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Resistance Training

The Resistance Training Revolution by Sal Di Stefano

By Serene Wilken on May 7, 2021 9:05:00 AM
11 Minutes Reading Time


We all have been presented with a sea of endless fitness products and programs, only to leave us lost and confused about what works. Amidst the noise, most people want answers about what form of exercise to do to achieve their fitness goals. Knowing what works, Sal Di Stefano revolutionizes the industry with his passion and pursuit behind his book, The Resistance Training Revolution.


Sal is clear about his holistic approach to health and fitness as a cohost of the successful podcast Mind Pump, with over 2 million downloads monthly. Sal has over 20 years of experience working with clients as a personal trainer and leads with integrity, helping others by educating and inspiring them.


In this blog, I had a chance to sit down with him and break down a bit more background story about his journey and his take on how The Resistance Training Revolution will change the fitness industry and improve people’s lives.


Sal grew up in an Italian family where his parents were immigrants and worked very hard for everything they had. Sal recalls that “both of my parents never complained about work, and my father took a lot of pride in everything he did.” Seeing both of his parents save their money and respect their hard work showed Sal that having discipline in life has its advantages.


At the age of nine, Sal would go to work with his father, a tile setter in construction, who introduced the demands of physical labor and a strong work ethic to his son. He was amazed at how strong his father was and his crew, just from lifting and carrying heavy stones and equipment on the job site. He noticed how disciplined and strong these men were, and he was inspired.


Growing up as a skinny teenager, Sal wanted to be bigger and, of course, attract teenage girls like any other kid his age. It was the mid-1980’s, and Sal idolized the charismatic bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger as he was an immigrant and Sal himself was the son of immigrants. At fourteen, Sal gained permission to use his father’s dumbbell set in his home’s backyard, inspired by Arnold and the bodybuilding world. Most teenagers were interested in comic books or action movies, but in contrast, Sal turned his curiosity into researching everything he could about bodybuilding.


When Sal was sixteen, he joined a local 24-hour gym and idolized Arnold and other bodybuilders like Mike Metzer. He knew that applying discipline to exercise would build a physique one day, and he would no longer feel insecure about being a skinny kid. That was then, and now Sal reflects, “My insecurities started me on the path of fitness, but eventually the journey forced me to re-evaluate my motivations since fitness is, at its core, a method of self-improvement and growth.”


Once Sal was eighteen, he got his first job at a 24 Hour gym to train the general public. Here, he intended to become a physical therapist and learned how to practice communicating his expertise about exercise to the average person. With the full intention to become a physical therapist and going to school pursuing that goal, Sal realized he could be successful by following his passion in the gym setting. Within a few years in his early 20’s, he was managing one of the big box 24-hour gyms. But his demanding leadership role also took him away from what he enjoyed most, training the average everyday client.


Knowing he needed a change, he spent a small stint in investment banking with the full intention of starting something on the side following his passion. On a lunch break from the bank, he noticed a tanning salon with a gym available to train at. He ended up renting the space, started his gym with another personal trainer colleague, and trained clients after his workday in investment banking.


His first location grew into having his wellness studio with a more holistic approach geared towards high-quality training for clients. He would have other practitioners work with his clientele to provide an experience superior to what big box gyms had to offer. Only in his mid-twenties, Sal saw the value in massage, physical therapy, as well as acupuncture, and having a team to help clients experience a holistic approach. Sal recalls, “Clients improved so much more due to paying attention to other aspects of health and encouraging that as a team.”


Through his years of training clients at his wellness studio, he discovered that he became more effective by learning from his mistakes. Coaching others comes with lessons and challenges. Sal recalls confronting one client from his facility regarding lying about her diet. Sal explains, “I had a “come to Jesus” talk with her where I called her out and was quite harsh. She never came back. At first, I was satisfied, thinking, “I only train serious people,” but I soon realized that she would likely stay away from gyms and exercise for a long time or maybe forever. I learned to meet clients where they were from that and to be more empathic.”


Sal’s personal growth around what health means to him today and sharing his passion with others also comes from his personal health issues. Under the same umbrella of health stands not only exercise but nutrition. In his early thirties, he was faced with major gut challenges that affected his physique goals and overall health.


After years of experimenting with overtraining, unregulated supplements, designer steroids, and stimulants, as well as eating in a way without listening to his body, his gut had enough. He recalls, “I had built this armor of being a buff guy, but it was taken from me. When my gut health issues got really bad, I lost fifteen pounds, and I couldn’t stop it; I felt terrible.” With few answers from traditional medicine, he turned to his wellness facility team to heal his gut.


Sal focused on his health rather than aesthetics and recalled avoiding mirrors to assess his physique for an entire year. He knew if he didn’t get his gut health in order, it wasn’t going to stop. Faced with these challenges, he now realizes, “I experienced what self-love was and finally understood it for myself. I caught myself looking in the mirror a year later on my healing journey and objectively saw how great my body looked. I realized I was looking better than I ever had before, having not solely focused on looks. I was completely focused on taking care of myself. The irony is that if you keep focusing on your appearance, you will lose your health. But if you focus on health, you will get a great deal of the appearance aspect of it.”

By changing his focus to his health, he was able to heal a majority of his gut issues.


Fast forward to today, where Sal has been educating about fitness and health, offering programs, and growing a massive following on the Mind Pump podcast for the last six years. I asked him what various roles does fitness play in his life at this moment, “It makes me a better person. It is definitely my meditation. I rarely miss a workout, and it helps me with any kind of stress. Exercise now is a tool for me like a Swiss army knife. If I need anything, I can apply exercise and modalities to assist with that.” Sal continues, “Fitness is the most unassuming way to step into personal growth, because over time while remaining consistent, you learn so much more past aesthetics. It teaches you to accept yourself.”


With The Resistance Training Revolution, Sal’s goal is to reach the average person, “I want resistance training to be in the same category as running and cycling. I’d like the average person to be able to associate resistance training with attainable fitness goals. Nothing transforms your body and the way you feel more than resistance training for the average person with only 30-60- minutes twice a week. As a society, we are mostly sedentary, and adding muscle mass is the best solution to become healthier.”


Sal is aligned with his purpose to help others reach their health goals. He has seen so many of his clients transform their opinion and understanding of resistance training after they stuck with it. Starting a journey focusing on strength provides insurance for your health, and having Sal Di Stefano as your guide is a great way to begin that journey.

The Resistance Training Revolution | By Sal Di Stefano


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Serene Wilken

Serene Wilken is a graduate of UCLA, and a senior Pilates and Mobility specialist in Northern California. She grew up as a gymnast, which inspired her to pursue a fulfilling career in fitness for over ten years. She holds certifications in Functional Range Conditioning (FRCms), TRX, BASI Pilates for Injuries & Pathologies, as well as BASI Pilates Mentor Program with Rael Isacowitz. She is a strong believer in continuing education, self-growth, and pursues to expand her knowledge of movement so she can help others thrive in their own bodies. 

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