David Gets Interviewed – The Talking Shop Podcast

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I recently went on my friend Matt Tometz’s podcast. Matt is a strength and conditioning coach out of the Chicago area, and we linked up to talk about some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in my career, from how I started out as a trainer, to how I originally met John, to what I think has allowed me to excel in the fitness/strength and conditioning space.

I’m excited to be doing little fun things like this, and super happy Matt gave me that opportunity. So, let’s show him some love and give his podcast some downloads.

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Full episode transcription.

Matt Tometz: Welcome to the TSP podcast and today I’m joined by David Rosales, who does a ton of stuff.

He’s the co-owner of Roman Fitness Systems, he’s the head editor of, which is the official website the Strength and Conditioning Association of Professional Hockey (SCAPH), he’s written for places like Muscle & Strength, the Personal Trainer Development Center, as well as ghostwritten for places like Simplifaster.

We’ve been best friends for about a week now.

David Rosales: Yeah, now we’re working on our 1-week anniversary.

Matt Tometz: Oh my gosh, so sentimental. But David is the product of another genuine Twitter DM. We hopped on a call to make sure he wasn’t a robot, and we kind of vibed for over an hour, and I figured it would be a good fit with his kind of interesting story and a different lens on this world of performance with a job and roll that not many of us know people do, and people who can do what you do. So I’m very excited to get right into it.

So first of all, how are you doing? And second…

What’s the story that has been most fundamental to your career?

David Rosales: Thanks for that introduction, it reminds me of all the things I have to do now, for all those different projects I have going on. I like intertwining different lessons from different industries and that explains my career path in a lot of ways.

For this lesson we’re going to have to go back first to when I was 14 years old when my family — I’m from a small town in Vermont, called Jericho, Vermont — hosted an exchange student from Barcelona, Spain. And he was in high school, I was in middle school so he was like an older brother to me.

After I graduated high school four years later in 2017 he reached out to me and said “Hey, come to Spain for the summer, it would be such a good experience.” But I was like “Oof, Spain for the summer sounds amazing but like I don’t know if I can do that, I just got my personal trainer certification. But in the end I knew it was an opportunity that I couldn’t turn down.

A little bit more background about me: my last name is Rosales, which is Rosales in Spanish, so you may assume I speak Spanish, but at the time, I actually didn’t. Even though my dad is from El Salvador, which is a small Central American country, my mom is a white girl from Massachusetts, which basically means even though half of my household’s first language is Spanish, I grew up not speaking it. And it was something I was really insecure about.

When I got the opportunity to visit my exchange student’s family in Spain, I thought to myself, this is going to be the best opportunity I have to learn Spanish. I mean if half my family speaking the language isn’t enough, then if I couldn’t go to another country and be immersed and learn it, then there would really be no hope for me in learning the language.

And I promise this all connects back to strength and conditioning.

So I get on a plane to Spain, and I have a book with me: Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss. For those of you who don’t know Tim Ferriss, who hosts a big podcast where he interviews world-class performers. This book is the collection of the highlights of a lot of those interviews. Reading this book, there was a theme that came up over and over. It was the importance of successful people and how often they just take action, and have courage to take action.

When I thought about what I wanted to learn in Spain, to finally nail down the Spanish language, I knew that could only happen by getting out of my comfort zone consistently and at every opportunity I could. However that’s much more easily said than done.

I get off the plane in this amazing country, it’s a sunny, warm Barcelona summer day and everyone around me is speaking in ways I can hardly understand. Our natural instinct as human being in this situation is to shudder and just talk to my one friend who can speak English. But really if you want to learn a language you need to get out of your comfort zone.

So I started that day. We would go to a grocery store and Álvaro, my exchange student brother would say “I’ll order for you what do you want?” And I would say “No, this is my opportunity to speak the language.” And I did. Sometimes I couldn’t because I was too scared. There are obviously people who are harder to approach than others. But I learned that over time the only way to learn a language is to get repetition after repetition after repetition, and every time you have to get out of your comfort zone.

It means that when I didn’t know a word, I had to be like, “what does this mean?” And my friends would laugh at me. But that is just part of the learning process. I joke that after 4 days in Spain I had learned more Spanish than I did in 4 years of Spanish in high school…

…but that wasn’t the most important lesson.

Because when I returned from Spain, speaking, dreaming, and thinking in Spanish, I realized that the skills I learned language learning carried over into so much more.

When I got back to my job as a personal trainer, I realized that I now had the courage to have difficult conversations with clients, to reach out to people.

I had no more fear to say, “Oh, I need to go out and get 10 more clients and this is how I’m going to do it. These are the steps I’m gonna take. And you know what, if it fails, it doesn’t matter.”

That was another thing I learned speaking to people. Anytime we’re about to enter a difficult conversation — we’ve all had those conversations where we have butterflies in our stomach — we know it’s gonna be hard. But then once you have it, there really was not that much risk. And even if it goes poorly. Let’s say you want to go up and talk to a stranger. You’re scared and nervous, and it goes horribly, that’s it. It’s over. The interaction is over and there’s actually no long-term downside effect.

That’s something I learned in Spain that carried over into my career as a personal trainer. I had the courage to now take risks and do thing that other people just wouldn’t do because they were scared to, and they were listening to the butterflies in their stomach and lacked the courage to take action.

There’s a quote in that book by Tim that I try to embody in my everyday life and that is,A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.”

As strength coaches, if you can’t have uncomfortable conversations, it’s going to be so much harder to build relationships, to move forward in your career, to retain clients, because sometimes clients need to hear difficult things. In the long-term, those are things that they’re going to appreciate.

Matt Tometz: Jumping right into it speaking that Español right off the plane, I love it. And I think that there’s so much to be said to having the growth mindset in the back of your mind and understanding that “yes, I’m going to have to take action.” And it sounds like that book was pretty fundamental in giving you that. But David is quite the storyteller and that’s one of the benefits of being a pretty legit writer as well, just the ability to communicate, which I believe is one of your next stories *wink wink*.

So you went to Spain and then you came back and it’s so interesting that I hear all these different stories on TSP. And I always say that there’s value in everything if you make it so or see it so. One thing that I definitely believe is that things are more similar than dissimilar.

Although there are few places like the inside of a weight room and interacting with athletes but there are all these skills that transfer regardless and all these skills you can take from other places. Being able to understand that instead of just a vacation, it was an opportunity to set you up for literally everything else. Anything else on that story when you kind of came back? Did you feel like a new man or just more comfortable having those kinds of conversations.

David Rosales: I thought that just having another language would change my life. And it absolutely did. If anyone wants to go through the hardest learning experience, go try to learn a language. It is amazing. You literally learn to think in a completely different way. But like you said, what’s most valuable Is the skills I learned learning that language.

And that is one of my core learning philosophies: that nothing exists in a vacuum. For example, a life-changing book for me… I played junior hockey and I was known for reading on the bus. And teammates would be like haha Rosie — my teammates called me Rosie — is reading on the bus. And I’d be like yeah I’m reading on the bus, I wanna be smart, I don’t know about you guys. So for our team secret Santa — and I also played a lot of chess, which I was also known for on our hockey team — my friend said “Rosie likes to read books and he likes to play chess so here’s a book about chess.

That book was called the Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin. Josh Waitzkin was in his youth an international chess master, considered a prodigy, and then went on to become a Tai Chai Push Hards world champion and later a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under probably the goat of BJJ, Marcelo Garcia. In that book, Waitzkin talks about how the skills he learned playing chess transferred directly over into Tai Chi. I thought about his skills from chess and how those transferred into hockey and into strength and conditioning.

For example, in the chess world we have this saying that you want to learn the endgame before you just memorize opening repertoires. Because when you learn how to get checkmate with a pawn and a king versus a king, you can learn about the innate power of a king. Whereas if you’re just trying to memorize openings and trick other players, yes you might win games, but you’re not truly learning.

When I heard that lesson, that was directly applicable to two things for me: At first it was applicable to hockey. Because in hockey and sports, we get caught up in routes, and strategies, and tactics, and special teams, but really maybe we just need to go back and learn how to skate better. In hockey that’s a fundamental skill. Maybe we need to go back to the basics.

In strength and conditioning, that lesson of starting with the endgame transferred into learning the basics first. You have no business doing power cleans and Olympic lifts and a lot of stuff before you can goblet squat or split squat or do a push-up. That has become a core learning philosophy that you can always learn from what is a seemingly completely different field and apply it to everything else.

To strength and conditioning, to hockey, to chess, to Tai Chi in the case of Josh Waitzkin. And I think just approaching life with that mindset, that learning doesn’t exist in a vacuum, you’re just going to notice learning opportunities around you.

Matt Tometz: Fantastic, and the skill of learning new skills, and the skill of being better at something. I think this might be a little cliché, but how you do something is how you do everything. So I don’t know if I fully believe in that. But the ability to do something is kind of how you do everything or how you approach it. I’ll give a quick example of myself on that topic.

In quarantine my skill was to learn how to make videos because I always watched a lot of YouTube and I really got into streaming Netflix. And I love those like 10-20 minute documentaries that look legit but are just made my regular people. And I got a camera and I was just like at my house and used whatever we had and I just had this goal of learning how to make videos.

And how I would describe it more, is I’ve turned it into freelancing, and I’ve traveled across the US for 1080 Motion and I always say that it’s pretty similar to training and coaches athletes where it’s very abstract and you have these shots and you want to create the mood and the emotions and all this kind of stuff, similar to how you have your athlete and you can do anything under the sun when you train them. But I think how my mind works is understanding these abstract parts but I needed something objective to wrap my head around it.

With all the Youtube videos I watched I understood framing, composition, the beats of music, how to edit and all these technical aspects. There are these things in training. You know, there’s the principle of progressive overload, specific adaptation to imposed demands, volume and intensity over time, and these objective components.

But, how you put it together is where the abstract comes in. It’s crazy but maybe that’s why I’m okay at making videos because I know how to put these abstract things that by themselves mean nothing into something. It’s crazy how things are more similar than dissimilar.

David Rosales: I loved your story of connecting video to editing and strength and conditioning. That is my passion, is connecting learning across fields. And as we’ll see in later stories, when you learn how to learn and how to communicate what you learn, the possibilities are endless. I would encourage strength and conditioning coaches, and we’ll get to this later, to put down the strength and conditioning textbook and pick up a book like The Art of Learning. 

Matt Tometz:

So is that the coolest story or is that the first big story?

David Rosales: That was, let’s see. That was my coolest story. That was a pretty cool story.

Matt Tometz: But this story, I know you told me the first time we chatted. What is the next fundamental story that without X, you would not be here.

David Rosales: So now I’ve come back from Spain have this new language this new ability to approach people.

Matt Tometz: What year was Spain?

David Rosales: This was 2017. I was 18 years old. And that was also the same time I graduated high school and I — this is important I should’ve said this — decided to take a gap year. I said I’m gonna go work at a gym, and I was playing competitive junior hockey, if you know hockey you know junior hockey. So I was playing hockey and I was working at a gym. And my personal training stuff was going well. I was meeting people, running youth classes, running adult classes, waking up at 4:30 to teach a 5:30am client. All that stuff that we’ve all done that we’ve all done.

But I knew there was something more for me. I didn’t want to wake up at 4:30 for the rest of my life. That sounded terrible. And I was 19 now and I was already kind of sick of it so I didn’t want to do it forever.

I was looking at schools as well, thinking about moving to New York City, and that was when an old trainer who I followed, his name is John Romaniello — If you were in like the bro-meathead fitness space from like 2012 to 2015, you definitely know him. If you weren’t in that space you probably don’t know him.

(Note: I wrote an article about meeting John which you can read here)

But basically, he wrote a New York Times bestselling book, had a big blog, all that big stuff in like 2012-2015, and since then has left fitness, but I kept following him. He was well-known in the fitness industry for being a great writer, and I had an affinity for writing. He had an Instagram story that was advertising 1-on-1 writing mentorship. Now, John Romaniello is not the kind of guy I could cold email or cold DM and be like “hey, be my friend.”

That had worked for getting clients, that did not work for super successful people who charge $1000 per hour for their time. But he did advertise coaching. And it was $5000 for a 3-month writing mentorship. And I had this quote going through my head as I saw this and going through this. It comes from Graham Duncan, who’s a billionaire hedge fund manager, smart dude.

He said, “I invest a disproportionate amount of my income into an ever growing collection of coaches and trainers.” I had translated that to mean, if you’re investing in developing skills and relationships, by definition, you’re always going to be getting better. If every project you have going on if you’re learning new things — learning skills — and meeting people — building relationships — even if on paper financially it’s not a smart decision, and maybe it doesn’t work out, you’re still going to come out of that situation with more skills and more relationships. If you keep doing that, you can’t fail.

So I had that going through my head, as I decided to spend — now, I was doing well as a personal trainer but as you guys know, on the floor trainers can only do so well. I took a risk, but a calculated risk to spend my money and hire John.

I knew I would build skills, become a better writer, specifically he had a lot of expertise in the fitness industry, and he would get to know me and although I didn’t have ideas of becoming his best friend but I knew I wanted to move to New York, I knew he lived in New York, and I figured he had a lot of New York fitness connections. So I thought maybe he could help me get an internship somewhere or introduce me to people. So: skills and relationships.

At the end of our three months, John and I kind of hit it off, and he was like “hey I was actually wondering if you wanted to come to New York and work for me.” And was like you don’t have to sell me on the opportunity to work for you. Now he doesn’t run a company, it’s just him, he’s an entrepreneur.

And so there I was, I moved to New York in the fall of 2019, so I took two gaps years, I shouldn’t said that, and I would Citi bike — I lived in the Village he lived in Hudson Yards — up 8th Ave through Madison Square Garden all that mess of Midtown to go hang out with him in his apartment and basically take his phone away so he would write his books and stuff.

Since then John and I have built an immeasurably close bond. To call him my Obi-Wan Kenobi is I think an understatement because he means more to me than Anakin recognized the value of Obi-Wan, or even Luke Skywalker recognized the value in Obi-Wan. So we’re even closer than that. And on e a financial standpoint I’ve now taken over his old fitness company Roman Fitness Company and made back that financial ROI.

So my advice to strength coaches is, yes, have courage. Go out and reach out to people. But there comes a point where you have to be willing to invest in your education. And I know that comes from a place of privilege in that I had that money. But I think if you have the funds, you will never regret spending it on something you feel like you can definitely learn a ton from that could change your life, and give you connections that could change your life.

Matt Tometz: And kind of speaking on investing in yourself or investing in other coaches versus just doing stuff that directly affects your athletes, I’ll take a step back on, let’s say, consulting. You know. Most of my content is geared towards helping caches. Because I can help 20 athletes or I can help 20 coaches that then help 20 athletes. You can pay for just better writing skills to help you post stuff better for your listeners or you can pay for yourself that’ll elevate all the consequent content, if that makes sense.

So that’s definitely an interesting mindset shift on like: how is this really going to pay dividends? What’s the most effective use of this resource? Whether that’s time, money, et cetera.

When you were kind of going through this thought process trying to weigh both sides, the money, just kind of his legginess and credibility, do you remember if you had all the se sticky notes and a whiteboard with pros and cons, or what is chatting with people who’d done this before? Or can you kind of just walk us through what that process was from first coming across that ad to committing and shaking his hand.

David Rosales: In life you have to say no to a lot. You always miss out on something. So if something’s not a hell yes, it should be a no. In most instances. And obviously there are instances, especially when you’re starting at, where you have to say yes to a lot, but with John for me it was a full-body Hell Yes.

There was no I was going to let this opportunity slip. Same thing for other people. If it’s a hell yes, and there’s a coach who you feel a connections with and you’ve followed for years — I followed John literally since I was in 8th grade. This was a person I’d followed and I’d read his book in 8th grade. From age 14 up until I was at this point 20.

I knew what he knew, I knew what he’d done, and was a full-body yes. I didn’t have a whiteboard, I didn’t do pros and cons. Not that those things aren’t valuable. I think every person could probably approach it differently, but I think at the end of the day, if your body is saying I need to do this, this is a huge move… Or if you ask, what if I pass up on this? If that sounds worse, that’s always a reason to do it.

Matt Tometz: That’s definitely a good question to ask, and a lot fo the times we’ll ask, oh what if I do it and it doesn’t work out? What if I don’t do it how would that make me feel?

David Rosales: Yeah, actually just to tie it in to the first point with the courage story is that a lot of the time fears aren’t that scary once you take them. When you think about the scenario is of that, worst case scenario I’m out $5000, I can work for two more months and make that back but best case scenario is knowing someone super smart who can help me in so many ways.

If you think about the upside and downside, the downside sounds a lot worse, but when you really think about what am I actually afraid of and what could actually happen?

That’s something that the Stoics talk about a lot is like, “Is my fear valid?”

Matt Tometz: Big stoic guy, I definitely enjoy stoic philosophy. I think Ryan Holiday does a pretty good job with all of that. Next can we chat about the progression and development with a mentorship from the time you met him to you know, feeling comfortable to feeling like your best friend.

David Rosales: Speaking of Ryan Holiday, Ryan’s a good dude. Really really good dude. Everyone should buy all his books. Anyway, Ryan has a great essay called The Canvas Strategy. And the thesis of this essay is when you’re starting out young, is you should be a canvas for other people to paint on. Don’t worry about money, don’t worry about credit. Just let other people point on the canvas you provide.

When I stepped into that mentorship with John, I was just there for him to ask good questions, to be there for support, to take his phone away when he wouldn’t get off his Instagram. Just be there for support. And I think then things come back around. Even now, I’m still in that apprentice, I’m a canvas for him to paint on role.

I’m helping him with his book, like I’m not going to have any credit for that book, as I shouldn’t, and so I think that’s the attitude you have to have. Just be a canvas for them to paint on, I come back to that all the time.

Matt Tometz: Do you remember the first day you had to take his phone away from him.

David Rosales: Yeah dude it was the first day. He was like yeah we’re writing this thing, but I just gotta respond to these DMs. And he has a lot of followers os he could spend all day responding. So I was just like dude gimme your phone and he was like all right fine.

Matt Tometz: It wasn’t some big thing.

David Rosales: No he didn’t he was like you’re right I told you to do this. And I guess that’s part of the natural rapport him and I have where I feel like I can do what he asked me to do and he could push back and I could push back against him.

Matt Tometz: Last part of this question and then we’ll move on. When did you realize that this was going to be more than just a 3-month thing?

David Rosales: That’s a good question. Throughout our paid mentorship, we texted, I drove to New York City to see a girl I was seeing and I was like hey John, let’s get lunch. And we got bagels, classic. New York City bagels. And at that lunch, I felt some rapport just a good, smooth, connection and we started to talk about those things that I’d hoped would help come to fruition like he could help me meet people in New York

At that time I realized that after the three months, I wouldn’t lose contact with him. When he asked me to work for, I didn’t expect it. I was thrown off and it replays in my head and — I was in Vermont so I went in my backyard — and I played my favorite song and started fist bumping and all that stuff.

Matt Tometz: You had all these cloudy, vague assumptions, and then in that moment you felt it was real. I can only imagine what that must’ve felt like.

David Rosales: Yeah, there’s no doubt it was a risk. I took a risk. And I’m not saying you should throw caution to the wind and invest in Gamstop, that’s a bad idea. But. If you really look at what the downside of what the decision is and you look at the potential upside, you can work through that and in my case, I saw that it had a ton of potential upside with very little downside once I thought of it.

Matt Tometz: Mhm, so it’s like…

…what’s the best case scenario, what’s the most realistic outcome, unrealistic negative outcome, realistic negative outcome, and then like what if I just don’t do anything?

David Rosales: Yeah, and what’s the cost of doing nothing? This is a stoic exercise, it’s called Fear-Setting. If you Google fear-setting either Ryan (Holiday) or Tim (Ferriss) had a good article that kind of translates what the stoics meant.

So if you have an exercise you want to make and scared of making it, just Google fear-setting and you’ll find that exercise.

Matt Tometz: Fantastic, tying it into action already. So last kind of big question/story. We went through the beginning, middle and now we’ll get to the present.

What’s the story you’re most proud of and the biggest full-circle moment thus far?

David Rosales: I actually want to take us back a bit to 2017 because I’ve hinted I’m a writer. I’ve written for some big fitness publications, I’ve worked for John, but that doesn’t really tell the full story of why I think writing is important. So I’m going to go back to the 2017 Fall Cressey Sports Performance Seminar. Everyone knows Eric Cressey, Cressey Sports Performance, now works for the New York Yankees, so everyone should know him. And this will tie back into courage also.

This is another piece of good advice: when you go to seminars, usually theres’ a pre-day event where there’s like one speaker. Always go to that because there are going to be 1/5th the people but all the presenters will be there. So it’s a good opportunity to talk to and meet the presenters.

So I go the day before and Eric Cressey is just there hanging out, because it’s his gym and there’s maybe 30 people. So I get the opportunity to ask Eric Cressey a question. And I say, “Mr. Cressey,” he says, “Please call me Eric, that makes me sound old.” By the way, Eric Cressey is sneaky jacked. In person he’s actually an absolute freak. So I was little bit intimidated. I was 19, I had just turned 19. I said, “What do you think are the most important traits as a young strength coach to build a foundation?”

He said two things:

1.) Learn anatomy

I made a mental note to get an anatomy textbook.

2.)  Learn how to communicate.

All the best strength coaches you know, the reason you know them is because they know how to give their message effectively to a broader audience. Whether that’s learning how to coach better, or market better, or even specifically, or even how to write better.

On my drive home from that seminar, that’s what stuck in my head. I was thinking about the trainers I knew, the ones I followed the most, and I realized that they’re all writers. Eric Cressey has had a blog for years. Mike Boyle has written tons of books. Even if they’re not the best x’s and o’s strength coaches, they’re the ones we think of a lot because they’re also writers, and they’re good writers.

So I thought, I wanted to become a better writer. How do I do that? Yes, I hired John eventually. But I was also thinking about how I could continue this in a higher education setting. Now again, going to college was a lot of privilege on my hand,. My parents also said that I didn’t have to but we’ll support you if you’d like to go.

But I didn’t know what I wanted to study. I think a lot of people assume that if you want to be a strength coach, you should go study exercise science. That’s perfectly a valid path, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but I felt like I had gotten tons of hands-on experiences from reading books, doing courses, going to seminars, and most importantly, actually coaching people.

I think every coach can attest that the only way to really learn how to coach people, is to actually coach people. My plan was to continue to coach people to learn how to coach people, so I didn’t feel the need to study something like exercise science.

But I did want to become a better communicator, a better writer. When I found at New York University which is in Manhattan, called the Gallatin School of Individualized Study. In that program, every student makes their own major.

And this isn’t an advertisement for Gallatin, but I think you’ve read Range by David Epstein — I think you mentioned that on a previous podcast. The idea of being a generalist. That’s pretty much the philosophy of Gallatin. Every student, regardless of your major, you learn how to think, how to learn, how to write, how to communicate, and that’s what I wanted.

My advice to other strength coaches, especially if you’re young, is to question the assumption of what you need to study in college and think about what skills you want to learn. You don’t have to learn to be a better writer in school just like you don’t have to learn how to be a better strength coach in skill.

You can learn those through other avenues. There are books, courses, mentors, in-person, actually doing the thing. And then of course, higher education is an option.

I ended up enrolling in Gallatin, moving to New York, and working for John while in school, and that in combination is what propelled me to becoming a much better writer.

But I want to get back to why this is so important to our industry. We’re all writers. Whether we’re writing emails, texts, social media posts, articles, even if you don’t identify as a writer, you’re a writer. And if you are increasing the way you communicate, obviously your marketing stuff will do much better, but also the way you talk with your clients will improve.

Because writing is really just thinking on paper.

When you write, you’re taking the thoughts you have, that internal monologue in your brain, and you’re swirling it out of your head and onto a page. That’s your thoughts on a page. But now that it’s concretized, now you can see where your thought process is flawed, where you’re not supporting it with good evidence, and that can make you a better thinker.

On top of making you a better coach and communicator, writing is just a great thought exercise. That’s why I think there should be more emphasis on it in our industry. Personally it’s what has allowed me, at the age of 22, already meet a lot of amazing coaches because I have a skill a lot of them don’t, so that’s an asset for me.

Matt Tometz: Very interesting. That was something I was going to ask if it didn’t come up: why writing and a less traditional path? But I think it makes perfect sense.

I have my own story about Cressey, actually. It was the summer of 2016 in between my sophomore and junior year of college, my boss went out to Cressey’s place and Boyle’s place and Cressey came by and he said he doesn’t really got out to the midwest and he’d love to host a seminar if he could do it at our facility. And my boss said heck yeah.

It was my 20th birthday I think, and I’m setting up chairs and everything, but then my boss walks in with Eric Cressey. I watch all of his videos, read all of his articles, and now he’s right here in front of me. So my boss is like, hey Eric this Matt, he’s an intern, a college baseball player, he’s doing an awesome job this summer. And I just didn’t say a world I fangirled so hard. But there were three things to kind of come out of this.

It was during the first intermission and everyone was going up and talking to him and waiting in line like the patient little intern I was, and eventually I got up and said, “Hey Eric, I just want to let you know I’m a college pitcher if you need someone to demo.” Obviously there’s a hands-on. So I tell him that. He goes back up speaking and 15 minutes later he says, “This is Matt, he’s an intern here. He volunteered to do some of the demos.”

So I’m up there and I stumped Eric Cressey. My right shoulder is lower than my right shoulder but I’m a left-handed pitcher. And some pitchers get looser from throwing and tighter from throwing, and let’s just say I’m one of those pitchers that gets tighter when they throw. So I took my shirt off and he’s like you’re a righty and I’m like nope. But that was the summer before I took anatomy. And I asked him the stupidest shoulder question and I’m still scarred but it’s fine. But having the courage to go up and ask — like who I am to tell Eric Cressey if you need me *wink wink*. And I did. And I have the pictures on my back from where he drew on my shoulder blades and stuff.

Super cool, and it’s kind of being courageous. And a friend of mine from Louisville when he first met Mark Verstegen, asked, “what’s the one thing that’s going to differentiate me?” The same concept of your question.

And Mark Verstegen said, learn how to deal with soft tissue injuries. Rarely will you have a 100% healthy team. So learning how to — not becoming a PT or an AT — but just learning the mechanisms, how to treat it, and modify your S&C to fit those problems. So It’s interesting that you asked that question and how it set you up on literally the path for everything else.

But being able to communicate — I always say that the difference between what’s in your head and your head, and in the head and heart of others’ is through your mouth. So super cool story. Just meeting Cressey and all that stuff and what brought you to writing.

I understand both sides, because I’ve had co-workers at TC Boost who did not have an exercise degree. One had an accounting degree and was a national champion heptathlete, cross fitter, had a 10-pack. But she’s like, “What’s a motor unit?” She was a great coach. But there were some things — I think there’s value in getting outside the box, and you’ll become a way better coach than you ever have, and having done that internship in the middle of my undergrad, it ruined the next two years of classes for me because I was like, “that’s not how it really is in real life.” So I think there’s definitely value in applied experience but the foundations are the foundations for a reason. Do I think they could be tough more effectively? Yes. But there’s value in both, and it’s cool that you were able to make all of those connection points, on like really what is the point of all of this? Which is definitely more of an applied lease.

David Rosales: Yeah, just to speak off that. You need to know that stuff, I’m not saying you don’t know the basics of anatomy — that was the first part of Cressey’s answer — but going back to questioning the assumptions of the world, which I think is just a good foundational learning thing, how you learn something can be different. You can learn what a motor units are through books and courses, not necessarily by paying $50,000 by going to a school. Where you learn something you can question that assumption also.

Matt Tometz: And then the context where you apply it, the kind of “what’s the point?” I think that there’s so much that’s missed in that mass-consumption mode of content. And it’s like, “oh, I watched this awesome video, watched this awesome book,” but tell like three action steps that are going to make you a better practitioner. And it’s like, “uh, I tweeted about it and it got some likes.”

Not to target anyone but I think it’s funny when people are like books of the month and are like oh I’ve read twelve books. So you’re telling me that each of those twelve books has helped you do your job? Versus let’s say you take two months per book, one month to read it and one month to reflect on the material with this new lens. So that’s just sort of one example. I’m not targeting anyone, I could read more myself. But just that example of “what’s the point.”

And that relays to our last point. Here on TSP I love the stories. They’re relatable, they’re funny, they get your brain going, and honestly, some people on my show have said that these are the toughest questions they’ve had. At the end of the day, we’re practitioners, we have to be good at what we do to pay the bills. So, tying this into action, if you had to give the listener one question to ask themselves on a daily or weekly basis, what would that be?

David Rosales:

Am I cultivating courage as a way of life?

To go back to the first story, I think that’s the foundation of so many successful stories is just taking action. Doing the damn thing. And that’s so much easier said than done. So another way to phrase is “Am I doing something today that’s uncomfortable? Am I having an uncomfortable conversation today?” I think if you’re doing that, you’re going to be successful.

Matt Tometz: And uncomfortable doesn’t necessarily mean negative. It can positive also.

David Rosales: No for sure. Something that’s not acceptable in culture that I think should be is telling your bros you love them. That is not a comfortable thing to do at first. To your friend you always say, “hey what’s up man good how are you.” Actually say, “Hey I deeply appreciate you as a member of my life.” That’s an uncomfortable conversation. But it’s a positive one.

Matt Tometz: Yeah and that example of intense deep emotions. That’s something that I’ve struggled with, with my parents, expressing that deep, genuine emotion. And here’s another example: hopping on the phone with a stranger who DM’d you about being on his podcast.

Or if you’re networking and job searching I always say that I literally couldn’t quantify the hours I spent on the phone just talking to people and networking. Those first two minutes with a person who has a Ph.D, they’ve been in college or pro sports for 10+ years, they’ve done all this stuff, and you just have to navigate that first two minutes.

I have imposter syndrome all the time like who am I to ask for their time? So it’s just having the courage to hit send, but then also hitting call and just knowing this could go professional, this could go casual, nobody’s going to teach you that stuff you just have to do it. So, “am I cultivating courage?” This week, did I do something intentionally that I wouldn’t have done otherwise.

I think if someone can accumulate more weeks, and more days doing that, that would be an awesome indicator of progress.

David Rosales: If I can give one more and give the audience two questions, it’s kind of cool and trendy to talk about how important communication is right now, pretty much since Brett Bartholomew’s book. But I don’t think people really say how you become better at that, as well as we could. So I’ll just give one actionable step.

If you know you’re a very good strength coach, and you know a lot of the X’s and O’s, but you feel like your bottleneck is communication, but down your strength and conditioning textbook you’re reading right now, walk to your local bookstore, and get a fiction book. Whether that’s The Great Gatsby, Catcher in The Rye, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, I don’t care. Get a good fiction book.

Because those books are so well known for a reason. The storytelling is so beautiful, the writing is so beautiful, and just the act of reading that will make you a better communicator because you’re seeing how good stories are told and what good language looks like.

Matt Tometz: Interesting. Definitely something different. Before we say goodbye, I’m opening up the floor to you. Giving you the red carpet, plug whatever you want to plug.

David Rosales: Thank you for that Matt. This has been super fun. You have a really good podcast voice, I hope somebody has told you this before.

Matt Tometz: People would probably say that they’re tired of my voice, but that is the first time I’ve heard that so thank you. It’s the mic.

David Rosales: Yeah, you have a nice mic. Where people can find me. Most of my writing is on Roman Fitness Systems. If you train hockey players at all, the reason I’m trying to do podcasts is to talk about SCAPH, but we didn’t talk about it all, which is fine. But if you train hockey players,, where I am the head editor. So we have articles from all of the NHL strength coaches submitted to that website, so there are tons of free articles there. Then if you want to get in touch with me, really I’m a Gen Z who’s addicted to their phone, so please do not email me. Just send me an Instagram DM and I will probably respond right away that’s @davidrosalesfitness.

About the Author

David William Rosales is a writer and strength coach. He's the head trainer and editor at Roman Fitness Systems. In addition to helping run RFS, he's also the head editor for, the official website of the Strength and Conditioning Association of Professional Hockey. You can also check out his Instagram, he's pretty easy on the eyes.

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