"You Need to Feel Good to Look Good": Meet Openfit Trainer Joey Thurman
At first glance, Openfit’s newest trainer, Joey Thurman, looks like he belongs front and center on a bodybuilding magazine. But don’t judge this book by his cover. He likes sweets, has bad days, and his fitness goals revolve around the basics: being healthy and feeling good.
Thurman’s results-driven approach has earned him a dedicated Instagram following, as well as appearances on the Today Show, Good Morning America, and LIVE with Kelly and Ryan. Now, he’s on Openfit with three programs that can help you get results in just 10 to 20 minutes per day, regardless of your fitness level.
We caught up with Joey to learn more about his approach to training, what he thinks people get wrong about fitness, and how family fun can help build healthy habits.
Openfit: How do you make fitness fun when so many people view it as a chore?
Thurman: Fitness is something you should reward yourself with, not punish yourself with. This is something you get to do. How amazing is that? Think about that: You get to wake up and work out.
You were able to afford Openfit. You were able to press play on your life. That’s amazing. This isn’t a chore. You want to live better, look better, and live a longer, healthier? Work out. That’s your reward, not some bad food.
How did you get into Instagram?
I started training a WWE diva, and she was on Instagram. She kept wanting me to film these workouts, so I decided to jump on Instagram because I was filming her anyway.
I actually have a love-hate relationship with social media. And that’s okay that I say that. I’m an influencer and I get paid for things, but who do you influence in your life that matters? Is it people that follow you? Great. But what about those people that are actually in your life? Are you influencing them? That’s the main message that matters. And then you can help everybody else.
What do your followers want?
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I think the things that resonate the most are when I talk about my mental health. I’m huge about that because people see me, and they expect something different. I’m aware of that, and that’s okay. But I need to let them know I’ve got bad days too. I may be on TV or traveling everywhere, but I miss my family. I feel down. I wake up, I feel sad. Why do you feel sad? Well, sometimes you just don’t know why you feel sad. So I’ll talk about that.
Or I’ll talk about how I don’t want to work out today or shoot a video. But you have an obligation to the people you love to make them proud. I want my son to say he’s proud of his dad not because he was on TV but because he worked hard. He was a great father. You need to feel good to look good. That resonates with people.
Who is your spirit superhero?
The Hulk. I think he’s misunderstood, and I think I am, too. People just think that when he gets angry, he becomes this massive green monster. But deep down, he wants to love the woman of his dreams and do good things with his science. So, I guess I’m not green, but I can Hulk out now and then.
What do people focus on too much when it comes to their health and fitness?
I don’t think they look at the big picture enough. I get all sorts of questions like “Should I do this?” or “What should I do for my abs?” And I’m like did you start working out yet? Did you do the basics? Especially with social media, people look at all of these crazy workouts of someone doing a jumping backflip twist, or whatever. Yeah, that’s cool on video. But that person didn’t start out doing that. They started doing a squat, a pullup, a lunge, a push press — the basics get missed in fitness.
That’s why in my program, I’ll start with Circuit One. We’ve got the basic foundational exercise. Then, in Circuit Two, we give you the option to layer it on because not everybody is at that second, third, and fourth level. I won’t even do those crazy workouts that I see on social media because they don’t make sense for you and your body. Stick with the basics, and don’t overthink it. I have you covered with my program.
What do many people do wrong when it comes to exercise?
People don’t take proper rest. Our bodies need to rest and recover between sets. People believe that fitness needs to be go, go, go, go for 55 minutes or an hour, and then you lay down on the ground, just completely wrecked. You need to be able to sit down to go to the bathroom. You need to be able to walk around. You don’t need to be destroyed.
This is a long game. You want to feel good. There are points when you should take a 30-second or a minute breather. Your body is made up of different systems, and they need to rest and recover. You don’t see a sprinter run a 100-yard dash and do another one right away. They rest to let their body recover.
At any point during my exercises, if you need to stop and take a breath, I’m allowing you to do that. Your body needs to take that extra second to be more efficient as you go forward. I’d rather you have quality, optimal reps over quantity and wasted reps.
You post a lot about acceptance of one’s limitations — what are your limitations? What have you had to accept about yourself?
I have a lot of limitations as far as certain exercises that I can or can’t do. I know that I’m going to fail out during certain holds. I’ve always had lower-back problems, so I really focus on trying to systematically make sure people get stronger lower backs and glutes and all of the areas of the trunk.
I’ve had to accept that I’m not 20 years old playing hockey in college anymore. I need to properly warm my body up to prepare for what’s about to happen. I need to rest and recover to get better results. I also had to accept that I don’t need an hour and a half to work out. I can be efficient and effective in 25 to 30 minutes.
That’s my favorite thing about my program. It moves, it flows well, every single exercise fits well — everything has that purpose. I started doing my program weeks before [filming], and I never did this much abdominal focus. Now my back feels great, my abs are coming in, in different areas than they have before — I’m almost 38 years old and in the best shape of my life from doing my own Openfit program.
When you’re not being fit, what health atrocities do you commit?
I’m a sugar addict. My family’s from Southern Missouri, and they would often start with dessert, have the main course, and end with dessert. And, I’m not kidding, I would have an entire pie, cookies, I would go to town—10,000, 20,000 calories—I’ve tracked it before. Sweets are my jam, so I have to stay away from them.
What’s your favorite way to stay active with your family?
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I love playing hide and seek with my son. He knows that I’m the dad that will run and chase him around. He’s like, “Let’s go hide this.” And we hide it together, but he shows me where he hides it, and then we run around the house like we’re trying to find it. We’re running around, and that’s getting him active, that’s getting me active, and that’s exercise.
That’s laying the foundation for him to be a much healthier individual in his life. He doesn’t need to be into fitness. I just want him to believe in himself and be the best at whatever he wants to do. Right now, I think he wants to be an engineer or President of the United States. So, rock on, kid. Rock on.