Welcome to our Gym Shorts series, featuring quick tips from Twin Cities fitness pros. We spotlight the people powering our neighborhood studios and motivating us to keep coming back. Know an inspiring instructor? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tyler Caldwell geeks out on fitness. With a BS in kinesiology from the U of M and a National Strength & Conditioning certification, he’s got more than street cred (though he’s definitely got that, too!) The personal trainer at Los Campeones Blaisdell has been helping people figure out how to take care of their bods for more than a decade, so we asked him to share some of his best practices and wellness wisdom with us. Here’s what he had to say:
Tell me about your fitness journey and how you became an instructor.
As a kid, I was very overweight. I was raised by a single mom, and fitness wasn’t a thing we were exposed to. We were in sports, not necessarily to be healthy but to keep us occupied because we would not have had adult supervision otherwise. In high school, I got physically fitter and fitter, but I didn’t necessarily have a healthy lifestyle yet. It was like, do your sport, go work out, eat whatever is there. I went to community college, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Nothing really clicked. Then I met a few personal trainers, and that piqued my interest. So I went to the U, started studying kinesiology, and I crushed it. It was like, yeah, this makes sense. While I was there, I interned with their D1 athletes. I did some strength and conditioning coaching at high schools. I started personal training on the side. When this place opened up, it felt like a community, a family.
What’s one fitness rule you live by?
Small, low-friction daily habits.
This is actually pretty new for me. About four years ago, I started to run a mile a day. It was after I had gotten on a tread mill one day, and I only lasted 60 seconds. I kid you not, I had to get off, I couldn’t breathe. And I thought I was fit! So I asked myself, what can I do to improve this? I had blood work done before I started running daily, and after just two months, everything changed for me. My blood pressure, cholesterol, everything came down to perfect. I knew if I tried to do more, I wouldn’t stick to it. I decided it didn’t have to be a certain speed, didn’t have to increase distance each month. Just one mile, eight to 10 minutes a day. I think it’s hard for people to realize that you don’t have to keep adding to it, it doesn’t have to keep getting harder. Just start with a simple habit and keep doing it.
What do you think is the most underworked area of the body?
Feet! Modern footwear is designed with a bunch of cushion, particularly under the heel, so we end up putting all our body weight into our heels—walking, running, standing. Essentially we’re saying, stand on a mattress with a peg leg and then show me how you can stay stable with good posture all the way up from there. If we were meant to have peg legs, we’d have tiny little feet and we’d walk around like a pirate with one leg. But we’re not. We have these big, large surface area feet with toes that splay out. We’re meant to use that whole foot, and it’s meant to be strong. When you put it on that soft pad, it just gets weak. So people get plantar fasciitis, foot pain; then it works its way up and they have back pain or hip pain. I’d say 80 percent of the new clients I get, that’s their issue. They’re not utilizing their feet properly, and something up the chain is getting messed up. They go in and get it checked out, they get temporary relief, but then it comes back because they don’t know how to stand or walk. So I work a lot on strengthening feet and teaching people how to reconnect with that part of their body.
What do you love about Los Campeones?
This is where strength meets community. As soon as you’re here and surrounded by all these people, this becomes the norm and you start to implement healthy habits. You walk in and people say hi by name. Everyone here is so connected.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
January 25, 2023