No Excuses Fitness With The Chair Workout King Donovan Green
Fitness For All Podcast: Episode 18
Welcome to another edition of Fitness for All with Cam Jenkins, sponsored by Lebert Fitness.
In this episode, Cam talks with Donovan Green, celebrity Fitness Trainer and founder of Chair Workouts Donovan Green. Chair Workouts has been operating since 2008 and went virtual in 2012. It was created by one of the world’s #1 fitness experts who happen to be the trainer to Dr.Oz and many other top experts in the world. Donovan Green has also authored a book called No Excuses Fitness and has traveled all over the country to speak to thousands of people about fitness, lifestyle, and business. He is also a graduate of Integrative Nutrition and holds a black belt in the art of Jujitsu.
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*The following podcast has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
Show Notes - Episode 18
Welcome to another edition of the Lebert Fitness for All podcast. I'm your host Cam Jenkins. On the line today, we have Donovan.
Do you want to introduce yourself Donovan?
Yes, I'm from Covington, Georgia.
Perfect. You have a very unique business, and it all has to do with chair workouts. Do you want to tell the listeners how that concept started off?
Yeah, absolutely. Well, first you know, I've authored a book called No Excuses Fitness, where it's teaching people basically how to exercise, even if you don't have the ability like most athletes. Then I had a trip in the Bronx called Six Elements of Fitness, where I taught people in the community in lower income communities, how to get healthy without having to spend an arm and a leg. So, from that point, I was training people like Dr. Oz doing a lot of online programs, lots of TV shows, lots of public speaking engagements. And the more I started talking about fitness and analyzing the journey of health, I realized that fitness began to focus too much on just the physical stature more as to how I look in the mirror and what does my butt look like? What does my chest look like? And that's where a lot of people started using more on healthier products to get to where their bodies needed to get to.
So, then I started looking at the older audience and of course the younger audience, who suffered with maybe an injury or maybe military who have, you know, had severe things happen during certain times of their life. And you had moms and cops and teachers and all these different things. Well, lo and behold, I had a good friend of mine, Richard at the time who was about 500 pounds and Richard was able to do 20 pushups straight at 500 pounds. He was still pretty fit, but he was struggling with many other ailments. I said to him, you know what, bro, we got you to take off 80 pounds at one point, now you're going backwards, let's try something different. I had him sit down on a couch and I said, I'm going to show you some stuff you can do sitting down, and you are going to feel the burn, my man. We started training. I recorded the whole thing. I wish I could find that video. This was years ago, like 2008 and at that point on, he had a fantastic workout. He sweated a lot and I loved it. So, what I did was I brought that video and showed it to Dr. Oz, and we did a segment called No Excuses Workouts on DrOz.com, which is still up there, this was years back, and that's what really catapulted me to start really becoming the chair workouts king, the guy known as the chair workouts, who teaches people how to use a chair to get healthy.
Myself being a former para athlete, this is the first time I've ever seen this, and I just think it's so unique and it's so great especially for someone like a para-athlete who would get a great use out of this.
Absolutely. And that's the key, right? The word athlete, I use the term chair athlete. If somebody was to type chairathlete.com online, it would take them to chairworkouts.com because athleticism does not come from oh, I used to do this when I was in college or I was doing this when I was in high school and I can't do it anymore, that's when I used to be an athlete. No, if you could move your body, you're still an athlete, you just have to move your body differently. So, for people that did what you did, and you have para athletes, you have all these other people that did so many things before but can no longer do specific movements, well, there are thousands of other movements that I teach you that you can do.
Now, here's the thing Cam, when I'm coaching people, I'm not coaching you nicely. I'm not saying, oh, you don't have any legs right now, so I'm going to be nice to you. No, I'm training you like an athlete. The only difference is that you're sitting down, but I did not say that the workout was going to be easy. The workout has to challenge your mind. It has to challenge your brain. You feel like you did it. And here's the thing, the wow factor when anybody tries the chair workout that I teach is they get a huge wow factor because they come in with the ideology that it's going to be simple. It's going to be easy. No, it's not, you're going to work and you're going to work hard and you're going to feel fantastic and not only is it going to feel good physically, but it's going to feel good mentally as well.
Let's maybe focus on the mental parts and how fitness really does help mentally, because we are in the times of COVID, and I know here where I am, we're kind of in a lockdown and myself in my apartment. So, can you maybe talk about the mental side of the fitness?
Absolutely. Fitness to me, it starts with the mental, right? When you focus on the mindset, mindset can do two things. It can encourage you, or it can discourage you. The mind really is where the media tends to attack, because we understand that the mind is a powerful weapon. And during these times of COVID-19 or quarantine and all of these issues, before COVID-19 here in America, we're losing 300,000 people dying every year. They're dying because of, you know, sedentary living; they're not doing anything active. When you're not moving your whole entire system, your circulatory system, cardiovascular, cardiopulmonary, musculoskeletal, lymphatic system, reproductive system, digestive system, all of these systems begin to shut down because you're not giving it enough movement to encourage blood circulation. Blood circulation has to happen in order for your health to increase. If you have no blood flow, that means that your brain is dying, your heart is dying, your kidneys are dying.
So, when we go to the mental aspect, the least times that you exercise, you are reducing the cells in your brain. As your brain cells begin to reduce, then your whole entire focus begins to reduce. Everything looks obscure. Once you begin to implement movement, then you automatically will start to feel better. When you're stuck at home, guess what? You're sitting down, you watch the TV. I'm not saying don't watch TV. What I'm telling you is to lift your arms above your head 20 times, lift your legs above your hips 20 times, you know take your arm to the front, move your neck, do something to keep yourself going. We're trained to believe that you need a gym to work out, when in fact you wake up in your gym all the time, that's your body. And that's where the mind takes over. The mind has to be powerful enough. You have to develop the catalyst so you can go beyond the world's issues because we will get destroyed, with this media, and the information being shared in the media if we don't stop to think for ourselves.
You mentioned before, I just wanted to go over this as well, that you were helping people out who were in low income housing or areas. Can you talk about that and why you're so passionate to help that part of the population?
Absolutely. We live in an age where water, we have to water, I mean, think about it. We have to buy water? A natural resource, that's given to us by the creator? That's given to us by nature. So, same thing applies to fitness. We live in a day and age that in order for you to have access to a gym, you have to spend how much money now per month, when you have four kids at home, and you have a low paying job in order for you to get a personal trainer. I'm not a cheap personal trainer, I'm a very expensive coach. I'm not even a personal trainer anymore. My fees that I charge, I work with millionaires and billionaires all across the country, so this allows me the ability to be able to focus on people that are low income, because the lower income class, which is where I'm from, are the ones who are keeping the country moving.
We're the ones working in the factories and the warehouses. We're the one doing this and doing that and deliveries and all these different things and we have no outlet. When I started my gym, I said, you know what? I need to create an outlet for my people in my community. When I say my people, I'm not talking about blacks or whites, we had a mixture of everybody. I went up and said, you know what? I'm going to open up my gym.
A good friend of mine. God rest his soul. His name is Joseph Agresta. He's the owner of Benzel-Busch, one of the biggest Benz companies in New Jersey. He donated $10,000 to me. I was able to get that money, put my money together. No banks, no loans. And I took my own money and opened up a gym in the area. It was such a blessing to see people having a place, not only where they can work out but where they can come and remove stress. We had different gang members come into gym. We had cops coming to the gym, politicians coming to the gym. Everybody who would have been enemies on the streets, the gym brought everyone together and they became the security for the gym because that became a hub where you could go and just be you and just have a good time. So that's the reason what started me to focus on the lower income people who couldn't afford me as a one-on-one.
You are a person of colour. How was it different for you being a person of colour and starting a gym and being an entrepreneur?
It wasn't different for me at all. I look at all of us as people of colour. If you're white, you have a colour. If you're black, you have a colour. If you're Spanish, you have a colour. We're all people of colour. So, when I say, you know, a person of colour, it's all of us. There was no difference for me because here in America, at least, I'm from Jamaica, right? But here in America, you have a lot of freedom that you can literally go out there and make movements. You can make money. You can create things. You can worship what you want to worship. You can go to school and learn the same way a white person can go and do it, a black man can do the same thing. See, I'm not a person to look at my life and say, oh, I grew in the Bronx and I'm poor and woe is me. No, I'm a hard worker.
So, what I did, I put my mind to it and started making amazing connections to people. I started connecting with people by traveling and going to different areas. I would leave the Bronx and visit wealthy neighborhoods and I would stay there and look at houses and I would see white people coming out of these rich houses and I would see black people coming out of these rich houses. I'm like, listen, anybody can do this. We need to remove the stigma of black and white and I'm black and I'm oppressed. The oppression word is a word that's put out there to keep black people down. I don't believe in black people being oppressed. Yes, there are certain things that is harder. Yes, you're going to find more negative feedback based on the stereotype that, Hey, he's black, he's probably a gangster or he's probably a drug dealer. But when I look at the reality behind that, I have a lot of black people who are in the hip hop industry that's portrayed that same thing. So, we, as a people, have to be able to reframe our stereotypes and really show people from the world that not all black people are gangsters. You know, not all black people are ignorant, not all black people are this. Just like how not all white people are racist and not all white people are smart and not all white people are rich. Not all Chinese people know Kung Fu. So, it’s about taking away these stereotypes and really start to live a more collective life and stop giving life to just the negative things.
Absolutely. One of my mottos is that, you know, I'm no better than you and you're no better than me. Also, something else that I live by is that everyone has challenges it’s just that some are more noticeable than others. You had some great insight into that and thank you very much for being so authentic in speaking about that. Now, for the chair workouts. Do you want to talk about what type of chair workouts that you do? Like as far as for strength and cardio and core, all of those types of exercises.
You know, chair workouts, there are plenty of movements that are much more challenging to do while you're sitting down rather than standing. I give people an overall perspective, a visual component of how you can train your body while you're sitting down. You could be in the office, because listen, you can go to the gym for an hour, and it does not take away your ability to get what's called the sitting disease. The sitting disease is where you literally shut down your cortisol, all your hormones get shut down, your muscles begin to lose itself, go through atrophy. Your heart begins to not work properly. The idea is to show you, hey, you can do a beginner's workout, an intermediate workout. You can do an advanced workout and I even have a section called Fit Camp, which is not chair workouts. We’re hitting cardio, we’re hitting strength, we’re hitting flexibility, we’re hitting mobility.
I work with the aphasia community which is people who have strokes, and they have a lack of limitations or movements on one side of the body versus the next. They speak a little slower; I would have to speak much slower, just like this for them to capture what I'm saying. So, chair workouts do not have limitations. We're doing weight training; we’re using resistance bands. We're using dumbbells, but doing all these different things, a plethora of exercises. It’s an all-around program that teaches you that you can do it and the slogan is “If you can fit, you can get fit.” That's the slogan.
That's a damn good slogan to have as well!
Thank you, man. It's a powerful slogan. What it does is it makes somebody think, it makes a person think; it takes away the excuses. Now in Canada, there's a show called The Marilyn Denis show, have you ever heard of that show?
Oh yeah. I've watched it once or twice before for sure.
I used to travel out there, and I used to do work with them. I did about four different interviews for live shows with them. It got a lot of people in Canada man, to really say, wow, we need to do this. We had the whole audience doing the workouts and it was fascinating! I'm always fascinated to see people working out and smiling. They work out and they're smiling while they're doing it. They're not grunting. They're smiling because they're saying to themselves like, whoa, I’m in a dress or have shoes on, and I'm able to do this. This is awesome. This is fantastic.
Well, I’ve only known you now for the last 15, 20 minutes, and I can just tell how passionate you are and the aura around you that you give off, it is motivating and makes people smile. Do you ever have challenges motivating people?
No, I don't. You know why? Because here it is right, I don't like to use the term, that I’m a motivational speaker, because I'm not, I I'm just Donovan, I'm like this 24/7. There are motivational speakers who have to put on an act to motivate people, me, I don't go outside saying, hey, I'm going to motivate someone. This is just my nature. I believe that human beings, we're all here collectively together. And I feel like, you know, the loneliest people are people who motivate. People think that you're so strong and you're this. No, we all go through struggles. But as far as motivating people, I choose to be me 100% of the time, like Mark Lebert. I met Mark maybe it was around 2012 or one of those things at a convention in Las Vegas and Mark and I immediately clicked because the energy we have is just quirky, we’re crazy, we’re not afraid to laugh and not afraid to have fun. And that's me, it's just having fun, right? It’s just making life worth living. Even if you have lost somebody you love, like I've experienced that recently, you have to make life worth living because you're going to wake up one day dead. Why not live your life to the fullest? You know, do your workouts, eat your food naturally, tell people you love them. The ones who really care, you know stop treating people bad, be comfortable in your skin and love life. You know? So that’s how I live my life, Cam, it’s just enjoyment.
That's a great way to do it man. What’s next for chair workouts or, you know, what's the five-year plan? What is next for Donovan for chair workouts moving on?
Beautiful question. That's an excellent question as well. Well, I'm an author. I have a book called No Excuses Fitness; it is my first book. I'm working on my second book and that book is almost done. But as far as with chair workouts, the plan, is we have the clothing line in place. We're going to start to create the chair athlete, clothing line, that people who were involved in this community, they can wear the brand and they can be a part of that brand. We're also going to be putting a resistance band system together for people who travel or are at home and they don't have the money to afford expensive equipment. I'm going to create things like that. Then, the initial goal is to get a certification program in place so that I can start to get other coaches learning my concept of chair workouts and showing them how we do it and expand it that way. So, that's the plan.
Right now, the website, it's all membership based. When people go on a website, they can access a library of all these different workouts for every single level. So, we want the website to grow; for this year, my vision, my goal, is to get 4,000 subscribers involved for 2021, and then after that, sky's the limit!
And it always will be, you can always move forward and keep doing better and that's what you're all about which is fantastic to see. Now, you have different kinds of workouts as far as from beginner up to advanced. Do you maybe want to talk about if you're able to articulate it, what can people expect from a beginner workout and what can they expect from the advanced workout?
Absolutely. A beginner is all seated. All of the exercises are all seated. You're sitting down the whole time. It's mostly you learning how to move your body and every now and then I'll implement some lighter dumbbells. Intermediate workouts, you're using mostly strength, things like your weights and your bands. You're still seated, but there are certain things where we're doing more elongated movements. Advanced workouts, this is where you go into the really hardcore chair athlete. Now you're able to jump out of the chair and use the chair as that prop. You’re going to heavier dumbbells. Now we're doing squats and we're doing lunges and we're doing leg lifts and all these different things. The Fit Camp section is for people who love to use barbells, doing pull-ups and dips and squats and jumping jacks and burpees. So, it goes through these different tiers and once you go through these tiers, the hope is a beginner will eventually start to fall into the intermediate because now they're getting better and stronger, and then they can get better and go into the advanced. Now they can look back and say, wow, I remembered when I was only doing only a beginner's thing. Now I'm in the advanced or in the intermediate.
People get a chance to kind of look at their results and say, this is fantastic, I never thought I'd be able to do that. Like I get people on YouTube, for example, who are in their eighties, and they will literally say, I'm sitting here in tears right now as I'm writing this, because I've seen a lot of chair workout coaches online, but I've never had somebody like you kick my butt. It's perfect, because like I said, I'm not saying to you, like, come on guys, you have five more reps, you can do this. No way! Let’s go, you got five more reps, as a matter of fact, give me 10 more because you can! I don't want to hear no excuses from you. I don't want to hear nothing. Let's go. Give me more!
I was watching one of your workouts yesterday and I'm thinking, oh man, if we were person to person, man, you'd be yelling at me nonstop and I would deserve it and I would need it!
Yeah, exactly. It's about family Cam. It's about just developing that rapport and here's the thing too imma tell you right. I have a lot of friends in the industry that are top celebrities, right and people won't know because I don't brag about it much, but what I do, I don't aim to become a celebrity. I'm not after that. When people sign up, they get access to me directly. So when I get on the phone with them, they're like, wait a minute. This is Donovan? This is Donovan Green?! I say yes, this is Donovan Green.
I like to reach out to my audience when somebody clicks the button and says, hey, I want to be a part of his program and I want to financially support by being a member. It means a lot to me. So I make sure that I get in that phone call and I spend 10 to 15 minutes with them. And we were just there talking about goals and all these different things and by the time we’re done, you know what, it built a stronger rapport because it's no longer that just virtual. Wow. I actually spoke to him online; I actually spoke to him over the phone. It was more direct, you know, so I keep it fun, and I keep it real.
I know that you have recipes on your website as well. Are those all your mom's recipes or how did they come to be?
I love to cook. I teach a lot about plant-based nutrition. I don't force my beliefs on people, but I teach a lot about plants and the power of plants. And I showed them how to make like in Jamaica we have a dish called stew peas, but normally stew peas would have beef or pig's tail in it, salted pig’s tail. But I show people how to make it without the meat, without the animal and people try these recipes. I make juices and smoothies and I'll show them different salads. So, I teach the overall concept of just loving your life and these recipes are fun. You know, oatmeal, how to make different wraps, veggie wraps, and banana peanut butter with strawberries, how my kids love to eat these how to make raw apple pie. So all these things I share on the website.
Yeah, and I'm thinking that I might be just cooking one of these tonight for dinner tonight. So, for the listeners, if they want to reach out to you, if they want to be part of the chair workouts, or if they want to get your book, can you give some of those details for the listeners?
Absolutely. All across the board is chair workouts. The website is www.chairworkouts.com. They can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. They can find me on Instagram @chairworkouts. If they go to YouTube, they could type in, The Best Chair Workouts or just chair workouts and they'll see a little orange icon with a chair and a stick figure doing a plank on the chair. So, I’m very easy to find, very simple. The book is called No Excuses Fitness that could be found on Amazon, Books-A-Million they can find it pretty much anywhere they sell books.
I'll ask you one more question about the book because we really didn't talk about that too much. How did that book come to be? And what's the process of putting it like that together?
That's a good question. I love it. So, here's another thing about me that a lot of people don't know I'm also a business coach. I teach people a lot about how to grow and expand their business. The book, when I had my gym, we had a no excuses mindset. The shirt said, “The word I can't, does not exist.” That's what we had on the shirt, and you can see the word I can't was on fire. It was literally a no excuses mindset. So, I was dealing with people who would come in and feeling down and depressed and sad and everything.
One day I came in my gym, and I saw everybody kind of wasting time in the gym. I told everybody, turn off the treadmills. I stopped the music, everybody get out, everybody out, we're going to take a jog around the block. Everybody let's go. And I started writing my book from that point. I started writing the book, writing things about, things that I learned, started writing about people. I dealt with different experiences and a couple of years later, I moved from the Bronx, closed my gym down and moved to Connecticut and I started putting some information out that I'm writing a book, I need somebody to edit, and this girl named Nicole, she introduced me to her husband, Richard Murphy. He became the editor for me, he helped me to edit the book and write the book together. We put the book together. I went through 20 different publishing houses. This is unheard of pretty much for a first time writer, but 20 different publishing houses went under an auction to auction for the book. They were going to see who's going to get the highest bid and I hooked up with a company called Hachette and that's how I got the book out there. It was awesome. I did a lot of self-promotions, did a lot of videos and to this very day, I'm still sharing the book and that was 2014, by the way, that was six years ago.
Now you’re starting on your second book and you're just overtaking the world and that's okay.
Absolutely. If any of your listeners are thinking about writing a book, the advice I'll give them as they start to create the skeleton of the book, right. Start to create different chapters and maybe they have blogs, maybe they have content they put on social media. You could always go back through those contents, copy, and paste those contents into a word document and start to add some meat to the content, and before you know it, you have your book already written and all you got to do is just pretty it up. That's it.
Awesome. Donovan, thank you so much for agreeing to be on the Lebert Fitness podcast. It's been an absolute pleasure speaking with you today, and we certainly hope to have you on again at some point in time.
Aw man, thank you and thank you for your listeners as well. I appreciate it. I had a great time. Thanks for being real.
My pleasure. Once again, this has been Donovan from Chair Workouts and you've been listening to the Lebert Fitness podcast, and it's hosted by myself Cam Jenkins.
Key Takeaways From This Episode:
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