Monday, 04 June 2012

Interview with David Cross

A couple months back, David Cross, owner and strength coach of Evo Fitness in Cape Town graced us with his presence.  We spoke training, strength, conditioning, old school, new school and who is too cool for school.

David is one of the few trainers in our country who believes in the methods that have always worked, the methods that have been tried and tested, with the approach that gets real men and woman out of their comfort zones, their spandex and off their fancy gadgets into serious traditional training that gives solid results.

David and his partner Dewaal opened up a training facility in the heart of Cape Town, that is and cannot be disputed as one of the finest strength addresses in the Cape.

I finally got down to having a one on one with the Cross himself on where it all started and how it all came about.  This is what he had to say:

As a strength coach in today's society, what is your approach at Evo to training that sets  yourselves apart from the pink fluff and the common market?
First off thank you for inviting me into this quick Q&A, nice to know there's an interest in the way Evo does things.

I'll start by saying that Evo isn't a gym, we’re a training facility, that in itself is already a big difference in how we set ourselves apart from the other crap out there. If you want to chat and grab a smoothie go to Virgin UnActive or Planet FATness, if you want honesty and no nonsense results get your ass to Evo.

For us there is no cookie cutter one size fits all approach  - we look at every client as an individual with differing needs, goals and lifestyle. Each of those aspects will have an influence on how they train and ultimately the results we can help them achieve. Having said that, the basics still apply no matter what their goals! With the exception of injuries and mobility issues, all clients work on the basic lifts as the prime components of their workout. Squats, deadlifts, military press, chin ups and bench press. These are the gold standard exercises, most bang for your buck and I can't understand any system that doesn't have these at the heart of it.

If you had the opportunity to dissect one of the worlds top strength coaches, who would you like on your operating table and why would you choose them over the many great coaches out there?
Jeez, just one?! There's a bunch of coaches out there who I have respect for, a small handful though who I would like to work with, but someone who has been round the block so many times and is still at the top of the game is Louie Simmons at Westside Barbell. This guy is one of the most honest, no bullshit, say it as it is coaches there has ever been. He has developed so many strong athletes over the years that there can't be any disputing his pedigree. He has helped pioneer so many methods and programs for getting people explosively strong, that you could spend everyday with him for a year and still not come close to learning all his secrets. People talk about how they've trained "blood, sweat and tears" - most haven't even had their first wet dream in comparison.

You were not always a man of strength and fitness, and spent many years in the corporate world.  What drove you to turn a passion into a successful business and what was the most defining moment for you?
That's being polite, I was a fat bastard hahahaha. After I lost all the weight and started my venture into Personal Training, I soon realised that I was going to come up against the same problems I faced in the corporate world. I wasn't my own boss. Yes, I was a franchised trainer, so technically I was my own boss, but I still had to abide by the rules of the gym, the shitty policies they had and deal with all the shit that came with it. I needed to be my own boss. I needed to do things the way I wanted, without compromising, without having to ask permission. I wanted to start something where people come because of the way I do things, because they are ready and want to finally get the results they've paid for.

As for a defining moment, it was probably sitting there at 6am on 2nd August 2010; opening day of Evo Fitness, and we had zero clients! I knew we were the best you could get in Cape Town, the problem was that nobody else did. It was at this point I realised my passion for this industry was not enough to bring the money in, I couldn't rely on my own self belief. This was going to be a hard slog and I needed to make everything I did count.

Nearly 2 years later and we are better than we've ever been, we're still the best Cape Town has to offer and we haven't once compromised on our principles, what we believe in, or sold out to gimmicks and fads just to fit the "mold". We still have a long hard slog to go, and that is the reality. As soon as you hit cruise control or start to slack, the shit will come down and you'll just be average. Average is shit. I don't have time for average, I don't ever want Evo to be average - it's that fear that will continue to drive Evo to new heights and achieve great things.

If you could give one bit of sound advice to the aspiring coaches out there in South Africa, what would be the most valuable bit of information you would pass on?
Stop being a pussy! I look back to when I first started out and although well meaning and passionate, I was a pussy. Doing stupid shit, no programming, no measurements, no monitored progression, no clue! I get mad when students come through the doors of Evo and have no clue whatsoever, it brings back memories of how shit I was. I had to learn the hard way, wasted a lot of time and money on a lot of shit. Get yourself an internship at a decent training facility, be it here in South Africa, UK, America - anywhere. You will learn more in your time there, than you will ever learn from some piss poor lecturer who can't even squat properly in a classroom.

Don't just think you can walk into an internship though, personal trainers are qualifying quicker than a virgin losing his load for the first time. Prepare, learn about the company, what they believe in, how they train, what sets them apart from the rest, why should they even consider you! Motivate your case, because rest assured if they're a decent facility, they'll already have a lot of people wanting the same thing as you.
Also - do not expect to be paid, if anything offer to pay them! You just paid for your shitty certificate that taught you how to squat terribly, but you aren't prepared to pay for the most valuable information out there, real world experience in the trenches! Stop being a pussy!

You are working on achieving people's personal goals on a daily basis, what is your ultimate strength goal?
I want to deadlift the world for reps!  hahahhaha sorry in house joke!  Strength is a funny thing, it can be defined in so many different forms.  I'm about to be a Dad on the 20th June, and I want to be as strong as I can for my daughter, wife and family in all facets of their lives.  This change in my life will undoubtedly have an impact on the way I view things, what my physical strength goals are and essentially what they mean to me.  Its a lifetime journey for me, and with the changes I want to remain healthy and strong.
Having said all that though, the gym head in me says 3 x bodyweight deadlift, 2 x bodyweight bench press, 1.5 times bodyweight military press and 2.5 x bodyweight squat.
Cheers Lil for the questions, ready to kick some more ass now.

Thanks David for the little insight into your piece of the strength world and wishing you and your wife all the best with the little one, and of course with those strength feats.


  1. David Conradie04 June 2012 at 20:30

    Why do you have to resort to derogatory comments about other training facility's in order to promote your own. Individuals have different needs and that does not mean the one is necessarlily better than the other. This type of criticism reflects more on your own facility than anything else.

  2. I'm sorry you don't like MY honest opinion on the above mentioned "health" clubs. As a previous employee and member of those clubs, I'm well within the boundaries of informed opinion to state the obvious, and with any luck get someone to question why they would even consider paying for those second rate services.
    Besides, opinions are like arseholes, everyone's got one!