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Meet Donovan Green

Meet Donovan Green

Meet celebrity fitness trainer Donovan Green, author of No Excuses Fitness, creator of the Chair Workout and our expert Fitness Group and Challenges Leader. Recently we sat down with Donovan to talk about his fitness background, how he motivates his clients and his favorite ways to relax.

When did you know you wanted to be a fitness trainer?
I knew I wanted to be a fitness trainer around 2004 because everything I did leading up to that point was based around fitness. As a barber in the Bronx, where I’m from, I used to give free haircuts to the clients who could do 50 pushups the fastest and with the best form. I also did construction for a long time, and I used to tell the guys I worked with to pretend they were working out and to bend their knees and keep their back straight when they lifted heavy things. I wanted to help people get fit.

What fitness trends are you keeping an eye on these days?
None. I don’t pay attention to trends. Trends come and go. I’m very old school. I stick to things that I know work and will continue to work.

How did you come up with the chair workout idea?
I got tired of seeing all the hardcore, insane workouts on TV. While they are great workouts, they aren’t realistic for the majority of people—they were not going to help the "forgotten crowd." So I figured I’d do stuff they could do. Anyone can benefit from my workouts, but my biggest audience is women between the ages of 35 and 54 and people who are injured, overweight, new to exercise or work all day and don’t have time to go to the gym. The two biggest problems that keep people from working out are knee and back issues. Chair workouts make it possible for people with health issues to get moving.

What's the best way to squeeze in a workout during work?
Every hour, take one minute to do something—to just move around. Do 60 seconds of cardio, resistance training or a stretch movement. If you do this every hour during the day and then add it all up, it’s possible you can do up to nine minutes of movement while at work.

What fitness routines do you think will be trending in 20 years?
The Chair Workout program is the future because that is the direction we are heading right now. People are sitting down all the time and they realize it’s not good to be sedentary. Before, people didn’t even know what it meant to be sedentary. Now, they understand that it isn’t good to not move. People are also learning that you don’t have to exercise for an hour, or more, to get results. The person who ran a mile didn’t necessarily improve their fitness more than the person that walked a mile. Plus, we are already seeing lots of other types of chair workouts—chair Pilates, chair strength training and chair yoga.

Why is it so hard for people to get motivated and stick with a regular workout routine?
People want fast results and it doesn’t happen fast enough. Also, it can be hard to get motivated because it is easy to be intimidated by the fitness models and trainers you see on TV and in magazines. People don’t think they can do what those people do or look that way.

How do you get your clients motivated?
I ask them, "Where do you want to see your body a year from now and what can you do to stop blocking yourself from getting there? Did this happen because you caused it or is it out of your control?” I love to get people to think about their situation and what they need to do to get where they want to be. Also, thinking about what’s involved helps them create realistic and attainable goals. And that’s important. You have to create goals that are doable.

As the leader of the Fitness Challenges, which of the challenges stands out to you most?
Pushups and sit-ups stand out the most to me, even though people are participating in the walking and other challenges too. With pushups and sit-ups, people are getting faster results—they can see their belly getting flatter or their arms firmer. I also think it is psychological. In their mind they are saying, "pushups are challenging and helping me get slimmer."

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
The thing I am most proud of is when I opened a gym in the South Bronx—in a community with low-income and drugs. The gym really helped a lot of people there. It was a safe haven for people in the community.

What do you do in your free time when you aren’t working or working out?
I read. My favorite book is Robert Greene’s 48 Laws of Power. And, I watch Netflix. I watch movies and I love cartoons, like Justice League and Batman.

How do you stay fit and healthy?
I watch what I eat and I exercise. My go-to workout is weight training. I love to weight train. I work out in my home gym, mostly. It’s right there so I have no excuse not to workout. Also, I’m a vegan. I get my nutrition from smoothies and juices and I add nutritious foods, like flax seed, to them. I also eat a lot of soup.

What makes the biggest difference to your body, diet or exercise?
Diet. Diet is everything. Your body doesn’t change in the gym—it changes in the kitchen.

Medically reviewed in August 2018.

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