& CONDITIONING PROFILE #4 -
Zappitelli, a fellow McMaster class of '98 Kinesiology graduate
has gone on to become a massage therapist and successful
personal trainer. In addition, Mike has attained pro bodybuilder
status, drug-free. Mike is an inspiration to natural athletes
and bodybuilders and is known to work wonders with his massage
and ART ability.
Mike, congratulations on all of your success. Can you describe
your business and services a little more?
I own and operate HandZon Health Centre in Niagara Falls,
ON, Canada. I offer Soft-Tissue Management: Massage Therapy
and Active Release Technique along with personal training.
This combination of training and treatment is great for
not only my clients, but for the general public as well.
I believe people today are starting to trust in those practitioners
who actively take part in health, fitness, and wellness.
We are seen as role models and great examples of what can
be achieved and what these individuals can strive for in
their lives and fitness.
Mike, how much time do you devote to personal training and
how much to MT & ART?
I can't really say that I devote more time to one practice
more than the other practice. It's pretty much what people
are looking for and what they want. If they have an acute
or chronic (nagging) injury, then I treat them...on the
other hand, if they want some physical conditioning, then
I train them. At this point, ~75-80% is training; and about
15-20% is treatment.
What an all-around center that must be! What type of interaction
do you offer?
I provide clients with 100% undivided attention. I have
a studio that offers one-on-one personal training by appointment
only. This allows my clients to get the attention with no
interruptions, something that is not the case within regular
gym settings. The studio is equipped with the Cybex line
that includes: Cable cross-over; FT 360 (functional trainer);
Smith Machine; Power/Squat Cage; Dumbbells (5-50lbs); straight
bar; E-Z Curl bar; Stability balls; resistance tubing. The
setting is an attractive atmosphere that is inviting, clean,
and comfortable. I also offer nutritional counseling with
which I educate people on proper nutrition (not diet). I
assess their current eating habits, and get them off the
3-meal a day/Food Guide eating regime (not an easy task,
especially for older individuals).
You are a graduate of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario,
Canada, and arguably one of the top Kinesiology programs
in the entire world! What are some of things that you learned
from Drs. Sale, MacDougall, and Tarnopolsky that have shaped
your training strategies?
No argument there...what a great university and experience.
I learned a lot of exercise physiology from these gentlemen.
I learned the "how's" on increasing training potential and
the "why's" of training responses. If you remember, I just
started to train more intensely in preparation for my bodybuilding
competitions/contests and I used a lot of what I learned
from these professors on myself. I was a guinea pig...using
myself as a subject in my own experiences. You can learn
a lot from books and journals, but I completely agree with
Coach Mike Gough. He said, "...a lot the ideas and theories
I have and use today are not from studying from a book,
but from practical learning experiences I have had along
the way with some of the top names in the field."
things into practice is very important because you will
soon realize that one theory that is certified/justified
and makes a lot of sense will not work exactly for every
one of you clients. The Professors from Mac gave me a lot
of tools...it's how I use them that makes the difference.
They still today are there to answer any questions that
I have, as is CB ATHLETICS, and that is very much appreciated.
Great Mikes think alike! How did massage therapy differ
from Kinesiology? Do you recommend any other pre-requisite
courses before massage therapy or is Kinesiology the only
way to prepare?
Massage therapy was very similar to Kinesiology in the courses
offered, but massage therapy focuses on treating the soft-tissues.
Knowing your anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics greatly
heightened your treatment and its results. Kinesiology at
McMaster very much prepared me for the two years at Massage
School. Although, you can go straight to massage school
from high school, I recommend against it. I went through
massage school with very little difficulty and I attribute
that to Kin. I was better able to apply myself in treating
my clients, which may be difficult for some with little
post-secondary education. Having a degree will also help
with your professionalism and stature within the health
is definitely growing in recognition with government health
care and with the general public for 'alternative treatments'
(I like to call it 'complimentary treatment'). However,
applying for other ambitions, let's say education, having
a degree will allow you more credit...that is, you may be
able to directly enter the program without any complimentary
pre-requisite courses, which may last anywhere from 1-2
Mike, you have many certifications, but which ones do you
I try to credit myself nowadays with higher stature certifications
like NSCA for training clientele. I find that this certification
is recognized internationally more commonly.
list of certifications includes: Personal Training (Can-Fit-Pro);
Fitness Consulting (OASES); Certified Strength and Conditioning
Specialist - CSCS (NSCA); Clinical Exercise Specialist (ACE);
Nutrition and Wellness (Can-Fit-Pro); Active Release Provider
am constantly attending seminars and conferences (Can-Fit-Pro;
SWIS, IDEA, Metagenics, etc) to keep up to date with the
latest research. In the spring and fall of 2002, I hope
to start my next venture in Acupuncture and Osteopathy,
Obviously with your education, your clients are surely to
be the best attended to in the Niagara Falls region. What
types of people do you work with?
My clientele ranges from general public: those who just
want to feel better about themselves or change body composition,
etc., to athletes (hockey players, soccer players, golfers,
mountain bikers/road riders). The majority has been the
Hockey? Excellent, that is an exciting and rewarding sport
to be involved with. Any tips on training the athlete, hockey
players in particular?
Always analyze the whole sport and what is involved. Hockey
players do not need to only train their legs; there is a
lot of physical play in the sport as well, therefore, upper
body training, core training, balance training are also
very important. This will definitely aid the players with
and without possession of the puck. Their cardio training
is also very specific. Some players get more ice time then
others, and when on the ice, it is for only a very short
period of time. This time has to be maximized as much as
is also the whole skating aspect, which is not continuous
motion; stopping and starting, and the physical contact
with opposing players will have a great impact on their
endurance on the ice. So in short, assess what the player's
job is on the ice (forward, defense, or goalie) and their
role on the team. Once this is done, you can begin to develop
a training program specific to that individual player.
your training seasons into different phases for developing
hypertrophy, strength, and power. Do the same for aerobic/anaerobic
conditioning. Once a new level is accomplished, the athlete
has to be able to use his/her newfound skills in his/her
particular sport/event, which leads to my next point.
It all comes down to this when readying an athlete for an
upcoming season/event. Transference of training to the playing
field (ice) is what will make the difference between an
A and B player.
a competitive player for 12 years to a junior level has
definitely helped my understanding of the game of hockey
and soccer. However, you do not have to play a particular
sport to train an athlete in that sport. What you have to
be able to do is break down the sport and understand what
muscles are involved and what tasks are at hand. Once this
is done, you will be able to help any athlete improve his/her
performance, especially if he/she is not already involved
in a specifically outlined training program.
Mike, you are certainly one to practice what you preach,
having been a competitive bodybuilder for several years
now. How does this translate into success for your clients?
I am a natural competitive bodybuilder (lifetime drug free)
and this past fall, I achieved a professional status within
the NGA organization (National Gym Association). I am known
for this in my area so people always are asking me to either
help them get leaner or prepare them for bodybuilding competitions.
I am proud to say that with the 4 bodybuilders that I have
helped, all obtained first place finishes (2 of whom won
the overall title). Outside that bodybuilding ring, one
of my clients has trained pretty intense for that last 8-10
weeks and has achieved a weight level lower than when he
got married. He started with me at ~226lbs. and reduced
to <210lbs. (first time in 7 years). He is currently
great accomplishment was helping a female client who had
never exercised or trained in her life. At 57 years old,
she now sees me 3 times per week and takes part in a spinning
my last accomplishment I will mention was being able to
work with a 70 year old man. Here is his schedule:
1 hr. weight training
1 hr. weight training and Platform Tennis
7 mile hike
anyone ever tells you that they are too old to exercise,
tell him/her to call this guy!
You seem to have a huge range in your clientele. Do you
have any clients with diabetes or other health conditions?
I had the opportunity to work with an overweight (obese)
individual that was diagnosed with Type II (Adult Onset)
Diabetes a year and a half ago. He came to see me in September
2001 to discuss what options he had. With his busy schedule,
I managed to get him started on his nutrition dilemma. With
the advice that I gave him, he ate properly for 2 weeks
and lost 8 lbs.! Now this may not be a huge breakthrough
for most people, but what you have to understand is that
he attended hospital diabetic meetings regularly for one
year and had not lost one pound, and then in two weeks,
he loses 8 lbs.! By the middle of November, he had lost
that was just his weight...his blood sugar levels used to
be at 8-9 sometimes as high as 13 and he was taking insulin
4 times a day. When we touched base those two weeks later,
he was down to a 5 and insulin lowered to 2-3 times a day.
That is fantastic. Congratulations to you and him for that
success! Mike, what really sets you apart is your expertise
in so many areas. You do personal training, strength and
conditioning, and ART and massage. Tell us about the therapy
aspect of your business.
One woman came to see me with plantar fasciitis. She had
it for the past 3 years, all the time she was seeking care
from other disciplines. I treated her 7 times...when she
saw me in the gym the next day after the 7th time, she gave
me a huge hug and called me 'miracle man'. That past weekend
she went out for her first hike in 2 years and was able
to go dancing that evening with her husband. You should
have seen her face...nothing but smiles. That's what it
is all about.
It truly is.
Another friend of mine, a tennis player, injured his shoulder
and had problems serving. I treated him twice the week before
a weekend tournament. He played 8 matches with no problems
and he also served up a couple of aces per game!
terms of setting me apart from other trainers...I can't
really comment. We all have similar and different approaches
to each of our clients/athletes. You don't have to be a
'superstar' to train someone. You have to be someone that
your clients can believe in and put trust in you. If you
have the ability to do that, you can have an impact on anyone.
I live the life of fitness, health, and well being.
No doubt. Mike, those examples are all very impressive and
the clients must be overwhelmed with the results. Getting
back to the advanced athlete and bodybuilders, why don't
you let the readers in on a pro's secrets for building muscle?
Train hard and heavy and more importantly REST & EAT!!!
The only way the body will grow is to place a stress on
it that it is not normally accustom to, and then the body
will adapt if all other requirements are met (i.e. food
and rest). Once the stress is placed, micro-damage is done
(low and behold DOMS). Your biggest and most efficient gains
will occur when not in the gym. If you actually think about
it, you may only train 2-6% of your hours in a week (i.e.
3-9 hours per week out of 168!). The rest of the time is
spent outside the gym, recovering and adapting.
better you feed your body and the more that you allow your
body to rest and recover...the more repair and growth. The
body is a dynamic and complex organism, yet the one principle
behind its survival is simple...PROTECT and DEFEND. The
body only knows this principle...not "Let's build more muscle
so this body can look better."
Interesting point. Can you expand on that?
When you train hard, you are essentially damaging the body.
During recovery, the body will repair that damage and add
a few more "layers", if you will, so that the extent of
damage the next time you train will be less. This is why
you have to progressively train to attain more strength
and mass (if that is your goal). The fact that you gain
more muscle mass and strength is a secondary effect. Since
the body has now protected itself, it has repaired the damaged
tissue with more tissue (hence, increase mass and strength).
Now that a bodybuilder knows how he should be training,
what is the #1 thing you see the bodybuilder doing wrong?
First, I want to engrave the uselessness of liquid creatine
in the minds of my clients.
people are not setting definitive goals and only going half
the distance each time they take a step towards their goal.
For instance, most of my clients are either trying to feel
better (about themselves) and/or lose body fat. When you
do not set a goal to move towards, you get lost in what
you are trying to achieve.
Phil McGraw uses this analogy and makes a lot of sense.
Let's say you stand in a hot area...you don't like this
area because it's too hot, so you begin to step away from
it. As you move further away from the area, you begin to
notice that it's not as hot. At this point you're in limbo.
All you decided to do was not be hot anymore (very vague
and non-specific). But you haven't really achieved anything.
In this area you may become comfortable and eventually go
back to the hot spot. If you pick an area that you want
to move towards, then your focus changes. You set yourself
a goal to achieve. Like the 100m sprint or any race for
that matter, you set yourself a goal to reach the finish
line...not to move away from the starting line. If the latter
was the goal, you never actually have to finish the race
because technically anywhere in between the start and the
finish 10m, 20m, 30m,...etc. is away from the starting line.
At the same time, if you only gain half the distance towards
your goal with every step that you take, then technically
(let's say digitally) you never arrive at your destination...even
though you may be inches/decimals away.
I just want everyone reading this to understand that bodybuilding
is not all about those big guys/girls on stage in bikini
bottoms flexing their stuff. Bodybuilding is just what it
states, "Building a body". Essentially, with proper educated
guidance, you are changing your body composition in a positive
way, while at the same time getting stronger (functionally
too), leaner, and ultimately, more healthy. If you are blessed
enough to get very lean 2-5% and to be able to show muscle
in definitive detail, and if you have enough courage to
step on stage (shows a lot of character) and show your newly
transformed body, then all the power to you.
Okay, time for a harder question on a popular subject. Can
genetics be overcome, or will genetics forever be a "cop-out"
for people that just can't reach their goals?
Here's a topic that people do run in with and to some degree
it is unavoidable. First I'll speak on sport...then philosophically.
the sport of bodybuilding and on stage, it often does not
matter how much you workout, how much you bench, how you
eat. A large majority comes down to your genetic make up
of your body shape. Competitors with smaller joints (knees,
elbows, ankles, wrists) and smaller waists (structurally),
have an easier time displaying muscle development (as long
as they have a moderate amount of muscle present). What
I mean is that someone with 16" biceps and a 40" chest may
appear larger and more aesthetically pleasing with tiny
elbow/wrist joints and waist area, respectively.
can also help with muscle development and fat loss. Some
people have an easier time gaining muscle and looking harder
and fuller in competition. Some also have the ability to
lose fat very easily in time for competition (some people
are even lean all year round). No matter how much harder
some people train, they just can't get big enough, lean
enough, or achieve that perfect balanced look that judges
are looking for.
But Mike, there must be some hope?
Yes, certainly. For on the other hand, proportions (right
to left, front to back, upper to lower) can be changed.
This is what symmetry is all about. The problem is too many
bodybuilders want to be able to bench a certain weight and
have a certain arm circumference and they don't put enough
emphasis into true "body building" and proportion development.
You don't hear how much people can squat (except powerlifters)
or how many chin-ups, skull-crushers, calf-raises (etc.)
people can do.
bodybuilders can change their attitudes toward these exercises
and their workouts because these are not limited by genetics.
Genetically, you may not be able to develop some of these
areas as well as others however the potential will never
be discovered if the training is never attempted! Furthermore,
the emphasis on bench pressing can ruin a bodybuilder's
is another important variable that a bodybuilder can control.
You can have the best physique on stage (large muscle mass,
2% BF, good color, etc.), but if you can't show it properly
(i.e. good posing), you will be forever limited in your
What about the everyday client?
When I speak of genetics, I refer to what the person in
made up of and also how they let their lifestyle and environment
affect them. It's obvious that your genes come from your
parents. But you likely have heard, "I have my mothers hips
and thighs", and this unfortunately is a cop-out.
people do not like the way they are...blame it on genetics.
This is in regards to appearance, health (illness and disease),
personality and characteristic traits, etc. Spiritually,
I do not believe God designed people to have all these ailments.
There are too many people born today with disease, allergies,
etc. This is definitely attributed to our poor nutrition
of processed foods and polluted environment. We are products
of our lifestyle.
up, being a good catholic boy and going to church, has taught
me a few things that I relate to life. One in particular
is, "God helps those who help themselves". In other words,
you get from life what you put into it...you will get from
your body what you put into it (garbage in, garbage out).
Mike, on one hand you give the appearance of being blessed
with superior genetics because you have great muscularity.
Do you have any stories on your personal triumphs over genetics?
I'm 5'5" and I can't tell you when I had my growth spurt
(I think when I was 5 or 6 years old...ha!). I have played
competitive soccer and hockey since 8 yrs. up to junior
and college/university levels but my "genetics" (parents
are 5' - 5'1") did not slow me down. I gave 110% in training
and competition play. This awarded me with starting line,
penalty killing, power play lines, and scholarship offers
for soccer in the U.S.
have competed in bodybuilding since 1997, competing in both
weight and height categories. Of ~12 competitions, I've
finished 1st in 6, 2nd in 5 and 5th in one (a world competition
of height categories...Natural Olympia...containing 9 competitors,
I was the lightest on stage, outweighed by 15 lbs. from
the closest competitor). I have also won an overall title
(awarding me my professional status) as a bantamweight...lightest
of all weight categories.
I'm trying to say is that with what God and my parents gave
me, I wasn't letting anything stop me. I did my best with
what I was given and it paid off. This is the attitude that
I try to instill in my clients. With some effort and proper
nutrition, you can better help your body to deal with your
body, health and ailments.
one has the perfect genetics. Some are simply skilled more
than others at completing certain tasks. It's when someone
else is just as skilled that we try to challenge, hence
competition. Once an athlete says that he/she "can't" do
it, they fail and they fail the worst way...without attempting
or trying at all.
take what they have and always try to improve hence making
them more successful in their respective sport. Success
is not thinking of doing something...it's taking a risk,
to accomplish something you never had before. For some it's
eating better, stepping on a treadmill/bike, or lifting
weights, and for others it means reducing stress and spending
more time with the family. In order to adapt the body, you
have to give it something that it never had before.
try something new...genetics will only be in your favor
if you fuel and fine-tune your body and mind regularly.
say you buy a car. If you continually clean the car, change
the oil, check spark plugs, brakes, body, etc., this car
may last longer and you may never have any severe problems.
However, if you fuel it with dirty gas, leave the oil, spark
plugs, never clean the salt off the car...you will soon
notice that this car is breaking down. Poor fuel consumption,
sluggishness, rusty...remember...Junk in...Junk out!
So what are your goals?
My goals were to treat every client individually and give
him/her the personal attention they deserve and expand my
business with this is mind. This personal attention is not
a huge focus with many practitioners. Clients/Patients are
shuffled in and out of offices, or what have you. I met
with a doctor yesterday and when I asked him how his week
was so far, his answer was, "I saw 55 patients Monday (8-5),
63 Tuesday (8-5) and 29 Wednesday (9-12:30pm). So you can
imagine how little time is actually spent with these patients.
wanted to give them more than that. The only problem is
I, myself, have only so much time in a day...so I have to
expand because there are so many people out there that want
this attention and so little time. So far I have part of
my goal...expansion is the next part. My other goal will
be becoming an Osteopath (D.O.) and D. Ac. (Doctor of Acupuncture).
My commencement of this goal will commence this May for
D. Ac. and then September for D.O. After this I hope to
expand my centre to provide a holistic approach to treating
individuals. Through proper exercise, nutrition and wellness
and education on all three aspects. I hope that this will
provide these people with the tools to take responsibility
of their own health and make it one of their top priorities.
Changing the world one person at a time. Do you ever do
seminars Mike? If so, what do they consist of?
seminars that I have done include:
Split-Routine: educating people on the principles of weight-training,
myths, and proper split routines to optimize recovery.
on Weights: educating women on why and how important weight
training is for them to help them accomplish their goals;
and myths associated with women and weight training.
Your Body: education on the injury cycle (how acute, cumulative
trauma and eventual chronic injuries occur) and how to prevent
and treat injuries.
Are You Made Of?: education on body composition, how it
is measured, and the most effective ways of training to
change your body composition.
Preparation for body-building contest and secrets to advance
to the next level; includes supplement and posing tips.
Very interesting. The "women on weights" information is
well overdue. Can you sum up the 3 top things you have learned
in your education, personal experiences, and bodybuilding
impeccable to your word
what you start
say please and thank you.
recommend approaching everything that you do in life with
the 3 D's: Desire, Dedication, and Discipline. If people
see your attitude towards life and its events that you set
out to conquer, you will have a great impact on them to
get self-motivated in achieving what they want to achieve...call
it the "ripple effect". What you do will have an effect
on someone else, and this will affect someone, and so on
and so forth.
Any closing words on motivation?
In the words of the late Napolean Hill (modified for my
venture), "What your mind will conceive, your heart will
believe, your body will achieve."
Thanks again Mike. How can interested clients and readers
get a hold of you for training and seminars?
Here is my contact info:
A. Zappitelli B.Kin, RMT, CSCS, CPT, CES
Physical Conditioning and Soft-Tissue