5 Trainers Share Their 10 Best Tips for Getting in Shape

Maybe you’re designing your own workout and diet plan and could use a little expert advice. Or perhaps you’re lucky enough to have a trainer you love and trust. But playing the field can be fun when it comes to fitness, diet and lifestyle advice. So here’s your chance to go on a speed dating session with other trainers without feeling like you’ve cheated on your everyday CrossFit coach.

Here, five CrossFit coaches share their favorite ten lifestyle, exercise and diet tips that you can use everywhere from the grocery store to the gym:

Tom Duer

kc1Coach at CrossFit Pittsburgh, CEO of Pittsburgh Fitness Project and Founder of Tom Duer Fitness

Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.

“In order to master movements and get the most out of everything,” says Duer. “Learn to master the movement and learn technique before moving on to speed.”

The advantages of polishing your form are many, according to Duer. Good technique helps you “get more work out of work,” get most out of the exercise experience and stay healthy.

Approach recovery as seriously as you do your workouts.

“Become friends with your foam roller and lacrosse ball,” Duer advises. “By maximizing recovery you can then maximize each workout.”

Brandon Mancine

kc2Owner of B-Fit Personal Training/Brandon Mancine Fitness in San Antonio, Texas

Choose one change.

Mancine refers to statistics presented in Leo Babauta’s best-selling book, The Power of Less when he advises clients to start slow.

“When making nutritional changes, I first refer my clients to a study that showed, over a 30-day period, making one nutrition change had a 55 percent success rate. Making two changes dropped [the rate] to 15 percent and three dropped [success] further still -- to less than 1 percent,” says Mancine, who is a nutritionist as well as a certified personal trainer. “In the name of setting people up for success, I will have them choose from a few options I give on the one change they will make.”

The usual options Mancine presents are:

  1. Have a protein rich breakfast every morning with in the first hour of waking.
  2. Batch prep food in casseroles or crock pots.
  3. Cut out all starch.

Depending on the individual situation and the person's health history, he may offer a few other options, or one of the changes listed above won’t be offered. Mancine also emphasizes accountability for his clients.

“I have them set up support systems with family and friends to hold them to the one they chose. I, of course, follow up with them as well.”

Learn the movement, then challenge the movement.

Adding intensity at the expense of form is asking for injuries, Mancine says.

“I will find movement patterns that my athletes are efficient in and we will add intensity to those. I will give them homework to improve their current ability to move,” Mancine says of his coaching technique. “As mobility increases, we are able to incorporate more into their workouts. On the flip side, if a person looks to add intensity beyond what their capable of doing, this will lead to injury at some point. It all comes back to leaving your ego at the door and being proud of what you have accomplished on your way out.”

Wendy Shafranski

kc3Owner of CrossFit Vero Beach in Vero Beach, Fla.

Think beyond the WOD.

Sometimes, you can barely squeeze a workout into your packed schedule. But when you have time to do even a few minutes more, try a variety of activities that’ll make you fitter both in and out of the weight room.

“The beauty of CrossFit is its ability to get you fit without a major time commitment. But a little more time spent on honing skills, strength and techniques that have transferability to the sport of fitness will also make you more fit,” Shafranski says. “Join your gym's barbell club. Spend some time working on gymnastics. Develop your strict pulling and pressing strength. Carve out 10 minutes after the WOD to strengthen your midline or dedicate a day to work on rowing or running intervals. Before you know it, you're leaner, fitter and more of a beast at the gym!”

Stephen Gizzi

kc4Owner and head trainer at Left Coast CrossFit in Laguna Niguel, Calif.

Find persistence partners.

Consistence is the key to getting and staying in shape, and friends who expect to see you at the gym can be the motivation you need to get out of bed on those dark, cold mornings to complete your Frans.

“If you aren't making friends at your box you need to find a new one! Find a gym where you have friends that hold you accountable and that you look forward to seeing every week,” Gizzi says. “When you think an extra hour of sleep sounds a lot better than ‘Fran’ it might just be that extra push you need to get out of bed.”

Carbs are not the enemy.

“Get your nutrition timing down, and carbs can be your best friend on the road to getting in shape. Most people have a pretty good idea of what they should and should not eat. What a lot of people don't realize is how timing can be just as important as what you eat,” says Gizzi. “Get enough carbs to fuel and recover from your workouts and, not only will your workouts be more productive in the moment (i.e. PRs), but you will build more muscle, and have more energy throughout the day.”

Gizzi recommends the resources and advice found on the Renaissance Periodization site when it comes to timing your food intake (you can also check out our tips on pre- and post-workout nutrition).

Matt Kinback

kc5Coach at TAS CrossFit in Tampa, Fla., and director of marketing and product testing at Clever Training

Regiment your routine.

Everyone’s workout is going to look a little different, and that’s okay. The key is deciding what fits your body and schedule best and making activity and everyday priority.

“A lot of people today looking to get into shape or maintaining shape understand the importance of getting themselves into a regimented gym routine, whether it's working out 5 days a week, 3 days on - one day off, once in the morning and once in the afternoon,” Kinback says. “Everyone has a different standard for what they consider a ‘gym routine.’ Whatever it is, it is important to stick to it and make time out of your day to do it! Whether you have 15 minutes or an hour, get out there and sweat once a day!”

Your diet needs to be as routine as your gym routine.

“Many times, people who work out think that ‘they can eat whatever they want, since they work out!’ This is a common misconception. I'll share with you my habits and how I encourage others to do the same. I eat three very balanced meals every day and fill in with healthy snacks and proteins,” says Kinback.

“My secret is not deviating much from my daily regimen. I tend to eat the same (or similar things every day). I shop at the beginning of every week and plan my meals out ahead of time. So, come Sunday evening I know what I will be eating for dinner on Wednesday night! I always allow for some cheat meals (out to dinner/drinks) with friends on Friday and/or Saturday. I find if I maintain on my ‘meal plan’ during the week, throwing in a couple of ‘off the plan’ meals is just fine.”

Kinback’s daily diet looks something like this and he encourages others looking to get into shape or maintain peak physical fitness to following a similar plan:


  • Wake up and enjoy a morning drink of lemon detox water - including cayenne pepper, lemon and ginger - which is good for hydration and clears out the system before a workout
  • Take daily supplements, including magnesium, fish oil, zinc, vitamin D and a probiotic
  • Workout
  • Have a cup of coffee
  • Have a post-workout smoothie of protein powder, almond milk, kale, frozen fruit, almond butter, and ice
  • Have a work snack of gluten free oatmeal or rice cakes with more coffee


  • Make a salad with protein (typically chicken) for lunch
  • Have a snack of raw carrots, apples with almond butter, turkey on wheat bread with spinach or a shake with almond milk


  • Make dinner, including a protein (chicken or fish) with a vegetable (spinach, broccoli or squash) and a starch (either sweet potato or brown rice)

Kinback also drinks plenty of water throughout the day and tries to avoid sugars and white starches, but doesn’t cut carbs entirely out of his regimen.

“Many people believe in a Paleo Diet, which cuts out all carbs,” he says. “I find this hard and my body doesn't respond well to this, especially when training on a daily basis.”

Monitor your routine.

“Now that you have gotten into your routine, it's important to maintain, and test out what is working for you and what is not. What better way to do this, than gathering personal data on yourself -- monitoring your heart rate and other vitals! I recommend monitoring calories burned and your activity with some type of activity monitor,” Kinback says.

Although there are several activity monitors available, Kinback personally uses and recommends the VivoActive by Garmin, which monitors steps taken, calories burned, and sleeping patterns among other data and allows you to track your stats and compare yourself with others. And don’t forget to track what you’re eating, Kinback advises. There are many options for people who want to log their intake on their smartphone. And, soon, you’ll probably have a pretty good idea of how much you are eating and how many calories you’ve consumed before you even log your lunch.

“In addition to watching your calories burned, until you get into a comfortable routine, it’s very important to monitor the calories you're taking in! Some great apps that I recommend for your smartphone include: MyFitnessPal, Lose It or Google Fit.”

While your own trainer has probably offered similar advice a thousand times, sometimes it’s good to get confirmation from other CrossFit coaches. And, if you’ve come across something new here, consider implementing it during your next WOD.

We won’t tell your trainer.

What is the best advice you’ve heard from a CrossFit coach? Share it with all of us here at Kill Cliff by leaving a comment below!

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