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Breaking the Mold

Joe Salinas offers tips and tricks for getting into shape in the new year.

Camp Gladiator instructor Joe Salinas (Images courtesy)

Like many people, Joe Salinas’ fitness journey began with a need to get healthier and feel more motivated. Now, The Woodlands trainer is sharing that passion and using his high-energy personality to inspire others to get fit.

“I came from an unhealthy family and an unhealthy way of living up until high school,” he says. “Then I was introduced to the JROTC program, and that kind of changed my outlook on health and what it means to be fit. I learned I really excelled at physical fitness and following workout routines.”

While Salinas went to college for criminal justice, the idea of pursuing a career in physical fitness became a reality when he got recruited to Camp Gladiator by a friend.

“Camp Gladiator really changed my whole outlook on what health and fitness can be in my life,” he says. “Before, it was just something that I was good at—a hobby. With this, it became a full-fledged career. Camp Gladiator showed me that you can have an impact on people’s way of living, something that’s always been incredibly important to me.”

Salinas, who teaches strength classes and offers nutrition programs, knows that when it comes to exercising, you have to find what works best for you. And that includes your mental mindset.

“So many people see fitness and exercise as a chore, but I teach my clients to have fun,” he says. “I like to build a community. I teach them to have fun. Exercising should be seen as something that makes you feel good. I like to foster a sense of community where we are all just working together towards a common goal, and that builds trust among everyone. I think I’ve been pretty successful because of who I am as a person, and I don’t try to hide or tone down who I am as a gay man. I like to be high energy and pump people up.”

While exercise is important, many people forget to change their diet, something that Salinas says is a key reason people don’t get the results they want.

“So many people see fitness and exercise as a chore, but I teach my clients to have fun.”—Joe Salinas

Joe Salinas

“Diet is something that you have to commit to and really want in order to be successful,” he says. “Whether it’s to lose weight, gain weight, or maintain, you have to create a plan based around that. What I do is calculate a nutrition plan for clients—what calories they need in order to meet their goal. I come up with a meal plan and provide it to them weekly. I find that people will find the change they’re looking for when they partner fitness and nutrition together. You can only go so far with one or the other. You need both.”

Even though many Americans pick weight loss as a top New Year’s resolution, it can be challenging to stick to a diet and exercise plan. Salinas says community is important for this very reason.

“You have to have someone to keep you accountable,” he says. “Even just having someone to go with to the gym is honestly the best thing I’ve seen work. Again, I’m all about community, all about having people in your life that are there to support you. I think that’s what helps someone become successful, rather than doing it themselves and falling off.”

Salinas says anyone trying to lose weight or gain muscle should start slow and not overwhelm themselves.

“If you look at my workouts, you’ll find that they’re all simple,” he says. “You have to create a plan that you can realistically do. I tell my clients that they can’t suddenly make drastic changes. You will burn out if you start dieting or exercising too fast. You will come crashing down and then be in the same spot you started at. Slow and steady wins the race.”


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For anyone who is apprehensive about bringing exercise into their daily routine, Salinas says it’s normal to feel overwhelmed or shy at the gym, but that will pass the more you go.

“When I first started going, I was really shy,” he says. “I didn’t know what the machines did and what equipment would be best for me. Again, that’s why it’s good to have a buddy or a coach. They can help you feel less stressed. A coach can create a program for you and educate you on which machines to use and what benefits you will get. If you can’t afford a trainer, you can always just do some research online and find a workout plan to try.”

Fitness is a journey, at the end of the day, and Salinas wants to make sure he can help people feel confident and proud of who they are.

“It makes my heart happy being able to help people and see people working together to accomplish their goals,” he says. “I just want to be a positive role model for the people in my area. I hope I can be a light. I want to be there for people and show them that someone cares and is willing to challenge them. Exercise and fitness is a journey, not a race. I want to be their guide on that journey.”

Keep up with Joe Salinas on Instagram @salinasjoee.

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Connor Behrens

Connor Behrens is a communications graduate from the University of Houston. He has written for the Washington Post, Community Impact Newspaper and the Galveston County Daily News (the oldest newspaper in Texas). When he's not writing stories, he is likely watching the latest new release at the movie theater.
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