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Gabe Free has been with Balance since 2015, and was recently promoted to Director of Personal Training at Balance Gym Capitol Hill! He first got into lifting to become a better athlete for rugby, football, and lacrosse, and now trains clients and teaches our Bells and Brawn class at Balance. Read on to learn what he loves about Balance, his favorite types of workouts, his go-to pre-workout meal, and why everyone can use a personal trainer!

Name: Gabriel Free

Occupation: Director of Personal Training at Cap Hill

Hometown: Capitol Hill, Washington DC

At Balance Since: 2015

Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your fitness background?

My dad got me lifting in high school because I wanted to be a better athlete for rugby, football and lacrosse. I saw immediate progress and significant changes in my body and ability on the field. It made me feel like a winner every day. I became obsessed and knew I wanted to pursue this as a career to help other people reach their athletic potential and be winners themselves.

How did you get started with fitness training/teaching?

In high school I actually helped coach other teammates who came into the weight room and asked me for help, as we did not have a strength coach. Officially, I started teaching some outdoor bootcamps during my summer breaks in college right in Stanton Park.

What do you think are the most beneficial things about personal training, and how can people benefit from Balance’s personal training program?

Always having someone to push you and guide you is key. Even trainers have trainers. It’s really easy to fall into patterns and do the same lifts, same routine, same runs, every day. The key to growth and development is variety and getting better at your worst attributes. A good trainer should always help attack weaknesses in a client. Balance personal training is great because of the equipment variety at each gym. We trainers love our toys and Balance has the most!

What are your favorite types of workouts – either to do by yourself or to work on with clients?

My favorite workouts are simple, use compound movements, are low volume and heavy. I love to finish with some high intensity strongman cardio as well. Example workout:A – Power cleans: 5 x 3 B – Back squat 5 x 5 C1 – DB Bench press 5 x 5 C2 – Walking lunges 5 x 5 D – Sled drags and pushes and bear crawls until I hate myself  Recover – Lots of protein and 8 hours of sleep – BOOM.

What are some of your gym must-haves?

My gym must haves are barbells, bumper plates and a squat rack on an 8×8 platform. With the right guidance, anyone can do just about anything with that. Foam rollers and lacrosse balls are a must for recovery.

What’s your favorite healthy meal or snack to cook at home or eat on the go?

I live by my pre-workout oatmeal with a big scoop of peanut butter and lots of fruit. Sticks to your ribs and wont slow you down. Post workout I go for 25g of lean protein with as many colorful vegetables as possible. Eat a rainbow! Vegetable/fruit color variety will help with your micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Your pre and post workout meals are the most important of the day because your brain is most vulnerable to adaptation; never skip these.

How do you suggest people fit working out into their busy schedules?

It doesn’t take more than 20 minutes. Shoot, you can do 5 minutes of burpees/squats/sprints straight and be FRIED if you push yourself. I encourage people to be ready at all times because you never know when you will have spare time. Eliminate excuses. No one has time, everybody makes time. Bring sneakers and some compression gear with you at all times. People will think it’s weird until you’re jacked and they aren’t.

What advice do you have for someone who’s new to working out?

I encourage new people not to fear judgement. Everyone started where you were. Some people will start even worse than you. The worst thing you can do is nothing. Take classes even if they intimidate you, seek out a trainer or friend who’s in good shape and can workout WITH you.

What are your favorite things about Balance?

I love the culture of Balance. We don’t have an elitist vibe like many gyms in the area, which cause the judgement that keeps people from growing. At Balance it’s not about how expensive your exercise clothes are, how much you lift, or how many likes your selfie got – it’s simply about getting better.

Complete this sentence: #Balancelife is: all sport, all people, all life, all winning