We’re excited to introduce our fitness consultant, Brett McNeil! He is a hockey player, Olympic Weightlifting competitor, Level 1 and Level 2 Crossfit trainer and an all-around good guy. When he’s not training, coaching or studying to complete the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification, he’ll be guiding all of our fitness and health content and answering any questions our readers have. Speaking of, we have a few Qs ourselves. Get to know Brett with our Q&A below.
FitMinutes: Hi Brett! Where ya from?
Brett: I was born and raised in beautiful Halifax, Nova Scotia. I have very close ties to Cape Breton as well, as every person in my family is from there.
FitMinutes: Tell us about your background. Where have you been all our lives?
Brett: I spent the better part of the past sixteen years playing hockey, which was essentially my whole life along with school. I grew up playing in Halifax, and when I turned 18, I shipped off to Alberta to play junior hockey, then wrapped junior hockey up with one season in Nova Scotia. I actually played both hockey and baseball growing up, but eventually had to choose between the two. It was a hard decision, but I ultimately chose hockey. I made some of my best friends to this day playing hockey, along with memories I wouldn’t trade for anything. I also got to play in some pretty cool events alongside some pretty talented dudes, such as the Telus Cup, Canada’s National Midget Ice Hockey Championship, Canada Winter Games as part of Team Nova Scotia and the U17 World Championships as part of Team Atlantic. All in all, hockey was one of the best things that ever happened to me, and in many ways has shaped me into the person I’ve become.
FitMinutes: Has fitness always been a part of your life then?
Brett: I’ve been in the gym since the ripe age of 12! Playing at an elite level for hockey, I was always expected to be in great physical shape. If I wasn’t at the rink for practices and games, or at school, I would be in the gym. As much as I needed to be in great shape for hockey, I just genuinely enjoyed spending time in the gym and testing myself in different aspects of strength and conditioning.
FitMinutes: How did you get introduced to CrossFit?
Brett: The first trainer I started working with was based out of a CrossFit gym, and we used CrossFit-esque styles of workouts to keep us in the condition we needed to be for hockey. What I really enjoyed about those types of gyms—and still do—is the atmosphere. It was a grittier style of gym, almost like a dungeon feel. We were expected to show up and work. There was always a great sense of accomplishment after leaving a place like that, knowing you pushed your body to the limit and challenged yourself in a way that really took you out of your comfort zone. I was hooked from day 1. For me, and the group I regularly trained with, it translated to hockey, sports and even our lives in general in a fantastic way.
FitMinutes: What do you love about coaching CrossFit?
Brett: At the end of the day, coaching comes down to making every single person who walks through your doors a better person, in one way or another. Whether that be improving a person’s body awareness, helping them understand what they put into their body is much more important than they thought or helping Johnny attain that 405-pound back squat he’s been chasing for a while. I enjoy helping people attain the goals they’ve set out for themselves and seeing the progress along the way.
FitMinutes: Why do you think fitness is important?
Brett: Fitness is such a critical part of being healthy. Where I think people get lost is they think they need to over complicate things. Fitness shouldn’t be something you don’t enjoy doing. If you’re a person who wants to get in better shape, you need to find the aspect of fitness that you genuinely enjoy, whether that be kayaking, running or lifting weights. If you don’t enjoy doing it, making excuses will be that much easier.
FitMinutes: What keeps you motivated?
Brett: For me, it’s all about goal setting, both short and long-term. If you don’t have something to work towards or something that really drives you from the moment you wake up in the morning, then at the end of the day I just don’t feel like the motivation is ever really there. The goals I create for myself are challenging but attainable. I personally compete in Olympic Weightlifting. It’s a newer sport for me but one I fell instantly in love with. It consists of two lifts—the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk. It is one of the most humbling sports I have ever competed in. As of right now, we don’t have any competitions in the next couple of months, however, I am hoping to make a push to qualify for Nationals next year. For now, that is the goal we are focused on. Qualifying for Weightlifting Nationals gives me that drive and motivation I need every single day.
FitMinutes: Do you have an inspirational quote you go by in life or in the gym?
Brett: When I played for the U17 hockey team, we used a short quote “Luctor et emergo,” which is English for “Struggle and emerge.” I really like that one because at the end of the day everyone has their struggles and hard times, and its simply about finding a way to overcome those struggles and creating a better situation on the other side, which I think can go hand-in-hand in the gym and in life.
FitMinutes: What music do you listen to when you’re training?
Brett: Most days it’s rap music, like Drake, J. Cole or Migos. Other days I enjoy some rock like Motley Crue or AC/DC, and sometimes on lighter workout days I even enjoy a little bit of country.
FitMinutes: What are your favorite pre-workout and post-workout meals?
Brett: I don’t like eating a lot pre-workout, so I usually do something like a protein shake and a banana or a scoop of a carbohydrate supplement to make sure I have the energy required for the session. Post-workout, my favorite meal is either salmon with asparagus and potatoes or a homemade burrito bowl.
FitMinutes: What is your favorite CrossFit Workout of the Day (WOD)?
Brett: My favorite WOD has to be Murph, which consists of a 1-mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups and 300 air squats, with another 1-mile run to finish it off, all with a 20-pound weight vest. I enjoy this workout because it’s so basic and simple, but challenges you mentally like most wouldn’t expect. It is a long and nasty workout but it’s by far my favorite to do.
Have any training, fitness, nutrition or life Qs for Brett? Drop them in the comments below!