Justin Gelband, dubbed the model whisperer, is responsible for the covetable bodies of top models Miranda Kerr, Candice Swanpoel, Erin Heatherton, Behati Prinsloo, Anne Vyalitsyna and Maryna Linchuk, to name only a few. I caught up with Justin to talk about fitness and his new project Model-Fit.

What motivated you to get into personal training?

I was an athletic kid. I played tennis, soccer, swam and ran cross-country. I went to Rutgers university and studied Exercise Science and Sport Management then I worked for the Metro Stars and interned for the Director of Marketing and Sales.

I moved to Los Angeles and worked at a 24 Hour Fitness. An advisor asked me if I wanted to start personal training.  It wasn’t what I wanted to do in the beginning but after watching other trainers I was inspired to help women use their bodies properly and get in shape. That was around 1999 and I grew from there.

What is your philosophy on fitness and wellness?

They are the same for me. It is about the individual. Everybody is different. I look at their life-style, health conditions, injuries, genetics and goals. From that I create a workout based on that individual. Model-Fit is about being the best you can be with the body you’ve been given. I created a class where I would be able to see how people move and create a system out of it.

Typically, when people attend classes they’re all doing the same exercises. How many people do you know that can do all the same stuff? You can’t really. If you break it into a more functional workout with specific exercises for their body it makes it more individualized even though it’s in the class atmosphere.

What are some of the biggest misconceptions you come up against when you start to train people?

Mainly that everybody is trained the same way and there’s no difference between people. Women and men are different and women cannot do the same exercises as men. Not because they’re not strong enough, but because they’re not meant to.  Women are not meant to do pull ups and push ups. They’re not built for squats and running mans and leaps.  You train them based on the individual. They’re trying to look their best and they’re doing all these lunges and squats and kettle bells. It is just bulking them up and then they wonder why they’re not losing any weight.  That’s number one.

Number two is nutrition. Nutrition is everything. Ninety percent of what you do is what you eat. Every day we look at our obesity rate in America and it’s growing. Last year the obesity rate was 38 percent and this year it’s at 41 percent; that’s crazy. Almost 50 percent of our population is obese and it’s because of our diet. I started working with Dr. D’Adamo about seven years ago. He’s the guy who created Eat Right For Your Type. I found that if you give yourself a chance to eat things once or twice a week that you enjoy, your body will stay lean and in the best shape it can.

Why the blood type diet? There are four different blood types.  What other nutritional plan can you give somebody that breaks it down to four types of people? When I started researching the blood type diet and trying it on clients it worked most efficiently. 

Most people suffer from pain, guilt and fear. They live in pain so they feel they shouldn’t exercise. They live with guilt because they eat something or they’re not feeling the way they think they should. Then there is fear. Everyone is fearful that if they don’t do something they won’t get to the next level. That’s not the right way to think. You have to think positive thoughts.

When you encounter someone who is struggling with these issues, how do you motivate them?

It’s all in the head. I mean, you can do it through exercise but you have to teach them to believe in themselves and give them motivation and discipline. They must feel that no matter where they’re in their life they can gain results out of what they’re doing.

A lot of people take time off and then they won’t go back to exercise.  Once you try exercising for two weeks, most of the time you’re hooked. It’s about getting the person to move whether it’s walking, swimming, riding or hiking. For me, I would just start with food and cardio. Cardio is movement and the motion of the body. If you get someone to do cardio and you get them moving it doesn’t matter if it’s only 15 minutes per day. At least you’re getting them to do something. I created Model-Fit to show you don’t have to have a gym. You can do it in your living room.

What would you recommend for a woman who is afraid of the gym but doesn’t have the means to have someone like you come to her home?

You can grab tennis balls. You can get bands for five or 10 bucks at the store. Do you all hear what I’m saying? You can just use your own body weight. It’s about changing the movements and modes of exercise. Not only am I creating this gym, I’m creating an interactive site so I will be able to help women and people at home gain that trust, not only in me, but in themselves. Like you said, it’s really hard for people who don’t have the money and don’t have the experience of being able to go and get a trainer and do that. I always I recommend getting out and doing cardio.

I’m creating short videos for people to do at home so they don’t feel alienated thinking that I only work with supermodels and famous people. I work with a lot of different people and that’s why Model-Fit opens March 1. I want to give back to the people. I do have an incredible job and I have been able to train the biggest models and celebrities in the world but it was something that I fell into. I got into training models and celebrities because of the health issues. I wanted to teach the girls how to eat right and how to exercise.

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