Coaches Joseph and Sharon Arangio keep you lean for life.
By Jacqueline Goodwin, EdD
It’s warm and happy inside of “Arangio Athletic Fitness,” the guaranteed-results personal training studio, located in the heart of Allentown.
Within the century-old sturdy post-and-beam structure, racks of weathered steel dumbbells line the original brick walls. Amid the barbells, weight plates, and smiling faces, Joseph and Sharon Arangio are changing lives and, quite literally, rebuilding bodies.
The fit husband-and-wife team are leading by example to help Lehigh Valley residents create “generational health.”
“If I were able to change your life, and all of your children’s children become healthy because of the habits you instill in them, and you add 10 quality years to your life, is that not worthwhile to you?” he asks. Sign us up.
You see, “Coach Joe,” a certified strength and conditioning specialist, and Sharon, a certified health coach, have dedicated their lives to transforming men and women, over the age of 40. They’re so confident in their ability to get you leaner and stronger, they offer guaranteed results or your money back. “Our ultimate goal is to help you slow the aging process. You can’t ‘reverse’ aging,” says Coach Joe.
And after 23-plus years spent honing his body-transformation skills, Coach Joe has plenty of documented success stories to prove his system works. (Google “Arangio Athletic Fitness” to see many before-and-after success stories.) He is the Lehigh Valley’s most famous personal trainer, thanks to the hit healthy-home renovation TV show, HomeBody Challenge. The transformational show grants Lehigh Valley residents the opportunity to give their homes and their bodies a makeover with help from home renovation professionals and time in the gym with the dynamic Arangio duo.
He’s also written a brand-new book, called The New Fountain of Youth, detailing a five-step plan for losing dangerous belly fat and building athletic fitness. “I have personally witnessed my client-athletes lose pounds and inches in as little as 12 weeks or less using the exact information that I’ve laid out in my book,” he says. You can claim your free copy at ArangioBook.com.
Lehigh Valley Magazine asked the Arangios about their award-winning personal training program, their hit show, his new book, and their take on how we can all live healthier lives.
LVM: You talk often about the obesity problem in the Lehigh Valley. How does this drive the vision for your local business?
Joseph Arangio: The latest statistics report two-thirds of the American population are either overweight or obese. According to the World Health Organization, obesity, which is a fancy way of saying you have too much insulation, is a leading preventable cause of death worldwide, with increasing rates in adults and children.
Good news is that by following the mindset, training, nutrition, and recovery principles we teach in our fitness-and-nutrition coaching program, you’ll do your part to fight the worst epidemic in modern history.
LVM: What’s the unique concept behind your Allentown-based facility called “Arangio Athletic Fitness”?
JA: There’s not much difference between you and the world’s greatest athlete. Well, not as much as you think. Top athletes set realistic goals. Then they create a plan of action. After that, they execute the plan. I know because I collaborate with top athletes and coaches. And in order to make positive change, you must take action. Our training program follows the same principles you will find in any university or professional strength-and-conditioning program. And we live by our threefold mantra: Stay safe. Have fun. Get results.
LVM: What is your wish for every client?
JA: I want you to create your “Ideal Body.” In other words, become the best version of yourself, achieving the classic combination of healthy bodyfat, strength, and athletic fitness. Naturally, without the help of expensive “anti-aging” drugs. We achieve this with a science-based approach emphasizing the fundamentals: smart workouts, mindful nutrition, getting a good night’s sleep, managing stress, and staying accountable with a world-class coach.
I also want to teach my clients how to get the physique you’ve always wanted, without investing a lifetime researching and figuring out what to do, like I did.
LVM: Sharon mentioned your “love affair with food.” Do tell!
JA: Growing up in an Irish-Italian family, I have a special love for food. As a kid we would spend hours around the dinner table. Pasta with red sauce was a Sunday-afternoon staple. I felt bad for our guests who didn’t have the stomach for a second or third helping of my mom’s delicious homemade meatballs and sausage… but wouldn’t dare to insult the chef. You could say our family has a strange tendency to overfeed the people we care about. Heck, you had to eat out of respect. My mom lovingly spent the good part of her Sunday cooking everything to perfection.
Sharon Arangio: Delicious homemade meals were also plentiful in my house when I was growing up. Nowadays we enjoy nightly suppertime as a family, with our young children, Giavanna and George. But when it comes to cooking, we’re just too busy to spend hours in the kitchen. That’s why we batch-prepare our weekly meals, on Sundays and Wednesdays. It saves time and also money because we enjoy mainly homecooked meals, saving restaurant meals for date night. It also helps to control portion size, so we eat more mindfully.
LVM: What’s a simple approach to batch prepping meals?
SA: As a health coach, I discuss food-preparation strategies most often with my clients. To boost your chances of success, order groceries online or make a trip to the market at least once per week. Next, batch-prepare 20-40 meals during 1 or 2 weekly cooking sessions. Immediately portion each meal in single-serving (stainless steel or glass) containers. Plastic containers may leach hormone-disrupting BPAs into your food and, for that reason, should be avoided. Pack a day’s worth of portion-controlled meals in a portable, soft-sided cooler and everyday you’ll be one step closer to the body you desire and deserve.
LVM: What’s your go-to meal?
SA: We have so many favorites! A complete meal includes a lean protein combined with a low-starch vegetable. A good example is grilled chicken and roasted carrots and broccoli. We prepare that meal often. If you don’t feel like bringing food, then plan to stop by the fresh-prepared foods section of your local grocery store. And don’t forget to pick up a few stainless-steel canteen containers to carry your daily water with you. Since fat loss is your goal, drink one ounce of water per pound of bodyweight. Do this every day. Staying hydrated is a simple way to curb appetite since hunger is often thirst in disguise.
LVM: You say that “belly fat is burned in the kitchen.” Please explain.
SA: Your kitchen is possibly the best fat-burning tool in your arsenal. And eating mindfully is much easier than doing sit-ups, if your goal is a smaller waistline. To get lean, you’ll need a portion-controlled nutrition plan composed of fresh, unprocessed foods. We’ve seen countless gymgoers wasting their time crunching away and then wondering why their midsection is still soft and squishy like a marshmallow. You simply can’t out-train poor nutrition. The combination of goal-based eating plus resistance training creates athletic abs. And you can never forget about calories. It’s a myth to think you can eat whatever you like and completely disregard calories. Even at your weekly “splurge meal,” you must be mindful of calories.
LVM: What do you say to the people who are too busy to eat right and exercise?
JA: You must take care of yourself first in order to care for others. It’s the most unselfish thing you can do. I was reminded of this universal law on a recent airplane ride. The flight attendant said… ‘In case of emergency, an oxygen mask will drop from above. Place the mask over your nose and mouth before helping someone else.’
Problem is, many so-called “busy” people often have too much bodyfat because they fail to prioritize smart training, portion-controlled nutrition, getting enough sleep, or managing stress. And if you are too busy to care for yourself first, it’s like being in a smoke-filled airplane without an oxygen mask. You will be helpless to others until you help yourself first.
LVM: It seems like there’s a new diet or fitness book released every week, yet Americans are still obese. How is your book different?
JA: There’s no shortage of information out there, most of which is available on the internet. I feel like people are paralyzed due to too many options. Too much complexity. In my book, I do my best to simplify the process of creating your “Ideal Body.” If you are about to begin your weight-loss journey, my first suggestion is to suspend your disbelief. It is indeed possible to change your body and life if you follow a few fundamental research-proven methods. In the gym, use progression and overload in your workouts. Perform every exercise with perfect technique because sloppy reps lead to injury. Ninety percent of the time feed your body mostly fresh and unprocessed food. The other 10 percent, eat whatever you like. Sleep is “Nature’s Nurse” so you must prioritize getting at least eight hours of quality shuteye every night. Always skip the nightcap since alcohol, within six hours of bed, inhibits the deepest, most growth-hormone-rich stages of sleep. Smart training is a double-edged sword because it boosts your metabolism, thereby burning more bodyfat. A good workout is also cathartic and a great way to stay relaxed. Bottom line: Resistance training is the new fountain of youth thanks to its ability to reduce preventable disease like obesity, diabetes, and heart issues.
SA: Joe is not one to brag about himself, so I’ll do it for him. He’s a 46-year-old married man, with kids and a ton of grownup responsibilities; yet he looks and performs like the 30-year-old version of himself. He leads by example and rejects the “status quo” of getting fat, sick, and out-of-shape as you age.
JA: You’re making me blush, Sharon. I guess I wrote the book as a roadmap for myself, in case I ever forget what works. I’d like to continue to spread the gospel of how good life can be when you’re lean and strong. I hope my message reaches as many 40-plus people as possible… especially the ones who are struggling with obesity and depression. But you must take action right now. Start by grabbing a free copy of my book at ArangioBook.com. In the immortal words of Yoda, “There is no try, only do.”
LVM: How do you motivate someone who just can’t seem to get started?
JA: “Memento mori” is a Latin phrase meaning ‘remember you must die’. It’s an irrefutable fact that your days are numbered. Meditating on your mortality is only depressing if you miss the point. By embracing the fact that you will die, you remember to live. Thinking about your mortality creates perspective and urgency. To treat your time as a gift and not waste it on accumulating meaningless possessions, low-value time commitments, and focusing on too many things. If you sit around and deliberate, thinking that you’ll wait for next time, or that you can’t afford it, or that the timing isn’t right—you’ll remain stuck in the same place. Year after year. Forever. That’s no way to live.
SA: You’re going to pay for your health, either now or later, but you’re going to pay. Why not invest today, so you can enjoy the best quality of life possible. For life.
Our most successful clients invest in themselves on a daily basis. They’re creating generational health.
ASK COACH JOE
No-nonsense advice to get lean, strong, and slow aging.
BY JOSEPH ARANGIO, CSCS
Q: How long should I rest in between sets of an exercise?
A: Unless you want to spend hours and hours in the gym, then you must follow an efficient workout. Truth is, most people don’t have all day to train (I sure don’t). My recommendation is to pair two non-competing exercises, like a squat and a pullup, and then do them back-to-back, with 45-second rest intervals in between exercise pairs. By pairing movements and limiting rest intervals, you can build muscle and burn bodyfat at the same time. I have personally tested this by putting a heart-rate monitor on clients and comparing a 45-minute metabolic resistance-training workout (using barbells and dumbbells) vs. taking a spinning class on a stationary bike. It was surprising to discover that my test subjects actually maintained a higher heart rate in the fast-paced resistance-training workout than in the spin class. Better still, resistance training exercise keeps your metabolism elevated for a few hours after your workout is complete.
Coaching Tip – Plan your training ahead of time. Spending a little effort organizing your workouts will save you a lot of frustration and yield better results in the long run. Or invest in an experienced coach to create a custom program for you.
Q: I have never been able to stick with any exercise schedule for longer than a month or two. What can I do?
A: You need a proven plan and patience. Don’t just work out and eat aimlessly. Instead, set a quantifiable goal and deadline to achieve the goal. For example, your long-term goal might be to lose 10 pounds of bodyfat in 10 weeks. Create a short-term goal to lose one pound of fat weekly. This will practically guarantee your success. Take pictures, body measurements, and weigh yourself weekly on Mondays, to help keep you accountable.
Over the years I discovered that when client-athletes know they are going to get progress measurements on a certain date, they are less likely to miss workouts or eat mindlessly. It’s common sense, really. The weekly measurement tells you exactly how well you did during the previous seven days. To maintain success you simply adjust your training, nutrition, and recovery based on your data.
Coaching Tip – Set a realistic goal so that you stay motivated and do not get discouraged. Find an experienced fitness coach who is qualified to create a plan-of-action to guarantee you hit your goal on deadline.
Joseph Arangio is co-owner of Arangio Athletic Fitness, a results-driven training-and-nutrition program guaranteed to help you lose fat, gain strength, and slow aging in just four, 45-minute sessions per week. His book, The New Fountain of Youth, is available for free at ArangioBook.com.