Bootcamp with Johnny

Updated: Apr 2


Many foreigners are working double jobs in Finland. The first job usually aims to feed their families, and the other one is to feed their passion. Johnny is one of the hardworking foreigners in Finland who is always on the go, chasing after and fulfilling his dreams.


Johnny, wearing his training gear, sits inside Colosseum, a gym in Tammisto, Vantaa.

He just finished training with one of his clients, but you wouldn't see a single sweat nor any trace of stress. Maybe he is an iron man. He agreed for an interview through messenger, and we spoke foreign Finnish. He speaks really good Finnish, even better than me, all thanks to earlier exposure to the language.


Where did you come from and how did you end up in Finland?

Johnny: I am Vietnamese, and I came to Finland in 1990 with my parents while staying in a refugee camp in Thailand for about four years. The thing that I love about in Finland is the healthcare system. Everything just works and the people are friendly.


How did you become a personal trainer?

Johnny: I trained in Kungfu and Thaiboxing when I was young, but as I got older, I became more interested in going to the gym. Along the way, after great feedback from my friends whom I coached, I realized that coaching was something that relates to me the most.


PT is short for a personal trainer. We train people to achieve their fitness goals and to change the quality of their lives. The concept started in Hollywood when movie stars wanted to get in good shape fast for movie roles. The trend came to Finland along with the fitness gyms. The gyms promoted PT services whenever a new client joined as a member by offering a one-hour PT session. Nowadays, many companies subscribe to personal trainer services to endorse the well-being of their employees.


How do you combine Kungfu and Thaiboxing in your training sessions?

Johnny: You can notice on my website that there are Ying and Yang as the company logo, which indicates balance in life and training. To maintain an excellent physical shape, you need to feel good inside too. That's why my sales pitch is: Take your physical and mental life to the next level with me.


Thaiboxing is more functional, with lots of stretching and breathing, high intensity, and lots of aggressive moves. On the other hand, Kungfu has Chi energy and inner peace. All of these elements are combined and balanced in Ying and Yang.

What kind of workout day do you pull for a person in bad shape who has never worked out?

Johnny: The first thing I do is evaluate the client by running a fitness test. The fitness test will help assess the starting level of the client and how the client works out, and together we look at the client's long-term goals and the small goals in between them. Usually, we do a program that sweats well and gives the client a good feeling and the feeling of endorphin, that is, feeling hooked. 


A client of mine said her quality of life had improved, all thanks to private coaching. Once, she was sick for a week but hoped to get back in training as soon as possible. The training is done mostly with our body weight because it activates all body muscles, joints, and the fitness condition improves. I rarely use gym equipment because it is vital to stimulate the whole body. Sometimes I have customers who want to grow muscles; then, we use the gym equipment.


My coaching is not about only in the gym. I make a season plan for the client to follow. How to exercise even when the client is not at the gym. Examples include jogging, nordic walking, cycling, and swimming. One should also not forget the importance of daily exercises, e.g., cleaning, yard work, walking the dog, and outdoor activities when you are not going to the gym. It's a good idea to hire a personal trainer at the gym to avoid getting hurt, even though the movements look effortless and easy. You might be watching a person who has trained for over five years, which is why the training session looks easy.

What are your favorite workouts?

Johnny: Nowadays, my favorite movement is a deadlift, formerly the chest, but now I feel that it's necessary to strengthen the back.


What kind of diet should your PT client follow to maintain weight or to lose weight?

Johnny: I always say that the vegetable diet should be followed, and those who want to grow muscles need to eat more protein. For those who want to lose weight, it is basic math, the more you eat and consume food, the more you need to lose. If you're going to lose weight, then it's better to eat less and train more. If you want to get more mass, then you should eat more carbohydrates. Wheat, rice, and pasta serve as the fuel or energy for the training. Consume the protein according to your workout. It's good to have a balance. It's hard to explain precisely how people should eat.


I usually ask the customer to write a four-day food diary, and as expected, the customer does not often tell the whole truth. They typically make the food diary better than it is because someone else is checking their diet. However, it's essential to know the time, the amount, and the kind of food. It's also necessary to understand the feelings before, at the moment, and after you eat. I can see the eating habit of the client and the customer's daily consumption habits.


At the same time, I will ask for the client's weight, height, and age, so I can evaluate the consumption and build the food program according to the information.


I understand that the food program is hard to follow, especially at times of celebration, such as parties. Occasionally, clients contact me to know whether or not they can drink champagne while at a party. I always try to say that you can reward yourself as long as it doesn't become a habit because everything that we have worked hard for and the goals that we are trying to achieve will become futile.


What advice have you learned that you should also teach the next generation?


My dad has taught me about being peaceful, and he said to me: Johnny, think carefully before you act. 

As a kid, I did not understand what being peaceful fully. When I became an adult. I finally figured it out. He has taught in Kungfu that if someone hits you on the cheek, go away. Don't hit back. You're the winner when you leave. I thought to myself, why would I learn Kungfu if I have to leave a fight.


As a kid, I went to Thai boxing where I had the chance to fight matches. I got hit, I was beaten, and I got knocked out in the beginning. Later on, I start to understand the concept of being calm as I started winning all the matches. I finally realized what my father taught me. I learned what it meant when he says that the winner is the one who leaves, not the one who attacked when provoked.


What would you say to our reader? 

You have to start to take care of your health. Do not wait until something breaks. Advanced prevention always better Try to fix it now, go swimming, eat healthily. Life is too short. If you want my advice, join Johnnys Bootcamp and sign in to my sessions at Johnnys Bootcamp.


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