Episode 4: Q & A with @solemn_strength
Updated: Jul 21
Mike is a personal trainer based in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He has a Masters in Recreation Management and Policy, a Bachelors in Exercise Physiology, and is a certified 'The Foot Collective - Health Nerd’, and DaVinci Footwear ambassador. He began exercising 11 years ago, and has been training people for the past 8 years.
He can be found on instagram @solemn_strength, and is currently in the midst of branching out to other platforms, such as youtube.
Hey Mike, Thanks for being on board
Thank you for having me. I love the barefoot and minimalist footwear lifestyle so I really appreciate the work that you guys are doing.
How’ve things been and what’s a normal day like for you?
My day starts pretty early. I typically wake up around 4:15am. I’ll brew some coffee and take a cold shower. If I have time I’ll do 10 minutes of meditation, and maybe some grounding while I sip coffee. I teach conditioning classes at the gym I work at starting at 5:15am or 6am depending on the day. After that I will train clients until about 11am, at which point I will ride my bike or run a couple miles home. I might have a small meal then, some eggs or bone broth. I’ll do whatever fitness programming needs to be done and maybe make an instagram post or youtube video/podcast. I often return to the gym at 3pm for a couple more hours of training, and then return home for dinner around 6pm. I try to lie down for bed at 8:30pm, but sometimes I stay up too late watching tv with my girlfriend lol.
How did you get into the fitness industry?
I got into fitness after losing 40 pounds in high school. I spent most of my adolescence quite sedentary. It wasn’t until I was about 14 that I started going to a gym with my friends after school. I fell in love with weightlifting and haven’t trained less than twice per week since 2009. I studied exercise science at university and have been working in collegiate or private fitness since 2011.
How has social media changed the fitness industry?
Social media has given everyone more access to information. Sometimes this is great, and sometimes this is not so great. You never know if the person you are listening to is truly knowledgable. They may have a great physique and speak well, but you just can’t confirm that they have the deep knowledge or experience. For those of us who have put the time in, it has given us a larger platform to disseminate information and possibly generate income from remote services or programming. My experience with social media has been largely positive, but I know that’s not always the case for everyone.
Do you have a fitness philosophy, and do you have any mentors within the industry?
My general philosophy is that any work that is not injurious is better than no work. When I first started exercising, I might have only been working out for 20 minutes at a time. But that was all that I could handle. If I thought I had to work out for at least 2 hours to make improvements, there is no way I would have adhered to that behavior change. It took slow, incremental increases in time and intensity for me to stick with it. It felt like I was making little progress then, but 10 years later I have run a half marathon, my feet and the rest of my body are healthy, and I can do things that I never imagined I could. Start slow and stick with it!
I noticed you just completed your first half marathon. Congrats. How did you do, and what was your inspiration to compete?
Thank you! I started running a few months ago after trying to get into running about a dozen times before. I was always trying to run too far and too fast though. This time around, I decided to run for a minimum of 5 minutes. If I did 5 minutes, it was a successful run. However, every time I committed to running 5 minutes I would always do more. I kept a slow pace and made sure to land on my forefoot, which is the natural, proper way to run. Eventually minutes of running turned into hours and now running has become a major part of my life. I believe all humans should run in some capacity. It really is transformative.
Today, my motivation comes from the group of people I run with up here in New Hampshire. We call ourselves the Lovemore Running Club! We are totally inclusive and our goal is to spread love through running, walking, or whatever moving people can do.
What is also remarkable is that you ran your first half marathon in barefoot footwear. Can you elaborate on what you wore, and why?
It does seem remarkable, but when you learn to run correctly it is actually the more efficient, natural way to run. I wore a pair of Primus FG shoes from Vivobarefoot. Those shoes provide no support to the foot but a little bit of protection from rocks and roots. We have such strong muscles in our feet and legs that when we take support away, we create enough strength to run serious distances.
What are your favourite pair of shoes?
The Vivos are probably my favorite, but I wear an old pair of discontinued Crocs that are SUPER wide everyday to work haha.
What are your goals/plans in the future?
In the future I intend on expanding my role with The Foot Collective. Currently I work as a Health Nerd which means I can help instruct or lead local health restoration seminars and workshops. In the future, I would like to be more involved with the organization, perhaps helping with curriculum development or media work.
I also plan to run more half marathons and eventually some ultra marathons. I really love trail running and a lot of the 50k+ races that interest me are held in beautiful mountainous places. Colorado, Vermont, Austria, etc. At some point in the future I will run a 100 mile race. I would also love to work as an ambassador for a barefoot shoe company as I gain more running experience.
Thank you for stopping by Mike, and all the best in the future!
Thank you guys so much for interviewing me and for all of the hard work you are doing! If people want to know more about what I do, they can find me on social media @solemn_strength or visit solemnstrength.com…and check out the Solemn Strength youtube channel!