EPE Featured in Orange County Register!


By Josh Francis / Orange County Register / January 10, 2014

Stephen Yale believes in a more traditional approach to fitness training.
He opened EPE Training Systems in his hometown, Laguna Niguel, in 2011 and recently expanded the gym in a larger space in the same building.
Yale started training in his garage as a personal activity while working as a district manager for Sleep Number bed stores.
After training a couple of people in the garage, he decided to make it a more permanent business. So he opened EPE, which stands for “exercise performance enhancement.”
He doesn’t want his gym to be intimidating, he said.
“The key to getting better in any fitness environment is to be in a progressive environment,” Yale said.
The system is his selling point. He said there aren’t many workout facilities in Orange County that offer as well-rounded a method.

Yale’s gym is not “one size fits all,” he said.
Emphasizing power lifting and strength training among the several methods offered, Yale says his gym is more individualized, as opposed to the CrossFit approach, which often trains clients in large groups.
“I have no interest in training a group above six clients,” he said. “Otherwise, we lose too many of the elements that maintain the integrity of an individualized process.”
But why not get into the increasingly popular CrossFit market?
Yale believes his system is more effective.
CrossFit is a full-body workout combining cardio, weight lifting, gymnastics, core training and more. EPE has a lot of barbells – Yale believes simpler is better, that nothing can surpass the barbell’s effectiveness, including many fitness machines.
He also provides programs for injury prevention, aerobic conditioning, athletic training, diet and supplement guidance and more.
Yale said he developed his philosophy through years of reading and experimenting. His goal, he said, is to teach people the right way to exercise and train.

Training clients is only half of Yale’s job.
He doesn’t have employees, and he has to take care of the marketing side of the business, which can be challenging, he said.
Much of his strategy entails going door to door, posting ads on Craigslist and handing out fliers. “People aren’t just going to walk in the door,” he said.

Yale said he hopes to expand the gym even more as he gets more people to believe in his training approach.
He also plans to coach other trainers in his system so they can spread it to more clients.

Contact the writer: jfrancis@ocregister.com

EPE Training Systems
Address: 28052 Camino Capistrano, Laguna Niguel
Hours: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays
Phone: 949-441-1262
Web: www.epetrainingsystems.com

The EPE training Systems Approach to Fitness

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EPE training Systems is located in Laguna Niguel, CA. To find out more about EPE and our training center check us out at http://epetrainingsystems.com.

This post speaks specifically to the general fitness trainee. Future posts will focus on the athlete.

EPE Training Systems, in short is a synthesis of several different training methods, including the following:
• Powerlifting/Strength Training.
• Bodybuilding.
• Prehab (injury prevention).
• Aerobic Conditioning (Tempo Training, which is usually performed in some sort of circuit).
• Anerobic glycolytic conditioning (HIIT – high intensity interval training or circuit training.)
• Aerobic Glycolytinc Conditioning (performed in some sort of circuit training)
• Athete Training – strength and power (ultimate goal is to increase one’s “Rate of Force Development”.
• Athlete Training – in terms of Sport Specific Conditioning (i.e., aerobic capacity, anaerobic glycolytic capacity, anaerobic glycolytic power, strength endurance, alactic capacity, alactic power) (NOTE: I do not train athletes to be better skilled at their position. I leave that up to the coaches. Time is much better spent with me making them better athletes).
• Diet and supplementation guidance.

So, having an understanding in all of these systems allows me to form a plan that will most efficiently achieve a clients set of goals, while taking into this formula one’s current age and conditioning level. The basic rule of fitness is that it is an “individualized process”. And to add to that, there are always tweaks and adjustments, and different types of progressions that must be taken into account, on a never-ending basis.

When someone is following a basic template program, or is partaking in an exercise class/bootcamp/CrossFit, they performing in a “one size fits all” environment, which contains some extremely limiting elements. This is why I have no interest in training a group above six clients. The only exception would be if I brought in an assistant to help. Otherwise, we lose to many of the elements that maintain the integrity of an “individualized” process.

Training the Client

Just about every personal training environment, that is geared towards adults, takes the easy approach. They use equipment and methods that are easy to learn and equipment that is not threatening. Or they attempt to make an entire fitness program around one or two pieces of equipment. This is very limiting, as well falling into the “one size fits all” slippery slope.

First and foremost is the understanding that strength is the basis for any fitness oriented program. Whether your goal is to become a better bike rider, long distance runner, lose weight, be healthier, develop a healthier body, re-shape your body, or you just want to get in and out of the car more easily or address postural deficiencies, etc. – without first developing a foundation in strength you are taking a significantly less efficient path towards reaching your goals. Not my personal opinion – this is basic strength and conditioning science 101. So, then what is the most efficient path to getting stronger?

Free Weights Strength Training vs Anything Else
We’ve already touched on the fact that trendy fitness objects are limited in versatility. They are also severely limiting when attempting to increase one’s overall strength levels. Among other things, they do not use nearly the same relative degree of applied resistance (weight), and therefore do not elicit nearly as effective improvement (in the form of “supercompensation”) on the endocrine system, the physiological system, nor the central nervous system – all of these being key aspects of getting stronger, leaner, etc.

There is nothing that can ever replace the effectiveness of the barbell. In all of its beautiful simplicity, it allows the body to move a relatively heavy amount of weight through very long ranges of motion, while maintaining the bio-mechanical pathways that nature designed us to move in. It has been proven, both empirically and in countless bodies of research, over and over, and over again; that when you are able to exercise within these natural pathways – with relatively heavy resistance – you are putting yourself in the best possible position to achieve a variety of goals, notwithstanding strength, muscularity, muscle balancing, strengthening of the joints, speed, power, fat loss, endurance and overall function.

Problems with Machine-based Fitness Environments
Some machine use is fine, however a few of the limitations of too much of an emphasis with this approach are as follows:
• They force your body to move in unnatural pathways;
o This causes joint issues, in the long run, or possible injury in the short-run
o The progression of resistance, during the movement of a repetition, is different then what the body experiences in nature when moving naturally through gravity. This difference diminishes how the CNS reads the work, and it does not receive the stress stimulus (which is critical for progress to occur) nearly as efficiently. This is one of the reasons why you don’t get as strong using machines.
o The same also applies to the unnatural pathways, and the CNS responding less efficiently. Again, this causes your strength gains to be considerably less than with free weight.

A program that is based on a healthy focus of barbell and dumbbell training:

• allows the ability to move a relatively heavy amount of weight
• allows you to do this through a great range of motion

(Side Note: recently, research has been showing that the best way to achieve healthy flexibility is to use free weight equipment through a full range of motion. This shows greater functional results then any form of stretching – especially methods that have you stretching from positions like on your back)

• allows you to move in very natural pathways in which our bodies were designed to, resisting the forces of gravity, and therefore involving many more muscles above and beyond just the prime movers – which makes for a significantly more functional type of strength

• creates an environment where results can be tracked in detail, which allows for very specific increases in “overload”. This” progressive overload” environment is the key to sustaining improved results over long periods of time. It also allows us to constantly monitor a trainee’s performance, and determine, not only what form the increased “overload” comes in, but it also informs us if we need to take a step back in order to take two steps forward, later. If you are not monitoring current performance, and making the necessary adjustments, you are simply exercising, blindly, with no plan. After your initial fitness gains, your improvements will eventually slow down to a standstill.

Any fitness regimen will initially improve a de-conditioned client’s fitness level. However, it is after this initial period when you see people who are in a rut, yet they are doing the same things over and over again, expecting different results. I call this “fitness insanity”.

Getting Back to EPE

The interesting dilemma is, like everything else in life, the best techniques in getting stronger, leaner, and looking better; are also more difficult to properly learn – and I emphasize “properly”. Most trainers do not know how to properly perform these movements to begin with. Others just cannot be bothered with doing so. Then, others do not have an environment which is conducive to training this style of fitness. Orange County is filled with trendy exercise classes, watered down salon fitness boutiques, inexperienced trainers, horrible corporate big-box exercise environments, and one size fits all bootcamps/exercise classes/CrossFit classes. Worse yet, is being trained from the client’s home, with limited/poor quality equipment. EPE came about as an alternative to the pervasive watered down, trend mongering elements in this area.

In terms of the adult trainee, my vision is to open the door for them to be exposed to the most efficient fitness techniques, methods and strategies – usually reserved for true enthusiasts and athletes. The system is designed to take a person of any age, fitness level, and experience level; and apply these great methods in a format that is reasonable and not overwhelming. Remember, training is:

1. an individualized process
2. progressive

So, when a new client comes in (even if they are going to train in the Small Group sessions), we first spend time in a fundamental phase, where we must emphasize the overriding bio-mechanical aspects of weight training. This is performed by strict adherence to one’s technique, while working on a few basic movements. Once past the fundamental period, they are in no way a master of movement in the gym. Improving technique is an ever-going process, refined through thousands of repetitions. However, they have the basic knowledge to start working with in a “progressive overload” environment. In other words, we can really get started in attaining goals!

Every client has their own log book. Every workout is recorded, along with notes, and is used to gauge current and past performance. This provides reference points to determine how the following training session will be approached. Everything we do is geared towards improving on past performances. This is the difference between a true training program and simple exercise. Big difference!

An Example of the Advantages of Weight Training for the Older Trainee

As we age, maintaining or increasing proper bone density becomes extremely important – for both men and women. Research has shown that, by far and away, this most effective way for an aging person to actually increase their bone density is by working out with free-weights, using a relatively heavy weight.

Drugs do not work as well. Running can be helpful in maintaining bone density, but will do nothing for increasing it. The one best thing you can do is to perform free weight exercises which require compound movements, using multiple chains of muscles, moving weight through a natural and long range of motion, working against gravity – Not in a pre-determined pathway, such as with machines. This must be performed with relatively heavy weight. The research is clear, you cannot duplicate these benefits through Pilates, Yoga, machines, running, jazz dancing, TRX, kettlebells, Pure Barre, Brazilizan Butt, drugs, or any hyped-up TV marketed fitness “program”, or anything else. You must get under the bar!

Incorporating Various Fitness Goals Without Compromise

There are other Fitness systems/organizations (some, very popular) that will incorporate different aspects of fitness, but they take a different approach than EPE Training Systems. They tend to combine different elements all together into one course of exercise, simultaneously performing them together.

Every time we train towards a different goal (strength, fat loss, muscularity, power, etc.), we are training in different energy systems (metabolic systems). When we combine different metabolic systems at the same time, there is a compromise. What tends to happen is that some fitness systems/organizations will combine strength training with endurance (or fat loss) training. In environment like this, the endurance metabolic system will take precedence over others, and greatly compromises one’s ability to gain strength, re-shape their body by improving musculature, and their ability to become more explosive and athletic / functional. This is why clients from these environments, with average genetics tend to look “flat” and “washed out”. Relatively speaking, they are weak. Sure, when they first start, they get a little stronger, they lose weight, and get a little more “toned”, but there are very restrictive limits that soon come into play. If you were to ask these people, when they first decided to get involved with a fitness program, what their goals were and – looking at them now – it would probably be easy to notice that they have fallen short in some areas.

At EPE training Systems, I approach using multiple fitness methods in a manner which will lead to the least amount of invasiveness between different metabolic systems. For example, the conditioning is performed after (not during) the weight training. Now, ideally it would be great to separate the two by a couple hours or more, but ultimately, convenience must play a role. However, I am always monitoring the process, and making adjustments, based on the client’s current performance.

Our Conditioning

Conditioning is usually performed in a short, high intensity manner – just how intense that is, is dependent on the client’s current physical capabilities. This also applies to duration.

As for what is actually performed, for the less conditioned trainee, we will usually begin with using easier, low impact equipment like the Concept 2 Rower, the Versa Climber. The Airdyne bike, etc. As the trainee progresses they may become more curious and want to explore using equipment such as the following:

• kettlebells
• medicine balls
• prowler sleds
• ropes
• calisthenics
• Bulgarian Bags
• Strongman wheelbarrow
• Framer’s walk handles
• Conan Wheel
• tires
• sandbags
• Supercat
• box jumps
• etc.

At EPE Training Systems, I try to encourage long term goals, which are always 1000% (“one thousand” – this number stems from my own opinion) more effective at producing a life time of health and fitness. Because many fitness regimens are either flawed, or less than efficient, trainers will often compromise by placing their clients on very calorie restrictive diets. This will produce a fairly rapid change in the mirror (in terms of fat loss – but horrible for strength and muscularity/body-shaping), but it also ruins metabolisms and produces yo-yo syndromes. There are times when this makes sense, such as right before a wedding, but this should never become one’s standard approach to fitness. The client will lose some weight, eventually burn out, stop training, get fat, and then come back to the trainer and start all over again, its madness!

Correct Exercise Techniques

EPE Personal Training Logo

Click here to access the EPE Training Systems website

Check out this Eric Cressey link. There are a few quick view helpful videos that will go a long way in correcting some very common form issues, when people work out.


Utilizing proper mechanics and building a bullet proof base, versus damaging yourself in the pursuit of fitness is one of the things that separates just walking into a gym, versus recruiting the assistance of a certified trainer.

Feel free to contact me with any questions at Stephen@epetrainingsystems.com.

Looking For a Fitness Trainer?

The original EPE Training Center

So, you’re interested in getting into shape, you’re not sure where to start, and so you want to recruit the services of a professional. Just keep in mind, not all services are alike – especially in the fitness industry. To name a few: You have one size fits all bootcamp and Crossfit systems. You have the “functional” crowd, who are stuck on using unstable surfaces, like Swiss balls. You have the big athletic centers that run young athletes through a thousand different speed & agility drills, but they can’t even squat their own bodyweight. And then, worst of all, you have the big-box commercial gyms and their pathetic offering of personal training.

Anybody, and I mean ANYBODY can tell you to run over there, then run back, then lift that thing, then swing this thing,  then do some pushups then jump on that balance ball, (and “Don’t fall and break your neck!”), etc.  And you are going to huff and puff and sweat. After a few weeks of this, you are going to feel a little stronger and you’re going to lose some fat. Remember, anything you do at this point in the game is going to make a difference – to a point!

Real world, tried-and-true, non-trendy fitness training is designed to take you well beyond this initial training curve. It is designed to transcend plateaus through the use of pre-planned strategies combined with adjustments based on the individual’s current conditioning level, current circumstances, and their goals. It is designed to transcend the overwhelmingly prevalent state of yo-yo conditioning that most of us experience when we either join a big-box gym, or fall under the influence of a trainer or training system that does not incorporate a focus on the “individual” and a knowledge of proper programming.

In terms of choosing your trainer, this is the point which separates a person who looks good in a wife-beater so they decided to become a personal trainer – versus – a person with a passion for understanding real exercise programming, with some knowledge in exercise bio-mechanics – the kind of stuff you’re not going to get from some fitness certification. We’re talking about having some concept of the great former Eastern Bloc strength scientists. We’re talking about studying the material provided by these masters, as well as the Western masters who have been applying these materials to real-life settings for years. Ask your trainer who he or she reads. If you don’t hear names like: Verkoshansky, Zatsiorsky, Rippetoe, Kurz, Simmons, Siff,  Issurin, etc. – this “trainer” might not have a passion for truly getting you into shape.