I do what I do, because I want to INSPIRE people. I love it when someone to looks at me and says "Because of You, I didn't give up."
As a trainer I know I have the ability to make the biggest impact on other's lives. That is not a responsibility I take lightly.
Rob basically took his own soul and put it into my son's future.
With Rob it wasn’t just about fitness, it was about growing as an individual.
I was going through really tough times in school. At home my life fell apart. I learned from you that getting knocked down is not the problem-- it’s getting back up to fight harder and stronger. To never give up or quit! I cannot thank you enough for that!
As a trainer, coach or instructor there is no greater satisfaction than knowing you had a positive impact, and made a difference in someone’s life.
Fitness and the martial arts have been a driving force in my life for over 30 years. My initial inspiration came at a fairly young age when I read Joe Weider’s Muscle and Fitness magazines. This interest evolved into reading books and articles on weight training, strength, bodybuilding, nutrition, fitness and motivation.
The discipline and commitment to martial arts and fitness instilled in me the value of respect, hard work ethics, and goal-setting to which I've held true to this day. Most importantly, it fostered an unrelenting spirit, an inner strength, and a will to believe in myself and never give up. My mantra with regard to the game of life is to “Fight hard! Fight strong! Fight to win!” Never underestimate the strength and the power of the human spirit. This is my “will to win.” No matter how hard you get hit, keep moving forward, and hit back harder and stronger!
What followed was a spark and a passion to inspire and empower others. Regardless of where you are at this moment (mentally, emotionally or physically), against the odds even when it seems dark how dark or hopelss, you can change! My life is no different from yours. I, too, experience the same tough times, battles, adversity, knockout punches, challenges and hard-to-hit curve balls that life throws my way. Success always comes from how we handle those times, particularly our perspective and the choices we make moving forward. We need to tap our inner strength to and remember to “Think strong! Be strong! Stay strong!” Much of my success and strength has also come in large part from being a single father to my teenage daughter, my absolute pride and joy.
Everyone has the ability to change his or her life, and even make a complete life transformation. This transformation begins with a choice--a “habit and behavior change--" and a commitment to that choice. The first step in any transformation is to make you priority #1, and not in a selfish way. Taking control, being accountable, and taking action are the first steps. Making yourself priority #1 means adhering to consistent, daily strength and conditioning of living: keeping your mind and body “positive, healthy, fit, confident and strong,” exercising, lifting weights, eating healthy and being aware of proper nutrition. These daily routines will fuel your mind, body and spirit!
My journey began in 1990 when I participated in The Master Showcase of Champions to benefit St. Jude’s Children Organization. Before my performance, the show opened with a dynamic video produced and created by a very good friend, Darryl Popkave, Vice President of RDP Media, and a film showcasing my cross training, weight training, and kickboxing. Following the show, I had the honor of meeting and speaking with both Joe and Ben Weider. These two men were responsible for bringing weightlifting and bodybuilding to the fore. They achieved their recognition through their leading publications and their International Olympia Weekend. Their publications included Muscle & Fitness magazine, Muscle & Fitness Hers, Men’s Fitness, FLEX and SHAPE magazines. We had an in-depth conversation regarding my cross training, which was introduced in the mainstream fitness arena through both Muscle & Fitness and FLEX magazines. One of the things I admired most about Ben and Joe was their sincere passion to improve a person’s quality of life as well as their values. In the beginning pages of a Muscle & Fitness issue I had read, there was a quote I copied and read frequently:
During my training, competing and performing years, I was also a student at Iona College in New Rochelle, New York. Not certain of what I wanted to do with my life other than martial arts and fitness, I had the opportunity to become a member of the Steamfitters Enterprise Association Local 638. I was now able to work, make a decent living, financially support my family and also do what I love to do: train and compete. My family and the union had an extensive history together – four generations prior were members, including my father (who also served in the Army as a paratrooper 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg, North Carolina).
My dad was a very hard-working man, putting in relentless hours to provide the best life for his family that he could. His discipline, demand for respect, strength and determination were always–and still are–a motivation for the way I live my life. Not to mention his stature at 6’4”, 230 pounds, and a huge love of boxing with a lightning fast and devastating left hook. It would be unfair to not mention the true strength and backbone of our family: Mom. With my brothers John and Steven and my sister Linda (the youngest) all extremely active, going from one activity to another Mom was always happy to be there. She was the glue, her relentless belief in God was instilled in all of us. She led by example with her faith, compassion, unconditional love and devotion to our family. God, family and values.
My early years consisted of the following: work out, eat, work, eat, work out, eat, sleep and repeat. It was the era of “no pain, no gain.” Everyone around me seemed to discourage weightlifting with martial arts. “It will slow you down. You will lose your flexibility and speed,” they said. Today we all know this is not true at all, due to advances in scientific application to nutrition and weight training for optimal performance. Strength training has always been extremely important; most notably strength, speed and power. My training sessions included resistant bands, weighted vests, chute training, plyometrics, ankle weights, wrist weights; anything I felt would get me to the next level of conditioning. There were times going to go to my martial arts classes where I attached these contraptions to my body and to which my instructor Master Gary Hellman grew accustomed.
Many training sessions were held in my backyard with another fellow competitor and black belt, Pete Tirrelli. Hours in the backyard were spent kicking, boxing, heavy bag, uphill sprinting, pad work, punching, sparring, lifting weights . . . anything and everything; but it was never enough in our eyes. Master Gary Hellman currently runs his TSMMA Schools in Tampa, Florida and one of my first instructors (in what was then called American Karate) was Danny Schulmann, founder of TSMMA Tiger Schulmann’s Mixed Martial Arts. This style of martial arts was derived from the very hard style of martial arts ‘Kyokushin’; these competitions were bare knuckle and no pads; Danny Schulmann went on to claim several Kyokushin Championship titles. It was this rigid style of conditioning and training that was most appealing to me. Today, TSMMA is one of the most successful and best run martial arts organizations in the world. With over 48 locations, world class instructors, they consistently produce numerous champions and UFC Fighters.
I have always believed in the evolution of martial arts and have seen these changes and choices through my own personal journey in addition to witnessing them as a trainer/instructor Founding USA Karate and Fitness in Naples, Florida. As opposed to traditional martial arts schools at the time (1993), I incorporated a gym within my school, adding personal trainers and an extra room for group instructor classes. In addition to a traditional martial arts structured belt program, we offered nontraditional programs and classes which we thought might be more appealing to the general public. Our classes and programs were geared toward strength and conditioning: weight lifting, martial arts, kick boxing, Karatics, self-defense workouts for women, Street Kombat and a variety of other classes and programs. Our Karatics program was featured in Black Belt Magazine, and our USA Karate and Fitness Center featured in SWAIN Gold Medal Advertisements. We understood that many people may have been interested or intrigued in the martial arts but did not want to go through the structure of the traditional martial arts system. USA Karate and Fitness Center was one of my greatest achievements, one that brought tremendous satisfaction and gratification to my life. The word grateful cannot fully describe how much I valued this opportunity and trust given to me in so many instances.
One of the many benefits of participating in the martial arts is the reward system. You train consistently, work hard, attend a certain number of classes, meet the physical requirements, you achieve stripes, which ultimately leads to your next belt. Physically, you see progression through your belts. Consequently, you look and feel better. You realize through commitment and hard work, goals are achieved and results happen. This is especially beneficial and of great value for children and teens today.
Achieving the level of black belt is a tremendous accomplishment. After a grueling fitness test, the final part of a black belt test is an amazing testament and analogy to everyday life; there will be times we feel physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. The only thing remaining is our heart and spirit; the “will to win” the fight. With a very careful eye from instructors as well as safety precautions, the objective is to pull the absolute very best out of each individual student - adult, teen or child. My mission is to instill a “moment” or a “life lesson” that will be forever remembered and be reflected upon the rest of their lives. To believe in themselves, dig deeper, push harder, never give up - Fight HARD! Fight STRONG! Fight to WIN!
Back when I was competing and performing, I spent relentless hours cross training. I also read excessive amounts of books as well as industry publications; anything I could learn and implement into my training sessions, I did. Being labeled by as “Karate’s Fitness Fanatic” – in response to my heavy cross training, martial arts and weight lifting – was one of my first accolades. Fellow martial artists and competitors would ask me about strength training, how to increase their quickness and strength, and how to develop more power; I started to share my workouts with them. Throughout my journey, inspiring others and helping them recognize their true potential through martial arts, health and fitness became my passion and desire.
I have been fortunate enough to have trained with world champions and world class athletes; among them Billy Blanks, a force in the fitness world who continues to empower millions with his program Tae Bo. Knowing Billy was a huge fan of weight lifting, on occasion I would travel to Roxbury, Massachusetts to train with him. He was a perfect example of how to enhance performance having acquired nine world championships. The training sessions were nothing short of sweat pouring and relentless. His passion and energy, coupled with mine, took everything to a whole new level.
In retrospect, I do not know how I endured my full days; waking up at 4:00am, running three miles, physical labor at work for at least eight hours (and many times more), come home, eat, gym, eat, karate, and sleep. I was also fortunate to weight train with a good friend, bodybuilder Kelly Feniger. Kelly trained another friend, World Series Champion Oakland A’s shortstop Walter Weiss. After 60-90 minutes of weight training, another large meal was eaten . . . and then off again to karate!
My commitment to working out and the martial arts has also led me to several titles, including the 1996 North American Kickboxing Championship and a member of the 1995 World Champion WAKO USA Kickboxing Team, which at the time was led at the time by Coach Tom Festa and Coach Don Rodrigues. I was doing all the things that I am most passionate about, my focus was unwavering; here I was competing, speaking, and instructing as well as performing, leading to a role on the television show “Acapulco HEAT”, and earning my entrance into the storied Screen Actors Guild. That opportunity was due to the confidence shown to me by Entertainment Attorney Arthur Lieberman, and Max Keller Entertainment for which I am very thankful.
One of my first fitness certifications was through Dr. Jim Bell and the IFPA (International Fitness Professionals Association). Over 20 years ago, he and I discussed importance of martial art instructors having more in-depth knowledge of overall fitness, stretching, strength and conditioning, proper nutrition and recovery. In addition to implementing new programs and program development specific to the variety of disciplines of martial arts, and emphasis was also needed on the importance of weight training to increase strength, speed, power and explosiveness. Conversations with Ben Weider on this subject brought about an impressive feature article Muscle & Fitness magazine. The times (and training) had obviously changed in dramatic fashion. From that point forward, my instructors were required to get a certification through one of the recognized fitness organizations.
Since then I continue to grow and expand my knowledge through these organizations such as the ISSA International Sports Sciences Association, IHP Institute of Human Performance, ACE American Council on Exercise, NASM, National Academy of Sports Medicine, NSCA National Strength and Conditioning Association, ACSM American College of Sports Medicine, ISSN International Society of Sports Nutrition and ITPA International Tennis Performance Association Knowledge and application is the key to success. Instructors and trainers should always be adding to their knowledge base through continued education. It is about safety, prevention, recovery, making a plan, setting a goal, program development, monitoring progress, evaluations and assessments for optimal results, and performance targeted to an individual’s needs, and requirements.
I always believed there was a huge synergy bringing the martial arts and fitness world together, and how the one can greatly benefit the other, and vice versa. This led to collaboration at a national level with Promoter Jim Lorimer: bringing martial arts into the mainstream fitness arena and becoming the first sport showcased at the Arnold Sports Festival. The Arnold Sports Festival is now the largest sports and fitness event in the world with over 200,000 attendees, 50 sporting events, and 20,000 competitors. These efforts continued; I was then contacted by Joe and Ben Weider of Muscle & Fitness Magazine to bring martial arts to their Olympia Weekend. I contacted my friends who were the best in the world at the time inviting them to showcase their talent and abilities on one of the greatest fitness platforms in the world - The Joe Weider Olympia Weekend. I also reached out to the president of the UFC Dana White.
Dana was very excited about the idea and invited me to The Mohegan Sun Resort and Casino for the 2002 Ultimate Fighting Championships. It was there I met World Class UFC Legend Randy Couture. Needless to say the fights and weekend were amazing, and we now had the UFC locked in to be introduced at The Olympia Weekend at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas. This event proved to be another quantum leap for all the Olympia Fitness Weekend, the fitness world, martial arts industry as well as the MMA world. The Olympia Weekend is one of the largest worldwide sporting events today and is currently owned by America Media Inc. (AMI) with David Pecker as its CEO. AMI is the leading publisher of such leading fitness related magazines as: Muscle & Fitness, Men’s Fitness, FLEX, SHAPE, and Muscle & Fitness Hers. But with all of these exciting things in my life, I came to realize my most memorable times were from USA Karate and Fitness. It was there I realized the powerful role of a trainer, coach and instructor; I had the ability to transform people in this role.
In recent years, I have been bestowed many honors; one of these honors was being recognized for “Outstanding Martial Arts Achievement” by Action Martial Arts at the Tropicana Resort and Casino, this event is one of the most recognized martial arts events in the world hosted and founded by Master Alan Goldberg. There was also recognition by Dr. Robert Goldman (founder of the International Sports Hall of Fame). I had the great honor of being selected by him to become a member of the Global Advisory Board of the International Sports Hall of Fame (www.sportshof.org). I have been beyond fortunate to be surrounded by an amazing team of people, friends, in business and from both the martial arts and fitness worlds, including Dr. Robert Goldman, who is also the Founder of The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), and coined the term CPT - Certified Personal Trainer. His list of world record, accomplishments, contributions to society and achievements are a book in itself.
In 2009, America’s Next Great Trainer (ANGT) was created. I sincerely encourage you to read through this book, use it at a reference and your fresh startup kit to Get UP! Wake UP! and Move America! It is time to get IT done! Great advice, tips, workouts, empowering stories and information relating to health, fitness, nutrition, supplements, motivation, and sports performance can also be found here. Many of our ANGT Advisors, panel members and trainers (as well as myself!) have contributed to understanding the value and importance to help you make IT happen! Whatever your “it” may be!
This book shares my story, workouts, advice, tips, and empowering stories of transformation from some of the most respected names in health, fitness, medicine, sports performance, nutrition and motivation.
ANGT, America’s Next Great Trainer is a marketing and promotional platform for trainers, coaches and instructors. Emphasizing their important role in society while sharing their passion, knowledge, skills and ability to educate, motivate, inspire, and empower others. Achieving this through a variety of marketing and promotional platforms, special events, including radio and television — America’ Next Great Trainer Reality TV Series.
ANGT has incredible support from the leaders in the industry. Advisors, Panel Members and judges Dr. Nicholas DiNubile, Dr. Mark Kovacs, Dr. Wayne Westcott, Dr. Fred Hatfield, Dr. Jim Bell, John Schaeffer, Gary Reinl, Dr. Susan Kleiner, Kelley Vargo, Mike Davies, JC Santana, Dr. Loretta, and Dr. Michael Kim. From the martial arts world: Duane “BANG” Ludwig (2-time UFC Coach of the Year), Master Gary Hellman and my fellow 1995 World Champion WAKO USA Team Member Willie “Bam” Johnson. Our Youth Fitness Empowerment and Nutrition Team includes Marc “Omega Man” Wilkes. Len Saunders, and Travis Jackson.
ANGT Supporting Worldwide Fitness Certification Organizations International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)American Council on Exercise (ACE), National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), International Tennis Performance Association (ITPA), American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM),, International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), Institute of Human Performance (IHP), International Fitness Professionals Association (IFPA), National Council of Certified Trainers (NCCPT).
“Whether the goal is to lose 50lbs or more, become a better athlete, build confidence and self-esteem in our youth, achieving a collegiate scholarship, or a dream of winning an Olympic Gold Medal Trainers educate and motivate, building the “will to win”. For optimal performance on the field, in the classroom and in the game of life choose to live positive, healthy, fit, confident and STRONG”
We want YOU to be in the best shape of your life. To be the absolute very best you can be.