Rich Decker: “It’s hard to pick a singular mistake or story”

…For one week a month, I have my clients use their non-dominant hand to brush their teeth, eat their food and comb their hair. This practice opens your mind to different ideas instead of sticking to the same routine. Scientifically, it’s been proven to increase the size of the cerebellum gland — responsible for helping us move […]

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…For one week a month, I have my clients use their non-dominant hand to brush their teeth, eat their food and comb their hair. This practice opens your mind to different ideas instead of sticking to the same routine. Scientifically, it’s been proven to increase the size of the cerebellum gland — responsible for helping us move our limbs — which shrinks as we get older. Drive a different way to work and see something new to instill in yourself the ability to think outside of the box.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Rich Decker.

He is a fitness enthusiast and entrepreneur with more than 30 years in the industry, and he’s realized over time that machines and weights just don’t provide the results people are looking for. In 2018, Decker founded AWATfit (or, Any Where Any Time Fitness), a fully mobile, full-service fitness franchise run entirety out of 20-foot truck fully equipped with 20 cutting-edge workout stations designed to address strength, flexibility, core, agility and cardiovascular as well as the mind-body-spirit connection. Customers get the full workout experience in the comfort and convenience of their preferred location without the hassle of driving, parking, checking in or crowds.

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?

Back in the 90s when I had my first facility called American Fitness Factory, The Make-a-Wish Foundation reached out to me about a kid with a rare form of leukemia who wanted to spend the day with a fitness personality. This took me by surprise because it seemed to me like the typical kid would want to meet a celebrity or go to Disneyland. As soon as I met him, I knew he was different. We did a workout with him, set him up with some swag and a new bike, and gave him an idea of what a healthy lifestyle looks like.

Being a father and seeing a young boy with so much zest for life, even though his time was coming to an end, puts everything in perspective. Life is just about the now; it’s not guaranteed, and this kid grasped that even though he was just nine or ten years old. So many years later, that experience still stands out in my mind as something special.

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?

It’s hard to pick a singular mistake or story. Everything I do every day is funny, purely because going into business itself has so many ups and downs. I’m a strong believer that you must have a good sense of humor to be an entrepreneur. When I got my start in the industry, I was just totally into working out and said to myself, “Why don’t I open my own gym?” I had never owned one before, had no experience, and knew a lot of hard work would go into finding success.

To raise capital for that first gym in Southampton, New York, I did a sidewalk sale out in front, selling memberships to as many people as I could, from a folding card table out in front. Anyone who walked by would easily have thought that building was condemned; it was dilapidated and rat infested. At the time, everyone thought it was a mistake, but it was a stepping stone that got me where I am today.

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 30 years of experience in the industry and got my start before certifications even existed. I’ve trained some of the best athletes in the world. You name it, I’ve coached it: football, baseball and soccer, whether it be for peewees, college graduates or players drafted to professional teams.

I look at wellness as a trifecta: mind, body and spirit. Many people have the misconception that fitness is about lifting weights and what you’re doing to improve yourself on the outside. When clients tell me what they want to change about their bodies, I respond by telling them we need to work on the inside first. In my business, we provide expertise on nutrition, meditation and emotional wellbeing in addition to physical exercise. Without addressing all of these components, you’re going to be looking in the mirror at a skewed reflection.

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 have to give a nod to my brother, Jay. When he was 24 years old and I was 14, he took me to my first gym, and I have loved physical fitness ever since. He’s helped me find my passion for working out and helping other people. I’ll also mention he took me to my first bar where I mustered up the courage to talk to a girl for the first time — so I have a lot to thank him for!

In all seriousness, the people that I have the pleasure to work with every day, who let me into their lives to help them make the change for the better, are responsible for my success. In turn, my clients make me a better person. That’s what drives me.

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?

As Americans, we’ve been guided in conflicting directions in terms of fad diets and fat-free food, which aren’t actually good for you. When it comes to fitness and nutrition, knowledge is power. Unfortunately, our food pyramid and government guidelines are dictated by the economy and the organizations that drive it. People are afraid to step out as individuals to say, “This is what’s good for me.”

There isn’t one wellness program that works for everyone. When I start with a new client, I work with them to understand how food affects their body to promote results that align with their goals. No one on the planet is identical to you, and that includes your digestive system, the amount of sleep you need and so on. Accepting that taking an individualized approach versus listening to the masses is a huge piece of the puzzle.

If you’re not having fun exercising, it’s just not a good time. You see people at the gyms beating themselves up, and they’re doing it with a frown. Their results are bound to be slower because they are not working the body as effectively as the person laughing and enjoying themselves while moving around. By finding a method for staying active that you like, that doesn’t feel like work, that provides a sense of fun, you will be successful.

I also find that outlining achievable goals is important. Psych up to lose two pounds over the course of the week instead of focusing on losing 40 pounds and feeling frustrated by a small loss when you step on the scale. You will feel more encouraged to keep it up. This is true not only for exercise, but in life. Abstaining from something completely, whether it be food or anything else, leads to binging. We’re not meant for complete withdrawal of something we enjoy. We’re meant to have it in moderation (and not feel guilty about it afterwards).

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.)

For one week a month, I have my clients use their non-dominant hand to brush their teeth, eat their food and comb their hair. This practice opens your mind to different ideas instead of sticking to the same routine. Scientifically, it’s been proven to increase the size of the cerebellum gland — responsible for helping us move our limbs — which shrinks as we get older. Drive a different way to work and see something new to instill in yourself the ability to think outside of the box.

Balance is key as we get older. One of the easiest things you can do for your balance is lift one leg up and close your eyes, and see how long you can hold it. Work toward lengthening the amount of time you can do it. This will make you more agile as you age and help prevent bad falls and injuries.

Another non-intuitive tweak that can improve your wellbeing is not beating yourself up for making a mistake. Think of any life experience as learning to walk all over again. No one yells at my newborn baby as she works toward rolling herself over for the first time. Society tells us as adults that we know more because we’ve been here longer, but intelligence doesn’t come from the length of time we’ve been on this earth. It comes from trying, failing and trying again.

Work out outdoors to increase energy, improve mood and reduce depression and anxiety. That’s just what nature does for us. If you can’t get outdoors, bring the outside in with artwork and plants. Psychologically, it will still get you there.

Integrate more movement into your everyday routine. This doesn’t necessarily have to be with traditional exercise. Put the remote control for your TV in a part of the house that’s far away from your living room, so you have to go back and forth every time you want to change the channel or turn up the volume.

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 the benefits of daily exercise? Can you explain?

We are designed to age, and by exercising we age gracefully. We want our muscles to support our skeletal system as we get older, and as we work out, we are helping our bodies produce bone density and increase dexterity.

For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical?

It’s not one exercise, but a combination of movements that can work your body in its entirety.

  • Jumping jacks and/or jumping rope
  • Pushups
  • Standing squats

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?

Don’t go into the gym and hit it too hard. If results were directly correlated to the amount of pain you find yourself in afterwards, I would be all for it, but that’s just not the case. The harder we work out, the sorer we feel, and the less likely we’ll be to go back.

Hydration and stretching are of utmost importance in preventing post-workout pain, and both should be integrated into your workout before, during and after. Your muscle wants to be stretched to break up lactic acid and your body needs water because that’s what it’s made of, but not enough people realize the connection.

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?

It’s actually really simple — 70% lean proteins and 30% carbs. When it comes to carbs, anything that sees the sun is good. I only consume starchier carbs before noon so I can burn them off during the course of the day. It’s the ideal type of food to eat within 30 minutes of working out. So, if you like carbs, as so many people do, have a cup of white rice or a baked potato when you’re finished exercising. All of my professional athletes have fridges with baked potatoes that they eat like apples after a workout. The glycogen from the starch helps your body recover.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?

I recommend all of my clients read The 21-Day Consciousness Cleanse: A Breakthrough Program for Connecting with Your Soul’s Deepest Purpose by Debbie Ford. When we think of the word cleanse, our minds immediately go to fasting or juice, but this is a cleanse of your consciousness and your emotions. After 21 days, you’ve reinvigorated your soul, energy and psyche. I find that many people don’t realize how much baggage they’re carrying around mentally, and subconsciously it causes improper and unhealthy habits like overeating, drinking too much and avoiding exercise. What we feel is what we reveal; people pick up our energy before they pick up anything else.

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. 🙂

My business is about making people feel good. There’s just too much separatism in the world today, and there’s nothing feel-good about that. It’s simple. We are the HUMAN RACE (Humbly Understand Man Arrived Now). We are all created equal; girl, boy, black, white, Jewish, Muslim, gay, straight — it doesn’t matter.

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 life lesson quote is my own. When you’re alive, you have the ability to thrive.

When I was 25 years old, I was on life support for two days after a motorcycle accident. What most people read about, I went through. I think if we all had that glance or the knowledge of our own termination date, life would be more significant. That’s how I approach life now as if everyday is my last. Our physical existence is temporary. Every day that I’m alive, I have the ability to thrive; to jump into something new. I have a right to do what I want to do and to disregard the opinions of others.

I barely have a high school degree, but I’ve found great success because I’m willing and able to take a chance. Every business I’ve started, I’ve done so with next to nothing in terms of capital, but you get where you’re going by focusing on what you’re doing. If you think about it, there’s not one thing you can’t physically touch, eat, wear or use that someone didn’t dream up and create. Every day, we are living that person’s dream. Consider that when you have a new idea you want to pursue — you can make your dream come true.

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?

Right now, that person is The Rock. Dwayne Johnson has a passion for helping kids and a passion for fitness. You can’t fake that energy. He started from nothing and lost his dream of becoming a professional football player. He’s created his own path by reaching out to the community to say “I’m here for you.” And in turn, the community has been there for him, in watching his movies and supporting his dreams.

There are a lot of people who have made something out of nothing, and I respect that, but not everyone remembers the nothing. That’s why I always want to give back to the community and respect those that do. People with influence who lead others in the right direction are a great inspiration. That said, I have better hair and tattoos than The Rock, so we’d have a lot to talk about.

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