Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training
My name is Jason, I’m 40 years old have been training exclusively with calisthenics for over 4 years. I live in San Diego, California together with my wife and our 2 young children.
I like to think of myself as your typical dad. I have a regular 9-5 job in Information Technology. I have many hobbies from woodworking to music, but my passion is with helping people live a lifestyle prioritizing fitness and health.
I am also a certified personal trainer, and specialize in Bodyweight Fitness, or calisthenics.
I created The Body Dojo to help others get started with and continue utilizing calisthenics as their primary modality for fitness and strength.
For a long time I was out of shape, almost 200lbs at one point. When my kids were born I knew I needed to change. I also wanted to set an example of health and fitness for them as they grew up.
I was looking for a way to work out in front of the kids; and even better, exercise together with them. Instead of being hidden away in a gym, or investing in an expensive home gym, I decided to try calisthenics.
I only needed minimal equipment and as I researched it, there were awesome skills and techniques I could learn that I have always been fascinated with, such as handstands and muscle ups.
I did a lot of research, and like I usually do with many other things in life, I put together a set of goals and a plan to achieve them.
My priority goal was to work out with or in front of my children. My performance goals initially were to achieve a handstand and do my first muscle up.
Every weekend we made it routine to go to the park and work out. My kids would play or try to imitate what I was doing, but I never forced them to do the exercises.
Over time I started to see unbelievable gains in strength and body composition. I started to hit my performance goals, and my kids were also doing push ups and pull ups for fun, “imitating Daddy”!
What I love about calisthenics is that once you hit your initial set of goals, you can always set harder ones. As you progress not only do you get stronger and build an amazing physique, but you gain what I like to call “Functional and Complete Strength”.
Your whole body works together better, and this will help you in athletics and everyday life.
People ask me all the time what I do to stay in shape, and they are usually surprised when I tell them I am exclusive to bodyweight training.
Gaining incredible size and strength is possible without weights, in addition I’ve gained a reputation for performing handstands everywhere, which I don’t mind at all!
Putting together a training plan, goals, and calisthenics progressions that work takes many hours of effort and research.
I wanted to make it easy for anyone to jump into calisthenics, which is why I created The Body Dojo.
My system consists of 8 levels, White Belt to Black Belt. I found this the most intuitive way to teach calisthenics to almost any individual, at any stage in their fitness journey.
This is the program I follow and what I teach to my personal training clients, my group training classes and the online fitness program.
Describe a typical day of training
I use my own training program available at The Body Dojo.
At my current level, Black Belt, my training is divided into splits combining specific skill training and strength & conditioning.
I let my primary movers rest at least 48 hours before training them again.
Currently I work out 4 times per week, with one or two additional days playing sports, such as basketball or kickboxing.
Basketball and kickboxing give me all the leg and cardio training I need right now. They are both explosive, plyometric activities and help with agility, flexibility and speed.
I’m not interested in building tree trunks for legs or squatting 700lbs, so I do not do any barbell squat type exercises or deadlifts.
I work out at home, at the park or at the gym at work. All I use are parallettes, gymnastics rings, a pull up bar and occasionally resistance bands to help with specific skill training such as planche and iron cross.
On rare occasions I will incorporate a weighted vest, but I do not use it that much these days.
My training sessions are typically one hour in length. I try to keep everything under an hour because that is how long my client sessions are and to help others easily fit their workouts into their schedules.
I like to practice what I teach, and to teach what I can do. I find that this is the best way to relate to my clients and pass on my knowledge and experience.
After a workout I usually have a protein shake.
If I can, I like to work out in the morning, right before lunch. This way I can refuel with food and get on with my day.
How do you keep going and push harder?
What I am discovering is the older you get, the less motivation you have.
I’m over 40, and it’s not as easy as it was when I was younger. Your hormone production changes, your drive and motivation changes, your gains change as well.
I do listen to my body, if I am feeling more tired one day I will tone down my training. If I am feeling amped up I will go for extra reps, sets, or harder skills.
These days my motivation has been my kids, and to also fit in my jeans!
I try not to focus too much on how I look, but mostly how I feel. I know if I feel “gross” or “bloated”, so when that happens, I make sure I tighten up my nutrition and hit the gym harder.
Calisthenics has kept me motivated and consistent in training. The continual progressions and unlocking of new abilities have kept me interested and engaged.
In addition, the workouts are fun!
Another factor keeping me motivated is helping others. I keep going to make sure I can still teach, and show others what is possible, no matter your starting point.
I’ve had quite a few set backs over the past few years, from muscle tears to the flu.
The biggest one was needing an emergency surgery a couple years ago. This set me back big time, I was out of commission for at least a couple of months.
It was frustrating going back to the gym and not being able to do what I did before I got sick. What motivated me was knowing what I can achieve, and how I got there to start.
Also, with my Belt Levels, I was able to pick a starting point to restart my training that fit my abilities at that time.
I went down 2 belt levels. In about 3 months I was back to where I left off and I have been improving ever since then.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Between family, work, and running The Body Dojo, things have been pretty busy.
I hope one day I can open my own calisthenics gym and continue expanding The Body Dojo programs full time.
The only thing I wish I could have done differently is get into calisthenics at an earlier age 😊
I have no regrets, all of my experiences to date have helped me shape what I have built and will continue to grow moving forward.
How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?
I believe calisthenics has helped me stay relatively injury free. I had a torn labrum about 7 years ago and needed surgery.
When I started with calisthenics my shoulders were very weak. Now they are the strongest they have ever been at 40 years old!
With bodyweight fitness, you use many muscles together, and more importantly, you strengthen the supporting muscles in the scapula and core.
This helps stabilize your joints and improve your mobility and strength through your entire range of motion. This has definitely helped me not only have less pain, but also stay competitive in sports and athletics.
The only injury I have had over the last 4 years was a strained bicep muscle, and this was from showing off at a park without warming up! Make sure you always warm up!
It took a few months for me to fully recover from the strained bicep muscle. I basically reduced any workload involving my bicep until the inflammation and pain subsided.
I recommend at least 7-8 hours of sleep for my clients, which is my goal as well.
Some days life throws you those curve balls and you get less, so during those times I do decrease my training intensity so I do not hurt myself or suffer from exhaustion.
How is your diet and what supplements do you use?
I think I’ve tried just about every diet out there, paleo, keto, vegan, South Beach, etc.
I was almost 200lbs at one point, so I know how it is to be overweight. I also know how hard it is to get the weight off. It’s not easy for me to keep the weight off, I can gain 10lbs in a weekend easily.
People assume I am just born this way or was always “skinny”, but I can tell you, at my age and especially over the past decade, it has not been easy at all.
I do focus on nutrition, but I do like to balance living a practical lifestyle with healthy eating.
I know how hard it is to “shred” and drop below 10% or 8% bodyfat. Kudos to anyone that can do that, it’s miserable!
The problem with this is that this is what we see on social media, magazines, and other online channels. For the “common folk”, we develop unrealistic expectations for how we should look at eat.
Like I mentioned earlier, I like to teach what I practice and practice what I teach. When it comes to nutrition, I do not drink any surgery drinks, especially if they contain things like high fructose corn syrup.
I drink a lot of water, and on occasion an alcoholic beverage. I currently am trying to limit, even eliminate processed foods out of my diet.
I am about 170lbs currently, so I consume about 160-170g of protein daily. The rest is about a 30/70 or 40/60 split of carbs/fat.
The only supplements I take are whey or vegetable based protein shakes (basically whatever is on sale at Costco).
This is a common sense diet, most people know they should stay away from processed foods and the “sweet stuff”, it’s all about doing it, no magic bullet here.
What has inspired and motivated you?
The biggest source of motivation for me is my kids, and to continue to set an example for them.
Next are people I meet and talk to either in person or online. Being able to help them incorporate fitness into their lives and showing them what is possible keeps me going every day.
Regarding music, I have my own playlist I maintain on Spotify, just search for The Body Dojo and you can find it. Depending on my mood, I like to listen to electronic music, hip hop, or metal.
The best advice I have gotten, and what I live by is to “Lead by example”. As a father, as a teacher, as a mentor, this is how I approach life.
Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?
A lot of folks get intimidated by either seeing me and what I can do, or what others do online. They are quick to write themselves off from ever achieving things like handstands, or even a pull up.
They also write me off thinking I was doing this my whole life, or was an acrobat or gymnast previously.
What I usually tell them is that I wasn’t born doing handstands or hanging upside down on the rings. I started in my mid 30’s and these are things I built up over time and started with very fundamental and basic movements.
Everyone can learn them and have a starting point.
I also tell them to focus on themselves, set realistic goals, and begin incorporating positive behaviors and habits.
Go in it with a plan and a strategy to achieve these goals and behaviors. You are not in the dark, you are not alone, and you can do it!
My biggest pet peeve is seeing others hoist huge weights around, sacrificing form. I’ve seen way too may people hurt themselves this way.
The biggest eye opener for me was during Physical Therapy after my shoulder surgery. Most of the other patients in the clinic had knee or shoulder injuries. Guess where they got their injuries? At the CrossFit gym next door.
I have nothing against CrossFit or weightlifting, I just hope everyone that does it stays within their limits and focuses on form and staying safe.
Are you taking on clients right now?
My strength program is available online, 24/7 through my website The Body Dojo.
It’s subscription based. You determine your starting point and we have a whole program laid out for you to follow. If you are a beginner or experienced athlete, there is a starting point for you.
I developed the program over the years teaching clients. You get it all at a fraction of the cost for a Personal Trainer.
The biggest concern folks have is not being able to do a push up or pull up. Our White Belt Level is the perfect starting point for you. We have folks start at White Belt, even Blue Belt (a more advanced level).
We will show you all of the progressions to practice and lay out your goals and training routine in an interactive web application. You can track and access all of your workouts on your mobile device or desktop.
Where can we learn more about you?
My website is thebodydojo.com.