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IMPROPER BOSTONIAN BEST TRAINER

Stephen Allison at Sports Club/LA

Core fitness is the credo embraced by Stephen Allison, a veteran trainer at Sports Club/LA. With a focus on results, be it weight loss, endurance or strength, Allison expertly handles clients of every demographic, tailoring routines for each session, so you never feel bored. An hour with Allison works out the full body, including muscles you may have forgotten you owned. But it leaves you looking forward to the next round.

 

Boston’s Best Personal Trainer: Talking Fitness with SCLA’s Stephen Allison

Posted December 11, 2013 by Scott Kearnan in Downtown Boston

Top Trainer: Stephen Allison was recently named “Boston’s Best Trainer” by “The Improper Bostonian.”

Stephen Allison helped me reach my fitness goal in 60 seconds.

To be fair, it was a modest goal. I’m at my first session with Allison, recently deemed Boston’s Best Trainer by The Improper Bostonian, at Sports Club/LA next to the Ritz-Carlton, Boston Common. I explain that I once practiced yoga three times weekly; then, I could turn myself into a pretzel. But long out of practice, I’m back where I started. That’s clear as I bend over and notice that my fingertips are swinging well above my feet. I want to touch my toes again.

“Take this,” says Allison, handing me two small rubber balls. I follow his instruction: to put them under my feet, find where it pinches, and let them knead that spot for a minute. Then I hand them back, and reach down again. My fingers touch my toes. Holy — he did it!

Allison smiles, and explains something about muscles, tendons, feet, and hamstrings. All I knew was that he’d helped me reach — literally — the first step in a fitness goal. Suddenly, the rest didn’t seem so daunting.

There’s a reason for Allison’s reputation as one of the Hub’s top health gurus. His approach, honed through years of experience in everything from weight lifting to yoga (and coupled with many professional certifications), encourages clients to understand that trying to reach a goal isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. And this Boston’s Best Trainer offers encouragement and education along the way.

What made you decide to pursue it as a career?

In high school I had a great cross-country coach who instilled such a love of overall fitness. It did so much for my self-esteem. My parents would always say I was a different person during track season! I’d be much happier, and it’s the same now. If I don’t exercise for two days, I just don’t feel right. As a career, fitness was a way that I thought I could bring joy into people’s lives.

What’s the biggest key to getting in shape?

It’s all about finding the time in your life. People are busy, and there are lots of things thrown at you every day. Make fitness a priority. That’s not easy for a lot of people, but my goal as a trainer is to help them move, enjoy it, be repetitive enough that they pick up basic concepts, and inventive enough that there’s something new for them every day.

I bet finding time is tough for Sports Club/LA clients. There are many power brokers here!

I like to joke that I’m the only person who tells my clients what to do! [Laughs] They have very busy schedules, but it’s not hard if you break it down. Work hard 30 minutes a day, five or six days per week, and you’ll be in shape. And as you get older you’ll move better, be mentally sharper — it affects every area of life.

And your fitness is something you can always control.

That’s something I tell my yoga classes all the time: when you’re on the mat, you control the mat. You control the breathing. You control the pose. If we can start with 12 square foot of mat space, it will spread to the office and your personal life. Fitness helps you take control.

 

What keeps you motivated?

We have some of the brightest minds in training here at SCLA. Just keeping up with the people that you work with. You learn by doing, by education, and by having people around you who expose you to what’s out there and make you raise your game.

What makes your training different?

You can email me ten times a day and get a reply. I won’t breathe down your back or ram things down your throat; I’m subversive but consistent. I read a book by Stephen King on writing, and he said: to be an author, you need to know a little about a lot. As a trainer, I know a little about a lot of different modalities: weight lifting, yoga, running, Pilates. I can cobble all that together to give you the right workout. And my number one rule is: do no harm. I teach people there’s good pain and bad pain. It’s not about my ego, it’s about your health.

Have you ever been injured, and has it affected your training style?

A couple years ago I fell off my bike and banged up my whole left side. Then I went on a cruise for a week. I was eating unlimited food, was totally inactive — and gained ten pounds. I used all the things I tell people, and within three weeks I lost all the weight. It helped me be able to say, “see guys? I can do it too! I walk the walk!”

Any training approaches you don’t like?

I don’t like that show The Biggest Loser. Sustainable weight loss is about one pound per week. For that, you want to burn 500 calories more per day than you consume. That’s doable. On that show, people lose the first 20 pounds just because they aren’t eating poorly all the time. Eventually they need to get into the groove of a sustainable lifestyle, and they don’t. And I don’t like the way Jillian Michaels yells. If I did that, I’d be gone in a week!

Really? That’s the key to losing four pounds per month?

Yes, and four pounds of fat is about the size of my size-13 shoe. If you lose that on your body, it’s going to show! And that’s just one month. It’s not starving yourself. If we ran outside for half an hour, that’s 400 calories right there. If you did that, and got a salad instead of a burger every day, you’d be on your way. It’s about doing a little something every day — and don’t worry if you cheat one day! We all do. Just keep at it.

I’ve also been featured on

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It was an amazing interview but sadly the footage was lost.

How about one from waaaaay back in the day?

Senior Spotlight: Steve Allison

by Craig Giammona, STAFF WRITER

Steve Allison will be the first to tell you that he has come a long-way in his time at Bowdoin. The Braintree, Massachusetts native once dubbed “The Braintree Rocket” because of his sleek build, immense running talent, and communist leanings, has undergone quite a transformation in college. In the process, Allison has developed into one of New England’s toughest and most dedicated runners.
Allison, who started running at the pre-pubescent age of 13, came to Bowdoin as a brazen and arrogant Prince Hal-type freshman, and has quickly developed into a dedicated and passionate Henry V type captain. Allison is the 2000 NESCAC cross-country champion, and hopes to continue his success this week as he and the Bears travel to Umass-Dartmouth to compete in the New England championships.
For Allison, the circumstances of the meet are perfect. He has a chance to compete against New England’s best, and his team also has a chance of surprising the field and making a trip to Spokane, Washington for the National Championships. I had a chance to sit with Steve this week for a short chat.
Orient: Hey Steve, how are you?
Allison: Not bad how are you?
Orient: Good, thanks for asking.
Allison: So . . . do you have some questions? I do like looking at you and all but . . .
Orient: That’s right the interview. So tell me, now that you are the NESAC champion, What are your goals? Have they changed at all from the start of the season?
Allison: To be honest, I’m trying not to get too specific with my goals. I just want to go out there and have big races every week. That’s the nice thing about cross-country and the way the schedule is set up. Once the championship season starts, that’s it. From here on out, I have to perform every week. I like the accountability.
Orient: Have your individual goals more or less coalesced with the team’s goals at this point?
Allison: More or less yeah. I mean this weekend I basically have to show-up and I’ll qualify for nationals. I could go easy and save my legs for Nationals, but I can’t run like that. I don’t want to run like that and I never will. I look at the place I need to finish for the team and that’s where I want to be. I know every guy in a Bowdoin jersey behind me is running hard for me, and I want to run hard for him, that’s the only way a cross-country team can be successful.
Orient: What does that philosophy mean for your goals this weekend?
Allison: I think I can win the race and that’s what I want. It’s a great situation, and it’s what draws me to cross [country]. The race will be intensely individual but you never stop being a part of something.
Orient: I have you always been this team oriented? Or has there been a bit of a change in your outlook?
Allison: There has definitely been a change in the way I look at things. Freshman year I was arrogant, I’ve always been arrogant, but I guess coming into a new situation I was supposed to be docile and “know my place.” I didn’t, I guess I just forgot to read the part of the Orientation packet where they discussed “knowing your place.” Things have changed, I went through a reflective period where I took some time off [from school and running] and figured out what I need to do. The major change has been from being arrogant to being confident. Basically, I stopped talking about being great and started training to be great. Like everyone I was trying to narrow that elusive gap between rhetoric and practice.
Orient: Do you think you’ve been successful in trying to narrow that gap?
Allison: Yes. Now, I know I belong at the top, and I don’t have to say. I do it. I’m confident, and I go out and compete at the level I need to.
Orient: What role did the disappointment of missing All-American by one place last year play in this transformation?
Allison: For me it was the last piece of the puzzle. As I’ve moved away from that I can honestly say that I’ve added maturity to my confidence. That’s why I won’t get specific with goals. I know what has to happen, and in the end I just have to go out and compete hard every week. If I do that, I’ll be fine.
Orient: Do these attitudes carry over into other parts of your life?
Allison: Like what?
Orient: I don’t know, work with me here . . . How about with girls?
Allison {laughing}: In some ways they do. My philosophy is that no ‘matter what, you got to strut’. This applies to running or to going after a girl that is out of your league. I have supreme confidence in every situation and I think that’s why I’ve been successful.
Orient: Describe for me, if you can, and ideal end to this situation.
Allison: That’s easy. I’m in Spokane, Washington on the starting line at the National Championships. I look to my right and I see six other black Bowdoin jerseys glistening in the Pacific Northwest sun. Then we go out and compete and leave no question about our hearts or our talent.

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Steve Allison (with Professor Garnick in background). (Kate Maselli/Bowdoin Orient)