John Izzo Interrogation

I am very excited to announce this: one of the contributors for the next edition of MIR is John Izzo.

I have known John for a few years now and have enjoyed his products (Shatterproof Spine and Lunging to Improved Performance).

This is one of the hip stability exercises that I got from his Lunging to Improved Performance DVD, which I really like:

Izzo Glute Exercise

Izzo Glute Exercise Description

I know some people at EFI don’t know John, so I asked if he could do a quick Question and Answer session with me.

Have a read below, and if you have any questions for John, please leave them in the comment area.

Rick – John, some people might not know who you are. Could you take a minute to give people a bit of a background? 

Rick, thanks for taking the time to do this interview with me. I wear many “fitness hats”. I have been a personal trainer since 1999. Having worked in commercial, corporate, non-profit, and private fitness facilities, I have served as a fitness director and training director.

In 2010, I finally started my own small business doing personal training, simply titled IZZOstrength. I have written articles for online publication over the years and have contributed to various NASM educational materials. I am also an educator that teaches classes for a major certification organization since 2002.

My love for weight-training began early in life and has really enabled me to find a stable passion coaching others. Currently, I train my own clients at my facility and I also manage/train golfers at a private country club.

Rick – You and I, as experienced personal trainers, know the importance of assessment. How do you incorporate assessment with your group training clients?

Performing assessments with one on one clients is simple. I use the NASM overhead profile test for possible dysfunctions–but I don’t limit myself to it at all. I use it to confirm what I find during certain movements. When it comes to group training, it tends to be somewhat tedious keeping a watchful eye on 4-5-10-15 bodies.

Typically, during group classes, the warm up is the initial method I use to assess certain “benchmarks” in my clients.

The big benchmarks are:

  • knee valgus/varus
  • protracted shoulders
  • pelvic tilt
  • foot position.

Because of the nature of my class flow, I am constantly attentive to what my clients can do.

In a group setting, I tend to separate what a client can do normally (what’s normal to them) and optimally (what I try to accomplish). My assessing never ends because I am looking for improvements in these 4 aspects.

There are many other things I look for that come under my radar during exercise execution like:

  • over-active traps (shrugging up on face-pulls)
  • degree of hip extension
  • core bracing
  • most of all—coach-ability

I ask myself: How tentative are my participants?

That is very important and if they are not receiving my coaching adequately, I need to do a better job instructing them. So, I evaluate my coaching cues, directions, and class circuit.

In a group setting, observation is the best assessment. I can’t tell you how many times I find that trainers stop paying attention in boot camp classes and simply focus on fatigue. If you know what to look for, observational assessment is an ongoing process. I really adopt JC Sanatana’s philosophy, “every exercise is an assessment”.

Rick – There is a big focus on corrective exercise and addressing muscle imbalances. How does that incorporate into your training programs with your clients and group sessions?

What I typically do is begin with learning what the client does most of the day.

Next, I eyeball their posture.

From there, we perform the opposite positions of what they do all day.

No client in my facility ever performs exercises sitting. We do all standing exercise (shoulder presses, cable presses, woodchops, etc).

I incorporate treadmill or versaclimber work for people that sit all day. We isolate inhibited muscles during rest periods (band walks between sets of a compound exercise). We perform 90% closed-chain exercises. Teaching clients the important of using the ground as a force lever is the first thing they learn when it comes to body awareness.

We also address muscle imbalances in the warm up/movement prep; but mostly it is incorporated into active recovery periods. With groups, I tend to put corrective work in a circuit as a “rest” if the circuit is made up of primarily of difficult exercises.

For instance, if there is a 4 exercise circuit that contains sled dragging, lunging, push-ups–then I will include something simple like angled low trap raises or band external rotation.

Rick – You are one of the few personal trainers that actually blogs and write training concepts to other personal trainers. How did the blog start out and why do you do it?

I started online in 2005 with my first website titled That website is no longer, and then I created Trainer Advice because I was receiving a lot of emails from new trainers that needed direction. Being a hiring manager and teaching students, I am usually hit with topics that are really not covered by others.

If you notice, I am not one to create exercise programs to people online. I am solicited for programs, but I RARELY give specific advice because I don’t believe in giving people that don’t work with me–personally or exclusively– advice without meeting or assessing.

Trainer Advice was a blog that became popular simply because people were liking the advice I was giving. I’ve hired and fired trainers since 2005; so I tend to educate them on the “intangibles” of personal training: interview process, client retention, selling, self-respect, peer acceptance, and exercise program fruition. I have gained respect and notoriety for “being real”. And I am grateful to be regarded as a trainer that spreads “real” advice.

Most of the info you get nowadays is wateedr-down, copied, or repeated.

God knows…now everyone gives trainers advice, writes books, or proclaims to be a guru.

I like to think that I “really do” and have been since 2005.

My blog posts are simple because I love to write. Rarely do I research stuff for a blog post. Blogs to me, are meant to be fun and easy to write.

If I am going to spend time to research, I am going to submit the article for compensation. I have a life to live and don’t have time to research simple blog posts. That’s why I only write about things that I know about and feel are important to cover.

Rick – What would be the biggest tip that you would give a trainer that has to train their first golfer?

I am fortunate enough to work closely with a massage therapist. With that being said, when I meet with a golfer—it is typically a male that sits in his office all day and needs to get out to meet with the guys, or make some dealings over a game of golf. These men are usually stiff, immobile, and over the age of 50.

I tend to always persuade them to get regular massage therapy in order to manipulate the tissue a bit, so that I can go in and help them with stretching. I have found in my dealings with golfers, most men need flexibility and most women need more strength.

Rick – You have a warm-up component to your group training. What does that look like?

Warm up for my group training looks something like this:

  • Arm circles 20x per direction Toy Soldiers (in place) 20 per side
  • Reverse Lunges in Place 10 per side
  • Jumping Jacks 15x
  • Behind the back Chest/Rib Cage Stretch
  • Toe Touch Ham Stretch

And then we are off.

The first circuit of my group training class is typically easy and geared to “prepare” their bodies for the forthcoming, more challenging circuits.

Rick: What are the other components in your group training sessions?

I like to integrate a boxing component. People that have stressful jobs want to release that stress and it can come by way of punching a bag or punching the mitts with me. Typically, my class likes to hit the mitts with me because I tend to egg them on 🙂

I also include a metabolic circuit at the very end of the session.

With smaller groups I will place everyone on a piece of equipment and we will perform an “all out” effort on each piece for 30-45 seconds which includes:

  • Versaclimber
  • Treadmill sprints
  • AirDyne
  • Rower
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Jump Rope
  • Battling Ropes

Another component is stretching. At the end when all my participants are tired, their reward is some stretching to relax and reflect on their effort. I think at this time, we make a connection with each other and leave the facility feeling great!

Rick: Do you have a tip for fitness professionals that are blogging or are planning to blog? 

Do it because you want to do it (write)..don’t do it because you have this belief that you will make money, become popular, or validate your status in the industry.

If you like to write, start a blog.

If writing is not your strong suit, then forget blogging and try videos on YouTube.

If you have an original thought and something helpful to provide to readers, do your best and keep at the blog. If it’s something great and worthy, it will be shared by many.

Thanks so much, John.

If you like this QnA, make sure to check out the QnA that John did with me on his site.  You can check it out here.

Rick Kaselj, MS