Getting real will get you results, trainer says

Taylor Ramsdell trains Victor Henry, a professional mixed martial arts fighter, and a pro boxer named Zachary Wohlman. Ramsdell also works with regular folks too, at Chain Fitness, his gym near Universal Studios that was built as a speak-easy in the 1930s. For Ramsdell, that mix makes sense: Just check your ego at the door.

What is the significance of the name Chain Fitness and your slogan "Break free"?

At the very beginning, it was a play on words meaning, "You're only as strong as your weakest link." It's all about breaking free from the norm and from whatever is holding you back. It's about breaking free from the status quo in order to find a new you. People are chained to ideas and trends. I don't want people chained to anything. At the same time, you do have to make sure there is rhyme and reason behind the training. You can't be hard just to be hard. That will just lead to overtraining or getting injured.

How much of training is actually mental?

I think a whole lot of training is mental. Without the right attitude, you're never going to make it. No one ever truly knows what they are capable of until someone helps them to see what they can do. Even if someone is an alpha personality, alphas can benefit from someone showing them where their strengths are and building their weaknesses without it becoming a shaming thing. We all have weaknesses. If you feel more confident, then you'll become even healthier and stronger. I have had people come in who don't make eye contact or even performers who are nervous, but they realize "I can do this," and you show them how simple it is with some instructions. Then they see they are capable, and then their goals and results are seen too. Some people have to be shown how to have the right attitude. Some are already elite, but they want to be more elite. Some people have a trainer just to find motivation. I want to give motivation, but I also want to instill something into the person. I want them to lead a life outside of the gym that is more successful too, so that training is also about overall character building.

Diets from zero carbohydrate to eating for one's blood type have become trendy. What kind of diet works best?

I do not agree with the whole zero-carb thing. You have to have carbs. You have to have a balance of protein, fat and carbs. People need to keep it real. No one needs to do crazy stuff, and nobody can stick to that anyway. It will just cause someone to flip-flop back. My secret recipe is four words, "Diet and exercise work." That is it. But it is good to have someone to educate you on the diet and to take you through the exercises that you need to do and to do them correctly to get results. If you are on a good, healthy diet, you're exercising and you're a healthy person without any injuries, you will get results.

What about the popular idea of having a cheat meal once a week?

The way I look at diet is an 80-to-20 ratio, where 80% is good and 20% is not as good. With that said, you deserve a cheat meal when you've been eating at 100%. But also it doesn't have to be one day a week. The way I promote fitness and healthy lifestyles is, 'What is your life? What do you do for a living? Do you go out to eat every single night? Are you a performer on the road all the time?' As a trainer, you have to make it work for that person. For the cheat meal, if that is your 20% for the week, then that is your 20%. It comes down to being honest with yourself. But sometimes people take the cheat meal way too far. ... People can go out for wine and pizza with their friends, but then the next day they should return to eating healthfully.

Why did you want to start your own training studio instead of training out of established gyms?

I wanted to not have a cookie-cutter type of gym. I wanted to step outside of the box and mix new techniques with old-school stuff to create programs specifically designed for each individual person and their unique needs and desires. Also there can be a lot of ego at a lot of gyms. But, at Chain Fitness, you can have a professional athlete, a rock star and a teacher all in here at the same time and, while it is private training, everyone leaves their ego at the door. There's no ego here. Just fun.

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