As a trainer I know how difficult it can be to stay motivated to create new programs for clients and keep up my own training. I have always admired Craig Ballantyne, a Toronto-based strength and conditioning coach, a Men’s Health magazine training expert, a member of the Training Advisory Board for Oxygen magazine, and the creator of Turbulence Training, a home-based mostly body weight fitness program that has now expanded into over a dozen programs with a solid member community and a small army of sales affiliates. I was lucky enough to interview Craig and was impressed by his generosity and knowledge.
Craig, your general program is revolutionary in its simplicity. What first drove you to create a body weight home fitness product?
It all started back when my friends finished college. This was in the early 2000s, and every day it seemed like I was getting the same email from friends asking me to design a short, burst workout for them.
Eventually I stopped doing individual programs and created one manual that fit all their goals of getting lean. And so that's what I called my first program, "Get Lean." It has since evolved into Turbulence Training.
Your programs have clear elements of Olympic weight training and arguably some Pilates basics. What exercise methods have you studied and how do they inform your work?
I have spent tens of thousands of hours in the gym training everyone from world-class athletes to overweight 70-year-olds with bad backs and knees. I also regularly read training journals and many research studies to stay up on what's new. Things change - for example, ab training has changed a lot in the last ten years based on new science. It's important to stay current.
I'm also lucky to know some of the smartest trainers in the world.
When new research comes out do you ever find yourself having to go back and change any parts of your earlier work or approach? Or do you find that the old school approach works regardless?
New research tends to help me improve my workouts, by making a tweak here or there to the fat burning process. For example, research from 2009 suggested that shuttle runs (sprints with a change in direction) caused a greater metabolic response. So I started using that as well.
Sometimes research simply justifies what we are doing already.
Fitness seems to run on themes - core training, metabolic training, body weight, etc. In my 23 years in this industry I have generally stuck to what I know works regardless of what the experts say. It strikes me that you do the same, yet you still manage to create new products that fit the current themes. I am sure that many of your affiliates and fans would love some insight into how you do that.
I continue to take what works and combine it with new exercises and new research to create the new products. I'm also lucky to have tens of thousands of 'experimental subjects' all over the world, and so we can try new things in Turbulence Training workouts; if they work, we do more of that.
How important are the tools - dumbbells, kettlebells, TRX? I love them all, but at the end of the day an old school Pilates mat class or body weight workout can kick some serious butt. What's your preference?
I prefer to workout with barbells in my own workouts. Tools are necessary for certain results.
If any of my readers want to start Turbulence Training, which program do you recommend to rank beginners? To experienced exercisers new to Turbulence Training? To people with chronic back pain? To the overweight?
The Turbulence Training Total Torso Training programs have been designed with beginners in mind based on the work I've done with older clients who have not been exercising on a regular basis. This will help them lose fat and improve their torso strength and endurance.
I highly recommend Craig's programs for anyone who wants to keep fit at home and on the road.