Meet the Instructors: Justin Thomas Sanchez
The talented trainers who drive Life Fitness On Demand—instructor-led workouts available on Discover SE3 HD consoles—come from diverse backgrounds and each approaches fitness with a unique perspective. A few of them share their stories about what fitness means to them and how they got to where they are. Justin Thomas Sanchez is a New York-based personal trainer and fitness educator. Follow Justin on Instagram (@pumptrainer) or listen to his podcast, Chase Your Better. We asked Justin a few questions about the role fitness has played in his life.
How did you become interested in fitness?
In kindergarten, I played team sports all the way up through my very first fitness class that I took as a 17-year-old trying to win a spot to work in the gym that I couldn't afford to pay for. I ended up getting a job working the front desk. Fitness, at that point, became a fun thing for me to do. I started expanding into personal training. One thing led to another and it ended up becoming a full-time career by 1997.
What changes have you seen in fitness over the last two decades?
Well, the biggest change that I've seen is the amount of options people have. When I started it was pretty much you had weightlifting, traditional weightlifting, and then high low or step aerobics. That was it. Spinning was just coming around, but it was so new that people didn't quite know if it was going to stick around or if it was a fad.
The other shift I've seen is the on-demand side of things where people can go to their phone, they can go to a piece of equipment and right away have a workout that's coached by a professional at their fingertips.
How do you connect with exercisers, both in Life Fitness On Demand classes and in person?
I try to come from an empathetic point of view to different types of people that I've come across in my life and in my own classes. How would the person that came to my class this morning that is a little bit overweight and is trying to get themselves back in shape, how would they respond to what I'm saying right now? Or what would I say to inspire that particular person right now?
I've run across so many people that I've had the opportunity to connect with and learn their story and their why behind exercise that I can think back to those types of people. I've also had a lot of opportunity to be educated on how to connect and how to communicate with different demographics or different personality types. Because not every one person responds to a certain type of coaching. I find that I have to vary my coaching to meet the needs and the learning styles of different types of people.
What are your favorite forms of exercise?
I like to mix things up. I always have. While I've always found success with heavier lifting in my youth, of course with that comes the joint damage over time. I've had to shift the way I've trained. I got into a higher repetition, lighter weight training, which I think has been great for my body. I also like to mix it up with martial arts-type training. For example, I'll hire somebody to take me through a Muay Thai fighting session. They beat me up. I try to fight back. But that sort of thing feels good.
What advice do you have for exercisers trying to establish a fitness routine?
Find something you enjoy. That's the key I think to life really. But the key to being fit and being healthy is not how you look. It's not going through drudgery. It's about finding something that you really, truly enjoy and being able to do that regularly, consistently.