Move your body! You don’t need a workout routine, a gym, or a plan to start working on your fitness. Just make it a point to move on a daily basis. Run around your couch. Do some sit ups. Go for a walk. Go for a hike! Anything you do today that you didn’t do yesterday will start to turn the wheels of progress.
As a part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Isaac Vaisberg, CEO and Founder of Sasquatch Strength.
Isaac is a certified personal trainer, corrective exercise specialist, and founder of a growing gym franchise. Isaac’s wealth of experience in functional movement and kinesiology served him well when he opened up his first microgym in Sammamish, WA in 2014. After two years of explosive growth, he decided to expand his operation into an additional facility in Redmond, WA where the growing gym brand took final form in the name “Sasquatch.” After partnering up with Jason Cobb and Leon Troy Morse, they went on to open up a third location in Issaquah, Washington and finally created what is now the franchise, Sasquatch Strength. Isaac brings his extensive business and sales experience to the team as the visionary behind Sasquatch Strength.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! 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?
I got involved in fitness and wellness after leaving the legal field to pursue a career in something more conducive to my desire to work with people. I realized I was a people person; I get my energy from working with and for others. I wanted to find a way to serve my community and build something impactful. Fitness just sort of fell into my lap!
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I was actually denied my very first job in the fitness industry. When I first started trying to find work as a brand new coach, I volunteered to help open a small gym in Sammamish, WA with the understanding that I would be one of their coaches. After working for the owners for 3 months helping to get the place ready for opening, they told me they were giving the coaching job to someone else with more experience. I was crushed! But… I took it as an opportunity to learn, and about a year later I bought that gym from the owners. It became my first gym and one of the stepping stones to where Sasquatch Strength is today.
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?
When I first started coaching, I thought the more information I shared with a client, the better their understanding and therefore the more they would buy into my fitness program. I was so wrong! About 6 months into owning my Sammamish gym, one of my clients told me as I was explaining posterior chain engagement, ‘Hey man, I stopped listening like 5 minutes ago. Can we just work out?’ From then on, I added one simple rule to my list: KISS, Keep It Simple Stupid.
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?
Well, to start with, I am a certified personal trainer, as well as a corrective exercise specialist. I also hold certifications in Olympic weightlifting, OPT and nutrition. I have worked in the fitness industry since 2013 and have been fortunate enough to work with clients from all walks of life: from professional athletes, to people with MS. However, I came to the fitness industry from a very different place than most.
My expertise is in business development and growth. I consult a lot in the fitness space and I spearhead our franchise team at Sasquatch Strength. My contributions come from a place of practicality. It is very easy, especially in the fitness space, to get lost in how things ‘should be’ instead of focusing on the way they are. I like to work with my development team, my coaches and even my fitness clients on practical ways in which they can improve, right now. Is the easiest way to help someone lose fat to put them on a macronutrient-based diet with a calorie deficit? Absolutely. Will that work with 99% of people, day one? Not at all. It’s too complicated. So instead, we focus on practical solutions, like talking to that client about 1 or 2 minor changes they can make this week.
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?
I am immensely grateful for my business partners, Jason Cobb and Troy Morse. This vision to bring a world class health and fitness education to the masses was a pipe dream until I met them. Together, we have been able to build something truly amazing.
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?
The first block is that people generally try to do too much too soon. Think New Year’s resolutions. The 1st of the year they work out for 3 hours, drink protein shakes for breakfast and lunch, eat vegetables at dinner and get a good night’s sleep. Day 2, the workout is 2 hours long, the protein shakes are gone and they replaced the vegetables with wine. By day 5 they are back to their old routines from the year before. Taking baby steps is the first key!
The second blockage is improperly set expectations. No fitness regimen works overnight, and if it does, it’s not sustainable. Expecting miracles in a short amount of time is a surefire way to make sure nothing gets accomplished.
The third blockage is related to the first two, and that’s about trust and consistency. It all comes down to trusting the process, whatever it might be. Just about every diet, fitness program or exercise regimen works IF you stick to it. In the industry we call it yo-yo training or yo-yo dieting. You stick to something for a week, then give up. You find something new and trendy, and then give up again. If people picked something, ANYTHING, and stuck to it for a few months, they would be shocked at the results they get. Trust the process and be consistent!
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.)
- Move your body! You don’t need a workout routine, a gym, or a plan to start working on your fitness. Just make it a point to move on a daily basis. Run around your couch. Do some sit ups. Go for a walk. Go for a hike! Anything you do today that you didn’t do yesterday will start to turn the wheels of progress.
- Carry a water bottle with you. One of the best ways to satiate hunger, improve health, increase energy and lose fat is increasing your water intake. The best way to do that is to have a constant reminder to drink it. What better way than carrying it with you? I keep my water bottle by my desk when I’m working, bring it in the car with me when I go anywhere and keep it on the coffee table when I’m on the couch.
- Get some sleep! Hormones play a big role in your energy, health, weight and muscle development. Sleep is one of the major regulators of your hormones. If you don’t get enough sleep, they’ll be out of whack. It seems counter intuitive to work on your health and wellness by staying in bed for an extra hour, but getting your recommended 8 hours is a huge step towards feeling and looking better.
- You will never out-train a bad diet. I have trained marathoners, lifters, moms, dads, executives, medical professionals, NAVY Seals, and anyone else you can think of. The one constant I have seen in my career is that people forget that nutrition plays an arguably bigger role in health and wellness than exercise does. What you put into your body is what you get out of it. It’s pretty hard to run the well-oiled machine that you want your body to be, on Oreos and Cheetos. Feed your body right and it will be capable of doing whatever you ask of it.
- Manage your stress. This is the part that almost everyone forgets about when they start working on their fitness: if these lifestyle changes are causing you to stress out, it won’t work. Stress hormones are a powerful thing. They can make or break any diet or exercise plan. I remember a client I had that was losing weight for her wedding. She decided, unprompted by me, to cut sweets entirely out of her diet. She loved sweets. After about two weeks, she called me, on the verge of tears, because she had not lost any weight and she was working so hard! She was at her daughter’s birthday party and she was missing out on the cake. I told her to go get herself a slice immediately! Over the next few weeks, we worked on rationing her sweets during the week so she could indulge when she wanted to, while still sticking to her plan. She had to have her wedding dress fitted one extra time because she lost more fat than she intended to for her wedding.
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?
- Vitality! Having the energy to do what you want is an incredible feeling. I wake up before 6 am most days, work out regularly, surf a few times a week, keep up with the kids, work (a lot), and I still have the energy to do whatever else pops up in a given week. Exercising regularly builds that everlasting engine.
- Physical literacy. I love talking about this concept. We “teach” fitness in the sense that we want to prepare our members for anything and everything that could come their way. Your friends asked you to go hiking? You have the glutes and quads to carry you up any mountain. Kids want to go throw the ball around? Your shoulders are bulletproof! Highschool sweetheart invites you to play a sport you’ve never even heard of before? No problem! Your body can take anything you throw at it. When you exercise regularly, your body gets very good at adapting to stimulus. You can basically ask it to do anything and it will pick it up that much faster.
- Longevity and quality of life! Nothing has been shown to increase life expectancy AND quality of life like daily exercise and proper nutrition. Your bones get stronger, your cells reproduce more efficiently, your muscles stay strong, your immune system improves, even your brain stays healthier! Exercising regularly is the human equivalent of changing the oil in your car: you don’t have to do it, but if you don’t, you’re going to start running into some issues.
For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical?
- The squat! Almost no other exercise has more mobility, flexibility and muscular benefits than the squat. Don’t listen to the internet “experts” saying to keep it above parallel either. Do 5 sets of 10–20 squats, as deep as you can. The further below parallel the better, as long as you can keep your back nice and flat. You’ll feel your lower body start to get stronger in no time and any lower back issues you might have will start to go away with the increased hip flexibility.
- Burpees! If you need a quick bit of cardio, nothing gets your heart rate up like a burpee. I used to warm up our teens classes with a game of tag, where if you get tagged by anyone, you need to drop down and do 3 burpees. 3 minutes of burpee tag and everyone was nice and warmed up!
- Push-ups. I see countless men and women with very underdeveloped musculature in their upper body. It’s hard not to work on your lower body since you have to use it to walk around. But your arms and chest? You could go a whole day without lifting anything other than your cell phone and TV remote. Push-ups are a great way to start to develop your upper body. You can do them on your knees if you’re a beginner or on your toes if you are a little more advanced. 5 sets of 10 reps are enough to start to see results.
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?
Baby steps! Don’t start out pistol blazing and fizzle out after a week. Start slowly and work your way up. If your goal is to work out 4 times per week for 60 minutes, maybe start out with twice a week for 45 minutes. That way you give your body the time it needs to adapt. You will be sore, but work through the soreness. Moving will help to push blood into your sore muscles, helping them recover. And be sure to work on your rest and recovery too! Proper sleep and nutrition become increasingly more important when you are starting an exercise routine.
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?
At the cost of losing clients, pretty much any reputable diet works. Atkins, Keto, Macros, Paleo — they all work. You just need to stick to it! The biggest pitfall is switching between different diets when you don’t see results right away. You don’t give your body the time it needs to adapt. Personally, I love food so I opt to work with a plan that lets me eat everything, in moderation. Our Sasquatch nutrition is based on a macronutrient diet, where you are given a certain number of grams of proteins, carbs and fats that you need to eat every day. As long as the food you are eating fits within those macros, you are good to go! I take it a little further and track my water and fiber intake as well, but that’s just because I have some performance goals. We start most of our clients on macros only.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
When I was starting to develop Sasquatch, a friend recommended a book called “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg. It is a very practical and executable “how to” on creating and embedding new habits in your life. I used the principles for my personal fitness and nutrition, in my sales processes in the gyms, as well as with my clients. I highly recommend it to anyone that is looking to make a lifestyle change or gain an understanding of their learned behaviors.
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. 🙂
Sasquatch. I want to bring a world class fitness education to the world. I am sick of people being sold a trendy workout that makes them sweat for 40 minutes but leaves them just as clueless as to what is keeping them from achieving their health and wellness goals as when they came in. I want to give people a mastery of their health and fitness. My business partner, Troy, put it very succinctly when he said, “we want to teach them so much that they can leave, but treat them so well that they will want to stay.” When someone leaves our gyms, I am immensely proud to say that they are well equipped to carry on their health and fitness journey on their own.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
It’s not a quote so much as a concept. Ultimate accountability. Amy Patrick, our Director of Marketing and Branding introduced me to this a few years ago and it radically changed my life. The theory is, “if you’re not ultimately responsible for yourself, then who is?” I stopped blaming any extraneous factors and started focusing solely on what I could control. The results were incredible! There is a profound freedom in knowing and owning that you are 100% responsible for everything in your life: your fitness, your health, your finances, your friends, everything. Once you know and own that idea, you can change anything in your life. You can make your life exactly what you want it to be.
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 🙂
It might sound silly, but Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson. I love his mental approach to health and fitness. We have joked internally about tagging him in every single Sasquatch Strength social media post until we’re on his radar. We just feel he personifies the Sasquatch values so well. Plus, let’s face it, he’s the size of a Sasquatch too!
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
You can find us on Facebook at Sasquatch Strength or on Instagram @SasquatchStrength.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!