The Fitness Academy

My Fitness Journey

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Hello all, welcome back!

Someone had suggested I speak a little bit more about my own personal fitness journey that I have been on since 2005. I have to start off by saying my first inspiration from the fitness world came from my father. I can remember growing up in our small apartment in Hoboken, NJ. In the corner of the master bed room he had one of those all in one gym stations. It was a flat bench that could raise up for incline with dip handles behind it. It even had a cable attachment for lat pulls and leg extensions in the front of it. He was a true mans man at the time. Metallica blasting, no shirt on, constantly going over to the mirror to check his “gains.” He even had a camcorder and started filming his workouts. This was WAY before Facebook and Instagram. The energy in that tiny bedroom was infectious. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was hooked. I wanted to feel like that! I wanted to lift heavy weights and build a huge chest! However, I came to realize in my early teen, overweight years that it was not as easy as it looked. “You mean to tell me one day of bench press won’t give me the chiseled pecs I’m looking for?” “Is it supposed to be this difficult to lift 15 pounds?” “What is this soreness!?” Needless to say I didn’t last very long with that mindset. I went through the rest of my teenage years including high school very quiet, self conscious, insecure, overweight, etc.

Fast forward to 2005, I just graduated high school and got a job at a local gym where I started out as a life guard for their swimming pool. I wasn’t even old enough to workout there without a chaperone. When I finally turned 18 they allowed me to workout by myself. This was my first time showing any consistency working out and boy, did my body adapt quickly. I saw and felt my chest getting bigger and stronger by the month, my arms were starting to show definition, my confidence was through the roof. It was not controlled, I was downright cocky. I also knew nothing about nutrition or how the body worked. This will come back later in the story.

So over the course of about 7 years working at this gym I ended up working in every department. I worked the front desk, I became and online certified trainer (which is a joke and a disservice to the fitness industry if I’m honest), I headed over to the sales department and even had my hand in the marketing department. At some point this gym I was at started to rent out space to a personal trainer trade school, this will also come back later. At around 21 years old I tore 2 ligaments (ligaments attach bone to bone) in my right ankle playing basketball. I had no health insurance, my uncle had to pay out of his own pocket for me to get an MRI. No health insurance meant to surgery, no rehab. My ankle is currently being held together by scar tissue. I had crutches and stayed off that ankle for months, testing it each month to see how it was healing. This was a dark time for me. Unable to work, I stayed home all day, every day taking prescription pain medication and eating all day long. Hello, weight gain and depression! As soon as I was able to start putting weight on that foot, I did and I returned to work against their wishes. I started to rehab myself, picking the brains of anyone that seemed like they knew what they were talking about. I wanted to play basketball again, I started to work on my cross over, slowly and painfully. I can remember still being on crutches, hobbling over to the bench press and getting in as many sets as I could during the 30 minute lunch break I had. The soreness had never felt so good.

As my ankle got closer to 100% I started to work with a personal trainer that free lanced at this gym. It changed my life. I had never been stronger and the education on lifting that I received from him is a huge part of what I apply to my business today. After working with him for over a year I eventually had to discontinue due to the fact I had decided to go to school to become an RMA (Registered Medical Assistant). I was working at the gym during the day and going to school at night. Finding time to workout became difficult and remember when I said diet would come back into this story? Well, here it comes.

Your body will talk to you. It will send you signs that something is not right. I never put much thought into what I was eating or how I was living. So that meant late night diner trips after spending a few hours at a local bar. There is about 3 different fast food chains within a 1 mile radius of my town, I even had picked up smoking cigarettes! I had asthma, I literally could not leave my house without a pack of tums due to acid reflex and I was taking 4 – 8 Advil every single day due to stress headaches. Side note, pain medications do not work for stress headaches. I felt horrible every day, I was getting sick every few months. My wake up call came when I went to the doctor for a check up. My BMI told me I was obese, he wanted me to fill prescriptions for a daily asthma inhaler (I had only had an emergency pump to this point), he wanted me to see an orthopedist for all of the pain I was in (my body aches were terrible when I was sick) and a neurologist for my head aches. I did none of what he asked. I refused to accept this as my new life. I stopped smoking and got my obese @$$ on a treadmill for my heart and lung health. I changed my diet which amazingly stopped my antacid use and I quit my job, I woke up the very next day headache free. I also started taking zinc to help boost my immune system. Thanks, doc.

From that point on I never looked back. I had realized that between rehabbing my own injury, putting myself through school (and graduating) and doing an complete 180 with my health that I could do anything I put my mind to. Anything. So, that’s what I have been doing ever since. From owning a dance studio to driving trains for the HBLR. Putting myself back through school to become the best fitness professional I could be. The school I am referring to of course just so happened to be the personal trainer school that was located inside of the gym I started working at when I was 17. Now if that’s not full circle then I don’t know what is! The Fitness Academy will be turning 1 year old in few months and none of this would have been possible if not for all the pain I had to endure both physically, mentally and a  whole slue of other wild stories not mentioned in this blog.

So, that’s my story, or at least part of it. The message behind it? Embrace your pain, never fear change and believe in yourself. Let your heart lead you, it’s way smarter than your brain.

Peace & Love,

~ Matt G.

The Fitness Academy, LLC

If you’re seeking change in your life and need help to get started feel free to reach out to me. Change starts within the mind and your first session is always on me!

@FitnessAcademyNJ on Instagram

201.983.3510 (call/text)


Booty Building 101

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Yes, finally… The post you’ve all been waiting for! Ladies….. and gentlemen, welcome to booty building 101

Hello again my fit fam and welcome back,

Imagine how well Sir Mix A lot would have done today had his song “Baby Got Back” came out (almost) 30 years later. Having a big strong booty is all the rage nowadays. I’m not going to dive into how this came to be or how your Instagram feed is setting you up for extremely unrealistic goals. Let’s just focus on doing everything you can to work your booty to it’s full potential. I will however, spend some time explaining the actual physical benefits of building a strong booty that goes beyond aesthetics.

So, why should you actually want to build your booty? Well, there are actually three muscles that make up the booty. Gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. These three muscles work together to abduct, rotate and extend the hip. Strengthening your glutes can help improve posture as well as improve your athletic performance. The glutes help assist us in standing up, walking, picking up objects from the floor (parents think about how often your picking up your children) and climbing stairs to just name a few examples. There is a lot of power located back there and strong glute muscles are vital for sprinters, volleyball, tennis and basketball athletes among countless other sports and activities. So from you everyday desk job worker, stay at home mom or athlete you can confidently say; everyone can benefit from a strong backside.

Here is how it’s done. First and foremost you’re going to want to build up some strength and (muscle) endurance before focusing solely on size. Exercises like squats, glute bridges and reverse planks are great for beginners. (Keeping in mind that your core is stable and strong enough for these exercises) Train smarter, not harder. A smart newbie should try all of these exercises with no extra added resistance and a good coach near by to check for proper form! It’s important for you to know how to progress your workouts through adding resistance and changing little things in your form to keep the tension where we want it as well as which exercises are actually going to target the glutes most effectively. When you finally make it to the world of dead lifts, hip thrusts and sumo squats, then you’re really cooking! But of course the most important part again, is progressing safely.

Once you’ve properly developed your strength and muscle endurance you will graduate to hypertrophy training, this is where the biggest impact for size is made (if that’s what you’re looking for). You’ll have to do some research during your workouts to figure out what percentage of your 1RM (1 rep max) to hypertrophy train at. It could be anywhere from 50-75%, also figuring out how many times per week you want to target glutes to get the most out of your hypertrophy training. I suggest sticking to a hypertrophy program for about 6 weeks. Stick to the program, eat your protein and carbs and watch the size pack on! I highly suggest taking a measurement or taking pictures to tangibly track your progress.

If you would like to dive even deeper into this topic with me you can always e-mail me at

If you would like to schedule your complimentary 90 minute consolation, feel free to e-mail the address above or call/text 201.983-3510

Best of luck on your fitness journey!

Peace & Love,

~Coach MG

Follow me on Instagram @coachmgnj and @fitnessacademynj

Mental Health

Overcoming Depression and Anxiety

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Hello again and welcome back,

So, it’s 2018 and words like depression and anxiety get used so often we have become numb to the true meaning of these words and the impact they have on our lives. Fun fact I want you to think about as you continue to read along; The only time an animal (monkey, lion, elephant, even your house cat/dog, etc) feels stress or anxiety is when it becomes prey. An animal does not sit there and stress over the present day, the future or the past. It just lives its life as each day passes by. So, why do we allow our brains to completely take over and cause us unnecessary stress, anxiety and depression? Do we truly know what these words actually represent? Or are we just victims of the media and a society that constantly tells us every time we turn on the TV that we have depression and anxiety and with this pill all your worries and troubles magically disappear!

Depression – “Feelings of severe despondency and dejection.”

Anxiety – “A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.”

Stress – “State of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.”

Let me be clear by stating, I am not saying you should never feel these emotions. I’m simply saying you have more control over them than you think. Look at it this way, when you were younger you spent hours with teachers or coaches to master a craft, whether it be writing and spelling or dribbling a basketball. The more you practiced, the better you got. Arguably, the muscle of the mind is stronger than any muscle in the body and we’ve all heard of muscle memory. So, when you constantly live in a state of depression or anxiety you are actually “practicing” how to be depressed and anxious!

So, first things first. Acknowledge and accept that your subconscious is incredibly powerful and this is where the thinking begins. This is where, on your Sunday afternoon you start to feel uneasy and nervous that Monday is coming and it’s back to work for the week at a job you’re not in love with. Before you know it it’s 2:00 in the morning and your counting how many hours you have left before you have to be up and ready to start your day. I believe life and the mind is like a very delicate day of fishing. It’s all about balance, knowing when to fight and take action, and when to relax and not try to control everything. Sound complicated? Well, that’s because it is. I love old cliche sayings because they have been around forever and they almost always hold true, so in this case I will say, “Nothing worth having comes easy.”

Alright, you have now accepted, acknowledged and shown respect to your subconscious. That’s step one, treat your subconscious as if it’s another entity living within your being. Sounds crazy, I know. What’s next? Practice, practice, practice! Here is a method I have used with some clients in the past; write down a list of all the things in your life that cause you any feelings of negativity. Then, write down another list on a separate piece of paper of all the things in your life that bring happiness to your life. The first list you acknowledge and accept that these are areas of your life that you are working on. It will take time but you will overcome all of these things that you feel are weighing you down. Now take that first list and shove it in a drawer somewhere, we’ll get back to it. The second list of happiness you carry around with you everywhere you go. Anytime you feel any negative energy or sadness coming over you, take that list out and give it a look over. Spending time on each one to feel the joy it brings you when you’re doing it. Show gratitude for each and every one. This is just one technique to rewiring your brain for positivity. Now, as for that second list. As you continue to work to improve your life for the better, once you feel you have overcome any one of those hurdles you can now cross it off of your “negative” list. This will give you a sense of accomplishment which is huge for your subconscious to acknowledge and accept. Do you see how we have flipped the dynamics. We are no longer allowing the subconscious to dictate towards us, giving us things that we need to register and deal with. Now we are creating things for the subconscious to acknowledge. This will in-turn cause the subconscious to expect positive things to happen in our every day lives.

Crawl before you walk. This is just one method I give my clients. If you would like to know more or go into further detail feel free to reach out to me at

Follow me on social media @FitnessAcademyNJ (Instagram)

To get the full effect, you can always schedule your complimentary session with me at The Fitness Academy.

Just call or text 201.983.3510 or email at

Peace & Love,

~Matt G.

The Fitness Academy

How this all came to be…

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Hello and welcome!

For my very first blog (ever) here is a quick little introduction about myself.

My name is Matt Gabriel, I am the owner of The Fitness Academy, LLC. I have been involved in fitness since I graduated high school back in 2005. One of my first jobs was at a local gym in my area where I actually started out as a lifeguard. I worked my way over to the front desk, then decided to go online and get one of those cheap – “pay us $100, take this test as many times as you need and then boom, you’re a certified personal trainer.” *Side note for a future blog, one of my many pet peeves about the fitness industry.*

Anyway, after becoming “certified” I started to pick up clients, not thinking much of it past just an extra source of income. It was not the type of gym that made a lot of money through its personal training program so I soon moved into yet another department, sales and marketing.

This all happened over the course of a 7 year span. In-between this job I had actually gone to a trade school to become a Registered Medical Assistant where I worked at an Ear, Nose & Throat doctors office. The doctor I assisted specialized in vertigo and equilibrium imbalance which I found to be fascinating. It truly is amazing to witness what our bodies are capable of.

It was after my time as a R.M.A. I had met a woman who had a hunger for success and to create her own path in life that, at the time my brain could not even comprehend. I had always had the dream/fantasy about starting my own business. Little did I know what was in store for me. This woman (who we will call Vivica) and I had grown very close. This was also during a time of unemployment for me. Vivica had told me about how she was in the process of starting her very own business, a dance studio for children and adults. She was actually just days away from signing a lease at a location just a few minutes away from where I was living at the time. With the bond and trust that we had developed for each other she had asked me if I wanted to partner up with her. So there I was sitting at a Barnes & Noble across from this new person that had just entered my life like hurricane asking me if I wanted to be apart of her business. I tried to play it cool but it was a no brainer, I was in!

Fast forwarding, I ended up walking away from my dream of being my own boss for “the safe bet.” I picked a career with great health benefits, outstanding pay with all the overtime someone could ask for and job security. I was now driving trains for the Hudson/Bergen Light Rail and I had never been more miserable in my entire life.

Constantly in the thought of “what the hell am I doing here, and how do I escape this “prison sentence?” as I used to refer to it as. Feeling like I had 40 more years of this before retirement. One night while operating the train it hit me like a jolt of lightening to the brain. It was that “ah ha!” moment. I had realized all of my past jobs revolved around people in someway. (some jobs not mentioned here believe it or not) At this time I had also found my only outlet for all of my stress and anxiety was exercise. So, when you take a love for fitness and mix it with a love people you get…

The Fitness Academy

Within almost no time after that moment had embedded itself into my soul I enrolled myself into NPTI, National Personal Training Institute to get myself a REAL education. I once again found myself in a classroom as a full time student. Needless to say I graduated from NPTI with a diploma that lasts a lifetime. No silly certification that expires. I have a thorough education in personal training, anatomy, kinesiology and nutrition. NPTI truly creates fitness professionals and I am ever so grateful for the time I spent there.

From the moment that I had on the train and the time I spent with Vivica I knew the end goal was to open my own personal training studio. However, to get even more experience I decided to work at a high end gym in north Jersey after graduation. It was a great experience that allowed me to test out my new education and skill set. It was there I realized about myself that I love to educate my clients. I believe the “why” is what gives reason and purpose to everything. So, while I’m working with my clients I always make sure to give the “why” behind each exercise and movement instead of just saying, “Do these 20 burpees.”

And therein lies the philosophy behind The Fitness Academy. You’re not paying me to train you, you’re paying me to change your life. I’m not there to count your reps, I’m there to explain to you why I have you doing 15 reps instead of stopping at 10. I’m there to explain to you why/how your diet is negatively affecting your progress. We will also spend time teaching you how to create small changes that begin the snowball effect of healthy life style habits that honestly goes beyond just exercise and diet.

Well, that about wraps up my introduction. I hope this gives my viewers a little better insight on the kind of environment you will be in when you decide to join The Fitness Academy.

If you’re looking for even more information follow me on social media @FitnessAcademyNJ on Instagram

If you would like to contact me directly, please feel free to e-mail me at

The Fitness Academy is located at 47 E Ridgewood Ave. Ridgewood, NJ 07450

Your first session is always on me!

Why? Because I always like to make sure I connect with my clients. I like to make sure we are on the same page about everything and that we are working towards the same goal.

Until next time!

Peace & Love,

~ Matt G.