently.
KG: When people have a goal to lose weight or tone up, getting everything working together in that integrated fashion is going to help you get to your goal. It'll burn more calories. But, it depends. If someone's goal is to get bigger arms, do segmented days. But otherwise, we can be more efficient with our time. Work everything all together. Unless your goal is to focus on one area, integrate everything.

SL: What do you take into account when you're making a training plan for a client?
KG: How well do they move? Do they have any restrictions? People who sit at a desk all day long, they usually have what we call Upper Cross Syndrome, and they have really tight shoulders and a lack of shoulder mobility. Their hips are really tight, and their glutes are shut down. If I injure one of your muscles that was already strained, that's the equivalent of a doctor doing a bad surgery. If someone has really bad shoulders, I'm going to take that opportunity to open up their shoulders. If I know they have tight hips, I'm going to give them a lot of hip mobility drills in their program.

SL:When this editor trained with you at Body Space, she noticed there weren't many machines other than the treadmills. What's up with that?
KG: Here's my thought about most machines -- they're trying to make things more efficient by making things easier but in doing so, they're taking the easy way out, and not allowing you to work as hard. They don't let you integrate things the way you would in real life. Take the leg extension machine, for example. When I kick a soccer ball, I don't just extend my leg. Everything above and below it works too.

SL:That Upper Cross Syndrome you mentioned is totally us, by the way. What are your tips for getting physical activity in during a work day?
KG: First and foremost, set an alarm on your calendar or phone to get up and stretch, or at a very minimum, move around. At my last job, my nickname was "the mayor", because instead of emailing or calling people, I'd walk over and talk to them. So, every two hours, no matter what, set an alarm on your phone to stretch and get a drink of water. That's the best piece of advice I can give people. Set an alarm! You will almost always forget on your own.
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