Charlie has been involved in martial arts longer than he’s been able to ride a bike. Longer than he’s been able to cook and perhaps longer than he’s done anything else in his life. From his very first class where he learned to tie his belt to becoming a globe-trotting international fighter who represented the US in competitions throughout the world while people his age were failing driving tests.
His career highlights include two International medals and a gold medal he won in Nationals. He believes Martial Arts has cultivated and played a role in improving every aspect of his life. The lessons Charlie has learned through what he named “The Fighters Mentality,” have helped him exceed not only the expectations people placed on him but also surpassing what he thought was impossible of himself. Catapulting him into a lifestyle of self-belief where he himself is the only obstacle he has to overcome. The path of being a self-actualized human being, able to instill his strong mentality to those around him.
IR: What motivated you to become a fitness professional?
Charlie: I have been involved in martial arts since 1992. I competed on an elite level and coached junior athletes in Olympic Taekwondo. After exiting the sport in 2006 I pursued a 10-year career in security management, where my last position was the head of security for a company in Manhattan overseeing 700+ employees. During that time though I never stopped training as an athlete or practicing martial arts. Keeping my body in top shape has always been important to me. After my career ended in that industry I wanted to pursue something different and I decided to chase my passion of fitness. I love to motivate people and bring their potential into the light. I began coaching at several CKO Kickboxing locations until I landed in Downtown Jersey City where I met Joe DiMare, the owner of CKO Jersey City. We hit it off immediately and became business partners. Three years later, I now operate the CKO JC location and own the CKO in Bayonne.
IR: What is Your Fitness Philosophy?
Charlie: I have something called the “Fighter’s Mentality.” I don’t talk soley about the physical aspects of a workout with clients. I focus a lot on the mental aspects. Many people doubt themselves. They let their circumstances generate negativity in their mind. I try to break those walls and help clients find their “fighter’s mentality.” Because whether you’re in the ring or not – if you refuse to quit on yourself and continue to fight, there’s no limit to what you can achieve. Self-doubt can be crippling, so when I see it in someone I feel compelled to help them. When they say they can’t do something, I ask “why don’t you think you can do it? Why? Have you tried? Have you put in the work?” And that’s what I love to help clients with, because when they doubt themselves, I present their unseen potential. For example, I’ve had clients where; “You know, you haven’t lost 20 pounds, but you can do five push-ups now and before you couldn’t do one. Look at that progress. Look at the positive things – stay away from negative thinking.”
When I’m in class, I like to remind people, “Don’t Give Up!” “Keep Pushing!” “Don’t Make Excuses!”
One thing I do a lot is I count, like, “Five, four, three, two…” And I pause at two, and I look to see who quits before I get to one. Then I remind them “You have to go to one. You can’t stop at two. Because you are creating a habit of quitting. Let’s repeat the count down and let’s all create a winning habit and strong finish.”
IR: What are the most common goals people come to you with?
Charlie: Being in a fitness kickboxing gym a lot of it revolves around weight loss and toning. Most of my clients, though, look at my fighting background, and they want to learn the technical aspect; How to punch, kick, move, the drills. But again, for me, it extends beyond that. When you know how to move your body, you feel more confident.
IR: What techniques do you employ with your clients?
Charlie: When I first meet a client, we don’t work out. I sit with them and get to the root cause of why they want to train with me and why they want to change themselves.
I’ve had clients break down because it’s weight loss, but I ask, “What happened? You were 30 pounds heavier five years ago. What changed?” I try to get to know my clients before we do anything physical. Because that’s the thing with me. I know you want to lose weight, I know you want to reduce body fat; we all do. But why are you here? Why did you choose me? Why did you choose this location? Why here? Once I get that, I feel I have more of a connection with them, and I can help them in the fitness aspects.
IR: What was your most challenging experience with a client?
Charlie: People who question constantly. This is what I love to do, but that sometimes is the most challenging part. Because if they can’t get out of their own heads, I can’t put myself in there.
While I’m training clients, I show them a technique, they’ll try it out, but start asking, “How do you do it? Why am I doing it?” I have to say “You’ve got this. Let’s do what I showed you.” Self-doubt, self-defeat, that’s one of the hardest things my clients have to battle with. However, once again through their own fighter’s mentality, they overcome those negative aspects.
IR: Would you like to give any advice for young professionals?
Charlie: Do what you love. If you really want to be in the fitness industry, you have to find what you love to do, whether it be Versa Climber, CrossFit, Obstacle Course Racing – whatever it is. If you love to do it, if you have a passion for it, that’s what you must pursue. Don’t pursue money. The money will come when you are putting your heart and soul into what you are doing.
One thing I think trainers don’t understand is that people really are inspired by them. People do look up to you, you’re not just a trainer to them, you are a source of energy and confidence they need to fulfill their fitness goals. They follow you on social media to see what you’re doing, because they want to emulate that same discipline. So, when you strap on that mic, don’t think you are just a simple trainer – you are a life changer.
IR: Anything you would like people to know?
Charlie: There’s no secret to fitness. You can go online such as YouTube and find tons of different videos on how to lose weight. Clients show up because of you. If you have a great personality, if you put yourself out there, adjust who you are as a trainer to help people, then everything will come to you. That’s the main thing. Get your own mind right, then everything else will fall into place.