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21 Questions With Trainer Matt Semrick

Matt Semrick and I first met while I was struggling with training for Strong First level 1 instructor certification in 2014. The SFG certification is no joke and the gold standard in kettle bell trainings. Most people train for 3-6 months before even signing up for the course. In order to pass I needed to complete five 70 lb goblet squats, five 70 lb overhead presses, a 35 lb turkish getup on each side, and the culmination of it all, 100 snatches in five minutes with a 35 lb kettle bell.  All this at the end of a 3 day weekend learning technique and practicing these strength moves for 10 hours a day.  A colleague recommended Matt saying, “he will find your energy leaks, clean ’em up, and get that press overhead like nobody’s business.”  I was sold! Matt was the first trainer to take his time to assess my movement, break down each strength move with technical precision, and most importantly, the first trainer I worked with that I didn’t walk away feeling beaten up and injured.  I feel so lucky to have crossed paths with someone that truly walks his talk and I’m inspired daily by his quest to know more about the body. We are so lucky to have Matt Semrick as part of the Urban Wellness Clinic team and our patients let us know that they agree on a daily basis.

Matt Semrick Personal Trainer

1. What is the first thought when you wake up?

Don’t wake Michelle and the baby!  I have a 6 month old little girl with iffy sleep habits.

2. What is your morning ritual?

It’s more of a routine. Drink the water by the bed, make coffee, read or watch something for 30 minutes, feed the dogs, shower, walk the dogs, quietly kiss the girls and get out the door to make a difference. Those 30 minutes of reading or watching what industry leaders like Mike Boyle, Dan John, Tony Gentilcore or Eric Cressey are working on, helps me stay on top of my game as I look for new ways to help my clients and myself find results.

3. What is the simplest change you’ve made in your life that has had the biggest positive impact?

Putting my morning routine on a timer.  I feel more clear headed if I’m not rushing to start the day. Win the morning, you win the day!

Matt Semrick Kettleball Conditioning

4. Any exercises you are playing with right now to heal your own body?  

Controlled Articular Rotation Arm Sweeps…for shoulder mobility and full control of shoulder rotation.

5. If you could share a piece of wisdom with a younger version of yourself, what would it be?

Let go of things you don’t need…faster.

6. Favorite NYC restaurant?

Gina La Fornarina (the one on Amsterdam) as much for memories as the food.

7. Favorite quotes?

“Start where you are. Use what you have.  Do what you can.” – Arthur Ashe

8. Any mentors who inspire the way you practice?  

Michael Boyle, Gray Cook, Dan John, James L. Brown (my college professor, not the “Godfather of Soul”)

9. What steps or leaps of faith did you take to get where you where you are today?

I stepped away from a previous and growing career as an actor to do something that spoke to me more.

10. Do you have a mantra to carry you through your day?

“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.  Be kind.  Always.

11. How do you hold yourself to walk your talk as a trainer?

I practice everything I ever ask a client to do.  When I think of quitting because, “I don’t feel like it”, I remind myself that my clients depend on me to keep them focused and moving forward.  That goes a long way towards keeping me on track.  I also like to not have to ask for help moving furniture.

12. How do you navigate negative thoughts or criticism?

I try to respect the idea that everybody has their own battle and is filtering what I ask them to try through their own frame of reference.  Sometimes it sounds like voodoo to them. There’s a lot of fitness information and opinions out there.  What we are told we need or think we want isn’t always what’s best for us.  But, that doesn’t always stop us from wanting it.

13. What inspires you now to push the envelope, to expand, explore, evolve your skills?

My growing family.  The people I work with.  My colleagues at Urban Wellness Clinic who are passionate about finding the most effective and efficient means to promote health.

“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?” – John Wooden

14. What foods & practices are essential to your wellbeing?  

A regular mobility routine. A regular lifting of something heavy. A regular reading of something fitness. An occasional visit to the comic book section of Barnes and Noble.  Then it’s a toss up between 3 Musketeers Bites or York Peppermint Patty Minis.  It’s amazing how they fall into my basket at the grocery.

Kettleball Swing

15. Favorite single exercise, if you were to do only 1, whether it be a class or a single move:

A heavy-ish Kettlebell Swing.

16. How do you take care of and nourish your body in the demands of NYC life?

I don’t let more than a day go by without doing something geared towards continued ownership of my current movement ability. The nourish part…I’m working on that.  With a newborn and busy work days it’s a struggle.

17. What creative steps you take to keep the practice fresh?

I often play with new ways to combine the necessary pieces of a balanced fitness routine.  Movement, mobility, strength and heart/cardio health.  I’d like to start some workshops around those topics to get more info out there and see what speaks to the client/patient.

18. How did you first get into studying movement and personal training?  

I’ve always been active.  I played sports growing up.  I pursued a performing arts degree in college and worked often as a dancer. When I was out of town with shows, I always found a gym.  Folks started asking if they could go with me to workout.  Back in the city, I took a personal training course and started working as a trainer.  Somewhere along the way it was pointed out to me that I was spending more time studying health and fitness than acting.  At a seminar on Chronic Back pain exploring functional movement as treatment, I realized fitness, movement, strength was my calling.  The idea of helping people enjoy life more through movement?  Yes, please!  I didn’t look back.

Kettleball Exercise Tutorials

19. Today you find many cookie cutter approaches to training? What is your treatment philosophy?

Starting from a base of 7 essential movement patterns, I find the best version of each for the individual and create the most effective program around those to enhance, not hinder their lives.  It has to be something that speaks to the person.  It’s true that the best exercise program for you is the one you’ll do.

20. What does your current workout look like?

I’m doing a 300 Kettlebell Swings a Day (everyday) Challenge for the month of September.  I can choose how I spread it out over the day.  I alternate between getting them done as close together as possible or mixing them between strength or mobility exercises.  The real goal is to not skip a day.  It’s made me much more creative about getting it done and fitting it into the free moments in my day.

21. Favorite part about working with your patients?

It makes my day when someone comes back having integrated some daily movement into their lives and are excited to take the next step and take it to the next level.