Kicking It With Fitness Expert and Author Shannon Clark

If you’ve read bodybuilding.com for any amount of time, then you’ve probably seen Shannon Clark’s work. Everytime I see a good article and click it, it ends up being hers! So I wanted to get her on our side, let’s go one-on-one.

1) How did you get interested in working out? How did that interest further lead you to becoming a personal trainer?

From the ages of 8 to 16 I trained for competitive figure skating and as I approached the higher levels, ballet and weight lifting became an integral part of my program.  When I decided to hang up my skates for good, I knew I needed something to replace the passion and since I had already started weight lifting, it fell naturally into place.  In addition to this in my last few years of skating I become much more interested in proper nutrition for athletic performance, so that helped peak my interest in using the combination of proper dieting as well as gym workouts as a means to reshape the body.

2) If you could pin point it, what is the main reason why people struggle to lose weight?

I would say one of the biggest reasons I see people fail is because they are fixated on instant results. Far too many look for the ‘magical answer’ that’s the hot trend at the moment without really taking the time to learn for themselves which strategies work and which don’t.  The more knowledge you have about exercise and nutrition, the more successful you will be in my mind.

That’s not to say you can’t see quick results on a really good diet and workout plan, but you must be prepared to work for it.

3) A big issue I see, it’s huge in women, is the lack of calorie control. They’ll eat a few meals and say they’ve eaten a lot but they never track their calories.

Absolutely.  So many people still do not understand the importance of calories.  Whether you gain or lose weight is at the end of the day going to boil down to your calorie intake. The types of calories you consume will have a huge impact on how you feel on a regular basis and the type of weight you lose (and correspondingly how you look), but if you eat too many calories, even of healthy food, you’re still going to struggle.

Additionally, a number of women are also not eating enough and that can really cause the metabolism to slow. I’ve worked with quite a few who when actually started eating more – and specifically eating more protein in most cases, saw the weight come off.

If I could only suggest one thing to people looking for fat loss, gaining a greater calorie awareness would be it.

4)What do you think of the tv show The Biggest Loser? A lot of people in the industry hate it, I personally like the awareness that it raises. Your thoughts?

Interesting question – I was just having a conversation about this the other day. I think it’s good because it gets people to sit up and take notice of the obesity issue we have today, like you mentioned.

On the flip side though, I do think it can over glamorize the process of weight loss. You get these extremely heavy people on the show just dumping weight by the day and some may think that this is realistic and something they could achieve as well.

You always have to put things into context.  Heavier people are going to lose weight far more quickly and easily (assuming a proper diet and workout program) than someone lighter.  Additionally most people do not have nearly the same degree of help planning their meals or have as much free time to workout, so that has to get factored in as well.

I do think though that it gives many people out there who have lost hope that they could ever be happy with their body encouragement in seeing that yes, it can be done with hard work.

5) Personally, how much cardio do you do when trying to lean out?

In my earlier days before I knew enough about the power of nutrition, I did a good amount of cardio on a weekly basis – probably close to an hour a day, six to seven days a week.  Now however, I reduce back on that quite a bit and do lower intensity forms of cardio to end off my workout for 20 minutes or so daily.  On off days from weights I’ll take it a bit longer – say 40 minutes, but not really much beyond that.  Right now most of my cardio is uphill walking as I find that if I do too much running, my legs tend to lose muscle definition.  Uphill walking however gives me more shape.

I would like to say though I am a firm believer that you can get very lean with little to no cardio if you’re willing to be very, very strict with the diet and have a solid lifting program you’re following.  I personally like to keep some cardio in there myself just because I find it helps me feel healthier.

At one point I did a lot of HIIT cardio and I do find that works well for fat loss, but I don’t do as much of it now as I’d rather devote more energy to lifting and it hinders my recovery.

6) Your favorite three supplements and why?

If I had to choose three I’d say PVL Whey Gourmet protein powder in Chocolate Peanut Butter, any of the Syntrax Matrix line, as well as simple caffeine.  I workout first thing in the morning so coffee doesn’t sit well but I love the extra boost it gives me.

7) Where can we find more information about you?

Please check out my site, BodyByShannon.com.

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