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Al Kavadlo

Vital Statistics Current
Age 36
Height 160lbs
Weight 5'11

Meet Al Kavadlo – one of New York City’s most popular personal trainers, and one of the coolest dudes right here on Muscle Food!

He is a leading expert in bodyweight strength training, showing the world that you don’t have to go into a gym to train every muscle in your body for strength.

The fitness bug bit in the 1980s, when he didn’t want to get beat up as a scrawny kid in Brooklyn. Ever since then, the rest is history – and his beard seems to have grown with his fitness levels!

Alongside this, Al is a strong spiritual thinker – learning from many inspirational zen masters like Shunryu Suzuki, who once said: “In the mind of the beginner, there are many possibilities; in the mind of the expert, there are few.”

Approach the world with a wide scope for the ability to learn and grow. All too quickly, we can lose our appreciation for the beauty of simple everyday things – and through both Al’s way of thinking and ‘street workout’ style of bodyweight exercises, this appreciation can be restored.

Believe in yourself and put it into practice – for this key mantra, we just HAD to talk to Al about his past, present and future.

Al Kavadlo

Meal Plan

Al Kavadlo Interview

Hi Al! Thanks for taking the time to speak to us. Let’s start from the beginning – Tell us about your sporting history!

I was a scrawny kid growing up in a rough part of Brooklyn, NY in the 80’s and 90’s, and I didn’t want to get my ass kicked. So that was how my fitness journey began. I started with push-ups and pull-ups, then got into weight training. Eventually I came full circle and went back to calisthenics after trying many different types of workouts.

What made you think you wanted to become a leading expert in bodyweight strength training and calisthenics?

Al In New York

I don't think that was ever my intention, it's just how the path unfolded for me. I'm lucky and grateful that my teachings have been so well received, but when I got into the fitness industry almost 15 years ago, I just wanted to be a personal trainer. Later on, as the internet came to prominence, I began blogging and things grew from there.

For the last few years I’ve had the amazing opportunity to travel the world teaching bodyweight strength training through the Progressive Calisthenics Certification. It’s been an incredible experience so far, but it’s not something I could have ever predicted when I got started in the fitness industry.

Why go for bodyweight training over lifting?

The universal appeal of bodyweight strength training is that you can do it anywhere, anytime. You don't need any special equipment; you don't even need to leave your home. Though I do like to train outdoors whenever I can, and bodyweight training is ideal for that. Beyond that, I love the playful element of calisthenics. It’s just more fun for me than lifting weights.

If your goal is to increase overall mass – is bodyweight training enough? Or would you recommend something else?

Bodyweight training is very effective for building mass. As long as you give your muscles the proper stimulation and nutrition, they don’t know if the resistance is coming from an external load or not. 

How would you respond to the common criticism that bodyweight training doesn’t have the same effect on your lower body and legs than resistance training?

I challenge people to do pistol squats! Haha!

You have a lot of tattoos. Do any of them have strong back stories?

Sure. Some of my tattoos relate to my fitness philosophy – like the ones on my wrists that say “believe” and “achieve” – the message there is that you can do whatever you want if you put your mind to it.

Food Choices

They seem to tie in closely to how you see the world. What is your general philosophy on life?

A lot of people tend to ask me about the tattoo on my neck. It says “Nothing Lasts Forever” and it is applicable to everything in life, especially the world of fitness. Another way of putting it is, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” That was too long to fit across my neck though.

Sometimes people misinterpret my “Nothing Lasts Forever” tattoo as a pessimistic or cynical statement but it is actually the opposite. It is a celebration of the present moment and a tribute to the beauty of the temporary nature of existence. I often joke that the tattoo is my homage to irony as well.

What do you feel is the importance of a strong mind and positive thinking in peak fitness?

I believe in the power of positive thinking and I know that we all have the power to manifest our own destiny. Don’t get me wrong, though, it’s not as simple as that. There is a key step in between “believe” and “achieve” that sometimes gets overlooked: TAKE ACTION! You can’t just sit back and hope for good things, you have to go out there and work for them.

What would you say to someone with a clouded mind – who is taking things for granted and not taking action in their own life to change?

Hey hey hey! We’re Working Out!!

Al In New York

Now let’s get more in depth about your fitness. What is your favourite exercise?

If I had to pick just one, it’d be pull-ups.

And is there one you really don’t look forward to doing, and why?

Back bridging has become one of my favorite exercises, but when I first started working on them I dreaded training them because they were so hard for me, but now that I’ve made some progress they are much more encouraging to practice.

As for the diet – if we were to take a plane over to NYC and raid your kitchen, what foods would we see?

Peanut butter, Almond butter, bananas, apples, oranges, onions, garlic, tomatoes, spinach, broccoli, steak, chicken, bacon, eggs, rice, etc.

Have you got any guilty pleasure cheat meals you treat yourself to once in awhile?

Als workout book

My two favorite indulgences are ice cream and pizza.

Two quick fire questions! Favourite film?

Glengarry Glen Ross.

Favourite genre of music to listen to while working out?

I love rock music and heavy metal, but I prefer not to listen to music when I train.

And now, some inspiration – what would you say has been your driving force to do what you do? Has there been any inspirational words you heard in the past that kept you going, or is it something more than that?

The driving force is that I love it! I was working out – and helping my friends with their workouts – for many years before I ever considered trying to make a career of it.

What would you say to other people looking to not only gain the same body strength as yourself, but also share their expertise with the world?

My primary goal is to spread the word about calisthenics and share my knowledge and passion with as many people as possible. I’ve just released a new book called Street Workout that encompasess everything I have to say about this type of training. It’s got hundreds of bodyweight exercises with variations for people of all levels. Anyone who wants to know more about bodyweight training should check it out!