Raise the bar on your workout and burn more calories

Feb 22, 2013 at 6:04 a.m. ET

Ever wish you could take a peek inside one of those ultra-swank personal training facilities for the rich and famous? Here’s your chance to do just that — and get tips from a top trainer, too!.

An interview with trainer Will Torres
Will Torres workout

What is it that gives those celebs their enviable physiques? You may think that’s something you can’t achieve, but trainer Will Torres of willspace in New York City gave us a glimpse of his studio, his new program Raise the Bar and let us in on his training secrets.

He also gives us the names of some of his celebrity clients and gives us the skinny on how those of us who aren’t in New York (or can’t afford his $3,000-plus price tag) can get access to his killer program.

SheKnows: How is Raise the Bar different from other private training programs?

Will Torres: I’ve been a trainer for 15 years and I’ve been in Manhattan privately working for eight years, and in that time, I’ve looked at how I can get someone what I like to call “camera ready,” because many people admire the covers of magazines… you know, they aspire to be that way. Not everyone gets there, but what does it really take to develop a body, a physique, that looks great, that feels great, but also performs on a high level?

What I’ve found is that it takes more than a few hours a week… and for a lot of people, anywhere from six to eight hours a week.… So I said, “How do we take that time and how do we condense it and make it super-effective so that you get the most out of it?” And we came up with Raise the Bar.

Raise the Bar is really a comprehensive program. It lasts four weeks and it’s really results-driven. So by the end of the 30 days, we want to see change. What we’ve noticed is that if we can take someone’s body over the course of four weeks (we see them 16 times), we can create some measurable changes in their body.

SK: What makes one program more effective than another?

WT: One of the things that makes Raising the Bar so effective is that we combine the strength training with a unique form of cardio that involves high-intensity metabolic movement. Imagine doing strength training at a pace so that it almost feels like you’re doing cardio. The way it stimulates your body, you really wind up burning more calories, and by combining the cardio and the strength training in one session, you can burn up to 10 times more calories than when you do them separately. Most people, when they go to the gym, they do cardio one day and they lift another day, and we’ve found it’s more effective to do it together.

SK: So a lot of people have been doing it wrong?

WT: There’s no good or bad, right or wrong. Within the fitness world, you want to challenge your body all the time. If there are rules, you want to try to go above them. I mean, who told you to just do 15 reps? Why only do 15 or why only do 30 minutes of cardio? So what we’ve begun to do is explore it. You know, do 50 reps or do 30 reps and see how far you can push your body. A lot of times, people just stop because they’re told to stop. If you can keep going, keep going.

At Raise the Bar, what we like to do is figure out where you are now. And then get you to push a little bit more. And at the next session, push a little bit more. All that “little bit more” over four weeks or over two or three months creates results.

SK: What role does motivation play in the goal of changing your body?

WT: I think most people, when they’re excited about starting a new program… It takes a lot to get someone motivated to start working out, but when they are, they’re super-inspired to do it.

[What we do is] take advantage of that motivation and create structure and detail so you get the best results from it.

SK: What should people do to maintain it after that first four weeks? Do they continue to see a trainer or should they have something they can take away to continue alone?

WT: One of the components of [training] is that we’re educating the client. We’re teaching them… teaching them how to move, how to properly execute exercises, how to improve their technique and really know what to look for so that if they’re out doing it on their own, they know how to squat, they know how to do a push-up, they know how to dead-lift and a number of other things.

And then they’re also beginning to learn how to eat. How much water should you be drinking? How should you be eating, how should you be combining your foods? So really educating so that at the end of the 30 days, they can continue on their own. But in general, the people who are really serious about transforming their bodies know it won’t happen in 30 days, and they know that it’s going to take time, so they tend to continue [with a trainer] and continue on another 30-day journey.

And every 30 days, we continue to raise the bar and focus on new things, and continue to train them at a higher level.

Will Torres workout

SK: How do you custom-design each workout?

WT: Well, when someone gets started, the first session is really about getting a blueprint. Really figuring out “What’s the person looking to achieve?” Where are they right now? Do they have any injuries? Do they have experience working out? And taking measurements so we’re really seeing where they’re at. And on top of that, how they move; what their strength and flexibility are like. And also what their balance and coordination and endurance are like.

So that first session, we’re trying to gather as much information just so [we know] what’s going to be the best approach for this person. Even though there are certain performance goals we want them to do, how we get them there is different for each person.

From there I decide which of my trainers is going to be the best fit for that person.

SK: What's a typical training session like? Can you tell us a little about your trainers?

WT: There are four trainers including myself. And even though we all use the same programming, our strategies for motivating and the way we communicate and inspire people are different, so finding the right match is really important.

And once we know what the weaknesses are, that’s where we go and [what] we focus [on] first. And from there, each session we build on that. Each session is different and focuses on different areas.

SK: Sounds like a good way to keep people from getting bored.

WT: The body gets accustomed to a certain routine. Routine is the worst thing to create for yourself.

I found this really interesting when I found out. Subconsciously, if you know the workout you’re going to do, you know where you’re going to work harder and where you’re going to take a little more time. So your body paces itself. And one of the things with not knowing what to expect is that you’re always giving it. You don’t know how to pace yourself. That’s just one great way to make the workouts more effective.

SK: Your studio is definitely sleeker and more intimate than a traditional gym. Is that just for looks or do you think it has an effect on the workout at all?

WT: Oh, completely it affects the workout. To give you the jargon I like to use, I consider it a sanctuary, not a gym. It’s a place where you come to build your mind and your body. We take the training very seriously, and you feel that when you’re walking through the space.

The space was designed so that when you walk in, it’s very clean. You feel it’s sort of intimate, but it’s also very focused. It’s about getting the most out of your time. You know, we’re in New York City, so New Yorkers, they work hard, they play hard, but they’re always in a crunch. They’re always rushing — they don’t have a lot of time.

And a lot of the people we attract are very successful businesspeople who have a lot going on, so we wanted to create a space where you come in and you’ve got your “hour of power.” You’re getting the most effective workout in that one hour. There are no distractions. You feel comfortable because you don’t feel that people are gawking and looking at you.

You know, a lot of our clients have memberships at gyms. At big gyms, but they come here to do personal training.

SK: Give us the dirt. Are you the man responsible for any of the celeb bodies we're so jealous of?

WT: Um, [I can only talk about] the ones that are publicly vocal about it. So, we work with Andy Cohen from Bravo and we work with Mark Consuelos. There’s Riccardo Tisci from Givenchy. Then there are other people, names we can’t discuss.

There’s kind of a cool factor. Not knowing who’s going to be here and then people come here and they see different household names that you would recognize. But we don’t really shout it out too much just because the clients like their privacy.

SK: I feel like another specific type of client might be a mom trying to get her shape back after her baby. Is there a specific workout you do for that?

WT: The exercises are all the same. There’s only so many combinations. So there are fundamental movements we do with everyone. What’s different for each person, and especially with moms, is the pace at which we do it, how much recovery we give them. We also work with some women that are pregnant, so there are certain things we have to be careful with.

But generally with moms, they’ve just given birth and the workouts we tend to do with them are a little faster-paced because we’re just trying to boost their metabolism so they’re burning as many calories as possible and then strengthening them — their upper body because the baby’s just going to get heavier, but it’s really a full-body approach to getting them back to their pre-baby weight.

SK: I’m sure a lot of our readers are dying to try your workout now. Unfortunately, we don't all live near the West Village. Any plans to release a workout video anytime soon?

WT: We’re working on an app and before the app comes, there will be some videos. I don’t have a date, but it will be this year (in the next six months). What’s motivating us to do it is that we get so many questions and emails about what to do — what exercises to do if they can’t get to New York. We want to give people the tools they need to do it if they can’t get to us. And it’s going to be very accessible [and less expensive].

SK: What else do you want SheKnows’ readers to know about working out?

WT: Lately I’ve been going on this rant. You see all this marketing that says “Get in the best shape of your life with 20 minutes a day.” Or “Improve your stomach by doing 10 minutes of ab work every single day.” And what I’ve found is, [for example] if you’re going to build an incredible career, to be successful, are you going to be able to do that just investing in it 20 minutes a day? If you’re looking to accumulate wealth, are you going to be able to wake up at noon and be done with work at five?

My whole thing is that it takes time. And it takes time to develop a physique and a body that you want. What we’re beginning to do is educate people and say, “Look, you need to invest time, but this is how you get the most out of it.” There’s no quick fix.

About Will Torres

With more than 15 years of experience, Will Torres is a premier strength and conditioning trainer who empowers his clients to explore both physical and mental limits to help them achieve their athletic potential. In 2005, Torres started his boutique personal training studio, willspace, to develop an environment where clients would come to push, sweat and discover the inner will to transform their bodies.

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