Tony DiCosta, fitness teacher building our bodies
Tony DiCosta is a certified personal trainer and winner of numerous physique titles. Times of the Islands asked Tony to share advice on aging with grace.
TOTI: AS A PERSONAL TRAINER, WHAT IS YOUR MOST IMPORTANT RESPONSIBILITY? TD: "First, do no harm" is the overarching principle I abide by. Working with that in mind, I seek to find out first what it is that a client wants. They usually have a broad idea of their goal (lose weight, gain muscle, get in shape, etc.) but they rarely know how to safely achieve that goal in the timeliest manner. There is a plethora of ways to work out ... but there is usually a very short list of the best ways to get to their goal.
TOTI: IS THAT IT? TD: No way is it that simple. My ultimate goal is a client’s health. Most people are unaware of the three elements that make up a healthy fitness regimen: flexibility, cardio capacity and strength. So, while I may spend most of our subsequent training sessions in the gym with a client, initially I teach all clients a flexibility routine, instruct them in meeting the cardio needs for their age group, and put together a “bulletproof” warm-up routine that will protect them in the gym for a lifetime.
A PERSONAL TRAINER NEEDS TO BE A GIFTED TEACHER.
TOTI: WHAT’S A TRAINER’S MOST IMPORTANT ATTRIBUTE? TD: That’s an easy one: A personal trainer needs to be a gifted teacher. It does not matter how much knowledge a trainer has if he or she cannot effectively teach that to their clients. Teaching is a multi-faceted discipline involving as much listening as talking, along with generous doses of exhortation and encouragement, not just to stand by her with a clipboard and pencil yelling while she sweats.
SADLY, A LOT OF PERSONAL TRAINERS DO NOT RECOGNIZE THE MANY WAYS IN WHICH THE 50-AND-UP CROWD DIFFERS FROM YOUNGER TRAINEES.
TOTI: ANYTHING UNIQUE ABOUT TRAINING THOSE FROM SANIBEL AND CAPTIVA? TD: When I started training people professionally, I began with a vision of a younger clientele who I would train for high levels of fitness and physique display. When I began (in 2013) to train out of the Sanibel Health Club, the average age of my clients began to reflect the older demographic that is characteristic of the islands. Though I still train people of all ages, the over-50 residents gained prominence. Since I am in that age group myself, I was easily able to adjust to the decidedly unique training needs of this group. Sadly, a lot of personal trainers do not recognize the many ways in which the 50-and-up crowd differs from younger trainees.
TOTI: YOU HAVE WON NUMEROUS PHYSIQUE TITLES. DO YOUR CLIENTS BENEFIT FROM THAT? TD: The answer to that is a resounding yes! But maybe not in the way they might expect. The extreme environment of physique competition requires a thorough understanding of the same biological processes that apply to even the simplest fitness makeovers. Whereas a 60-year-old retired doctor may not want to look like Arnold, he (or she) definitely wants a trainer who fully understands how the human body adapts positively to the stimulus of proper exercise and who can apply that knowledge to the client’s benefit. Tony DiCosta can be reached at tonydicostafitness.com.
Tony DiCosta in competitive condition at age 62.
Pictured is 93-year-old Kent Hampton in a pre- workout stretch with DiCosta at the Sanibel Health Club.