Vinson Smith II, Fitness Coach & Expert, Talks About The Realistic Battles That He Faces With Ma
It was right after his father’s death in 2005 that 16-year-old Vinson Smith II drifted into a daunting depression. Swallowed by grief, he became an emotional eater where comfort foods were his only allies.
Smith was a football player and senior at A.L Brown High School in Kannapolis, NC., when his dad passed away. He weighed about 336 pounds.
Smith confirmed that stockiness runs in the family, so being sturdy wasn’t distressing at the time.
“When we stuck my father in the casket, he was 6 foot 4 inches and 275 pounds. I am the only one in my family that came out light skinned and short,” he laughed.
Smith gained over 150 pounds in less than a year after his fathers death. He became disinterested with anything remotely positive, outside of his comfort zone, which was eating. The North Carolina native packed on weight alarmingly fast. By 2007, he was a hefty 505 pounds, and his largest size to-date.
Thankfully, Smith had a come to Jesus moment where he realized he’d gotten dangerously overweight.
“I lost over 280 pounds on my own,” said the 31-year-old. “I became a personal trainer. I worked with a lot of different clients from youths to grownups. My oldest client is technically 72-years-old. As far as the individuals I work with, they range from the high school athlete all the way to the senior citizen. I’m also a strength and conditioning coach for Mallard Creek High School, here, in the Charlotte area. This is my 11th season coaching at Mallard Creek. I’m a Junior Varsity Coach and a Varsity Assistant. That’s pretty much where my story starts."
Vinson Smith II has been a trainer a little over 8 years.
A coach from the local high school asked Smith to volunteer on the football team, because he knew the backstory of what was going on. He acknowledged the warning signs that if he didn’t intervene in Smith’s life, something bad would happen. The life changing opportunity allowed Smith to shed a few pounds while doing what he enjoyed.
In addition to coaching, Smith is a certified fitness trainer with a certification in IFA, which means he’s accredited as a Group Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer at the same time.
Smith said that being a football coach is what really inspired him to get into shape. He wants to show kids by example that he can do the same workouts that he’s giving them.
The expert admits that he still struggles. “One thing that I love sharing with everyone… I still battle with my obesity problem. I know that’s hard for some people to admit and understand because they see the way I look and they tell me I’m in great shape. A lot of times when I look into the mirror at stores, while trying on clothes, I still look like that 500 pound guy. One thing that helps me stay in check is that I’m passionate about what I do. I’m very thankful to have launched my fitness consulting business, VS2 Fitness. You can visit my website. You’ll find more of my stories on their too. Last year, I had the opportunity to work with Men’s Health Magazine, for my second feature with them."
Intimidation and lifestyle changes:
Today, Smith is weighing in at a strapping 235 pounds. His sculpt is more muscle mass than anything. It took him about 10 years to shed off the weight although he fluctuates between 217 and 233.
Smith said that he reminds people that if they want to lose weight, then they need to make a choice and commit... “It’s a battle of the minds. It’s a mindset that you have to be in. The first thing you will have to decide is to make a choice. “Is this the path I want to take? Is this what I want to do?” You are going to hit those road blocks. You are going to fall short of those marks. Sometimes, it’s not going to work the way you plan, so its definitely a mindset that you need, getting into shape and staying in shape. You can get there. It’s easy to get to the top of the mountain, but can I stay king of the mountain, and how long am I going to stay there? Once you’re at the top, there’s no place to go but down. So, [the question remains] what am I going to do to stay on top of my fitness and lifestyle?”
According to Smith, it’s easier said than done, but people who truly want to lose weight, they should set realistic expectations. Even for him, it’s a constant mêlée. He gained weight recently, because he wasn’t in the gym as much. Now, he’s set different schedules to accommodate his fitness goals. He’s established better nutritional habits and behaviors.
He does admit that the mirror, it was one of the things that pressed down on him while trying to maintain his weight loss.
“That was the biggest thing that kept me down. I’ll be honest because I can only talk about myself-- It’s still a struggle till this day. It’s more than your clothes not fitting right. For, me, I have excess skin. I get a lot of compliments from people. I even had to learn to take compliments. I’ve learned to embrace that without getting the big head. When I look at Instagram or when I looked in the mirror, I constantly thought, “Wow, if I’m getting this many compliments with people saying I look good, imagine what would happen if I didn’t have it[additional skin].”
Smith overcame his fear of the mirror and embraced his loose skin. “I wore clothing that revealed some of it. Even with my clients, I reveal that part of me even now so it helps in that transition as well, and their confidence.”
His supple skin, the thing that he was most ashamed of, has become a special part of him and a pivotal part of his testimony to help others along with their journey.
In order to mentally prepare for his own workout regime, Smith still sets goals, does research regarding his imbalances, that he might be dealing with at the time. He does his own FMS test.
He agrees that working out is a healing mechanism, he also said that it’s him combating himself.
As for his clients, he does an assessment and fitness evaluation. This includes goals, as well as a functioning, moving test, where he’s checking for mobility. Realistically, everyone can’t just go into the gym and do lunges, planks and burpees on the first go. With this method, he’s assessing and looking for a score, in addition to the mental capacity of his participants. “A lot of times when I’m training my clients, I see a lot of myself in them. I try to pull that out. There are certain key words and key trigger things that may come up. A lot of times, training sessions become counseling sessions. Particularly, for my black clients, it’s hard for them to admit and deal with having depression. The obesity is a result of what’s going on in their personal life. There are a few key questions I ask and a certain tone that I listen for, so I’ll know what lane I need to be in, and where I need to go so I can help that individual,” Smith talked about the qualities that set him aside from many personal trainers.
“The thing that really sets me aside is that I’m more than just a personal trainer, I’m a fitness coach. My clients work with me 3 to 4 times in a week. On Saturdays, I have a group session that everyone can come to. We usually do them in Freedom Park at 8:00 am on Saturdays that everyone can come to. It’s speeding and agility, so if you’ve ever been to a track practice, basketball conditioning, football and soccer—If you’re an ex athlete, you’ll enjoy it. Maybe you want to run your first 5K or maybe you want to learn how to run correctly or get extra cardio. It’s a great opportunity for you to learn how to run with injury prevention, without getting injured [and] showing you the right fundamentals of running. That’s the biggest thing. Running can be enjoyable, but it can cause a lot of stress on the body as well. It’s important for you to learn the techniques running without hurting yourself.”
In addition to that, Smith does in home training, the standard group training, Skype virtual training and grocery shopping tours, where he actually does a group conference with his clients. During the conferences he shops with them, which is quarterly.
For kids, he said that parents would need to introduce a healthy lifestyle to the kids by making it interactive. For instance, if it’s a pizza night, let the kids make their own pizza.
Clients shop at ALDI, Harris Teeter, Trader Joes, Publics and Leadles grocery.
“I have an app through PT minder. You’ll go through the app to get your workouts. I’ll send you your nutrition [for meal prep]. The nutrition cycles is 4 to 6 weeks. You’ll have someone do your measurements and then your BMI. Send that and your photos back to me, and we’ll discuss where we go from there.”
He said that his clients are unique, especially his punter, 72-year-old Joann Goss. “She was my old computer teacher back in high school. I train another teacher, who was my sports marketing teacher.”
Smith smiled when he talked about Joann, and the fact that she is down 13 pounds.
She can even do pushups, too. Smith also said that she sees the bigger picture of becoming more fit.
The most heartwarming client would need to be his most recent client, Kristi Stubbs. "She’s my sports marketing teacher from A.L Brown, and I recently helped her knock off about 45 pounds. She’s had a hard time transitioning through life, age and everything else, and for her to achieve that…”
Kristi is a standout to Smith. She's a single mother and an overcomer, who simply won’t give up.
“If I can do it, if Kristie can do it, if Joann can do it, then anybody can do it,” he exclaimed.
His most recent testimony would come by a gentleman named Fritz.
“He’s amazing. He’s getting ready for his third Spartan Race. This [race] is the beast. Fritz, when he first came in, he didn’t know anything about lifting. His body has completely changed. He didn’t have weight loss issues, he just needed to transform his body. He does running too. I’m extremely proud of this guy just because of the mass that he’s able to put on. Now, he even surprises himself. He just maxed out a couple weeks back. He did 225 on the bench. His deadlift went up to 315. He’s squatting well over 280.”
The mental truth.
Healthy weight loss is 90% nutrition and the other 10% is exercise. It’s completely up to the client, and their willingness to get real about their weight loss objectives and not jump on the bandwagon of every fad that comes out.
“Build a lifestyle that’s comfortable to you, and stick with it,” Smith advises while using acronym, K.I.S.S, Keep it simple [and] stupid.
“You want to fail as quickly as possible. You want to find out what doesn’t work, and after you find out what doesn’t work, I can move on to the next thing. I don’t have to waste my time in that area anymore. The worst thing is to keep doing something for 4 weeks, and it’s not the right thing. See what doesn’t work, and move on to the next thing.”
Grasping fitness training down to a critical science, Smith educates other coaches as well.
Smith shared that if his dad were still here, he’d be proud to see all that he’s accomplished. “Knowing how my dad was, he had a ministry of helping other people. Even when we were putting up our churches, his street ministry, that’s what it was all about—helping other people. That’s what it was all about, and being able to help different people. I think that’s one thing… When I look at my client base, they are all so different. There are some who are super fit, and there others, who are just like me, still struggling.”
He pushes clients, to fulfill those goals even when they think they can’t go any further. His aim is to inspire, and encourage all the while helping to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Allow 3 to 4 months before seeing actual results.
Workout 3 to 4 times a day, to see maximum results for about 45 minutes to an hour during those sessions. For an average person that wants to be successful with their workouts, they should workout 8 times a month.
If you’re just starting out, find the right trainer.
Body weight exercises are your best friend. The high intensity workouts will get blood flow going. Cardio can be done during weight lifting day.
For the beginners: You should do 4 plank push-ups, air squats and wall splits. Everything that you did in grade school, it would be great to do. Cycling and yoga is completely okay. It’s a lifestyle change. Choose.
Keep a journal of the foods you eat (the goal is portion control).
Build yourself up to eat 6 meals per day.