Each week, we’ll toss out six questions to a local health or fitness expert. Topics will range from new workout trends to healthy eating tips and everything in between. We all have fitness goals: Here’s to helping each other achieve them. 

To say Chris Gagnon is athletic is a drastic understatement. As you’ll find out below, Gagnon eats, sleeps and breaths health and wellness. A Boston-based athlete and coach teaches classes regularly at Equinox as well as trains himself for elite level bike races and adventure runs. So whether you’re looking for inspiration towards your next gym session or you’ve taken one of Gagnon’s classes, let’s learn a little bit more about how he began his journey towards elite level fitness.

Caroline Earle: You’re an elite endurance cyclist, how did you get involved in riding?

Chris Gagnon: I grew up building bmx tracks behind my parents house in Maine with my neighbors, however my very first event was actually a 25 mile charity ride in the pouring rain.  I didn’t start racing until an ex girlfriend’s younger brother challenged me to attend a mountain bike race with him. I accepted, entered as a novice, and got completely destroyed by nearly everyone there that day.  It didn’t take me long to start focusing my workouts on competitive mountain biking where I went from Novice to Professional in under 5 years while working full time.

CE: Have you ever faced any physical or mental hurdles during training?

CG: This is a great question, and one that will answer the “Why are you so crazy active?” from many people I know – or ones who don’t know me.  I grew up with severe allergies and exercise induced asthma that really put a damper on a lot of activities that required elevating my heart rate. I spent years with inhalers, medications, and allergy shots until I decided to try and help myself through diet and exercise. Let me tell you that desperately searching for oxygen is something that no one should experience, and yet I choose endurance cycling as a sport I try to succeed in.  It took me 2 years to race without an inhaler and through extensive training, I haven’t used one ever since.

CE: Are you currently training for a specific race? If so, how do you prepare?

CG: Training for races is different for everyone. Throughout the first 5 years of my racing career, I used to train specifically for cycling from November – March – like everyone else.  The problem with this routine became a question of “Why am I burnt out on cycling?”.  By the time my first race came in late March or April, I was already burnt out on cycling and was just tired of being on the bike period. I grew up skiing as well and actually to this day enjoy skiing more than cycling, which killed me during the winter months. My days on the slopes were limited in an effort to boost my performance on the bike, however once I reached the professional level of racing I quickly realized that there is no need to start from scratch every winter building up base miles.

Cross training has played a huge roll in my fitness, including my trademarked workout CrossCycle® – a full body endurance strength routine that takes you on and off the bike for 1 to 2+ hours incorporating medicine balls, swiss balls, dumbbells, and pull up bars. I teach a modified version of this workout 5x per week at Equinox in Boston.

CE: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

CG: Haha! 10 years is a LONG way away! Who knows what will happen considering I have spent the past 10 years at two different studios, 15 years working for myself, and 5 years to Present at Equinox. Boston has grown on me and perhaps I will stay for a while and open the first CrossCycle® studio. I am not tied down to anything but the people who are committed to me.  I take one day at a time and look forward to 10 more years of endurance racing, traveling, and memories.

CE: I see that you graduated with your BFA from Tufts University, is art still part of your life?

CG: Yes, absolutely! I went from architecture, to computer animation, to graphic design. Art school began in Denver, Colorado (for the skiing of course!), which then evolved into the SMFA & Tufts. Being a designer is extremely beneficial to my business rather than having to worry about expensing marketing materials out to someone else. I continue as a freelance designer to keep my feet wet and am currently working on a few exciting new iPhone apps that I hope to be a huge success!

CE: What’s your favorite healthy meal to prepare at home?

CG: I spend a lot of my time cooking breakfast, lunch, and dinner whenever possible and feel that cooking at home has a major beneficial impact on your lifestyle.  Asking for a favorite meal is a tough task since I cook so much, however I currently enjoy Grilled Chicken & Caramelized Onion Corn Tacos & homemade guacamole at the moment!  You need really fresh mexican corn tacos for this to work. Simply grill up chicken, heat organic black beans, caramelize onions, and layer onto your taco shell topping with fresh cilantro, a squeeze of lime, and a few crumbles of feta. My guacamole is made in my Molcajete (lava rock mortar & pestle) where I grind onion, cilantro, lime, tomato, and salt until combined. Add 2 avocados and mash until desired texture. Talk about good!

You can find Chris at Equinox teaching the following classes, or you can contact him directly through his website, www.crosscyclefitness.com

Monday – 6:30 a.m. Dartmouth St. Equinox – Shockwave

Monday – 5:30 p.m. Franklin St. Equinox – Detox Cycle

Monday – 6:30 p.m. Franklin St. Equinox – CrossCycle®

Tuesday – 6:15 a.m. Franklin St. Equinox – CrossCycle®

Tuesday – 6:30 p.m. Chestnut Hill Equinox – CrossCycle®

Wednesday – 6:45 a.m. Franklin St. Equinox – Shockwave

Thursday – 6:15 a.m. Franklin St. Equinox – CrossCycle®

Friday – 12:15 p.m. Franklin St. Equinox – Cycling

Friday – 5:30.p.m. Dartmouth St. Equinox – CrossCycle®

Saturday – 9:30 a.m. Franklin St. Equinox – CrossCycle®

Image via Lucie Wicker Photography