Serious AF about Fitness with John Madsen

Updated: Sep 22


The Show with John Madsen podcast is here to bring peak performance into your life

No one is born average and no one proves that point better than John Madsen. John never played a down of high school football, yet worked his way to playing professionally as a Tight End in the NFL.


A friend of STYL, the former NFL Tight End for the Oakland Raiders recently launched his new strength training and philosophy company, Athletic AF. John’s trained everyone from world-class athletes to beginners in his 10 years as a strength and confidence building coach, and he’s also seen his fair share of inappropriate gym outfits and improper workout apparel.


STYL: Unlike others in the fitness industry, you don’t offer introductory training packages and you let people know it’s not going to be cheap to train with you - why so serious?


JOHN MADSEN: I help people break the fuck through. I have a ruthlessly tested and scientifically valid strategy. I’m not interested in weight loss though. That shits easy. I’m interested in becoming LIMITLESS.


The clients I train have my full and dedicated attention and they’re willing to pay more for that attention. In business and fitness, what you focus on is what you’re going to get. There’s luxury and there’s discount. My price reflects the value I have to offer.


From the start, my clients appreciate that I want results over everything, and they’re paying me to push them to levels they never knew they could achieve. I let my clients know, when you don’t finish something, you rob from your own future.


John, we have similar philosophies. At STYL our community provides outfit advice that’s honest but kind so people can dress confidently, together. We call it the lifeSTYL, at Athletic AF you refer to it as the OS, can you please elaborate?


JM: OS is short for your Operating System. Similar to your computer, your mind needs to be fined tuned to obtaining success. The biggest misconception there is about confidence is that you can think your way into it or out of it.


Athletic AF reprograms your OS for excellence beyond your time with us so that you’ll continue to function at your highest level or else your results will be short-lived. Anyone can workout and achieve moderate physical results. If you choose to challenge yourself with a program like Athletic AF you’re going to undergo a complete physical and mental rejuvenation that will last a lifetime.


We’re now in the first half of the NFL season, how do players find time for workouts during the week? Can you walk us through your weekly fitness routine during your time with the Oakland Raiders?


JM: During the NFL season, each team's strength and conditioning coach focuses on maintenance, injury prevention, and recovery. The goal is not to lose the strength and power you gained during the NFL off-season.


When I played for the Oakland Raiders, Monday morning’s (if you’re not playing Monday Night Football) are the recovery sessions. Wednesday and Thursday were lower intensity and lower volume workouts so that our strength and power gains don’t diminish and that our bodies are as close to 100% by Sunday.


How do players decide what to wear for workouts?


JM: During my time with the Oakland Raiders team-issued apparel and gear was mandatory workout attire. Nowadays, I keep my workout outfits relatively simple in all black for my workouts and when I’m training clients. I’ll wear Athletic AF branded apparel consisting of an athletic top, shorts, and mid-level socks. Shoe wise I recommend the Nike Metcon for both men and women. It’s the best trainer I’ve found with incredible stability so that you’re always in a position to exert the most force.


Does your workout outfits differ for different types/lengths of workouts?


JM: No. The style that I embrace when I workout is year-round. If I’m not wearing shorts I’m wearing skinny/form-fitting joggers.


When you train your clients, do they ever ask you what to wear?


JM: I always preach to start from the bottom because your shoes are your foundation. The most important thing about the shoes is that you want them to be firm on the bottom and provide stability. That’s why the Nike Metcons are my recommendation.


I believe if you look good, you feel good. I like to get ready to workout because putting on my workout outfit affects my physical state and primes me for the challenge that’s ahead.


Going to the gym for your first workout is hard enough, do you have any suggestions for those that are first-timers and hesitant about what to wear for workouts?


JM: I don’t recommend online shopping for your first set of workout outfits. I absolutely 100% make all buying decisions in brick and mortar. I have to try everything on and feel it first. Especially for shoes. I could be a 12 in Nike Metcon but then I can be a 13 in Nike Epic-React. The sizes are going to be different within the same brand and different models so you need to try them on and make a confident decision prior to buying.


Brand wise (outside of Athletic AF) I prefer Nike, Under Armour, and Lululemon.



One last thing, we’ve noticed a lot of younger people wearing Converse Chuck Taylor shoes for workouts - what’s your thought on the fashion trend?


JM: Chuck Taylor’s are flat and hard so they’re really good lifting shoes because they’re close to the ground. I don’t mind Chuck’s at all for that purpose it’s just not my personal style. But absolutely go ahead and wear them if you have them and feel comfortable when you work out in them.


Before I go - In the past I would have clients do things barefoot for evaluation purposes. But in weight rooms you have weights falling all over the place so please do NOT workout without proper shoes!



- Conor Sammartin is a Co-Founder at STYL

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