Interview with Personal Trainer Jason Kirby

An incredibly inventive trainer.


Jason KirbyI thought I was in pretty good shape until I met Personal Trainer Jason Kirby. As you may have noticed throughout his many articles, he might well be called a 'human dynamo'. Here's a little more insight into this highly inventive trainer.

  1. Hi Jason. Let's begin with a little background - how did you first get into the world of fitness? Did you play any sports as a kid?

    I got into the world of fitness at 15 after watching John Basedow's Fitness Made Simple. Being a scrawny kid with no muscle or strength, I decided to start lifting weights sporadically with no real game plan. When I was younger, and still to this day I'm an asthmatic and so sports as a child were difficult and I would have rather played video games. When I was 8 I joined martial arts, and trained in many styles on and off for 14 years. I fell in love with Judo, and so that is the style I most identify myself with. I love outdoor sports although most of my old co-workers at New Mexico State University Outdoor Adventure Program would tell you I'm the worst at climbing, biking, and backpacking.

  2. How did you get started as a Personal Trainer?

    I ran into a bit of a crossroad in my life my last year in college and after much deliberation I decided that whatever I was going to do should be something that I wanted to do. I love to lift weights, I love to teach, and love to play, so somewhere on a career continuum I decided personal trainer would encompass all three aspects. I took a semester of personal training from New Mexico State University from Strength Coach Doug Briggs, and studied ACSM coursework and got certified through NCSF (go figure).

  3. What are your personal fitness goals for the next year or so? The next 10 years?

    Ah, a very simple question with a simple three pronged answer. I want to merely be aware of my personal and physical freedoms, have working joints, and the desire to continue learning. That's all I can really hope for.

  4. What type of clients do you usually work with - professional athletes? absolute beginners?

    The overwhelmingly large majority of my clients are beginners, or comebacks. I don't have any professional athletes but I have those who given their age, occupation, and education they train just as hard as an athlete would. More than anything I act as a counselor to most of my clients and it's an uphill battle trying to convince them that they CAN do something instead of cannot. Although if any professional athlete wants me as a trainer, don't hesitate to ask.

  5. I know you're fond of outdoor training. Why should everyone spend some of their gym time outside?

    Great question, and really the only reason I would be a huge proponent of outdoor training is because being inside all day gets boring. Outside you get views, the elements, wide open spaces, low cost to exercise, and you're not confined to a building like a gerbil or hamster.

  6. What changes would you like to see in the gym equipment found in public parks, schools and universities?

    We need to see more reverse hypers in every gym. Those things work the posterior chain and it does wonders for lower back weaknesses and is a great preventive exercise to keep lower back health optimal with aging. I've only used one and that was in the athlete gym at my university. The fitness industry really needs to stop pushing the preacher curl, that thing is worthless, and the more people I see doing it, training their biceps for 45 minutes, the more my stomach churns. Schools, especially high schools who have wrestling and football programs need to go back to the old ways of dinosaur lifting using kettlebells, sandbags, rocks, sleds, and calisthenics, instead of relying on hammer strength. Universities ought to have a gym set up like the one at UCSD over at the Rimac. Now that is a gym to behold, or better yet, a gym like the one at Ice Chamber.

  7. Looking around, there seem to be many approaches taken to working out. What are some of the more common mistakes you see? How would you correct them?

    I'll give you my top three in no particular order. I would have to say that cardio is overrated, and improperly used, for fat loss. It is extremely important to have good cardio respiratory fitness especially with all the ailments one can get with the heart these days. But I would suggest that resistance training has better all around benefits. This does not have to be using machines and lifting weights, but a little manual labor here and there makes the body stronger. Remember we as humans have a long track record of doing manual labor, and it just so happened to double as a form of exercise. The more stagnant we are, the worse our bodies get. The next blundering mistake I see is people training bar muscles. Those are the ones you would most notably spot at a bar on a Friday or Saturday night. Mainly the chest, biceps, triceps, and abs; some of these guys have the audacity to say that their leg training is some running and biking sprinkled about like fairy dust, here and there. Leg training is amazing for making the entire body strong. The last mistake I see around a lot these days is bodybuilding style programs for competitive athletes. Three or four sets of 10 of bench press, dumbbell bench press, incline bench press, incline flys, decline press, and pullovers is over kill, and has no real merit. Train an athlete how they move in their sport and you'll get better results.

  8. What's your own training schedule like (apart from your time with clients, of course)?

    Apart from my clients I train for an hour, or at most an hour and a half everyday, with on rare occasion, a day off. My training split is simple pull, legs, push, legs, pull, legs, push. The first leg day is up and down movements, the next one is multi-planar, and the last one is machines strictly for hypertrophy. I do a lot of pull ups, dips, overhead presses, push ups, high pulls, and body rows for the upper body. For the core I spend time doing lots of rotation, and lateral flexion, with some heft emphasis on the posterior chain. For legs I do a ton of squats and variations, jumping, SAQ (speed agility, quickness) drills, and hip extensions. Nothing really serious or difficult, but everything is done with strict form and done purposefully. I no longer train for aesthetics because that didn't seem to work so well for me, I solely train for technique performance and use tons of compound movements.

  9. What types of training have you found to be most effective?

    All training that falls under specificity, but in my case, I try to do the water downed versions of gymnastic moves, and a lot of conditioning in the spirit of CrossFit. Anything Ross Enamait says or does, is also a great place to get ideas from. I would say that ineffective training is really anything done without a foundational base of knowledge, and anything that leads to injuries.

  10. What is your current diet like? Do you take any supplements?

    My diet is real simple, eat, eat, eat. I consume around 4,500 kc a day, and most of it comes from grains, and dairy, with some emphasis on fruits and vegetables. That's my biggest set back is keeping fruits and vegetables fresh long enough to eat them. I get most of my protein from milk, soy milk, yogurt, and cheese. I eat lean meats fairly often, but in moderation, and I never eat cream(s). As for supplements I drink water, and I eat Zone Perfect bars as replacement meals. I recently began taking fish oil and it's helped me drop body fat the quickest. I love green tea, and if I am reduced to taking some sort of stimulant to wake up really early in the mornings then I'll take a cup of green tea to work, to get things kick started. I tried taking creatine but it spikes my blood pressure and then I can't sleep at all. All natural has greater long term benefits I suspect.

  11. Are there any other thoughts you'd like to share with our readers?

    There are tons of things, but this interview shouldn't be over 100 pages right? I would say that train with some sort of goal in mind as opposed to working out here and there. Research on your own time the things you want to know most about because there are a lot of great ideas out there. Observe the veteran lifters, they know a lot you might not, and don't ever get discouraged that you cannot do something right there, at that time, you need to practice something a lot before you get really good at it. Words like "can't" should not exist in your vocabulary, and in the spirit of Jim Bathurst "Impossible is only a word".

  12. Finally, how can people get in touch with you?

    Phone, e-mail and All Around Strength are the best ways. My e-mail is carpediemcat AT gmail DOT com, phone # is 480-316-0093, and people can drop comments on the site which is checked daily. If anyone wants to get together and build a gym, I would totally be up for relocating away from Phoenix, Arizona and seeing the rest of the world.

For more insights into the thinking of Jason Kirby, check out the articles at All Around Strength and here on Straight to the Bar. A few personal favourites :


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Scott Andrew Bird is a writer, photographer and a guy who just loves this stuff. He's been at home in front of a computer for more years than he cares to remember (OK, 35) and is now making amends for years of many mistakes noted in the De-constructing Computer Guy articles (part 2) on T-Nation.

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