Ahhh, finally!! It looks like this loooong winter is finally over. The sun is coming out to play, and you know what that means: summer -AKA bikini season- is right around the corner.
If you’re like us, you’re probably thinking that it’s time to get your ass in shape, so we were thrilled when Tony from Body Space Fitness reached out to offer us a few simple lessons in how to kick-start a new fitness regime.
I’ll precedent this article with the following: Tony was probably the nicest person that we’ve ever met. Incredibly genuine and enthusiastic, he put great effort into creating a fun and effective workout. Phil and I talked about him for days afterwards- and have since put many of his health and fitness theories into effect. While the orginal intent of the article was highlight Body Space Fitness as a whole, we couldn’t help but focus on The Man, The Myth, & The Legend: Tony Vacharasanee.
Q. What’s your background and your specific approach to health/fitness/nutrition?
A. My background is an interesting one that provides me with a nice perspective on things. When I was 15, I was diagnosed with Leukemia. I spent my adolescence in and out of hospitals, and when it came time to enter the real world and find a job, working for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center was the most logical choice.
I spent 7 years in various capacities trying to find my way and see how I could make a living while also doing what I could to give back to other cancer patients. I found that sitting behind a desk wasn’t what I was meant to do. I have always loved martial arts and fitness so looking into becoming a personal trainer was an easy choice. Some of my coaches at my fight gym pointed me in the right direction, to getting my first certification and by introducing me to Kelvin Gary, owner and founder of Body Space Fitness.
While training and working at BSF, I have learned to take training with a functional approach. That is to say: to train the whole body in a deliberate way that still pushes specific prime movers (chest, back, quadriceps, hamstrings). No muscle, joint, or limb truly moves in isolation is real life. Your body needs to learn how to move as a whole unit if you’re going to be both strong and safe.
Q. We spoke a lot about balance during our session- both physical balance and the challenge of living a balanced life. What do you personally do to achieve balance?
A. In terms of physical balance, I try to make sure I get in no less than 4 hours of exercise in a week, although 3 will be enough for most people to continually make progress. Of those workouts, I make sure to have one day dedicated to strength and one day metabolic. On my strength days, I cover the major movement patterns – Knee Dominant (squats), Hip Dominant (Deadlifts), Horizontal Pushing (Pushups), Horizontal Pulling (Cable Rows), Vertical Pulling (Pull-ups), and Vertical Pushing (Overhead Press). Whatever movement I’m doing, I try to make sure my core is also involved in some kind of anti-rotation or stabilization capacity. On these days, I load myself up with weight.
With regard to my metabolic days, I usually go through a Training For Warriors Hurricane (sprints combined with strength exercises) or run Speed, Agility, Quickness Drills with some other modalities (Agility Ladders, Box Jumps, Agility Cube, Cone Shuffles, Sleds, Ropes). On these days, I look to jack up my heart and breathing rate as much as possible. My passion will always lie with martial arts and combat sports, so anything I do in the gym is a supplement to that.
In terms of living a balanced life, I try to make sure that I dedicate as much time to my family and friends as I can. Working 6 days a week and during times when the general population is out of work makes it a little challenging to find the balance. I’m still working on it, and have been getting a lot better.
Q. Bikini (or mankini, if you’re Phil) season is right around the corner. What are 3 things you would recommend to anyone looking to get in shape this spring?
A. LOL awesome visual! The top three thing I would recommend is nothing new or surprising.
1. Feed appropriately – shop the perimeter of your supermarket and only drink water. Visualize what you what to feel and look like. Imagine every scenario that you go through right now in your day to day, and then put your ideal version of yourself in it. Let your goals be stronger than the temptations. It’s difficult, but it reaps a lot of benefits. If you need guiding principles, Precision Nutrition and Food Babe are great blogs that I always read.
2. Lift heavy – you need strength days to build muscle. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn while you’re resting. Besides, when you become stronger, the looks will follow.
3. Move fast – the final piece of the trifecta is a metabolic session. Move fast, and sweat a lot. Whether it’s going through a TFW Hurricane, spinning at Fly Wheel, running intervals in the park, or doing animal crawls – keep moving.
Q. What is your go-to exercise or routine?
When in doubt, I’ll do a TFW Hurricane. Since I am certified in level 2 of the Training For Warriors system, it is easy for me to implement. Sprints on an incline for 20 -30 seconds followed by any two exercises (my defaults of late have been plyometric staggered pushups, pullups, hanging knee raises, dips, sandbag clean and press, and kettlebell clean and press). After the 2 exercises, get back on the treadmill. Rinse and repeat until you have done about 27 full sets of work.
Q. Do you have any “rules” to live by when it comes to nutrition?
A. The more unprocessed and natural, the better. There is enough trouble with trying to see if I’m putting enough variety of good things in my body, the last thing I need is to constantly regret all the bad food I’m taking in that has been prepackaged and manufactured. If I’m going to eat cheese, I would prefer it to be cut from a block or wheel, and not come in powder form that needs reconstitution.
I eat a basic paleo diet. I still eat legumes and am not as strict as full paleo calls for, but in general I find that I feel a lot better. Everyone is different, and if eating a certain way gives you more energy, chances are you’re on the right path.
Q. In your opinion, what is most unique about Body Space Fitness?
A. The biggest thing that makes Body Space Fitness unique is the fact that we are one of the first truly semi-private training studios in NYC that focuses on full body functional strength. While others do indeed train clients in a semi-private environment (anywhere from 2-4 people), they either do the same workout regimen at the same time or just invert the order of the exercises planned. At BSF, we train 2-3 people where everyone has their own customized programs that are carried out by the coach. Everyone will perform their respective workouts, which includes individualized corrective exercises used to address each client’s specific problem areas (e.g., tight areas or asymmetrical movement patterns). Using the semi-private model also allows for greater available time slots for all parties at a cheaper price.
The other thing worth mentioning is that all of our coaches have unique skill sets and focuses. We can help meet the specific demands of anyone looking for a fitness plan with regard to pre-natal, post-natal, severe obesity, cancer diagnosis (pending medical clearance), martial arts and combat sports. This is in addition to the normal strength and conditioning that we customize for everyone’s goals and current status.
Q. What is the most common mistake you see in the gym?
A. People jumping on machines and pumping away without rationale. If you are trying an exercise, know how to do it safely at first, then know why you’re doing it. And never use the smith machine for squats. You don’t move like that in life, don’t train like that in the gym.
Everything has a place and purpose. I would much rather someone do bodyweight exercises than have them only use machines thinking that they are the best and only way to get in shape. Some people use them and have a specific direction and goal. Awesome. Others use them because they don’t have any. Not so awesome.
Q. Tell me about Training for Warriors.
A. Training For Warriors is an international system that was originally developed 15 years ago to increase the athleticism of professional world class fighters by Martin Rooney and has also been used by thousands of athletes, (NFL, Olympic, NBA, MLB, UFC). Since then, it has been adapted to be able to help anyone from the weekend warrior looking to get back in shape to senior citizens looking to become stronger so they are more resistant to falls and injury.
TFW is a system that incorporates both strength and metabolic work into it’s programming. It’s a principle driven system that provides training in speed, strength, endurance, nutrition that can help anyone lose fat, build muscle, and feel better about themselves emotionally and psychologically. With obesity, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease continuing to be prevalent problem in the US, the Training For Warriors system gives me the edge I need to help others become better versions of themselves. As the only affiliate in Manhattan, we are able to offer TFW classes and help people find their way.
Q. What fitness or health craze are you sick of hearing about?
A. Fitness videos that you do at home. Now yes, they have done an incredible amount of good and have been able to get an otherwise sedentary group of people off the couch and into a healthier lifestyle. With that being said, the principle of individual differences is something that is inherently overlooked with these videos. Every single person on this planet moves differently and has to find a way to learn how to control their own body. You may know what a squat feels like, but you can only assume how the person next to you perceives that same squatting movement pattern. They may look fine, but their history of a sprained left ankle, right ACL surgery, and torn left labrum may have them feeling that squat quite different than you.
Regardless of the intent or exercise rationale, there are still going to be people that end up hurting themselves because they are trying to move like the person on the TV. If that same person were to try it in the gym, there would still be people around that would catch something potentially dangerous and offer safe alternatives.
Q: What fitness or health craze are you excited about?
A. I love the fact that people are looking to become stronger instead of skinnier. This includes everyone from the cancer patient looking to get stronger so they can get control of their lives again to the weekend warrior that wants to be stronger and healthier than they have ever been in their life.
Health and fitness have always been a passion, but now that I know what it was I was meant to do in life, I want to help others reach their full potential. I am a cancer survivor and am now the strongest I’ve ever been. I know I haven’t even tapped my potential of physical strength or mental fortitude. I hope one day to inspire others to keep fighting, no matter what their walk of life. The world has become a lot smaller with instant information at our fingertips. Ignorance is less of an excuse now. Everyone wants to be healthier and stronger. Seeing that fire in clients day in and day out only renews mine.
Well.. he’s certainly inspired us. If you’re looking to get in shape
for spring for life, give Tony a call or shoot him an email: