Joel Freeman of CORE DE FORCE™: “Find things you enjoy”

Find things you enjoy — find something you enjoy and look forward to, a hobby or whatever it is. That’s huge in helping you focus in other areas of life because when you’re enjoying something, you’re more creative and relaxed. As a part of our series about “How Anyone Can Build Habits For Optimal Wellness, Performance, & Focus”, […]

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Find things you enjoy — find something you enjoy and look forward to, a hobby or whatever it is. That’s huge in helping you focus in other areas of life because when you’re enjoying something, you’re more creative and relaxed.

As a part of our series about “How Anyone Can Build Habits For Optimal Wellness, Performance, & Focus”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Joel Freeman.

A Beachbody Super Trainer, NASM CPT, BCS, WLS, Joel’s passion has always been teaching and showing others how to live healthy and fulfilling lives, with a career in the health and fitness industry that spans almost 20 years. As creator of smash hit programs like LIIFT4™, the 8-week weight lifting and HIIT program, 10 ROUNDS, the 6-week shadow boxing and conditioning program and co-creator of CORE DE FORCE™, the 30-day mixed martial arts-style training program, Joel hopes to motivate even more people to get fit and make healthier choices — all while enjoying the journey! You can follow Joel @joelfreemanfitness on Instagram and Facebook.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I grew up mainly in West Texas. I went back and forth between my parents, my mom in Texas, and my dad in California. I stayed in Texas for high school and went to Texas Tech for a bit. I was the typical 80’s and 90’s kid, always active and outdoors. I loved to play baseball and football, build things like Legos, and I read a lot of fantasy fiction. But mostly was always moving as much as possible.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

No one actually inspired me to go into fitness. I just happened into it because I needed a job. When I was 19 I started working the front desk at a gym in West Texas. I became really good at it, like selling memberships and talking with people. I just fell into it, and once I realized I was good at it, that encouraged me. And I also really enjoy it, I love the positivity of the industry.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

Once I got into fitness and my career started to advance, I had mentors along the way that I learned a lot from. My aunt and uncle were great role models to watch because of how hard they worked. They were always checking in on me to make sure I was doing what I was supposed to be doing and that I was okay. Because I knew they were checking up on me, I knew I had to step it up. Through that it made me work harder because they were holding me accountable. They played a big part in the work ethic I have now. I also didn’t have a choice and didn’t have a backup plan. So, if I lost a job, I had to make sure I was covered. Not having a cushion makes you grind harder.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

Being in this industry the number one thing is learning how to deal with people. People think that the fitness industry is all about fitness and health (and yes, it is), but really, it’s a customer service industry because you’re dealing with people. You have to know how to listen, and how to speak with people. I believe how you talk to people is the real learning lesson.

The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?

I get this question often, and my honest first response is I have no clue. I didn’t know my path — there was no clear path to where I am today. My advice is to just keep having those conversations, keep talking, making connections, learning as much as you can because you never know where a conversation can lead or what can come of a conversation. And get experience — get out there and get experience because that’s what really teaches you how to help people and interact with people.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

My favorite life lesson quote is “be stubborn in your goals and flexible in your methods.” And I’ve really embraced that, I became more flexible. It taught me to take into account the real world. The goal is to be successful and happy, but you may not take the path you thought you would to get there. I never thought I would be a Beachbody Super Trainer.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

Well, Beachbody now has Beachbody Live coming out, which means live versions of my home workout programs will come to life. And I’m always actively trying to help as many people as possible feel better through my programs 10 Rounds and LIIFT4, two of Beachbody On Demand’s top streaming programs. I’m always communicating with the people who do my programs, anyone seeking advice or motivation, or anyone just not sure how to get started.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. This will be intuitive to you, but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to create good habits? Can you share a story or give some examples?

Two main reasons why it’s important to create good habits are physical and mental health. I think physical health may be easier for some, but it goes hand in hand with mental health. Physical health looks like healthy nutrition and working on fitness that is going to make you feel better physically. But when you feel better physically you feel better mentally. Your confidence increases, clothes fit and feel better, the way you look naked, and all of this plays a big role in feeling good mentally. The physical health is the start to a new level of confidence that a lot of people are lacking. With that confidence, you start acting differently. We do before and after images of people working out using my Beachbody programs all the time. I look at the smiles in the before and after images, and you can see the difference in their face in the ‘after’ image. They’re beaming, which I believe shows the massive mental shift taking place as well.

How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?

Habits have definitely been important in my journey and contributed towards my success. Really believing in and following the mantra “be stubborn in your goals and flexible in your methods,” trying to show up as the best person I can daily (and just being a good person), being easy to work with, not taking things personally, and believing everyone is doing the best they can are all habits and ways of thinking that are helpful for me.

Everyone out there is grinding and has a job to do, and for the most part I believe everyone is doing the best they can. This belief takes it to a new level, you have more appreciation for people who are grinding, and more acceptance for the way people are doing what they are doing. I may not understand it or have done it that way, but it helps me appreciate the effort. People are doing the best they can with what they have. Which all boils down to empathy, which allows me to enjoy the everyday more (especially in the work environment) and helps me remain humble and enjoyable to work with.

Speaking in general, what is the best way to develop good habits? Conversely, how can one stop bad habits?

The best way to develop good habits is to understand what the root of the problem is and what is causing bad habits. If you get to the root of the issue, for instance in nutrition if you want to cut out sugar, the real question is “do you really want to?” I believe if you really want to, you will. Bottom line you will recognize the bad habit, you won’t do it anymore, and you’ll replace it with something better. That doesn’t happen all the time, and I’m not saying it’s easy. But you have to really want something. If you’re serious about it, prove it, don’t just say it. I think that means understanding you have to say no and make sacrifices for the time being to see change happen.

Let’s talk about creating good habits in three areas, Wellness, Performance, and Focus. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum wellness. Please share a story or example for each.

  • Sleep — sleep is huge. No one likes being tired, and no one is in a good mood when they’re tired. In my usual day-to-day, I’m getting at least 7–8 hours because I need it. I’m in bed between 9–9:30. I know it’s not always possible, but really making that effort to get into bed earlier because you know you have to get up goes a long way.
  • Surround yourself with like-minded people — this is a big one and can be hard for many people to follow because they’re afraid to hurt other people’s feelings. But if someone isn’t benefitting you in any way or enhancing your life, it’s time to move on. Toxic people or relationships are something you have to draw that hard line with as soon as possible.
  • Be a little selfish — it’s okay to take time for yourself, whether it’s time for your workouts, time alone, whatever it is. You can’t pour from an empty cup, so you need to make me time. It’s about understanding you can’t keep giving and expect to have anything left.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

It comes back to wanting to make these changes. No excuses. If you really want it, then do it. If there’s someone holding you back, then it’s time to decide if that person should still be there. And with that being said, if someone is holding you back, then that’s not someone who truly supports you. If you really want something, do it, and be ready to be uncomfortable. I always say get comfortable being uncomfortable! Get outside your comfort zone because that’s where the change happens.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal performance at work or sport? Please share a story or example for each.

  • Empathy — We’re all surrounded by people who are all just trying to do their jobs. Everyone is different, and you have to appreciate that to not go crazy or become hard to work with.
  • If you hate your job, get a different job — if you’re unhappy with where you are, if you hate it, then why do you keep doing it? You’re not really stuck, you’re just not ready to make that change. There’s always a different path you can always go on, it just boils down to if you’re ready or not. And if you’re not that’s okay. But always remember to be ready to be uncomfortable if you’re making a change.
  • Do your best — go in there and give it what you have. You can’t be mad about a job that you hate if you don’t put the effort into it. If you don’t want to be there, then leave, and if you don’t leave, at least do a good job. Show up and do the best you can.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

Find an outlet that is not job-related. So, find a hobby, something that you enjoy and can look forward to that is separate from the situation you’re unhappy with at work. A healthy outlet and something to look forward to goes a long way towards creating happiness and success in other areas of your life.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal focus? Please share a story or example for each.

  • Remove the stressors in your life — whatever the stressors in your life look like, try as much as possible to remove them. It’s essentially removing distractions.
  • Find things you enjoy — find something you enjoy and look forward to, a hobby or whatever it is. That’s huge in helping you focus in other areas of life because when you’re enjoying something, you’re more creative and relaxed.
  • Talk to someone — If you need to chat about something, take the time to speak about it. Don’t bottle it up, have conversations that can lead to solutions and ultimately focus.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

The biggest one is to take action to make the life you want. If you really want something you just have to do it, even though it’s not easy, you have to take action over just speaking about it.

As a leader, you likely experience times when you are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a state of Flow more often in our lives?

I’m in my flow because I’m doing things that I love to do. So, I think it’s simple, strategic decisions where I’m aiming to make the best possible choice to create the life I want for myself. I put myself in a position physically and mentally, and in relationships where I don’t have stressors (or very few). Flow is due to my decisions that I’ve made over the course of my life, especially over the past 5–7 years, where I had those uncomfortable moments and conversations, made bad decisions, and more. But all because I was comfortable with being uncomfortable I reached flow and continue to reach my flow. Things can be tough, but I do what needs to be done.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Empathy — creating more empathy in society all around the world, understanding everyone is different and doing the best they can. Empathy goes both ways in all situations on both sides. Just helps bring about more positivity.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

I would love to do a workout and lunch with Dwayne Johnson. I respect his work ethic, workout ethic, and just have lot of respect for him.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

@joelfreemanfitness or

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health.

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