Interview with Team Canada Coach Peter Roberts
1. You left law school to become a full time nutrition, strength and conditioning coach, was that a tough decision? When did you realize this was the right decision for you?
It was a surprisingly easy decision. I knew in my gut that I didn’t want to pursue law very soon after arriving at law school. It was a competitive, intense environment. Because most of the other students really wanted to be there and excel, the contrast between their attitude and my own became beyond obvious. It just took a little bit of time for me to think it through and pull the plug. Once I started coaching, if felt like I got my mojo back. I was excited to be there every day. For me, coach goes well beyond a job. It’s a passion. I’m still grateful for the chance to do something that fills me up.
2. Talk to us about Team Canada Basketball and Rugby League Canada, who were some memorable players you’ve worked with? Do you still keep in touch with them?
First I want to say that working in organized competitive sport environments if fun. The stakes feel higher and most athletes are motivated. Although there are always a few exceptions who don’t like working out and can get by on natural talent.. That can be a challenge. At the same time, I enjoy working with so-called “average” people with more modest goals just as much. Sometimes there can be more red tape with competitive sports that you don’t get with regular individuals.
Having said that, a client had referred a member of Canada’s female national basketball team to me during her off-season. We do keep in touch. She’s still one of my best friends. Based on the work we did, I was asked to consult with their brass on some ideas for youth player development.
With the Rugby guys there was always a lot going on. It’s a brutal sport. A lot of them were carrying injuries that had to be worked around. So you’re trying to get them faster and fitter in the off-season, but also make them as robust as you can so they can weather the season. Then during their season you’re trying to maintain fitness and keep them as healthy as possible. I got on really well with their team captain, who eventually was hired as their coach. Another notable player (since retired) and fan favorite was a giant powerhouse of a man named Enoch. His stiff arms were legendary. Defenders would go flying. He was already so strong, but when we were able to improve his fitness it was fun to see him stay in the game longer without tiring out and making an even bigger impact out there.
3. You have e-books, Youtube videos, worksheets, recipes… all sorts of resources. What are you most excited about right now? What’s in store for 2019?
Two things. First, at my gym Quantum Crossift, we’ve started working with an incredible chiropractor named Dr. Kirsten Wishloff. I’m fired up to collaborate with her and upgrade my knowledge on a few areas. I always love the chance to copy good ideas from other knowledgeable people!
Second, I’ve got some more great content planned for this year. I’ve covered a lot of the basics already with my existing material, but I’ll have some new stuff coming out on: some amazing new healthy recipes; balance & single leg stability progressions; shoulder function & training; an updated look at ‘structural balance’, a term coined by the late Charles Poliquin; and some counter-intuitive but effective approaches to diet that seem to be working really well for some of my clients. So stay tuned for that and more!
4. For someone that is on their journey of becoming the healthiest version of him/herself, what book or video would you recommend to get started?
There are so many good ones. For a solid overview of everything I think “How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy” by Paul Chek covers a lot of good material. For basic nutrition info Precision Nutrition (website) has lots of useful information. If you’re looking for some no-nonsense info on eating for muscle mass, The Renaissance Diet ebook is a nice starting point. And those those who lift, I strongly recommend reading “The Gift of Injury” by Brian Carroll and Dr. Stuart McGill. If you’re new to lifting, I’m really proud of the free “Learn to Lift” program that we put together with the top coaches at my gym. It has tons of free video content and some excellent workouts for beginners. You can find that here:
5. If there is one resource that EVERYONE should check out from www.PeterRobertsCoaching.com, what would it be?
That would really depend on their individual goals and needs, but these are a few really useful articles that cover information which I haven’t seen on many (if any) other sources:
An effective template for using smoothies and shakes as meal replacements: http://www.peterrobertscoaching.com/blog/2015/9/29/prc-shake-guide
The Quantum Nutrition Guide we put together for our gym. It covers all the basics in a very simple, practical way : http://www.crossfitquantum.com/quantum-nutrition-manual-level-1
Understanding Training Age. This is essential for anyone who trains and wants to get better. http://www.peterrobertscoaching.com/blog/how-your-training-age-affects-your-current-future-fitness-goalsUnderstanding the best ways to achieve the 10 most common fitness goals. Each training method has different pros and cons. By understanding them you can determine the best way to achieve your goal: http://www.peterrobertscoaching.com/blog/the-best-and-worst-ways-to-achieve-the-10-most-common-fitness-goals
6. What is your take on eating healthy and consistently? How can we control our cravings and maintain a good habit?
The best nutrition is the one that you’ll do consistently for years to come. That means we need to recognize that healthy eating exists on a continuum. It’s not all or nothing. If you’re just starting out, you don’t need a perfect diet. You just need a better diet – enough to see results. On the other hand, if you want exceptional results, that means accepting the trade-offs and lifestyle that come with the territory. If you want seriously chiseled abs that means you also must want to adhere to a strict nutrition regime with the utmost consistency. It comes down to being honest about how big of a priority your nutrition is when compared to the other competing goals in your life and all the other demands on your time.
Everyone needs to find the right balance between results they can be excited about and a plan that they can actually sustain in the long-run. That’s how you ultimately become consistent and successful.
The second thing is figuring out how to make it easier to eat healthy. There are so many techniques that can work wonders. To start, I recommend that everyone take a minute to plan out their meals and snacks for the upcoming day. Whether you’ll be eating out or cooking all of your meals, have a plan. If you’re always reactive to the chaotic events of the day, you’ll always be behind the eight ball. I also suggest that you brainstorm some decent back-up meal options. Have a few go-to take-out meals near home and the office, and have a few things in the pantry that take very little effort to whip up. Plan A isn’t always going to work, so you need something easy to fall back on instead of eating a pizza for dinner.
7. What is your fitness philosophy all about?
There’s a lot that goes into it! Designing a program for long-term improvement, teaching technique in a way that’s intuitive for clients to pick-up, and then building a good working relationship are all an art and science in their own right.
But here are the big themes:
One, everyone is different in their goals, needs, starting point, recovery ability, injury history, amount of time they have to train, overall potential, etc. So everyone’s exercise prescription should be different to maximize their individual results. To optimize a training plan, you need to start with a series of assessments to find their true starting point and to give some shape to the plan’s initial stages. Otherwise we’re just playing a guessing game.
Two, I like to keep things simple. The basics are the basics for a reason. They might not look flashy, but they work. My job is to help people master them over time and to design a program that allows for that progress. A lot of this has to do with being rigorous about proper exercise technique as well as effectively addressing any weak areas on that individual. Otherwise injury and stagnation creep in. If we can get the body’s different muscle groups functioning in good balance, good things happen!
Three, I need to have trust and clear communication with any client to be effective. That takes honestly and means setting up expectations from day one. Sometimes you have to say things that are uncomfortable, hold people back from themselves, or push some people a little harder than they’re used to. But if you can tell it like it is while having some humanity and compassion, you can be very effective at getting the best from your people.
8. Do you have a quick set of exercises to recommend for the average office worker / busy parent?
This depends greatly on ability and goals, but if you’re not doing anything now and you want the simplest thing to get in shape, I really like air bikes like the Airdyne or Assault Bike. They’re about as safe as any exercise can get, require no special skill or technique, and you can get an effective workout done in a short amount of time. You don’t even really need to warm-up up before you hop on. And believe me, they might look simple, buy they can be deadly!
If you can squeeze in 15mins to do intervals on the bike and tighten up your nutrition a little, this can take you very far.
Now, if you have more time and the ability to hire a good coach, learning the fundamentals of strength training is invaluable. Most people are looking for strength, fitness and pain free living with longevity. A proper strength training routine should help to re-balance your body and, obviously, get you stronger. Both of which are fundamental for performance and longevity. Since squatting, deadlifting, pulling and pushing exercises are complex exercises, they’re best done with some coaching.
9. As a gym owner, coach and husband, what’s your day to day like?
My day starts a bit later than most people. I’m typically at the gym working from 12noon to 9pm. Over that time I’ll coach some individuals and small groups, as well as write customized programs for clients, and then do some emails and admin work. I also make sure I schedule at least an hour to workout. Nothing gets in the way of that. I always say, “what’s the point of owning a gym if you can’t workout?” How dumb would that be? It’s not always a killer workout, but it feels good to move and sweat a little each day.
In the morning I make a simple breakfast that always includes a good portion of protein and then make lunch. Here are two tips that work for me: I always plan my main meals out the day before so I’m not scrambling and reacting to the day. And I also keep some very basic back-ups on hand to ensure that I always have something decent available. Today for breakfast I didn’t have anything fancy so I relied on one of my Plan-B options. I had a can of salmon, a corn tortilla and an avocado. Was it the best breakfast I’ve ever had? No. Was it relatively healthy and did it taste OK? Yes.
In the evenings I hang out and unwind with my wife or maybe play soccer once or twice a week. As much as possible I strive to get all of my work done during the week so I can relax on the weekends and focus on having fun.
10. Which social media platform is your actual favourite to use? What’s the best way to reach you?
I use Facebook and that’s about it. I actually don’t have a smart phone still (I know!), so I haven’t adopted the newer social media platforms which reply heavily on a mobile device.
The best way to reach me via email. You can shoot me a message here