This weekend sees the launch of Strong New York’s winter event, a three-day fitness and wellness event hosted by Kenny Santucci — check him out in our awesome guide to the Pallof press — and Jen Widerstrom.
The event is being held at Solace New York in midtown Manhattan and is jam packed with workouts, seminars, and discussions from some of the top minds in fitness like Jay Ferruggia, Joe DeFranco, Dr. Jordan Metzl, AJ Roberts, and more.
This season’s Strong New York has a huge focus on the mental side of training. We spoke to Santucci to learn more about why he’s focusing on it so much and the lessons he’s learned to maximize his own training.
BarBend: What’s the story of Strong New York – how did this event come to be and why did you feel it was necessary?
Kenny Santucci: Most fitness events or fitness expos are tailored more towards bodybuilding, sports, and supplements. Not to say that theres anything wrong with that but it excludes a large demographic of people. I realized there was a hole in the fitness and wellness space for the everyday person who loves fitness and exercise and is just trying to stay healthy. I wanted to service the everyday fitness enthusiast, not just the bodybuilders. Basically myself. I
have been in the fitness space since I was 15 years old and I never identified with what is currently showcased at the current fitness events and expos. Don’t get me wrong: I love to work out, but I also like to hang out. I wanted to create an event where people could come to enjoy fitness, food, music, where they could learn something and get a sweat on with their friends.
BarBend: So I’m in the New York area, I was planning on sleeping in this weekend, why should I buy a ticket to Strong New York instead?
I would never consider myself a rich man by financial means. Where I am rich is in relationships. I believe your network is your net worth. I have so many great friends who are not only amazing people but also who are incredibly successful and knowledgable in the fitness space. I realized how fortunate I was to know so many of these people.
Part of life is sharing your wealth. I wanted to share my friends with the rest of the NYC community. We are bringing together some of the greatest minds in training, nutrition, health & wellness in the greatest city in the world. You may never get the chance to hear them all together under one roof. Why would you want to sleep in?!
BarBend: Why do you guys feel that mental health is underemphasized in the fitness community?
When most people thing of strength, they think of how much weight they can lift or how big their muscles are. But the truth is strength comes in many different forms. Strength is not just about how much weight you can lift, it is realizing that you are capable of whatever you set your mind to. Strength is persevering through tough times. Strength is being able to push your limits. Strength is about lifting others up. It is being able to define your own set of standards. Strength is not only physical, but mental, emotional and spiritual as well.
I realized at a young age most of my success both inside and outside the gym was affected by the mental state that I was in. If I was having a good day, my workouts were great and vice versa. Your mental state will without a doubt affect your physical state. We do so much to get ourselves in the gym, take preworkout, beg friends to come with us, or spend hundreds of dollars to go to certain gyms or take certain classes. Why is it so hard for us to just walk through the door? It’s your mental game.
BarBend: Mental health is a pretty broad term but what are some of the most important tips you guys have to help athletes manage theirs?
Managing your mental health is about doing things on a daily basis that put a smile on your face. Don’t just go through the motions. Don’t do things that stress you out or make you feel low. One of the things that really helps me out is what I’m wearing and the way I look. If I feel like I’m dressed well and ready to go to the gym, I feel better. As funny as that may sound, it’s held true for 20 years. Look good, feel good.
Another huge part of mental health is nutrition. Your diet plays a huge role on the human brain. Eating right gets you feeling right and certain foods can actually help improve your brain function.
[For a great example, check out why magnesium is called the ‘relaxation nutrient.’]
BarBend: I understand this event is aiming to raise $10,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association. What prompted you to focus on that disease in particular?
Earlier this year, my father suffered a severe stroke that led to dementia. I spent a lot of time thinking about why it happened and realized how his poor diet and lack of exercise was a major factor that not only led to the stroke but also the reason it’s so hard for him to recover now.
I’ve always felt that I mentally felt better after a workout. I felt stronger after I pushed myself. I was more alert when I ate right. My dad’s 69 yeas old and he hasn’t worked out since the early 70s. This situation with my father has affected me in many different ways. Had my father taken better care of himself, his illness would not have had such a negative effect on not only me but my entire family. I wanted to understand why this had happened and how I could prevent it from happening again to my mom and the rest of my family. This led me to reach out to some friends to learn more and brought us to this point.
BarBend: Off topic, but our readers will love to know: what’s the biggest change you guys have made to your fitness routines this year? Uncovered the magic of mace swinging, daily Turkish get ups, red light saunas, anything like that?
A large part of my training this year has been incorporating the Conjugate Method of training. It’s not so much about changing my routine but varying the movements. This year, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to focus more more on strict movement and longer warmups that flow into my workout.
Grab your tickets to Strong New York here.
Featured image via @strongnewyork on Instagram.