Get comfortable with being uncomfortable — be vulnerable, challenge yourself, do something you usually avoid doing. I use to have a fear of public speaking, one of the reasons I was putting off being a group fitness instructor for so long was because of that reason. Once I put myself out there a few times, I realized it wasn’t that bad, and now I teach group fitness classes multiple times a week to a studio full of people.
As a part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Darryl Whiting. Darryl is founder of Bull by the Horns Fitness. He is an exercise specialist and Pilates instructor. A Queens, New York native, Darryl is a former Tennessee Titan, and Fordham University Graduate. His passion for helping others is second to none and he has a commitment to helping others on their journey of life succeed.
Thank you so much for doing this with us, Darryl! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the story about how you first got involved in fitness and wellness?
After my short stint in the NFL with the Tennessee Titans, I worked a desk job briefly for about 8 months in IT. It wasn’t for me, so I reached out to a former teammate of mine who was a personal trainer and I’ve been a fitness professional ever since (2013).
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
The most interesting thing to me is witnessing how fitness, health and wellness, like music and sports, bring people from all walks of life together.
Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?
We a had a holiday party on weekday my first year at the gym I was employed in 2013, it was a Thursday night. Every Friday at 6 am though, I had a client lol, you can already gather what happen. The kicker though, my gym location was 24 hours so after the party I went to the gym and took a “nap” at 230 am in the Pilates studio. I woke up to about 10 miss calls and 30 text messages from my clients and coworkers at 10 a.m. lol. Completely sleeping through my alarm and getting 7 hours of sleep.
Lesson I learned, always take the morning after a company holiday party off!
Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?
I have over 7 year’s experience as a personal trainer, over 2 years as a group fitness and Pilates instructor. I was also a collegiate (Fordham University) and professional athlete (Tennessee Titans).
I am well versed in functional movement, sports performance and corrective exercise. My diverse experience is what I think makes me unique in the world of wellness. I am a Pilates instructor, I am SFG certified (kettlebells), I am a former pro athlete, I use all of these skills to formulate great training programs and help people achieve their fitness goals.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
There are tons of people who have helped along the way. CeCe Marizu, Mary Onyango, and Lewis McNairy are 3 of the many. I started teaching group fitness about 2 years ago, and the transition from personal training to group fitness wasn’t easy. They encouraged me to be myself and have given me countless tips on how to be one of the best instructors in the business.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, exercise more, and get better sleep etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?
- Time- I always hear, I don’t have the time to cook meals, or to workout.
- Accountability — find a workout buddy so you can motivate each other and hold each other accountable to achieve the goals you set for yourself and each other
- Environment — support system, surround yourself with people that lead happy healthy lives.
Can you please share your “5 Non-Intuitive Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”? (Please share a story or an example for each, and feel free to share ideas for mental, emotional and physical health.)
1. Schedule time for yourself-
One of the biggest excuses I hear about why someone can’t workout or eat healthy is because of time. I don’t have enough time to work out 3 days a week or cook at home etc. a tweak that helped me as a run around the city training and teaching 7 to 9 clients/classes a day was to schedule my workouts in my calendar. Setting the exact time, I worked out on a particular day really helped. I knew beforehand that I would be free that hour so I had no excuse to not workout. I can do Pilates for 45 minutes and hit the treadmill for interval training for 15 minutes.
2. Breathe- Breath fuels the body.
Every system in the body relies on oxygen. From cognition to digestion, effective breathing will provide you with a greater sense of mental clarity, help you sleep better, digest food more efficiently, improve your body’s immune response, and reduce stress levels. I perform deep diaphragmatic breathing either at the start of my day or prior to a workout.
3. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable — be vulnerable, challenge yourself, do something you usually avoid doing. I use to have a fear of public speaking, one of the reasons I was putting off being a group fitness instructor for so long was because of that reason. Once I put myself out there a few times, I realized it wasn’t that bad, and now I teach group fitness classes multiple times a week to a studio full of people.
4. Be mindful of your emotions- how we feel emotionally have an impact on us physically. Think about it, when you’re angry, your blood pressure rises, your heartbeat elevates, muscles get tense, you may get a headache. All of those physical responses to an emotion.
5. Be grateful- I watched a documentary called “The Secret” in 2014 and gratitude was one of the keys to a good life. List 3 things you are grateful for every night and your whole outlook on life will shift when viewed from a perspective of gratitude.
As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for the public. Aside from weight loss, what are 3 benefits of daily exercise? Can you explain?
1. Exercise releases endorphins, a chemical that helps to relieve pain or stress, and boost happiness.
2. Exercise reduces the risk of chronic disease. Regular exercise has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, and decrease blood pressure.
3. Daily exercise assists in building and maintaining strong muscles and bones, especially when strength training and weight lifting. As we age, people tend to lose muscle mass and function, which can lead to injuries and disabilities. Practicing regular physical activity is essential to reducing muscle loss and maintaining strength as we grow older.
For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical?
1. Deadlift- it is functional and, in my opinion, the most important exercise we can do. Deadlifts targets multiple muscle groups, performed 2 to 3 times weekly, they develop strength in the hamstrings, glutes, low back, and upper back.
2. Push Up — an efficient and effective exercise to build upper body and core strength. A great functional, body weight exercise that targets the triceps, pectoral muscles, shoulders and abdominals.
3. A transverse or rotation exercise. A Wood chop for example can be performed in many ways with various equipment. Most of us only function in the sagittal plane, totally ignoring frontal and transverse planes of motion.
In my experience, many people begin an exercise regimen but stop because they get too sore afterwards. What ideas would you recommend to someone who plays sports or does heavy exercise to shorten the recovery time, and to prevent short term or long term injury?
You just described me lol, I visit an acupuncturist, a chiropractor and a massage therapist for ART (active release technique) for routine maintenance. I also suggest taking contrast baths for muscle soreness. To prevent injury, I suggest mixing up the workout routine and incorporating things like Pilates and Yoga. I’m a huge advocate for the Pilates method, it has truly helped me. Taking a session in the studio or a mat class two times a week will help a great deal with recovery and prevention.
There are so many different diets today. Can you share what kind of diet you follow? Which diet do you recommend to most of your clients?
I don’t follow any specific diet, I just avoid what makes me feel bad. Food is fuel, it’s supposed to give us energy, if it causes fatigue, inflammation, bloating etc. then you should probably avoid it. I was food tested a few years ago, and my body doesn’t respond to lactose to well, so I cut milk and cheese out of my diet. I stay within my caloric range, (about 2,800 calories) during the week and on the weekends, I pig out. I am not a registered dietician so I do not recommend diets for my clients but I give them general information about calories, the importance of vitamins and minerals, portion size and macros (amount of protein, carbs and fat).
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
“Becoming a Supple Leopard” by Kelly Starrett and “Return to Life by Contrology” by Joseph Pilates
I sustained multiple injuries over my career and even though my playing days were over, I was in a great deal of pain. Learning to treat and heal my body has had a major impact on not just my physical health but mental and emotional as well. These 2 books are must haves.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
A mental health and Pilates retreat or workshop, specifically for but not exclusive to boys and men. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and I feel like men have been underserved in that aspect. We tend to be less vocal about our emotions usually stemming from a fear of being judged. I want to create a movement for open dialogue, freedom of expression and mind-body activities to boost awareness on how are feelings and thoughts have an impact on us physically.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
My favorite quote is actually a poem that was paraphrased by Mother Teresa and it is tattooed on my leg. Her version of the “Anyway” poem by Kent M. Keith. In summary the poem reminds us that life is between us as individuals and a higher power, not anyone else.
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 if we tag them 🙂
Jordan Peterson, after watching some of his interviews, lectures and reading his book “12 Rules for Life” I think we will have a great conversation or debate rather over lunch lol.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
@thefakedarrylwhiting on Instagram
Darryl Whiting on Facebook
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!