Being able to do what you love for a living while helping other people is something that few people get to do for a living, but trainer Ace Simpson is one of them.
The Detroit native is the Founder and CEO of New Normal Fitness based in Los Angeles and has made it his business and his mission to empower people through healthy living that goes beyond their physical appearances and touches on their mental well-being. By finding a balance between those two things and incorporating a healthy diet, Ace not only pushes for results — he gets them.
Ace practices what he preaches by making sure to keep a routine that speaks to him and his lifestyle which is something that he encourages all of his clients to do yielding phenomenal results. And in today’s second edition of Wellness Wednesdays, Ace takes us along his health and wellness journey through positivity, faith, and focus.
What inspired you to become a trainer?
Fitness has always been a staple in my life since I was young. I always enjoyed being physical. But, the one thing that I always noticed from a young age was that I really enjoyed empowering people. I thrive off of people accomplishing goals and breaking new barriers. So, when I stopped playing basketball in 2011, I just combined what I knew (fitness) with my gift (empowerment), and the rest is history.
How do you customize training programs for different clients, especially if you’re doing a group training session?
When it comes to individual clients, everything is based on what their end goal is. Then I reverse engineer from there. Everything normally starts the same way. Before we start training, we get their weight, measurements, take “before” pictures, have body fat scanned, and have their Basal Metabolic Rate measured. This ensures that we have the starting point we need to make the best educational decision on how to approach their nutritional needs. Everyone is different, so you can’t give everyone the same meal program. The first few weeks are about seeing how their body responds to the nutritional program and training and if any adjustments need to be made. My overall goal is to find a way of eating that they can adhere to for a long period of time to ensure not only results but sanity.
Group training is pretty much the same. Anybody that trains with me has to do the above — there’s no way around it. I won’t coach you if you don’t. A strong starting point is a must!
As a man of deep faith, how has that affected your personal fitness journey and how you are as a trainer?
It’s shaped everything for me. It’s made me way more empathetic to my clients’ past experiences as to why they may be in the current situation they are in. But, the biggest thing is that it’s made me rely on my own personal testimony.
Normally, when clients go to trainers, they expect the trainer to have all the answers and to be the epitome of health and wellness. Which makes sense, however, I’m always transparent with them. Which is why I feel my retention rate is so high. I make it a priority to let them know that we are the same. I’ve had my struggles and my ups and downs with fitness, life, and more. My faith has allowed me to connect with people on a much deeper level, which allows them to trust me and get to the source of why they are where they are, but more importantly, what behaviors need to change in order to become the best version of themselves
You’ve mentioned on your Instagram page that fitness saved your life. Can you expand on how it saved you and how it has inspired you to make part of your life’s work about giving the gift of health and fitness to other people whether they be clients or friends?
I was always into fitness, however I didn’t find weight lifting until 2011. I went into what I call a quarter-life crisis from 2012 until 2013. I didn’t know what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be and my faith was wavering a bit. Everything seemed to be spinning out of control, but the only thing that remained constant was the gym. Being able to have something tangible to rely on for control saved me. I was able to channel my inner frustrations with life and put them into a non-subjective arena. I could control anything and everything when it came to my health and fitness. Nothing could get in the way of my results unless I allowed it, and I loved that. The principles I learned in the gym are transferable to every single aspect of life. Now, that doesn’t mean we have control of everything, because we don’t, however, the one thing we can control is our effort.
A lot of the times depression comes from lack of significance. Not being able to feel a part of something or that you matter. But I’ve learned that that’s all a lie. We were all created to serve a purpose bigger than ourselves, so naturally, we are born into a team. Sometimes we have just to focus on what we can control and let go of the things we cannot. That’s when we allow God to come in.
If something may be getting you down, how do you remain positive?
I always keep in mind that being down is one thing that is normal and natural. It happens to all of us. But sometimes suffering is a choice. A lot of times, we are in control of how long we allow things to bother or get to us. For me, everything is about changing your state of being.
Some insight that I can give to the people is that normally when you feel down, your body language and biochemistry changes. You get tighter and you’re not as open. Just changing your body language or engaging in some physical activity can put you back into a more positive state. Because here’s the thing, you can’t be grateful and angry at the same time. You have to chose one or the other. Energy is transferable. Change your energy with movements, and sometimes you will snap out of that mood in no time.
Who are some of your health and fitness inspirations?
The late Greg Plitt, who is the greatest fitness model of all time, was my biggest fitness inspiration. He had been on more covers than anyone and had a physique that I felt I could duplicate and was attainable. He died in 2015, but he was the main person I looked to for advice, training, diet information, and motivation. He was a big part of my confidence building in my mid 20s. Now, I would say Dwayne Johnson for sure. Arnold and Stallone are also since I grew up a huge 80s action movie buff. Those guys are some of my heroes.
Besides working out, how do you treat your body good and how do you encourage others to do the same? Is it sleep, diet, yoga?
I would say that you always have to remember that you have to put the oxygen mask on yourself first. You have to take care of yourself first and foremost.
For me, self care starts early in the morning. I get up around 4:15 am or 4:30 am on weekdays. I’m a firm believer that the first thing you do upon waking up sets the tone for the entire day. So as soon as I get up, I have my alone time with God. Sometimes, it’s reading the Bible, talking, walking, or listening to classical music — it’s about just putting myself in His presence. After that, then I get a workout in. My approach is that I want to take care of my spiritual, mental, and physical self first. For me, by doing those things, the emotional sorts itself out.
Now, this is my routine. I would encourage others to find a routine that they can adhere to upon waking up. The thing is, the mind and the body are one, so if you take care of your mind, the body has to follow that. I think too many people are worried about their bodies and not doing enough strengthening of the mind. Once you get in the habit of doing this, you will desire to workout more, because your brain is going to need it.
When it comes to setting personal goals, how do you go about achieving them?
I always remember that goals and dreams require zero commitment. It doesn’t cost anything to have a goal or dream. However, the price to be paid is developing principles and behaviors that lead to achieving the goal or dream. So my approach is not focusing on the goal, because I already know what the goal is. I focus on who I have to become in order for that goal to come to me. To me that means that subconsciously, I am telling myself that I am behind. I’m not behind, because I’m right on time for what’s for me. However, my only focus is to do things necessary to develop the character, principles, behavior, and skill set needed to become that person. I don’t worry about what I want to be, I focus on who I have to become because it’s about expanding and growing my goal once I start to achieve it.
Who do you look to for inspiration whenever you may need an extra push to reach a milestone?
My mom. As soon as I start to feel like I’m going through the motions, I quickly think about watching her work three jobs at the same time without ever complaining, missing a game, birthday, holiday, parent teacher conference, or anything. Gloria Jean is the shit [laughs]. If she could balance all of that, and then some, then why the hell would I be chillin’?
What has been the most rewarding aspect of being a trainer?
The most rewarding thing is being a coach and watching people become better. This is about so much more than the body for me. It’s all about people becoming a better version of themselves by using fitness as a tool to get there. I get a better kick out of a client quitting smoking or leaving an abusive relationship or starting a business or spending more time with their kids than if they dropped 20 pounds.
What advice do you have for people that are just starting their fitness journeys?
I would say, the first thing is to know that in order to have ownership, you have to own your shit. Meaning that you may not like where you are right now physically, but you do have to respect and honor this current position because, to be honest, 9 times out of 10 we put ourselves there in the first place. Most people don’t stick to their fitness goals, not because they are not capable, but because they never respected the fact that they were out of shape in the first place. When you honor where you are, you respect the process. If you just want to lose weight, you skip all the mental steps needed for the growth.
The second thing would be, just start. Don’t worry about having it all figured out, just get your butt to the gym. Hire a trainer. Invest! Your health is not an expense, it is an investment. The amount of money you spend on training will fail in comparison to the return on the investment you made that comes with changing your lifestyle.
What are major keys for success when someone wants a lifestyle change when it comes to diet and working out?
Respect where you are, but don’t dwell in that space. Have a big goal, but also break it down into small bite sized practical pieces. Then, if you don’t know what to do, do everything needed to acquire the knowledge that you need. Some people don’t need a trainer; they can train themselves and that’s fine. But there are lots that do need them. As far as nutrition is concerned, remember that adherence is the name of the game. Don’t fall for fad diets, because those results are temporary. You want to find a way of eating that you can adhere to that will also lead you to your goals when the time comes. Lastly, patience. You have to remember that this is a journey, not a destination. The more you understand that this will not happen overnight, the easier it will be for you and others around you.