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Pat Gilles
How I Became a Pro in Fitness, Cycling and Sailing and America’s Most Inspiring Trainer

Pat Gilles' Stats When We Talked with Him 💪

United States
36 years
183 cm
(6 ‘)
75 kg
(166 lbs)

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👋 Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training

I am Pat Gilles, the owner of Pat’s Gym in Madison, WI. I am currently 36 years ago. I work as a coach at Pat’s Gym, and also am working with athletes around the world through an electronic platform that I designed, which supports these athletes in their fitness journey.

I currently reside in Madison, WI. I have an incredible wife, Roza Gilles, who helps me keep the gym running smoothly. Roza has also qualified to compete in the 2020 CrossFit Games that will be held in Madison, WI this coming summer (Summer of 2020). Therefore, much of our life currently is making sure that Roza is prepared for that competition.

I also have two kids, Cully and Lolo. We are raising the kids to make sure that they understand the importance of fitness of everyday life.

I have also been active in sports. Growing up I played hockey competitively. I was fascinated how the body would go where the mind commanded. I was also motivated at an early age by setting a goal and being able to achieve it.

In high school, I fine-tuned my ability to control my physical performance by focusing on constantly testing myself to drive out doubts we all have about our performance. It’s a skill I have tried to refine in my life and have tried to teach my clients.

The mind is an incredibly strong asset, which most people have not even begin to use in harnessing its power. It’s exciting when I can tap into its strength, and I see other athletes learning how to harness its benefits.

I studied exercise physiology, biomechanics, nutrition and wellness, human anatomy and motor learning at St. Olaf College in Minnesota. There, I competed in playing golf and hockey.

I started my coaching career 15 years ago working for other gyms. Working for other gyms, I felt that I was limited in what I could offer. I wanted to use what I had learned based upon my studies and my personal experience to help others. I also wanted to create an environment that would help clients achieve their maximum potential.

I, therefore, started Pat’s Gym in the garage of my parents’ home approximately 11 years ago.

I have a moto that I can’t train someone unless I’ve put myself through the same training regime I will be designing. Otherwise, I couldn’t bring critical first-hand experience to the training regime.

As such, I have participated in various regional and state-wide cycling races in Wisconsin. I won the state championship in cycling race along with numerous crits (criteriums) and cyclocross events. I participated in the Ironman-Wisconsin and finished in 10 hours. I also sailed professionally and was an alternate for the US sailing Olympic team.

I have had various sponsors throughout my career. When training for Ironman-WI, I was sponsored by Trek. I have been sponsored by Reebok when they recognized me as America’s Most Inspiring Trainer. Also, I work with other companies as a thought leader or promoter of their various activities such as the CrossFit games.

I work with professional athletes with Online Coaching in helping them achieve their goals. Also, I work with C-Suite executives, and other busy professionals to help them remain healthy in their time limited, and stressful lives.

I also work with other individuals help to overcome issues they may be facing in everyday life, such as rheumatoid arthritis or other issues they may be facing. Coaching is an incredibly rewarding career to help live healthy and rewarding lives.

⏱ Describe a typical day of training

Lead from the front.

I have the philosophy that I need to “lead from the front.” I can’t coach others unless I model the way. I set various goals for myself in the gym and am constantly testing myself. I am constantly putting myself in situations in the gym that test my mental toughness. It’s amazing to see what the body can do once the mind is focused.

I train hard and consistently. I usually train in the gym about one to two hours per day. I am constantly researching fitness and playing with workouts to keep it fresh for me and my athletes.

I am constantly putting myself through various programs that I have created from focusing on the Concept2 SkiErg/Rower/BikeErg, to focus on strength and power programs. I love working with the Concept2 SkiErg programs that I have designed because it is a great way to constantly test my mind, which pay benefits on the SkiEerg.

My philosophy with working out is based upon four pillars of fitness. It definitely includes workouts, but also is focused on nutrition, recovery and stress management.

With regard to nutrition, I believe in eating throughout the day. I generally will eat about six meals a day; three larger meals and two to three supplemental meals. I focus on eating from clean sources making sure that I am getting in the right calories, but also focus on micro- and macro-nutrients. I generally don’t take supplements, except for a bit of Omega-3s and sometimes Vitamin D3 to help support recovery.

With regard to recovery, my third pillar of fitness, my philosophy is you can’t over-train, you can only under recover. It’s critical to keep your healthy and prevent burnout. Recovery not only includes structural workouts, but it includes sleeping eight hours per night, massages, hot-cold-hot-cold showers/plunges, rolling out, etc.

Stress management is definitely one of the issues we all need to perfect. At Pats Gym, we work on mental toughness to help us deal with stress. We all face stressful situations in life, but it’s in how we view and deal with those situations determines whether or not we learn from those situations or allow them to control our life.

With my Online Clients or at Pat’s Gym, we work with our athletes to help them manage stress in their lives.

👊 How do you keep going and push harder?

I have kept a training log since college.

To stay motivated at the gym, I make sure I program for myself in a way that challenges me in a smart way. My goals are stretch goals but achievable. I also make sure that I sleep enough to wisely sustain my workouts.

I have kept a training log since college. It really helps motivate me and helps focus me on what works for my workouts, and what doesn’t.

I try to vary my workouts. I try to put myself in compromising positions so that I don’t become comfortable working out in any one situation, and a specific time of the day.

Life will always throw us curve balls and we need to be flexible in confronting those situations. Therefore, I want my workout and time of those workouts to be part of the challenge. Life will always be challenging to us, and we need to be ready to confront the challenge.

I always make time for my priorities. Working out is a priority. My athletes are another priority. My family and friends are another priority. I make sure I don’t take for granted anything that is a priority.

🏆 How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

In life, which includes my fitness, I am always doing today what helps set me up for success in the future. With regard to fitness, I am programming to keep getting better in the gym and in life. I want to keep challenging my athletes, and that requires I keep challenging myself. I will never put an athlete through a workout I have not done myself.

My current training is focus on improving my endurance with regard to aerobic capacity. I am constantly challenging myself on the Concept2 SkiErg. It’s a great piece of equipment that constantly make me better, even when I fail at my goal. I love failures because that shows I am pushing myself, and it helps identify weaknesses that I will focus on.

My fitness goal for the next five years is keep increasing the bar and working to achieving my goals. Fitness is a never-ending journey, and I want to constantly be growing.

I also have goals for the business. I am constantly focused on improving the service I provide to my athletes, whether at Pat’s Gym or Online Coaching athletes. I want to make sure I am constantly there for them and challenging them in creative and unique ways.

I am also constantly growing the business and making sure it doesn’t get stale. We are constantly updating the gym to keep it fresh for athletes. With regard to Online Coaching, the platform is constantly changing to support evolving needs of my athletes.

In my life, personal and professional, I am always seeking to improve. However, I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that I am blessed and grateful for what I have today. Each day, I focus on gratitude and how I can make today a stepping stone for a better tomorrow.

If I had the opportunity to change anything in the past, I would probably forego that opportunity. Everything in the past has created what I am today, and I have learned from my successes and my failures. I have never played it safe to avoid a failure.

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Failures are indicative that I am trying new things and learning where I need to spend my attention in life to get better.

🤕 How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?

An injury is an opportunity to focus on those exercises that we’re inefficient at performing.

I avoid injuries in the gym because I know what works and doesn’t. I am a stickler to form in any exercise, and know how to push, and to avoid pushing too far. However, life does happen, and I may tweak something and then it’s important to respect what your body is telling you.

With injuries, I don’t view them as setbacks. I view injuries as opportunities to focus on another part of your body. Normally, we tend to gravitate to exercises that we like. We generally like those exercises because we’re efficient at them. An injury is an opportunity to focus on those exercises that we’re inefficient at performing.

In avoiding injuries, recovery is key. Recovery for me starts with getting at least 8 hours of sleep each night. It also includes thoughtful warm ups, and cool downs in a workout. It includes getting a massage each week, rolling out, and stretching. In addition to a knobby roller, I use the TheraGun to keep me healthy.

With regard to travel, I make sure that my workouts will reflect that travel is coming up. Before a trip, I make sure I focus on a part of my body that won’t make me sore when I travel. I generally stay away from heavy leg workouts before a trip.

After a trip, I will focus on getting the blood flowing to those areas that are constricted while traveling – generally, the hips and lower back. However, I also make sure I eat and hydrate sufficiently before and during a flight to keep the immune system working efficiently.

🍎 How is your diet and what supplements do you use?

I firmly believe that if you watch your diet, you don’t need supplements.

I watch my diet because it is a critical element of fitness and helps to sustain me and my workouts. I don’t mix up my diet much, only to support my workout goals.

I eat cleanly, with quality sources of food and I watch my macros and micro-nutrients. I don’t watch calories that much because I work out fairly intensely at the gym.

I firmly believe that if you watch your diet, you don’t need supplements. I do take Omega-3’s and Vitamin D3 to help with recovery, but other than that, I am not a supplement person.

I don’t drink coffee, tea or alcohol. Since I get eight hours of sleep, I don’t find the need for any source to pick me up; therefore, I stay away from coffee and tea.

With regard to alcohol, I don’t like the way it interferes with fitness in the gym and with nutrition. With all the sugars that alcohol has, it negatively will impact workouts, it causes spikes in insulin and causes the body sluggishness as it works itself out.

Also, generally, a person is more likely to compromise their food selection when drinking. I have found that it’s not worth it to drink.

We all have cravings for junk food, so when those cravings come, I try to limit what I take in that is negative. I may have a few chocolates, or chips, and I substitute something good.

So, if I have a sweet craving, I will eat fruit instead of candy. If I am craving salty foods, I’ll eat a cup or so of popcorn versus eating a bowl of chips. I find that total deprivation increases urges/desires; therefore, I stay away from an avoidance diet.

I don’t measure my foods, or use a food app. I find that those are not sustainable, and I’ve been eating a healthy diet since I was in college. I find that after all these years, I have healthy habits and don’t need to focus on limiting what I do.

👍 What has inspired and motivated you?

I am constantly reading about fitness. I am not a fad person who will be distracted by the next diet or magic fitness routine. What impresses me most and influences me is science-based research.

Also, those coaches who influence me the most are ones who have experience and similarly aren’t focused on social media workouts, but have opinions and philosophies based upon experience.

I am not easily distracted when I work out. Therefore, I don’t really care if there is music playing in the gym or not. I just want a gym that is conducive to working out.

I don’t like TVs or coaches in a gym, that is why at Pat’s Gym, I’ve created a gym that is free of distractions and is conducive to fun and intense workouts. The machinery is movable so that the athlete can set up the tools he/she will need for any particular workout.

Because of my history, I have various friends who are or were professional athletes. I really enjoy working with them, and spending time with them, because they have the will and drive to achieve their goals. I also like spending time and coaching individuals who are successful in life because they similarly have the same drive.

I do keep a diary of all of my workouts. I refer to it to see what works for me and doesn’t. I recommend that anyone working out keep such a diary. It helps to see what works, and what doesn’t.

I would recommend including in your diary your workouts, your nutrition and sleep. It all works together, and you can analyze why some workouts are effective and why others may not be.

✏️ Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?

For anyone who wants to make tomorrow better than today from a fitness perspective, all it takes is a will to get better, consistency and follow up in working out, and drive. It doesn’t take fancy gym, special equipment, or unsafe movements. It just takes a desire and strong follow through.

If someone is starting out with fitness, I would definitely recommend working with an experienced coach who can help set realistic goals.

What generally is demotivating to an athlete starting out is setting an aggressive coach, such as getting a six pack, when the individual has never worked out previously.

An experienced and talented coach will take the mystery out of working out and can create a training program that is based upon experience and science.

I am constantly amazed at coaches and athletes who make up with exercises that are unsafe and really add little to no value; the exercises may look impressive, but I wouldn’t recommend them for any of my athletes.

I think most athletes in a gym have bad training programs, or no programs at all. They will do various exercises that are not focused on achieving a goal.

They may be stuck in a rut doing the same exercises over and over, and risking injuries. Generally, they also focus only on working out and ignore nutrition, recovery and stress management.

My philosophy of fitness, unless there is a specific goal an athlete wants to achieve, is working to GPP (General Physical Preparedness).

I want my athletes to be functional in everyday life. I want them to have the energy and strength to perform the tasks of everyday life, so that they can enjoy what life has to offer.

🤝 Are you taking on clients right now?

I am extremely focused on providing a high-touch service to my athletes at Pat’s Gym, and those who work with me through Online Coaching.

I limit the number of athletes I work with because I do not want quality to suffer. I am open to taking new clients who are committed and passionate about making tomorrow better than what they are living with today.

I recommend working with me because I have experienced everything I will design for any athletes. Personal experience is critical in helping guide others.

In addition, I have a vast experience working with all kind of athletes – professional athletes, those with injuries, stay at home parents, busy executives, and others.

I have worked with pregnant women, individuals with physical issues and I bring that extensive experience to my coaching services each day.

A client can begin to see and feel the benefits of working out as soon as two to four weeks, depending on their consistency. However, to create healthy habits that will sustain you for life an athlete really needs to experience the benefits of working out for 1 – 6 months.

Consistency and passion with an athlete are critical in achieving success. When an athlete is not seeing the success they want, it is usually become one of these elements is missing.

In order to make impressive results, an athlete must buy into the four pillars of fitness I have previously described.

📝 Where can we learn more about you?

If you want to learn more about me, you can visit the Pat’s Gym website. There you will find out more about me, my experience and history and my fitness philosophy.

In addition, you can follow us on social media at the Pat’s Gym and Pgilles IG and Facebook and Twitter accounts. We mainly promote ourselves through social media.

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