Latest Testimonial 

I have been working with Ray at Quest for a year now. Ray is a great personal trainer, he has encouraged and challenged me to reach each of my goals that I have set. He listens to what you want to accomplish and sets a workout plan to meet those goals! This is my first experience in working with a personal trainer, Ray makes you feel comfortable while pushing you to achieve your goals! I have never felt better in my life – better than my 30’s or 40’s! Thanks Ray!! -Deb

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Small Sample From the Up Coming Book

Here is a small excerpt from my up coming book. Publishing is still pending. 
Coffee!!! I love coffee! If you need that boost for your day or for your workout, a cup of black coffee can hit the spot! But if it is just before a workout, be careful of the cream or milk you add. It could lead to a slightly upset stomach. Ok, from time to time I like those fancy coffee drinks you get at fancy coffee shops, but remember what I said about sugar! They are more sugar now than coffee, twisted and evil. Well maybe not evil… can coffee have an alignment? Again, it is ok to indulge from time to time, but do so carefully.

Workout Program Coming Soon

I know many people don’t have the ability to meet for training either because of scheduling or distance, so I will be offering “at home programs” for all fitness levels. All of the workouts will be done with minimal equipment so you can do it at home or even at the park. Each level will include instructional videos to show you how to perform each exercise with modifications, if needed. I will also include basic nutrition information. Again, this isn’t a substitute for personal training, but it is a step in the right direction.

Fitness and the Holidays 

We all know with the holidays, time runs short really easily. So, let’s look at how to keep health and fitness in your crazy holiday schedule.

First, and best advice, is to focus on quality over quantity. You don’t have to spend an hour on your workout when you could bust out a hard core workout in just 30 minutes. Try knocking out 2 or more muscle groups back to back while reducing rest time. For your cardio, try doing intervals or tabata training. This will keep the challenge high and reduce the time required for the workout.

Another idea is workout at home and focus on the basics! Push-ups, pull ups and squats. You do not need a gym for a great workout if you focus on these basics.

The healthy eating is the biggest holiday challenge. Junk food is everywhere!! But don’t get down on yourself if you have a few slip ups. We are all human. Just focus on portion control, then the little indulgences won’t add up as much.

See my fitness journey.

Have questions? Contact me.

5 Tips To Keep Your Fitness Goals.

Every year I meet people that make very unrealistic health and fitness goals for their New Year’s resolution, and, within a month, they give up. That doesn’t have to be you. Get Inspired.Set attainable goals. The most common mistake people make is to set one large goal. It is important to set small goals for short term and long term. Instead of saying “I want to lose 50 lbs. by summer” (which is unhealthy), try the small goal of losing 1-2 lbs. a week. It doesn’t sounds like much but a small step forward is still a step forward. I use the SMART goal system. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.

Get a trainer. Even if it’s once a week or once a month, a trainer will help you assess your current fitness level, set goals you can attain, and help you choose workouts to get you to your goals. They can make sure you are doing your exercises correctly to avoid injury and can help you stay motivated. Don’t forget, even Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno and Ronda Rousey had help.

Eat for success. You can’t get lean and fit with a poor diet. Start by eliminating empty calories such as soda pop, juices, candy, and other junk foods. You can still have an occasional treat but everything should be in moderation. Then calculate your needed calories and eat by the numbers, keeping a balance between fruits and veggies, and lean proteins and healthy fats.

Create a support system. Health and fitness goals are hard to meet on your own. Friends, family, and co-workers might not understand your goals and inadvertently try to sabotage your effort. You worked out yesterday, you can skip it today or one cookie won’t hurt you. Surround yourself with as many like minded people as you can, from work-out buddies to health conscious eaters.

Don’t focus on the scale. At first you may drop weight fast, then plateau on weight loss. This is common and very frustrating. Instead focus on how you feel, how much energy you have, how well you sleep, and how your clothes fit. Keep in mind that set backs can happen and they are nothing to worry about. It is also possible that you are putting on lean muscle.

Treat your fitness goals as a life style change and stick to your convictions. It takes time to turn a new routine into a habit. Remember, everybody is different and reaching your goals may mean different approaches than someone else. Your fitness journey will be unique but follow these five simple tips for continued success.

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SEE MY FITNESS JOURNEY

Breaking Through Plateaus

We all face them at some point in our fitness journey, but there are ways past them. I’ll admit, I have even faced them in both my workouts and my martial art training.
When it comes to weight loss and diet, the focus needs to be on calories in versus calories out. If you have been hitting the workout hard, then you may possibly have to increase your calories and possibly your carb intake just to kick the weight loss back up. Remember, as your metabolism grows so, too, will your fuel needs.

Now for the training plateau. First thing I always suggest is to change your routine. As I have mentioned in the past, your body will adapt to the work within 4-6 weeks. So change will be important. This holds true for weight loss as well as muscle building. Now this doesn’t mean you have to just up the weight or reps. You should try a complete phase change

To go into these subjects further, I would strongly suggest talking to a trainer. They can help you blast past the road blocks and keep you challenged. Remember, if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.

See my fitness journey.

Have questions? Contact me.

Reasons to Consider a Trainer

It’s hard to admit, but sometimes we all need a little help on our fitness journey. A lot of people are honestly nervous or scared of seeking out a trainer. But despite what people think, trainers are there to help, not kill, you in the gym. Here are some reasons to work with a trainer:

1) You are working but not seeing results.


There are many reasons this could happen, anywhere from diet to programming. Working with a trainer can help you through the possible plateau by building a plan to fit your goals.

2) You are not sure where to start.


This is very normal, but working with a trainer can take out all the guess work. We help with scheduling the correct cardio, strength training and flexibility training to fit your needs. In time you may want to go out on your own.

3) You are bored with the same old workout.
A good trainer will be able to constantly keep you challenged, while not killing you with the workout. We even work to keep the workouts fresh and consistently evolving with your fitness level.

4) You need motivation and accountability.
The best part in my opinion is the motivation you get to work hard when you are with a trainer. A good trainer will give you the push you need to get the workout done. Trainers also help keep you accountable for your actions when it comes to good health and fitness decisions.

5) You have an injury, Illness or medical condition.


Fitness isn’t just for those who are already healthy. This is where specialized trainers can really help! A trainer can build programs to work around your current limitations. Your medical condition can be worked around.

Have Questions? Contact me.

See my fitness journey.

What Is the best way to lose fat?

The best answer is, there isn’t a best way. I will say that everyone’s body will react differently to diet and exercise programs. The best first step is to find an exercise that you enjoy doing because weight loss can be a long, but rewarding, journey.

Whatever exercise activities you do choose, try to make sure they incorporate multiple muscle groups. The more muscle groups you work the more calories you will be burning. So, doing a squat to over head press would be more beneficial than just doing a chest press because more muscles are activating. Also, consider activities like HIIT or Tabata training over just running. You will work a lot more muscles in a shorter amount of time. If motivation to exercise is an issue, then try group classes like boot camps. You will work at your own pace but with your peers there to help motivate you. 

Now onto diet. First off, get rid of the term diet, look at it as a lifestyle change. Want to feel good? Then eat good. No, this does not mean you will have to give up all the foods you love. You just have to take it all in moderation. I suggest to stay away from fad diet programs. In most cases (not all) they are a very very short term solution. As your body changes so too will the meal plans. This is important! You may start off with high protein and lower carb and fat, but as you become more physically fit you may need more fuel like carbs. Remember protein is not an energy source, it does help repair muscle, but carbs and fats are what give you energy. I would highly suggest talking to a nutritionist for a meal plan to fit your needs or if you just need the basic such as “What amount of protein, carbs, and fats do I need?” talk to a trainer or check out apps like My Fitness Pal. Also, don’t worry if you slip up from time to time, no one is perfect. Even I have a little cheat meal from time to time.

Most important, remember to do this for you and no one else. Life will happen and it will create obstacles. Use those obstacles to make you stronger. This is the first step to a newer fitter you!

See my fitness journey.
Have questions? Contact me.

Amanda Was The First To Take The Challenge!

1. So what made you decide you wanted to try The 6 day Calisthenics Challenge?


Amanda: Ray offered the challenge and insisted I wouldn’t die, so I wanted to see if I would be able to complete it. After training with Ray for almost a year, I wanted to see how far I could push myself, and also see how far I have come. 

2. Did you have many concerns about going through with it?

Amanda: I was afraid I would be too tired/sore/worn out to actually complete all 6 days. Honestly, I was terrified that like 2 days in I would be too sore to even get out of bed. This was by far the most rigorous and demanding workout I have ever done. 

3. What day would you say was the most challenging and what day did you enjoy the most?


Amanda: The most challenging day was leg day, by far. I have a love/hate relationship with leg day. It was absolutely exhausting, but the feeling of satisfaction and achievement when you finish and realize how many squats and lunges you cranked out in one session is awesome. 
As far as most fun, I loved the cardio day. Speed ladders and boxing in intervals was a blast and the workout went really quickly. 

4. If you did it all again what, if anything, would you change?

Amanda: I would eat better during the challenge. Clean eating is one of my personal challenges that I struggle with. I could tell on the days where I had slacked off and eaten junk food that I had less energy and that the workouts were harder to complete. I would probably do more at home stretching too, in between workouts, to help with muscle soreness.

5. Do you have any advice for the people out there considering giving the calisthenics challenge a try?

Amanda: Just try it. It is hard, and it does hurt, but satisfaction afterwards is more than worth it. Now I get to say I kept up with Ray for a whole week. And anyone that has met or trained with Ray knows that’s a hell of an accomplishment. (Also, you might accidentally get a six pack, which I look at as a positive) 

Sending out a fitness challenge to all my fitness friends and family! The challenge is come workout with me doing my routines for 6 days straight. All of it is calisthenics. Amanda was the first to survive the “Z Fitness Challenge”. Who’s next? The fee is only $125 for 6 days. If you make it all 6 days you get $25 back.

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See where I started.

Ultra Low Calorie Diets!

Ray Shonk - fitness instructor - greater grand rapids area
Ultra low is a no go.

There are some misconceptions about cutting calories to super low levels. First off what is a calorie? A calorie is the energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1° C. So calories are not evil.
Studies show that ultra low calorie diets have a long history of failure. They will likely show results for about a week or two, but then the bad changes happen. You will likely start to fatigue easy, and your metabolism will plummet. When this happens your body will change gears to what many call “starvation mode“.  Once here your body will do everything it can to store fat. This is so your organs don’t start to fail and in time you will notice a distended belly. Another very likely side effect would also be a weakened immune system.
It’s also not just the calories that you need to pay attention to it’s also your basic nutrients such as fat protein and carbohydrates. You need to understand the proper ratio in order to reach your intended goal.
My personal recommendation would be to find an app for your phone that can properly calculate the calories you need per day and subtract the amount of calories required to safely lose weight. Another option would be talking to a nutritionist or a personal trainer weight-loss specialist.  Remember, at the end of the day you are doing this for you, so do it right.

Have Questions? Contact Me.

Want to see how I’ve progress? My Fitness Journey.