Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Interview with Robert "Dos" Remedios

When I think of “bootcamps” and “group training”, I think back to the job of a strength and conditioning coach—handling exercise programs, adherence, and nutrition--of not one…but close to a hundred clients on any given day. Today, these types of training services are staples in a fitness professional’s business model, but I think we owe it to the strength coach for conceptualizing this idea of training multiple clients. Before military officers were screaming in the faces of cadets during basic training, strength coaches had to deal with egos, injuries, and prepare their crew to set out for a tumultuous season or competitive event.

As a fitness professional, if you think one or two clients can be energy consuming, what should we think about a strength coach that deals with close to 80 different personalities daily? A strength coach has to be strong, diligent, forthcoming, and thick-skinned. Some have smarts too. Like the coach I was fortunate enough to interview: Coach Robert “Dos” Remedios. Coach Dos is remarked as being one of the finest strength coaches in his field. He is knowledgeable, tough, and very down-to-earth. He is humbling and pays his respects everyday to those that have helped carve him into a fine professional and skillful at his craft. 

JOHN:  With all the overwhelming information and access to pros like yourself, why does stupid stuff continue to occur in gyms across America?

DOS: First off I don't blame the people in the gym as much as I blame the TRAINERS. They have a responsibility in this profession and a huge percentage of them are failing at their jobs. Walk into any gym in America and you will see what I am saying is true. In my opinion there are too many trainers who know it all (or at least think they do) and don't feel the need to further educate themselves. I love to use a quote from Mike Boyle...."people don't really want to hear new stuff; they really just want to hear stuff that validates the crap that they are presently using". Trainers like this are a black eye to this field. I've been doing what I do for 20 years now and I learn something new every time I go to a seminar, talk to an expert etc. We continue to learn so much about conditioning that we HAVE TO be lifelong learners, if for anything at all, for the people who pay us to help them.

JOHN: Your book "Men's Health Power-Training" is on my bookshelf --read and recommended to all my clients. Tell me what was it like to write a book. Who did you have in mind when you wrote this book, and was the writing process challenging?

Men's Health Power Training: Build Bigger, Stronger Muscles with through Performance-based Conditioning

DOS: Everything in MHPT is essentially what I am and have been doing with our athletes at the college level. The entire concept for the book came about from writing workouts etc. for Men's Health from my background....a collegiate strength & Conditioning coach. The idea is that to look like an athlete, it only makes sense to train like one. By doing so we end up with little to no imbalances in performance, strength, or even appearance.... as a by-product to performance-based training. Writing the book was an amazing experience for me. It was something SO new to me but a great change from my everyday job tasks. There really wasn't much challenge since Men's Health and Rodale (my publisher) just let me 'go' and do my thing. I had a great editor and the book turned out great....a best seller in fact. I told myself that my foray into writing was over after this book but due to all the positive feedback from readers etc.
JOHN: Who does Coach Dos go to for advice? 

DOS: Who don't I!? HAHA! Seriously, one of my best friends is Alwyn Cosgrove. We live minutes apart and probably sit down and talk about some facet of training on a weekly basis. He has been very influential on my training. I am fortunate to have lots of friends who happen to be experts in this field so they are an email or phone call away. I also get to hang out with many of them several times a year at the Perform Better Summits....people like Mike Boyle, Gray Cook, JC Santana, Robb Rogers, Todd Wright, Jason Brown, Mark Verstagen, Brian Grasso, Jim 'Smitty' Smith, Jason Ferrugia, the list really goes on and on. Believe me, if I listed all the people have helped me and my training in some way just from over the past year the list would be 100 deep!
JOHN: As a collegiate strength & conditioning coach, the majority of your time is spent training 'groups'. Most groups seem to be more motivated than say, working one on one. In your experience, what are some of the pros and con's of training multiple people at the same time? 

DOS: I'm a coach first and foremost so groups, to me, are actually easier and flow better than training someone one-on-on. I am in my element when I get 100 athletes in a room and the sweat and discomfort is flowing = ) I think you are able to really zone in of specifics with very small groups and one-on-one situations. The world's best female hurdler Lashinda Demus trains with us at the college and she trains one-on-one. With here, we are able to do more activities like pre-activation, post stretching and cool down etc. so this is very nice. On the other hand, we don't get the competition that we do with any of my sport teams...this brings a great energy to our sessions and can really push our performance a bit. With PT clients, I actually see small groups as being a superior training method, not so much for the competition aspect but from a comfort and learning standpoint. We can pick cues and techniques up from watching a trainer teach to someone else almost as good as if it was being taught directly to us.
JOHN: You are a regular on the Perform Better Learn by Doing Circuit. Explain what it was like for you getting up on stage and speaking to 200-300+ professionals for the first time? It was probably a very neat thing, eh?

DOS: I was fortunate to be asked to present very early on my career. I believe it was 1994 or so when I presented at the NSCA national conference in front of a few hundred people. Anyone who knows me knows that I have a rough time getting mentally ready to get up in front of an audience.....when the audience has people like Boyd Epley, Al Vermeil, Don Chu etc. sitting in it, this makes for some anxiety! The PB summits have been the best experience ever. The audiences are awesome and I get to learn from the best in the business. I have spoken at NSCA and CSCCA national conferences; in my opinion the PB summits are unmatched when it comes to information, quality speakers, and overall environment. I can't say enough about Chris Poirier and the Perform Better team for putting these summits together.

JOHN: Friends with Cosgrove? That is not a bad thing at all. How important is it to have a network of fellow strength coaches or professionals to aid one's career, personal growth, and skill set? 

DOS: Invaluable. Through Alwyn I have been able to meet a ton of professionals who have since influenced me and my training. I am a lifelong learner...in other words I can find something to help improve my programs even in a $hit presentation. If we use our filters (as Mike Boyle put its), we get better and better at sifting through the crap and finding something, even if it's a tidbit that can help us in our training. I am lucky to have friends and people (all the people I mentioned earlier) that I can email or call with questions or just have a beer with and talk shop. I always recommend to people starting out in this field to go to as many seminars, clinics, workshops as you can and when you are there, make contact with the presenters. Most of them are more than willing to talk shop, answer your email or take your call. We all need mentors and people who can help guide us, there is no risk in reaching out to see if you can create a network. I can think of quite a few "young guys" in this field who quickly elevated their knowledge and status by getting out there and making the effort to network.

JOHN: Tell us what some of the misconceptions a strength and conditioning coach has? For instance, I heard they are all meat-eaters ;) (Coach Dos is a documented vegetarian!)

DOS: Sometimes I think trainers bring it on themselves but the meat-head thing is the first thing that comes to mind. The reality is that if you convey meat-head, people will assume meat-head. Stuff like dressing unprofessionally, walking around and having to make a 180 degree turn just to look over your shoulder etc. etc. You see more of that with strength coaches more than PT's but I think people have that in their minds sometimes. Also, calling yourself 'Satan' or being proud of your ability to make someone puke isn't real good in terms of how people view our field if you know what I mean. Lastly, yeah the vegetarian thing sure has come full circle ey?! HAHA! It went from vegetarianism or even the suggestion that someone should eat less animal products getting SMASHED and ridiculed to vegetarianism becoming the next best thing HAHA! I told Alwyn Cosgrove the other day that I never though being a vegan would ever be so cool! I really don't care what people motives are for coming out with veggie plans, recipe e-books etc. in my big picture this only promotes a greater emphasis on plant-based eating.....and this is a great thing. So yeah, you can be a 250lb. strength coach......and a vegan :-)

JOHN: The World Wide Web has created countless weight-lifting experts. Most of which have not trained a soul other than themselves. You have had your share of experience on discussion boards and forums. In your opinion, how has the Internet helped AND hurt the industry?

DOS: The internet is the best and worst thing ever for this industry. On one hand we have jackasses who blog, post, sell who are self-proclaimed gurus who have never laid hands on a client and/or ever seen if these fabricated programs have any effect on human beings at all. We also have smart kids who have gone to college, got their certifications etc. and now ask me how to get on the Perform Better tour or speak at the NSCA national conferences etc. Success is a journey in this industry......there are no shortcuts. The true experts in this field have been in this game for A LONG time......working, learning, producing results. This isn't by chance. I think as soon as people learn how to filter all this mass information on the internet it's easy to tell the chicken salad from the chicken shit (hmmm...probably a bad example coming from a vegan ey?!) = ) Anyway, in the big picture the cream always rises to the top....the posers will never have success trying to take shortcuts or making shit up as they go.

JOHN: What can incoming freshman expect from Coach Dos when they first enter your facility?

DOS: It's almost become urban legend at our place for incoming freshmen in all sports. The stories are entertaining....some true, but most have been embellished a bit HAHA! My job is clear cut at my college....I am trying to mold and shape responsible and hard working young men and women. It's easier for some than others and our place isn't for everyone that's for sure. Freshmen can expect to work harder than they have ever worked in their lives and for me to be fair across the board with EVERYONE regardless of their skill. We have 7 players currently in the NFL that played for me....not one single one was recruited a lick out of high school. I think what we do at COC had a major impact on those results. This is also why I can never be lured away to 'bigger and better' jobs...I have the best job in the world.

JOHN: What can we expect from Robert Dos Remedios in the future, in terms of products (books, etc), and articles, collaborations, etc?

DOS: Be sure to stop by my website @ www.coachdos.com as I am revamping and really creating a kick butt products and services page along with posting some great articles and videos. One last thing, we have the GREATEST group of forum members on my discussion board....if you want to participate in sound, civil, often hilarious discussions PLEASE come in, register and participate! http://coachdos.activeboard.com

Thanks so much for the interview John!


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