Survival of the fittest

Scott Estrada

Photo By Larry Dalton

You wouldn’t use your iPod or digital camera without first reviewing the owner’s manual, would you? They’re complicated (and pricey) pieces of equipment. If not taken care of, they can malfunction or, even worse, break beyond repair. Well, the same can be said about the human body. Unfortunately, most of us didn’t come with an instruction manual, and we’ve had to figure out how to keep our bodies running all on our own. Many people have grown accustomed to living with malfunctions, making trips to the hospital for repairs. Personal trainer Scott Estrada has created an owner’s manual for the human body, a well-rounded program to help people take care of their body, because, let’s face it, if your body breaks, it’s a hell of a lot more difficult to replace than your iPod Nano. If you’re interested in taking a look at the manual, contact Estrada at (916) 541-0813.

So, you’re a personal trainer?

I guess so, technically, although I don’t fit the mold of a trainer because I created this wellness umbrella that covers a lot of ground: food, nutrition, wellness, brain chemistry, strength conditioning—yeah, training is a big part of it, but I’m definitely outside the mold of a normal trainer.

Is diet more important than exercise?

Food is a big part of someone’s wellness program. If somebody wants to lean down, for instance, food is probably 70 percent to 80 percent of it. I mean, it makes no sense to come into the gym and train if your food isn’t supporting what you’re doing. … I try to hit people from every angle: stress management, lifestyle, food, nutrition, supplements, training, so every part of their life is supporting the transformation they want to occur.

How do you do that?

What I’ve tried to do is create a package—it’s what I call my Self-care 101, which is stuff we’ve never been taught, like the owner’s manual for how to take care of this thing we have called our body. It’s our vehicle, and if we take good care of it, it’s going to last until we’re old and chasing around our great-grandkids, hopefully. We won’t be another statistic for a hip-replacement surgery. It’s kind of like investing for retirement.

How often should people exercise?

Daily movement is fantastic. … I’ve always said, “Money and time are not an issue; they’re just a measure of value.” Whatever we value the most, we tend to put our time and energy into. If somebody can move their body on a consistent basis 20 to 30 minutes a day, the rewards are huge.

How do you get people to get past making excuses?

I try to raise their value meter. To really understand that it comes down to what they feel they deserve and how they deserve to feel. The concept of getting in shape or feeling better is attractive to a lot of people. I think a lot of people don’t understand the decision and the commitment it takes to do that. I think most people want an instant lunch. Everybody wants to lose 20 pounds before the reunion or 10 pounds before a wedding date, but those are all vanity and surface-level. … I think the deeper-level motivation has got to be about how you feel, the quality of life daily and not living with symptoms.

If you could recommend one piece of gym equipment for the home, what would it be?

I’m not a big proponent of equipment per se. I think props like medicine balls and kettle balls are simple little things that can develop great strength without having this huge piece of equipment taking up space in your house. Setting up a home gym can be done with a small, open space where you can do some body-weight exercises and some simple routines.

How long do people typically see their trainer?

I’ve got some clients who have been with me for years. They like having that professional assistance and that accountability in their lives. Other people come in, and maybe their goals are different. They want to train for an event or race, or they want to run a marathon, but they really want to develop some strength or endurance. I’ll see them for short periods of time, maybe three to six months.

What do people generally pay a trainer?

It varies from trainer to trainer. I tend to run $70 an hour and $35 a half-hour, but I have a lot of à la carte services outside of that. I tend to run a lot of my appointments on 30-minute sessions because, frankly, I can get a lot done in 30 minutes.

Did you watch The Biggest Loser?

I did see a couple of the shows, just to see the premise of how it was set up. I think it can be a little misleading for the average person, because that was a very controlled environment, and the average person doesn’t have the time to invest in something like that, but it shows what’s possible from an extreme point. Those people were very out of shape, and with diet, consistent exercise, great choices and continually working with that personal assistant coaching them, they made those transformations. … I think it’s great to show people that it’s not some magic dust that some people get and some people don’t. It’s just making choices and being consistent with those choices.