Greg, you are originally from South Africa. What brought you to the USA?
My father came to the USA. I wasn’t embracing the political situation in South Africa, so after high school, I moved too.
You are a well-known fitness trainer, and were recently named by Men’s Journal magazine as one of the Top 100 Trainers in the US. How did you get into this field?
Back in 1983-1984, I was competing in triathlons. At that time, private fitness training was a relatively new phenomenon. People heard about me, and I began training others at the Santa Monica Body Builder Club, where Stallone was training for Rambo.
I also did corporate fitness at Warner Brothers for 10 years.
My success comes from offering individual body assessment programs rather than cookie–cutter routines. The basis for the assessment lies in the basal metabolic rate and other comprehensive assessments. Sticking with fundamentals, like walking, is essential. We must move our bodies and not be sedentary. People need different forms of stimuli, and I incorporate cardio conditioning and strength training. I’m passionate about my work. I also authored The Ultimate Lean Routine.
I see you have trained many A-list stars over the years, like Melanie Griffith, Pierce Brosnan, and others. What can you tell me about that?
Over the years, yes, I’ve trained many celebrities. It’s been a great experience. Recently, I went out on the road for several months with Lance Armstrong, to help get him in shape for the New York City Marathon. But celebrities prepping for a film or an athlete in training—they are obviously having to work much harder at their workouts than most people have the time or desire to do. This is what moved me to try to encourage people with this latest book, to start with something as simple as walking — something all of us can do — to get themselves in better shape.
What has been your greatest challenge as a trainer?
The greatest challenge is keeping people consistent. The results don’t come quickly enough. The level or amount of exercise necessary to change the body is not easy. As I say in 10,000 Steps A Day™ to Your Optimal Weight, I encourage walking at least 10,000 steps a day, and eating properly. People must believe that this program will work if you’re consistent and keep it up over an extended period of time.
How do you stay in shape yourself?
I bike, ride, swim, do yoga, strength train, walk, or complete a combination for one hour every day. My exercise program allows me to eat. At 46 years old, I practice what I preach; I walk the talk!
I’m big on visiting cities for “hikes” through the metropolis of museums, exhibits, and unusual food eateries. Are city dwellers more inclined to walk every day and be in better shape than those in the ‘burbs?’
Definitely, as an “after dinner walk” in the city may be 10-12 blocks. We who drive home tend to plunk ourselves on the couch and eat more sugar. We’re so sedentary. When I traveled to New York City and other larger cities, everyone walked!
What is the science behind “10,000 Steps A Day™”?
Basically, the American Heart Association recommends 10,000 steps a day. It staves off heart disease, improves metabolism, strengthens bones and joints, and is a good benchmark for people who are trying to maintain or improve their overall health. It also decreases stress and fatigue and reduces our risk of injury and serious health problems as we age. And best of all, it’s easy! A lot of people find it overwhelming to think about taking on a new potentially complicated workout program. But the great thing is that nearly everyone can walk! And by simply deciding to increase your daily steps to 10,000 you can begin to make significant improvements in your health, and you may even become inspired to step up your program down the road, or experiment with additional forms of exercise.
How soon will I see benefits from your “10,000 Steps A Day™” program?
Depending on where you’re starting — look at it as two 3-month segments. For the first segment, Level 1, just add 30 minutes of daily exercise. Walk around the block or take the stairs whenever you can. Swim if that’s what you like to do. The second segment is Level 2, where you need to specifically get yourself up to 10,000 steps a day. This takes most people a couple of months to achieve. We provide a pedometer with the book, as they are a great way to track your progress. But you’ve got to move to see benefits. Don’t take the golf cart when you can walk. Stay active!
If you have no physical limitations, gradually build up to walking 10,000 steps a day. You will be surprised what such a minimal investment of time and effort can do in terms of the way you look and feel. And most of us can stand to use some improvement. You may already think you look thin and fit, but maybe that’s because you’re just starving yourself.
What should I eat in conjunction with your program?
My philosophy is to eat “as close to the farm” or as naturally as possible.
For breakfast I’ll eat oatmeal or scrambled egg whites with spinach and tomato.
Mid-morning I have a protein drink or a smoothie.
Lunch is usually a salad with vegetables or half a turkey or tuna sandwich.
Dinner again is a protein, vegetables, and a starchy carb the size of a fistful.
The key is small meals. It’s about being disciplined. You need to set a goal. Poor snacking is a problem for us. French fries, onion rings, and shakes taste good, and abundance is on every corner.
The bottom line is, “Energy in is energy out!” Avoid fried foods as much as possible. Starchy carbs need to be burned off. The Italians and other Europeans eat a piece of protein, a small amount of pasta, and a salad at a meal. Overall caloric intake means portion control. It’s actually not rocket science.
So for those still on the fence about getting off the couch and really committing themselves to getting fit, what would you say to them?
You don’t have to be a bodybuilder, but you owe it to yourself to stay as healthy as you can, especially as you age. And what I’m trying to show people is that you don’t have to join a gym or adopt a complicated routine to show real improvement in your fitness level.
My 10,000 Steps a Day™ to Your Optimal Weight is a tool to help you implement a simple and enjoyable walking program into your daily routine that will allow you to shape up, respect yourself, and improve your lifestyle. We’ve also included a lot of encouraging tips and suggestions to help you develop healthy habits and keep you inspired along the way. And when you exercise more, you can eat more. Just remember to eat healthily! I want to encourage people to develop good habits. And the 10,000 Steps program is a great way for so many people to start.
Thank you Greg.
Thank you Kelly.