The Trailblazers: Matt Baiamonte

Charles Torp - Jan 2, 2017


Earlier this year the Jason Bourne franchise returned to the silver screen, and Matt Damon returned to the title role, looking as badass as ever. In addition to the 46-year-old being in impeccable shape, the new movie’s fight sequences were grittier and more brutal. Those advancements were thanks to Damon’s longtime fight coach Matt Baiamonte, who the actor first worked with in 2008 to bulk up for Clint Eastwood’s rugby drama Invictus. “I remember the first time we trained together I told Matt that he was going to have to give me 150 percent,” says Baiamonte. “He told me he would give me 200 percent and he did.” Together the two brought the iconic Bourne character into the world of MMA and bareknuckle brawling, working with the fight coordinators and director Paul Greengrass. Baiamonte, who works as both a boxing expert and conditioning coach, has also worked with professional sports players like LeBron James, Charles Clay and Rishard Matthews. Despite those credentials Baiamonte is far from your typical Hollywood specialist, having cut his teeth under the tutelage of legendary boxing coach Angelo Dundee (who stood in the corners of Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard and George Foreman to name a few). Now he shares the secret to his success with the Fitner community.

How He Got Here:

I had a pretty bad attitude when I was younger, and a family friend, who was also a police officer, saw that. He saw that I was on my way to getting into trouble, so he decided to bring me into the gym to help me turn that around. He was working with Razor Ruddock at the time, the champion who fought Tyson twice. Then I learned that Angelo was training just a few exits away from me. He didn’t let me train with him just then, but after I had worked with a few amateur fighters we got hooked back up. I ended up working first with him, but I was the lowest man on the team. One day we were at a match and Angelo asked me my opinion, then gave that straight to the fighter David Estrada. That is when I knew I could trust my gut.

How He Trains:

I think that if someone walks into a boxing gym it is impossible not to become addicted to the feeling of it. It is infectious. I am working with 80-year-old guys and 60-year-old ladies sometimes, all the way down to little kids. I remember Angelo never liked to scream at his fighters, so I come from that same school. I am very patient with people. I keep a subtle voice. But if I see them do something great, I’ll amp up my voice and that just helps juice them up to the next level. It is surprising how much of an affect that a little volume can have when the person respects their coach, you can see them get lighter on their feet.  There is an intimidation factor of course, but once you understand how technical it is and how much thought goes into how a boxer moves people want to experience that. There is nothing like that first hit of the bag or that first great jab.  

His Driving Force:

The trait that keeps me in the game is kindness. If you ever become a regular at a boxing gym you will see there is a camaraderie that is developed between people. There is a lot of respect in the room. There is a lot of bravado that gets thrown around but boxing is a humbling sport. That is one of the main words of wisdom that Angelo passed down to me. You have to be nice to people. No matter what happens in the ring, the mark of a good fighter is to be able to shake the other guy’s afterwards.


The Trailblazers: Strauss Zelnick

Charles Torp - Dec 23, 2016


During a typical workday Strauss Zelnick steers private equity firm ZMC, is a director at Education Networks of America and serves as CEO of video game developer Take-Two Interactive. For many the pressures of those positions would make finding time to train difficult, but for Zelnick it made hitting the gym all the more imperative. “There was a lot going on at work,” he says. “I realized that if I was going to stay sharp I needed to take getting into the gym seriously.” Zelnick’s rededication started with three scheduled days with a trainer, but has since evolved into next-level full-week regimen, complete with two-a-days and sunrise sessions. In fact, before the morning emails start flowing in and the phone starts to ring Zelnick has likely already engaged in some high intensity interval training. The result is a vigorous businessman who is not only on top of his game, but looks the part. Zelnick shared the principles that have helped him keep his edge with Fitner.

Set The Priorities

I have been going to the gym for my entire life, but it was always the first thing that I cancelled when I had too much on the schedule. There was a point that I hit where I realized that it was just as important to how I functioned as anything else, so I had to treat it as such. That was the biggest change for me, making sure I didn’t treat it like my lowest priority. I don’t care what other business came along; I wasn’t going to compromise on my fitness anymore. The biggest sacrifice to make that happen was time and sleep, so I have to make sure I hit bed in time to allow me to get that head start.

Strength In Numbers

I started a workout group for people that wanted to bond and push each other through fitness, called The Program. It is an early morning session, that starts at 6 A.M. and we go to a number of different boutique gyms. Once a week we all go to Trooper Fitness, and workout with a trainer named Flex, doing mostly high intensity interval training. That is what I have been most excited about these days. I have to travel a lot, so sometimes I miss a meet. If I do I make sure to make it up, usually a morning session with a friend.

Diversify Your Plans

I used to just hit the gym with a trainer, but once I got up to the six days a week schedule I decided to add other elements to my overall training to make it more interesting. I added a cycling trip that I would do once a week with a group, and if I missed that I would go to spin class. From there it just escalated. I would just explore something new went I felt the itch. I tried yoga and boxing to improve my movement. During the winter moves I make a point to get out on the slopes for skiing. Of course running when I had the opportunity or was traveling. When it comes to recovery I end with a little foam-rolling. I make time for massages, or hitting the sauna and steam. 

Reap The Benefits

Staying fit is good for business. It is good for leadership. That is all in addition to the obvious physical and health benefits I am in vastly better shape than I ever was in my 30s. During the day I feel incredible. There is very little that being fit won’t improve in your life.


Fueling Her Fire: Interview with Megyn Kelly

Michael LoFaso - Oct 9, 2016


She’s a fighter. Motivated. Confident. Strong. Megyn Kelly tells it like it is. She stands tall and brave in a forest filled with daunting but often hollow oaks.

In Megyn’s world, it’s not good versus evil, or even left versus right. It’s simply courage to separate the pretenders from the passionate and the faithful from the fake.

And she won’t back down. Not now, not ever. Underestimate her, and you’ll wish you didn’t step in the ring. Ask Syracuse’s decorated communications program. What they’d give to turn back the clock and reconsider her application for admission.

We caught up with Megyn to understand what fuels her fire. With an average workday running late into the evening, it’s incredible how she manages to pack enough energy into her day to face the world’s biggest brains and bravado on a nightly basis.

Not to mention, she stays fit enough that most candidates wouldn’t stand a chance if they literally stepped into the ring together. Mind racing after wrapping another hard-hitting episode of The Kelly File, Megyn does her best to stay rested to hit the next morning.
The life of Megyn Kelly is more action-packed than a 12-round championship bout…even on her off days.

Photograph by Patrick Demarchelier. Styled by Jessica Diehl.” [Vanity Fair]

Photograph by Patrick Demarchelier. Styled by Jessica Diehl.” [Vanity Fair]

Her schedule doesn’t leave room for much more than a handful of hours of sleep (if she’s lucky). But can you blame her? She rises with the ranks of her husband and three children to jumpstart the day together. Sleep or not, her energy is extending – it spreads through the household with speed that only her kids can match.

And her diet? It’s executed as well as The Kelly File.
Megyn largely subscribes to the F-Factor Method framework preached by New York City dietician, Tanya Zuckerbrot. The tenets of the F-Factor Method are consuming calories that are both lean and full of fiber, which tend to keep you fuller longer -- essentially a balance of lean proteins with high-fiber carbohydrates.

Megyn’s meals are disciplined and purposefully kept simple, avoiding any artificial ingredients. "Breakfast regularly includes non-fat yogurt with blue berries and high-fiber cereal." (again, high in fiber with lean protein, little sugar and healthy carbs to fuel her)

Lunch and dinner are a similar story. "The afternoon is a healthy 6oz of lean protein and veggies, salads with dressing - either no calorie Walden Farms or (preferably Lite) Balsamic - on the side, with little or no salt."  The lean protein portion is frequently rotated between organic chicken or turkey meatballs.

And the healthy secret for her meatballs? "I make my meatballs with no breadcrumbs – instead I use fiber sprinkles (just take the GG Brand Crisp Bread Fiber Crackers and hammer them into sprinkles).  Once you have sauce on there you can’t tell the difference."

When you’re running around as much as Megyn, snacking is a must. But even then, she keeps it healthy. Megyn is frequently armed with fiber crackers (GG Crispbread) topped with a low fat ricotta cheese, sometimes mixing in some tomato sauce.

Lots of water to stay hydrated and which is frequently chased by a cup of coffee containing a cube or two of brown sugar. "I also put half and half in my coffee, and that’s about all the milk I drink. If you try to sweeten your coffee with skim milk, it takes so much more than the tablespoon or so of half and half to get the same result." Making sure it's fair game, Megyn gains comfort knowing "Tanya [her dietitian] has officially signed off on the half and half!"

Megyn continues to maintain high energy day after day, week in and week out. "After a late night finishing the show, if I am hungry I will eat some lean protein – a bowl of chicken soup that I keep in the fridge, or meatballs, or turkey jerky."

And last but not least, when it's all said and done, she'll usually enjoy "a glass of wine, too."

Albeit simple, there’s a lot to learn from Megyn’s diet. Day in and day out Megyn gracefully operates an extremely high-pressure lifestyle. There are no “autopilot” days. Every day the spotlight is on - the ratings measuring stick never takes a day off.

That said, pay close attention to the cornerstones of Megyn’s diet. Abundant proof nutrition plays a major part in consistent, top performance.

Lean protein & high-fiber:
Lean protein such as chicken, turkey, low fat & non-fat dairy and high in fiber foods such as beans & lentils, nuts, avocado, fiber crackers, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries are well known to be some of the best calories you can digest while simultaneously suppressing those impulsive sugary and starchy cravings that train wreck your diet on a daily basis.

Keep it simple & regimented:
With your health goals in the mind, select the number of calories you should be consuming on a daily basis. Next, divide those calories into 4-6 meals and then allocate the appropriate foods (lean protein, high in fiber carbohydrates). Finally, maintain simplicity and don’t congest your thoughts with focus on the next meal. Script the majority of your meals, eating the same foods on a daily basis. It’s difficult to maintain daily high performance when your mind is constantly thinking about the possibility of what you could eat next.

Keep it natural – eliminate sugar & artificial ingredients:
Research supports that artificial ingredients and highly processed foods lead to symptoms such as: cravings, lethargy, headaches, bloating; symptoms that negatively impact how you feel through the day, every day.  Want to be a high performer? Reduce or eliminate sugar and processed foods. Give your brain and body the clarity it deserves.

Megyn will keep knocking down doors in her endless quest to pull truth from a sea of showmen.  She’ll keep proving her doubters wrong with energy and enthusiasm. She’ll stay faithful to the game plan and processes that brought her this far. She’s a fighter, after all, and one unkeen to spend time on the mat.


True Grit: Aaron Williamson

Charles Torp - Feb 15, 2017


Aaron Williamson was on deployment with the Marines overseas in Okinawa when he first truly started training. He dedicated all of his free time to lifting, trying every technique under the sun, and started to see incredible results. Soon he found himself getting asked for advice by his fellow Marines, and suddenly, without warning he was a physical trainer to many. So it only made sense that when he returned after his service, and fell on hard times, that he found his path helping clients in a 24-hour gym back home in New Orleans. Then one day, the producers of The Lucky One approached him about being the military advisor to Zac Efron, while they filmed in Louisiana. He not only schooled Efron on the tactical skills he needed, but also started to lead the actor’s workouts once his own trainer went back to Los Angeles. So began an impressive career training leading men like J.K. Simmons, James Marsden, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Now he is excited to share his secrets with the Fitner community.

How He Got Here:

I tinkered around with weights for a while in high school. Then I went into the Marine Corp and I was deployed to Japan. That is when I first put real time in because I was out there for about seven months and there wasn’t much to do. I found the gym on base and that became my new home. Being in the Marines helped build the discipline and structure that allowed me to take my training to a whole new level. I had the determination to be the best that I could be. Those words always keep me going.

No matter where I was in the world, or what duty I had. Whether I was working in the infantry or as a security specialist, everyone knew me for fitness. I would give tips but I never thought anything about being a personal trainer. My ambition was to be a bodybuilder. Every breath I took was to be a better bodybuilder. I came back from Iraqi in 2009. I fell on some hard times finding work. The job I was expecting to get didn’t end up panning out. I turned to training people as a last resort. I had nothing else. I knew I was good at it. So it wasn’t until 2010 until I started taking on clients.

How He Trains:

The majority of my work is body transformation, but it really depends on what their goals are. I don’t want to train someone just to make money. This means much more to me than that. The fact is my clients are a direct reflection of me and what I am capable of as a trainer. I take a lot of pride in what I am able to do. I want someone who is going to show up to work, not just want to stand around and talk about whatever. It really comes down to the building blocks that have been put there, especially through the nutrition. The more that I can help the person eat right for the results that they want, the more success that we are going to have. I absolutely approach the nutrition aspect of it. I will dive in as much as they are comfortable with. If that means texting me when they are out to dinner, I am good with that. There are people who take it that serious, and if they are open to that I am going to go to that level.

His Driving Force:

For me the gym is a sanctuary. It is truly my sanity. No matter what is going on in my life, and no matter what I have, the gym is there. Back when I had to live out of a car, and didn’t have any money, I could always go there to clear my mind. Seeing the psychological benefits that it has had for me has helped motivate me, because I have learned that it is a tool to keep my head right. I always feel good leaving. So why would I not want to go?


The Trailblazers: David Asprey

Charles Torp - Jan 20, 2017


David Asprey has dedicated his life to understanding out the human body works and how to increase its functionality. The former tech executive, who was at the forefront of the cloud computing movement, started his now-famous Bulletproof blog as a humble quest for self-improvement but what he discovered was there was a incredible demand for the kind of information that he was researching. During his experimentation he discovered a way to avert early morning food cravings through his morning coffee, by adding grass-fed butter and MCT oil (which has since been replaced by his own Octane Brain oil). He posted his finding on the Internet and seemingly overnight had started coffee craze that took over the fitness world. Since then Asprey has published the best-selling Bulletproof Diet and considers that creation the “gateway drug” to the masses. Now there is a riveted audience of millions that look to him daily to unlock other biological secrets, or “biohacks”, through his supplement line or popular podcast. Here we had Asprey share a few of his tips for getting more out of training with the Fitner community.

Ditch The Antioxidants

Do not take antioxidants before you start working out. You actually want to cause inflammation, which is why exercising heavily every day is not going to allow you the right kind of recovery. So try to skip the Vitamin C and Vitamin D. You want to feel sore the day after training, you will feel the free radicals, and take your antioxidants then. 

Train Hungry

I would say you are fully ketogenic, and very carefully following your diet each meal, it is not a bad idea to exercise in a fasting state and then eat some carbs after. That does not mean go overboard with a loaf of bread or a pint of ice cream, but definitely eat a little rice or sweet potato. That will help you grow muscle more quickly than if you were eating just fats and vegetables. The carbs will help with the recovery.

Rest Right

I have actually found out that lying down for about 90 seconds in between sprints or high-intensity training actually has incredible metabolic benefits. Through my research it seems like going for high-intensity sessions is the way to go for the maximum effect. Then between those exertions lay out on the gym floor. That is biologically active and has a much better effect than walking or standing during your rest period. 

Sleep Sound

It is not how much you get, but how good the rest you get is. There are a number of ways to help you get better shuteye. For one phone use should be banned from the bedroom, especially in the hour before you actually put your head down. Put your phone in “Airplane Mode” to make sure that your mind is not wandering on what calls or texts you could be missing. Going to bed early is not necessarily better than going to bed late, it really depends on what cycle your body is naturally inclined to.