In the second half of our two-part essay (read Part 1 here) about Men’s Health Fittest Trainer and new face for Upgraid’s Perform: Daily Inflammation André Crews, we learn about André’s philosophy on training, weight loss, diet, and his vision of fitness in the future.
Part 2: The Training Philosophy of André Crews
He would never call himself a "guru," but André Crews’ philosophy on fitness training is a revelation. “My training philosophy that I've developed over the years is move well lift heavy breathe hard in that order so no one move well is regardless of if you're a 70 year-old with a bad hip or a college athlete, you need to make sure that you have the correct technique for whatever movement you're doing” said Crews. He added, “Even if it's just the body weights, what you need is to make sure that you can do that perfectly before you even think about adding an extra load of weight.”
According to André, it all starts with squatting. “On Day One, I think everyone just needs to squat and walk. I you can just walk around the neighborhood, walk around your apartment, walk up and down your stairs walk with your dog--that is one of the most effective ways to build a very, very basic aerobics capacity. And I can't tell you how many success stories of weight loss started with someone just saying, 'I just started walking more everyday and I started losing weight.' It's that simple. It's not sexy, it's not something that people post a lot about on the Internet, but if you want to lose weight, it's a simple math equation.”
A Healthy Path to Weight Loss
André Crews knows a thing or two about weight loss. Most importantly, however, he knows there’s a healthy way to lose weight. “A pound of fat is 3500 calories. So if you want to lose a pound then you need to deficit 3500 calories. You can do that through a combination of dieting and exercise.”
So over the course of a seven-day week, if you can deficit 500 calories every day, then you can do it. It's easier to deficit 500 calories by not eating or drinking something bad. Not having that bag of candy or having that big sugary margarita is easier than burning 500 calories in the gym. The biggest way that we can make a really big dent in our caloric intake is just by watching what we eat. Start simple. Eliminate or substitute.”
Incremental changes are far easier to work on and stick with rather than suddenly cutting out all unhealthy food options. It’s a slow process, but one that has longer lasting effects.
“I think the key is if you can just make better decisions about what you're eating. A lot of folks have an emotional connection to food. Maybe someone really loves having pasta all the time because their mom used to make them pasta dinners when they were young and that makes them remember good times. So people have a very strong emotional attachment to food. I don't ever want people to think that they're not allowed to have something to eat that makes them happy. So, maybe instead of having that big plate of pasta, let's decrease the amount of pasta and instead, have a bigger piece of grilled chicken with it. Sometimes, it just comes down to substitution for something healthier."
The Power of Protein
While André isn’t a proponent or opponent of any particular diet or eating lifestyle, he does have a pattern that he follows. His philosophy is that you really should do what’s best for you. “I recommend whatever is going to be the least disruptive to your current state of affairs when you're getting into it. I personally try to be relatively well balanced with what I'm eating and depending on the day, sometimes I'll have more carbohydrates and sometimes I'll have more fat."
“I try to get the same amount of protein on any given day because that's the foundation--your building blocks for increasing muscle mass and it helps to repair your body after you beat yourself up in the gym. Then I'll modify my carbohydrates based on how much stuff I need to do. So if I know that I have a longer cardio day or if I have multiple sessions to teach, I'm going to ramp up my carbohydrates. If I know that I have a lighter day or rest day where I'm not necessarily going as hard, I'm going to decrease my carb intake. Instead of having you know that bowl of rice, I'm going to have half of my portion of rice and swap what would have been more rice for Brussels sprouts. Then I'm going to increase my fat intake on that day. So I'm going to have more avocado, some extra olive oil, walnuts, almonds, pistachios...whatever it might be.”
While André is an advocate for the power of protein and protein shakes, he does recognize that it's more designed for convenience than necessity. "Protein shakes are good because it's not often that we can finish our workout and then sit down and have a nice steak dinner. Realistically, if you're someone who is working out in the morning, you have like 30 minutes to get home, take a shower, change your clothes, and get going to work. So the protein shake allows us to kind of bridge the gap. IF you know that you're not going to physically be able to sit down and eat for an hour, protein shake supplementation is a great option.”
Speaking of supplementation, André also knows the value of having a vitamin and supplement routine. He noted, "I think supplements are effective for what they are. As long as you treat them as a supplement and not say, 'Hey, I'm getting all of my protein from this vitamin. Your body will always react better to whole foods. So if you can eat something like meat, eggs, or tofu, you can fuel your body appropriately. But supplements are designed for when you can't have a full meal and need certain nutrients."
The Future of Fitness
One undeniable reality we now are facing with Covid is that the way people exercise has changed forever. While it’s hard to deny the positive affects of working out in a gym (especially because so many people don’t have access to equipment, hygiene concerns are forcing people to permanently cancel their club memberships and opting instead to work out through a digital platform.
André echoed this sentiment. “I think there's always going to be a segment of the population that does not want to come into the gym or does not feel safe coming to the gym. There's also going to be a segment of the population that also don't want to work out wearing a mask.”
As part of his evolution, André has become an instructor for a new app, called Ladder, to help others get access to the Crews-style of workout, from beyond a gym setting. For Crews, it’s not just about giving people an outlet for their energy. The app allows André to have a group class, just not in-person. “It's a way to have that community without necessarily having to be physically at the gym.”
No matter what the future holds, André Crews is a chameleon of fitness, ready to change the way you look and feel about yourself, no matter where in the world you are.