Jimmy Wu is a strength and conditioning specialist with vast experience that ranges from improving athletic performance in teenagers to helping the elderly move better. His passion for health and fitness comes from discovering the empowerment that it brings and inspired him to share it with others. As someone who led an inactive lifestyle and struggled with self-confidence while growing up, he finds that training is a way to identify opportunities to become better than before. He believes those incremental improvements over weeks, months and years will change lifestyles for the better. When he’s not training clients, he’s striving to learn more and improve in Olympic weightlifting
Did you play any sports growing up? If so what did you play and did you compete at the high school or college level?
Weightlifting never really permeated into the fitness world because of how difficult and rarely programmed outside of Olympic Games training it is. I discovered weightlifting as Crossfit started to popularize it and was amazed by the massive amounts of weight that athletes are able to put over their heads.
What was it about weightlifting that hooked you?
I’ve tried just about every exercise under the sun and the technical refinement that weightlifting requires to execute successfully is what got me hooked. I find it to be very challenging (imagine trying to propel a barbell off the floor to become airborne briefly and then catching it) and it’ll constantly push me to become better.
How would you describe your style of training with athletes and young professionals?
I would say that I stick with what works and I don’t try reinventing the wheel when it comes to athletes and young professionals. The best ability is availability for this demographic since it wouldn’t matter if you have the fastest horse in the race if you can’t put the horse out there. We have a finite amount of energy and what generally works well is prioritizing improving power output first like in a broad jump, for example. Then focusing on maintaining strength, if not improving it, with secondary movements like a hex bar deadlift, overhead press, etc. Finally, choosing accessory exercises that are specific to the person that would range from single-legged work to rotational stability caps off the workout nicely.
How do you tailor training to other demos/clients like older men and women and the elderly?
For this demographic, I’d still aim to reach for their highest ceiling while scaling workloads considerably compared to an athlete’s. I’d exclude things like box jumps or any plyometrics because the risk would be too high for a reward but would still include exercises like heavy deadlift variations and single-legged squat variations.
You spend a lot of time at private gyms, boutique gyms and even state of the art gyms since you are in NYC. How do you manage the space or lack of space and equipment variations? We know you are a professional but we can imagine it can get frustrating when you don’t have what you want for your client workouts — how do you make it work?
There’s nothing quite like rush hour in NYC and gyms are just as packed at its peak hours. It can be frustrating to be packed like a can of sardines with so many people sweating and having to coach over all the noise but I think it’s important to be courteous to not just my own clients but other trainers’ clients as well. My experience has taught me variations, regressions and progressions of exercises. So if I’m at a private apartment gym with limited equipment, I’d probably lean towards bodyweight movements like squats, pullups and pushups and use variations that’d be best for the client. And at a state of the art gym, I’d make sure to take advantage of all the bells and whistles. I also like to structure my client’s programming on a weekly basis so that gives me the flexibility to switch exercises around and address them at another time during the week.
Travel can kill a lot of people’s fitness routines, not to mention the diet. We can’t control everything but you touch on incremental improvements; what is the best approach fro someone traveling 7-9 days a month where they may have a hotel gym with limited equipment and grinding out hours for the work trip. What can they do to not “lose” the progress they have made back home.
It’s very difficult to ask a traveling client to complete a training program on their own without supervision or accountability and with how limited hotel gyms typically are, it’s almost impossible to even get to certain exercises that need equipment. At the same time, it’s also important to have them do the best they can with the circumstances so they don’t fall off the wagon entirely. I’d also lean towards bodyweight exercises in this scenario while scaling exercises that require weight or equipment to a 50-70% intensity. At the very least, movement is achieved if a small training stimulus isn’t.
What kinds of fitness/training trends are you discovering and how do you incorporate that with your clients?
I actually am hesitant to jump on new trends as there seems to be a new one every day in the fitness industry. My clients trust me with their bodies and health and I have to be responsible for making sure what I administer to them is tried and true. I do like the trend of a holistic approach to fitness since sleep and nutrition are just as important as training. I incorporate it with my clients by creating conversations around it instead of being authoritative with instruction because what could work best for me might not for my clients.
Continuing education must be constant. With technology, science, and new routines and trends, how do you keep up with it all?
Fortunately, there’s an abundance of resources with the technology we have today. There are many great pages on Instagram and incredible minds on podcasts. I like to listen to podcasts and set aside time to be a sponge and absorb the information. Some of my favorites include Muscle Intelligence, Bar Bend, RX’d Radio, and Squat University.
What are you most excited about when it comes to the fitness industry in 2020?
I’m most excited about the improvement of the content that we’ll have access to in the fitness industry. I don’t believe there’ll be anything revolutionary that’ll breakthrough but there will continue to be refinement.
Do you have any personal fitness or athlete heroes you admire and why?
I’m a basketball junkie so I’d absolutely have to go with the late Kobe Bryant as my hero because of the unparalleled work ethic and passion he had. We all look for inspiration in what we do and some other NBA players I admire are Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jimmy Butler because of how they reached stardom despite their incredibly humbling beginnings.
What personal challenge have you set for yourself and can you share it with us?
In the gym, I’m aiming to set personal records of 220lbs in the snatch and 275lbs in the clean and jerk. I’d also like to create more fitness content to share and pay forward since I’ve been fortunate enough to be in the position I’m in.
Words to live by?
Random workouts will yield random results. Passive approaches will yield passive results. Make sure your most valuable commodities, time and sweat, are yielding dividends.