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May 2022 Instructor of the Month: Juan Pablo Arias Fortiz

Juan Pablo Arias Fortiz Instructor

Tell us a little about you. Where you live, what your background is. What (if) you do in addition to being a Certified Instructor.

My name is Juan Pablo Arias but I’m known as JuanPa “El Profe Spartan” and I live in México City. I’m a best seller author of the book Cuerpo De Acero a los 55, Fitness Mentor, and an expert in fitness and conditioning especially running, I’ve been working in the fitness industry for more than 10 years and right now I’m part of the Functional Aging Institute México Staff in charge of the certification process in Spanish for new Functional Aging Specialists, I’m a Spartan SGX Level 2 Coach, ISSA Master Instructor, UESCA Running and Ultra Running coach, this 24th of April I launched my first obstacle race series named Reto acero starting with a 5k obstacle course race.

Actually, I work for three different Fitness clubs and Studios as a Group Fitness Class instructor teaching in place and online (Keiser Indoor Cycling, Functional Training, Latin Rhythms, etc.), I have a Running team where we train since 2016 for Spartan, road and trail races and I have personal training programming with an app named Cuauhtli Nikniuuan that means in Nauhtl “Eagle Friends”.

I have a degree as a chemistry pharmacist biologist and I worked as a teacher for 4 years before and during the pandemic.

How did you start running? 

I started running in 2008 when I entered university, I saw the announcement for a night race of 8 kilometers in the same circuit of the university campus and I signed up for it feeling that it implied as well as the student atmosphere.

When and how did ChiRunning come into your life? (The short story)

In 2016 during my Spartan SGX Coach Certification, I met Joel Matalon who actually is one of my best friends at that time. We were teammates and while we were preparing for our exam he told me about ChiRunning and sent me as a present the ChiRunning Book. After that, I asked him to come to Mexico to the ChiRunning Instructor certification because I was convinced that ChiRunning was something that Mexican Runners must experience and know.

In what ways has Chi changed your perception of and success in running?

That running is another skill that must be learned, feel and always be aware of so we can enjoy our running practice in all ways, right now for me running is my moving meditation to flow better when I have to clear my mind.

What do you think is the biggest misconception of ChiRunning?

That there is only one way to run and it must be powerful and learned with the same drills that everybody learns or teaches. That every runner has the same goal in mind, so ChiRunning is something that sometimes sounds out of the context of a sport. How can you relax and run? That’s crazy!

What motivates you to run?

Feeling a connection with my body, mind, and my environment.

What achievements are you most proud of?

My best selling book, when I classified for 2018 Spartan Race World Championship, my obstacle course series Reto Acero, ISSA Master Trainer, and finally FAI Instructor in Spanish.

What led you to become an instructor?

Wanting to take all those who want to run,  already run but are afraid that they may injure themselves or do not want to injure themselves again, in the end they can enjoy it thanks to a technique. A way of running and a lifestyle that has allowed me to enjoy a practice, as integral as running is for me and I know that for many more people it is too and that just like me who came to go through various discomforts and injuries that thanks to ChiRunning I got away from them, today I can continue enjoying and living running like never before.

Why do you enjoy being an instructor, and how has it affected your life?  

I love being able to share my knowledge and that this allows people to be able to change their lives positively. Being an instructor has also led me to meet great human beings who have also allowed me to learn even more from them and who above all have filled me with their great energy and their passionate way of living. I have been able to meet people all over the world who, thanks to the fact that they met ChiRunning and became part of their life, now run when they had been told that they were not going to do it again, for example, or that regardless of their age, they continue to enjoy running and sharing moments with more people, with their bodies, and with nature.

What does your average week look like, run-wise?

Right now I only run two or three days per week, Keiser Indoor Cycling classes this 2022 increased in my agenda so sometimes soreness keeps me away from running, but I try one or two sessions in the park round 5 to 8 kilometers and one session in weekends that can be a race or just training trail running or at a local park.

What other forms of exercise do you practice to complement ChiRunning?

My personal functional training sessions to maintain my strength, and muscle resistance as well to keep myself able to improve for obstacle course racing, and my Keiser Indoor Cycling classes that can be endurance, intervals, or strength formats.

Advice for people new to ChiRunning?

Enjoying every moment, every focus, every step and allowing themselves to go little by little until what is done consciously can be perfectly executed unconsciously. Always keeping in mind that if it is not fun then it means that it is being done wrong, our bodies always are speaking to us, we must only allow ourselves to listen to them, and what better than in a practice that also provides physical, mental and emotional benefits such as running.

Short answer! Okay, GO.

Most memorable race: My First Spartan Race Ultra Beast at Dallas 2017

Ideal weather for running: Cloudy in the morning

Focus that currently dominates your running: Arm Swing, cadence, and breathing.

Favorite place to run: Mountain or forest

Go-to before race food: Bread with peanut butter and coffee

Celebratory food after a race: Pizza or meat

Upcoming race/goal: Peanut butter pretzels.

Upcoming race/goal: Nothing on the immediate horizon

Run with or without phone/music: Music serenaded by the birds

Repeat on your playlist: Rocky IV sound track or 80s training montage playlists

Fill in the blank. 

If I didn’t … Focus on what I’m doing I lose the focus on what is important in that precise moment

I can’t run without… My watch and my hydration vest

My first race was… 2008 annual night race UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico) 8 kilometers

My current favorite shoe to run in is… Road Running Newton & Trail Running Altra

My most difficult run ever was … Spartan Race Ultra with obstacles in San Luis Potosí Mexico 2019

I’ve run… Road, Trail and Obstacle Course Races from 5 k to 50 k

The longest distance I’ve ran… Spartan Race Ultra 50 kilometers with obstacles in Guadalajara Mexico 2019

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