Trainer Spotlight: Zachary Zweifel

Name: Zachary Zweifel

Age: 29

Certifications & Degrees:

Certified Personal Trainer, the National Academy of Sports Science (NASM)

Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, American Military University

Candidate, Master of Science Exercise Science & Rehabilitation, Brooklyn College 

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What inspired you to become a personal trainer?

From a young age, I was always involved in athletics and exercise. My relationship with fitness dates back to my earliest memories. However, when I was younger, I failed to understand fitness, much outside of simply getting better at a sport. When I joined the Coast Guard and was no longer required to exercise for sport, I found myself still in the gym and starting to love fitness for the way it made me feel. If I experienced extended periods without exercise, I’d find my mental state begin to feel a bit hazy; this is when the love truly began, and I became a student of exercise addicted to finding which methods worked best for my body.

Naturally, as my fitness knowledge improved, more and more individuals began asking me for advice about how to achieve better results in the gym. Eventually, I knew that I wanted to work with people and their fitness on a professional level. Step 1, was to gain a personal training certification. Fast forward a few years, and I am a NASM certified personal trainer, as well as a graduate student, working towards my master's in an exercise science program. Couldn’t be happier!

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How do the benefits of physical training in the gym translate into everyday life?

The most obvious benefits of fitness in everyday life are the applicability, practicality, and functional nature of each exercise. When you think about one’s daily life, you can begin to see which movements people frequently execute, and how those movements can be translated into a training program.

For example, the deadlift sometimes gets a bad name because of assumed, inherent 'dangers' to the low back. True? Not so much. Most people, frequently must hinge and lift, over and over again, throughout the day. Whether it be to pick up their kids, grocery bags, or something that was dropped, it happens. Now ask yourself, should we avoid the deadlift/hinge pattern? Or, should it be safely trained so that when someone does bend over and lift, they do it safely and their body is ready for it. 

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What is your favorite part of being a personal trainer?

There is nothing more gratifying for me than when a client completes something, that they never thought was possible for their body. Uncovering and progressing beyond a client’s expectations is something that will just never get old. Breakthroughs are so exciting and having a truly meaningful impact on someone’s life, makes it all worth it. Apart from that, I get to teach what I love to do! What’s better than that?

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What is your sport or training modality of choice?

I’d like to say that my approach to fitness is quite diverse, but I do have some favorites in the gym. I truly enjoy strength training, preferably full-body resistance training workouts. I also have a deep love for kettlebells, they are incredibly diverse. Kettlebells offer the nervous system a bit of a challenge, due to the ballistic nature of many kettlebell movements. I, in fact, have two 24kg kettlebells at home, so that when I don’t feel like going to the gym, I can easily do some work with my kettlebells. 

If you could tell someone brand new to fitness ONE thing, what would it be?

Strip away all of the self-doubt, criticism, expectations, and simply start. Start no matter how small it may seem, your body will thank you over and over again. Being in tune with your body and feeling the natural high from exercise, gives one a sense of empowerment that is almost indescribable. I wish everyone could experience that feeling.

An expression that has always served me well in life that is especially true in fitness, (paraphrasing) “If you want to do anything well, get a coach.” Probably one of the best decisions, someone new to fitness can make, would be to get a trainer. This way one can train safely and learn how to maximize their progress instead of going it alone. There is no shame in admitting you need some guidance, we all do.

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What makes you unique?

My mother was an immigrant who grew up in the Philippines and my father’s family is of German descent. At 18, I sailed around the world on my first Coast Guard ship (we call them Cutters). I grew up in Seattle, WA; lived in San Francisco, Miami; and now Brooklyn. I like to think that I bring a diverse viewpoint, attributed to my many experiences with different people, places, and challenging environments. My view of life, in general, is unique. I aim to keep learning, do good things for myself, my family, and others. When I die, I simply hope those that remember me, recognize that I took care of my family, and tried in my own way, to make the world a better place.

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