This week on the show we welcome Ali Gilbert to talk about all things men's health including testosterone, psychology, sleep, training, and why less might be more to start seeing progress.
Ali is a fitness professional living in Greenwich, Connecticut working with clients both locally and remotely. She got her start working in golf fitness back in 2008 by initially bartering training for golf lessons. Since more men seek out training for golf, she worked with a mostly male clientele from the beginning. Ali quickly noticed how many men just weren’t taking care of themselves and there were a lot of misconceptions around men’s health.
We first dive into what got Ali interested in men’s health to begin with. When working with her clients early on, she saw a need for better education on the topic and had a difficult time finding a trusted source that she could refer out to. After seeing so many men suffer from issues related to low testosterone levels, and the lack of available information, she saw that men needed an advocate for looking after their health. Over the years she has been able to collaborate with a number of medical professionals and has been able to create a network of trusted doctors around the United States.
Next we talk about some of the psychological aspects around men’s health and how Ali is able to have difficult conversations with new clients. For starters, Ali is very open on her social media of what she does and how she can help, so when men reach out for remote training they already know what they’re going to get. In person, however, is a little different as most of those clients aren’t on social media and only know her through Golf Fitness, so it can take a little bit of time before they start talking about things like hormones. She has actually found that most men are open to discussing rather personal issues such as erectile dysfunction and she uses that as an opportunity to educate them around various lifestyle factors that could be affecting their sexual health.
We then transition into Ali’s pillars of men’s health. Before tackling anything else, she always addresses sleep and nutrition, despite that not being what most people want to hear. With schedules being flipped due to Covid, many people are struggling to find a consistent sleep schedule. Ali puts the emphasis on quality sleep, which means staying away from electronics right before bed, having a routine, and tracking sleep quality with wearables such as the Oura ring. If someone snores or has sleep apnea, that’s a huge red flag and often the lowest hanging fruit in terms of improving client’s carbohydrate tolerance and getting them to lean out through some simple interventions. Ali also finds herself having to convince people to train less by understanding what hard training actually is and the importance of recovery. Supplements are the very last consideration coming only after the big rocks are taken care of.
When talking about how Ali gets her type A clients to slow down, her approach is to just be blunt and honest. These are often executives and CEOs of big companies who are usually very used to telling people what to do, so when faced with someone who is the opposite of how most people interact with them they actually appreciate it. Ali shares the example of a client who came to her putting in a ton of work with his training, but only eating 1800 calories a day and still wasn’t able to lose fat. She pulled back his training to just 4 days a week, told him to do some walking, and actually rest on rest days. While the scale has gone up over the past 6 weeks (as expected), his measurements have stayed the same and he has gotten noticeably leaner. It’s results like this along with positive changes in metrics such as resting heart rate, HRV, and sleep quality that allow her to get more buy in over time. Ali is also adamant on getting people to do actual strength training with appropriate rest periods as opposed to constantly doing circuits with light weights or loads of high intensity interval training.
We then get into how Ali has been able to partner with a medical professional to refer out to. She met Dr Eric Primex at a medical conference she had presented at in 2017 and stayed in contact over the last few years. Recently at the beginning of the lockdown she reached out to start working together and they began doing some Instagram lives. They now run a combined consultation service where Dr Eric takes care of the medical side of everything and Ali looks at nutrition, biometrics, and training. This way they can match the medical intervention with a client’s lifestyle adjustments as a cohesive unit.
Next we jam on hormones and how nailing down basic lifestyle factors can impact a client’s levels and overall well being. Ali has found that the number of men who can optimize their hormones naturally is actually very small. While fixing lifestyle can and will help, she has found that replacement therapy is still needed to reach optimal levels. When asked if she has seen men able to come off of replacement therapy once everything has been buttoned up, Ali can only think of just one example. She finds that most guys just feel so much better that they don’t want to come off.
Lastly, we talk about some of the myths and misconceptions around testosterone. Many people assume that being on testosterone replacement therapy means that they will automatically build a ton of muscle, but that’s simply just not the case. The difference in doses between replacement therapy and what someone who wants supraphysiological adaptations is massive. Ali mentions how many doctors are not well informed on much of the research regarding testosterone as well as the impact of estrogen on the various health concerns around TRT.
Enjoy and hit that subscribe button if you learned a thing or two!
3:21 - Ali’s background
8:21 - What got Ali interested in men's health
13:24 - The psychological side of low T / how to talk about
17:50 - Ali’s Pillars of men’s health
22:18 - How Ali gets her Type A clients to slow down
34:08 - The story behind Ali’s gorilla logo
36:17 - Ali’s partnership with Dr. Eric Primex
40:25 - Fixing lifestyle factors and being able to come off TRT
47:10 - Myths and misconceptions around testosterone
Links and Stuff
- Ali Gilbert: @thealigilbert
- James Cerbie: @jamescerbie
- Dr. Eric Primex: @drericprimex
- Ali Gilbert
- Apex Athlete Training Team
- Program Shop
- Mary Roach