JUSTIN GARCIA : UAE’s Very Own Superman

“Don’t change who you are. Especially in the fitness industry everybody wants to be or look like somebody else.”
Twenty Three-year-old Justin Garcia has come a long way from his home of California, USA. At this age, he is already teaching and training people in Calisthenics, which is a creative training that uses your bodyweight while combining elements of street workout, parkour, gymnastics, freerunning and tricking. Our team had the opportunity to catch up with Justin to learn about how he started, and his journey from beginning to end.
What got you started in Calisthenics?
I found a couple of really cool videos on YouTube that made me want to do handstands, and that’s how it all started for me.
What one or two things do you currently do in your training that are keys to your success?
I make it a point to stretch and focus a lot on foundational work that basically includes warm ups, so that I don’t get injured.
How do you set your goals?
My goals work around what I am currently working towards. Most of them tend to be short term goals rather than focusing on what I want to achieve in say three years. I don’t plan too much into the future, as I tend to forget my plans, so I stick to goals that are about two weeks long at the most. This way I can be held accountable if I don’t acheive them.

What is your diet like?
If my clients are reading this I eat clean all the time, but if real people are reading this I ate McDonald’s for breakfast this morning, I just drank a Redbull, and I had Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner last night! (laughing).
Is there something you don’t eat or refrain from eating?
Even though I am half Mexican, I cannot eat spicy food to save my life! Even if I get a small jalapeno in my meal or even if there was a one sitting on my plate, I will vomit. It’s really sad!
What is your biggest challenge, and what do you do to manage this challenge?
My biggest challenge was when I had initially started out and no one around me supported me. I was initially 45 kilos which is roughly about 100 pounds and when I told the people around me that I wanted to be a professional fitness trainer, my family, friends and almost everyone said I was wasting my time. That was the biggest obstacle I’ve ever faced. But now they see that I have made it and what I have become, I have their support and encouragement.
What 1-2 things do you do that differentiates you from other athletes/ trainers?
I have a firm belief that anything you do to your body can be used in a sport. I am one of the few people that integrates flexibility, gymnastics and aerial movements into training. A lot of people get stuck in the mould of what they see on YouTube, whereas I try to break that mould and be completely unique.
“A lot of people get stuck in the mould from what they see on YouTube”
Do you have any recommended resources to share (books, seminars, websites, coaches)?
If you are interested in what I do, I would recommend the World Calisthenics Organisation, as they have a comprehensive guide of workshops, which really breaks down all the basic movements and how to set up your own programme. I started out taking that course and now I am fortunate enough to be able to teach it to others, which helps me create more teachers for the future.

What was the best advice you were ever given?
Don’t change who you are, especially in the fitness industry where everybody wants to be or look like somebody else. What a lot of people don’t realise is that we are all completely unique and by trying to be like someone else you are just making the world lose another person.
So, where do you draw your inspiration from?
A lot of the time when I got injured or lost a competition, I would want to give up. When I had initially started my grandmother was my only supporter and this was the time that everyone was telling me that I was wasting my time and that I should go to college instead. My grandmother would sit by the table and count how many push-ups I was doing, supporting me the whole time. After my first year of training, my grandmother sadly passed away and now I do this all for her. I even have a tattoo on my chest that reminds me of her and helps me to continue on my path regardless of whatever is going on in my life. I am not doing this for me anymore, but instead continue doing this to help other people achieve their goals and dreams.
When you start working out what exactly do you do?
The first thing I do is find my source of energy. I usually work out at the end of the day after my classes, and after which I am ready to go to bed. I find my source of energy, whether it comes from a pre-workout drink or even just heavy metal music blasting into my ears. From there I start stretching and warming up. I stretch my split, my wrists, do a few handstands and from there just get straight into it and go crazy.
Tell us about your experience at the Calisthenics Team World Cup?
In 2015, three of my friends and I from Los Angeles went to Bahrain to compete in the Calisthenics World Cup. This was the first team cup of our sport, as it is usually one-on-one style, but this was you representing your country as a team within the competition. We were chosen from the whole of the USA to compete and honestly we didn’t expect to go very far, especially when we had to go against the favourites to win in the first round. To our surprise, we beat the front runners and we moved onto the finals, getting third place overall, losing by just one point. We were upset, but super excited as we never thought we would make it that far!
How do you start of your personal training session with a new client?
So there is a big misconception that you have to be fit to start doing callisthenics, as it does look pretty nerve-wracking to watch people doing flips, handstands, and hanging from their necks when you can only just about do a pushup! There are a thousand levels you need to go through before you get to that standard, and this is something that people don’t see. I like to evaluate how many pushups a client can do, what their form looks like, if they can do jump squats, pull ups, hang etc. By assessing all these little areas I gauge what needs to be worked on to meet certain goals and criteria. Everything depends on the individual client.
Do you have any advice for someone who is just starting out?
Always stretch! I have been doing this for over four years and a lot of the guys that I hang out and train with all have one big regret, and that is when we all started we didn’t stretch enough. We just did a quick warm-up and then jumped on the bars, and because of that most of us got injured within the first six months. Some of us even tore a couple of muscles. I know a couple of people who within the first two years managed to tear their entire bicep muscles off and now they cannot train at all. That is why I urge people to take the time to stretch and don’t do something just because your ego wants you to. Always make sure that your body is ready before you try to do something crazy.
Instagram: @justinshape

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