Fitness Q&A with Mario Pompa from the MAC

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Many of us are starting off 2013 with a resolution to get healthier. For some, that means being more careful about what we eat, for others it means a strict fitness regimen. For anyone hoping to succeed, it’ll likely include both. To help all of us start off on the right track (and stay there!) we’ll be doing a monthly Q&A column with a variety of personal trainers from the MAC. These pros know what it takes to get in shape and stay motivated long after others have fallen off the wagon (or treadmill for that matter).

Mario Pompa is a personal trainer certified by both National Strength Professionals Association and National Academy of Sports Medicine.  His focus is weight loss,  muscle growth, group training, youth training, and sports performance training. He is also a gravity training specialist who says, “Our health always seems much more valuable after we lose it.” Since many of us are just starting out on our fitness resolutions, we thought we’d ask Mario some basics to get started.

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BFB: How did you get into fitness and training? What’s your personal background with all of this?

Mario: I have always loved sports and staying active. In college, I really started to enjoy strength training. It helped me stay focused in school. It truly became my passion, so I got a job in fitness near my home in Bel Air where I worked  for four years before moving to Towson working at the MAC . I have been a personal trainer at the MAC for eight years and love the friendly environment. I’m  NSPA  and NASM certified, which has allowed me to work with all types of people like youth athletes, clients with special needs and the average person just trying to stay or get back in shape.

BFB: Great! Now, many people who’ve never exercised before find it intimidating. How should they begin?

 Mario: Many people share that feeling. My first message is, remember you are not alone. I highly recommend meeting with somebody on the fitness staff for an initial consultation. They will typically map out a fitness plan to get you headed in the right direction. Also, it will give you somebody you can look for if you are feeling a little intimidated and just need to see a friendly face. Clubs often become like a home away from home for many. I can honestly say that MAC members feel that way about the MAC. It just takes a little hand holding initially, which we are very good at. If you want to take it to the next level  you could hire a personal trainer. A trainer is a valuable tool as someone to keep you accountable, someone to talk to and share your frustrations with and, most importantly, to keep it fun, fresh, and motivating.

BFB: Many people, especially this time of year, have a lot of enthusiasm at first, but then fall off the wagon. How can you make a plan that works, but also sticks?

Mario: First and most importantly is remember that living a healthy lifestyle is a marathon, not a sprint. You have to take it slow and don’t get discouraged  by anything life throws at you. It should be a lifestyle change. Working out and eating right should feel as natural as brushing your teeth. For example, if you like to eat ice cream, don’t give it up, but maybe only have it one day a week. We are also made to move and sweat everyday.  You can do activities like playing ball with your kids or doing something as simple as taking a walk with your spouse. These activities are perfect because not only are you burning calories but you’re spending time with your family and getting your mind right. Once again, a personal trainer can help you set realistic goals to help you achieve a sustainable healthy lifestyle.

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BFB:  If I can only commit to one thing (say cardio or weight lifting) what’s more important?

Mario: BOTH!!! Cross training is very important. Cardio and strength are very important and neither should be neglected. Take your allotted time for exercise, say 45 minutes and combine both cardio and strength.  Also, boot camp style workouts are very popular for this reason and very affordable. If you feel like you are in pretty good shape and have no serious injuries try a cross fit workout. That will have your heart rate up and muscles working very hard.

BFB: Many people say that setting small and realistic goals is important. How do you know what a realistic goal is?

Mario:  Great question!!! Small goals are very, very important. Those are the milestones that keep the fire burning and can sabotage any lifestyle change, if you do not meet them on a consistent basis. I usually tell my clients to go deep in their closets and pick a pair of pants or dress that they can barely fit in.  In some cases, if they want to be more adventurous, I will tell them to go shopping and buy a dress\pants in a size smaller. Make sure you rip the tags off and trash the receipt. That’s some healthy and fun pressure to have. You can even make a bet that if you can fit into it, your spouse has to take you out to show off the new you!

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BFB: What are your personal favorite exercise routines? What do you find yourself doing the most? And what do you find yourself recommending most often?

Mario: I love lifting weights, but I hate cardio! So I try to do activities like basketball to help me get it in. I also do a lot of circuit training so I can keep my heart rate high throughout my workout. When I train my clients, I do the same. I have them move from exercise to exercise with little to no rest. This makes it so they don’t have to spend hours in the gym to get results. I also believe in doing exercises that are more functional. Depending on what they enjoy, I prescribe exercises that will help them in everyday activities and stay injury free.

BFB: Any other words of wisdom for those of us setting out for a more fit new year?

Mario: Keep at it! Don’t let life stand in your way. If you want to change your life for the better, stay focused and be a little selfish. Make the time for you. You only have one body and it deserves it!

For more information on MAC Wellness, or to book an appointment with Mario, visit www.macwellness.com.

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