Despite incredible demand for more fitness articles, I stopped writing them over a year ago to focus on other subjects. Plus I’m out of shape; it’s not my way to write about areas of my own life unless they are dialed in. Yet there are few credible sources of fitness information, as juice-to-the-gills steroid users tell you that it’s all about diet, bro, and if you don’t look like a cover model you simply lack discipline (rather than test, masterone, clen, ‘slin, gh, and tren).
- The comments also got out of control, with people screaming at one another over “ideal” diets. Fitness is more toxic than politics. Let’s give fitness another chance.
I am thus pleased to introduce Alexander Cortes, who will be covering the fitness beat at Danger & Play.
I brought Alexander on board because the world doesn’t need more fitness bros and we won’t have any of that here. Go elsewhere to argue with teenage boys about water retention, calf size, and to talk like a moron with the, “HEY BRO, ARE YOU HOLDING WATER IN YOUR OBLIQUES BRO?” stuff.
Alexander has a dance background, has thought deeply about philosophy, and even has had drama with social justice warriors – who have invaded the fitness community.
Cernovich: you’ve been a regular reader the past few years, what brought you to Danger and Play?
Alexander: It was about 3 years ago I discovered the website through Victor Pride’s website, it may have been when he mentioned you specifically in a podcast, and I then found your own.
At the time, I recently left my job to work mobile for someone else, so I was in an interesting career stage of hourly to freelancer. At the same time, I was only 24, and I had spent my 20s to that point getting by well enough, but never had guidance or mentorship of any kind.
In that sense, Danger and Play was exactly what I needed to read. It was very revelatory to find a masculine source of self-development that really spoke to me personally. I identified with you in your writing.
I know you work in the fitness industry, but you’ve got a very different angle from the “Gym Bro” culture that is the norm. What sets you apart?
Ironically, I never intended to have a career in fitness. Which is probably good, as it’s given me a far more objective perspective on it. I had no passion for it when I started. My first “real” job was as a personal trainer in 2009, and I did simply because I liked the relaxed atmosphere, and enjoyed teaching.
What I found out though the more I did it, is that people’s health, their “true health” as I call it, which is the mindset of how they live and feel and invested in their own life on a day-to-day basis, that manifests itself physically.
Everyone I’ve ever worked with, there was always a deeper, more personal reason than just the physical aspect of wanting to be fit.
I’m not a life coach. I’m no ones fucking guru. With the filter of “health”, I have the freedom to write on most any subject. All this stuff is connected.
My intention is that I give you the tools to improving your own health, and that you apply them. I’m a philosopher and educator in that sense. I want people to be able to THINK effectively about their health, their physique, their diet. If you understand the basic principles behind these things, and you can understand them in context, then can you be in an effective place of control.
I talk about this all the time on my email list. I send out three emails daily. Only one of them is a “fitness” email with a workout. The rest are real life examples and perspectives of health topics and what application can be learned from them.
The audience at Danger and Play is largely men, although we definitely have some female readership. What would you say to the younger guys that just want to look good and stand out?
Now, I understand for some young guys reading this, in their 20s, 30s maybe, sure the motivation can simply be “get jacked, have abs, bang bitches”. I myself joke constantly that my own training mantra is #jackedandtan, one word. If you are jacked and tan, you will feel confident and should reasonably attract all the women you want.
So there’s nothing wrong with that, but that gets tired fast. At a certain stage of being a man (or woman for that matter), your physical health has got to mean more than you simply looking “hot”.
Not to say that doesn’t matter at all, but take it from me, I’ve worked with very high level bodybuilders and female physique competitors, and 99% of these people are just “shells” as I call them. They obsess over not being shredded, their arms not being 20 inches, they have breakdowns constantly over food. Most are lonely, highly dysfunctional people.
What is the point of looking physically impressive, if it inhibits your relationships with people?
I can talk about muscles, workouts, fat loss, diet, and nuances thereof all day. I do fact have a ton of free resources on all those topics, including published books on them.
I want people to want to look good. Society has gotten fat largely because the social norm has changed from obesity being discouraged to obesity being accepted as the new normal. Looks do matter. But I also want you to find, discover, or create a reason for your health that supersedes simply staring at yourself in the mirror and flexing. Everyone finds their own answer eventually.
That’s a very broad view on a subject thats usually considered pretty narrow. Do you have an overall philosophy to what you do with training and diet?
Ironically, I was talking about mindset before the term mindset ever got popular. I coined that phrase back in 2013. Ironically 3 years later “mindset” is now the hot topic to discuss in the fitness industry.
Mentality can be called mindset, I would deem the two interchangeable. My perspective is that someone’s purely “physical” state of health, that is an outcome of their lifestyle. Lifestyle is the active display of mindset. So your mental state is the determining factor of your physical body and health.
Mentality=Physicality, this gives you two ways to approach your health;
-You can do it externally-how you workout, what you eat, when you train, etc
-You can do it internally-objective audit of your health, your beliefs about your health, your vision for yourself long-term
The physical part is honestly pretty easy. I realized early on that the physical is not truly “hard”. If you can do it, you can do it. Following a workout program is not the science of rockets.
Its people’s mental state that is the biggest obstacle.
It might be that someone lives a very healthy life, is fit as hell, and does what they are told. Ive got plenty of clients, guys I give them the program, they follow it to the letter. Thats awesome when it happens.
But you also have men that physically, they have never been the “Gorilla”. Having a powerful identity that way, it’s a struggle to create to believe in the first place. It will require more than just a series of workouts, you have to talk about the mindset of it for someone to truly believe in what they are doing. Or what they are learning for that matter. A lot of fitness information is total bullshit.
Fitness bullshit is pervasive, something that’s always turned me off personally from that industry. Why do you think that is?
To make a connection, fitness bullshit is exemplary of “fake news” that the mainstream media propagates and then tries to hypocritically claim is an illusionary practice.
The fitness industry operates like a fish bowl. The average “fit pro” is so out of touch with the regular consumer, that they have no idea how absurd they sound. Even the ones that are “honest”, most of their work is for their fellow fit pros.
It’s akin to the journalistic circle jerk. Everyone is practicing group think, everyone needs the approval of a few prominent people, everyone falls in line with status quo.
Being objective and speaking to regular people, you rarely encounter it. At the same time, sensationalism sells well, and there will always been teenage and 20 something guys that want abs, arms, and to get jacked as quickly as possible. Just as there will always be insecure women that wished they weighed 10lbs less.
It’s an industry that markets to insecurity, so it attracts sycophants, charlatans, and useful idiots for the most part. Why do things differently when billions are made selling skinny tea and test boosters to teenagers?
It looks as though you’ve done a lot of writing in the fitness industry, can you talk about that?
Definitely. Writing was not something I ever planned on doing professionally. Back in 2008, I was actually incarcerated for 2 months. I was an inmate in county jail. If anyone is interested in the experience, I have written about it. I had been charged with embezzlement and drug possession, although the latter got tossed. Basically I was stealing merchandise from a retail job I was a security guard at.
Point to this story, that was when I first started writing, while locked up. It was a way to handle the stress.
Fast forward to 2012, I was between jobs, had broken up with my ex girlfriend, and was at a low point overall. I submitted a few articles for free to a website I’d been a long time reader of, Elitefts.com. They generally will accept outside submissions if they’re good, so I figured why not?
They published them, and they all went viral, three articles in a row. After that, Elitefts asked me to be a bi monthly columnist on their site, something they had never done before with anyone.
A year later in 2014, I’d written 20+ articles for them, and I was contacted by a fitness magazine editor to write for his publication.
It was a major change. I went from writing for free, to being paid $900 an article. Since then, I’ve been paid to write many times over. I’ve written for muscle magazines, ghost written for prominent people in the fitness industry, I’ve got a monthly column in Iron Man. Opportunities have come fast the more I’ve worked.
My writing career trajectory isn’t a typical one at all. Most people struggle to break into writing, in any field. I started from the top so to speak, writing for a very major website with a huge audience, and that gave me leverage and reputation fairly fast.
Where can we find you online?
Im pretty wired in at this point. My website is my full name, AlexanderJuanAntonioCortes.com, and the blog gets updated weekly. It’s godawful for showing up on a browser or link, but there is only one of me. Im very active on twitter, I periscope pretty frequently, and I’ve got a number of podcasts on soundcloud. My email list is where I interact the most, I email everyone three times a day, and all my content gets sent out to email friends first.
You can learn more about Alexander here: