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Tips From Trainer Dan Isaacson

To this man, fitness is more than just personal training. He's a health and fitness expert who can transform your body and your health. Find out how Dan Isaacson helped Carrie Otis tackle her health problems with a simple-to-understand fitness routine:

Q: How did you get into the fitness business?

A: I originally started by establishing training centers in the studio lots. My expertise is in the management of facilities and implementing programs, and I developed one of the first scientifically-based training programs in Hollywood.

I originally trained John Travolta for the movie Staying Alive (1977), which helped start the personal training trend. I am considered more of a pioneer in the health and fitness industry as it relates to facility development.

I was one of the innovators in the late '70s and early '80s that helped create the first full-service athletic club concept in America. So I'm more a businessman and lifestyle coach, if you will, and heath/fitness/sports expert than a trainer, but I certainly have done a lot of that.

Q: In what stage of her life did you come in contact with Carrie Otis?

A: I met Carrie probably 10 years ago through a mutual friend when she came out here to do her first film. And I have known her from that time on. I was introduced to her through Mickey Rourke — who she eventually married. I trained Mickey for the movie 9 1/2 Weeks and had done a number of films with him in his career.

Carrie would come in and use our training centers on the lot at Paramount Pictures when Mickey would come in. And so while we did do some training with her, in terms of general fitness, you can reach a point where you body fat is optimum, your aerobic capacity is at its top peak, and your strength is as toned as you want for your physique; I think Carrie was clearly at that point. So we did certain things that would maintain that since she was in excellent shape.

Q: With all the diet books and fads out there, what works best?

A: What works best for most people is a balanced program of regularity. But it changes with women due to hormonal changes, stresses in their lives — there are a lot of things that can go on; that is why [a program] has to be customized to the person. And with Carrie at that time, her particular program was customized to what she needed: a high-intensity fitness program.

She was an avid runner. She never missed working out. But what we didn't realize at the time was, she was doing all that — not because she loved it — but because she was frantic to maintain a weight that was not a healthy weight for her.

Q: How can someone get started on the right path for them?

A: Most people don't realize that the first step is to have a nutritional analysis done of what they are eating. Do a three-day food log then go to any dietitian and ask if they have a program to analyze the log.

It can be as little at $25 to as much as $300. You get a nice little print out of everything you are eating in terms of all the nutrition, and you can then see what you are in need of.

So, therefore, you can supplement your diet to improve it nutritionally. Once you do that it is up to you to add those foods to your diet. Everyone in America should call me and let me tell them how to do it. Because a million people — in 24 hours — could change their lives with that simple process.

Q: But don't most of our weight and fitness issues stem from behavior?

A: First of all, we battle a mental behavior to begin with. That is related to how we perceive ourselves and how we feel at the moment. So we react to feelings, not necessarily to what we should be doing.

In my book, The Equation: A 5-Step Program for Lifelong Fitness (St. Martin's Press), when you go through the process you understand that the human body does three things: 1) it needs food every 3-4 hours because it takes eight hours to digest the food; 2) it needs regularity; and 3) it needs water in between the times you eat — about four bottles of 12 ounces of water (and as much as 64 ounces daily). If you do that and you eat at the same times every day, you will be hungry at those times.

Literally, on the third day — many dietitians and nutritionists agree — you will actually reset your physiological clock and your body will get used to eating at those times. And once you know you are going to eat at that time and you have enough water, you have enough food, and if you add a multivitamin so that you are getting all your minerals, I am telling you that in literally three days you are doing everything that is perfect for your body.

If I could get everyone who reads this to do this, I could help Americans change their lives forever.

The only other thing they then should do is to be physically active — aerobically, in my opinion — preferably every day, for at least 20-30 minutes because, if nothing else, just the psychological renewal to reduce the stress in your life is enough reason to do it.

If everyone did what I just said and did nothing else — for the next six months — they would all improve their health.