I have mentioned Eric Haycraft in several of my entries. I wanted to shine light on him again, because frankly he deserves it. The interview I'm posting today is from 2011. I was writing for 'Sift Happens', a blog my friend Rita and I were doing. I just moved everything to this blog, because it keeps me sane to just manage one blog. I'm fairly confident his answers wouldn't change much.
Eric has been my biggest support from day one. What I love the most about him is that he never looked at me and thought I couldn't do something. Even though I was just shy of 400 pounds when I started working with him, he never made me think that I couldn't do it. I was treated like I was going to be stepping into the ring, just like every one else. He challenged me. More than I wanted at times. I learned so much from him that I still carry to this day. I often find myself using his idioms and I use him as an example during at least 2 sessions a week with my boys.
1.Tell the readers who you are/what you do/ location/etc. I am Eric Haycraft, a retired professional kickboxer and Muay Thai fighter. For the last fifteen years I have been devoting all my focus on developing myself as a coach and using that to build a successful team of fighters. I run a gym for anyone to learn and partake in kickboxing and Muay Thai in my home town of Louisville, KY.
2.How did you started as an athlete and coach? I grew up in a sports household as a child although I was the odd child out back then. My father lived for sports, he coached just about everything he could and my brother played just about everything he could. My sister was also an active athlete in youth, following cheerleading from optimist leagues to high school. While I dabbled in basketball, I was very much not an athletic minded person. I was very active outdoors and i was an avid bicycle rider. It was quite by mistake that I came across martial arts but once I did, I have never looked back. I had found my niche as an athlete and now all these years later I am the only athlete in my family.
3.What is your advice to those beginning their fitness lifestyle? I think the first thing is to acknowledge that fitness must be a part of every one's life. Everyone thinks of fitness as a tool for weight management but it really is much more important than that. Our bodies are machines that are made of many different systems. All of these systems are completely interrelated. Our mental health and ability to cope with stress rely a great deal on healthy physical activity. Our ability to process sugars and fats are controlled by physical activity. Our sleep cycles and energy systems, sexual function, mental alertness all are influenced by healthy physical activity. Once everyone understands and appreciates these facts, it becomes clear that making time for activity is just as important as making time to eat!
The best advice I could offer when it comes to beginning a fitness lifestyle is for everyone to try and remember what is was like to be a kid. When we were young we played! We could not drive so we ran, skipped, and rode our way to friend's houses. Many of the games we played required us to jump, run and climb. To us it was playing but if we were to write down the activities today we would see they were many of the things we pay top dollar to a trainer to show us!
For a great number of people exercise for the sake of exercise is just not an enjoyable pass-time. So I would suggest to find activities that can be fun. Get out and play! Kick ball, soccer, frisbee, hiking, and a shameless plug, kickboxing are all activities that will give you a great workout. Best of all since it is playing a game, you can pass time with the distraction of recreation!
4.A lot of people look for quick fixes, fad diets and such, what is your outlook on changing and maintaining a healthy diet? Every single year someone asks me what i think about a new diet that has popped up. Generally these are never really new, just repackaged. It is the American way to find a quick, easy solution to everything. Every person will find some combination of eating habits and food formulations that work best for them. However, I have always tried to be a realist, and the simpler you can keep things the more likely you will be to stick with them! On a basic level everyone learned about the food groups in grade school. Everyone knows whether or not the items they are eating at any point in the day are good or bad for them. I always suggest people start very simple. Radical changes are set ups for failure. Drop fast foods first. It is the easiest thing to do and it is so rewarding. We all eat fast food from time to time and we all feel guilty for doing it. Dropping it from your diet is an easy step towards taking control. Drink more water! How many meals do you just drink water with? We drink tea, sodas, beer and all sorts of other things but not enough water.
Making small changes like this may not seem like much. But if you make them permanent changes, you are developing the skills to make future permanent changes. That's the key really....permanent changes!
5.How do you keep yourself healthy? I have an unfair advantage with my job. I work every day as a trainer for aspiring kickboxers and folks that want to use kickboxing for fun! It is a very physical job. Working with my gym family keeps me moving all day long. And the best part is......I'm working out all day and never even think about it! 6.I can speak personally and say that there have been spells of lack of motivation, what keeps you motivated to maintain and progress?
Like I said, I have a bit of an unfair advantage with my job. But my job requires me to stay active. I know for my trainees one advantage we have is that it is the game we play that gets the focus. And playing that game is all about physical activity! When you can focus on things like getting faster and kicking harder, it sets goals that are much more interesting than weight loss or maintenance.
7.What other words of wisdom can you give our readers to encourage their growth and success in this type of lifestyle change? If you get involved with some sport or activity it will make all your other exercise endeavors make more sense. If you play basketball, then a little extra treadmill time helps your ability to keep up running up and down the floor. That little extra incentive sometimes makes it easier to focus than when it is only about weight.
If you have not picked up on it yet, I am a big advocate of playing some sport on some level! Not only is it mentally rewarding, it covers your fitness needs as well. And fitness begets fitness so get your shoes on and go out and play!
If I still lived in Louisville, I would be at his gym daily. I miss him every time I put on my boxing gloves. I don't know where I'd be, or who I'd be, if it weren't for his faith in me. Not just in my fitness, but in all aspects of my life. That's the sign of a great trainer to me; someone who values everything you do. Someone that values your character, not just your performance.