Every month, we introduce a new Guest Editor to share his or her musings on wellness, beauty, lifestyle, and beyond. This month, we invited Chicago-based fitness trainer Liu Gross to take part.
For almost two decades, Liu Gross has made it his goal to inspire ordinary individuals – people he calls “athletes” – to reach their fitness goals, whatever they might be. The Chicago-based Crosstown Fitness trainer took time out of his busy schedule to serve as Lively’s June Guest Editor. Find out which workout he swears by and the advice he’d give someone just starting out on their fitness journey below. And keep an eye out for his two blog posts, slated to go live on Lively later this week.
Interview with Fitness Trainer Liu Gross
Lively: Thanks for chatting with us! How did you first become interested in fitness?
Liu Gross: I don’t remember when, but I do remember exactly where I was and what I was doing. I was maybe a year or two removed from leaving college. I was in my apartment watching the NFL Combine when it hit me, “I want to do that.” As the athletes ran their 40s and did their broad jumps the “that” I wanted to do was train them. I figured the best way to go about it was to start with individuals that didn’t make money off their bodies, so I looked for a job at a local gym. The more I trained, the more I fell in love with the general population. I still love to train athletes but now I look at everyone I work with as an athlete which allows me to do what I love and with the population that’s a little more meaningful.
L: Why is fitness important to you?
LG: Training is important to me because it gives me a chance to become unbreakable. I’ve been doing this for a while and my main fitness goals aren’t as much physical as they are mental. Over the years I’ve come to realize I have a slightly adversarial relationship with training so every time I step into a class or training session it’s never a sense of dread. It gives me a chance to challenge myself – it’s me versus whatever it is and whether I “win the day” or not I’ll still get a chance to fight. I still accept the challenge.
L: How do you overcome a workout rut?
LG: Keeping in mind that convention is the enemy of interesting, if I’ve hit a rut it’s likely because I’m no longer interested in what I’m doing which means it’s time to mix things up. Most of my training is done on my own so taking a class is a good fix. Of course, YouTube and Instagram can really help jumpstart my creative process.
Currently I’m trying to challenge myself every week by adding something into my training that I don’t normally do, don’t like to do or just want to get better at. Pull-ups, running, swimming and mountain climbers have all made the list so far.
L: Is there a workout you swear by that you always recommend to others? Is there one you find overrated?
LG: If I had to pick one, I’d always recommend a Tabata protocol. If done properly it could be used to reach training goal. As far as one being overrated, I’m happy to say I can’t think of any. There is a slew of workouts that aren’t for me but if it gets somebody moving, I’m all in favor of it.
L: Is there a quote that inspires or motivates you when the going gets tough?
LG: This Og Mandino quote: “I am here for a purpose and that purpose is to grow into a mountain, not to shrink to a grain of sand. Henceforth will I apply all my efforts to become the highest mountain of all and I will strain my potential until it cries for mercy.”
This quote embodies the drive and mindset I try to maintain when training. It’s graphic in narrative, intensely assertive and tenacious in its purpose. It’s my favorite because it leaves no room for anything not related to getting better. Self-doubt, low energy, a busy schedule or anything else are no match for a driven person and to me this quote permeates the mindset of the driven.
L: What advice would you give someone starting out in their fitness journey?
LG: Set realistic goals knowing that they might change a bunch of times then be okay with it, be okay with the journey. If a person’s goal is to lose 30 lbs. it’s not the weight loss that will help them. It’s the successes, failures, up, downs, lessons they learn and confidence they build along the way that make them into the new person.