Mike Michalski knows a thing or two about mixing it up. After spending several years as a Political Consultant, Mike was craving a shift in careers. He’s always been a fitness enthusiast and was interested in the mind-body connection-- so, he founded Variant Fit (VFit) in 2014. Mike has received an overwhelmingly positive response to his system, built on the tenants of the E.F.S. system: efficiency, functionality and self-improvement. Mike’s program has made such a big splash that he has attracted the attention of a variety of A-List clients, including Award-Winning Music Producer Benny Blanco and chart-topping musicians and bands like Jessie Ware, Rixton, and Ryn Weaver. We caught up with Mike to get a deeper dive into his approach to fitness and nutrition, he also provided an amazing workout- check it out below the interview!
Tell us about the philosophy behind Variant Fit: The philosophy of VFit is shaped by my own experiences and beliefs about health and wellness. I believe in a holistic and well-balanced approach to fitness, which includes a healthy body, mind and soul. You should have a regimen that you enjoy doing—one that's part of your life, but doesn't consume it and one that's sustainable—meaning efficient and effective at producing the results you want. When you do that, you can maintain it for the rest of your life.
Tell us about your journey to VFit and switching careers: The move from politics to fitness was a pretty big change. However, I've felt like the transition was a pretty smooth one. Loving what you do certainly helps with that, as fitness has always been such an important part of my life. Also, being an entrepreneur and building a business, running it successfully, and continuing to grow are what impact my drive and determination to keep going.
What are the most common misconceptions that you hear about fitness and wellness from clients? While it's not unique to the fitness world, I think people are often intimidated and blinded by false limitations. During classes and training sessions you'll often hear me say "Challenge Yourself!" I think that's a great motto for most things in your life, but it's especially important when it comes to working out. How are you ever going to get stronger and break through those plateaus if you're not challenging yourself to get better during your workouts? Once you do that, it's amazing how quickly you'll progress, regardless of where you're starting.
How do you approach training women vs. training men? The biggest difference is body type. Women, much more than men, have issues with how best to train their bodies to achieve the look they want. If two women come to me looking for the exact same results/physique, my approach could be completely opposite from one to the other, with respect to their body types. For example, some women can put on muscle very easily, especially in their lower bodies. In those cases (if they want to avoid that), it comes down to finding the right blend of exercises that will propel them towards the results they're after. Women also complain a lot less than men!
How do you refuel post workout? Hydrate, replenish and repair. For me, that means coconut water, high-quality protein, and a moderate amount of easily digestible carbs.
Do you take any supplements? How important are taking vitamins to living a balanced life? The only supplements I take are grass-fed whey protein powder and cod liver oil. For me, nothing beats fresh ingredients to give me all the essential vitamins I need. That means plenty of fruits and veggies, and when possible, locally and organically grown produce.
If you could give our readers one tip on nutrition, what would it be? Don't be afraid of fat. Good quality fats like Omega-3's are so beneficial for heart and brain function, and you should make these part of your everyday diet. Some great sources are walnuts, fish oils, and olives.
What’s next for you and VFit? I'm less than a year into adding the 4x4 and Gauntlet classes to my schedule, and I'm so thrilled and touched to see how well people have responded to them. The key is finding the right balance of group classes and 1-on-1 training, because I enjoy them both so much. I'm always thinking of new ways to expand my reach to more and more clients. As a trainer, I'm given the incredible opportunity to affect someone's life in such a positive way, and I relish in the chance to do so.
Can you tell us what Health, Beauty, Fit means to you? For me, they're intrinsically tied together. I think we have to be happy to feel beautiful, when we're healthy we're happy, and when our minds and bodies are fit, we have a healthy mind, body, and soul.
The Essential Eight Workout: This eight move, total-body circuit is a workout you can do anywhere with no equipment necessary. Depending on time-allotment or fitness level, you can repeat the entire circuit 2-3 more times.
From a standing position, squat down bringing your hands to the floor. Once in a squat position, walk your hands out until you bring yourself into a push-up position, chest over your hands. Perform one push-up, then walk yourself back to your starting position. Repeat this movement for a total of 8-10 repetitions.
Straight-arm lunge with knee raise:
Ideally, this movement is performed with a 5-10 lbs (or heavier) dumbbell. But, you could easily do this holding a water bottle, or even no weight at all. With one arm extended overhead, step backward with your opposite leg into a reverse lunge. Maintaining this position in the upper body, push off with your back leg and bring your knee upward. Repeat this move for a total of 10-12 repetitions. Switch hands and repeat the same move and repetitions with the other leg.
Start out in a plank position, hands directly below your chest. Bring one foot forward, outside the arm on the same side. From that position, lower your elbow down towards the floor. Bring your leg back to the starting position and repeat this move on the other side for a total of 8-10 repetitions each side.
Shown here holding onto TRX straps, you can easily perform this movement holding onto a chair, desk, dresser, etc. Stand on one leg, knee flexed, up onto the ball of your foot (heel off the floor). Start with your opposite knee bent at 90 degrees, even with your other knee. Extend that leg backward to full extension, lifting upward slightly. Return that leg to the starting position and repeat this move for a total of 12-15 repetitions. Switch legs, and repeat again on the opposite side.
Start out with knees slightly bent, up onto your toes. Lower down into a squat position, as low as you can while still still maintaining this position up on the toes. Raise back up to your starting position, keeping the knees slightly bent at the top of the movement (never straightening your legs). Your quads will be burning! Repeat this squat for a total of 15-20 repetitions.
Shown here holding a medicine ball, you can easily perform this movement holding a dumbbell, other 5-8 lb weight, or even a water bottle. With your arms overhead, step out sideways into a squat position. As you begin to squat down, you'll bring the ball/weight down towards your hip. Try to keep your lower body square as you rotate your upper body around your center, simulating a chopping-type of movement. Repeat this motion 8-10 times to one side, then switch and repeat for the same number of repetitions on the other side.
Ideally, you'll perform this movement with a dumbbell. But, if you don't have a dumbbell, you can just use your arm to perform the same motion without any weight. From a plank position, hold a dumbbell with one hand (one hand on the floor and the dumbbell on the floor). Keeping a straight body line by tightening your abdominals, and pull the weight towards your side, as you pivot slightly shifting most of your weight to your opposite side. Lower the dumbbell back to the floor, returning to your starting position. Repeat this move for a total of 8-10 repetitions. Switch hands, and repeat this move on your opposite side.
Plank jumping jacks:
From a plank position (feet together), keeping your abdominals tight, jump out wide with both feet trying to stay as parallel to the floor as you can. You will really work your core to maintain that straight body line. Jump back in with both feet, returning to your starting position. Repeat that motion for a total of 25-30 repetitions.