An Interview with Angelo Grinceri, PCC Instructor

Angelo Grinceri Pistol Squat On Bar
Dragon Door: How did you first become involved with fitness?

Angelo Grinceri: When I was almost seventeen, I started to get really involved in the aesthetic side of fitness through bodybuilding. I guess I had a different start than most practitioners. I feel like most fitness professionals have a competitive background based in athletic performance, while mine was looks-based. I thought it was fascinating how much the look of the body could be manipulated with different nutrition techniques and things like that. I was pretty involved with bodybuilding for about 5-6 years, but as I started to compete in the NPC, I started seeing the darker side of that industry and how some of it was drug-based. While I had started training clients earlier—about 3-4 years before that time—I shifted my focus towards improving my clients’ quality of life through exercise instead of just aesthetic improvements.

Dragon Door: When did you become a full time trainer?

Angelo Grinceri: I have been training people full time for about nine years. But about two years ago, I decided that I didn’t want to live a life that only revolved around training people. I wasn’t able to put myself first with that type of lifestyle. So over the past year and a half, I have been creating my own method, Intrinsic Strength Training, as well as an apparatus that will allow me to transition toward more trainer education.

Dragon Door: After shifting the focus of your training to improving health and lifestyle, what were some of the biggest changes you made—for yourself and for clients?

Angelo Grinceri: I used to believe in using exercises that only isolated specific body parts, and using machines or lifting free weights from a seated or lying position. Now I take an opposite approach. I spent a lot of time researching the neurological disadvantages of training your body to be "strong" while in a seated, lying, or otherwise artificially stabilized position. The biggest change I made in training was moving away from very stationary, lethargic positions and training while upright and moving like we do in our everyday lives

Dragon Door: Now that you’ve experienced the PCC Workshop and are certified as a PCC Instructor, how has the experience influenced your sessions?

Angelo Grinceri: I love calisthenics—owning your own human movement is one of the best things you can do. I train many of my clients in a movement fashion—either with calisthenics or traveling loaded movements in different positions. This idea is what has led me to create a method which brings classic resistance exercises into an upright position while moving in different planes. This also allows people to get that isolated effect that that many people want.

Dragon Door: How do your beginning clients start with this type of training, and what are some of their common dysfunctions or challenges?

Angelo Grinceri: At first, many of them have a difficult time efficiently moving from a lying position to standing upright. When a baby is first learning to crawl, they will start from lying on their belly or back. Then they learn how to lift their head. Next they learn how to roll over by rotating through their shoulders and legs in prone and supine positions before crawling and eventually standing up and stepping. I like to challenge my clients to learn that same type of progression. We begin with rolling patterns, then crawling patterns before working on upright gait positions. I believe every client should warm up in that specific way before working out. It stimulates our brains, and our intrinsic core musculature.

Dragon Door: What influenced you to train yourself and others in that specific way?

Angelo Grinceri: I have tried almost everything in fitness, from competing in NPC Physique and CrossFit while working on Olympic powerlifting, strength, aerobic capacity training, and everything in between. Now I am in a phase of avoiding abusing or overworking my body. It is a more meditative type of fitness centered on movement and feeling good while working on my weaknesses and developing true functional strength. Very basic human movements and calisthenics movements are my main focus right now. I just want to feel good and try to rehab some injuries I have from past competitions.
Angelo Grinceri One Arm Handstand
Dragon Door: What inspired you to attend the PCC workshop?

Angelo Grinceri: Al Kavadlo invited me. I first met Al and Danny Kavadlo at Tompkins Square Park, and now we've become good friends. Al has been a huge inspiration for learning calisthenics. It was great to find that he had a similar philosophy about how training should be approached. I really have a lot of respect for his non-abusive approach to fitness that allows people to take their time learning and enjoy the ride.

I also became very interested in calisthenics because of how much it humbled me. Having been in the gym industry for 10 years—and also working out for the past 10 years—I thought I was a big strong person because I could throw really heavy weights over my head—while sitting down. I was really humbled to find out how weak my core really was when I tried to do a front or back lever for the first time. That kind of got me hooked. I couldn’t believe that I'd spent all this time in the gym, but couldn’t just do these moves!

Dragon Door: Other than the front and back levers, were there any other moves that you found to be particularly difficult coming from a regular gym background?

Angelo Grinceri: I think the most humbling would be muscle-ups and pistol squats. While they weren’t the most challenging to learn, they were the most surprisingly difficult from the beginning. Of course the human flag is extremely hard, but you can instantly see why it is so difficult. The pistol squat and muscle-up may seem very simple but are very challenging at first.
Angelo Grinceri Human Flag

Dragon Door: After the PCC, did your training approach change or evolve?

Angelo Grinceri: The PCC supported my current training style and mindset. At the workshop I really finalized many little things in my technique. It definitely helped me in the progressions for many trouble spots.

Dragon Door: What are some of the most common issues or goals your clients have?

Angelo Grinceri: While I don’t have many clients who specifically come to me for injury or pain issues, after we have trained for a little while, several—at least 7 or 8 clients in the past two years—have told me that their backs have stopped hurting. I always ask them why they didn't tell me about their back pain in the first place, and they always say that they thought it was normal! Back pain is not normal!

I have also noticed that at first, many people can't fully reach overhead. While that’s pretty strange, I could relate because I’d experienced some of that from many years doing bodybuilding-style repetitive resistance exercises.

Dragon Door: How are you helping these clients in your sessions?

Angelo Grinceri: We start from the floor through the crawling patterns all the way up to standing. I also believe in doing a lot of active hanging and squat sits. I love how passive hangs really let the lats, chest, and shoulders release. And I also like to strengthen the scapula with active hangs. Many people really have dysfunctional scapulae. Restorative deep squat sits are amazing, they can really get the body to relax a lot of the tension built up within the spine.
Angelo Grinceri One Arm Hang
I use lateral flexion—lateral stretches to help people with the overhead positions. Many people are really tight in the ribcage and armpit area when their arms are in an overhead position, so stretching the lateral fascial lines helps a lot.

Many people also have tight ankles—I believe that ankle and hip mobilization is huge for people getting out of movement dysfunctions. Even relatively fit people can have locked up ankles, or less rotation in their hips which will make them waddle like ducks!

Dragon Door: What are your favorite moves from the PCC curriculum?

Angelo Grinceri: I think one of my favorite moves is the one arm lever, just because it looks and feels awesome, and you can do a lot of cool transitions out of it. I really enjoy teaching my clients the archer push up and archer pull up. It blows their minds when they discover that push ups and pull ups can be done in other directions other than just straight up and down. Even though we can move our arms in many different directions, most people seem to only train through one angle of motion. When I teach a client those two movement variations, they’re usually surprised at the difficulty.

Dragon Door: Who do you usually train? Do you focus on training any particular genders or ages?

Angelo Grinceri: I mostly train people in the 30-50 range, mainly because they seem to appreciate feeling better more than people in their 20s! Early on, I trained a lot of younger people as well, but after moving to New York for the past few years, I’ve transitioned to training people who mostly want to just feel better. I train an even mix of men and women, which is nice because you get to see their differences and similarities. But, movement is movement.

Dragon Door: What's next for you in your training and in your career?

Angelo Grinceri: I have a lot of calisthenics and movement-based goals for myself. I am really set on learning to control a full planche into a handstand. I am nowhere near accomplishing that, but it is definitely a goal.

In my career, I am steadily working on my own method and getting it out there to specifically help people who are stuck in the mindset of building isolated muscle. With my method, I am trying to teach a new approach to classic resistance training that uses the whole body.

Dragon Door: What really inspires you to do what you do?

Angelo Grinceri: One of the main things that inspires me everyday is seeing how many people move so poorly. Many people literally waddle down the street, and can barely walk up a few steps. So many people are extremely unhealthy and uneducated about the chemicals in the food products they're buying. Part of me feels responsible to do my part in teaching people a better way. I think healthy movement is one of the best gifts that we're given. It allows us to fully enjoy life. It’s really sad that some people can’t move well because they’ve gained so much weight, or because they sit behind a desk all day. Movement is a gift that everyone should enjoy.
Angelo Grinceri Couples Calistenics

I am also working on a couples calisthenics program with RKC and PCC instructor Rosalia Chann. It is kind of like practicing progressive calisthenics with a partner. It's fun and I'm really excited about continuing to building that program. It’s not just for romantic partners, it can work for friends and strangers—it’s really about holding each other accountable.

Dragon Door:
We were talking about nutrition earlier, what is your current approach?

Angelo Grinceri:
A few years ago, I completed a sports nutrition certification. At the time I was researching supplements, timing, and what protein to drink. Now I believe that our nutrition is all in our food. Like Al and Danny, I no longer buy into the whole supplement thing anymore, which is interesting because I was really into it for over five years! Now I have a more holistic approach to nutrition, and can feel how the immune system and overall wellbeing can be strengthened with good nutrition.

Dragon Door: What is your favorite thing to eat?

Angelo Grinceri: My favorite snack is an orange, and my favorite thing to eat is to cut up vegetables like Brussels sprouts, carrots, onions, squash, eggplant—as many colors as possible—then mix them with either coconut or olive oil before baking them in the oven until they come out somewhat crispy. It’s like finger food, but just vegetables and it’s awesome! There’s nothing wrong with eating a whole tray of vegetables. I also love to eat eggs—sometimes even twice a day!

Angelo Grinceri Pistol Squat On Bar ThumbnailAngelo Grinceri, PCC Instructor, CAFS, FAFS 2015, trains clients and groups throughout downtown NYC. He can be contacted via his websites, IntrinsicStrengthTraining.com, CouplesCalisthenics.com, email angelogfitness@gmail.com, or follow him on Facebook: facebook.com/AngeloGfitness