Join the Community!

FREE Strength, Conditioning and Muscle Building Tips from Today’s Top Experts, Delivered Directly to your Inbox. Get Updates Today!

Daily Interviews

With Today’s Iron Game Leaders and Legends

141 Annie Vo: Using Creativity To Maximize Your Training Progressions


In this episode of the Super Strength Show, Annie Vo takes us on her journey to becoming one of New York City’s most successful and sought-after personal trainers. During this interview, Annie teaches you to constantly learn and challenge yourself creatively with your training, so you can progress towards your goals.

Collapsable Transcript

Read Full Transcript



[00:00:19] RT: What’s up Strength Maniacs? And thanks for tuning in. I’m pleased to welcome today’s guest. Annie Vo.


Annie is one of New York City’s most successful and sought after personal trainers. She has worked with clients of numerous backgrounds and disciplines including athletes, celebrities and everyday professionals. Annie Vo is known for her no nonsense training style and minimalist philosophy as well as her talent for bringing out the best in everyone who crosses her path.


Annie has been featured in the New York Post, NPR and In addition to her numerous training certifications, Annie was inputted as a team leader for Dragon Door’s prestigious RKC, the Russian Kettlebell challenge. The world’s premier Kettlebell certification, congratulations on that Annie.


[00:01:02] AV: Thank you.


[00:01:04] RT: A diverse and complex talent, Annie holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Columbia University in New York City and she’s also a renowned classically trained musician.


You can learn more about Annie by visiting the Dragon Door website guys, it’s actually a little bit different, this URL here. So it’s just DragonDoor — and it’s just like the words, Dragon — D-r-a-g-o-n, Door — D-o-o-r, some people pronounce it “do-er” — .com/Annie-vo. A-n-n-i-e, — Vo, V-o.



So Annie, welcome to the show, it’s a pleasure to have you here. We had a nice little pre show talk and I’m really excited to get in to all of this. I’m wondering if you wouldn’t mind, how about you share a little bit more about yourself?


[00:01:45] AV: I think you said most of it, I’m also a kind of cook enthusiast, reader and I don’t know, expanding down my gym at this point. So I am training kind of all over the New York area as well. Kettlebells, barbells, body weight.


[00:02:06] RT: Like what we like, a very diverse kind of mix of training styles?


[00:02:10] AV: Absolutely, I’m constantly trying to learn, I’m relatively new considering I’ve been in the industry for almost 10 years. So I’m always seeking opportunities to learn and share and grow and teach and connect.


[00:02:25] RT: Relatively new but I mean, as I mentioned here a moment ago, I mean the people over at Dragon Door there, they seem to think highly of you. I mean you’re a team leader now so congratulations as I mentioned. What got you into this, I guess, profession if you want to call it that? This pursuit of not only fitness but helping others with their fitness goals?


[00:02:45] AV: Well, I think as I mentioned before, I do not have a traditional fitness background. I was a professional musician most of my life, and I played classical base. So I really hadn’t devoted any time to physical culture in any way. Obviously there’s some movement things and some labor involved with rehearsing for many hours a day but I really hadn’t done anything sport-like until I gotten to University.


I was a proud recipient of a full academic scholarship at Columbia University where I studied philosophy, another kind of mental endeavor, not physical endeavor. However, what was included with your full scholarship is access to the Columbia school gym. So I basically spent all of my time in the library or at the gym or in my dorm room of course. So that was my first experience with any sort of physical anything. I would hang out with friends, try a lat pull down, squat, whatever and that kind of ignited my interest in some physical culture.

Once I graduated school, I was studying for the LSAT exam and potentially going to law school but I the meantime I needed a job. So at that Point I had spent enough hours in the gym, I thought, “You know what? I’ll go get a job at a big gym.” So A, I’ll have all access to a clean shower and I’ll be in the environment that I am starting to feel somewhat comfortable in. So I started to obtain my national certification with the National Council of Strength and Fitness, got into kettlebells and body weight and sand bags and barbells and it really excited me. So I left all the law school stuff behind and committed myself to being a full time personal trainer.


Shortly thereafter, I left the big gym and opened my own gym. I’m the cofounder of Precision Athlete, which is located on the Upper West Side, not too far from good old Columbia, my neighborhood.


[00:04:49] RT: Your hood?


[00:04:50] AV: And we’ve been rocking ever since. It’s been an incredible journey, I’ve learned so much in that little gym, my gym is only 1,700 square feet but we’ve had such a great, diverse group of individuals who have really stood by us. So I can’t thank our community enough.


More recently, I’ve left my gym in efforts to expand my education and offer more of my services aside from the gym and kind of without the rigours of the daily small business owner responsibilities. That’s how I kind of went into it. I started off as a musician intellectual and then hung out at the gym and decided that I really liked it and now I’m masquerading as a fitness pro.


[00:05:37] RT: I don’t know about masquerading, you do a pretty good job I tell you that. [Laughter] You got us all fooled. That’s a bit of a change, you were saying your life path was going down to the road of being a lawyer of some sort and was that kind of a big shift for you to say, “You know what? I’m more interested in this one here.” It sounded like it wasn’t a huge decision on your part in the sense that you really enjoy the training, and the physical culture.


By the way, I love the fact that you’re using the term “physical culture”. Yeah, that word needs to be used more often, people really need to get into that all over again, it’s fantastic.


[00:06:12] AV: Culture, it has to be a broader term. I mean it’s funny because in some ways, it would appear that law or even philosophy or any of those types of disciplines are very different than training or physical culture, but I felt like all those skills that I had acquired in university put me in a great position to do what I do now. Each individual that I work with is a collection of experiences, memories, emotions, sense of humor, expertise, insight. They’re all unique individuals truly from a systemic foundation, a level.


So being able to make observations in search, you know, for specific things for a specific outcome, as it were, I think it’s exactly what I needed to do in order to be a good trainer. One size does not fit all. And as many tools as you have, as many ways that you can view a situation, I’m specifically not using the word problem because nobody is a problem, nobody’s injury is a problem, nobody’s goal or lack of a goal or any of those things is a problem. It’s something that they’re interested in hopefully. It’s something that they have made an observation about themselves. It’s something they want help examining, a collaborator, a supporter. Someone that could help them part to these details. It’s a project, it’s fun.


Or maybe it’s not fun? Maybe it is difficult, maybe it is unpleasant but it’s not a problem. It’s very — I feel like they’re kind of the same thing, we just happen to be lifting weights instead of doing logical puzzles or something.


[00:08:00] RT: Yeah, yeah


[00:08:02] AV: With training — so going back to kind of the philosophy side of things, language is very vague. So even when you’re being really exacting with, you know, “These are the parameters of the system we’re going to use, this is the definition for this word even though I know there’s 20 other definitions, we’re going to use this one definition.” It’s still pretty vague and if you’re good at playing the game, you can kind of derive any outcome you want.


With lifting, I think it’s as pure as it gets. You lift it or you don’t, you can touch your toes or you can’t and that’s not a judgment, it’s just an objective outcome that can help you kind of rewire that system or that thought process or that kind of course of action in a much more concise and non-confusing way. Having said that, as we all know, embarking on this journey, you have kind of a loose plan or maybe you have a specific plan. But as you make additional observations, you can adapt that.


Even within the realm of adaptations, it’s still a lot smaller, either you get kind of closer to that spear’s edge. It’s not like every step you move forward, there’s still an infinite possibility. Infinity turns into a thousand, a thousand turns into 500 and then you eventually hopefully achieve that goal of touching your toes or losing the weight or what have you.


And then once you’ve achieved it, you’ve achieved it. It’s not necessarily, it’s not like you won this argument and we all still disagree because of the way that we’ve manipulated the language for example. So in many ways for me, it was much more rewarding and satisfying, I could use these same skills but feel like I actually came out on the side of productivity or success or actual improvement of something, it’s not just spinning your wheels.


[00:10:05] RT: Yeah, I find that interesting how depending on somebody’s background, it kind of changes the way that they may look at a certain problem or a certain goal, whatever it may be. And I think that is important to have that other experience so you can, again, approach a challenge or a goal with different aspects, different approached angles right? That creativity that comes out of that, having that diverse background, it’s interesting.


Because again, there’s a lot of people that I’ve talked to recently, I mean I’m very surprised, quite a few of them are actually in your part of your area in New York. They were either on Wall Street or they were lawyers and they were doing their thing and all of a sudden they said they want to get into fitness. The thought process can be a bit different because of the training they’ve had versus somebody who went straight through school, did something like a kines. degree or something and then came out in and then was a personal trainer right from the get-go.


[00:10:54] AV: Sure.


[00:10:55] RT: It’s interesting to see how that changes. They’re ultimately all going for the same end destination but again, it’s interesting to see how they may take different paths to get there.


[00:11:06] AV: That’s really the beauty of this industry and especially now when there’s a lot more people that are interested in reinvesting in themselves. They’ve done great in their careers, they have a family but now they’re really seeking a better quality of life, a way that they can share more in the lives of the people that they care about. They know they can be successful in their respective careers but now they’re coming back and saying, “Hey, I also want to be — I want to feel good every day or I want to hang around more with my kids,” or what have you.


So I think now there is another kind of greater desire for this industry and the need to have people in the industry that can hopefully understand some level of both sides of their life, not just their fitness life but their intellectual life, their emotional life, the greater goals for their life, not just what’s happening at the gym.


[00:12:01] RT: Yeah, exactly, again, you and I talked prior to the show starting that they gym is fantastic and all the benefits you get from the gym in terms of your body and your health are great. But it’s that spillover effect into other areas of your life, when you’re eating better, when you’re actually getting up and achieving your goals, when you are looking better, feeling better, all that stuff obviously is going to have a spillover effect in other areas of your life.


But again the skills that you learn to achieve those things, they also have I think even had a greater impact. Maybe a multiple in terms of the effect that they have in other areas of your life compared to just simply feeling and looking better and when somebody’s able to, especially cautiously, say, “I’m going to take whatever I gain from achieving my goals here in the gym, into other areas of my life,” that’s when I think things really just, I mean some amazing things happen for people.


[00:12:49] AV: Agreed.


[00:12:50] RT: Definitely. Okay, Annie, let me ask you the question that we normally like to start with the show but we kicked it off a little bit different this time, but that’s good though. Question, we like to ask, which is what your favorite success quotes, and I think is going to be very interesting considering your background, and how you essentially apply to your training in life?


[00:13:07] AV: Well, I think I have to go with my old standby by Ludwig Wittgenstein, one of my favorite linguists and mathematicians. He says, “An inner process stands in need of outward criteria.” He was most certainly talking about language and again going back to how do we make language less vague to derive certain outcomes. We talked about it a little bit before; I understand it in the way that you have your internal process and then you have what you’re experiencing in your life and they kind of have to match. And if they don’t match because your internal process is not deriving that then you can see things outside to help kind of stimulate the change inside.


So as it relates to training again, maybe you’re not even aware of their inner process is not deriving the outcome that you want. But hey, you’re at the gym now and you’re saying, “I do want to lose some weight or I read something on barbells, I just want to try a barbell dead lift,” for example. We’ll take this external stimulus and that will hopefully give you a chance to kind of examine what’s going on inside like, “Oh well I didn’t realize it was so easy,” or, “Wow, I didn’t realize it was so difficult,” or, “For some reason, I don’t like this.” That’s when the internal process starts to change I think.


And again it’s a great neutral ground because it doesn’t matter what your career is in the gym, it doesn’t really matter. You have this kind of laboratory to start setting up these external criteria to examine the internal criteria whether you are aware of it or not. So it’s affecting change kind of from the outside.


[00:15:04] RT: Right.


[00:15:05] AV: For those of us that may or may not be actively trying to seek it from the inside out. Maybe it can start to jog that system, that dialogue with yourself, that’s the ideal goal.


[00:15:18] RT: Do you think by approaching it that way, which is from the outside in, something that’s relatively basic like you said, like some type of an exercise, some type of a movement? Do you think that is a simpler way of examining what’s going on in the inside and potentially addressing that situation, as supposed to maybe laying down on the couch or something like that?


[00:15:40] AV: Well again, you know, it depends on the individual but it is a kind of fault free way to do it because you don’t have any biases. If it’s a new thing outside and again, you can pick the thing up or you can’t, it’s kind of free of judgment — an objective and it’s a very kind of straight forward way to start jogging that process versus — you know, I have a lot of clients that are professors and high level professionals that are incredibly intelligent, incredibly cerebral, the benefits of that are that they’re successful in their careers. The negatives in maybe self-improvement can be that you can reason yourself out at anything, if you don’t have anything outside that’s giving you a little bit of a feedback or some way to analyze the thoughts that you have.


So yeah, maybe simpler is the right way to say it. Even help you discover that you want to do those things for yourself and then you can take that and run with it. Maybe you don’t need lifting anymore but maybe that’s a great way to start that process.


[00:16:48] RT: Right, exactly. Yeah exactly. I like the way you kind of put all that, yeah. Like you said, it’s not as if you’re being judged in a way by the actual implement that you’re using right?


[00:16:58] AV: Right.


[00:16:59] RT: Yeah, interesting.


[00:17:00] AV: I can go pick it up, that’s neither here nor there. “That’s okay,” or, “Great, you picked it up!” I often joke with my clients that, you know because people get into this habit of asserting a value is two things. Like, “Oh this workout was so great, I did good right?” Or, “I’m not feeling that energized, I’m probably going to do bad,” or, “I’d picked up only X weight, that’s not good right?” Those types of things, I try to remove the value judgment or kind of invite them to remove the value judgment because it really doesn’t matter. [Laughs] It kind of doesn’t in the grand scheme of things. Look, working out is like brushing your teeth.


So I say, “Look, working out is like brushing your teeth. You just do it every day, no one’s clapping their hands or cheering for you and once a year someone tells you that you get to keep your teeth. [Laughs] That’s pretty much it. So let’s just try to learn the thing a little bit, when we see each other and then that’s it.


[00:18:05] RT: Yeah I know. See, this is what I was talking about, this is what I was eluding to, somebody who comes from a kind of maybe a different background than others and you explain things in a very interesting way. And I’m not talking about getting to keep your teeth. That was good too, this is why again, it’s so good to have people come on and share their ideas and their experiences who are from — who do have a variety of different backgrounds. So that’s why it’s always good, you never know what you’re going to learn right?


You never know who that explanation is going to resonate with right? Some people may understand an explanation one way, other people may get it better if it’s explained a different way. So this is interesting. An no, nobody’s ever quoted, can you say his name one more time please?


[00:18:49] AV: Ludwig Wittgenstein.


[00:18:50] RT: Yeah, Wittgenstein was never been quoted on the show, that’s great. Let’s get to the next one here which is, Annie, share a story of a time in your training when you encountered a major challenge and if you could take us to that time in your life and tell us the story, how about you let us know about what were the lessons that you learned from it?


[00:19:06] AV: Well this one is a very obvious one for me. As I mentioned, I don’t come from a physical culture background and when I started to become a trainer, I felt like I had a lot of learning to do, a lot of background stuff that I needed to do and the RKC was my first kind of major stop. For those of you that are not familiar with the RKC, the Russian Kettlebell challenge, they require that all of their instructors be able to successfully complete a physical battery.


Now, it’s a test or a series of tests. One portion of it is a test demonstrating your ability to coach a new person, a part of the exam is we invite neighborhood people, or what have you, to come and you are observed very closely in how you treat these new clients. Okay? Part two is your technical test, it’s where you do a series of the movements, some of the traditional kettlebell moves such as the kettlebell swing, kettlebell clean, the goblet squat, the snatch, the clean and press and the get up. You have to demonstrate that you can do them at a very high level, a very highly technical precise level.


The final thing is the actual test. They call it the snatch test and the snatch is an explosive, single arm movement that is kind of the baseline of it is based on the kettlebell swing. For those of you that don’t know what that is, it’s like an explosive deadlift that launches the bell from between your legs up into kind of an eye level position. If you imagine yourself in a plank, your body is completely rigid and in a straight line, your arms are out in front of you, just underneath your shoulders and you are bracing like the dickens.


Now we put ourselves on our feet, we did our explosive deadlift, you shoot the thing in the air and then you brace like all get out so the thing doesn’t fly away. We take that a step further to do the snatch where now the kettlebell will land up over your head, resting in the overhead position after you’ve done that explosive hip drive. So in the RKC Snatch test, you have to complete a hundred reps in five minutes or less. They designate the weights for — we have weight classes and things — for gentlemen and for ladies. For me, being a taller lady, so I had to snatch the heaviest of the bells. I had to do my snatch test with a 16 kilo.


If you can imagine, I was a classical musician, really had not learned anything terribly technical or anything physical, even like a squat or a dead lift and really having to go back from the baby steps, to baby steps, learning how to A, move my body then move it kind of well and then move it really fast for five minutes. So there you are, I think when I finally did it — so up until that point I’d been training, I’d been doing high amounts of volume of all of the drills for the RKC and combining that with chiropractic and ART, which is Active Release Technique and the best way that I can describe that technique is deep tissue massage without the massage. [Laughs]


It’s a very intense trigger point-centred therapy that helps to breakdown scar tissue, kind of neurologically reprogram the muscles to fire when they should fire because often times we’ve overridden our natural neurological impulses to give rise to, from me, classical base for decades.


[00:23:20] RT: Yeah, it’s definitely intense.


[00:23:21] AV: That stuff had to be undone so that I could move in the appropriate way to not do athletic things. So leading up to this test, I was pretty worried because I felt like I had the kind of mental and emotional fortitude to do the appropriate training and to be diligent about improving my flexibility and strength and learning the technique from my years of music playing, I could go mentally to that place but physically, I was nowhere near that place quite frankly.


Getting closer and closer to this test I was pretty anxious and I’ll never forget being in this arena in Florida, it was in Orlando. And I believe there were something like 100 participants, and that’s not including the dozens of instructors that were there because at that time they would break up groups of candidates into smaller groups. But for the test, there’s a series of lines, you have these instructors that are there to test you and that’s how you started the weekend of learning. You stepped up with the kettlebell of your weight class and you did the test.


And I had not passed the test up until this point. I’ve tried and failed several times and I went into that weekend, I put my $2,000 down, I really didn’t know what was going to happen. My hands were sweaty, there was hundred people, they were obviously much better shape than me, there were guys that had been training for 20 years, there were these instructors that I had seen online that had written things that had inspired me a long this path, even some instructors that I had worked with, whether it would be online or in person. I was trying to remember all their queues and just feeding off of their energy and with that first snatch, I was terrified.


So there we are, off to the races, they’re counting, there’s obviously a lot of energy because people are testing at the same time and I kind of just let it go. I decided I would just do the best that I could, knowing that I had done the appropriate preparation and the mind and the body, this is kind of an important lesson that again, I felt like I was mentally and kind of emotionally prepared to do the work necessary but in order to close that gap, the body does need time. I mean the mind needs time as well. I had that in my wheelhouse, I could do practice. But my body, I didn’t know how much time it would take to get it to that level. You have this kind of prediction that it can take X amount of time but you really don’t know.


So I honed in on my technique, that five minutes went by like a — I can’t even describe to you. In the moment it was exhilarating, intense and in some ways some of the most calming times for me because I kind of fell into a grove. All the things that I had practiced came up and I passed the test. And I remember just…


[00:26:57] RT: You sound surprised.


[00:26:58] AV: I was surprised! I was surprised that it paid off, that the two timelines matched. It was the first time that I had made a fitness goal, it was the first time that I set a deadline for something and really put my heart into the process of doing it in physical culture and I made it. I mean, I was wrecked for the rest of the weekend because it was gnarly. [Laughter] And don’t worry folks, I’m in much better shape now. They’re gonna be like, ‘Man, this lady sounds like,” — yeah. [Laughter]


But it really taught me that I could set physical goals and achieve them and that it wasn’t a detriment that I had come from a non-traditional background, that I did have something to bring to the table. And that yeah, of course, at that point, it didn’t mean that I had arrived by any stretch of the imagination but that I wasn’t starting from scratch as a new trainer in many ways. I had other skills that could be beneficial to myself and to my clients, and I passed the snatch test!


[00:28:10] RT: Yeah, which is, I mean it is a rite of passage, for those who aren’t quite — they’re either not familiar with it, they don’t quite understand exactly what’s going on there but in terms of a test, it is a test. Right?


[00:28:22] AV: It’s a test.


[00:28:23] RT: A physical test and a mental test for sure, it’s something you definitely prepare for. You don’t just show up and just do this thing if you’ve never been, hadn’t been training before in athletic in some way. It’s pretty challenging.


[00:28:32] AV: Yeah, I think the pass rate is 60% or something. I mean of course it was great that I heard about this afterward, because I think that would have been even more unnerving.


[00:28:41] RT: Yeah, probably I would agree. Yeah.


[00:28:45] AV: But yeah, it was a huge accomplishment for me and that really set the tone for the rest of my training and it remains a big part of my training to this day.


[00:28:56] RT: As you’re talking about this, I can’t help but think, it basically helped you discover something that you already had within you, right? But you just had to put yourself into that situation where you were challenged enough to bring that part of you out, right?


[00:29:11] AV: Right.


[00:29:12] RT: Yeah, to give you a chance to actually express it, which is probably a reason why being put in this type of situation is a good idea. Challenging yourself is a good idea and because it allows you to learn more about yourself and if not learn more about yourself, definitely develop more of whatever you already are aware of having.


[00:29:30] AV: There are very few situations I think in anybody’s adult life where you’re surrounded by literally hundreds of people that want you to do well, that have shared their expertise, they’ve seen you grow and they’re on your side and they’re rooting for you. And even if I had not passed the Snatch test, they would still be rooting for me, they would still be sharing their insight, they would still be there to lend their energy.


[00:29:56] RT: Yeah, yeah.


[00:29:58] AV: That’s what’s so amazing about that experience as well for all of our listeners that have not participated in anything like that or with the RKC or been to any Dragon Door events. I think we’re very lucky to be able to create such a collaborative and positive environment where you can take a chance with yourself and no matter where you land, you’re going to be supported, you’re going be value, you’re going to benefit from it in some way. The passing or failing really isn’t the point.  But if you do, then you get this kind of additional fold of positive things that occur personally.


[00:30:39] RT: Yeah, you definitely start learning the value of the environment, the impact that an environment can have on you and it just so happens that that would be a positive environment where you were at. Yeah definitely.


Okay Annie, let’s go to the next one here, which is sharing a story of a time in your training when you actually had a breakthrough moment. So kind of continuing along this thought here but just switching it up somewhat. How about you take us back and tell us the steps that you took to turn that kind of moment, that kind of — that epiphany kind of into success.


[00:31:09] AV: Okay, so coming back from the snatch test. Well, so now I had at least one program that worked to pass the snatch test and learn kettlebells. And then I felt like I had something to offer the community. So the more I learned and reached out, I felt like I had some understanding of what it would take. Because it’s kind of like a big ambiguous bubble when you have not achieved anything physically, and as you mentioned before, the individuals that kind of went up in the traditional way, maybe played some division one athletics, had a traditional  Kines. background and now our training, they’re kind of the exotic other for someone like me.


And of course, there’s obviously lessons and insight that they have that I will never have, having never done that. But you do feel like you are kind of a lesser instructor or that you don’t really know what you’re talking about even if you’ve done the certifications, you’ve had the clients. So taking the success from the snatch test, I mean it sounds silly, but I knew I had one program that worked. [Laughter] So that helped me to fragment some of that and allow myself a little bit of breathing space to be creative and to bring in other tools or the way that I learn things at certain certifications of things, the exercise that I took away or the stretches or what have you that I was kind of an authority on how to arrange those things to derive a successful physical outcome.


So I think I’d have to say the snatch test was really my breakthrough moment for many reasons. But it really shifted me into allowing myself to be the professional I wanted to be in this industry. And of course I make mistakes all the time, we all do and I’m constantly learning, but I also know that I can affect positive change and I kind of know what I’m talking about or at least I know what I know and I know what I don’t know. [Laughs]


[00:33:22] RT: Yeah, those test help you out with that right?


[00:33:25] AV: Absolutely. And the resources and putting yourself through it, I’m a big believer in that, whether you come from a traditional background or not, that you should have physically experienced the things that you are making other people do.


[00:33:41] RT: Yeah.


[00:33:41] AV: Not all people agree with that but I’m a firm believer in that.


[00:33:46] RT: I don’t know, I mean I — look, there’s an argument, let’s say we could take this in the realm of sports and some people can say, “Here’s a coach or a trainer of some sort who has never been to the big game.” Right? “Never been to the championship finals,” does that mean that person’s teaching isn’t as valuable as somebody who has been? Okay, well maybe you can possibly argue that point.


But in general, it’s definitely a benefit if the person who is teaching you has actually done what you are about to go through. Because then they can relate to you in all levels. Or a bare minimum, you have somebody in your camp — to use kind of a sports term — that has been there. Because otherwise it’s going to be a part that’s kind of missing from your training.


[00:34:34] AV: Right, I mean my rebuttal to those arguments is often that they forget that these coaches are watching hundreds of hours of these player’s move. So no, they haven’t thrown that touchdown and any of those things, fine. But they are watching hundreds of hours of these players moving. They know their intimate movements even if they haven’t experienced it. So if you’re willing to watch hundreds of hours of Joe the attorney that you train one day a week and you don’t want to do a squat and you want this guy to squat, you know what? You’ve got a compelling argument.


[00:35:12] RT: Yeah.


[00:35:14] AV: But until that point happens, you probably should just do the squat before you teach it.


[00:35:19] RT: Yeah, I agree, I would agree with you. I would agree with you in many ways. Again, there’s a lot of examples, especially in boxing, mixed martial arts where a lot of the trainers have never been in an actual fight — they haven’t been in the ring, they haven’t been in the cage, whatever it is, they haven’t been on the mat, but yet they’re able to do it to produce very successful competitors or fighters.


So yeah, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you just write the person off, I want to make sure that’s clear, you’re not saying that either I don’t think. But there is some value, yes. Especially when you’re teaching the technique of something, right?


Okay, Annie, how about we go to a break, sounds good? We’ll be right back?


[00:35:56] AV: Great.


[00:35:57] RT: Yeah, okay. Okay so you guys are listening to the Super Strength Show. We’ve got Annie Vo from Manhattan, the one and only Big Apple and we’ll be right back so just hold onto your hats alright guys? Be right back.




[00:36:11] RT: The world of working out is seriously confusing at first. It punishes uneducated lifters with years of poor gains and injures, and reward smart ones with slabs of lean muscle and superhuman strength. If you don’t know if you’re using the right form, have hit a plateau, or things just seem a whole lot more confusing than you thought they’d be, I want to help you out. Let me save you from wasting time and money on BS advice and sweating away in the gym with little-to-nothing to show for it. Head on over to to get access to your free report titled “nstant Strength: The One Little Trick That Will Instantly Boost Your Strength by 10 lbs or More in Your Main Lifts.


Whether you’re a novice lifter or have years of experience in the Iron game, this is a very helpful resource that you can either apply to your own training or use as a helpful guide to teach others. Stop wasting time and effort in the gym and get the info you need to maximize your gains and minimize your risk for injury. Visit and get your free report today.



[00:37:16] RT: Alright guys, we’re back with our guest, Annie Vo, Dragon Door Team leader. And Annie, I’m wondering, training resources — I’m wonder if you could recommend one, or if you have more we’re open to that as well, training resource for our listener. What would you recommend?


[00:37:31] AV: Well I have three, I have two that are directly related to training and one that’s not. So I’ll start with the two that are directly related to training; I strongly encourage everyone to read Never Let Go by Dan John if you haven’t. He mixes a little bit of philosophy in there and really some solid ways to approach your training and he offers some actual workouts that you can do in there as you go along that process. It gives you kind of a wider breadth to think about your fitness and how to actually get strong.


I also recommend Enter the Kettlebell for all you kettlebell people, because it’s a very kind of simple, straightforward analysis of the techniques that are necessary to perform these moves safely. And kettlebells are a fantastic tool just to have at home, I mean they don’t take up a lot of space and of course, any of the training modules that are offered in the book are useful for body weight, they’re useful for barbells, just a lot of pretty solid and sound advice for people that want to take their fitness into their own hands and start exploring that. Before, you know, of course I’m a huge advocate of personal training, but you don’t have to have a personal trainer to take command of that part of your life. So I would recommend those too.


My kind of non-traditional recommendation for training as a fitness person and just a person of this Earth is a book by Dr. Joe Dispenza called, Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: How to lose your mind and create a new one. I think this will kind of help you build, or I’ll talk about myself, it helps me build personal accountability. So I start to care about what I’m doing or figure out why I’m not doing the things that I want to do. And that I think is the foundation of any training program is just coming to terms with where you are and owning that.


And I think most times people find that they actually do like training or that they do want to lift weights or what have you, it’s just the idea that maybe sounds too difficult or these things. But they’re actually not married to that idea. So a book like this I think is helpful and really examining what you’re trying to do so that when you start doing training of any kind, it’s kind of an expression of joy, and like a hobby. Rather than another job that you do or coming at it like it has to be a job or something, I think sets the atonement and really an unsuccessful way.


[00:40:15] RT: Yeah, definitely. I think it’s interesting that more and more guest come on, again, you and I were talking about this before the show started. More and more guests are coming on and talking about how they are incorporating more than just simply, “Here’s how to do squat and here’s the routine you’re going to follow.” It eventually evolved into “We’re now going to throw in the proper things to eat because that’s very important to get the changes you want.” And now they’re getting to the point where they’re talking about how to change your habits and really focusing on that as well.


And I think it’s important to touch in all of these and the book that you just mentioned by Dr. Joe Dispenza, that’s kind of teaching you how to work within the realm of your mind and how to reprogram that I guess to a certain degree, to achieve the goals you want. And all of these are important because anybody who thinks, “I just want to work out, what’s up with all of these extra stuff?” Well it’s kind of like, whether or not you’re playing with a full deck and I don’t mean that in the sense of a wise crack in regards to if somebody’s got working out there.


What I mean is, it’s awfully difficult, or maybe a better way of saying it is, it’s awfully difficult to put together a jigsaw puzzle if you don’t have all the pieces. It becomes frustrating, like you said, where having these tools, these are essential tools because these are essential tools because your nutrition, your actual training, the habits and your mindset, these are all very important when it comes to determining whether or not you’re going to succeed. So that’s a great resource.


[00:41:32] AV: I mean ultimately, everybody does what they want to do. If you don’t want to do it, it’s going to be exponentially more difficult for you to do that thing. So why don’t we start at the baseline and kind of tweak something or become aware of some things to see, “Hey, maybe I’ve been seeking something that I don’t actually want or maybe I actually want this thing,” because once you make that shift or once you acknowledge these things, the machine will take you to those things. You will do what you want to do, you’re not going to do what you don’t want to do.


[00:42:09] RT: Yeah, and there’s something else we were talking about how the mind kind of tricks you in a ways because it’s gotten so used to living and doing things in a certain way and then all of a sudden, somebody says, “Hey, you know what? Working out is a good idea.” And you’re like, “Oh yeah, that is a good idea. I wouldn’t mind trying that,” and then you try and you go, “Oh no, I really don’t like that.” But that’s not necessarily you saying that per se, that’s just the habit, your subconscious mind, that chemical reaction that happens in your body when you’re operating within a comfort zone of what you’re used to. That’s kind of trying to keep you within that zone.


And I mean who knows, maybe that’s a survival mechanism because you’re still alive aren’t you? Operating like that. So why don’t we just stay within these boundaries and we’ll probably continue to be like that. It’s very important as you said to become aware of what’s going on in the conscious of these things.


[00:42:57] AV: Yeah, and make it easy for yourself. You might find that you really want to do these things. So it becomes easier and easier because the initial feeling is a positive one, the initial feedback is a positive one. You know? It doesn’t have to be all pain and suffering to make progress. I mean there must be effort but it doesn’t have to be this teeth gritting horrendous thing.


[00:43:22] RT: Right.


[00:43:22] AV: It can be hard but you have to make those distinctions and I think, yeah it’s just a terrific tool for starting to have that conversation with yourself so that you can be a part of that process and actually enjoy it, hopefully.


[00:43:36] RT: Yeah, yea exactly. Exactly.


Alright. Annie, next question is one we like to have fun with and get a little goofy with it but that’s good because we have a good laugh. And when you answer this question, if you wouldn’t mind providing some good details so we have something to take away from this and actually apply as soon as we listen to it, sounds good?

[00:43:51] AV: Okay.


[00:43:52] RT: Okay, so you’re doing your thing and training people away and all of a sudden, you catch a whiff of something, it’s like, “Oh no, sewer’s backed up in New York? Ninja turtles kind of got something going on down there and we don’t know about it? What the heck’s going on here?” And you were just saying a moment ago that training doesn’t have to be painful and teeth gritting and all these things. And I walk to the door and you catch a whiff and you’re like, “Oh this is going to be painful, what in the heck is going on here? Maybe we should have just kept this relationship distant, keeping the distant bodied voice happening. Maybe that was better because whatever the heck this guy’s bringing in terms of funk, it isn’t what we want. It’s not the uptown variety.


And I walk in and you know what? At this point Annie, I’ve said it a couple of times, I already know what’s going to happen. I just look at you and I’m like, “It’s not me, honestly here.” I give you the keys, I go, “Just go outside, you’ll figure it out.” And you go outside, the DeLorean’s parked there, full tank of garbage, simmering away in the heat and you can hop back in time with this. And knowing all of these things and all these life experiences you’ve gone through, these challenges that you’ve told us about, how would you structure your training to get the best results in the shortest period of time and still set you up for long term success?


[00:45:01] AV: This is a complicated question. I think the first thing that I would tell my former self or do for my former self is rest more, rest a little bit more. That can be a mental rest, it could be sleeping, I mean the hard training also has to be a part, but I think more training doesn’t always mean better results. In New York definitely, more is more, is more, is more but there is diminishing returns. And from a technical standpoint, you can only go so hard so many times if you really brought yourself to the apex of what you can physically and mentally do, you probably can’t do it two days in a row or you should not. Or if you feel like you can do that then you probably didn’t go that hard on either day.


So you want to rest more, I would want to rest more in order to be able to take myself to that high intensity level on that intense day but then allow myself the appropriate recovery time to get the actual benefits from what I just exerted. There’s such a big emphasis on that just going hard, going hard all the time. I think on the other side of it, and this is more of a kind of philosophical thing that I would share with my former self, as a woman in training, a lot of the material is designed for men. The training programs, the nutritional advice, things like that. In the realm of weight lifting. So I’m going to kind of whittle it down to that because there’s certainly a lot of material and other disciplines such as dance and yoga and things like that.


But in the realm of weightlifting I would say that yes, this programs are great programs for men and you could do some of that too, but it’s not wrong if you deviate from those programs because your body is different. And that to that end, if the training programs aren’t specifically designed for you, the specific outcomes may not happen to you, does that make sense? Cause I would see these big programs of powerlifters, things like that and you see these very muscular developed men that are doing these great things. And then as a woman, you try these programs and some of that volumes, some of those percentages, it doesn’t exactly translate or at least it didn’t for me, I can’t speak for all women in lifting. And then you think, “Well, I’m following this program and I’m going to look that guy.”


Well, I would be hard pressed to say that that’s possible, given you did the program to the T. Having followed those programs and done those things, I didn’t turn into those guys, I certainly developed muscular, you know, muscle mass and definition and tone and all those sorts of things but I never turned into a monster. I think that I would have taken my training a little more seriously back then if I hadn’t had that kind of ridiculous fear in the back of my mind because you just see the program and then you see the guy.


[00:48:39] RT: Right.


[00:48:40] AV: And at that time, there really wasn’t a lot of programming tips or things like that for women that were interested in maybe weightlifting and not necessarily for the goal of becoming a powerlifting champion or even if I devoted life to powerlifting now that I’m well in my 30’s, chances are, I kind of missed the boat on going to the Olympics for powerlifting. So try as I might, I probably will not get there. So if I could tell my former self, “Don’t worry, you can lift with reckless abandon and you’ll never get that big.”


[00:49:24] RT: Yeah.


[00:49:25] AV: “Don’t worry about it. And don’t worry, you probably aren’t going to the Olympics either, so don’t be scared of that. Don’t be scared that you get so good that you’re going to go to the Olympics.” It sounds silly to say it now, but I think the primordial fear is instilled in myself absolutely and a lot of the female clients that I work with and they’re not verbalizing it in that way. No one comes in the gym and says, “I would love to get stronger but I don’t want to go to the Olympics.”


But I think that’s the kind of irrational fear that you lift weights, you get more muscles, those muscles get muscles then you’re a monster and then you go to the Olympics.


[00:50:10] RT: Yeah, and it’s not, I mean people who do end up going there, I mean the amount of work that’s involved to do that — I mean you just don’t by accident end up there. And you don’t just simply work hard and end up there. I mean it is — it’s not just going to happen like that, exactly.

[00:50:28] AV: Unfortunately, with the way that the time continuum works, I lost all those hours from zero to 33 now to have worked on that in earnest, which most Olympians and most people that are performing in that level have done plus whatever time that I’m going to train from now into the future and that they’re going to train from now into the future. So there really should be no irrational fear of this because that time is gone for most folks that are stepping in today.


[00:50:59] RT: Yes.


[00:51:00] AV: They’ve missed out on those childhood years of honing it in. Yeah, I wish it was easy, I mean that’s also kind of an ongoing joke like a female client would say, “Hey, I don’t want to lift this heavy weights because I’m going to get bulky and massive,” and I’m like, “You know, if that’s the case, we are going to split the profits on the book I write on how to lift one day a week and become massive. We can get Arnold behind us, whoever because it would be such a huge breakthrough in science.


And I don’t mean that to be diminutive like you’re an idiot, I’m not saying that, I’m just saying that from my limited experience in this field, it appears to be a very difficult thing to do and I’m open to any kind of insight or development that occurs with your new client, that could prove me wrong, I would love to be wrong. I’m the first person who would happily invite being wrong in this particular circumstance, I love that.


[00:52:06] RT: Yeah, especially that instance but you do bring it up. I mean that is, I think, something that’s operating at a very primeval, primordial, whatever we’re going to call it, level. It is something that I think clients, and I think we can say, that women probably in particular are concerned about. Would you agree with that?


[00:52:22] AV: Absolutely. But you know, there’s so many things that are tied into that that are uniquely, that women face. It’s not meant to be a gender bias but we have different ways that we perceive ourselves than men. Different outcomes that we want for our appearance and the way that we’re perceived in our professional goals and things like that, our approach is just different. Emotionally, all those things, because we’re just different people.


It’s not that women can’t achieve or they can’t get in good shape or that they should even be compared to men, I’m a strong believer that women shouldn’t be compared to men or men’s training programs necessarily. We have a different hormonal chemistry, a different attitude, we’re enculturated in a different way, why do we have to fit into a mould that wasn’t designed for us? Including the belief that lifting heavy weights will make us bulky or whatever it is. I don’t think that we need to think of it that way or we shouldn’t, it doesn’t make sense.


We all develop at the rate that we develop, just from a training perspective. So you can’t also accept that somehow we’re going to develop at such a different rate than men on the same program. Or I dunno? There’s a lot of things that play that are both psychological and emotional but definitely for some reason the idea that being big and bulky is the outcome of heavy lifting in particular. When it’s kind of the opposite.


[00:54:02] RT: Exactly.


[00:54:04] AV: Just from a sheerly scientific — I’m not even talking about my own anecdotal  experience with clients but the more work any organism has to do, the higher the caloric expenditure. Muscles require a higher caloric expenditure than body fat for example. If the engine is running hotter and we’re effectively and we’re efficiently, for a longer duration of time, it’s probably going to get smaller.


[00:54:38] RT: Yeah, unless…

[00:54:38] AV: Unless it’s met with fuel reserves that not only match that need but exceeded it to a high degree.


[00:54:50] RT: Yeah, and for each individual, for the most part, it is more food than what you’re normally used to eating and I mean you usually — it’s a conscious effort to get that food into you if you’re looking to maximize that size gain. Again, it’s not something that just happens, I mean you got to be conscious and you really got to go after it and in a certain way to really force yourself to kind of grow.


Like you said, I think you raised something important, you’d say to yourself, one of the — you were saying one of the lessons is, going back to your former self or your earlier self, would be to really go after it and not be fearful. And the funny — it’s not funny, it’s kind of sad actually, it’s ironic in that a lot of again women and there are some guys out there who actually don’t want to become too bulky because maybe they’re in a certain weight class for something and they’re very cautious of the way they train. So this isn’t just for women okay? You become hesitant to go after the very thing that actually in all likelihood give you what you want.


[00:55:50] AV: Right.


[00:55:50] RT: So now you start doing inefficient type of workouts and just really not doing what you need to have, not doing what you should be doing to get what you ultimately want to have and that in a way, it is ironic but it’s sad too because you just see people wasting time and they’re getting frustrated, wasting energy, “Why isn’t this exactly working?” Right? And it’s like, “Yeah, you’re doing 20 different exercises for a certain area of the body, the lower body let’s say. And you could probably knock that out with some heavier squats let’s just say.”


[00:56:21] AV: That external criteria is that you are not getting the results that you want. That should help adapt the internal criteria, which is, “Perhaps what I’m doing is not the most effective way to get the results that I want.” They kind of have to be matching or you have to be open to the possibility that either the results are wrong, like you’re saying, “I’m not getting the results that I want,” but these are actually truly the results I want or you have to accept, “Maybe what I’m doing is not the best way to do the thing because outside it’s not matching.” So it seems more plausible for one to say, “Okay, maybe I need to change this,” rather than saying, “I actually do like the results that I’m not getting.”


[00:57:07] RT: But again, that kind of comes back to the book recommendation that you had in that we are very adept at kind of fooling ourselves right? That’s why it is so helpful to have a coach, a trainer, a mentor of some sort and you said that you are an advocate obviously of personal training, which makes sense considering it’s what you do and it would be nice if you actually believed in what you do, and obviously you do so this is a good thing.


Yeah, this is one reason why it is beneficial to have somebody to look at you from the outside in. Many times, I think people look at someone, they’ll go, “It’s just so obvious what they’re doing is not working. What the heck man, are you an idiot?” The reality is that there’s so much going on between your ears that you don’t even realize what you’re doing isn’t making sense because you’re either not paying attention or you’re somehow justifying  whatever it is that you’re doing it yourself in a manner that actually seems logical.


[00:58:00] AV: Right.


[00:58:03] RT: Having somebody on the outside to kind of just a pattern interrupt. “Alright, this isn’t working and here’s why, can you not see this?”


[00:58:10] AV: Yeah, and that’s where a great personal trainer can be an effective source because it has to be a neutral objective guide that’s on your side, helping you discover the truth. It’s not even about being right or wrong or what I think is best for you really, it’s about us coming together to discover the truth about the thing. And then after that, sure, then maybe we’ll insert whatever exercises and whatever way and then at that stage, we’ll reexamine, get to the bottom of that and then move forward in that way.


[00:58:48] RT: Yeah, agreed, agreed. Annie, so much that we touched on during this interview. Each subject could be flushed out into even much greater detail that’s for sure. I think the resources you mentioned are pretty helpful to kind of help people get a better grasp of some of the items that we mentioned, I’d love to have you come back on and maybe elaborate a little bit more on these things, would you be open to that?


[00:59:09] AV: Absolutely, I would love to do that.


[00:59:10] RT: Okay that would be great. Alright Annie, we’re pretty much at the end of the show but before we wrap it up, what I would like to do is if you wouldn’t mind telling us where can we find out more about you and then if you could just give us some parting advice?


[00:59:21] AV: Okay, well, at the moment, as I mentioned before, I’m now training independently in the Manhattan area, you can find my contact information via the Dragon Door website and I think it was, something like that? I think it should be in the show notes.


[00:59:42] RT: [Laughs] Yeah. Hold on, it was a forwards slash, (A-n-n-i-e)—V-o.


[00:59:52] AV: You can email me directly so I’m taking the chance here, it’s my full name, previously only reserved for my parents; If you have any feedback, I’d love to hear it or if you’re interested in training, I have a limited availability but I will respond to you regardless.


Some parting advice? There’s so much Ray, I don’t even know where to start. I’m going to do the classic which is, keep training, if you’re not training, start training, if you are training, keep training, keep learning, keep loving and be open. Because the best things that can happen to you are things that you can’t imagine so don’t even try. How’s that?


[01:00:49] RT: Sounds good to me, sounds good to me. I would add, if what Annie is saying to you or any person that you either hear on this show and the other show are really resonating with you, I highly recommend finding somebody to kind of walk you down this path that you’re on, this adventure and that would be a mentor or trainer of some sort. I guess this would be a good time to ask, Annie, where exactly can they find you in that regards?


[01:01:15] AV: Where they can find me?


[01:01:16] RT: Yeah, in terms of actually training to you, are you taking on new clients now? How does that work?

[01:01:16] AV: I’m taking on new clients, I have a few different places I train out of, I can travel, I mean there’s a few things in the works because I’ve kind of just made this transition. Yeah, I’ll work with you, just reach out to me.

[01:01:35] RT: Okay, there you go guys, I highly recommend it. As I always say, the only real shortcut, there is no actual shortcut but the closest thing you can get to a shortcut is having somebody to guide you down the path, been there, done that, taken others there, and can take you there as well. If you can find a person like that that you really resonate with, I mean even just a few sessions will just shortcut that learning curve so much. And obviously sticking with them longer term, I mean that’s a completely different ballpark, that’s how you really accelerate things. Because you’re not wasting time floundering and trying to figure things out on your own and not really having the best resources.


And in the world, unfortunately, of training, physical culture or health and fitness, whatever you want to call it, there’s a lot of stuff that’s advertised as something but doesn’t really deliver on what they’re promising. So you want to be cautious with that and really vet whoever it is or whatever it is that you’re taking advice from. Whether it’s a person, a book or some sort, ultimately somebody’s created that and you want to make sure that that person actually knows what he or she is talking about and has delivered those results for either themselves or for somebody else. Yeah, so definitely recommend that you do that.


Annie just provided her email address, now the whole world knows, the name that was once reserved for your parents, plus they go that email address, so get ready but now. Be respectful people, they usually are. We’ve never had anybody complain, who’s ever shared their email address. The last thing we want is you to say, “That was a mistake, I ain’t coming on back there, that’s for sure, you’re never going to see me again.” Close that email address and start up a new one.


Okay, with that being said guys,, just put in Annie’s name — A-n-n-i-e, V-o — and then her show notes page will come up. You can re-listen to the show there, you can download it, you can access the various podcast and platforms where you can sign up for the shows, highly recommend it because it comes straight to you. You could share it with others, socially there’s some social sharing buttons there, I highly recommend that you do that because it’s great when the show is shared obviously, brings more people into the fold and that’s always a good thing.


You could also provide a review, there’s a button there says leave a review, that goes to iTunes and those reviews, we’ve said it before, it’s like they’re worth their weight in gold and then some. If anything we’re doing here is resonating with you guys, when you provide a review, what it does is it not only does it bring the show up higher in the rankings but it allows us to show any potential guest that, listen, this is a show that not only is a nice production and all that stuff but it actually has an engaged audience because that’s the important part. People, they’re busy, they got things going on, I mean they got to carve time out of their day to come and do this and they got to make sure it’s actually worth your time. Those reviews go a long way, five stars on iTunes, if you think we deserve them, we absolutely love them. Stitcher you can leave reviews on there as well.


Next is, when you’re on the show notes page, we’re going to have links, all the goodies that Annie’s been mentioning, we’ll have some other bonuses on there, some videos, a bunch of good stuff. Make sure you do definitely check that out. While you’re there, you could sign up for the newsletter, get the tips and also you get a free report, shows you how to maximize your strength while minimizing your risk for injury. And we all know that it means more iron on the bar, means more muscle on your frame, better body composition, better performance but more importantly is making sure that you’re doing all this while staying safe because nobody’s making any gains whatsoever if they’re jacked up and they’re on the DL list and they’re laying on the couch for the next couple of months trying to get healed. I highly recommend you check that out.


Feedback — good, bad or fugly guys, let us know, do you like what we’re doing? Would you like to see something different? Is there any recommendations for guests or questions or anything whatsoever? Let us know and your training photos, send them in, We want to go through them, share them with our audience on our various podcasting platform on the website so make sure you send that stuff in, we absolutely love receiving those.


With that being said Annie, that’s it, we’re at the end. So until next time…


[01:05:14] AV: Thank you so much.


[01:05:15] RT: You’re welcome, really appreciated to having you come on, thank you so much.


Okay guys, as we always say, put this stuff to use and train smart and train hard and talk to you in the next one. Take care.


More Specifically in this Episode You’ll Learn About

  • Annie shares her story from being a classically trained musician to studying to become a lawyer, and finally finding her passion in the world of physical culture.
  • Use external criteria to examine yourself internally.
  • You can reason yourself out of anything if you don’t have the right support. 
  • Why working out is like brushing your teeth.
  • ART: Active Release Technique
  • Trust your preparations and training and just let it go in times of tests.
  • Challenging yourself is always a good idea for progression.
  • Allow yourself to have some breathing space and be creative.
  • Know that you can affect positive change.
  • There is value to having physical experience when it comes to teaching others. 
  • Figure out why you are not doing the things that you want to do.
  • Allow yourself to rest more and recover from training.
  • Lifting and common misconceptions in terms of results for women.
  • Keep training, keep learning, keep loving, and be open.

About Annie Vo

Annie Vo is one of New York City’s most successful and sought-after personal trainers. She has worked with clients of numerous backgrounds and disciplines, including athletes, celebrities and everyday professionals. Annie Vo is known for her no-nonsense training style and minimalist philosophy, as well as her talent for bringing out the best in everyone who crosses her path.

Ms. Vo has been featured in The New York Post, NPR, and In addition to her numerous training certifications, Annie was appointed as a Team Leader for Dragon Door’s prestigious RKC (Russian Kettlebell Challenge), the world’s premier kettlebell certification.

A diverse and complex talent, Annie holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Columbia University in New York City and a renown classically trained musician.

You can learn more about Annie by visiting


FREE Report – Instant Strength: The one little trick that will instantly boost your strength by 10 lbs or more in your main lifts.

Success Quote

“An inner process stands in need of outward criteria.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein

Annie Vo - Creativity - Super Stength Show

Training Resources Mentioned in this Episode

Never Let Go by Dan John
Enter The Kettlebell by Pavel Tsatsouline
Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself by Dr. Joe Dispenza

Connect With Annie Vo

Instagram – @vofactor
Google +

Check Out What Others Are Saying on iTunes!

  • Awesome Podcast
    April 21, 2017 by Brooke Craven from United States

    Ray, host of Super Strength Show, highlights all aspects of fitness and nutrition in this can't miss podcast. Ray and his expert guests offer insightful and inspirational advice on how to live a healthy lifestyle!

  • Un canal de lo mejorcito en la materia
    July 17, 2016 by Pipiripiii from Spain

    Un canal con contenido muy completo e interesante. Gracias ppr toda la info!

  • Informative, deep and instructional
    July 9, 2016 by Charles M R from United States

    That Frank Zane interview!

  • awesome fitness podcast and great variety
    July 7, 2016 by jskoosh71 from United States

    Really glad I found this. Lots of care into each podcast, Ray walks the walk and really understands what is being discussed. I really just have one request- stop the Delorean story.

  • 51 and going strong
    June 22, 2016 by Canvas back from Canada

    I used to lift heavy in my late teens and into my 30s and then other thinks like kids,job, house etc took over and I lost motivation. I'm 52 now and starting to show the signs of aging so I thought I better get back at it. It was real tough. Slower gains, easy injuries, slower recovery. Tough to get back into the grove. While searching for some motivating pod casts I came across the SSS pod casts. I listen daily and I can honestly say that it has changed my life. It's more motivating that a gym full of people. I have learned more in 2 months than I learned in 20 years. The host is great to listen to, is very knowledgeable and keeps me wanting more. The guests are great. I look forward to listening. We have a wellness committee at my work and I think I have the entire group as fans of the SSS. Please don't ever stop!

  • Physical Autonomy = Personal Liberty
    June 18, 2016 by Mrsborch from United States

    Ryan inspires me to change my fitness mindset from just doing more reps to creating a body to live the life I want.

  • Lucky find
    May 16, 2016 by Keith3187 from United States

    Stumbled upon this podcast and very glad I did, fantastic guests with tons of evidence based information, highly recommended.

  • Tier 1
    May 14, 2016 by Dragon 1-5 from United States

    Truly a great pod cast very informative and 100% applicable.

  • Great interviews
    May 5, 2016 by Adamdv18 from United States

    Ray has some very interesting guests on here and does a good job of getting some useful information out of them.

  • Intelligent, interesting interviews
    March 25, 2016 by Clown puncher 5000 from United States

    Really. Smart guys.

  • Killer Podcast
    February 26, 2016 by RidgeWC from United States

    Ray puts out a really great show—every episode is top quality!

  • Great work!
    January 14, 2016 by NotMattDamon from Canada

    Impressed by the content and guest - keep up the great work!

  • THE Super Strength Show
    December 14, 2015 by Oastorga from United States

    I came across this podcast through another great podcast (the RDella Podcast) and I must say I'm hooked. I like the action items that are revealed for us to do rather than just taking in more info. I especially like that is simple but not simplistic. I'm 58 years young and shows like this reafirm that I'm doing the right thing. I use Kettlebells, Sandbags, Barbells, Indian Clubs and body weight in my training. I don't look like a fitness model but I feel pretty good. Knowing more and refining techinque has been very important for me. The idea is not to just listen but to do something with the information. The format allows that. Thanks for your hard work.

  • BOOM!
    December 1, 2015 by Getusomemore from United States

    I listened to the entire interview with Danny Kavadlo while I was cooking dinner. VERY good podcast! I give it a ?!!

  • Highly recommend this show
    November 30, 2015 by Altruistic? from United States

    I love this show. Thoughtful host. Interesting guests. Since listening it, I have been giving more consideration to the mental side of training. It's a very encouraging show.

  • Great show!
    November 14, 2015 by Rmolson from United States

    I started training at the age of 41 obese and intimidated. The guests are an inspiration and encouragement toto keep moving forward on this journey.

  • Amazing Content
    November 13, 2015 by MattTucker93 from Canada

    Love listening to this podcast. Amazing information and I always learn something from all the great guests. Thank you!

  • Great show
    September 15, 2015 by unadjective from United States

    Some really cool guests that I wouldn't otherwise come across and Ray does a great job getting into their expertise. Almost always wish the show was longer.

  • I love this
    September 12, 2015 by Mvecdi from Canada

    Please don’t ever stop,i really enjoy it. Wish i found it before. I listen to it while working out or driving etc. Just wanted to tell you to keep doing what you are doing. And would love to see more of people like Mike Israetel etc. Such as Brad Schoenfeld. Anyways love the show, thanks for making it.

  • Very professional
    September 7, 2015 by Ayrshire Lad from United Kingdom

    Always learning something new from Ray and his well selected line up of guests. Sometimes feels a little repetitive as Ray asks all the tried and tested questions to ensure the listener always has a takeaway..its laid back but focused and very professional !!

  • I love this
    September 3, 2015 by Mvecdi from Canada

    Please don’t ever stop,i really enjoy it. Wish i found it before

  • The best podcast in the strength/ fitness industry!
    August 28, 2015 by Powerlifting101 from Canada

    I recommend this podcast to anyone that trying to physically and mental better them self in every aspect.

  • Excellent Resource
    July 25, 2015 by J. Steinmann from United States

    Some great interviews with a wide variety of people. I've listened to a number of episodes, and there's always some great information in every interview. If you're serious about strength training, health and fitness, or just want some good life philosophy, this podcast is worth a listen.

  • Must subscribe!
    July 9, 2015 by Roddygo from United States

    This is one of the best fitness podcasts. A lot of big names from various backgrounds and Ray asks good questions. He also knows when to ask follow up questions without getting too out of subject and having the guests share some more secrets

  • Great Show!
    July 8, 2015 by Wes Kennedy from Canada

    Ray is a great host and has a wide range of quality and professional coaches that have a TON of experience to share with you. Check it out!

  • Excellent interviews!
    July 8, 2015 by another anatomy geek from United States

    Ray does a fantastic job of asking articulate and interesting questions. I always really enjoy his podcasts and learn useful info! Keep up the good work!

  • has become the best Strength podcast
    June 21, 2015 by SuperHuman YYZ from Canada

    I think its overtaken superhuman radio and motivation + muscle as the top podcast for those who love physical culture and the iron game. Ray does a great job interviewing, just the right amount of interjecting his ideas and opinions. The guest list is incredible, the who's who, past and present.

  • The fountain of youth.
    June 10, 2015 by rroxanne from Canada

    Very good . I love the article. I listened to it 3 times to write everything down. Lol. Bad memory. Oh and love Rays voice.

  • just pure MEGA, Pig Iron all the way
    May 25, 2015 by Strongman1981 from United Kingdom

    The Super Strength Show is an amazing and extremely informative resource for anyone involved in physical culture. With an enthusiastic and highly intelligent host and a who’s who’s line up of guests, a must for anyone to sit down, eat grapefruits and enjoy. great work chaps

  • On another level! Once you hear one episode you will have to hear them all!
    May 22, 2015 by Chuck Osswald from United States

    Super Strength Show starts with top performers/coaches/trainers from around the world and chunks down all the important pieces, directed towards any audience. Ray Toulany is unparalled in his ability to make information easy to understand as well as tease out the unspoken gems. You will be glued to your speakers for the entire episode and find yourself eagerly waiting for more. The care put into each episode is clear with a show notes page that helps the curious learn in any medium. Keep up the great work and thanks Ray!

  • A fountain of Strength and training knowledge
    May 14, 2015 by HCF82 from United Kingdom

    After searching for an age to find a good strength podcast I discovered the super strength show through Chris Duffins interview and have been hooked since. The format is excellent with some of the best voices in the world of strength and conditioning appearing. No nonsense straight talking, this really should be one of your first resources to go to if you are a coach or an average joe looking to improve in the weight room.

  • fantastic
    May 10, 2015 by gena_wallis from Australia

    i enjoyed your session.looking forward to more staff.Victor from the Youngpreneurs Podcast!

  • Well structured, interesting, and informative.
    May 2, 2015 by TEEJ888888 from Canada

    I just listened to the first two episodes of the podcast. It's really good. The questions are solid, there is lots of good advice for lifting and for life, and Ray does a good job at interacting with the guest but keeping things on track and flowing. Ray is articulate and the guests seem professional and smart. Overall, I'm very impressed.

  • My top 5 favorite show!
    April 16, 2015 by mrcdmag from United States

    Great show with lots of valuable information! I always have my notebook open and writing.

  • Top strength show
    April 16, 2015 by Alastair7890 from United Kingdom

    Very informative. Top guests

  • Great Show!
    April 10, 2015 by SloneStrength from United States

    Well prepared show. Amazing professionalism! Keep up the great work.

    March 4, 2015 by jamie729 from United Kingdom

    This is an awesome podcast the format, the guests & the topics disscussed are all truely infomative. No BS contained the show always opens up new schools of thoughts and ideas to the listeners. keep up the good work.

  • Subscribe, instantly addictive
    March 2, 2015 by thebroadkaz from Canada

    This show is amazing to listen to it motivates you not only for the gym but for setting and achieving goals in your every day life. Very motivating and positive. Truly helps to get you in the right frame of mind for life and for the gym.

  • An absolutely ace show everytime
    February 24, 2015 by Tommy Eggleton from United Kingdom

    This show is phenomenal! The format and repeated questions for each episode keep the show driving forward, the guests have had ample time to prepare excellent and considered opinions and yet the show never feels like anything but no-BS conversations on building seuperhuman strength and mighty bodies. The host, Ray Toulany, consistently does a marvellous job of drawing out even more from his guests than the material they've prepared and some of the stories that are teased out are superb. I wholeheartedly recommend this to anybody that trains, thinks about training, or simply admires strength sports and bodybuilding in general.

  • Great Resource
    February 4, 2015 by Velvet Jones81 from United States

    For someone new to the strength sports like myself this show has been a great resource. Thanks for doing this show. It has helped a lot.

  • Paul McIlroy
    February 2, 2015 by Paul McIlroy from United Kingdom

    I've been an avid aficionado of all things strength and physical culture related for the vast majority of my entire life. As a former world champion powerlifter and trainer of world champions in different strength sports I can honestly say that Ray Toulany's Super Strength Show is an absolutely INVALUABLE resource for those wishing/needing to maximise their holistic understanding of strength, what it is to be strong, why that is important and how to best achieve it! The list of guests reads like a star studded "who's who" of strength and conditioning ROYALTY! Plus, more than anything the interviews are a ton of fun and provide a fascinating insight into the very best in the business and what makes them tick. It was my complete pleasure and privilege to be a guest on this amazing show (episode 37). If YOU claim to be serious about strength training and are not currently subscribed to THIS show, my honest advice is do so immediately...if not sooner!

  • Super Strength Show
    January 26, 2015 by Joeino from United States

    I love this podcast as I seem to pick up valuable information from each guest. Listing to this is a fun and productive use of my time

  • Excellent Information
    January 26, 2015 by TaylorrrrNB from United States

    These guys obviously do their homework, work hard to create an excellent show and know who to interview in the world of strength and fitness! I’m very impressed by what they have created and the quality of what they do. You need to subscribe! TODAY!!

  • by Brandon Richey
    January 22, 2015 by Great Work SSS from United States

    The Super Strength Show is a fantastic resource for all things concerning strength, fitness, and life. The multitude of guests provides tons of information and perspectives that every listener will appreciate. If you’re serious about strength and the physical culture this is a resource that you just can’t pass up!

  • Very glad I stumbled across this podcast!
    January 22, 2015 by rk102 from United States

    Great info from big-time guests in the strength and conditioning world. Keep up the great work, Ray!

  • Awesome show
    January 13, 2015 by Bonjower from Canada

    The Podcast is the best I’ve encountered in the fitness/bodybuilding sector. The host has a great ability to pull the pertinent information out of his guests. The topics are great and you seem to be able to get useful information out of every interview! Awesome podcast!!

  • Do yourself a favour and subscribe
    January 1, 2015 by GameOverBoss from Canada

    The amount of info and resources in the SuperStrengthShow is just incredible. All of this coming from guests that are the best of the best in their fields. Great questions are asked to these guys and some really insightful answers given (along with a few laughs). I hate wasting time and i'm always looking to evolve and refine my training. This podcast has saved me hours of digging through the crazy crap on the internet to find valid info. It has also introduced me to things i would have never thought to look up. Really can’t recommend enough.

  • Master SFG
    December 24, 2014 by X-Fab69 from Italy

    Awesome Podcast! A whole lot of great and useful information provided by very accomplished athletes and coaches with an extended experience on the ground!

  • Charles C
    December 22, 2014 by CharlieConnely from Canada

    Very impressed with the quality guests that the Super Strength Show is interviewing. Loaded with with actionable and inspiring information. Great production quality and daily episodes!

  • Well done Ray
    December 19, 2014 by Matt McWilliams from United States

    Wow…Super Strenght Show Podcast is flat out awesome. Good production quality. Easy to listen. Very impressed Ray. Keep bringing it.

Click here for the full page of reviews!

Before You Go – Rate, Review, and Subscribe In iTunes

Reviews for the podcast on iTunes are greatly appreciated (especially 5 star reviews) and will allow us to get the word out about the show and grow as a community. We read every single review on iTunes and believe that each one goes a long way in helping us make the show even better! Good, bad, or ugly, we want to get your feedback. It would mean the world to us if you participated in rating/reviewing our show in iTunes. Here’s how you can participate….

Step 1: Follow this link: Rate/Review Super Strength Show in iTunes

Step 2: Make sure you’re signed in using your iTunes username and password.

Step 3: From here, you can provide your honest rating and review of our show.

Step 4: Finally, if you would like each episode automatically downloaded to your iTunes, hit the subscribe button on the iTunes page.

Thanks For Tuning In – Share With A Friend!

Thanks again for listening to the Super Strength Show! If you enjoyed this episode and think that others would too, please use the social media buttons at the bottom of the page to share with friends.

Got A Comment or Question?

If you listened to this episode, tell us what you thought in the comments section at the bottom of the page. Additionally, this is a great opportunity for you to ask us any questions that relate to this episode. We want to hear from our community and look forward to connecting with you!

Get Instant Strength FREE

The One Little Trick that will instantly Boost Your Strength by 10lbs or more in your Main Lifts.

Join the Community!

FREE Strength, Conditioning and Muscle Building Tips from Today’s Top Experts, Delivered Directly to your Inbox. Get Updates Today!
Join The Super Strength Community
Access FREE Tips from the Top Iron Game Leaders and Legends