Philipp Halfmann is interviewed by Jason Lampione. He talks about how he became interested in strength & conditioning, his personal philosophy, what individuals need to do for success and much more…
(Q) How did you become interested in personal training and what kept your attention about the industry after all these years?
(A) When I was playing competitively as a junior I and many of my tennis buddies encountered numerous injuries, which prevented us from doing what we loved the most: playing tennis.
I figured that taking care of your body and keeping it injury-free was the number one priority.
Hence I decided to educate myself in the fields of anatomy, kinesiology, exercise physiology, sports nutrition, etc. so I could apply it to strength & conditioning for tennis.
(Q) Do you have a specific personal philosophy and principle that you live by? If so, please share it with our audience!
(A) I believe in doing something in life that you love, something you are passionate about, and then you go out there and do it all the way to the best of your ability no matter what.
Monetary gain is not the driving force but passion for what you do, such as the painter van Gogh.
He was poor and could barely make a living painting but that didn’t deter him from living a life as an artist.
(Q) What specific drivers (i.e. motivational triggers) do some of the clients you work with have issues overcoming? Can you provide us with a specific example in a recent experience?
(A) If you want to be successful in anything you do, for example becoming a professional tennis player, then you have to do many things well at the same time, which is challenging, especially when you have to improve things that you are not good at.
An example is working on flexibility: on the one hand people don’t like to do stretches they cannot perform well but on the other hand they enjoy the one’s they don’t have issues with.
(Q) I see that you own multiple platforms – can you tell us more about them and what someone could expect when they visit your site online?
(A) We aim to provide people with all the necessary information and tools they need to optimize their tennis-specific fitness while minimizing the risk for injury, including articles, pictures, diagrams, videos and training recommendations because we believe in the notion that “knowledge is power”.
(Q) You had mentioned that you’ve worked with all types of athletes during your career, does one sport present more physical challenges than another?
(A) I wouldn’t necessarily say that one sport has more physical challenges than the other, just different challenges.
But whoever can manage their body the best during the respective sport will be the best athlete from a conditioning standpoint.
In other words, it is important to understand that absolute muscular strength development is not the goal.
Instead, the focus must be on maximizing body mass adjusted muscular strength because it is highly related to peak performance.
This means that the athlete must be strong for his/her size.
While playing tennis the athlete needs to control the body (weight) during stroke production, which means controlling dynamic stability while applying force and moving in different directions.
(Q) What is your favorite warm-up and cool down exercises that you like to do before starting and ending a workout session with a client?
(A) My favorite warm-up exercises include using the jump rope and the speed ladder because one can address many different training priorities at the same time apart from simply warming up the muscle tissue such as sport-specific coordination, footwork, balance, endurance, dynamic stability, etc, which allows for effective training and time management.
(Q) Is there a place that you look for inspiration (i.e. books, online videos, clients or other role models within your industry) finding new material and coming up with unique ways to challenge yourself on a daily basis?
(A) Yes, everywhere! There simply isn’t one source that delivers it all. There is an old saying in Europe: “many ways lead to Rome”.
You have to go out there and find your way, which implies looking in all directions and trying numerous routes before you find the one that works for you…it’s all out there, you just must have the desire and time to find it.
(Q) I see that you’ve worked with some elite athletes across a multitude of sporting industries, does on particular experience stick out more than another? How has that experience changed your perception on the work ethic between professional athlete and the average individual?
(A) I was fortunate to have worked with and learn from some of the greatest in their respective sports.
One NBA player we worked with had wrist issues on his shooting hand, which prevented him from using it for weeks…didn’t matter.
He started using the other hand and kept working…at the end he became so good at it that he made 50 free throws in a row.
This particular experience showed me that true champions find a way, no matter what…the average individual on the other hand finds excuses for why they couldn’t do this or do that.
(Q) What advice would you give to the average individual beginning a new training regimen who desires to remain committed, but tends to fall by the wayside here and there?
(A) They should engage in a healthy active lifestyle, including a combination of physical activity and nutritional choices, which must be genuine, otherwise they lose motivation in the long run.
One should find “the middle of the road”; food choices play a very important role in success and failure but finding “good” foods or preparing them yourself can be challenging, costly and/or time consuming.
For example, if you work out like a maniac for 1 hour in the gym you will not burn more than 1000 kcal.
After the workout session you have a smoothie from your favorite restaurant because it’s convenient.
Problem is that often times they exceed 1500 kcal because they need to taste good, which often times is accomplished by using a lot of fat and sugar.
Even though you worked out vigorously you end up with a caloric surplus of 500 kcal. If you continue this for 2-3 weeks you won’t see any results and hence loose motivation and stop altogether.
(Q) Do you believe that young teenagers should engage in physical activity in the area of personal training? If so, what would be the correct age to begin a child?
(A) Yes, but you should be knowledgable about proper exercise dynamics and find a balanced approach; the focus shouldn’t be on the amount of weight being lifted.
Instead the focus is on making the child balanced with their strength so that the joints function properly by enhancing range of motion (ROM)/flexibility, which allows them to manage their body effectively, decreases the risk for injury and emulates what they have to do in their respective sport.
One can do flexibility and appropriate strength training early on when the child starts playing tennis (e.g. ages 5-7) – it doesn’t stunt growth or has adverse health effects.
Actually, when children play naturally and jump down from higher obstacles (e.g. tree) the physical demands on the body are generally higher than those seen during appropriate strength training.
The issue is that most coaches just want to focus on resistance or speed but if one makes something faster or one makes something stronger but it’s already imbalanced then one will increase the imbalance, which will then commonly lead to injury and hence the coach did nothing that was beneficial.
(Q) You’re also the author of “Advanced Concepts of Strength & Conditioning for Tennis“, can you tell us more about it? How can someone purchase a copy if they’re interested in buying one?
(A) It has been my goal to write a textbook that illustrates a developmental approach to strength & conditioning that can easily be understood and utilized by tennis players and coaches of all skill levels.
The content is organized in sensible, constructive order where each chapter first provides explanation of underlying scientific principles and then presents practical solutions in form of applications or exercises, which have been selected and grouped based on purpose, training emphasis, and skill level. It is basically an all-in-one training resource designed for the purpose of teaching and applying.
It provides you with over 400 applications that you can use to develop all aspects of strength & conditioning with your players. You can order the print version or download the e-book at www.tennis-conditioning-book.com.
(Q) In addition, you had founded the International Association for Athletic Performance and Health (IAAPH); can you tell us the function behind this organization and how it serves the industry you’re currently involved in?
(A) The International Association for Athletic Performance & Health (IAAPH) certifies strength & conditioning coaches.
Our mission is to establish, assess and promote professional standards for strength & conditioning professionals while maintaining a high level of professional competency and ethical behavior.
We want to provide coaches with the knowledge and tools to develop athletes injury-free because we believe you can only be the best athlete if you are healthy.
(Q) As a successful entrepreneur and personal trainer, what other projects do you have coming over the horizon? Do you have a long-term vision in your career that you haven’t fulfilled yet? If so, can you tell us about it?
(A) I am pretty busy with conducting certifications and workshops for the IAAPH. In addition I am working again with Alexander Ritschard, who is a professional tennis player from Switzerland with a great potential for reaching the top 50 in the world.
Our goal is getting into the top 10 and we are confident that we will reach our goal within the next 3 years.
We are fully committed to our goal and we’ll see what will happen.
(Q) Do you conduct personal training sessions through Skype and other forms of social media? If so, have you had much success with the online approach?
(A) No, I haven’t. I prefer the personal contact with athletes – the real deal. But we are providing training plans, including pictures and videos, so that athletes can work out on their own whenever and wherever they want.
We stay in contact with the athletes and provide training recommendations and feedback to the athletes via Skype or other social media.
This approach has been working well for us and the athletes alike.
(Q) I know that you work alongside business professionals, professional athletes, celebrities and such; how were you able to grow your reputation to what it is today? What advice do you have for aspiring personal trainers who wish to make their mark within the industry?
(A) Be authentic, hard working and committed to excellence the same way athletes, actors/actresses or models have to be because your job is to help them make a living. It is not about you, it is about them – they are paying you, they are the star!
You cannot control everything but the factors you can control you should focus on and do with passion. Then sooner or later someone will give you a chance and once you got the chance then it’s all about what you make out of it.
(Q) In conclusion, what would you like to share with our audience about yourself and why remaining physically active is an important component to living a happy life?
(A) I have been committed to tennis in one form or another all my life and I think it is one of the fairest sports with regards to what you can achieve and it also has a social component to it – age is not a limiting factor.
It doesn’t matter where you are on this planet you can always pick up a racquet and find someone to hit some balls with.
I hope that people will benefit from the information that I have provided and stay physically active and injury-free because it positively impacts their quality of life, mentally as well as physically – not everybody has to become a professional athlete to be a “success in life”.