Mr & Mrs WilPower – WilPower Fitness
WilPower fitness is one of the most well rounded fitness professionals there is in our community. If you’re ever in the NYC area there’s a very good chance you’ve seen the run singlets on the streets, during races in the gyms and even on the bikes. Wil has grown his brand into one of the most recognizable brands in our community and what makes him great is he’s a motivator and inspirator and most of all just a genuine good person to know if you’ve ever met him. Let’s discover WilPower fitness.
MSM: Our fitness journeys all have a tipping off point which usually comes in a realization that we’re simply unhealthy or something happens that’s life changing. What was your moment where you started to take your fitness very seriously?
Wil: I started to get serious about my fitness when I joined a karate class when I was about 14 years old. I was always into sports but joining this class was the best thing that happened to me. Grandmaster Billy T. Taylor (who years later found out was the stunt man to Sho Nuff in the The Last Dragon movie) was an excellent mentor and motivator. Those days of training were the best for me. Hard training learning about my body and what I could do and not do. But more importantly learning that there are no limits if you put hard work and dedication into it. Years later when I took over the school because Grandmaster T. passed from cancer in his 40s (he was a Vietnam veteran that was exposed to Agent Orange), I taught with these principles in mind. When I became a trainer/coach I trained with the same concepts in mind.
MSM: WilPower Fitness has its hands in many different aspects of fitness and you my friend have an abundance of certifications NASM PT & PES Certified, a certified nutrition coach, USATF Level 1 Running Coach and VDOT O2 Cert. Whew that’s a handful but super amazing at the same time. Take us through some of the journeys of becoming certified in all of those fields and how that translates into training others?
Wil: Well my original goal when growing up was to become a medical doctor. All throughout junior high, high school and college I was in math and science classes. I got a scholarship to Stony Brook to pursue it and I spent a year there until I transferred to City College of NY to be closer to my mother to help out since my Father passed from cancer. I transferred because of that and because I didn’t know exactly what field of medicine I really wanted to go into. I continued in City College to pursue this goal but I lost my passion for it and I was looking for another way to help others live a healthier lifestyle. Mentors and teachers saw it before me what I was destined to do. One English teacher when I transferred to CUNY saw it right away. I had to take a english class that was mandatory for all students that transferred to the school. He said, “what are you doing here? You don’t belong in this class. You are already a good writer. You should change your major to English!” I was like, na I’m into the sciences etc. He was “ok, you will be back”. As electives to balance all the hard science classes I used to take english classes because I enjoyed reading and writing as a means to relax me. Sure enough a few years later I was not motivated to pursue my goal to become a doctor. By this time, that same teacher was head of the English department. I walked to his office and said “what do I need to get my bachelors in English so I can get out of here and graduate?”. He said, “you only need two classes”. So it was rap!! In the last semester everything turned around. Someone else in the school that was taking my karate classes mentioned me to someone in the school. I ended up helping the school rebuild their new gym facility and training programs for the students. At the same time I was a personal trainer at NYSC and teaching kids karate at the YMCA. So things kept going from there. I graduated with my degree and I tried to go back to get my Masters in Physical Therapy but I was so deep in making my business work that it didn’t make sense to go back. So I just kept getting more certifications in the interest that I thought would make me a better trainer and coach.
MSM: 13 marathons along with 2 Ironmans 70.3 (is that 70.3 miles) lol. Anything over 26.2 makes me nervous. What were some of your favorite marathons?
Wil: My favorite marathon was my first one in 2007. If it wasn’t for that tortures run, I wouldn’t be training people for the marathons. It was my first marathon and in the process I was helping other clients train for it but mostly for their strength and conditioning. The day of the race one of my clients was so nervous that she basically persuaded me to help her and stay with her. I did because that’s a client right! Well I ended up focusing so much on her that I forgot to take care of myself and I didn’t drink or take my nutrition the way I was supposed to. That was a terrible thing and I ended up not doing the time I wanted and experiencing the biggest low athletically and menatally during the run. But it taught me a lot! I learned how strong the mind can be, how great it is too push yourself beyond your capabilities, it reminded me to train a little better by being more consistent and not depend on natural ability, it taught me (or I should say reminded me) to be more compassionate to others going through this because everyone has a reason for doing 26.2 and we all don’t have the same body type or speed. So you want to be better in life go out and run 26.2 because the blueprint to life is in training and doing an endurance race. My second favorite was my first Olympic Triathlon because I didn’t know how to swim before signing up for the race. That’s the reason why I signed up so it can motivate me to learn. That was a big thing for me because as a child I almost drowned twice so this was going to be huge for me. And it was because it wasn’t going to be easy. I really had to work hard for it and every one of my abilities physically and especially mentally I had to earn it. But like I said you put in the hard work and stay consistent you will get better. The race went extremely well and I was super happy with my results.
“Like I always say she is the POWER in Wil. The most genuine person you will ever meet and need. A loyal friend that has your back no matter what! Powerful enough to help you with what you need but even more powerful to tell you what you need to work on so you can be ten times better! That’s a friend and that’s a partner. Lucky to have her by my side. She takes care of the team a lot behind the scenes. Because I’m in the front as the Coach, some don’t know or understand how much of an integral part she plays to the team”.WilPower
MSM: I’d like to get into life as a Triathlete. These races are the ones where you REALLY get to know who you are mentally. For those that don’t know this race usually consists of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and 26.2 mile run. As I write this I’m currently doing the math in my head. An average marathoner runs 26.2 in about 4 hours 30 mins give or take,100 mile bike ride correct me if i’m wrong can usually run about 6 ½ hours and swimming I can’t tell you lol. All I can ask you is how do you buckle down and train for such an event as that’s a lot of moving time and you’ve done it twice. What was training like for you leading up to those races?
Wil: I haven’t done a full Ironman 140.6 but it’s in the cards hopefully for next year. The half Ironman distance is not as long and more manageable for me because I’m still a newbie in the sport. Again my motivation for doing Triathlons was not knowing how to swim. I have loved cycling since I was a kid and running became a passion later on in life. The training for triathlons is in a way more enjoyable because you are doing something different everyday and is easier on the body because of it. Still very hard because you have to train to be good at three different sports and the training is very time consuming. But again, nothing like an endurance sport to take your body, mind and soul to the next level. It just teaches you so much about yourself that you can translate it to real life situations. When you are training for a marathon or triathlon you spend a lot of time in your head. By that I mean a lot of thoughts come into your head. Those thoughts could be negative, positive or random that don’t let you be in the moment. The idea is to quiet the mind to be present and do well at what you are doing at that moment. It’s never easy to do this but with training this develops. The more you do it then it’s easier to tap into it. That’s what I enjoy the most. So going back to your question on how training was like leading up to the race; it sucked LOL! But only until I started seeing the benefits physically and mentally. Then once you see that you are hooked and all in.
MSM: Training for something like this takes full dedication unlike no other, let’s get into race day. How do you prepare for the pre race and how do you adjust mid race because I’m sure there are barriers that you’ve never thought you would have to cross before in a race.
Wil: Race day attitude and mindset depends on the goal for that race. Some races I’ve done were for fun or to pace someone. So the mindset set there is to relax but not to forget that it is still hard and you have to complete the distance. Other races where you are locked in and you want to do your very best my mentality is totally different. For those races I’m menatally preparing during training where I do runs thinking like I’m in the race. For example, I visualize and imagine that I’m literally in the race where it becomes super real. I see and smell things I would in the race. I would drift so into it that I get chills during the run because it feels so real. So when race day comes you only have to run and your body just follows. It’s the best! That’s the mindset during training. Week of the race I’m just quiet and thinking of the race: the pre race nutrition, the course turns and elevation, nutrition during the race and just generally trying to stay calm before race day. During the race my mentality is to build and prepare mentally for the unexpected. What I mean is we all have a race goal but we can’t predict the unexpected. We can prepare for similar things during training but you have to be prepared for the unknown. That unknown can be the weather (too hot, or too cold, but generally too hot is the worst), not too many water stations or you just weren’t feeling right that day. So working your race plan to build in stages so that way you can adjust on the fly. My goal is always to try to finish strong. That “strong” depends on how well you did in the beginning of the race with your nutrition and pacing. So if you build in stages mid race you can either go onto your next face of your race strategy to achieve your goal or adjust to achieve a secondary goal which could be a different time goal or just to simply finish the race.
MSM: This leads into my next question of cycling and running. I’ve always been a runner first, I’ve picked up a bike a handful of times but never with any consistency. I’m curious as to how cycling helps to improve us as runners. What are some of the positives to picking up a bike and essentially giving our feet and knees a rest?
Wil: Cycling is great for runners because it provides a different cardio exercise while minimizing the impact on the joints. For years I’ve given my athletes cycling as a cross trainer to help them improve their cardiovascular system and keep them injury free. A marathon is not an easy thing to train for and we are not all built the same. So I believe we have to adjust the training to each individual differently. For example, if an athlete comes to me that has not been running for long but their lifelong dream is to run a marathon, do you think they can make it to the race healthy if I give that athlete the same amount of mileage per week as someone that has been running for a while? So instead of that person doing a 3-4 mile run after a long training run I would give them cycling for 30-40 minutes to keep them moving and so that person can recover. If that athlete cannot recover for the next run why give them more running? Instead give them something with lesser impact but still allowing them to get their cardiovascular system stronger. It’s a win-win situation at that point. Eventually that athlete will get stronger and may or maynot need cycling. The thing is to adjust and customize the training to that individual’s needs and goal.
MSM: For our cycling enthusiasts out there or those that are curious about starting to bike, what are some of the things a new cyclist should look for prior to biking? For me I’ve always been interested but I made mistakes to start, specifically with starting with a fixie bike and not a geared. If you were to give a checklist to a new biker what would that be?
- First it would be why and where are you going to be cycling?
- Are you going to do duathlons, triathlons or is it for recreational purposes?
- Once you can figure that out then you can more or less know what type of bike you need.
- If you are going to be serious about it and are going to commit to riding often then:
- Go to a good bike shop and find out what size bike you are.
- Determine how much you are willing to spend.
- Get a bike fit if you are going to be doing races and be a more consistent rider (it’s like getting fitted for running shoes, it makes a difference).
- Don’t ride without a helmet (the unknown can happen and we can predict it, it just happens)
- Clipping into your bike pedals takes practice and it can be intimidating at first but don’t shy away from not clipping in. All you need is to practice in a safe zone and build your confidence from there.
- Learn how to change your gears. What gear you need to be on flats, climbing etc. If you don’t know you can make riding a little harder. The bike is there to help you make things easier and not harder. So you can be working too hard and then you won’t enjoy it. This is sometimes the problem when getting a fixie for new riders. It could be too hard in the beginning so then they get discouraged from riding often and getting better at it.
- Learn how to change a tire. Again things happen so be prepared with your tool kit and know how to change the tire if you need to.
- Lastly, which should be the first thing, have fun!! Be a kid and enjoy the city and different parts of the city and parks. That’s the best! When you run you are tapped out sometimes in the distance that you can go from your house. Riding allows you to travel further distances and go to places that you normally would have to drive to.
MSM: Let’s switch back over to running for a little bit. We mentioned 13 marathons which again is amazing and we also touched on how your fitness journey began but what was it that got you into this crazy world we know as marathoning?
Wil: The word CAN’T. That’s what got me into it. I was one of those trainers that was like you don’t need to run or do such a crazy long distance race. So my teachers instilled in me that the word CAN’T doesn’t exist. So one day I realized that I was saying that and it changed my mind a little. At that time I was also training someone that is a big part in putting on the NYC Marathon. In conversation that person asked me if I wanted to do it. I said yes, and the journey began!
MSM: Most new runners usually jump into the deep end of the pool and figure it out later like going from a 5k then thinking we can run a half marathon (guilty). At what point or race did you know you were definitely going to run a marathon?
Wil: I knew that was the goal from the beginning but I kept it quiet because I knew I needed to build up slowly. Slowly physically, mentally getting my confidence and adjusting my work and family schedule. You think you can do a marathon and not have your support group? You are totally wrong! My wife had to be on board. You need that support because who is going to help you when you are down or you need some time off when you have other responsibilities like paying bills, playing with your kid and a hundred other things that are essential. That’s why it means so much more when you cross the finish line. It’s not just you alone and the other runner on the race crossing that line. It’s every person that helped you and encouraged you and even cheered for you that’s crossing that finish line. That first marathon my Father crossed the finish line because that’s who I pulled from to help me finish when I was feeling low. So I respect everyone that crosses that line. From the elite runner to the back of the pack runner, they are all working hard to get to that finish line.
MSM: Okay now let’s get into the good stuff, WilPower fitness. You are a beacon of healthy information with the goal of teaching and helping others. Take us through the inception of WilPower fitness and how it began.
Wil: Wilpower Fitness started before I even knew I started it LOL But how the team really started it was because my wife broke her neck by the beach shore. A normal day hanging out with her friends. She was just washing off the sand of her body before leaving and a wave just out of nowhere swept her and slammed her head first into a rock. YEAH! She broke her c4, c5 vertebrae and we just didn’t know if she was going to be paralyzed or not survive the surgery.It was rough but luckily the surgery was successful. At that point I had run 4 marathons and I believe she had done one marathon. But I had stopped running for like 2 years before that because it was taking too much time away from family activities and work. When this happened she automatically said I want to run. She had a need to feel her legs and thank God that she was given the chance to walk again. Mind you, a good friend of mine had a pool accident and broke his c4,c5 and was paralyzed. So this is crazy to us! So she said that she wanted to train to do a half marathon. I was back into running and helping her with the training. A good friend of hers, Dana, used to help her as well doing her training run. Dana was helping but she was also training to do her first half marathon. This is important later on. Hard work paid off and about 7-8 months later we did the half marathon. It was a struggle because the surgery she had was to fuse her c4,c5 in her neck which meant on really hot days things get inflamed and restrict her oxygen. She was almost purple when she finished. Now that we got this done. I’m thinking to myself, I’m back into running shape and I can do the marathon again in the Fall. That’s when my wife goes, “Sure but I want you to help Dana, and my cousin Mikey”. I was like ok, I can try helping a little group. A few others joined, Millie, Ralphy and Susan. And that was it from there! The first year it was five training for the marathon and the next year it was twenty and the next year after that it was forty. We started just training for the NYC Marathon but we quickly expanded to training for the other World Majors. We’ve taken people to Chicago, Boston, London, Tokyo, and the most to an international race as a group to Berlin. There we have over 23 runners doing the race and in total 30+ members there with us. That was an awesome experience.
MSM: The name WilPower, takes us through the creation of the name and its meaning. When I see the team rep the shirts, the singlets and gear they wear it proudly.
Wil: My full name is Wilton. Growing up in the Heights in the 80’s and 90’s for some reason people couldn’t pronounce my name properly. It was either Winston, Milton, Willinton, at one point one teacher called me Wilbert LOL My karate teacher also had an issue with it too so one day say Wil and I didn’t mind it so I kept it. The power came from training clients and them saying I gave them that “power” that “Willpower”. I take that power as meaning encouragement to do better not just physically but in life. That “power” is Chi (energy), good energy and positive vibes to be better and do better. I’ve been blessed to train a lot of wonderful people that have encouraged me and nurtured me and given me that power right back to me. So when I was thinking of creating an IG page because my wife was encouraging me to do so we came up with putting Wil and Power together.
MSM: As the creator the team is a full on representation of its leader which is yourself and that can clearly be seen from top to bottom BUT there is also someone that’s by your side that is your biggest cheerleader, Mrs WilPower. Both of you are into fitness and health and it’s beautiful to see a family that is all in tune with fitness. Tell us about Mrs WilPower.
Wil: Like I always say she is the POWER in Wil. The most genuine person you will ever meet and need. A loyal friend that has your back no matter what! Powerful enough to help you with what you need but even more powerful to tell you what you need to work on so you can be ten times better! That’s a friend and that’s a partner. Lucky to have her by my side. She takes care of the team a lot behind the scenes. Because I’m in the front as the Coach, some don’t know or understand how much of an integral part she plays to the team. I couldn’t run the team as efficiently if it wasn’t for her and also my other Coach German Mayorga.
MSM: Mrs WilPower you’re also a heavyweight in this marathon game 5x 26.2 tell us a bit about your run journey and how/when you became a runner. Did Mr WilPower talk you into it (lol).
Mrs WilPower: I was motivated to run from seeing him run but I really decided to try to do the marathon because my boss challenged me to do it with her. He encouraged me to do it. I ended up doing it but unfortunately my boss got injured in her own training and couldn’t do the marathon.
MSM: Your journey is much more than just marathoning as your medal rack is stacked. In a post you mentioned “Don’t focus on what time or goals OTHERS have, you might get lost in translation. At the end, celebrate your accomplishments, we ALL get the same medal”. One of the most realistic things a person can say to a runner. It seems you’re big on focusing on your journey, your goals & your race. A tunnel vision point of view. How do you zone in when it comes to your training and racing?
Mrs WilPower: I honestly focused and zone in when I have a structure plan. I’m a big planner in general so I thrive on having a schedule and a structured plan for a marathon really helps me.
MSM: Now we’re all on board for a good ole fashion love story. A family that works out together also stays together. Did Mr and Mrs WilPower meet and find love at an event, in training. Give our readers some details on how you two met. If you noticed I’m asking you and not Mr. WilPower because as a guy I know the most accurate details will come from the Mrs.
Mrs WilPower: I actually met him in a NYSC boxing class. He kicked my ass!! And I loved it. So I eventually asked him to train me and my friend. He said he would do it but separately because we both had different goals. So after he trained me a few times I asked him how much I owed him and he said you can pay me back by taking me to dinner. I swept him off his feet LOL.
MSM: What’s a typical day in the Power household when it comes to fitness as it seems that essentially everyone is active?
Mrs WilPower: Well everyone is trying to get their workout in LOL So now that Wil is working from home since the pandemic he gets to train our son and his friends on a consistent basis. That’s something we started to help him and his friends cope with this past year’s craziness. They were basically doing school remotely and not getting enough exercise. Now they are addicted to it and sometimes I can’t get him to work me out because of it LOL So basically the household revolves around how we can get our workout in LOL
MSM: Both of you are truly amazing. From a run standpoint do I see a 6 star status for the both of you, possibly getting that last one together?
Mrs WilPower: Wil is two away from getting his 6 star. He is signed up for Tokyo and will only need Boston. I have 3 stars and I wasn’t really thinking of it because it’s hard for both of us to train for marathons together. The schedule gets a little crazy with the team. Are you challenging me? LOL Challenge accepted!
MSM: Mrs WilPower, Co Captain and also Entrepreneur we’re all for supporting small businesses especially when it comes to beauty and skincare. Tell us about the business, some of the products and most importantly how we can support it?
Mrs WilPower: We are a healthy-aging brand that consists of haircare, skincare & wellness. All of our products are naturally based, vegan, and cruelty free. Everything is made through botanical extracts, essential oils, vitamins and minerals! We also focus on helping people build beautiful lives. Gratitude is a big part of who we are, so the best part about my business is having the opportunity to give back and not only help people feel confident in their hair & skin from the inside out, but also help them with their business ventures .
A great way to support would be connecting with me through my business profile @Mrs. wilpower so that I get to personalize something that’ll work best for you!
MSM: We asked this question earlier to Mr. WilPower about what his tipping point was early on when it came to his fitness journey? What was your’s where you knew something had to chance and once you found running how did that help to improve your well being?
Mrs WilPower: I was active and loved working out because it made me feel good. The running multiplied this many times more. Especially after I broke my neck. Having been a runner and physically fit prior to my accident helped me number one save my life and secondly it helped me with my recovery. The doctor mentioned that if it wasn’t for the good shape I was in when I had my accident I probably wouldn’t have survived. Having had that mental strength because of the marathon training the year before, helped my recovery so much. Things change when you become a runner. I was able to build my mental toughness and it helped me when I was down mentally. I was able to mentally get myself back up and keep training to recover from my injury.
MSM: Switching up the pace a bit, I’d like to share an interesting story with you both as I’m sure one of you was there. I can’t remember what mile it was but I ran my first New York City Marathon back in 2017, I was in struggleville something awful as I clearly didn’t respect the miles in the training I remember a particular mile being one of the loudest miles in the race which was the first time I noticed the POWER of WilPower Fitness cheer squad. It was one of the most memorable moments from that race. I’m totally changing the pace a bit but I just wanted to say thank you for that.
Mrs WilPower: I didn’t know any of you but that cheer squad was everything. I’ve run NYCM every year since 2017 and I promise you I’ll pay that forward next time I’m cheering at NYCM.
MSM: What does the future hold for Mr and Mrs WilPower and WilPower fitness?
Mrs WilPower: We just want to continue to inspire and motivate as many people as we can to live a healthier lifestyle. We thank you for including us and providing the platform to tell our story. We love what you are doing for small business owners and for the running community in general. I think it is important to have this outlet in our own community. So thank you again for including us in your project.
MSM: Any last words that you would like to share with our readers?
Mr & Mrs WilPower: I just want to thank everyone that has supported our mission to motivate others to live a healthier lifestyle through a multi-sport system of training. Much love and appreciation to all the running crews for the inclusion and support of what we do. Everyone doing their best as a whole and being so creative while doing it is what brings everyone together. That’s a win because that translates to everyone in our communities getting healthier physically and mentally. Familia is what we have become through running and being active. So to my extended familia, Let’s get it!!! (which to me means: get motivated, hyped, and excited to do your best even when you think it is going to be difficult. Translate that negative into a positive).
MSM: From us here at Mid Strike we wish you nothing but the best and for the both of you to continue to inspire.
Facebook page: Willpower Fitness NYC