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Welcome to another edition of Fitness for All with Cam Jenkins, sponsored by Lebert Fitness.
In this episode, Cam talks with Taylor (Little T), Taylor’s love for fitness and promoting healthy lifestyles was created during her youth when she trained to become a nationally ranked competitive gymnast and competitive dancer. Now as an adult Taylor is an IFBB Fitness Pro as well as a calisthenics athlete. The importance of passion, hard work, discipline, and dedication was ingrained at a very early age, and these same principles guide her today both as an athlete and a personal training specialist.
This article is sourced from the Fitness For All Podcast, a top health and wellness podcast. Listen or subscribe below
Scroll to the end of the article for links to important resources mentioned in this episode.
*The following podcast has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
Welcome to another edition of the Lebert Fitness podcast. I'm your host Cam Jenkins and it is sponsored by the Lebert Fitness. On today’s show, we have Taylor. Taylor, welcome to the show.
Thank you. I'm so excited to be on it
As are we. I figured where I would start with the podcast is how did you find your love for fitness as a youngster?
Well, I've been in the industry of, not necessarily fitness, but always being active from a very young age. I was a gymnast when I was younger and honestly, my favourite part of that was the conditioning aspect. So, I think from a young age, because I liked moving my body and feeling strong, that definitely helped for my love of fitness. Then as an adult now, it's honestly the thing that makes me the happiest, it's my period of the day where I get to work on myself and improve, and always tracking my progress, and it’s probably one of the best feelings. So, it started from a young age and it just transferred all the way through adulthood.
I know that you were a nationally ranked competitive gymnast, as well as a competitive dancer. How did you get involved in those sports and what did those sports mean to you?
I got into competitive gymnastics when I was younger, because I would just kind of flip myself around the house, not really knowing what I was doing, and my mom was like, okay, let's put her in something that has mats and coaches and things like that. So, that’s how I got into gymnastics. I honestly loved it. I think gymnastics is going to always be one of my very first passions because even as an adult, it's something that I incorporate in all my fitness and everyday lifestyle.
In terms of dance. I got into dance because when I was a gymnast, I actually hurt my back. So, I had to take a little bit of a break with the impact and the landings just because it was getting a little bit too much for a young 13-year-old to be always in pain. The dance world I was in for about four years and honestly, I loved it. It wasn't necessarily a passion for me, but I really did enjoy the movement and the social aspect and the competitive world of dance.
Perfect. Now being a competitive dancer and a competitive gymnast, what's one thing that you took from each sport that you kind of look at today?
Gymnastics definitely taught me the most. Maybe it's because I did it at such a young age, that's probably why I learned so much. In that time period (I learned about) dedication, hard work, consistency and just always pushing yourself to be better. One of the quotes on the walls when I was a gymnast was “in the pursuit of excellence” and that's something that I've carried out through my entire life, just from that.
Then going into the dance world, I think something that dance taught me that nothing else has so far is just the freedom to move. For example, when we would always do interpretive dance or just on the whim, we would just do whatever. I forget what it's called off the top of my head, but we would just do these routines to music, and it was just something where you could just feel how your body wanted to move in that moment and not to be always so structured. That free movement is just as positive and as good for you as it is to follow a routine. So, I think that's something that dance taught me.
That's great. Now that you have a lot of your own clients that you are training, how has your philosophy changed in regard to how you train somebody over the years, or has it changed at all?
It definitely has changed. When I first got into training, I always thought I wanted to train athletes and I had this very competitive mentality towards it that we always had to be trying to achieve a certain goal that was athletic driven. Now that I've been in it for a while, I've decided that I don't necessarily need to be in that athletic world anymore. I like training everyday people. In terms of the way I approach fitness, it's less about a competitive edge, but more about well-rounded fitness and enjoying the journey and enjoying the process. It is not necessarily always looking for that end goal but looking at the small steps in order to get you there. So, I think that's something that definitely has changed over the years for me.
How do you train the people that you have be it athletes or somebody that's not as athletic? Do you train them differently?
Depending on the person, yes. Some people who are a little bit more competitive and again, in that athletic world need more of that go-go type attitude. Whereas the people who are just wanting to live a healthy lifestyle and just be well-rounded, they can be a little bit more relaxed. I always try to make it more fun for them because realistically, I always want my clients to be able to incorporate whatever we're doing, throughout their entire life as a routine, rather than it be just a one-time thing and then they’re done with it. I want them to be able to have fun and really enjoy the process of it. Whereas sometimes athletes, I find, if you just focus on the one thing they need, it's a little bit better for them. Sometimes not all athletes say, “Oh, I want it to be fun,” they want it to be like purposeful and more serious. So, I think that's how the two of them differ.
I was really intrigued by your blog post. I believe it was called “Stop Girl Pushups.” Can you talk a bit about that and what it means and your view on it?
The Stop Girl Pushups is something that I started about two years ago. It's a hashtag that I use on my Instagram a lot and basically, I just got really tired of hearing people say, “Oh, I don't want to do a girl push up, or girls can only do knee push-ups” and having such a negative outlook on females and strength. All the assuming that we can only do pushups from our knees or that if you're someone who does push-ups from your knees, that you're automatically weaker, that you're a girl and that you're not going to be capable of doing the cool pushups that I do, like the plyometric ones. So, it's something that I started, and I tag a lot, especially in my posts and have other people post as well, just to show that girls are capable of literally anything and the things that we can do goes far beyond just knee pushups. It’s important to never assimilate a gender with a strength movement. So, for example, an assisted push-up or a modified push-up is the exact same as an assisted chin-up or a modified chin up, but we never call them girl chin ups, you know what I mean? So, that was something that I just really wanted to get across in a lot of my YouTube videos, as well as the blog and then my Instagram. It’s a message that I like to spread to females that we’re capable of anything.
Oh, and that's just, it, I never understood why they would have to call it a girl pushup. I used to be a para-athlete so there was a lot of isms there as well, being a para-athlete. I never really understood that; why people had to decipher or kind of split it and call it two different things.
Yeah. I don't get it either. It's a weird thing.
I also was looking at your bio and it says that you're an IFBB Fitness Pro, can you explain to the listeners what that is?
IFBB Pro is a professional league in the bodybuilding world. In 2019, I competed for the first time in May, for a regional show to qualify for a national show. Then at the national show, which was Toronto Pro show is where I won my IFBB pro card. So, now technically I'm a professional bodybuilder in the fitness division, which is one of the divisions for the female athletes. This is where you do a minute and a half to two-minute routine of a lot of the things that I do on my Instagram, of the flips, the pushups, the combinations, all that really fun stuff. Then when you turn pro you have a posing round just like you would see in the physique round or the bikini round. So, my category is a hybrid between the stuff that I love doing on my Instagram plus the traditional bodybuilding.
Perfect. I understand as well, you're huge into the calisthenics.
Yes. I love calisthenics. Calisthenics is my main focus right now.
Can you tell the listeners why you're so much into calisthenics and a bit about what that is?
Calisthenics is literally just your own body weight when you're doing exercises. It can be something as simple as squats, lunges, pushups, and then it goes into way advanced movements of freestyle calisthenics. That’s where you're going to see a lot of the people doing more of the acrobatic tricks on the floor. Or if you go to the bars, you'll see them doing these crazy flips over the bars and twists and turns, and it looks super amazing. The reason why I like calisthenics way more in terms of training and everything else about it is just the community. The people that I've met through calisthenics have been the coolest people ever to be honest, and so just being surrounded by people who are so positive and so helpful, and like wanting to help people learn and get more into the community is something that I really like about it.
When I first started into it, it was actually at a calisthenics meetup last November. When I got there, everyone was saying, “Oh, have you seen this person do this? Have you ever tried doing this?” and people were so open to just helping you, rather than some other sports that I've been in where it has been way more competitive, and people don't necessarily want to help you. So, I think that's the great thing about calisthenics is that it's not competitive, even though it is a competitive sport, people are just wanting to watch other people get better, which I think is really cool.
Oh, absolutely. Why do you think that there's that difference as far as being in calisthenics and that kind of the world wanting to help people, compared to other parts of the fitness world where they don't necessarily want to help as much?
I think it's just the nature of the sport because a lot of people in calisthenics are self-taught, they realize that if they've learned it and they can help someone else learn it, they're more open to it maybe. But I think it's also because calisthenics isn't as large in terms of being as well-known around the world, because the community is so small knit, they like to help everyone as much as they can and try to grow it as much as they can. So, the more people that get into it, and the more people who are posting about it or doing it, then the more their community can grow and get attention and maybe more sponsorships. So, I think if we all help each other in the community, that's what the end goal is; to just make it bigger and more well-known.
Especially now because of dealing with COVID-19, a lot of people are doing things online and I was really impressed with all of your social media presence as well. Can you maybe talk about your social media presence and how that began and how you built it up?
Sure. So, I started my Instagram account LittleT Fitness, back in 2017. So, I've had it for about three years now. When I first started it, I said I was just going to post workout videos that I do myself and see how that goes. Then as I started to post more acrobatic calisthenic skills, that's when my accounts started to get a little more attention, started to grow a little bit more. And then I realized that that's truly what I like doing most. As fun as it is to do the strength training, what I really liked filming and showing off was my handstands, my tumbling, my push-ups all that really fun stuff. And that's also an area that when I would see other people post similar content to me, it motivated me to keep pushing myself to be better.
So, from the beginning of my account to now, I think in terms of content, it's definitely changed, and my focus is more about doing little small challenges, whether it's a pistol squat challenge or mobility challenge. I love doing all that as well as my skill drill Saturday, which is actually one of the posts that I try to feature the most or kind of showcase the most, just because it's me being able to teach other people who are on my account, the things that I do. If it’s how to do a one-arm handstand or how to do a pistol squat, I try to give out as much information as possible, as well as the entertainment value with my social media.
It certainly is entertaining. Recently I've seen a lot of posts where people are trying to do what you do. Is there a certain challenge that you have out there right now?
The most current challenge that people are doing at least this week is my most recent mobility Monday challenge, which is just basically a sequence of it varies each week, but I always try to incorporate like a lot of ankle mobility or lower body mobility, just because those ones tend to be more challenging and fun for people to try. Then another challenge that's going around is the sweatpants challenge. That's the one where you're in a handstand trying to take off your sweat pants. That was a really fun one almost going around during COVID and then I just brought it back recently just cause it's a, it's a fun one to do since we're all stuck at home a little bit.
Yeah, absolutely. That was another one I saw. I thought it was hilarious. How much training does it take to be able to do handstands or tumbling, things that you do on there that you make it look so easy, but it must be so hard to do. You must have so many core muscles to be able to do that.
Absolutely, and I think that's one of the biggest misconceptions with calisthenics or inversions. People always see it and they're like, “Oh, it's body weight, that must be so easy to do.” But the amount of body awareness that you need to have, the core control, like you said, as well as just this little stabilizer muscles that we have, like in our shoulders and our backs and stuff like that; to be able to do a lot of the skills with our body weight is much, much harder than most people think. In terms of training, I would say the average time for someone to get their freestanding handstand is anywhere between three months to, depending on your starting level, to five months. I know a lot of people think, “Oh, you kick up and you can hold it,” but you can kick up to a handstand all the live long day, but to be able to hold it there for say 10 seconds, it takes a lot of practice. It's way longer and way more tedious than people believe.
Oh absolutely. That’s something that I don't think I'd be able to do, but I was so impressed with everybody that's been on your Instagram posts and being able to do that, so, it’s wonderful that you're doing that. Where do you see your business going in the future? People always ask what's your five-year plan, so what is that five-year plan for you?
Honestly, right now, my five-year plan has definitely shifted since COVID. Originally, I was looking to open up my own gym space and run my business out of my own gym and have trainers out of it and stuff like that. However, within the most recent times, I think because I'm so happy with my online world, I think that's something that I really want to try to grow over the next five years and then be able to travel more and do workshops abroad and travel and see my online clients and do meet ups that way. I think that'd be really fun cause I get to see the world and do fitness and kind of meet all my clients; I think it's the best of both worlds.
Do you have any bucket list places that you'd love to go to?
I have so many! Definitely at the top of the list is anywhere in Asia like Japan or Bali or the Philippines are places that I really want to go to. Then I really want to go to Australia because I actually have quite a few people in terms of my following and then in terms of my clients who are from Australia. So, those are the top places right now.
What are you most grateful for that fitness or training has given you over the years?
I think it's the community. All of everything that I've ever been in, in terms of fitness, whether it's more athletic or as a trainer or on Instagram, the people that I get to meet through the things that I do, have been amazing. I got to meet some of my best friends through fitness as well as my clientele. A lot of them yes, they're my clients, but a lot of them, I consider my family because I'm 24, a lot of my clients are older than me. They're able to provide so much wisdom and advice and just be there for me as a person and not just as like a client to trainer relationship. So, I'm super grateful that every single opportunity that I've had in the fitness world has led to these amazing relationships.
That's amazing. Now you mentioned that a lot of your clients are a little bit older than you, sometimes in the work world when it's a younger person they don't get the respect that they deserve based on the knowledge that they have. Do you ever find that with yourself and your business?
So far I haven’t, and I don't know if that's because a lot of the people that I'm getting now too are through my social media so they see my LittleT Fitness page and they see me as that person. I get a lot of respect in that regard, but even my one-on-one clients that I got through referrals or just even like people just emailing me, I've never had anyone doubt my capabilities or ever questioned my knowledge. So, I think that's something that I'm very fortunate with because, to be honest, like I am a young female and I'm very small to begin with, so I definitely could see it being an issue, but I've luckily not had to face that.
That’s great because no one should ever have to face that, but it was just a question that I just thought of, because you had mentioned that most of your clientele was a little bit older. If people want to reach out to you to work out with you, can you give all of your social media info or a website that they can contact you at?
Yeah sure. So, the best way is probably through email, which is LittleTfitness@gmail.com, but you can also feel free to DM me on Instagram. That's @littletfitness and you can find me on Instagram very easily. Usually I reply to all DMS relatively quick and then emails for sure are probably the easiest way to reach me as well.
That's phenomenal. Well, Little T since we've been talking for quite a few minutes, I'm going to call you a Little G because I feel like we know one another a little bit now. I want to thank you so much for being on the Lebert Fitness podcast and we'd love to have you back on at some point in time in the future.
Thank you so much. I had so much fun today.
Great. Well, once again, that's been a Little T that we've been talking to on the podcast today and we'll catch you on the flip side when we have another Lebert Fitness podcast.
Contact Taylor (Little T) at: