An Interview with a Certain Fitness Professional Who (Arguably) Likes Badonkadonks More Than Me: Bret Contreras
For those not in the know, Bret has arguably been one of the busiest men around in the past year or so; not to mention has grown to be one of the people whom I respect most in this industry. He has consistently put out some fantastic content that is definitely not scared to ruffle a few feathers, as well as puts out one of the most informative blogs out there. Nevertheless, I thought that in my absence, I’d take the opportunity to introduce you to Bret, assuming some of you may be familiar with his work. He’s a brilliant guy, and I think you’re going to enjoy a lot of what he has to say.
TG: I know it’s cliche, but you know I have to ask the obligatory, “tell my readers a little about yourself” question, right? Where you’re from, where you went to school, how you got into the industry, whether or not you enjoy walks on the beach. Let er rip!
BC: Let’s see, I’m 33 years old, I was born in Arizona, and I’ve lived here my entire life, I have a sister who is two years older than me and an identical twin brother. He’s not quite as jacked as me. My sister has a daughter (my niece) who is 13 years old. I’ve trained her around 3 times per month for the past 8 months and she can already full squat 135 lbs and deadlift 165 lbs with perfect form at a bodyweight of 102 lbs. She’s going to be a force to be reckoned with down the road. I got my bachelor’s degree from NAU and my master’s degree from ASU. Can I get a suma cum laude up in this bitch?
Outside of college I taught high school mathematics for six years. I’ve been lifting weights since I was 16 years old, having never taken more than a week off from lifting. I owned my own personal training studio called Lifts which was located in Gainey Ranch in Scottsdale. I’ve been a personal trainer for twelve years and a CSCS for eight years. Currently I write articles for online strength training sites like T-Nation, StrengthCoach, and Elitefts. I don’t enjoy long walks on the beach, nor do I like Valentine’s Day, the color pink, or rainbows. I do, however, enjoy looking at hot chicks on the beach, deadlifting, barbeques, loud music, and watching action flicks. I’m your stereotypical guy.
TG: Not many people realize that you once owned your own gym. What made you decide to make the switch from small business owner to full-time writer?
This is actually a crazy story. I opened up Lifts in 2007 and the economy was doing relatively well. Getting new clients was like shooting fish in a barrel. I was situated inside a ritzy area of Scottsdale and I decided to target women since I had just recently invented the Skorcher, which I believed (and still believe) to be the best glute-shaping tool out there.
Once women had a chance to work out on the Skorcher, they would run and tell their female friends that some local trainer had invented the best butt-blasting machine in existence. Within 3 months of opening up, no advertising, and strictly word of mouth referrals, I had amassed 55 clients. I hired two trainers so I could keep up. Lifts was a butt-beautifying assembly line. Things were on the up-and-up.
One day an investor waltzed into my studio and informed me that he heard about my invention. He asked me if I could design a smaller model that could be marketed via an infomercial. I told him yes, and he offered me a partnership and a $12,000 per month salary as President of the company. The investor actually raised $1.3 million dollars to fund the product’s launch. At this time another investor approached me regarding my company Lifts and asked me if I’d be willing to franchise the company. I told him yes and he started making plans.
My best month ever earned me 12K from Skorcher and 5K from Lifts for a total of 17K in one month. I did the math in my head and figured that I would be rolling in the dough in no time. Boy was I in for a rude awakening.
Suddenly, the economy completely collapsed. The investor for Skorcher backed out as he had several land deals go bad and was on the midst of going bankrupt. Out of nowhere Skorcher was done. The investor for Lifts disappeared off the face of the earth.
I was riding a wave and it came crashing down hard. Lifts went from 55 clients to 30 clients within a matter of six months. My clients’ husbands were losing their jobs, taking pay cuts, and watching their savings plummet. I had to lay off both of my trainers. Since my lease payment was $3,800 per month for only 1,300 square feet of space, I saw the writing on the wall and opted to not renew my lease. After this point, I wasn’t earning a single penny and had to rely on my savings to get by.
I decided to conduct a couple of months of EMG research and write an eBook on the glutes. I had a hunch that people in the fitness industry would like my methods and I figured that it would be wise to focus on my writing for a year or two before opening up another facility.
TG: Wow, that unbelievable! Pigging back on question # 2: You’ve only recently made a splash in the industry (in a good way, mind you), and I’d go so far as to say that no one has written more content than you in the past year. It seems like every blog post you write is longer than Atlas Shrugged – thanks for making the rest of us look so bad (kidding, but not really). What’s your daily ritual look like, and how are you able to come up with so much content? You’re actually a robot, right?
BC: I would agree with you. In the past 9 months, I’ve been a part of 28 online articles, 9 interviews, and 47 blogposts. There will come a time very soon when I don’t have much time for writing as I fully intend on opening up a new facility. Then, I’ll be just like everyone else; tired from training folks all day long and too busy to write much.
SIDE NOTE: Amen
I’m currently able to read like crazy and dedicate a huge proportion of my life to learning more about fitness due to the fact that I’m not married with kids, I don’t watch any sports anymore except for UFC fights, I have a garage gym and rarely leave my house, and I don’t watch much television.
I wake up and get right to work – reading magazines, online magazines, books, journals, blogs, watching videos, listening to podcasts, responding to emails, participating in forums, checking Twitter and Facebook, writing programs for online clients, filming new videos, and writing new articles, blogs, and books.
I condense my group training into a two hour block each day and work out with my training partner Rob at six o’clock in the afternoon Monday through Friday. I do this all out of my garage. This life could get addicting as it’s pretty easy but I have goals I want to accomplish and I’m ready to step things up a notch.
I had actually applied to ASU’s PhD program in Kinesiology for this upcoming semester but it turns out they had to shut down the entire program due to the economy. So now I’m leaning towards opening up another facility as I learned from this experience that you can’t rely on Universities especially in this crummy economy.
TG: Okay, what compelled you to write your Glute Book, other than the obvious ice-breaker when talking to hot chicks at the bar. I can only imagine how intrigued they are once you start talking about antero-posterior exercises and how force vectors come into play.
BC: Actually I hide the “science-geek” side of me if I’m lucky enough to talk to a hot chick at a bar. Talk about Captain Buzzkill! Instead, I talk about the fact that I used to be a teacher and some of them eat it up. I may even pull out the line, “It’s all for the kids,” while toasting to a shot of whiskey if I really want to seal the deal.
Okay that was a joke but sadly here in Scottsdale it might score you more points to simply ask questions, let the girl do all the talking, and appear extremely interested. We’re known here for our shallowness.
I wrote my glute book for several reasons. First, my employees and clients kept pressuring me to write a book. Second, I had thought up a category system that I wanted to make known to fitness folks involving hip extension exercises. Basically, I reasoned that they all fell into 6 categories. In this category system, the first word in the term deals with the directional load vector of the resistance and the second term deals with the action of the knee during the exercise.
The six categories are:
- axial extension (squats, lunges)
- axial semi-straight leg (deadlifts, good mornings)
- anteroposterior straight leg (back extensions, reverse hypers)
- anteroposterior bent leg (glute bridges, hip thrusts)
- anteroposterior extension (pull throughs, donkey kicks), and
- anteroposterior flexion (glute ham raises, stability ball leg curls).
Third, I had theorized that the directional load vector and knee action played a large role in the level of glute and hamstring muscle activation which was confirmed by my EMG studies. And fourth, what in the hell else was I going to do in a down economy? Get a job at Walmart?
That’s it for part I. Stay tuned later on in the week for part II. Bret gives some phenomenal advice on how to set up a garage gym, among other things.