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Introducing Austin Personal Trainer Justine SanFilippo

6 Mar

Austin Personal Trainer Justine SanFillipo
The Short Story

Who: Justine SanFilippo

Quote: “I’m here to make you hot”

Why she’s awesome: In addition to being a fitness maven, Justine is a nutrition fanatic–giving every client a thorough nutrition evaluation as well as weekly check-ins and challenges. With her, the kitchen as just as important as the gym. PLUS she comes to your home to workout.

Specialties: Weight-Loss Specialist, Nutrition Expert, Weight-Loss for Women, Passionate about helping others be Happy and Healthy!  Also, Increase Muscle Tone, Implementing a Healthy, Sustainable Lifestyle Change, Losing Fat, Building Muscle, Looking Lean, Feeling Strong and Empowered, and just Feeling Plain Awesome. 

Background: University of Notre Dame – Bachelor’s – 2000. Institute for Integrative Nutrition – Certified Health Coach – 2005. University of Bridgeport – Masters in Human Nutrition – 2012. ACE Certified Personal Trainer. CPR and AED Certified.

Fun fact: Justine educated me on how to get a better night’s sleep simply by making small changes in my diet

The Long Story

Justine came to my apartment on a Wednesday afternoon ready to kick our training session off with a smile. I love that she came to my home–it was super convenient, and helped keep me motivated because whether I liked it or not, I couldn’t “not show up”, (not that I wouldn’t show up, but you know what I’m sayin’, it keeps you invested). Thanks to her having me fill out a comprehensive questionnaire about my fitness and eating habits & goals, we sat down in my kitchen and got right to business. And I don’t mean push ups, I mean an awesome evaluation of my nutrition and how to achieve my goals.

I’ve never been to a nutritionist before, and always assumed that I already knew everything. I mean, I read Women’s Health magazine and the nutrition label on all my foods. Eat whole grains, plenty of fruit + veg, lean meat, small frequent meals, right? What else is there? As Justine went through the list of my answers, it turned out there was plenty more. For example, one of the questions I had to answer was what my blood type was. As I filled that one out, I thought to myself, “Well this is a little personal…”, but in the evaluation Justine talked about studies that show different blood types need different diets. “It’s not conclusive”, she said, “And everyone’s different, but these different blood types appeared over time, and there was different food available at each given evolution period.” My blood type, O, happened to be the original human blood type. People like me do best on a diet rich in lean meats and vegetables, similar to the paleo diet, with grains mixed in sparingly (and little to no gluten). We like vigorous activity (truth! Yoga drives me nuts!) and red meat is an important part of our diets. INTERESTING! I immediately wanted to buy a book about this theory.

Next we came upon my list of what I normally eat in a day. As we ran through the meals and snacks, I felt fairly confident that I was reciting the healthiest diet ever–give or take a cereal straight from the box episode. As I reached the end of my list, I looked up at Justine ready to see her smiling nodding face of approval, when she said, “You need to eat more protein–that’ll stop your body from craving so much carbs.” Oh… so… I’m not eating perfectly? Dammit! I recited everything I just said to her in my head, and she was right. Peanut butter & jelly two times a day wasn’t going to cut it. When she looked at my overall fitness goals of “getting as ripped as Kelly Rippa” (okay, that wasn’t really my goal, but why not?) she said that making sure I immediately take in protein after my workout was going to be game changer for me. Protein powders would be a great solution–not because protein powders were necessary as a supplement–but because it would be super easy for me, the king of “if it takes longer than 10 minutes to throw together, forget it,” (hence all the pb&j’s).

After a thorough walk through of custom nutrition tips and pointers, it was time to workout. I was so excited about all the information I had just received, I immediately wanted to go grocery shopping to start making changes! But it was, indeed, push up time. Plus Justine told me it was best to only implement one big change a week–and in fact that’s how she challenged her clients. Okay, okay, another smart move. Can I put you on speed dial? Although Justine brought equipment for us to workout in my apartment, I suggested we go to the gym in my building for convenience. Once inside, we set up shop in the open space workout area. Justine’s exercise theory is short, sweet, and effective, using only a half hour of her client’s time instead of an hour. We started by warming up with some jumping jacks and running in place. Once we felt good, it was on to the workout.

Here’s a little vid of Justine for ya:


The workout she gave me consisted of different types of plyometric exercises done back to back for two sets. Before each exercise, Justine asked me if I had ever done it before, and what my best performance was (as in, how many, or how much weight). She worked to get me in shape by setting a new goal just beyond my personal best. So if I usually do sets of 10 push ups, she would have me do 12. Which is exactly what she did. We started with lunges and push ups I was instructed to do 15 lunges, and then drop down into 12 push ups. I appreciated the challenge, because I normally wouldn’t have pushed myself past 10. Another circuit of exercises we did was 10 burpees followed by 12 reverse tricep dips off a bench. This was a great mix of a challenging full body exercise and cardio, followed by an isolated muscle exercise. For some reason tricep dips always kill me! And burpees, well, they always kill everyone :) . We rounded out the session with some ab work. Justine asked me what the longest time was that I’ve held a plank before, and I told her about 45-50 seconds. “Okay, we’re going to shoot for a minute then”. “Oh God,” I thought. To encourage me, she got down on the mat next to me and did the plank right by my side. Together we counted down to 60 seconds, as I tried to think happy thoughts. 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1– FINISHED! Nice, my longest plank just got longer.

When we were all done, Justine told me to remember to eat a protein rich snack right away. Being that I happened to have a sample back of protein powder, that’s what I went for. And I felt great. Thanks for the challenge and the nutrition guidance Justine, I can’t wait to implement your advice!

Justine is offering Mel Runs readers a training session (nutrition evaluation included) for only $25. Wahoo! You can actually buy it right now and schedule a session with her–could it be any easier?

Here are her regular rates (this includes her driving to your home):

  • Half hour session for $45
  • Full hour session for $65

A Little Help From My Friends

26 Feb

Hey guys,

I’m conducting a short survey to get some information about how people perceive personal training. Will you help me out?

  • This info is for me only, and is completely anonymous, so no worries about privacy.
  • It’s less than 25 questions
  • It’ll take you less than 4 minutes

Here’s the survey:

Thanks so much for your help! I really appreciate it!


P.S. Consider this your good deed for the day :)

Introducing Austin Personal Trainer King Kohn

20 Feb

The Short Story

personal trainer austin king kohn

Who: King Kohn

Quote: “What else in this life is there to do if not to follow your screaming heart?”

Why he’s awesome: A body builder in his past life, King manages to instill all the expertise of a true muscle making expert, but with the grace of a holistic healer.

Specialties: Motivating & educating clients for lifelong health & fitness; Free Weights (any application); Aerobic Conditioning; Competitive Athletes (any sport); Actors, Models and Laypeople alike. All ages.

Background: 25 years experience with free weights: Power Lifting, Bodybuilding and Strength Training. Other endeavors include: fencing, cycling, backpacking/hiking, mountain climbing, soccer, baseball, golf and swimming. Competed for 8 years in bodybuilding as a nationally ranked amateur winning a national championship, and competed for 4 years in national Martial Arts tournaments.

Fun fact: While working with King I broke my all time push-up record.

The Long Story

To start our session off right, King sent me a questionnaire ahead of time to fill out via email so that he understood exactly what type of shape I was in, and what my goals were. I appreciated the detail in his questions—not just how often I work out, but how often in the last three weeks specifically. Made me do a reality check that my “five times a week” hadn’t really been true lately… so I was glad that he kept me honest. We also spoke on the phone, and he told me that his goal is to get people in shape, and then send them off into the world after six months to learn how to maintain their own health. He used the “teach a man to fish…” saying to describe it. I like that. It’s not all about making money with him—it’s truly about getting people set on a healthy life path.

A week later, when the morning of our session rolled around, I found myself scrambling to get out the apartment on time. I threw my hair in a ponytail, barely looked at the clothes I put on, and jumped in the car to drive my boyfriend to work before hitting the gym. I checked myself in the rearview mirror while stopped at a red light and said to him, “Wow, I look horrendous. I cannot look horrendous when I’m working out with a body builder.” Dave told me that was a ridiculous statement, but none the less, after I dropped him off, I found myself speeding to a CVS to buy some mascara and eye liner. I know, I know—why do girls wear makeup to the gym? Because we want to look somewhat decent when we’re sweating our asses off, people! Eyeliner went on in a stealth CVS parking lot and I sped to the gym.

I digress…

I pulled up to the Hyde Park Gym in Austin just in time for our session. Upon walking in, I was totally taken aback. The gym looked like a scene from “The Fighter” sans the boxing ring, or like it was a straight out of being the best gym in town in the 70’s when body building was huge. In other words—no shiny 24 Hour Fitness here. This gym was real deal. And King was going to show me how to handle it. I was pretty excited. I immediately wished I was wearing my Rocky sweats and bandana.

personal trainer austin king kohn



When King walked in he was not nearly as intimidating as I expected. In fact, he was super inviting! And he was wearing a peace sign necklace around his neck. Ahh, let the good times roll. He immediately started off by handing me a copy of his book, along with two tank tops to wear. The book, he told me, would be a tool to guide me through how to train and maintain my health when we weren’t training together. Bonus! Turns out everyone who trains with King gets a copy of his book “The King’s Kode. A Holistic Approach to Healthy Living”—this could be YOU my friends.

Unlike most trainers who typically start their clients off on a treadmill or elliptical to warm up, King had me start with abs first. His philosophy is that staring with abs warms the body up from the core out. ‘You’re from New York, right?” he said, “So you know that when your core is warm, your arms and legs take care of themselves.” Hmm.. good point.. I thought. This is also great for a whole different reason—I always save abs for last, and therefore end up skipping them because I’m just too beat from my workout. I might adopt King’s philosophy :) . Before each exercise, King did the exercises himself and talked me through it. He treated me as if I knew nothing about fitness or form, which was great. It really showed me that if he was training a Mel Runs reader, they would learn a ton.

After five minutes of (burning) core work on the mat, moved on to lower body. I happened to be sore in my legs due to doing a ton of squats two days prior, so I told King we might want to take it easy there. Then he shared a pretty interesting fact with me. Apparently, men have about  40% more upper body muscle mass than women on average, but pound for pound in lower body, men and women are basically the same. So when training women, the real game changers come from building upper body strength—it balances out the body, and gives women both the shape and metabolic effects their looking for. SWEET DEAL. After dropping that knowledge on me, he had me do three different types of squats.

After lower body, we went over to the bench press. Now, I’ve only done bench press once in my life, and that was back in college when I took a strength training class just to get my physical education requirement done–and I had no idea what I was doing. This time around, King showed me exactly how to position my body in order to maximize the chest workout and minimize any chance for shoulder strain. With my back arched, and my heels off the ground a bit at first, I pulled the bar out. Then King told me to plant my heels down, and bring the bar slowly down in an arc to the middle of my chest—then explode up. Coming down slowly in an arc allowed me to work both the upper and lower portion of my chest effectively. We did three sets, and the last set I was up to 50 pounds. For all you big men out there, that might sound light, but for this chick, that. Is. Amazing. I felt SO COOL pumping iron like that. And this is where King’s experience as a body builder really began to shine. In between each set, he had me get up and stretch out my chest. “Do you do this yourself in between every exercise set also?” I asked him. “Every time,” he said. He explained that when you work out a muscle, lactic acid tends to build up in concentrated pockets. By stretching out that muscle, it allows your muscle to recover faster by thinning out the lactic acid build up, and in turn allows you to work the muscle harder and feel stronger during the next set. It also helps prevent injury. All you muscle makers out there—take note. This is a good one!

The end of the hour was comprised of assisted pull-ups—another awesome new exercise for me that focused on my back—and then rounded out with some hardcore time on the elliptical. King says he likes to keep it efficient and intense throughout. A philosophy I can live by, my friends.

And just when I thought our session was over, we walked past a board up in Hyde Park Gym that held “best of” records. There was one slot empty–max amt of push ups that could be done in one minute by someone under 123 pounds. King looked at me. I looked at King. The men around us looked at us.

I was scared.

It was on.

The count began, and I managed to get to 18, with King coaching me through it–”One more!”. That would be my own personal record. Excellent :) .

hyde park gym austin

An awesome ending to an awesome workout. Overall, I was impressed by King’s pleasant demeanor, and wise outlook on health and fitness. After he stopped competing in body building competitions 4 years ago, he has been focusing on living a healthy life—not even protein shakes are included in his diet. Right on.

Did I mention that when I got home, I had an email from him detailing what I should eat post workout? Talk about a holistic trainer.

King is offering Mel Runs readers a training session for only $25. Wahoo!
You can actually purchase your session right now

Also, if you have any particular questions you’d like him to answer, feel free to leave a comment!

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