Meet Alex: his goal is to make people strong and flexible, and says that there are no quick fixes or 8-week body transformations (which we love). From his impressive movements and strict handstands (forget the awful banana shapes you see all over Instagram) you’d assume he’d been a gymnast from a young age – but he’s only been training like this for five years.
Based in London, he teaches private clients at their homes or at Soho Gyms Waterloo, where he also runs a weekly handstand and mobility class on Wednesdays, as well as workshops across the city. Our founder, Laura Fullerton, has been training with Alex, and demanded we share his story…
A: I’m from Colombia, and I had always been an outdoor guy and never into the gym; it’s always been volleyball, swimming, cycling and running. Then I came to London, and because of the weather, I joined a gym back in 2002. For 12 years I trained for aesthetics – you know, bodybuilding, powerlifting and weightlifting. But I got bored, and I had quite a few injuries because of heavy lifting: my back, shoulders, and knees. And then five years ago, I started moving and it was challenging and more rewarding, and all my pains went away.
A: I’d say it’s a combination of yoga, gymnastics and Ido Portal movement. I do it because it makes me feel better – it puts me on a high, and it got rid of all my pains and injuries from bodybuilding. I don’t think there’s a need to lift heavy weight, our bodies are already very heavy so we have something to work with. Being able to do a one-hand chin up is already very difficult, so why would I want to be able to do pull-downs on a machine? It’s progressive too, when you do your first handstand, you want to do a handstand press.
A: I train between 6-12 hours a week, depending on how busy my week is. I will do one session on straight arm strength (working on horizontal and vertical push and pull), and the other session will be bent arm strength (again with horizontal push and pull). The third day will be mobility: shoulders, spine and hips. That will cover pretty much everything, and if I have time I’ll do that twice a week, and one day I’ll do whatever I feel like doing – hanging, backbends or handstands.
A: Yes, I do intermittent fasting, so I’ll fast for 16 hours and eat during the other 8. Right now, I actually haven’t eaten for nearly 24 hours, and I’m still full of energy, I’m light, I don’t need to keep thinking about food. People get caught up thinking “I need protein, food, food, food”, but we don’t need to be that way. I eat mainly a paleo diet, so protein and lots of vegetables and some fruits, and I try to avoid any refined sugars and starch.
A: Every single person should be able to do it, It’s all about understanding what your body’s supposed to do, conditioning it, then executing it. It’s all about progression and dedication. It makes me very proud as a coach when someone can’t do anything, then they make big improvements and get there.
A: It all depends on how much training people are willing to put in, and their current level. Typically, if you do 10 hours a week, in three months you can get a good handstand. The first month will just be preparation for handstand – understanding what the body needs to be doing, getting good alignment, and then you find the balance.
A: Shoulder flexion of 180* without thoracic spine extension (the banana shape), scapular should be elevated and slightly protracted. Hips should be in posterior pelvic tilt, core should be tight, legs straight, and feet pointed.
A: I did around 60 hours of one-to-one sessions with Mark Kan (a dharma yoga teacher in London). I went to the Movement X and The Corset Protocol seminars from Ido Portal, and I went to Israel to have private intensive coaching with a member of his team for a week. I’ve also done the Gymnastic Bodies level 1 with Christopher Sommer, as well as lots of one-to-one sessions with professional hand balancers from around the world. I’m constantly reading books about yoga, gymnastics ns bodyweight movement in general too.
A: There’s so many people out there. I love Ido Portal, I think he’s amazing at what he does, as are his team. There are many yogis who are great at what they do, and gymnasts too, and they always inspire me.
Outside of the gym, people who achieve something without making too much noise inspire me. People who are modest and share what they do and help. You can be so knowledgeable, but if you don’t share it and spread the good stuff, then what’s the point? If it’s going to improve the quality of other people’s lives then you must share it. That’s what I like doing.
A: With a double espresso, then I do some hanging, then spine mobility. (For readers who don’t know what Alex means by hanging…literally hanging from a bar. It’s incredibly good for you!)
A: Being successful as a PT.
A: if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. And if you do it with passion, you’ll always be fine.
A: Start doing yoga classes, try fasting, and be active as possible – whatever it is, just move.
A: Live by the sea, and have an outdoor space where I can practice myself and spread the good movement with as many people as I could.
A: A bar where I can hang.
A: On Instagram: @_alexnino_
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