A conversation with trainer Vinny Colantuono
Interviewer: Mike Heitz, Redprint co-founder/CEO
Interviewee: Vinny Colantuono
Mike: How did you get started in fitness, and what motivated you to start?
Vinny: When I first started in fitness, I was playing D1 college soccer, and I was training to be the best on the field as an athlete. And then after my career ended, I decided to take a healthier route in regard to working out for both my physical and mental health. that kind of inspired me to, you know, be a better person in and outside of the gym and allowed me to be successful in other parts of my life.
Mike: Who taught you how to go to the gym and workout?
Vinny: That's a great question too. So my dad taught me how to lift when I was around 13 years old. Great memories with him. I still lift with him to this day. He's like 60 years old, still lifting. So he was the first person that taught me, but it was more like old school lifting. You know, just heavy compound movements.
But then as I went through my undergrad career and met coaches that were doing high level functional conditioning, that really interested me. Those coaches allowed me to gain more experience and knowledge on stuff like that. So I went from old school training to new school research backed functional training in the past 10 years.
Mike: In the beginning when you were first learning how to go to the gym, what was the biggest challenge for you?
Vinny: When I first just got into the gym, I would say comparison to others was the biggest thing. You want to attain some physical goal. You know, having a six pack or bigger shoulders, bigger chest, and you see people that are doing that and you're like, how do I get there?
You want to do that instantly, so it was a challenge for me to delay that gratification. Because fitness is more just a journey, there's no goal, there's always gonna be the next one. So I just had to learn that over the past 10, 12 years of training.
Mike: Where did you turn when you had questions to learn more about fitness? This might be your dad, it could be your coaches.
Vinny: So In high school, college, I would go to kids that were a couple years older and they would give me that kind of knowledge. But then even just doing my own research allowed me to gain more confidence knowing that I know what to do when I go to the gym. So you have to do your own research as well and not just take it from word of mouth.
Mike: When you were doing research, where would you look?
Vinny: I made sure that everything was backed by coaches and research. So honestly, Google's your friend, but you're going to get a lot of misconceptions. I feel like a lot of trainers tell you, oh, just Google it.
It's not really going to be the research back and scientific where it's going to give you those results. So I made sure it was from a journal or something like that.
Mike: One of the biggest struggles for people when they start off is social anxiety. When they walk in, like you said, in reality, almost no one is judging you, they're worried about themselves and yet it's so easy to assume everyone is looking at you.
So that social anxiety is a major issue for people starting out. Social connections can help, having friends in there that you recognize that you can connect with. How did you make social connections in the gym?
Vinny: Before I would go to the gym or before I started, I reached out to friends that I knew in class, in college or that I study with.
I would ask them, do you wanna come to the gym? Even if they never went to the gym before, it allowed me to feel like I was inspiring them to lift. So that boosted my confidence. Once you go to the gym and you see people often and you make that subtle eye contact, the next time you smile at them or whatever, just walk into the gym thinking that you're gonna create a positive outlook for others.
You're going up to someone telling 'em, oh, nice bench press. Of course you need to survey the atmosphere before you do that. But I think if it's someone that you've seen often at the gym, you can make that connection with. Here at Marist, I've made so many friends by just waving at them to the gym and then leaving, but then the next time seeing them, "Hey, what's up man?", "How are you doing?" And then move on.
Mike: What are your personal fitness goals?
Vinny: I've run a marathon before. I've done half marathons before. I've tried to PR in different things. My next fitness goal is running a 50 mile ultra marathon next May. So May, 2024. It's a 50 mile trail race in Mohawk Preserve. I've been training for that.
Mike: How do you stay so motivated to do all those things?
Vinny: I truly believe that motivation comes and goes, and no one's a hundred percent motivated every day. People on social media, you might see them and think, oh, they're still motivated every day.
Most days it's really hard to stay motivated. What I personally think would help people to stay motivated is to look back and show that you have undeniable proof that you did that certain thing. It doesn't have to be, oh, I have proof that I just benched 135 pounds.
It's proof that you showed up to the gym. Then stacked that win, now I showed up to the gym, I did chest that day. So you have that undeniable proof that you did it . That can keep you internally motivated to keep going back because you're seeing those wins stack day after day or week after week.
Mike: I think it is an important piece of insight because like you said, there's so many people online pushing motivation, grind, someone like David Goggins or so who's preaching go, go, go, go, go. Everybody has the moments when they're not as motivated and no one wants to admit it, but it's normal. It's natural.
Mike: So this is a topic that is more prevalent as of the last few years. It seems that people are starting to recognize that physical fitness is obviously measurably beneficial physically, but perhaps even more important, beneficial mentally. From a personal perspective what effect do you think going to the gym has on your own mental health?
Vinny: Of course, the physical benefits of exercise are huge, but more and more, research that comes out shows that mentally, when you exercise, you release different chemicals that you don't even know about, nor I want you to care about, just understand that once you exercise, all these feel-good chemicals are released and you feel as though you're at the top. You feel confident, you feel happy. A lot of those sad or angry thoughts have gone away and people probably definitely feel that, but they don't know.
It's just understanding that pushing yourself in the gym allows you to build this mental callousness of, I can push myself, and you're arming your brain and to be able to get through life and its challenges. So mentally, you're cultivating a resilient mindset through fitness.
So it's not just about looking good with big biceps and big shoulders, but also remembering that you're building a mind. It can take you places just by showing up to the gym.
Mike: What is one fitness trend or misconception that you dislike?
Vinny: That you can't run and lift weights.
I've seen so many people saying that if you're running, you're going to lose weight, you're going to lose muscle. That is a total misconception, a total lie. I think it all depends on how you eat, how you recover, and making sure that your training program allows you to still build muscle while running certain mileages at the correct pace, duration, intensity.
So if you do like running and you do like lifting and you're afraid to do both, you could definitely do it.
Mike: What tips do you have for those students who are interested in getting fit but are scared or nervous to get started?
Vinny: One of the biggest things is to find someone that you want to be like. Yes, we always have to remember, you want to be yourself, be authentic, but find a mentor that is doing something that you want to do.
Pick their brain about it. Ask them, not how to do it, but what are the failures that they had? So then you can learn from those, turn those into your strengths so we can get you to your goals faster.
I would also say surround yourself with people that are positive and want to go to the gym. People that will pick you up when you might feel a little depressed. Have an accountability partner that can help you.
I think an amazing thing about Redprint is you can have those accountability partners just through messaging that can help someone stay externally and internally motivated to go to the gym.
Mike: Where can people find you?
Vinny: People can find you at Instagram at @vinny_colantuono, and truepowerptp.com.You can also find me on Redprint @coachvinny. I have some instructional videos in there that you can see me. You can also message me through that app and I take direct messages from Instagram. You can also set up some phone calls through my website to see if true power in training with me could help you.