The Lounge Q+A: Neil Abellanosa, Fitness Trainer

Interview with Neil Abellanosa

Fitness Trainer

Strength & Mobility Coach: FRCms, FRAs

Certified Nutrition Coach

@neil_sakafitness

www.sakafitness.com

PocketSuite CEO, Chinwe Onyeagoro, and Managing Editor, Sean Litteljohn host Strength & Mobility Coach Neil Abellanosa, while he discusses his unique approach to Personal Training, his love of literature, philosophy and his motivation to pursue excellence within his industry.

What is your approach to business?

“I’m not really social media based. It just kind of turned out that way and I realized that worked for me. My demographic is thirties to 70 year olds who are, some of them are executives, CEOs and they tend to not really be on social media. Word of mouth has worked really well for me.” 

 

What is your speciality?

“I just went really deep into rehab and injury mitigation. And so a lot of my clients who have not had success with physical therapy or their Chiros, have found improvements with me because of the specific niche I’m getting into with rehab and joint mobility, things like that.”

 

A personal motto?

“A motto of mine has always been, money follows excellence. So I really tried to not chase what was popular or what was, you know, what everyone’s doing. I’m just good at what I do. I’m sure I’ll make money out of it. So I invest my money in certifications and seminars that really improve what I do. And I think that coupled with interpersonal relationships that I’ve developed with my clients, becoming more kind of like a life coach. There’s plenty of parallels between fitness, life and personal life. Life is just one thing.”

 

…I always tell them motivation is like an escalator, but discipline is the stairs.

How do you retain clients?

“When trainers or coaches like myself, zero in on that one thing, it’s really hard for a client to just stop or drop off. They’ll want to keep you in their life and we’ll make it work no matter what. Like with Zoom or you’re running six feet apart from each other. So I think that’s been kind of a key to my success. It’s chasing excellence instead of popularity or whatever makes a quick buck. And then really just developing those relationships with clients.”

 

“The other part of it is as you get more into, their life and they tell you about not just their fitness, life, social life, family life, you know, you hear about their friends and their family members and then they begin talking about what they could use. Like, if my friend who has had shoulder surgery really knew about this stuff, he’d really like it.”

 

Changes due to Covid?

“I think that’s when really the discipline comes in because once you learn what to do, you’re going to have to find the willpower to really get out there. There’s this article I read about it’s not really about trying to go back to normal. Instead of thinking about going back to normal, let’s think about moving forward. Because some of the things that were normal weren’t really beneficial for us. I have a client now who’s never felt better because now she drives less or not at all. The driving hours each day were really messing her body up. People are now discovering the outdoors, going on walks, hikes. So leaning into that.”

 

“When teaching them I’m saying that, you know, these are all natural things that are very good for us. So take the time to prioritize getting out there and spending time in nature and working on your wellbeing.”

 

How important is discipline?

“I think discipline is key for that because people are often looking for motivation. But it’s really all about discipline because I always tell them motivation is like an escalator, but discipline is the stairs. Like it’s always there, a little bit of work but they still pick you up. I think discipline for me helps with my interests and curiosity in how everything works, how the body works, all that stuff is enough for me because having reasons why is, is super important.”

 

“Knowing your why and knowing that once you can answer that, it’s much easier to stay motivated because if, if all exercise is to you is a chore, if that’s your level of understanding, it is very easy to lose motivation because it means there’s no attachment to your soul. Once you know, it’s meant to make you feel alive and be more human. You’re like, oh, okay, I get it. I get why I have to do this stuff.”

 

 

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How do you best reach your clients?

“Reframing their mindset. So it’s not a punishment, but it’s really a celebration of what your body can do. And so once they, once they realized, I do want to keep improving. We’re putting in this work because it’s making me do more. And then you play with my kids better. I don’t run out of gas when I’m playing with them or like I can get stronger. I just frame everything in this broad way where everything can make sense no matter what they do.”


“Even the great coaches that I do follow are heavily philosophical and scientific. I feel like naturally our bodies nature is just an expression of all these things: chemistry, biology, and physics. You have to know these things to understand what you are.”

 

Words to live by?

“Money follows excellence.”

 

A quote that inspires you?

“I think the Socrates quote saying, I’m paraphrasing roughly, “It’s a shame for you, for a man to not really get the most of what his body can do.” You know, it’s like you’re given this body and if you don’t take it to its fullest potential, it’s really a shame on you.”

 

What drives you?

“For me it always comes back to how can I be more? How can I be better? So what are the things that are actually human and what are the things that are making us less human? Being a father, a husband, a son, all that stuff is all about being human. So being better at relationships as far as providing, being a good provider, protector, all that stuff, these things I can look at and be like, okay, I’m going to do them and they will make me better, which does include having a body in excellent shape.”


“I think really looking at your motivations as to what really makes you a human. All those things are strictly human. Like how can you love more? How can you give more? How can you be more empathetic? How can you fight for other people? That’s what I base my life and work on.”

 

Featured In eBook

Neil Abellanosa lends his philosophy about engaging clients for life, and how money follows excellence in our latest eBook on How to Become a Fitness Trainer. 

Fitness Trainer Resources

Check out our detailed resource guide for everything you want to know about becoming a fitness pro.

Get the rundown on training, certifications, associations, licensing, and more!

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Training Tips for Fitness Pros from Neil Abellanosa

 1) Do What You Can – don’t have time for 60 minutes? Do 30. Don’t have time for 30? Do 15. Anything is better than nothing, especially when it comes to building a new habit of strength training/fitness. The more frequency you have of the activity, the more likely it is to stick. So even if you are starting from ground zero, start with one push up and one squat every morning.

 

2) Don’t Get Fancy – Don’t fall for the social media circus exercises. Of course they look cool, and might be effective for the person doing them, but the truth is – the basics are still the best. There is a reason the best bodies still do “boring” squats, push ups, rows, deadlifts, etc. Because the BASICS work! Sure, throw in some “fun” stuff to keep it spicy, but don’t forget about your basics.

 

3) Form Over Everything – make sure your form is on point. It doesn’t matter how much weight you can lift, how fast you can run, or how flexible you can make your legs if your form is off, and you eventually get injured. Before making and exercise harder but adding weight, or a harder variation, makes sure your form is on point. Not sure if it is? Find a certified trainer to work with – in person, or even online!