Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Strong Body, Brilliant Brain

Here’s How: Meet Fitness Trainer David McGuire

For a complete change of pace on THE STYLE SALONISTE, Diane talks with top fitness trainer David McGuire about his healthy (and no-nonsense) approach to exercise, working out, staying motivated, and loving your body. Let’s get started.

Top San Francisco exercise trainer, David McGuire is one of the most beloved trainers in California. He’s highly knowledgeable, articulate, direct, fun, positive, insightful, and creative.

David has been my trainer for over three years. I think he is great. I think you’ll find some excellent and useful tips and information here.

David McGuire and Juno on Crissy Field, with the Golden Gate Bridge as backdrop.

I happily inhabit the design and style world where my vocabulary includes words like gauffrage and Givenchy and Galanos and gilt, gadroon, and gorgeous.

But I also inhabit another world—where my vocabulary includes abs, lats, biceps, deadlifts, Smith Machines, dumbbells, weights, and triceps.

Fitness trainer David McGuire is responsible for my on-going passion for increasing strength, heightening stamina and endurance, and maintaining great health.

I told David that my workout goal is always to continue to be strong enough to run fast through an airport after an 11-hour flight. I always want to have the stamina to walk for miles and to run up and down the Metro steps in Paris. I want to dash up palace stairs in India, and hike the Green Gulch Trail to the Zen Center and back on the Coastal Trail. I work out with David so that I will continue to travel across the world for 29 hours, door to door, and hit the ground running. Those, and more, have been my specific goals.

Come and meet David, and to get inside his mind. Many of my super-successful friends in San Francisco are absolutely devoted to David and his motivational teaching. David is so cheerful and inspiring that they get up in the middle of the night, rain or shine, all year, and drive across San Francisco to meet David at outdoor locations around the bay, to spend an hour working out.

David works with people of many fitness levels at these bayside impromptu ‘gyms’. They exercise at his bootcamp…and then head home, shower, and are at work before 9am.

I am not one of those! Writing and editing until midnight, I’m not leaping out of bed at 5am.

I work out with David at a health club in San Francisco, and find his approach is entirely healthy, engaging, sensible, effective, personal, and lots of fun. He is always cheerful.
Come and meet David and be inspired.

DDS: What’s the first essential concept we should all know about exercise?
DA: The human body is designed to move. Movement keeps the body happy, healthy and functioning properly. Every system we have- from respiratory to circulatory to emotional - smiles when it gets put to use on a regular basis. Our physical and emotional states are more conjoined than we can ever imagine. One feeds the other. When your body is healthy and strong, so are you. So we can handle each day with less stress, more patience, confidence and clarity. 

DDS: A quick and effective exercise those of us sitting at a computer for hours?
DM: Sit down and stand up in your chair 100x every hour. Seriously. Do one set of 25 every fifteen minutes. Move your arms any way you want, but move them. Get as many joints working as possible. Rise up on your toes and test your balance. Lift up one leg behind yourself and feel your glutes in action. Each set will take you less than 60 seconds. That’s 4 minutes of activity each hour. Easy. Done.

DDS: Suggestions on getting motivated? Your bootcamps start at 6am, outdoors in San Francisco, in cold, rain, dark, and even watching the sunrise. I’m so impressed. How do they do it?
DM: They’re such an amazing group of people. I’m always impressed with how determined they are. The beauty of San Francisco all around them is certainly a strong motivator, but I also know they’re driven by the mind/body connection. I’m not talking about having the perfect body at all. I’m talking about being healthy, feeling strong, exuding confidence and getting your body moving. Motivation starts in the brain—and knowing the effect and the result of exercise. You can find an activity you love and exercising with a friend at any time. Nothing is stronger than just finding it within yourself and charging forward. 

DDS: Best way to do effective regular exercise with or without a gym or a trainer?
DM: Schedule an appointment with yourself. Put it on your to-do list and make it non-negotiable. I will spend time on ME today. It’s a habit, a pattern and one very solid reason to feel good about myself. Try new things. Group exercise classes are offered everywhere and cover movements from yoga to belly dancing. I promise there’s an exercise class for anyone. There’s energy in the group dynamic and you’ll meet some great people.

DDS: Some equipment to work with at home?
DM: Your body is a wonderful piece of equipment that needs nothing else to keep it fit, healthy and challenged. You don’t need anything but your legs to get your heart rate high. Run up the stairs in your house or building and you can really get going. There are times when you just have to have some weights in your hands. Anywhere I’ve ever lived I’ve had a couple of sets of dumb-bells with me. Just 5, 10 or 15 pounds. The options with these are endless. Nothing fancy, just some old-school weights to throw around and play with.

DDS: Light equipment to take on travels to continue with effective exercise?
DM: I’m a big fan of therabands. They’re different sizes and colors of rubber tubing with sturdy handles on each end. They are available everywhere and can provide a varied resistance level from any angle for any muscle – push, pull, press, twist, hook them around a door handle and it can all be done.

DDS: Turning a walk into a dynamic exercise?
DM: Walking is wonderful, convenient, and can be done anywhere. I challenge anyone who’s walking as the primary source of aerobic activity to change it up. Throw something completely different at your body and enjoy your heart-rate climb and your muscles respond with new soreness. Don’t make it easy on yourself, but have a good time. Some other ideas:

  • change directions--backwards, side to side, diagonal, whatever you feel like that moves the bones in your legs differently than normal.
  • change your stride length. Jump over pretend streams in front of yourself. Jump sideways over cracks in the sidewalk.
  • change levels as much as possible. There’s no question that this turns your caloric burn way up. Ascend swiftly and descend with complete control. Don’t stop when it gets difficult. Challenge yourself. Stairs, benches, curbs, steep hills and trails all hold countless possibilities.
  • skipping (seriously, do it when no one is looking. You know you want to.)
  • sit down and stand up 10 times at every park bench you walk by. Try to get to 100 times before you end your walk.

DDS: Tips on eating after a vigorous workout?
DM: A pre-workout meal should be something simple, low in fat and fiber and easily digestible (fruit, toast with jelly, handful of raisins, oatmeal, juice). The important thing is to have something in your stomach before you even begin exercising. You can’t run a car on empty.

Post-workout food is equally as crucial. In this meal you should enjoy protein and carbohydrates together. Your muscles are broken down. They need the power from a protein to rebuild and the energy from a carb to caffeinate the body. This should be done within 90 minutes of your workout. Keep it low fat. Fat slows down digestion and that’s the last thing you want for your body. Some of my favorites (turkey sandwich, sushi, any type of wrap, a healthy burrito). Again, what do you like? Of course, drink as much water as possible. Stay hydrated.

DDS: An effective 20-minute daily circuit of exercise to do at home?
DM: Move all major muscles, move in every direction and incorporate important things like balance, endurance and flexibility. You can do any combination of the list below, depending on what your goals are and what you enjoy doing. Your 20 minutes should be non-stop action. No resting for more than a minute and no sitting down. Push yourself and get creative.

Squat. One of the absolute best exercises.

Push-up. Start with a good slant in your body and decrease the angle as you get stronger.

Pull something toward yourself. Kneel on a bench and pull something up toward your body.

Use anything heavy you can find.

Lift a weight above your head. Repeat.

Get your heart rate high. Really high. How long can you keep it there? Jog in place, crank out some easy jumping jacks, dance like Beyonce. Whatever you enjoy, do, but keep your furnace on high for 20 minutes.

Stand on one foot and move your body like crazy - reach, bend, twist, look around. Feel your standing leg rooted and strong let one leg do the work of two for a while. Balance only improves with practice and it usually responds pretty quickly.

Stretch. Reach longer and farther than you think you can.


DDS: Life-long fitness. What is the best mindset?
DM: Do what you love and be proud of yourself. Stare in the mirror and like what you see.

There’s a big difference between challenging yourself and beating yourself up. We’re really good at the latter and I truly believe that way of thinking is counterproductive.

With exercise, attitude is everything. I work out for the mental strength and the peace it provides me. I’m more calm, patient and stress-resistant after a workout.

What changes happen with my body or how it looks are secondary. I know what I’m doing is keeping me healthy, strong and ready for anything. I’ll never stop exercising, moving or trying new things. I love it. You have to realize that your body is an amazing, incredible machine designed to move in millions of ways.

I believe in goal setting. Make these goals as complicated or as simple as you want, but there has to be at least one on the table. How else do we see tangible and real results? Achieving these goals, no matter their size is what will get you back into the gym.

DDS: David, thank you so much. You are a great inspiration and the most cheerful person on the planet. Warmest thanks.

Note: David suggests consulting with your physician before embarking on new exercise. He’s an enthusiastic trainer and motivates people of all exercise levels. He suggests: follow his plans sensibly. Work out with a trainer, or join a group at a gym. Start slowly, perhaps with walks around your neighborhood, and perform these exercises appropriately for your fitness level. Get the basics right, then exercise outdoors, at a gym, with friends, or at home.
Good luck! Let us know how it works and how you feel.

Photo credits:
Photos of David’s popular bootcamp were taken in September 2010 overlooking San Francisco Bay (see the Golden Gate Bridge, St. Francis Yacht Club, and Alcatraz in the background) of this very early morning workout. 
Photos of the crack-of-dawn bootcamp exercise class by Fiona Asple.

Photos of David with his beloved dog, Juno, by David’s partner, Tom Dennis.
With thanks. Photographed, September 2010.

David McGuire is a certified trainer and exercise instructor, and he works with clients at many levels of fitness, including those who may be recovering from a sports injury or illness. He is dedicated to motivating his clients, and focuses on fitness, health, and ‘being there’. David McGuire says he admires every client who ‘turns up and works out at their maximum’.

To contact David: www.dmcguirefitness.com.

David also gives private and group lessons at the Pacific Heights Health Club, in San Francisco, www.phhcsf.com.


  1. Bravo Diane a refreshing and inspiring post! who wouldn't love working out with David there on the green overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge! Thanks for the invigorating post!



  2. Hello, Kit-

    Lovely to hear from you. We are fortunate in California to be able to work out outdoors most of the year. David's bootcamp friends are hard-core, though, and are out in the open in all weathers, even in the dark. They love it. I work out in a gym. I've had some great comments on this post--rather different for THE STYLE SALONISTE. I hope to see Stephane Olivier--your Sept 1 subject--very soon. Fondest to you, DIANE
    Please tell Chris I have not forgotten.

  3. Hi Diane,
    What an excellent article on my brother, David! I am so proud of him! Thank you for writing about him. He always speaks so highly of you. I will be in San Francisco the week of Sept. 26th. It would be a great honor to meet you.
    My best,
    Rob McGuire

  4. I L-O-V-E-D David's bootcamp - it is one of the things I miss most about living in the City. To be greeted with his smile and often a hug in such beautiful surroundings was an amazing experience. Not only was I in great shape, I felt fantastic when I started work allowing me to be more productive and, I'm pretty sure, a better manager. David is a special person who truly cares about his clients.

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  6. Diane- I agree with Kit, this was a refreshing and inspiring post. I am one of your biggest fans and this post just proved me right. xx peggy

  7. Thanks for exposing David as the rare fitness expert who can’t hide his personal investment in your fitness achievement. Sotto vocce comments to the group about how well you're doing don’t hurt either. It’s 6 a.m., dark and raining for cryin’ out loud!

  8. I meant...but the 'flight' would be an effort, of course, NOT fight though some of that would be required too.
    Your post gave me incentive to RUN to my pool and linger for 45 minutes instead of the usual 20 = a record!
    Thanks for the inspiration Dianne via your guy,David.
    Still a chair potato but working on it a bit harder.

  9. What a refreshing and inspiring post! Love his emphasis on exercising to be healthy not to look good. It is a different post for Style Saloniste but something we all need to remind ourselves of in the age of technology. M O V E ! Thanks Diane.

  10. Diane, I love all of your reasons for wanting to stay strong - yes, I thought as I read what you wrote -dashing through airports!. I had a humbling experience in that regard at O'Hare a month ago and it has scared me back into a regime. To have a guru like David! You are so lucky and thanks for this super article on his tips.