Q&A and training with Seattle’s vegan trainer Ben Greene

Are you active, vegan, a Seattle dweller and striving for optimal health in all areas of your life? Take heart, you’re not alone. More and more people are realizing that diet alone isn’t enough, and we vegans know how much we love our indulgences. Thankfully, there are now individuals in the city who can help you achieve your health/fitness goals, and I’m happy to know one of them.

Ben BerlinMeet Ben Greene. Seattleite, vegan and badass Ironman Athlete, co-author of The Vegan Athlete and the owner of Greene Multisport.

An impressive resume, right?

To say Ben has also accomplished a lot in his young life is an understatement. Ben was born with mild cerebral palsy, and thus pursuing competitive, high-impact endurance sports wasn’t ever an easy task for him. In fact, it was challenging, and something that others in his life never thought would happen. Just knowing all this makes me feel even more in awe of this accomplished and strong vegan, and helps me know that if Ben could do all of the tough endurance training despite his circumstances, I certainly can achieve my personal fitness goals. I recommend reading read Ben’s full story (written by his father) to learn more. On top of all of the above, Ben’s upbeat, positive nature and dedication to helping his clients achieve their fitness goals is infectious and wonderful to be around.

Ben has been vegan for three years now, and just this year decided he was going to quit his job and pursue his dreams: creating his own fitness company to train people and help them meet their fitness goals all while focusing on healthy vegan food.

I asked Ben a few questions about being his book, services and the vegan gym he hopes to open very soon.

What made you want to open a vegan gym in Seattle? Do you have an ETA on the date/new location?

Well I wanted to have something I could call my own. I really am not the type of person who enjoys working for someone else. So I combined my love of working for myself and veganism and started working on opening up a studio. I do not have an ETA right now on the studio. Currently I am looking at spaces and trying to decide which space would be a good fit. I will be looking at some places located in Capitol Hill right now, my fingers are crossed.

Mine too! What were you doing before you decided to pursue training people full-time?

Before I was personal training full time, I was working at a local gym as a part-time personal trainer. It was not for me though.

Tell me about the book and about the experience of co-writing it. How do you know your co-author? What prompted creating the book and who do you think it’s for? Will you tour for it?

My book “The Vegan Athlete” was a blast to write. I was able to research two topics that I am extremely interested in, veganism and exercise. The toughest part was just starting. My co-author and good friend Brett Stewart and I met a few years back through a mutual triathlon friend, when I was living in Phoenix. The idea of the book was created by Brett, he came to me and asked me to write it with him. He is not a vegan and really didn’t know very much about the topic. When I was writing the book, I didn’t want the book to be for super athletes, I really wanted it to be for the new athlete. The book was meant to be a very easy read with a lot of useful information, that anyone could benefit from. I probably won’t tour, but I will be doing things locally in Seattle to promote the book.

What are some examples of meals and snacks that you suggest for people who are vegan and active?

This is kind of the million dollar question, it always seems to be asked. The book actually has 20 different recipes and covers all of this information. To answer the question though a great simple meal could be black bean burgers with some steamed or grilled vegetables on the side. It is one of my favorite meals, it keeps you full for a long time. Another even simpler meal is the good old standard a PB&J. I recommend Adam’s PB or homemade with organic strawberry jam, (Costco has my favorite jam) on Ezekiel bread! One of my favorite snacks is another throwback to childhood, “Ant’s on a log” Celery sticks with PB and raisins! Coconut water and or watermelon are two of my favorite ways to stay hydrated. (Editor’s note: yum!)

What type of clients do you take on? Have you had any success stories yet?

I do not have a typical client, they are all over the board. I train kids as young as 10 to adults in their 60s. I just love working with different people. All of my clients are success stories, they have all made a giant step in the right direction, by making exercise a priority. Most of my clients stay with me for six months or more.

Very cool. Can you tell me about your services? Anything ideal for people who are just getting into fitness?

Of course I can! I offer a wide array of services to my clients! I really want to teach them all what it takes to live a healthy lifestyle. Apart from private one-on-one personal training sessions, I also offer partner sessions, boot camp classes, in home cooking/ training parties, vegan smoothies delivered to their homes and vegan meals delivered to their homes. As for a little information about the cooking services, for the home cooking/training parties I will come to your home with ingredients and exercise equipment, teach you how to cook a healthy vegan meal, and then train you and your friends! As for the vegan smoothies I offer a 3-day smoothie cleanse program. It lets you choose from 12 different smoothies that are brought right to you ready to drink. Finally the vegan meal service, for this I will prepare meals for you and your family and deliver them to your home. I either cook in your kitchen or out of my cooking space. I think my services can fit any fitness level, I will create a program that is tailored to your wants and needs. I will make sure it is fun as well!

All your training has been on Capitol Hill thus far. Do you think you’ll expand to have boot camps in other neighborhoods anytime soon? Also, do you go to your clients for personal training, or are they all on the Hill right now?

As of right now I do not plan on bringing my boot camp to other neighborhoods. Currently I am only focusing boot camp in my neighborhood. But that could change! I have clients all over Seattle, I do travel to my clients homes as well.

I saw on Facebook that you started adding competitive boot camp sessions with prizes. Can you tell me a little more about what those entail and why you wanted to start them? Can people still go to boot camp if they don’t want to be competitive?

The competitive boot camp idea came from a few clients asking me about keeping score at boot camp. I liked the idea and ran with it to create the boot camp competition series. Prizes always seem to get people interested in doing something. The name might scare some people but anyone from any fitness level can come join in. People can definitely still come to boot camp and not compete. I plan on doing a big competition once a month throughout the summer. My goal is to build a tight knit community of people, who can push each other to exercise! I just want people to have fun and be healthy!

Ben Greene

The day I met Ben he handed me a copy of the new book that he helped co-write, “The Vegan Athlete.” How rad is that? I’ve been looking for something similar for some time, and I’m glad to have found a book that not only combines sound vegan nutrition but key fitness moves and routines as well. Included in the book are:

  • day-by-day meal plans
  • protein intake recommendations
  • the best calorie-rich foods
  • optimal fitness techniques
  • delicious meat-free, dairy-free recipes

I feel like this book would be great for both long-time vegans like myself and new or hopeful vegans. For the latter, there are sections outlining Ben’s vegan journey, vegan FAQs, dealing with the stigma of being vegan and an athlete (something that I’m sure any fit vegan has experienced), a general dietary overview as well as a two week to vegan meal plan.

For other people who’ve been vegan for a few years (as well as anyone else) the two main sections that stuck out to me are the fitness section with exercises and the recipes. The fitness section not only describes each move but also includes photos of each so you know that you’re learning the correct form. The recipes section is packed with recipes that look to be healthy, tasty and filling and that don’t skimp on flavor. While I haven’t made anything myself yet, I have saved a few recipes that I plan to try soon. I’ve already tried some of Ben’s food at a recent boot camp and can attest to the deliciousness of these recipes.

Boot camp brunch

Penne with Cashew-Walnut Pesto and Sun-Dried Tomatoes and the Frosted Chocolate Fudge Brownie. Both recipes can be found in “The Vegan Athlete.”

Not only am I lucky to have met Ben, but I’ve also been lucky to have some personal training sessions and some boot camp mornings with him as well.

(Full-disclosure: Ben offered to let me do the personal training sessions and one boot camp in exchange for my reviewing the experiences here).

I am someone who loves to work out. Love cardio, love weight-lifting (once I’ve gotten over the hurdle of not doing it for a while and am back in a groove) and just love sweating and the feeling of endorphins flowing through my body. I’ve worked out since I was about 12 years old when I would join my mom at our local YMCA, and that pretty much started my love affair with working out hard for health – mentally and physically.

Fast forward to January 2013, and I’m a member of a gym again, but I just do cardio and have totally lost my way in terms of weight-lifting. I have lost my muscle definition and desperately wanted to gain my strength back. And in comes Ben Greene, like a wave of positive vegan energy. Once we sat down and discussed my workout history, my past injuries and concerns, we decided to do two personal training sessions. Here are my workout diaries from those sessions:

Training day 1, Wednesday, Jan. 30

Drizzly out, cold, wasn’t really feeling it. Had eaten a cleanse meal of complex carbs/protein (black beans, millet, good fats, veggies) an hour and a half before and it hadn’t fully digested, dumb. I do cardio often, but it’s in a gym, and thus easy and not as challenging. I can’t remember the last time I lifted weights, but it was easily months ago.

What we did:

- Did some running back and forth on the field to warm up
- Medicine ball in the air, then throwing as hard as possible- pushups, bicep curls, tricep dips on the chain link fence
- core workouts on fence with stick and bungee cords
- punching
- run with medicine ball, squat with medicine ball
- lunges

Training Day 2:

- More legs/abs focused today
- Lots of yoga mat work (Supermans, traditional crunches, etc.)
- Lunges, squats, jumping squats
- Medicine ball twists

Felt good, very sore in the legs, but got through it.

And here’s a run down of what you can expect when heading to one of Ben’s boot camps:

TRX (suspension bar) push ups
Medicine ball squat throw
Rope slams
Suicides
TRX Row
Sprawls
Stand up crunches
Kettlebell Swings
Seal Jack relay

Ben’s boot camps happen Saturday mornings at 11 a.m. at Miller playfield on 20th and John in Capitol Hill. His first boot camp competition (complete with fabulous grand prizes!) will take place this Saturday, March 30. It will consist of doing:

  • 100 sit-ups
  • 100 step-ups
  • 50 push-ups
  • 50 dips
  • 20 burpees

…as many times as possible in 30 minutes in teams. I got tired just typing that up, but I know that competition and working hard help the adrenaline start flowing. Especially when you have excellent support. You work in teams to get on the board, name your team, designate a captain and have fun.

Details:

  • When: March 30, 10:30-11 a.m.
  • Where: Miller Playfield
  • Cost: $15/person
  • Teams: two or five people
  • Fitness levels: all
  • Prizes!
  • Register: greenemultisport@yahoo.com and RSVP on the event FB page above

Ben is available for personal training, boot camp sessions, vegan meal and smoothie preparation, race strategy and much more. For a full list of his services, fees and more, visit Ben’s website. Also find him on Facebook and Twitter.

13 Responses to “Q&A and training with Seattle’s vegan trainer Ben Greene”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Jared says:

    Awesome interview, Dawn! I really enjoyed hearing about Ben’s desire to create a stronger movement of confident and fit vegans. I wish I had access to something like this where I live as I am in a similar boat of trying to build back muscle mass after not really doing weights for almost a year. The book sounds great though, I’m hoping to pick it up on Amazon and it sounds as though it is breaking some new ground.

  2. Paula says:

    Thanks! This is definitely an outstanding website!

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