The Physician Philosopher Podcast

TPP 78: Doctor Fitness with The White Coat Trainer

Why Alex Robles Became The White Coat Trainer

When Alex was in high school, he discovered baseball and had plans of being a pro player. To have a chance at this, he needed to bulk up from his 140 pounds, so he started packing on muscle. It didn’t take him long to realize he liked fitness a lot more than playing baseball, and he was better at it! 

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As he went through his college years in pre med, working out became his outlet. He started researching all things fitness and read the latest fitness blogs, forums, and followed the fitness experts of the time. People started coming to him for advice about getting fit and the number of people wanting advice kept increasing. That is when he realized he could help other busy professionals incorporate fitness into their lives. When you can tap into what people are naturally coming to you for, you can solve their problems and you have a potential for profit by creating a business around your passion.  

Find the Balance Between Work, Fitness, and Nutrition

When I think of fitness and a healthy lifestyle, I think of time-consuming, sticking to it, and meal planning. Finding the balance with eating well and exercising regularly with a busy schedule seems daunting, but it can be accomplished! Alex agrees that there are a lot of misconceptions about fitness and nutrition. It is misconstrued that it must be an all the time, measuring everything you eat kind of thing. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way! After a lot of time spending 2 hours a day at the gym, tracking and weighing his food, and calculating his macro nutrients, Alex realized it didn’t have to be that way. 

Residency is demanding and doesn’t allow time for those things. He found a better way. He simplified everything and made it as efficient as possible. Following Bruce Lee’s quote, “It is not daily increase, but daily decrease, hack away the unessential”, he developed a plan and cut out the unessential things. He decided which exercises were the most important and simplified his eating habits with simple healthy recipes that were meal prepped and batch cooked for the week. 

Dr. Robles also had to figure out how to find time to work out after a 12–15-hour workday. He found the balance by bringing his gym clothes with him to work. He would sign out, change before he left, and go directly to the gym. It saved him time by avoiding the trip home, and it kept him in the mindset to go to the gym. It became his identity. He was the guy who went to work out after work. He was mentally held accountable by his peers who saw him leave every day in his gym clothes. He made time for it, created the mindset, eliminated the inessentials, and forced himself to go after every shift. If you haven’t read Atomic Habits yet, it is the perfect book to help you create new habits! When you get to the identity level it is like a switch flips and it is much easier to just be that kind of person than to work to become it.  

Fundamental Exercise Movements

Bringing a 2 hour a day workout down to a 20–25-minute workout seems like there would be a lot to cut out. Alex has a way to do 20% of the fitness for 80% of the results. The human body is designed for six movements: horizontally pushing, horizontally pulling, vertically pushing, vertically pulling, knee flexing, and hip extensions. These six muscle movements train every major muscle in the body. Because these are all compound movements, doing a variation of these movements will train multiple muscle groups at one time and you will get 80% of the results with 20% of the work.  

How to Make Workouts Fun

For a lot of people working out just isn’t fun, but there are ways to gamify your workouts to add a little fun and creativity to it. Alex suggests using the progressive overload principle. This is where you try to do a little better every workout. If you start out at 8 reps, the next time go for one more, or add a little more weight, etc. While you aren’t comparing yourself to anybody else, you are adding another fun element to your personal goals and improving at the same time. 

Some people work best with spreadsheets, some use the notes function on their phones, but the important thing is to keep track of your progress in some sort of journal. This will encourage you on your journey. You can look back and see how far you’ve come, and it will motivate you to keep moving forward and stay committed.

Staying Consistent with Working Out

Dr. Robles has some great tips on staying consistent with working out. The best advice is to remember is that something is better than nothing. If you think you can do a five-minute commitment, do it. Break it down to the smallest and most realistic chunks. As you take action, even if it is only for five minutes a day, you will get more motivated. As you get more motivated you do more. As you do more, you see more results. In this time, you have built that new identity as the person who works out and changed your habits. Feelings produce action and actions produce results.

How to Eat Better When You Don’t Want To

I am a terrible eater. I love carbohydrates and drink more beer than I should! I have a hard time taking on the identity of somebody who eats well. Alex believes in compound dieting to make the changes easier. Instead of doing major changes, start small. Pick something that won’t have a significant impact on you, but that you can do every day, such as waking up and drinking one glass of water in the morning. You can commit to that, and it doesn’t have a huge impact on your life. Once you have that one thing down, pick another thing. Focus on adding things instead of taking them away. Add more nutrient dense foods and this will make your stomach fuller. When your stomach is full there isn’t enough space in your diet for the other stuff and it will get eliminated over time.

Starting an Online Business

Being an online entrepreneur can create a non-clinical type of revenue, but it isn’t as easy as it looks. Alex dove into the nitty gritty about starting The White Coat Trainer. While it was the best decision he has ever made, it was not an easy road. Starting the business while in his second year of residency was a lot more demanding than he thought it would be. Already working an 80-hour work week, he quickly realized he would need to work an additional 40-hour work week to grow this business. It needed to be a full-time commitment with nothing to show that his efforts were paying off at the time. Every minute of his free time was spent learning SEO, email marketing, affiliate marketing, and all the details of owning an online business. 

While it took three years for the business to really make any money, the creativity and compensation are mind-blowing. Receiving emails from strangers across the country thanking them and telling them how much they have impacted their lives brings tears to his eyes. It is one of the most gratifying experiences he has ever had. Being in business for five years, they have recently started a second website, The Postpartum Trainer. Since him and his wife are both OBGYNs, it made sense to focus on helping during pregnancy and postpartum. 

Being an entrepreneur is a lot like general surgery. Everyone tells you that if you can do anything other than general surgery and be happy, you should do it! If you can be happy and not be an entrepreneur, please do it. If it is in your DNA you can try to fight it, but eventually it will win! Just remember, starting a business needs to be something you are passionate about.  

Final Thoughts

In helping doctors create a life they love one thought at a time, Alex’s thought is that something is always better than nothing. Get started right now to become that person who works out. Fitness is something that will always pay off mentally and physically. You will never regret starting and sticking with your fitness journey. You can find Dr. Alex Robles at White Coat Trainer and Postpartum Trainer. Join his newsletter for updates and get in touch via his website. Start before you’re ready. Start by starting…Start now.


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