“Zach The Dude” is truly a one of a kind trainer. Originally from Woodinville Washington, Zach moved down to the Dominican Republic over 8 years ago. I had the privilege of meeting Zach when I moved down to the DR to manage the eco-fitness resort where his gym previoulsy named Rogue Fitness is was located.
Now known as Zeno Fitness, Zach’s life and training philosophy is guided by three principles: benevolence, the Tao, and sports. His training system integrates individual needs with intelligent program design to produce a unique, nutritionally integrated lifestyle that guarantees results.
Zach believes that health is an attitude, it begins with your body and is continued with your mind; “the transformations I have influenced are a direct result of my synergistic approach to fitness that molds every client into an independent, balanced athlete.”
With great pleasure, I am excited to share with you my interview with “Zach the Dude”!
Genevieve: Explain to me your philosophy on health and wellness?
Zach: My philosophy on health and wellness is intertwined with sport and zen. I find great pleasure in both and they are a fantastic yin and yang. Zen gives me clarity and purpose. Sport provides challenge and expression. Sometimes their roles are flipped. Both create fulfillment and longevity. A mindful practice towards mastery. I don’t focus on mastery but rather useful skills that bring a mastery to life. There is always something to learn when you are both the student and teacher. Both require equal skill and understanding. You learn and evolve. No different than art or dance. There is no destination. When there isn’t a finish line (body image), you are free to explore fitness for life. Use both your head and your heart to deepen your self love and strength. Be you! Embrace change and focus on compassionate growth. As my boy Mooji once said-
“Step into the fire of self-discovery. This fire will not burn you, it will only burn what you are not.”
G: In your opinion, what are the cornerstones for optimum health?
Z: Eat broccoli and don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Period.
G: What is the biggest mistake the average person will make when deciding to “become more healthy”?
Z: That health is made through fitness. I cannot stress enough the importance of food. Lame answer I know but imagine you are an athlete. Fitness is your offence and nutrition your defence. The ego always wants offence because it’s exciting and the numbers go up. Truth is defence wins games and greatness. Nutrition starts with education and ends with habit.
G: Why is it important to “check-in” with yourself when changing your eating habits?
Z: It’s important because no one will know your body better than you. The results and effects are subject to each individual. If you don’t like it you most likely won’t keep it up. If it makes sense and you feel a positive change you will. If you don’t know create a dialogue you will simply be spinning your wheels.
G: How can being “mindful” make the greatness difference in your overall health?
Z: Mindfulness is a habit that transcends all aspects of life. Mindful reflection cleans the mind’s mirror. Days can get messy. Some days glitter and lipstick. Some days blood, sweat and tears. Either way the mirror needs cleaning to see yourself clearly again. Mindfulness creates this raw transparency and ultimate gratitude. I hope as I draw these images of self you aren’t focusing on your ass and abs because these words of fulfillment and gratitude aren’t seen there. They are seen in your smile, eyes and your posture. Make your mirror smaller. When i see bags under my eyes and my shoulders slouched down I notice it. I identify the negative and out of self love, make the change. I expect to see light in my eyes and a smile on my face when I do the things that are important to me. You can see true health from the shoulders up.
G: What are the biggest wastes of time in training and nutrition?
Z: You are wasting your time if you plan on relying on someone else. Each workout and recipe is a lesson. It means you should be learning and developing with each session. Find trainers and coaches that inspire and fascinate you. They could be anywhere. You may just have to find them. When you do commit yourself. Ask questions and become a student and not just a client. Good training is not militarized and unpleasant. Training and nutrition should be a way of expression. Simply by creating new workouts or cooking new recipes. You are capable of so much more. Discover your trust.
G: How would you prioritize sleep, food, and exercise?
Z: Sleep is important but it typically reflects what you are doing and eating. Those who eat crap and sit all day rarely wake up feeling refreshed. Doesn’t matter if it is 5 hours or 10 hours. You still aren’t nurturing the organism that needs all 3. Like a plant you with soil, water, and sun. Not too much, not too little. As the plant grows and flowers, the needs may change. These are the check ins we were talking about. Self examination is paramount.
G: What are your thoughts on a morning routine, and what is yours?
Z: Morning routine is an true essence of zen. Mornings are pure and fundamental. Mornings offer the rare opportunity to reset or continue. I try to create perfect little mornings that blossom into perfect big days. My mornings often change with the weather and waves but my habits rise and shine. Here they are.
Glass of water with lime, lemon, apple cider vinegar, or coconut vinegar.
Whole point here is to hydrate and alkalize first thing. Water wakes me up a bit while alkalizing my stomach to start the day.
2-40 mins of reflection and/or baby snuggling
I allocate an hour everyday for this. Sometimes I use the full hour, sometimes I don’t. Baby snuggling is #1 priority.
Coffee or green tea
I have coffee or tea after some time because I like the raw morning mind. It can be foggy but also very beautiful. Just like the morning mist.
Hunger check in
When do I first feel the urge to eat. I eat at 12pm nearly every day so when hunger comes before then I ask myself.
Did I eat pizza last night?
Do I really need some food?
If I ate pizza or any hormone crashing food the night before. I wake up hungry. Not because I need food but rather my hormones and a mess and hunger is a result of these kind of meals. High calorie low nutrient food is a snowball that builds into a mountain. I know this and tell myself to suck it up and eat some nutritious food at 12.
There is also the case of “whoa I didn’t eat much yesterday and i surfed all day” I am feeling hungry because my body wants nutrients. If I am feeling sluggish or I identify this hanger as natural. I eat a nutritious meal.
G: What are your favourite mobility exercises?
I love shoulder openers because so many people desperately need them. Praying dolphin stretch and pass throughs are my 2 favourites. Passthroughs because they are super simple and great for maintenance and a shoulder check in.
Praying dolphin because it is a rare pose that stretches the giant and stubborn lats as well as the shoulder.