P.E. How long have you been lifting weights?
Will: Well I’ve been going to the gym regularly since I was about 17 and my routines always involved some kind of weight training but I did not focus primarily on serious lifting until four years ago.
P.E. How did you get into fitness?
Will: Honestly? Poor body image. Like a lot of punks, I was something of a misfit throughout grade school and middle school. I ate poorly, never left the house and primarily just wanted to play video games and be left alone. I was pretty big in middle school and drank and partied a lot through high school. I knew I was entering the prime of my physical health and I just hated the way I looked with my shirt off; I had to change something. Switching to vegetarianism helped quite a bit but I was embarrassed to go to the gym. I thought it would be very “un-punk” of me. But once I got over myself and started doing something personally rewarding, it slowly became a larger and larger piece of who I am.
P.E. What made you decide to focus on weights?
Will: I started going to the gym regularly in high school, but looking back on things I just kinda dicked around the gym for a solid five years. There was always some “lifting” involved but it was mostly cardio/ metabolic-conditioning based. I tried a bunch of different routines and approaches but I simply saw so results. I figured I was doing something wrong but I just didn’t know what. After college I worked out at this community center and there was this one super-strong, buff dude that also worked out there. One day, out of sheer frustration, I approached him about helping me because (and this is embarrassing to admit) he looked how I had wanted to look since I was in middle school. He accepted and we started training together and it was all heavy lifting; squats, deadlifts, bench presses, overhead presses and cleans. I was skeptical: Where was the cardio? The circuit training? The ab work? The dumbbell curls on a bosu ball? I very nearly backed out of our offer but, after about a month, I liked what I saw in the mirror, friends mentioned that I had lost weight and had “bulked up”, and simply being stronger has it advantages in the real world. I was hooked. I don’t train for aesthetics anymore, just functional strength but I always tell anyone who asks that they will probably reach their fitness goals by lifting rather than jogging.
P.E. Are you focused on massive gains for competition? Or do you lift weights for the enjoyment of lifting heavy weight?
Will: Lifting is a very personal thing for me. I don’t train for competition and have no plans to do so. I’ve never been a very competitive person and have never placed too much value on institutional validation. I guess that’s the punk rocker in me. There’s this “thing” in the weight training world where you “should” compete in “something” and I have gotten a lot of surprised reactions from gym buddies when I say I have no interest in, say, an up-coming powerlifting meet. Just never understood it. I mean, if you want to that’s great and more power to you, it’s just not for me.
P.E. How did you get involved with Derek Tresize and what is your role with Vegan Bodybuilding and Fitness?
Will: I got involved with Derek because I used to be a client of his. The lifting world is not very veg-friendly; diet plans are meat-centered and protein-enriched supplements contain whey protein 99% of the time. I had never met another vegan who “really” lifted all throughout my time in the gym. For years, literally years, I thought I was the only one. Then one day it occurred to be to simply Google “vegan bodybuilding” and stumbled across a site with the same name (run by Robert Cheeke, a prominent vegan body builder). I was floored by how many people were on the site and a banner ad for “veganmuscleandfitness.com
online personal training” caught my eye. I checked it out, they had an opening, the price was right, so I took it.
I worked with Derek for about a year and a half and I considered him a mentor in many ways. He always pushed me to go out there and learn the craft myself rather than just telling me what to do and put up with a lot of my shit. One day he approached me about an idea to have me, and other long-time client of his, help him out with his online group training sessions as a way to reach more clients. I was real nervous about it but he kept pushing me and supporting me the whole way and now I thank him for it, I would not be where I am now without that help. Unfortunately the online group training sessions didn’t work out the way we planned so I am not involved with VMF anymore but I still had a great time and learned a lot. Everyone is different, so hearing the problems of five people forces you to expand your knowledge base.
P.E. You also work at a Whole Foods, does this mean that you have made fitness a lifestyle? (for the record I work at WFM too)
Will: Hahahaha! Yes, absolutely. Though I don’t consider working at WFM to be a part of that. I would live a fitness lifestyle no matter where I work!
P.E. Are there positives to being physically fit and punk rock?
Will: Of course! I’ve seen way too many of my friends just, kinda, rot, after years of heavy drinking/partying, eating like shit, and just sitting around doing nothing. Regular exercise keeps you physically and mentally sharp. It gives you a reason to leave the house, eat some god-damn vegetables, and gives you the energy to keep doing the things that you want to do.
P.E. Has this devotion to exercise and fitness made you a target for jibes from the less healthy amongst your people?
Will: Hahaha, yeah, but its all been in good fun (at least as far as I know), and I can take a joke. No one has ever really insulted me for my hobbies. Besides, I would rather be known as “that guy who lifts” than “that guy who gets blackout drunk at every show and breaks things”. Honestly, I’m actually kinda stunned by how many punks I run into who are serious about a fitness lifestyle. Be it lifting, running, yoga, biking, climbing, whatever, I am discovering so many of my smelly, dreadlocked ilk who are finding ways to stay in shape and loving it. I actually get a lot of questions about how to incorporate weight training into their current routine!
P.E. I’ve asked people about how diet plays a role in their fitness regimen, can you talk about how you are able to build muscle, the amount of muscle needed to build serious mass on a vegan diet?
Will: Eat. And eat a lot. And then eat again. And again. Eat more. More than what you are thinking, and even then, probably more than that. Many people think that I have some crazy-complicated diet that requires lot of hard to find exotic foods but it couldn’t be any more different. Personally, I would describe my diet as really simply and, honestly, really boring. Lotta protein (mostly beans, legumes, nuts, some soy), carbs from high-quality sources (oats, potatoes, yams, fibrous veggies) and nutrient- dense fats (love me some avocados!). I’ve made pretty steady gains over the past few years, maybe I would be further on a non-vegan diet, maybe I wouldn’t, I don’t know. But I do no think that meat and dairy are healthy and I just refuse to believe that eating 200+ grams of animal protein a day for years and years is even remotely good for you. Building muscle and strength is possible on a vegan diet, you just gotta cut the crap out eat clean, and lift heavy.