Alex Bernier is a kinesiologist focused on posture and body composition. He also runs ‘The Online School of Exercise’, where he has helped thousands of students build better lifestyles and improve their long-term health.
Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?
I grew up in Montreal, a bilingual city in the Canadian province of Quebec. My French-speaking family moved to the west side of the island when I was 8 years old in a mostly anglophone area.
My native language made me an outcast amongst the local kids. They joked about my accent and called me names like “French Pepper” or asked me if I was a part of the FLQ, a separatist terrorist cell from the late 1960s.
The hazing bothered me, but I channeled it through my athletic performance. There were far fewer insults once I started scoring more goals and winning swimming races with them.
The chirping was a blessing in disguise looking back now. The pressure made me fluent in English at a young age, an invaluable skill in my professional life as I consult with clients from all over the world.
What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?
My family got the internet when I was seven years old. I made my first dollar online at 30. The gap between both is filled with wasted time.
I wish I had invested half of those digital hours into building something related to my different passions.
The worst part is my dad had encouraged me to start a business when I was 15, but I wasn’t in the right mindset at the time. I only cared about sports and video games.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
Context matters in my profession.
Two people could show up with the exact problem then react differently to my alleged “good” advice. One might get better results while the other worsens.
Now, what I consider to be bad advice may have helped someone else improve their lives elsewhere.
I sound like a fool to anyone who’s improved lives doing something I criticize, so I’ve learned to be careful.
The worst thing you can do as a health professional is to generalize your knowledge, even if it’s been successful with others.
A new client forces me to learn about the human body all over again because every experience is different in some way.
Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?
One of the darker periods in my life was the chronic sleepless nights between the ages of 5 to 24. I would get to bed with more mental energy than any other time during the day, then toss and turn until the early hours of the morning.
I thought the terrible sleep quality was normal and never really questioned anything. No doctor ever asked me about my nights either, so I figured it didn’t matter.
Mornings were disasters. I had an anvil for a brain and would often sink asleep in class. My mood and energy spiraled all over the place.
The cycle repeated itself every night. I dreaded going to bed because I knew how long it would take to fall asleep, if at all.
This sleepless nightmare followed me until my first year working full-time after school.
I attended a Charles Poliquin course in New York to improve my craft, and my life changed forever unexpectedly.
The world-class strength coach highlighted the importance of sleep for optimal training results, a link I had never even considered before. My sleep issues were fixable.
I followed his advice and took the matter into my hands. The process took time and patience, though the wait was all worth it in the end.
I can now fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow, and that’s priceless.
My training results improved massively, along with my acuity and energy levels. The difference is night and day.
This experience has taught me that sleep is the most important function in the body.
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
Exercise fueled my highest peaks and pulled me out of my deepest lows.
It’s been omnipresent all my life.
My workouts keep everything in check, from nutrition to my energy levels and sleep. They create the incentive to make all the right decisions.
The power generated at the gym pours into all other aspects of myself, from confidence to creativity and professional performance.
Strength training grows your nervous system, after all, the same one that regulates all these things.
What is your morning routine?
I wake up at 5:00 am, something I never thought I’d love so much. I love how peaceful it is at that time.
The first thing I do is stimulate my feet either by stepping on an acupressure mat or doing an arch exercise, then drink a tall glass of water.
I walk the dog and have my black coffee or tea when I get back. My early morning clients start around 6. Sometimes my mornings are free, so I’ll either work out or start recording/editing content for my video courses.
My first feed happens between 5-9 depending on my schedule, a large protein meal that keeps my energy levels steady throughout the day.
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
Writing has been one of the best habits for me other than exercise. I started creating blog posts for my clients early on in my career and felt invigorated in a novel way.
The process takes a dull topic like anatomy and makes it fun because I involve my creative muscles.
There’s an added layer of brain stimulation school fails to provide.
The skill has been paramount in the creation of my online business and for the content presented to my audience.
What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?
Go for walks more often. You stimulate your brain and increase blood flow everywhere in your body, both underwhelmed in the seated, inactive position.
I got stuck at this question, then went for a walk and found my answer.
What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?
The first two that came to mind were The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas. I read both as a teenager out of pure curiosity after seeing so many references on television.
They sparked my imagination like no other book ever had, still to this day.
Modern education stifles our creative muscles, and that brain chemical release broke them free at a critical time in my nervous system’s development.
The spark still shines within me when I write today.
I want to instill the same passion in my work and inspire others to create something of their own.
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
A popular quote about fishing inspired the idea behind my website, The Online School of Exercise.
“Sell someone fish, and you’ll feed them for a day. Teach them how to fish, and you’ll feed them for a lifetime.”
I think about this quote every day because the world needs more self-sufficiency on workout-related matters.
A solid chunk of the metabolic epidemics would disappear if more people knew how to train themselves personally.
There’s a skill aspect to fitness that popular media fails to present, perhaps because it’s unappealing.
They prime your expectations by showing you people with crazy bodies and strength that have hundreds, if not thousands of practice hours on you, years of results promised in a few weeks or months.
The reality is you’ve been inactive for a while and will be bad everything from exercise form to consistency and changing your nutrition.
You will need time to improve and reap more out of your workouts.
You’re thinking in chunks of 30 to 90 days when you should expect years of practice to achieve the changes you desire.
My mission is to help my students exceed their goals by reaching Sovereign Fitness, a state of exercise independence where they can elicit their results without me.