Matthew Januszek, Co-founder of Escape Fitness, has a goal to motivate, inspire people, and create exercise habits that last. He travels the world helping studios and gyms turn their visions into world-class fitness destinations and awesome training experiences. During the pandemic, Matthew has become an advocate for maintaining physical and mental health at home to persevere in the face of life’s challenges. In addition to being a father, he has started five companies and sits on the board of three companies across three continents. Listen below to hear Matthew’s thoughts on functional fitness, or read on to see the highlights!
What started your interest in fitness?
When I was in my early to mid-teens I discovered a VHS tape of the film “Pumping Iron”. I nearly wore the tape down from watching it so many times. It inspired me to start bodybuilding, which then led me down a few different fitness paths. I’ve been consistently working out in some form since I was 15 and it’s given me so many amazing opportunities.
What is functional training and who is it for?
People used to think that if you wanted to get in shape you needed to do loads of cardio. So gyms used to be 60-80% cardio machines, a few fixed machines, and maybe a small dumbbell section. We have learned so much more about health and fitness since then. Now gyms have the majority of the floor space dedicated to personal and functional training. Functional training is more fun than running on a treadmill, and it’s very effective. You are training to perform what you do outside of the gym a lot better than you normally would. Many people don’t train for regular movements like picking something up off the floor or lifting something at home. Functional training is training your body to be better in its everyday life.
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How do you “motivate and inspire people to get started and create exercise habits that last“?
A lot of programs say that they have the missing piece or that they have a new piece of information that will change everything. In reality, there’s no shortcut to a good body or good health. People who are in good shape had to work really hard to get there. Even if they had trainers and personal chefs to help them they still had to do the work. It all starts in your mind because if you don’t have the right mindset it will be really hard to continue. Maybe adding a new piece of equipment will help you feel excited, but it won’t keep you going. Thinking about it as a lifestyle is going to help immensely. We like to keep our programs interesting and fun, so you can be excited about fitness and your health.
How would you advise building up a home gym?
Health is a habit, so you need to be prepared to dedicate time and effort to your training (whatever that looks like). So it’s important to find good equipment that you enjoy using to make that easier. A high-quality pair of running shoes is a great place to start. From there it’s easy to get some movement outside, whether that be a short walk or a 15-minute jog. After that warm-up, it’s a lot easier to do more.
The next thing would be weight. With a set or two of dumbbells at different weights, you can get a really good workout at home. You can find some affordable weights online like sandbags or barbells. Then I would include anything for functional movements such as bands and balls. It’s important to develop those rotational movements because that’s how you move in real life.
Finally, if you can, find somebody who will help you create good workouts and keep you accountable. I’m very pro “personal trainer” because a good one can be a game-changer. When you’re first getting started it can be really hard to get motivated. It’s not easy to keep going, but having someone there to check-in can be really helpful. They can also help you recover correctly. You can be eating right and working out, but if you aren’t resting like you should you won’t make any progress.
What tips do you have for someone who wants to lose weight at home right now?
First, I would try and take the emphasis away from losing weight. It makes it more difficult mentally, and your mentality is the first thing you need to address. I would change the goal to be something related to your health and lifestyle. If you make healthy decisions the weight will come off on its own. Focusing on weight loss itself has the potential to really discourage you if you gain a couple of pounds. It’s really common for people to actually gain weight when they start working out and eating better. Muscle weighs more than fat, so as you put on muscle the scale might not change that much.
Regarding diet, I don’t have any sophisticated tips and tricks. You’re going to want to cut out sugars and highly processed food. Try and eat quality protein and notice the foods that make you feel good versus the ones that make you feel bad. The better food you put into your body the better it will treat you.
So don’t get too caught up on “what’s the right program”. Simple changes like moving more every day and sitting down less can help so much. Focus on getting out four or five times a week and working movement into your schedule. Make it fun so you can get excited to work out. You need to enjoy it, otherwise, you’ll never stick to it. Try and create healthy rituals for yourself that you can look forward to. These baby steps are key to big achievements.
Since co-founding Escape Fitness, taking it to a $33 million-dollar global business chosen by big brands and independent fitness professionals, such as the UFC, Equinox, 1Rebel, Sanctuary Fitness and more, Matthew has continued to be a powerful advocate for functional training. Their goal is to motivate and inspire people to get started and create exercise habits that last. Matthew travels the world, helping studios and gyms to turn their visions into world-class fitness destinations and awesome training experiences. During the pandemic, Matthew has become an advocate for at-home training and maintaining physical and mental health to persevere in the face of life’s challenges. In addition to being a father, he has started five companies and sits on the board of three companies across three continents.