Manning Sumner doesn’t want you to work out alone. The Miami-based trainer to the stars has built a fitness career on encouraging paired workouts, a revelation that came from accidentally double-booking a professional athlete and a gym novice. Both the pro and the newbie flourished, and encouraging his clients to engage with others has become a cornerstone of his training philosophy.
After sustaining back injuries in high school and college playing football, Sumner turned to coaching and training, attracting the attention of athletes and celebrities. Today, he’s the founder and CEO of Legacy, a community-based gym with six locations around South Florida, and No Days Off, a lifestyle brand that includes a clothing label and premium water. We recently sat down with him for his advice on optimizing workouts, enjoying cheat days and what it’s like training professional athletes.
InsideHook: A lot of guys go to the gym, put in their headphones and go to work, but you believe that community is the key to leveling up your workouts.
Manning Sumner: Accountability and community are things all men need. I find that when I engage with other men and we’re accountable to each other, there’s no excuse when you have someone waiting for you at the gym. That’s really the basis of Legacy — we’re really trying to change that narrative of fitness where you go in and you put your headphones on and you keep your head down. During the pandemic, we found that community is healthy for you. It boosts your immune system and helps your mood and overall well-being.
Some of your past clients include Kevin Durant, James Harden and Matt Kemp. Is there anything that we would be surprised to learn about your work with these professional athletes?
A lot of people would be surprised by how similar the workouts are, and really the only difference is possibly the effort and athleticism of the athlete. In terms of the exercises and programming, my workouts with them are very similar to what I would have an everyday person do.
How to Pair Your Daily Exercise With Your MoodFrom happy to hungover: 10 moods and the workouts that work best
For the past 15 years, you’ve grown the Legacy gyms in Miami and around South Florida. What do you love about Miami?
I don’t know if there’s data on this or not, but I truly believe that Miami is one of the hottest fitness cities in the world as far as competition and everybody wanting to be in shape. We may not be the healthiest city in the world, but people here really care about being in shape and the way they look. So to me, it’s a perfect place to grow a fitness brand because the competition keeps you on your toes.
What mistakes do you find that men usually make when they’re trying to get into shape?
The biggest mistake is operating off feelings and emotions. When you wake up, you can’t focus on how you feel. You already told yourself you’re going to work out at 5 a.m., so once you make that decision, it’s non-negotiable. It doesn’t matter how you feel. You gotta get up and do it anyway. Oftentimes, men rely on this feeling of motivation to get up and work out, but that’s not reality. Instead, stay in a space of consistency, regardless of your circumstances. Every day doesn’t have to be the greatest workout of your life. It could just mean you go in and walk on the treadmill or do a couple of dumbbell curls, but showing up for yourself every single day is better than only showing up for yourself when you feel like it.
One of your core philosophies is “no days off.” Are you hitting the gym every single day?
“No days off” means a commitment to becoming your best self every single day. It’s more than just working out and eating perfectly. It actually involves having rest days: going to the beach, doing yoga or getting a massage.
Do you have cheat days?
When it comes to nutrition, I think you should enjoy life. I also think it’s very important to have your own baseline [nutritional plan]. I have a baseline plan that I stick to Monday through Friday, or sometimes I’ll stick to it for 30 days straight. But balance is important. Sometimes we’re so hard on ourselves and so strict on our diet, and then our cheat day is insane. Instead, you should go about it in a way where you’re actually enjoying it. So go for a donut on the weekend or have dessert or a burger. As long as you do it moderately, then I think it’s perfectly fine.
What’s one thing men can do to increase the efficiency of their workouts?
The best thing is to work out with a partner and make your workout their rest and vice versa. I see way too many guys do a rep and then spend 15 minutes scrolling on their phones. Instead, spot each other and count each other’s reps. If you do that consistently throughout the whole workout and set yourself up so you’re not distracted, your workouts will be more efficient.
You can only pick one Miami sports team. Are you going with the Heat, the Dolphins, Inter Miami or the Marlins?
I gotta go with the Miami Heat. The No Days Off NDO H2O is actually the official premium water of the Miami Heat, and we’re very excited about the partnership because there’s so much like-mindedness in our culture and their culture. No Days Off is more than just a product. It’s a movement about prioritizing your health every day. I want to pay it forward and have a cause greater than myself where I can look back and say I influenced people with a positive message.