Think you’ve got to be on some inside track to become a celebrity trainer? Not really. Jay Cardiello, creator of the J-Core program, did so by accident. Literally. A martial artist for most of his youth, Jay left his New Jersey home after high school to attend the University of Arkansas where he was part of the 1996 national championship track & field team. He was there to become a lawyer, but an accident on the track would not only send the disks in his vertebrae “flying every which way,” but also his career plans. He landed wrong during a jump and the damage to his spine would require 13 major surgeries over the next few years.
“I knew my career as an athlete was over,” he told us in a recent interview. His life was far from over, and arguably, just getting started. He had some down time for a couple of years as his body repaired from the damage. Back on his feet, he went returned to college at William & Mary where he worked as a volunteer assistant for the men’s and women’s track teams and “got to fall in love with coaching people.” If Jay Cardiello had a calling, this was it.
What happened from there played out like a case study for being in the right place at the right time. Jay could be called a poster child for having your whole life planned, and one small accident can change the entire course of your life for the better. After William & Mary Jay moved back to New Jersey to work as the head strength and conditioning coach for the Red Dogs for two seasons. After that, he was an unpaid coach’s assistant for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. At only 26 years old, he was compared to the best of the best and it was evident he knew what he was doing by now.
After some time in Tampa he was ready to put that expertise to a different kind of test and decided to work one-on-one with clients. He moved to New York City to be a trainer at Clay, an elite gym. It was there that Jay’s career took another hard right. During his third session working with a client named Curtis James Jackson III, better known as 50 Cent, and having just signed on a NYC apartment, Jay was asked to be the rapper’s dedicated trainer. “You’re coming with us,” Jay says 50 Cent told him. It was supposed to be a three-month gig, traveling as part of the entourage and keeping 50 Cent in shape. It turned in to four years. “I lived with him as a trainer and nutritionist,” Jay told us. “I was glued to his hip.”
So if you want to know how Jay got 50 to look like that, then look where you’re standing an you’re half way there. Jay recalled his first workout with 50 and how his response was “Where are the weights? We don’t use weights?”
Shocking, we know, but with Jay’s J-Core system he doesn’t require anything more than a four-foot by four-foot space. He uses your own body weight for strength training, and without the need for a large gym and props, his workout can be completed in your home, a hotel, a movie trailer, or anywhere else you’ve got a four-foot box to work in.
“We do 40 moves for thirty-second durations,” Jay told us. He doesn’t count reps, but rather counts seconds because he wants to see how far you can push yourself in that brief period of time. He says it provides his clients with a sense of “I can do this” rather than feeling like a failure when they miss a mark.
His workout style is similar to the popular HIIT method, but is called Rapid Muscle Response. These short bursts of exercise “get people in shape at a faster rate and safer,” he told us. His focus is in and around the core, which he says should be the basis of any workout program. He learned first hand when he blew out his spine the importance of maintaning a strong center and he teaches that to his clients in each of their workouts and through the J-Core program, which can be done at home.
Jay’s workouts are relevant and he “takes out everything that isn’t relative to life.” He focuses on strengthening the muscles you use every day. If you’re a mom, he doesn’t see how the bench press is practical. However, he does have a move called the “popsicle” that mimics the motion of lifting a baby up and down. By doing this, you strengthen the parts of the body that you’re using the most often, and therefore, you’re not only working to stay fit but also avoid injury.
In 20 minutes per day, just four days each week, Jay’s J-Core system can have you feeling stronger than ever before. You can do the J-Core program at home, with DVDs, and weekly live workouts with Jay online. It’s one of the few fitness-focused programs that comes with a nutrition plan, and that is broken in to four periods, or phases.
There is a bit of a detox at the beginning, stripping your diet clean of any simple carbs, processed foods, alcohol, or sugar. Cheese and bread is removed next, but in period three you see some of this return gradually with the addition of vegetables. Finally, in period four, you’ll enter a maintenance-style plan which can set you up with the nutrition guidance you need for life. Some calorie recommendations are a little low at 1000 calories per day, but go as high as 2250 and are determined based on each person. The 2,000 calorie diet sample includes low-fat dairy, lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, fish, cheese, and even a lean burger.
Jay Cardiello’s life fell out of balance completely by accident, but his focus on his own personal physical strength made it possible for him to push through and earn some of the most highly regarded certifications in fitness and nutrition. If his simple, balanced, and effective approach to fitness seems like a fit for your needs and goals, then checkout J-Core.