Alex Ranieri, an athlete, gym owner, and your ultimate CrossFit junkie (he’s in the leaderboard FYI!) shares his experiences and best advice on health and fitness. He is all about proper posture and having a balanced lifestyle. Read his full interview below.
Tell us your story, who are you and how did you start in the health and fitness industry?
Hey everyone! I’m Alex Ranieri I own and run CrossFit Wellbeing (www.crossfitwellbeing.com.au) in Belrose on the northern beaches of Sydney. Health and fitness has been a part of my life from a very young age. I started soccer at 3yrs old (being half Italian lol) and moved into soccer and cricket all the way into my teens. I ate good food but a lot of bad food as well and from 9yrs on starting gaining weight excessively to peak at 112kg at 14. This was a tough time in my life I guess many people who haven’t experienced the problems that come with being overweight would find it hard to understand the struggle to change. I decided enough was enough and started exercising, weight training and eating healthy. This led to a new life fitter and healthier which saw me pursue Rugby League as a sport at 19. Through opportunity and hard work I progressed into a career in Rugby League that saw me with first grade squads such as the Penrith Panthers, St George Illawarra Dragons and South Sydney Rabbitohs. I even played for Italy in their World Cup Qualifiers which saw them qualify for their first ever World Cup appearance in 2013!
Unfortunately they came with multiple injuries and operations. These included fractured cheeks bones, broken Jaw (no food for 10weeks!!), knee reconstructions, elbow operations and shoulder reconstructions. This lead to an early retirement but the chance for a shot at opening my own gym! I have now had CF Wellbeing for 3 years and am currently ranked in the top 50 fittest men in Australia/New Zealand which I work hard for and use to set an example to my clients that anything is possible and you can overcome adversity and reach your goals!
What is success for you?
In saying that my true passion is using the experiences I have had both negative and positive in a way that helps other people and improves their way of life. I get so much enjoyment out of seeing someone achieve a pull-up for the first time, beating their 1k row time trial, back squatting 30kg on a bar when they were not confident in lifting anything at the start. These are experiences that make my career worth while inspiring me to demand the best out of myself and have the determination to enter competition and reach my full potential, regardless of the result… That to me is success, that is what makes me happy
What were some of the biggest mistakes you made when starting out in this industry?
Volume and following the crowd. Every person is unique in their own way. Their previous training history, lifestyle growing up, injuries and operations, goals and aspirations. You can’t just have a one size fits all for fat loss and “fitness”. Over training is just as dangerous as not training at all so it is also important to understand what your clients threshold is as we can all handle different levels and intensities of exercise. Unfortunately I had a horrific run of injuries and operations BUT it has made me the trainer I am today. One who understands human movement and body mechanics and how to handle rehabilitation and avoid injury on virtually every part of the human body!
What is the most absurd excuse you heard from a client and how did you respond to it?
I guess the biggest one I hear is time or lack of it. Now I know everyone has their own lives to lead and specific circumstances but I have a client who has just had twins not too long ago and still comes into the gym. He makes health and longevity a priority especially to set an example for his kids as they grow, and so he should. So he wakes up early and gets a 1 hr session in 3 times a week and eats well and is an incredibly fit man. Would you believe it now his wife is on top of her recovery she is now coming in and they swap over. Just goes to show it’s all about priorities. If you really want a good healthy long life you will find a way.
What makes your gym/fitness center different from others?
Coming from 1 of 4 boys, I am big on family and believe as human beings we inspire the best out of each other in a group environment. CrossFit Wellbeing is everything I envision a gym should be. We have a great family feel and warm environment where plenty of laughs are shared in between sets and hitting PB’s. The other coaches and I compete at a high level which sets a good example for the members to push to reach their potential. Working hard in a team environment will ALWAYS bring out the best in you as an individual and that is what we have here. No ego’s, no mirrors, and as head coach I am understanding of everyone’s needs and very good at ad-lib coaching as needed for my members to reach their goals. Plus we are very big on mobility and moving how we should. Posture is a big thing. How many fitness professionals or PT’s (even famous ones) do you see out there with horrible posture?? It’s standard stuff and THAT is what leads to injuries – poor bio mechanics.
What is your greatest guilty pleasure when it comes to food?
Wow. Where do I start? My friends laugh and say I am an obese man trapped inside an athletes body haha. In all seriousness though I have a BIG appetite but eat really well thanks to Fit and Fresh Australia. Although when it comes time to let the hair down I love pizza, ice cream, chocolate and donuts – in no particular order. You can’t out train a bad diet so I am mindful of this and eat around 90% clean and 10% treats.
Describe yourself in one word.
What are some of your best exercise/workout tips?
Keep everything as functional as possible. Whilst there is nothing wrong with isolation movements for 99 percent of the population you will get more bang for your buck with compound exercises and whole body movements. Think squats – all variations, deadlifts, pull-ups, Kettlebell work running, rowing or bike riding. I use the CrossFit method as a base but it’s MY version of CrossFit. I found getting a good blend of Olympic lifting, weightlifting, gymnastics and bodyweight movements have made me stronger, fitter, faster and leaner than ever before on one single training model. Consistent variety is the key!
What are your goals or plans this year?
I would love to make the top 30 in Australia/NZ for the CrossFit Regionals competition. This is a comp that hands down ranks the fittest men and women in these countries. I have been there the last 2 yrs in a row it would be great to make it 3 and potentially a top 10 if the opportunity arose.
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