Finding the right workout is often a challenge, but staying with it once you have found it, presents further obstacles. Christian Klugmann, a German fitness coach in Los Angeles, made it his calling to design individual workout programs that are tailored to one’s specific needs.
The following interview gives insight into Christian’s work but draws also a very personal picture when he shares with us, what initially triggered his passion for sports in the first place. Christian Klugmann, has 15 years of training experience.
He was a member of the German National cycling team, competed in bodybuilding and studied sports economics and media communication in Germany at the University of Technology in Chemnitz.
CHRISTIAN, IT SEEMS THAT SPORT AND FITNESS IN GENERAL HAS ALWAYS BEEN A PART OF YOUR LIFE. BACK IN GERMANY YOU WERE A MEMBER OF THE NATIONAL CYCLING TEAM. HOW DID YOU GET INTO COMPETITIVE CYCLING?
Christian: I grew up with an active family. My father and grandfather used to be cyclists and as a child I was always excited to see my father’s “Race Machine”, which looked so different from the bike I had. For a child, riding a bicycle can be really exciting. You can reach a pretty high speed, and being so much faster than walking – that’s a lot of freedom during your young years!
Growing up in East Germany, I was introduced to competitive cycling early on since cycling was a national sport and promoted through the biggest cycling event in Eastern Europe called the “Peace Race ” (German: Friedensfahrt). I also remember that cycling grew in importance to me, when they showed the Hollywood movie “BMX Bandits” in East Germany. It starred a young Nicole Kidman and I believe this movie, subconsciously, could have something to do with my passion for cycling. It left a strong impression! After that movie, I wanted a BMX bike and my dad made one for me that looked just like the one in the movie – it was red and looked really cool. I still have it back in Germany. All my friends had one too and we became known as the ‘BMX Bandits’ in our own town.
At that time I was actually still in a swimming club, since they didn’t have cycling training for young kids then. It wasn’t recommended to start training too early. In fact, cycling as a sport doesn’t regularly start before the age of 12-13 with the U12 competitions. That’s also when I started.
HOW MANY YEARS DID YOU COMPETE WITH THE NATIONAL TEAM AND HOW CHALLENGING WAS THE TRAINING?
Christian: To be a part of the National Team one needed to be selected. Based on one’s results in competition at special races, the coaches chose who could become a National Team member. I competed with the National Team for 3 years, however I started competing at 13 and we had up to 40 competitions a year (national and a few international ones too) all around Germany and Europe. These were all for serious, young cyclists.
Cycling is a very intense sport and the training schedule is absolutely time-consuming. But that’s what it takes to win. You need to have total commitment. The training schedule depends on the age; however as a 17-18 year old it could happen that you have to ride between 20,000km (ca. 12,400 miles) to 25,000km (ca. 15,500 miles) per week.
DO YOU STILL PARTICIPATE IN CYCLING COMPETITIONS TODAY?
Christian: Not as competitor, but you can find me sometimes in the audience.
Christian you turned your passion for sports and fitness into your profession and started to train some clients already in Berlin before coming out to Southern California. When making L.A. your home it just seemed a given to continue your work as a personal fitness coach. I assume fitness has an all year round season here in Southern California.
WHEN ARE THE BUSY TIMES FOR A CALIFORNIA FITNESS COACH? DO YOU OBSERVE AN INCREASE IN REQUESTS AROUND NEW YEAR & JANUARY?
Christian: Of course, people would think so – however I’m experiencing “New Year’s resolutions” these days that make people work out less and less! To answer your question though, I actually receive requests throughout the entire year. It is very common for people to contact me when they start preparing for a certain event. Before a wedding, a marathon or a movie appearance they call me, so they can get in the best shape of their lives. The biggest motivator is still weight loss and body toning, combined with muscle growth.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT TRENDY FITNESS PROGRAMS LIKE PILATES, PURE BARRE, HOT YOGA ETC. AND PROGRAMS LIKE P90X?
Christian: All those workouts do the job: Getting people fit and helping them to start working on themselves. Many people just don’t feel comfortable in a weight room and look for alternatives to going to a regular gym and choose programs like you mentioned.
I’m a little bit skeptical of these home TV workouts. We all need a routine to progress. However with these “in home workouts” that one does with the TV in the living room, I am not sure if people stay motivated and keep the momentum going from one session to the next. Besides working out in the same room where you usually relax and have a glass of wine makes me think that it must be hard to get in the right workout mood.
Why do people still go into the office, even though they could work from home? Because of a certain work environment that keeps one focused on work. That’s the same for working out. You need to be serious about it as well. I like the comparison to learning a language. It’s theoretically possible to learn a language by audio or video. However, how many people actually do that successfully? Most people realize after a few lessons that they are not consistent enough to get the right results.
FITNESS – WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU?
Christian: I love to spread the idea of fitness. To me health and fitness is for everyone, no matter if young, old or a child. We all need the balance of body and mind. Most important when working out is having a goal. Also, one needs a lot of faith, faith in oneself. Having a strong mind is also essential – otherwise it’s going to be hard. A ‘work-out’ goal most often cannot be reached just from one session to the other. One has to be consistent and stay focused on the goal despite the fact that results might show slowly. The great thing about any sport is, that it teaches you skills, like discipline, that will help you succeed also in other life situations, such as your business life.
YOU PREFER CLASSIC WEIGHT TRAINING TO ALL OTHER FITNESS PROGRAMS. WHY?
Christian: I believe weight training is the only way to train the whole body. There is no other form of exercise that can better train each and every body part. Let’s say you are a basketball player and need stronger calves to jump better, or you want to improve the Achilles tension so you can perform better. With weight training you can train exactly these specific parts of your body. In fact there is a machine for it, ‘calves raises’, that is exclusively designed for this. If a tennis player wants to improve the strength of his/her wrist, then there is no better exercise than having a barbell in your hand and doing ‘wrist curls’. You had an injury in your shoulder? There is a special exercise to rebuild a weak shoulder!
Many people go out to train and improve the body just in one direction; the long distance runner runs and runs and runs, and what he gets is more endurance, but his muscle cells and his whole body collapses. Others concentrate only on stretching, like with yoga – the result is great flexibility, but there is no work on endurance or muscles. That’s why it is important to arrange a workout plan according to one’s particular body composition and to create balance.
WHAT ARE YOUR SUGGESTIONS FOR STAYING WITH A WORKOUT PROGRAM AND NOT QUITTING EARLY?
Christian: It’s important to start easy and with moderation, and then slowly move towards more intense exercises. Many people experience a lot of enthusiasm during the first week. They train hard and get sore. But by the following week already the workout seems so much harder and eventually they stop working out completely. This is perfectly normal. In fact it happens to me too.
What we all need is a great training partner – a personal trainer, to be more precise. Somebody who motivates, stands behind you and tells you even what to do. I also do my workout together with a personal trainer or a training partner who is on my level, when I prepare for a competition. We inspire each other and make sure that we stay focused. Everyone has a weak spot, and to have someone who holds us accountable at the moment of weakness helps us getting through the hard and weary times of a workout. That’s what a personal trainer is here for.
KEEPING YOUR BODY FIT WITH EXERCISE IS IMPORTANT, BUT KEEPING IT STRONG MEANS ALSO LIVING HEALTHY WITH HEALTHY EATING HABITS. WHAT’S YOUR ADVICE?
Christian: Nutrition is extremely important for improving sports and fitness performance. I give my clients expert nutritional guidance to compliment my workout suggestions. In my personalized fitness program I address also questions like: What is the best diet for a specific person? How can he/she lose weight and keep it afterwards? I’m also working hand in hand with a nutritionist to handle more complicated questions. Nutrition is a complex topic. It is extremely dependent on the individual body type. Some tips – common, yet nevertheless essential:
- In order for us to lose weight we need to adjust our daily calories and leave out certain products like sugar and high carbohydrate loaded products.
- Junk food and soda are the easiest items that we should start eliminating.
- Also, we need to increase protein in our diet to generate muscle grow.
- Very important is to adjust our water level. It’s important to drink more than usual and help our body in staying hydrated to recuperate faster.
YOU ARE INVOLVED IN A VARIOUS NON-PROFIT PROJECTS IN LOS ANGELES. CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT SOME OF THEM?
Christian: For me it has always been important to be involved. For Susan G. Komen and the Fight Against Breast Cancer I am volunteering as a personal trainer at the moment. During 2011, I will be responsible for helping participants prepare for the “Race for the Cure®” and additionally I will give people advice on the Susan G. Komen Website (link below). As you might know, Susan G. Komen is America’s most widely known and best-funded breast cancer organization and has invested over $1.5 billion for breast cancer awareness, research, and health services.
Why this organization? I have a very personal experience that makes me understand what breast cancer really means, not only to the patient but also to family and friends, who are closest to the patient. In February 2007 my mother passed away because of breast cancer. She was only 47 years old!
Another project I am engaged with is the City of Los Angeles’, Department of Transportation, Pedestrian and Bicycle safety program. As part of a team that visits elementary schools, I serve as a spokesperson and educate the young students on how to ride a bicycle safely and teach them about what is most important to prevent accidents.
This project caught my attention since I had my own traumatic experience as a child: When I was 7 years old, I crashed my bicycle into a car while making a left turn. I had forgotten to look over my shoulder! Luckily, the car’s driver was a medical doctor and performed the best first aid a person could possibly get. Of course your own experiences shape and influence you, but they also make you believe in what you do and others can feel that.
WHAT’S YOUR OPINION ON LIFE HERE IN CA VERSUS LIFE IN GERMANY? DO YOU FEEL HOMESICK AT TIMES?
Christian: It is always difficult to compare one’s homeland to a different country, let alone the one that I am considering my home now. There are pros and cons for both. I believe anybody who grew up in a country different to the one they are living in now, misses home sometimes. That’s normal.
Let’s just pick two different topics for comparison : weather and public transportation. Take the weather; it’s great here and not great in Germany – however public transportation is excellent in Germany and well, it’s terrible here. Therefore, I’m going to pass on choosing which place is better.
Thank you Christian for taking the time to speak with CaliforniaGermans and for sharing your thoughts with us on Fitness but also on life in general.
Christian Klugmann can be reached at email@example.com More Information can also be found on Christian’s website at www.champ-coach.com
This article can be reprinted if the following information is printed: By CaliforniaGermans, CaliforniaGermans@gmail.com, http://www.CaliforniaGermans.com