My Journey from Meathead to Movement

Giovanni Roselli | 19 Apr 2015

Bless me fitness gods for I have sinned. It has been six years since my last meathead workout. Here are some of my sins:

  • I performed bicep curls in the squat rack.
  • I did sit-ups. A lot of them. 
  • I trained in high-top basketball sneakers because I liked the way they looked.
  • My dynamic warm-up and movement prep consisted of one set of 135lbs on the bench. 

As my penance, I have been given: daily mobility work, training the body as a unit instead of in isolation, and soft tissue care via rolling/trigger point, massaging, and rolfing. 

Don’t worry. This isn’t going to be one long article bashing bodybuilding. I used to work out like a bodybuilder, and guess what? It worked. I put on muscle, got big, and got strong. The human body will adapt to the stimulus we provide to it. I, like many teenagers and young adults, began working out by isolating muscles and doing a traditional bodybuilder split; and my body adapted. 

Oh yea—and I had this crazy dream of becoming a professional wrestler, and look at the size of those guys!

I now spend more time training my foot and ankle than I do my chest and triceps. I’m Giovanni Roselli; I’m a converted meathead, and here’s my story.  

Transformation Begins

After a lot of hard work and dedication, I achieved my goal of becoming a professional wrestler and traveled around the world with WWE. When I entered the fitness industry, I said to myself, “How hard could this fitness training thing be? Just do what I do and you’ll be in shape just like me.” I was wrong.

I did what I thought was best. I see a lot of trainers making the same mistakes that I made. Just because you train a lot of clients, or pack your classes, it doesn’t automatically make you a superior trainer.  

I was very fortunate to begin my fitness career working for Equinox, which provided me with an amazing educational platform. The company has helped me look at fitness with a new set of eyes.  After several years, I began transforming from a “trainer” into a “coach” through their Tier 4 program. I was a trainer. I’m still working on being a coach; that journey will never end.          

I looked the way I wanted but always felt tight. I knew I needed to change. Before the age of 30, I went through four major orthopedic surgeries. Did it help that I was a professional wrestler? No.  Could some of these injuries have been prevented or not as severe if I trained differently? That is up for debate.

Backstage at a wrestling show 10 years ago (I liked muscles…and facial hair)

Sowing The Seeds

Renowned strength coach Mike Boyle uses a great analogy: working out is a lot like farming. The farmer gets his soil ready, plants the seeds, and then waits. To an inexperienced eye, it may not look like much is happening but then, eventually, what is planted starts to grow. A farmer also knows the importance of caring for the land. Crops will be adversely impacted if they are given either too much water or not enough.

I wholeheartedly trust the law of the farm. If I do these mobility drills enough, if I start training much more multidirectionally, if I start to work on owning my own bodyweight, I may not see immediate results and improvements, but they will come.

Oftentimes, individuals don’t give exercise the patience it needs. But what comes easy won’t last and what lasts doesn’t come easy. 

Mike Fitch’s Animal Flow now plays a significant role in my training

A Long Journey

Michol Dalcourt, founder of Institute of Motion and inventor of ViPR, often reminds us: “Our minds are like parachutes, they only work when they’re open.” Once I committed with an open mind, it’s amazing how things just started falling into place with my own body as well as my training mindset.

The ViPR has helped my mobility tremendously while strengthening my weak links

Is There A Better Way?

I still believe that traditional bodybuilding exercises can have a place in our workouts. However, I question whether focusing on only one form of exercise is the optimal way to treat our bodies. I often hear:

  • “My shoulders usually bother me” – says the individual who isolates body parts.
  • “I used to run almost everyday but I had to stop because of chronic knee pain” – says the former runner. 
  • “My lower back always ends up hurting” – says the dedicated boot camper.                                         

What’s Next?

I’ve come a long way, but I still have a long way to go. I will continue to plant my seeds, water them, care for them, and watch them grow. 

We often hear individuals say, “As I look back on my life I wouldn’t change a thing, everything happens for a reason.” Not me! I would go back in time and tell my younger self to stop doing sit-ups, stop working out so one-dimensionally, and start learning about how the human body truly functions. 

On the other hand, maybe I had to go through that place to get to this place.

One of my favorite speakers, pastor Joel Osteen, often reminds us, “We may not be where we want to be, but thank God we’re not where we used to be.”

Confession complete. Amen. 

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Giovanni Roselli

About the author: Giovanni Roselli

Giovanni Roselli, a former WWE professional wrestler, is currently a Master Instructor for Institute of Motion and ViPR PRO.  He creates content and consults for many top fitness organizations including Nike, 24 Hour Fitness, Purlife Fitness Centers, and is the creator of the Equinox national signature group fitness class, 'Fully Loaded.'  Most recently, he was awarded PFP Trainer Of The Month and nominated as a Trainer Of The Year finalist.  You can often find him working with the Exercise Science students at Florida Atlantic University and instructing additional workshops for Kettlebell Athletics and CoreTex.  His television appearances include NBC's 'Today Show' and National Geographic's 'Brain Games'.

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