Check out my recent interview with Owner/coordinator of Seismic Systems, Rob Kabrich.
Rob is a health and wellness advocate who, through Seismic Systems helps others develop patterns to achieve their health, financial, and professional goals.
Who is Dr. Mims?
Dr. Mims started as an RRCA certified running coach and a NASM certified PersonalTrainer before going to school for a Doctorate in Physical Therapy. When I was looking for a trainer to get me to that next level after a long plateau she was the most organized and motivating trainer I found. She structured a solid program for me and in the first 6 months I was in the best shape I’d ever been in my life. She also is excellent at explaining the science of what is going on in your body during each phase of the program and the fluctuation in nutrition needs. I wanted to share her story and also hear her insights on health and fitness.
How did you get into health and fitness?
I initially got into fitness because of my mom passing away. She was a lifelong smoker. A short while after she passed I decided I was going to run a marathon. To me it felt like the opposite of lung cancer & copd was running a marathon. The only thing I’d done before that was run track in high school. I didn’t really know how to approach the marathon distance so I felt that the best way was to get some sort of coach or mentor so I didn’t hurt myself. I was about 20.
How was the training for the marathon?
It was a very daunting goal, especially as I had only ever run like 3 miles max so I decided to set a shorter term goal as a half marathon. My coach, Narissa, was just coming back from a knee surgery and I was so impressed with her. I loved how she was able to lead the group and teach and work with each of us for our specific needs.
How long before you ran the half marathon?
It took about 14-15 weeks.
That seems short…
No, that’s not terribly short to do. The first long run is about 5 miles. In a given week your mileage would be 20-40 miles with about a quarter of it being on the long run. It gets technical if you want to do it right which is part of the reason why I appreciated having the group. The plan was kinda laid out for you, but 3-4 months is pretty doable.
So when did you get into lifting?
I started lifting initially in college but not seriously until after becoming a coach. After the first year or so of running and being really inspired by my coach with RunOn I decided to go through a certification program offered by RRCA (Road Runner Club of America) so that I could do that for others. That was my first certification and I decided I wanted to coach and go the health and wellness route at that point. I had all but a semester’s coursework finished for my undergraduate and so it made sense to me to wrap up my degree and then go the fitness route after.
I graduated spring of 2010 and decided to move to Austin a few months later both because I had friends here, and there was a good fitness community. I knew that I probably wouldn’t be able to make a good income only doing running groups, so I had branched out towards PersonaI Training and was studying for my Personal Training certification through NASM. I took my certification after moving to Austin and then got a job working for Gold’s Gym. As they say, the rest is history.
So then what made you decide to pursue a Doctorate?
It was kind of a lot of different factors. Training requires a lot of “selling” and it really didn’t let me have the work-life balance that I wanted. I was also a bit bored. I was able to help people achieve their goals but it was often a method of ‘just apply the formula.’. Another component was that the gym environment is very testosterone driven. Success and respect had more to do with how much muscle mass you have and not necessarily what you knew. A person could be a twig but that doesn’t mean they don’t know what they’re talking about. Vice versa you can gain muscle mass while doing things wrong. Just because you haven’t been injured yet, doesn’t mean you won’t. So it ends up that because women don’t have the benefit of testosterone…a lot of us aren’t taken seriously.
I didn’t feel like I was having as much impact on people’s lives as I could and Physical Therapy seemed like a way I could do that, without having to deal with the things I disliked about training.
Tell me more about a trainer not looking a certain way, cause I’ve felt that way about trainers myself
It’s understandable to, for example, want to go to a hairstylist that has good hair but in the gym it went further, it went into being female. I was pigeonholed into being more about fat loss because I was female…still am, last time I checked anyway. There are plenty of women that do just fine, but it was another thing on the laundry list. Now I can say “I’m a Doctor here are my credentials.” Also in PT I don’t have to sell, they’re already there to see me. And there’s never a simple formula which keeps things interesting.
What would you say to people about having a trainer?
First it’s about getting the right trainer. Having a good trainer is a very valuable resource.
Trainers, when they’re doing their job properly, have a plan. They take the information, they do an evaluation, and see what you need. Which is easier for them than it might be for you to do for yourself. You might think you need a bigger chest but really there is a posture issue and you need to work on your back so you aren’t hunched forward and essentially hiding your chest. Hopefully they know what they’re doing, and they’ll be able to advise you on how to lift, not just what to lift. Ballpark estimate, 75% of the people I see in the gym are lifting poorly. Lifting with bad form won’t necessarily affect you today or next week but eventually you’ll bend down to pick up a pencil and that’ll be the day your back gives out. It wasn’t the pencil, it was years of improper movement and lifting. A qualified trainer can help prevent that by adjusting form.
There’s the variety as well. Not doing the same thing everytime you go to the gym. Being taught how to do new things and lift in new ways, well. Having accountability. A good trainer is going to take initial measurements and do checkin measurements along the way to see if you’re headed in the right direction. They’ll also grump at you if you don’t show up. They’re also the one that is going to make sure you’re doing your homework.
Any person’s success in the gym, or anything else in life really, is consistency. So if you’re not doing the things you’re supposed to do when you’re not with your trainer, you’re just throwing money down the drain…a good trainer will emphasize that to you.
What are some examples of homework?
It could be the dietary changes you need to make. Most often it’s doing your lifts outside of when you see the trainer. Most people can’t afford to see a trainer all of the times they should be at the gym. Your homework would be doing the workouts in between the times you’re seeing the trainer. That may be repeating a workout or doing some specific exercise classes.
For example with fat loss clients, I would often have them check in with me before they went to a spin class. They were getting accountability for those other workouts.
What would you suggest for people that can’t afford a trainer?
Using the resources trainers use. ACSM, NASM, ACE, there are even PT’s that do videos on youtube about how to do specific exercises. You can get a training program from a credentialed person or a book and then look up how to do the exercises properly. Main takeaway is to get a program from a credentialed person not just your fit friend, ‘Joe.’ Just because someone has muscle mass doesn’t mean they are educated or qualified to give advice for your specific needs.
You want the resource that you’re getting fitness advice from to be evidence based. So if your fit bro tells you that ACSM says to lift 3 times a week and do 150 minutes of moderate cardio…they’re not wrong, and they have a resource. When it comes to fitness in general, people need to get better about asking “what is your source?”
One of the frustrations about health and fitness is that everyone has opinions about things but most of the time they don’t have evidence to back it up. You end up with a lot of conflicting information.
What are the most common misconceptions you heard as a trainer?
whew….One of the biggest ones I saw and was guilty of believing in myself for a while, was that you should do everything minimalist in the gym. Wrist wraps were bad, weight belts were bad, supportive shoes were bad, gloves were bad. All of the things that in these people’s minds kept your body from adapting were bad. The idea was that if you did unstable lifts without any assists, then you would overall become stronger and more stable. The thing is, doing a lift unsafely plus weight doesn’t mean you’ll adapt, it just means you’re more likely to get injured doing it. Many other things aside, does this make sense in a risk/benefit ratio? In the end isn’t health/muscle building without injuring yourself, more important than bragging rights about being able to do a deadlift without a belt?
How do you work around this bro mentality of “I know what I’m doing?” Even though it’s wrong?
Again, I’d go with seek out credible resources and be ready with them. Has someone done studies on this thing you’re interested in? Is it a group that has done credible studies in the past? Are they independent, or will they somehow profit from the results? If an independent group has done a study that x number of grams of protein after working out has a maximum amount of benefit that’s different than if a company that sells protein supplements says it. Also, how recent is your information? If it’s older than 5 years, you may want to check out newer studies.
I remember you talking about how magazine’s job’s are to sell you magazines
A magazine tells you you should buy this new type of shoe because the shoe company pays for ad space.
What about the workouts in these magazines?
It depends on their credentials, those articles are written by people. If someone has the education or experience to back up what they are saying, they will include that in the article. To be clear, education doesn’t necessarily mean a degree, it means certifications, experience, references, etc.
Any other common misconceptions?
Tons…”fat is evil, carbs are evil.” “If you want to lose fat you have to eat under 1200 calories per day.” One of the biggest ones, that’s a pet peeve of mine, is that if women start to lift they will look manish. I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve had that were worried about this. If you find a way to bulk up like a bodybuilder on accident, I want you to call me because I will sell that shit. Women bodybuilders that are at that level put in tons of time and focus on their diet to get specifically to that point. It’s disrespectful to those women to think you’re just going to wake up stacked one day. I think that myth is dying off somewhat but it’s still a thing.
One misconception/fad that I’ve heard of recently is you’re not lifting heavy enough if you don’t lose bladder control.
That sounds like a terrible idea…
Yeah, no kidding. I think this was another one of those lovely fads we can attribute to crossfit. Occasionally the pelvic floor can become weak in some people and they can develop what’s called ‘urinary stress incontinence.’ The person may have bladder leakage when they bear down during a workout….but this is by no means healthy or a sign of ‘trying hardest,’ and glorifying it causes people (women especially) to ignore a real health problem.
O_0….holy crap! So, yeah, there are tons of misunderstandings about lifting and nutrition. The successful people that I know have good eating habits. Nutrition is like a whole huge thing and we could spend another interview just to go into nutrition.
True, it’s a topic that can get very complicated, very quickly. One of the few cliches I’ve heard in the gym that actually stands up is the one “you can’t out-exercise a bad diet.” Most people eat more than they think they do and burn less than they estimate with their exercise. If I had to emphasize anything I’d say “be conservative with your estimates and make good common sense choices.”
If you like this article you may also like: Max Strength – ‘How To’ and Sample Week
Safely transition between phases of training.
How to survive a busy gym AND get a good workout!
I want to lose body fat! What do I do?