In our inaugural issue in January, we interviewed health and fitness guru, Jillian Michaels. Recently, we connected with her protege, Tee Major, who is known for his military based workout method and knew this was a great fit for our community. We chatted with Tee to find out more about his vision and method
ATHLEISURE MAG: Prior to working in the fitness industry, did you always want to work in this field?
TEE MAJOR: No. I actually had the dream of being an MTV VJ! This dream influenced my decision to choose a University on the east coast while being recruited to play collegiate football. I choose a small school with an even smaller strength & conditioning program. Fortunately, my strength coach in high school was very good and instilled great fundamentals in me early on. This knowledge, along with a desire to help others, blossomed in college and became a focus after graduation.
AM: You have modeled for a number of top fitness brands, are there any campaigns/ads that stick out as your favorite?
TM: I had the pleasure of working with Adidas on an “Impossible Is Nothing” collegiate campaign. I loved the message and the images were on numerous collegiate campuses. I had friends all over the country “spotting” me. That was great.
AM: Prior to focusing on your fitness programs and courses, how did you get involved in training military members - how did that focus the style of working out that you do?
TM: I lost a studio to a bad flood in Rhode Island back in 2010. I relocated to Boston and started training outdoors in parks. I had no money and no equipment so I had to get creative with my bodyweight routines. I was home that year over Christmas (broke again because nobody trains outdoors in the winter in Boston) and my Aunt was talking about her position as a recruiter for a government contractor. I was curious what someone with my degree could do overseas. She said, “You’re a trainer right? Why don’t you go over and train troops?” A lightbulb went off in my head and I immediately went to work making contacts to secure a contract. I guess my particular skill set and experience was enticing as I found myself on a plane to Baghdad that February.
AM: What is the Kaizen Philosophy?
TM: Kaizen is a Japanese business philosophy that I adopted and adapted to fitness. Kaizen (Japanese for "improvement" or "change for the better") refers to a philosophy or practices that focus upon continuous improvement of processes. When humanized, kaizen refers to activities that continually improve all function and aims to eliminate waste in movement and nutrition. We take large goals like weight loss and strength gains, and break them down into small attainable goals. We then spot and eliminate wasteful movements or “muri" and make small, systematic improvements. In all, my process suggests an efficient approach to fitness that strives to increase individual productivity during the journey of self improvement. Kaizen is a daily activity and when adhered to, can enhance our performance in sport, work, and even in our daily lives.
AM: Do you tailor the workouts differently for men versus women?
TM: Workouts should be tailored according to individual goals and level of experience. An athlete’s workout is programmed different from someone just starting a fitness routine. A dancer going on tour will train differently than a soldier going on tour.
AM: What sets your method apart from others that may combine workouts that are done within military training as well as using your own body as a weight?
TM: I tend to focus a lot on using movements that improve force, core strength and mobility. The core is the center of mass and center of all strength output to the limbs. If you improve core strength than all subsequent scores of strength usually rise with it. What you can do with that strength depends largely on your body’s ability to effectively transfer the energy to other parts of the body. If you lack mobility, the system tends to break down resulting in a loss of force. The troops I trained were often in austere conditions with minimal resources so I also tend to focus on creating quick and efficient workouts that can be done in a small space in a short period of time.
AM: The Athleisure Mag team was first introduced to you when we saw you on an episode of E!'s 'Just Jillian' show - how is it working with this health guru and how has it enhanced what you do in terms of your brand?
TM: Jillian is honest, sincere, and has an intense passion for everything she does. I love her aggression and desire to succeed. It’s contagious. Being around her has inspired me to create more professional content and create alliances with larger brands to expand my reach and reach more people with my philosophy.
AM: With summer a few weeks away, what workouts (or program) should we do to have great abs as we get ready to hit the beach?
TM: It’s never too late to start your journey! It’s definitely time to shred that winter weight. I would be mixing metabolic conditioning workouts with weight training like I created in my 90-day BW44 program. It’s days of bodyweight training that alternate with weight training. It’s the workouts routine I was on when I completed the “44 Best Bodyweight Exercises Ever!”. It’s not for the faint of heart!
AM: What are your ultimate power foods that keep you in shape that we should have within our diet?
TM: I eat a lot of nuts and seeds like walnuts, almonds, flax and chia seeds. Cayenne, apple cider vinegar, and garlic are also staples in my diet.
AM: Are there any projects you're working on that you can share or places that we can catch you next?
TM: I’m creating a 100% bodyweight program called “The Dirty Basics” that will be available soon at www.TeeMajor.com. It’s a 20 minute workout for beginners looking to jumpstart their metabolism and get into bodyweight training. The focus is on fundamental movements. I also toss in a few of my unique moves like the Hurricane Burpee and Plank Marches to keep it fun and challenging. I’m also going to be working on a program with TRX for use with their Tactical Box. It’s a mobile gym in a container. Reminds me of my days with the troops. It’s sick.
AM: Besides your website, are there other places that we can see you if we wish to add your workouts into our weekly plans?
TM: I created a workout called “MAX PT” on the Fitfusion platform. It’s probably the hardest bodyweight workout out there.
AM: As a trainer within Fit Fusion, how has that enhanced your visibility and outreach?
TM: Fitfusion has some of the worlds best trainers content in one place. We are now on Apple TV and ATT Uverse with more to come. To be placed on the same platform as these talents has put my face, name, and workouts in millions of households. Years ago that was only possible via TV or mail. If you could ever get all these trainers in the same room the overflow of knowledge and talent would be mind blowing. I’m happy to be a part of the rapidly changing fitness industry.
Read more from the April Issue