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From the chiseled physique to the abs that go way beyond a six-pack, it’s obvious Joey Emont spends a lot of time at the gym.
It’s the reason why he’s there that separates him from everyone else. Emont, a personal trainer and certified nutritionist, has dedicated the last decade to learning, practicing and now teaching a specialized fitness program called Muscle Activation Techniques, or MAT.
MAT is a personalized program that targets an individual’s specific muscle weakness to achieve optimal muscle function, will then stabilize the body and restore flexibility.
MAT was the answer Emont had been looking for. He grew up in southern California, the son of two doctors. But when misinformation about exercise led him down the path of a serious eating disorder, Emont decided to push past all the noise and find a healthy way to get fit and stay fit.
In addition to studying MAT, body composition and muscular function, Emont also earned several clinical nutrition certification and too courses in functional medicine.
“It’s all been a process of trying to uncover and enhance people’s human performance,” he said.
Now Emont, the owner of RestoraFitness, is bringing his expertise to Attune Health, working with patients to develop an exercise and fitness plan that will ease the symptoms and pain associated with autoimmune and inflammatory conditions.
Exercise is an essential part of whole body treatment plan at Attune Health. Learn more about Joey Emont and why MAT could be the answer to relieving autoimmune symptoms:
How did you get started as an exercise guru?
I started off doing personal training. But, eventually, I started learning how much nutrients can actually affect people’s body composition and also their physical performance. And so I started doing as much research as possible on how to improve the human performance, not only in the gym but also recovery, muscle function, strength and stuff like that.
One of the major pieces was that they were not flexible enough to do a lot of the exercises that they needed to do in order to get to their stated goals. Most people have an idea of what they think their fitness program should include and they get to the gym and they are doing these exercises, but the thing is, they have so many imbalances in their body.
Doing those exercises that are standardized might be doing more harm than good. It became the search to get the most effective means of getting someone’s muscular system on point so they could actually exercise.
How did you get so connected to exercise?
I’ve had a personal connection to exercise since I was a kid. I grew up with parents who were in the medical industry. So my mother and father were both medical doctors involved in internal medicine. Growing up we should have had this idea of how to maintain our health. And even my grandfather was a dentist, but he also read a lot of medical journals.
It didn’t occur to me that these people actually knew what they were talking about, especially as I started getting into my teenage years and I started to exercise as a way for me to improve my physique and my body composition and my self-esteem. I should have been able to figure out how to be healthy if everybody in my family was in the health industry. But in reality what ended up happening was that I was listening to the age-old advice of exercise more and eat less and I started doing all this cardiovascular exercise for hours a day, and I started eating less and less food. It turned into a full on eating disorder when I was 16 and 17 years old.
I was about 6 feet tall when I was 17 and at that time my weight came down to about 132 pounds, which is sick. It occurred to me that all of the information I’d been reading in men’s fitness magazines and all these systems for weight loss, there was something wrong with it.
I said “I’m going to find out the truth. And there something that no one’s telling me. And there’s something that everyone’s confused about.”
For me it became this mission to be able to figure out what the truth is. How do I disseminate good information to people in a no-nonsense way? Not only that, but how do I push the boundaries and give people cutting edge therapies that may actually be counterintuitive, that are super effective and are almost beyond what the modern research shows us.
What should people know about MAT?
I was looking for ways to improve people’s flexibility. The common thought in the fitness industry is the more flexible you are, the better it is — less chances of injury.
Everybody was focusing on how tight muscles are and how to loosen tight muscles and all these different techniques to work on the tightnesses in the body. I was using all these things and I was actually having some success with them, but it just took so long.
I started listening to a guy named Greg Roskopf. What he was saying was that tightnesses in the body are secondary to weaknesses. What he was saying is that muscles tighten up purposely as a protective mechanism to keep you from going into places that might injure you or expose you to instability. If you can strengthen the body strategically in very specific areas, the body will give you all the flexibility you want.
I took an intro course and they started explaining all the science and it just made so much sense to me that I got involved in the full, 10 month-internship which took place in Denver, Colorado.
How did you connect with Attune Health?
I had a referral for a client who was also working with Lee Bell. This client had some autoimmune issues. She had been in and out of physical therapy for years. What she had explained to me is that the physical therapists just basically gave up. They said, “We don’t know what’s wrong with your knee, we don’t see anything on the image, no structural changes to your knee, we’ve done everything that we can and we don’t really know what’s going on and we’ve run out of ideas.”
So I started looking at it more from a biochemical standpoint. I said to her, “Well, how’s your nutrition? What are you doing? What supplements are you taking?” She started telling me. I said, “Well it sounds like I have to meet your nutritionist because I don’t very often find other professionals that have this same ideology.”
When Lee heard about me and saw the progress my client was making, we got together for lunch. I just realized what a special gem I had found and she invited me to meet Dr. V. I went in and Dr. V allowed me to work on one of his patients and we saw some incredible results with this one particular patient. That’s how the whole thing got started.
What can clients expect when they visit you?
Every Tuesday I’m there. We do a full assessment and we carry out this Muscle Activation Techniques process.
Not one person that comes in to see me is the same. So from my standpoint, because it’s not protocol-based, I have to do a lot of thinking. It’s kind of like a puzzle for me.
Why do people with autoimmune disease benefit from regular exercise?
I think people with autoimmune diseases tend to have a lot of pain and they have a lot of muscular dysfunction, probably more so than other people.
If you have an immune system that’s already playing against you in a lot ways, what you want to do is try to reduce any strain on your immune system. Most people think exercise is a good thing, but it also happens to be a stress on your body.
Your immune system’s also responsible for getting your muscular system to recover as quickly as it possibly can. If your immune system happens to be compromised and it’s not able to really repair your muscular tissue as quickly as it should, then you are probably going to be wearing your immune system thin.
Through the process of MAT or a variety of other manual therapy modalities, we are taking care of the physical system, the muscular system being the tissue that covers the largest amount of surface area in your body. It’s just reducing the load on your immune system by enhancing the muscular systems function.
Basically we’re giving the immune system freedom to focus on the other things that are really important.
Why is this your passion?
I think our purpose as human beings on the planet is really to help other beings out. When I think about doing something, anything that is totally in the service of others or changes people’s lives in a meaningful way, I’m all about it.
With regards to MAT, it just seems like such a unique aspect of the exercise and physical therapy world. It’s kind of like this missing link. It’s very unique in the sense that it’s a facet of muscular function that not a lot of people are looking at.
I get a lot of stories of people who have been through the system, they’ve been through all the physical therapy, they’ve been through all the surgeries, they’ve been to specialists and they’re not getting the relief they’re looking for. I’m not saying that MAT is the answer, but in a lot of cases it does fit this slot that they just haven’t been getting addressed by anybody else.