the gentlemen's lounge

The purpose of this portion of the site is to provide a male’s perspective into what it means to live a balanced life. This concept does not only include fitness and nutrition, but is also rooted in wellness and community. So often men are left out of the conversation on sites similar to Carter Hall. Here, we want to give men a voice and invite them share with us how they manage to live a balanced lifestyle.  In this monthly feature, we will get up close and personal with one man who is aiming to live their best life by building a strong foundation of health and wellness.

Joshua Clay // Entrepreneur & Fitness Professional

What does wellness mean to you? 

Control. Wellness to me means having control of your life from a mental, spiritual, and physical standpoint. I don’t mean control in the way you can control how you’re feeling but controlling how you react to the emotions you feel, the events that occur, and the people you talk to at any given time and the thoughts that arise as a result. It also means maintaining control over your body from what you put in it as well as how you use it and being able to say confidently, you’re treating it in a way that makes you feel good.

Spring is a time of change, renewal and new beginnings.  Is there any aspect of your life that you feel is in need of change or renewal?  How will you go about implementing those changes, if any?

Not so much anything I think I need to change suddenly but something I want to continue to change is my adherence to my training and eating. The past few years have mostly been dedicated to improving my abilities as a coach, increasing my knowledge of training and nutrition, and building my business. With that said, my focus was more so on my clients and my business than it was my own training goals, so I hired my own strength coach at the beginning of this year to help me reach some training goals of my own. I lost around 8-10 lbs of muscle mass from my bodybuilding days and significant strength so I’ve made it my mission to improve my body composition, regain those 8-10 lbs of muscle and improve my strength to numbers I’ve never reached before at a bodyweight of 175. 

As a busy entrepreneur and young professional, how do you navigate your busy work life, your social life and time for self-care?

In order for me to fully enjoy my down time and social life, I need to have completed all the work I have set out for the day, week, or month. I have a whiteboard in my room and before bed each night, I create a list of things to do for the next day as well as things to do for the week. I then go through and number them in order of importance. As I complete each task, I cross them off one by one. So long as I have the tasks with the highest importance completed, then I can enjoy my social life and down time without feeling like I’m making the wrong decision. Long as I have put my “needs” before my “wants” then I know I’m setting myself up for success in the future and that puts me at ease to fully enjoy my time away from work.

Do any of these aspects carry more significance than the others?  Or do you aim to achieve balance in all three areas?

I do my best to achieve balance in all three areas. I’ve been at the severe ends of the spectrum as far as working 80-100 hours a week with little down or social time to the other side of the spectrum where I simply wasn’t making proper use of my time and getting quality work in. I live my life by a few mottos and one of those is “Hard work for hard work’s sake is just work.” I want to make sure that the work I’m getting in isn’t simply just to flaunt on social media that I’m “grinding” but that the work is for a reason and will benefit my future in some fashion. I don’t see any point in staying up all night “working” just so you can tell people how little you sleep or how hard you work. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely some nights I have no choice and have to stay up late working but I try and keep those nights as minimal as possible. Otherwise, I run into feeling down and exhausted to the point that a task that should take me an hour ends up taking 3. I like my sleep and getting quality sleep allows me to get in quality work which then lets me enjoy my social life and down time.

You’ve been an athlete all of your life.  What led you transition into coaching?

When I realized I wasn’t going pro in any sport haha I played both college football and college rugby, I wasn’t the best but I was good enough and the training I put in to be better made me exponentially better from a confidence standpoint and an athletic standpoint. I hired a coach to prepare me for training camp as a freshman and to this day, nobody (besides my parents) has made a more profound impact on my life. He showed me what was possible if I fully enveloped myself into anything I wanted badly enough and made me fall in love with the training and journey towards any goal I may have. I loved what he did for me and wanted to do that for others

So often we are led by fear of the unknown, judgment of physical selves and self-doubt of our abilities.  How important is having self- worth in overriding those things?  How did you come to believe in your worthiness?

Ahh, the holy grail of knowing your worth or “having self-worth”. This was something I always asked myself, “How the hell am I supposed to know what I’m worth?” I think self-worth is extremely important because it allows you to have control over your reactions to things or people that may not align with who you are. Guy Ferdman talks about being in alignment with who you  are and being okay with anything that’s not, being able to say no and feel confident in that decision. To me, having the ability to do that without faking it gives you the power to make decisions and execute swift and purposeful action in every aspect of your life.  My worthiness came as I developed my abilities as coach and began refining the priorities in my life. My intelligence and knowledge as a coach was always something I took pride in but constantly looked outward to other professionals for reassurance that I was truly a good coach.

It wasn’t until I began teaching and coaching other trainers that I began to believe in my abilities and realize my worthiness as a coach and individual. I realized that I was doing all the things I should and could be doing to better myself and once other coaches and trainers began coming to me for guidance and mentorship as well as being hired to put on seminars, it was time to realize who I was and be that to others who may look to me for the same reassurance I once looked to others for.

Clearly you have a passion for physical fitness.  How important to you is the balance between fitness, nutrition, and wellness?

I believe the balance between the 3 is constantly evolving and changing based on what is happening in your life. There’s this idea of optimal in the sense of “the absolute best given everything is in perfect alignment” and optimal in the sense of “everything is all kinds of messed up but this is the best I can do given the circumstances”. I prefer to base my balance of the 3 off the latter. I will say that generally so long as my wellness is where I want it to be then my fitness and nutrition will generally follow suit.

With leading such a busy life, how do you manage to make time for proper nutrition? Do you have any go to meals or snacks?

I usually make time to meal prep on Sundays. I keep it pretty simple, so I can make it easy and quick. Generally, I prep 15 meals which gives me 3 meals a day Monday thru Friday. That way, I can just grab & go as I need to throughout the day without having to constantly eat out. I eat a hefty amount of carbohydrates so a favorite snack of mine is granola mixed in vanilla yogurt. Other than that, it’s the basics like carrots with hummus or a green apple. I don’t buy too many “snacks” which prevents me from over eating during the week.

What’s the most challenging thing you’ve taken on in the last year?

Surfing by far. I was mostly a team sport athlete most of my life with the exception of stints in BMX racing and track & field. I made it a goal to learn a new skill starting this year and I chose surfing because it intimidates the living hell out of me but also to relate to newcomers in the gym.

I was tired of  “IG models & trainers” preaching to people to overcome their fears without giving any real life examples of how they overcame their own fears. I love the gym but I’m not ignorant to the fact that the gym can be a very scary and intimidating place for a lot of people.

Surfing was the same for me. Paddling out there in Venice with a ton of extremely experienced surfers just hoping I don’t get in their way, hoping they don’t judge me when I’m out there for hours repeatedly falling down and looking like a newborn calf. I wanted to overcome those same fears people experience when joining a gym. I’m happy to say that I can now stand up and ride a wave! I still have my frequent moments of falling and my days where my coordination just seems to have left me but I keep going. I will say that it has gotten to the point where being out in the ocean is now something I crave and allows me to forget about my own problems for a couple hours and just focus on my weaknesses and getting better.

Did you encounter any obstacles while trying to achieve this goal?  If so, how did you overcome those obstacles?

Oh hell yeah I did! Besides my own emotions of being self-conscious of what other surfers would think, surfing itself is hard! Luckily a client of mine lent me a longboard of his which made makes it much easier to learn but regardless, I still had and am having a hell of a time. Surfing is a skill completely new to me so getting used to the proper stance, standing up, maneuvering the board, etc is a challenge but it’s also exciting. I had a few days in the beginning where I just wanted to quit because I was so bad but I kept at it and couldn’t be more pumped that I did. Other obstacles would be finding the time, I’m pretty busy with work and other side projects so I’ve had to really make the time to clear 2-2.5 hours, 2 days a week to make it out there but like I said, it’s to the point now where I crave those hours and it allows me to use my fitness for something more than just being strong. I had one day in the beginning where a wave took me under and kept me there for about 20 seconds. That scared the living hell out of me given my inexperience and 20 seconds underwater feels like an eternity, so it gives me infinite amounts of respect for these professional surfers who learn to hold their breathe for 5 minutes at a time. That had me freaked out for a few days but still going strong!

If you made a vision board for the next five years of your life, what would be featured on it?

I’m at a point in my life where the idea of having a huge house and a ton of cars doesn’t do much to motivate me so I think mine would be a little different from what most post to their vision board. I would feature various places around the world I want to visit like Africa, Italy, and the moon because I mean, why not? I would also feature various cut outs of gyms like Barbell Brigade, Anatamy at 1220, Cressey Sports Performance, as well as facilities from various athletic programs like West Point and UCLA. I hope to open a facility of my own in Santa Monica with a partner so these would help remind me of a huge goal and dream of mine. 

In your opinion, how do we best achieve what we want out of this world?

Discipline above and beyond everything. Discipline to do what needs to be done when it’s the last thing you want to do, discipline to constantly learn, grow, and evolve by reading, listening, and attending various events. Motivation is cool but is very temporary and only serves us when we’re feeling good which is great but discipline keeps you working and doing the things that will help you reach those goals when you’re down, sick, sore or…unmotivated.

What are 5 fun facts about yourself?

  1. I’m a huge harry potter nerd. I’ve got cups, a cloak, shirts, pajama pants, socks, beanie, and even a remote control wand. No muggles can be found here.
  2. My pops is a race car driver. I grew up in North Carolina where racing is huge so yes, I enjoy watching cars turn left. If you haven’t been to a Nascar race then you’re missing out.
  3. My favorite music is country. I listen to EDM as well but it has to have words or you lose me. Rap/Hip-hop once in a while but if you’re driving with me then you can expect to hear some honky tonk.
  4. I am a WBFF Pro Fitness Model. I used to compete back in the day and actually received my pro card, at the time becoming the youngest pro fitness model at 22. It was fun but my priorities and goals shifted however, it’s still cool to look back occasionally and remember all the cool people I met and memories I made.
  5. I highlight, tab, and make notes in all my books. I base how good a book is off how many times I’ve added a tab. If it’s a really good book, I take all the notes and highlights and turn it into a study guide. A little overboard but it helps me retain all the information.

Social media:

IG: @joshualeeclay


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