Ranked as one of New York City’s top 20 bootcamp / strength instructors, Gerren Liles’ life was much different not too long ago. His doctor revealed that Liles would soon be diabetic in the near future if he did not make immediate changes. That was in 2005. It was at this moment that his desire to make a change in his own life would eventually lead to him helping others do the same.
In less than 10 years, Liles founded his company Vision Fitness, helped launch several of premier health club, Equinox’s signature programs, including ViPR, Shockwave, Equinox Training Camp, and has been featured on ABC’s Real Biz, Huffington Post, and HuffPost Live. He is also a ReebokONE an ambassador. However, Liles still desired change, the ability to reach more people. His latest move does just that; from the “Big Apple” to your living room via AcaciaTV, a fitness streaming service pack with more than 100 videos from cardio, strength, yoga, dance and more. Be inspired by Gerren’s story!
BFT: During a recent segment on HuffPost Live you mentioned that in 2005 you were almost diagnosed with diabetes. What immediate lifestyle changes did you make?
GL: First thing, I cut down the Chinese food! I was notoriously eating it at least twice a day. I was at a point where I was transitioning in my career and moved into a more expensive apartment. So I went from eating Oodles n’ Noodles to be able to afford real food, and I overdid it! I also got a trainer, who coached me more on diet and incorporating flexibility and cardio into my workouts instead of just lifting heavy and going home.
GL: Success in group fitness requires having both substance and style. At the end of the day, you may be the most charming, funny, and engaging instructors, but if your workout is unsafe or doesn’t get results, after a while, people will move on. I started out as a personal trainer before doing group fitness, so the mindset was always about prioritizing programming, understand how the body works and how to address various physical abilities, and what gets results. As a trainer, you also seek to stay up to date with new findings in physiology and exercise design. Once you transition into group fitness, you recognize the importance of creating a connection with your members, and leaving them with a fun and effective workout experience. With my prior career as an elementary school teacher, creating a fun environment came naturally. And as long as you continue to study, learn and apply, you’ll improve and grow in this field.
BFT: Let’s talk about your mantra: “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see. How do you see yourself?” Why do you ask this question?
GL: My mantra, and the name of my brand Vision Fitness, was inspired by my brother Delton. At one point, he was around 260 pounds. He had lost 40 pounds at one point. I thought about how someone may look at him and bemoan his still-hefty figure and be judgmental. He, however, looks at himself with pride, because he knows where he used to be and where he is going. Same body, nothing has changed except how you choose to see it. Thus, in your fitness endeavors, and really anything you do in life, your perception shapes your attitude and most likely, the outcome. Be clear in your objective, optimistic in your attitude, realistic about the process, and passionate in your approach, and success is yours.
BFT: Tell us about your fitness project with Acacia TV, a company founded by Bob Johnson of BET?
GL: AcaciaTV is an amazing lifestyle brand that offers its members a wide array of fitness programs that can help all kinds of people lead more fit and happy lives. As one of their newest trainers, I devise an array of routines, from beginner workouts that coach people on the basic exercises, to more intense, interval training workouts. As I am typing this, we are wrapping up a shoot in Cancun. I’m definitely not resenting this job!
BFT: If you had to choose, which would it be?
- Squat or Deadlift
- Deadlift… Most people do not work on their posterior chain enough, and proper deadlift form simulates how people should pick up and put down things in real life without getting injured.
- Yoga or CrossFit
- Yoga… It’s easy for me and most people to go hard in our workouts, but we don’t make time for restorative movement or to improve our flexibility. My yoga teacher, Ali, would love to read this, seeing as how I’ve missed class the last few weeks!
- Apple pie or Cheesecake
- Apple pie… does that even warrant an explanation?!
- Impact or Recognition
- Impact…I want to leave the world a better place. Recognition does nothing for those in their graves.
- HIIT or Steady State cardio
- HIIT… Mostly because my busy schedule requires short, intense workouts. However, when its obstacle race season (like now), I have to run steady state to condition my body to run longer distances.
- Coke or Pepsi
- Coke… Although now I don’t drink it at all.
Head to the next page as Gerren chats about his role in creating world-class programs for Equinox, fitness tips and nutrition!