Jane Erbacher: Hello and welcome to the RevoPT high performance podcast. My name’s Jane Erbacher and I’m your host. RevoPT is a personal training, strength and conditioning and functional fitness gym in South Melbourne. And our goal is to inspire ordinary people to do extraordinary things.
Every week here on the podcast we’re going to have a different episode for you and we cover all things health and fitness. From training, to nutrition, to mindset, to recovery, to training after having a baby, to training just to feel great. This is your hub for all things health and fitness and we really hope that you like the show.
Hello and welcome to this week’s edition of the RevoPT high performance podcast. My name’s Jane Erbacher, your host. You’re probably getting sick of my voice by now, but I’m here, I’m still here and today I’m super excited because a really, really good friend of mine and my absolute mentor … I was about to say actionalexa but you do actually have a name apart from that.
Alexa: No actually I don’t, it’s just that.
Jane Erbacher: Okay. So she’s known on Instagram as actionalexa. Quite well known as actionalexa, but her real name is actually Alexa Towersey. So …
Alexa: Oh my God, you got it right, I was gonna … I actually thought you were going to prompt me for what is your last name. ‘Cause I am so glad you introduced yourself because I have no idea how to pronounce yours.
Jane Erbacher: Oh that’s so funny. Well now we can be friends forever because I know how to pronounce both your name and my name. But welcome. Welcome to Melbourne first.
Jane Erbacher: And I know that you have no idea where you are right now.
Alexa: Oh no.
Jane Erbacher: But I’ve switched the lights on so things are less creepy. But I usually like to start each podcast with a little bit of a quote and Alexa actually wrote one today, and I feel like this absolutely sums her up. And after you listen to today’s podcast you’ll understand how and why.
So this is what Alexa wrote today, she wrote “you will make mistakes, you will fail, you will be uncomfortable, you will cry, you will learn, you will grow. You will do many things on your road to greatness, but quitting is not one of them.” And I absolutely love that. So without further ado I just wanna ask, I’m not gonna give you an intro, I prefer people to give their own intro, so Alexa can you just tell me who you are please.
Alexa: Well I’m actionalexa clearly. I could give you my horoscopes and stuff. I am a personal trainer, nutritional lifestyle coach, I work out of 98 Riley street in Sydney for the most part, but I am doing more and more work down here in Melbourne at the moment. And I guess I work primarily in the business of empowering women.
Most often in the weights room and then, you know, it’s just very rewarding for me, but when you see their attitude in the weights room change, it affects the rest of their life, so that’s my gig.
Jane Erbacher: That’s awesome. Okay, so now I’m going to buff that out a little bit, because I knew that you’d be modest, so as Alexa …
Jane Erbacher: I know yeah. But I love … I absolutely love what you’ve just said now and I’ve had experience working with you so I understand that what you actually do, the core of it is you empower women because I’ve felt that from you.
So Alexa, as she said works as a personal trainer out of 98 Riley street, up in Sydney, and she’s also a nutrition and lifestyle coach and the founder of the Creating Curves programme, so Alexa’s an incredibly strong woman and a lot of clients of hers have actually referred to her as Superwoman, so I want to talk about your …
Alexa: Where are they …
Jane Erbacher: I know …
Alexa: Pay them.
Jane Erbacher: I know. You left them out there. So I want to talk about your Creating Curves programme. What is it?
Alexa: Essentially I teach the fundamentals of lifting weights to women. I teach them how to be comfortable in the weights room so that any time, anywhere they can walk into what is normally regarded as the male domain and feel really comfortable knowing what they’re doing, and why they’re doing it.
It’s interesting for me because before being in Australia, I actually, I was in Hong Kong for 7 and a half years and I was working in a mixed martial arts gym, and I trained men and I was regarded, like I was voted one of the top five toughest trainers in Asia, and that was my gig, I really enjoy flogging people. And I never expected to come to Australia and actually end up in the female space. I was in Hong Kong, I was sort of, very intimidating for women, I’ve always been really athletically built. A lot of women was like your muscles are…
Jane Erbacher: I think it’s also your attitude, it’s not even what you actually look like, it’s this whole thing is quitting is not an option, so if you want it work for it [inaudible 00:04:34] that kind of thing. It’s like that … it’s not at all a masculine thing, but a lot of women will shy from that, but what we’re realising now, is that women want that. Like we want to be a part of that as well, so it’s good that you are working with women.
Alexa: Yeah look I love it and I think like now is a really exciting time to be a female, like not only just a female, but also in the personal training industry. Last year was such an amazing year for strong women role models. You’ve got Ronda Rousey, you’ve got Holly Holm, you know like, they really brought strong women to the forefront and I think even as much as I don’t … I hate … I don’t harp on about crossfit, one of the things I do love about it, is the fact that it’s really made lifting weights accessible and sexy to women. Women are embracing being athletic and strong I think it’s fucking awesome.
Jane Erbacher: I think what I really like about what you’re doing is that crossfit has definitely revolutionised a lot of things to do with training and a lot of physique stuff. But what I like is that you’re a completely different body to a crossfit woman’s body, but you’re demonstrating that strong is hot, and it’s great because there’s a demand out there. You know, girls see these crossfit girls and they’re like “they’re really, really strong, you know, I don’t necessarily want to do crossfit, my body isn’t like that, what can I do?”. And then there’s this because it’s what you really do is you embrace the female shape and enhance it.
The whole idea of what your programme is, is to enhance it so I really, really like that, so okay and what about … Is there anything else you want to talk about professionally right now that’s going on for you? What else is happening?
Alexa: Well with the Creating Curves stuff I mean originally it was founded because I started working with females here and I did, I wanted to provide … like I wanted to bridge the market. There is such a need for weight training for women who don’t necessarily want to gain unwanted mass. And to be honest, I used to be one of those trainers who, a woman would come into them and they’d be like “I don’t want to get big” and be like “oh my God, seriously, I have this conversation again”. I think it’s really negligent because if you are a woman and you’re coming into a weights gym and you’ve never done it, even if you have done it before, and you don’t know how to engage the right muscles, how to switch the right muscles off, how to eat properly for your objective, how to train for your body time, you can and you will get big.
Jane Erbacher: Yep.
Alexa: And I think it’s the mis-education right, it’s the whole misinformation around the whole topic that leads to that, but women just blame weights …
Jane Erbacher: Completely.
Alexa: Because that’s where it starts.
Jane Erbacher: But it becomes the entire lifestyle …
Jane Erbacher: It’s like “oh protein powder’s sold in my gym, I better have that if I’m doing weights”.
Alexa: Absolutely and women justify it, especially like the whole eating thing plays into it. You don’t get to eat whatever you want just because you’re training in the weights room.
Jane Erbacher: No, exactly, it’d be nice if you did.
Alexa: Oh absolutely.
Jane Erbacher: Okay, so I actually I wanted to give a little bit of a brief intro about how I came across you last year. Everybody knows Luke, who’s the owner of RevoPT. Last year Luke met Alexa and was like … thought she was just amazing.
Alexa: Well I am so.
Jane Erbacher: Yeah, see I know. Those of you who haven’t met her yet, Alexa is amazing.
Alexa: And funny, and smart and with great hair.
Jane Erbacher: Endorsed by … and so funny, great hair, clean hair, Alexa just washed her hair for the podcast, I’m gonna say it’s for the podcast. But Luke basically was having a bit of a war with poor Alexa on Twitter because I was going over to America to do my Gym Jones training, and Alexa has the world record at Gym Jones for the women’s 2k row time, and Luke and I decided that I could break her record. So we had a little bit of banter going on, and then I started to actually follow her and I was like “this woman is amazing, this is who I wanna” … at the time I was like “this is who I wanna be”, I now understand that I want to be me, I just wanna be the best version of me, but I really, really, really, really look up to you and I went over to Gym Jones and I gave it my absolute best shot and fell nearly twenty seconds short.
Alexa: Thank God for that because I did not want to do that again.
Jane Erbacher: So a substantial amount. Yeah, I know. It was really hard, so we definitely come from a similar sort of work ethic I think, the two of us, I think that’s why I identify with you so much, but I really wanna ask you something that I think about a lot and I ask nearly everybody who bothers to have a conversation with me. Why do you feel like you’re here? Like what do you feel is your purpose in life?
Alexa: Okay, so when I went to school I was bullied at school for being too skinny so my nickname was Alexa Anorexa, so seriously I’ve never actually had a name.
Jane Erbacher: I know, actionalexa’s way better than that, you can just like …
Alexa: Yeah, yeah, so I was, I was a skinny girl, buck teeth, I had long, long, long blond hair that I used to be able to sit on, my legs were the size of my forearms, and I was teased. And I started going to the gym because I was on a mission for muscles, and I was just really fortunate that I went to a gym where people were so passionate about what they did and it was the first place I ever truly felt like at home and supported, and strong, and it’s really where I began to change both physically and mentally.
And that’s kind of what I always come back to is for me, that was my safe haven, and I want to give other women that. I wanna make other women feel just as empowered as I did.
Jane Erbacher: Yep, and that’s the amazing thing I just wrote down just then, training is so empowering. That’s one of the things that I am constantly harping on people, I’m like “what you do in the gym is a microcosm for the rest of your life, it’s symbolic to you. It’s not just that you’re prioritising you in that time, but the movements are really, really empowering”, so that’s great. I’m really impressed with your answer there, sorry I’m just like … I go off on like a little tangent yeah.
Okay, so what I want to talk to you about now is sort of … anybody who’s seen you, whether in person or in pictures, would definitely agree that you have one of the most … I’m not even gonna look at you when I say this, because I feel like a creep, but one of the most incredible bodies going around, definitely, like, not just that you’re strong and fit and healthy, but your face also looks vibrant and radiant and healthy. So I feel that whatever you’re doing is definitely working so I think you look great and I really want to talk to you a little bit about what it is you do day-to-day.
So what it is you eat, like how much you sleep, and what training, so let’s focus first on nutrition maybe, like, there’s so many trends, are you following … do you follow a paleo or macro diet or, I don’t really know any of the others, or is you just clean eating, or how do you eat?
Alexa: I eat as stress free as possible and I try not to worry about it too much. Look I went through my whole twenties where like my first ever coach when I started lifting weights, his partner was Miss Olympia, and that’s how he trained me. So hence like I don’t really touched weights, and everyone’s going to be really shocked at this, for my upper body, but my back is really developed and it has been since I was 23 years old because I put a lot of time and effort into it, and now for me it’s just maintenance.
When I was in my twenties, I did … I played gridiron, I wrestled, I did a lot of high intensity stuff.
Jane Erbacher: You boxed. Did you box? You fought yeah.
Alexa: I boxed, I wrestled, I just, I played pretty much every sport known to man, most of them to do with hitting other people. And a lot of them cardio based, and a lot of them were a lot of high volume, high intensity work and my body at that point in time responded really well to it, until I over trained, and I guess we’ll get back to that at some point.
Jane Erbacher: Yep.
Alexa: But my training now is so much more relaxed and the same goes for my nutrition because now, as your hormones change, especially being female, you notice it more, when you hit certain ages it becomes more difficult to maintain your goal weight or your goal the way you want your body to look. And I’ve found now that stress management is far more important to me than high volume and training, so for me, I actually do, I do probably three weight sessions a week that are all from my Creating Curves programme because I’m all about the booty.
Jane Erbacher: Yep.
Alexa: Yep. And then I do a couple of hot yoga sessions, a couple of Pilates sessions and I power walk. And I really … I eat when I’m hungry, I eat until I’m almost full. I try to eat clean foods as much as possible, I had a food intolerance test done, I think that’s a biggy. Healthy gut, happy everything else.
Jane Erbacher: Definitely.
Alexa: And that’s always my go to and I do infrared saunas. So like, it’s just about being as stress free as you can possibly make it, like, the problem with all these fads and trends, it doesn’t matter if it’s training, it doesn’t matter if it’s nutrition. You need to create a lifestyle that works for you and only you. And that’s the only way it is ever going to be sustainable.
Jane Erbacher: Yep.
Alexa: And when you find that balance everything else falls into place.
Jane Erbacher: I absolutely love everything you’ve just said. I think that a lot of people are looking for some sort of a quick fix. A lot of people would love to hear you saying carbs are the enemy, don’t eat carbs, you know, if you eliminate all the carbs you’re gonna have the perfect body, but it’s not about that, it’s an entire … it’s a complete picture.
Alexa: My body responds really well to carbs, so I eat them. If I eat high protein, my body doesn’t like it.
Jane Erbacher: Yep.
Alexa: So for me, I can eat cream eggs if I want on a daily basis, doesn’t mean…
Jane Erbacher: I’m like “what’s a cream egg?”. We’re talking about chocolate. I know, sorry we call them Cadbury cream eggs in Melbourne.
Alexa: Oh yeah, okay, that’s just [crosstalk 00:13:48]. So if anyone wants to take me on a date they just need to buy me a cream egg.
Jane Erbacher: Oh great, I’ll keep that in mind.
Alexa: My birthday’s coming up by the way.
Jane Erbacher: Happy birthday. I’m gonna post you some Cadbury cream eggs.
So if I was working with you and … how would we go about deciding what I was gonna eat?
Alexa: So normally I get clients to do first off is fill in a lifestyle diary for five to seven days because people forget that it’s not just the stuff they do in the gym that matters. Like lifestyle choices and really underestimated, or poor lifestyle choices. So you’d fill it in for a week. I would have a look at your go to habits on a daily basis. When you go to sleep, how much water you drink, when you train, what you do to relax, how often you go to the bathroom. I know that’s a really weird question.
Jane Erbacher: It’s important.
Alexa: And then … it basically … it helps to identify all the potential limiting factors that are outside of the gym that could be hindering you. From there I normally recommend a food intolerance test because it doesn’t matter how good your nutrition plan is, or what macros you have, if you are eating foods that are causing an inflammatory reaction in your body, whether intolerance is a cause genetically or whether you develop them over a period of time because you’re eating the same foods over and over and over again, if your body doesn’t like specific foods, it’s not going to give you the results you want.
I had five PGs of water weight at one point that I couldn’t seem to shift and I couldn’t understand what it was, cause I was eating clean, I was training properly, I was doing everything I should have been doing, I’d started drinking coconut water. Now I went and got my food intolerancy test, turns out I was intolerant to coconut water, cucumber, cayenne pepper, celery, raspberries.
Jane Erbacher: Oh my God.
Alexa: Now all of these things in their own way, like quinoa, kale, they’re all superfoods.
Jane Erbacher: Totally.
Alexa: But they’re not superfoods for me. So if I eat them, I have a really shitty reaction, literally so …
Jane Erbacher: Yep. And five kilos of water.
Alexa: 100%. So the minute I cut out all of those things, my body just dropped the weight naturally. We need to learn to listen to our body, because it’s really freaking clever. It will tell you when it doesn’t like something. So if a food makes you feel bad, why are you eating it?
Jane Erbacher: Totally. Yeah, I think that it’s such a modern thing that we do not listen to our bodies. We completely, like …
Alexa: Because we wanna do whatever she’s doing.
Jane Erbacher: Totally.
Alexa: To get that body, she’s hot.
Jane Erbacher: Totally, but it’s not about that at all.
Jane Erbacher: Yeah, so interesting. Okay. So we’ve talked about your training, so I wanna talk about over training now, and stress management, just hone in on that.
Alexa: Yeah, look. I’m always saying to my client, recovery is just as important, if not more important than training itself. And I liken it … my common analogy is the bank balance. So every training session that you do it’s like you’re withdrawing money out of your bank. Every recovery session that you do, whether it be foam rolling, infrared sauna, acupuncture, reflexology, massage, power walking, ice baths, whatever you wanna do, is like a deposit.
Now if you’re always withdrawing money out of your bank account, and you never making any deposits, eventually you’re going to end up overdrawn, thus injured.
Jane Erbacher: Totally.
Alexa: You know, and I had a conversation with a guy in the gym the other day, when I was foam rolling because it’s like a game changer for me, I have to do it every day for my hips and my lower back. And he was like, “I don’t have time to do this”. And I was like “well I don’t have time to be injured, so whatever floats your boat.”
Jane Erbacher: You choose. And I think that what a lot of people don’t realise is the withdrawals can also be in the form of everyday stress of life. So just because an elite athlete can train three times a day and whatever, I was gonna say ten times a day, but however much they train, that is what their entire life is set up to do, they’re doing all these recovery methods, they don’t have to go to a nine to five job where they’re stressed out of their brains. They don’t come home to screaming children or whatever after a full day at work.
Alexa: No, and that’s what people forget about the crossfit athletes as well. Like you go into a normal box if you’re like a Gina Pop, and you’re doing these hardcore workouts. But you’re forgetting that these crossfit athletes, they spend hours on mobility specific training. They spend hours on recovery, they had their [crosstalk 00:17:38] planned out.
Jane Erbacher: Their entire life is, yeah.
Alexa: Like they don’t just come into the gym, do an hour, then go sit at their desk for twelve hours and tighten up.
Jane Erbacher: Totally, exactly, yeah, hunched over.
Jane Erbacher: Okay, so what’s next for Alexa? So what are you like … where do you see yourself in 12 months time?
Alexa: Well at the moment, so my Creating Curves programme I’m now sort of starting to tour around Australia, so I’ve got my first one in Melbourne on April 10th, which is exciting.
Jane Erbacher: Woo, this is a complete coincidence by the way.
Alexa: I’m also teaming up with Lorna Jane so I’m doing another active living room workshop on the Saturday before with the aim of also getting their clientele who have been more sort of yoga or Pilates based in the past, more into educated in the weights room.
Jane Erbacher: Awesome, so is that the second of …
Alexa: That is the ninth of April and then the workshop is on the 10th April.
Jane Erbacher: Great, okay.
Alexa: And then we’ve got Perth and Gold Coast lined up and then hopefully in 12 months it will be international.
Jane Erbacher: That’s awesome, that is so, so exciting.
Alexa: That’s the plan.
Jane Erbacher: And if I wanted to work with you one-on-one, how could I do this?
Alexa: So you could either DM me on Instagram, which I’m sure by now you would have got is actionalexa.
Jane Erbacher: I was about to say it again, yeah.
Alexa: Or you can go to my website, which is AlexaTowersey.com.au.
Jane Erbacher: Awesome, okay, and yeah, everybody who’s listening I have actually worked with Alexa, I was gonna say actionalexa again, I’m good at that. I’m definitely not doing myself any favours. And she is amazing.
Alexa: Seriously gonna get married with that name.
Jane Erbacher: Oh you will, for sure. I really hope you marry someone with the surname Action as well.
Jane Erbacher: But thank you so, so much for your time today. I absolutely love hanging out with you and I really love chatting to you and I love that now it’s in history, recorded.
Thanks guys, talk to you next week, have a great week. Bye.