If you’ve seen any of the Captain America, Avengers, or Wolverine movies, you’ve likely noticed Don Saladino’s handiwork. The celebrity trainer and entrepreneur works on strength, conditioning, and overall wellness with television and movie stars—from Ryan Reynolds to Blake Lively and Emily Blunt—to help them improve their performance physiques.
Don was a fitness trainer for more than twenty years, but since 2000 he’s been a business owner, brand strategist, and entrepreneur as well. At this point, training is the easy part. He also hosts two fitness podcasts and is a self-proclaimed music buff who tailors what’s playing to his clientele. For example, he knows to blast Pearl Jam when John Krasinski comes in for a workout, and recommends Led Zeppelin for actor Billy Crudup’s reps. For Don’s own workouts, he likes to stream Metallica albums from beginning to end. (He also says one can’t go wrong with ’90s grunge.)
We asked Don (between reps) to make a podcast playlist for us and grabbed a few music and workout tips from him as well—just in time to help you stick with your New Year’s fitness resolution.
How have you seen music help people during workouts?
I’ve educated myself in the last 20 years on fitness, anatomy, and kinesiology (the study of body movement) from the best doctors and coaches. But part of what I do, as important as that is, is play good music. Music’s a big driving force to a workout. Not everyone comes in having a good day, but music is the one thing you can throw at someone where, no matter how bad their day is, you can almost hit that reset button and get them to put a smile on their face, get into a little bit of a groove, and develop a little bit of a rhythm. Once a person starts picking up that energy and momentum, you can really accomplish something.
This year, Spotify’s data showed that health and fitness podcast listening increased 145% in the past year on our platform. Why do you think people are turning to podcasts to get information about health and fitness?
First off, I think listening to podcasts is a great way to fill time. I have an hour commute every morning on the train, and podcasts are an educational, entertaining way to be able to fill that. It’s so easy now with our phones and wireless headphones to just connect anywhere and become a smarter person. We’re also more aware of time management. If I’m on the train two hours a day, man, that’s 10 hours a week where I can listen to a different author or a different podcast or get educated on a different area. That’s really doing a lot of good self-help stuff for me.
Plus, we’re in a much more health-conscious society now. I mean, it is amazing. Twenty, 30 years ago, we weren’t paying attention to organic farming. We weren’t paying attention to how crops were being made or how important the purity of olive oil is—everyone just thought olive oil was healthy. (The other day I listened to a great podcast about olive oil, so it’s on my mind.) So the combination of downtime and connectivity, wanting to be educated, and the move towards health-consciousness all factor in.
Tell us about the podcasts you host—Reps for Muscle and Fitness and D&D Fitness Radio Podcast—what can listeners get out of these? What sort of episodes did you include on your podcast playlist?
Muscle and Fitness magazine brought me in to help elevate the educational platform for their listeners. We really wanted to go out there and not only just get fitness people talking about sets and reps, but we wanted to get the best nutritionists, the best doctors, talking about wellness as well. There are so many skeptics out there about gluten free or about intermittent fasting or about the ketogenic tide.
When you listen to the full podcast playlist, you’ll get points of view from well-educated experts like nutritionists, doctors, and trainers, as well as a level of entertainment from celebrities like Randy Couture, Zach Levi, and Liev Schreiber.
What are three wellness tips that anyone at any fitness level can incorporate into their New Year’s wellness resolution?
Sleep is number one. When we don’t fall into that realm of that seven to nine hours of good quality sleep at night, it impacts our entire body, including hormone function. If your hormone function is off, you’re not going to have a high level of energy, and you’re also not going to be able to burn an appropriate amount of fat. Your strength level is not going to be optimal and everything with your training’s going to drop.
Hydration is number two. Drink half your body weight in ounces of water. That’s going to set you up for proper digestion, better hormone function, better sleep, better energy, and a better way to metabolize foods.
Then, I think from an exercise standpoint, stop thinking that you need to spend 60 to 90 minutes a day at the gym. If you’re someone who hates the gym, but you can get in there for 15 minutes, just aim to break a sweat for 10-15 minutes a day. That is enough.
One bonus tip is to always fact-check—whether you’re listening to a fitness podcast or hiring a new coach, make sure the credentials are good and you’re getting accurate information about your health and workout.
Finally—for a question that takes us out of the gym—what is your go-to karaoke song?
“Faithfully” by Journey. I think it’s the hardest karaoke song to sing on the planet. My son’s a very good singer and I challenged him to sing it. He’s got a much better voice than I do and he’s almost nailing it right now. He’s 11. I’m trying to see if he can do a much better job than I did. We’ve been having a great time with it. I challenge anyone—if you can hit that song on all notes, you’ve got it together.
Take a listen to Don’s fitness-filled podcast playlist below for expert takes on wellness and working out.