If you ever happen to wander to the back of the Milken gymnasium, you will most likely find athletic directors and coaches hard at work. They may be icing someone’s leg or intensely discussing the most recent sports game. Just as frequently, you may also find Jordan Kalman ‘18 working out in the weight room. He is not just another Milken student casually attempting to fit some physical activity into his busy day. Kalman is well known around school for being an intensely dedicated athlete and fitness expert. Not only has Kalman broken many Milken student records, he has also been named “The Strongest Kid in Miken History” by the athletic department. Surprisingly, Kalman has not always been so dedicated to fitness and personal health. The Roar sat down with Kalman in an exclusive interview to discuss his techniques, motivation, and hopes for the future.
Can you tell me a little about your personal fitness history?
I was first introduced to weights in the ninth grade, but I really didn’t know what I was doing. I ended up doing basically the same two exercises every time, without getting any results. Eventually, with the help of other kids and adults, as well as my own research, I was able to learn more exercises. Even so, I was still unable to get good results because my nutrition was so bad. I ate whatever I wanted and never thought to pay attention to my diet. I started to understand what I was eating towards the end of ninth grade, but I still did not count calories or protein or anything. Not until I came back from camp the summer after freshman year did I change. I busted myself as hard as I could and went to the gym every day. I ate very healthy in order to lose weight for football. I started this regimen to prepare for football and I wanted to be as best as I could be. I wanted to be on the team and actually make a difference, not just be an extra body. Throughout the football season I got skinnier, but once the season ended, I would end up snacking all the time. The snacking caught up to me and I started to gain some weight back. One day I said to myself, “You gotta get back and work hard.” I did all the research and learned about nutrition, exercise, and health. It was trial and error. I made a very strict meal plan, but that did not work out because I couldn’t tell myself what I would enjoy. This caused too many cheat days. It was very difficult to have that willpower and that mindset. I’m always an advocate for treating yourself occasionally, but when you’re on a diet, you realize not to take these treats for granted. I started making all my own food and counting my calories. I didn’t realize that fat really helps to fuel your brain. I would get very dizzy when I was pushing myself too hard, but the doctor told me how important fat was. I focused on taking in a lot more fat. It’s really important to have a balanced diet and not be missing key macronutrients.
How has getting in shape changed your life?
As I continued to work out and supplemented that with a good diet, I saw great results. I saw myself getting stronger and more fit. My confidence soared. People started to say things and noticed the changes. It was interesting to see people noticing how strong I was looking. It felt great. The weights went up, I started benching and lifting a lot, and saw more definition. It motivates you much more when you see results. The biggest problem is when you work out and see no results. This causes so much discouragement. Don’t worry about the scale because the scale means so little. If you feel healthier and look healthier, then you are healthier. The weight doesn’t matter. The point is that sometimes it’s more about being physically fit and having a fit lifestyle than just having “the look.” But at the same time, you can’t just look at your body as a quick fix. It’s a lifestyle that you need to maintain. Once you start paying attention to the health in your life, you can find a way to change it permanently. It needs to be a passion. As a lot of my friends know, I take pride in my food and my workout plan. It makes me feel good because I know that it is helping me.
What are some Milken titles that you have broken?
Early in the year, I broke the school bench press record. The challenge was how many times you can bench 95 pounds. The record before was 42 reps of 95 lbs by Adam Zively ‘15. I was able to hit 50 reps in November. That title still stands. Even though I’m not someone to gloat about a record, it still feels good. I love to bench and I love to own that record. It’s pretty cool. For deadlift I can do 400 lbs, more than any student ever in Milken history. And I can also squat 380lbs. Again, this is more than any other student has ever done.
What are some tips you have for people wanting to follow in your footsteps?
I recommend walking a lot and exercising regularly. When I started, my goal was to take 14,000 steps a day. I would go on two mile walks with my dog. I could clear my head, reflect on the day, and still get exercise. For some people that aren’t as intense as I am about this, who don’t count every calorie and nutrient, who can just have a healthy mindset and understand health and activity, then you should be fine. While the calorie counting and intensity is good for me, it doesn’t work for everyone. Listen to your body and enjoy what you eat and have a good time getting fit. There will be sacrifices, but I promise that it is worth it. I think the most important thing is not to try and replicate someone else’s body. You see these fitness models and bodybuilders and clearly these people have God-given genetics or take steroids and supplements. You don’t need to look like them because that is not healthy. They have high blood pressure, are very sick, and have ruined their bodies. Just trust the basics and keep it simple.