Not long ago I was trying, and failing, to complete my first 5MD. The 5MD is the “five minute drill”, and although it has many faces these days, the original 5MD is 50 pull-ups and 100 push-ups in 5 minutes or less. If you have been doing these exercises for as many years as I have, you might think that this challenge shouldn’t be too difficult. You’d be wrong. It is intense and exhausting and I have yet to crack seven minutes. This prompted me to ask Zef Zakaveli, who invented the 5MD, if anyone in my age range (I’m 55) has completed it. Zef pointed me to the Instagram page of Stoic O, or Orlando Ortiz. You don’t have to spend much time on his page to know that Orlando Ortiz is the real deal. So I knew I had to interview him for my series “Fit After ???(40, 50, 60, 70)”. Real, solid, valuable information about fitness and health for people in their 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and up. Here is my interview with Orlando Ortiz.
Steve: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Your name, age, where you live, and what health and fitness activities you currently participate in. Have you won any awards or set any records? If so, please tell us about those. Any certifications? Are you a fitness professional?
Orlando Ortiz: My name is Orlando Ortiz. I am 47 years old (as of Monday 6/29/73). I live in Brooklyn, NY. I enjoy calisthenics, lifting weights, riding bike, among other activities. I came in 2nd at the 5B’s calisthenics competition in 2016. I’m a 22 year high school physical education and health teacher. On my free time, I also teach spin and a variety of group workout classes at Bad Ass Academy in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.
Steve: Tell us about your current workouts or fitness routines. What does a typical day or week look like for you in terms of fitness and exercise?
Orlando Ortiz: My current workouts are mainly total body calisthenics routines. I do like to add kettlebell functional movements to my mix, as well varied forms of HIIT.
Steve: Have you successfully completed a 5MD and if so, what was your time? Do you think it’s a good workout for people our age or is it too intense?
Orlando Ortiz: Yes, I’ve completed a 5MD. 100 push-up and 50 pull-ups under 5 minutes is tough. My times vary, but I’m usually under 4 minutes. It’s a good workout for anybody, but not everyone will complete it. I’d say the 5MD is not for beginners, or people just getting back into the swing of things. The intensity is very high, so it’s best to attempt once we’ve been exercising consistently with calisthenics.
Steve: You said your workouts are mainly whole body calisthenics. What would a typical workout look like in terms of exercises, reps and sets?
Orlando Ortiz: One of my favorite total body calisthenics routines is burpees and pull-ups. I like to use a modified ladder of 1,2,3,4, then 10. After that, 9-5. Example: 1 burpee, 1 pull-up, rest. Then 2-2 and rest. After 4-4, I like to go right into the 10’s. That make the 1-4 like the warm-up and I can stay strong for my 10’s. I like to also workout in phases, so that would be phase one. I’d then get into another routine.
Steve: What is your diet like? Have you discovered any important rules in the area of diet that pertain specifically to people over 40 that have helped you succeed or make progress?
Orlando Ortiz: My diet is based on the Primal Diet. It’s similar to Paleo. Slow carbs with lean meats and healthy fats. The best advice I’d give is to eat real food, and stay away from sugary drinks. I’d also say be very careful with alcohol.
Steve: Regarding alcohol, can you be more specific?
Orlando Ortiz: I do not drink. 100% is always better than 99% LOL. For those who do drink, I’d say limit it to one day a week and alternate water with drinks. Easier said than done, of course.
Steve: In terms of diet, part of the paleo diet is to avoid grains and legumes. Do you think this is important?
Orlando Ortiz: As for my diet. I’ll have rice, bread or pasta, but very rarely. When I do, it’s usually on a weekend. Nothing is set in stone. I like the Primal/Paleo diet. That’s the key. To find a diet that works for your fitness goals and that you enjoy it. Simple, but not always easy
Steve: What do you think are some of the key guidelines or rules that are necessary for someone over 40 to be successful in fitness and health? What things do you do differently now compared to what you would have done when you were in your 20s and 30s?
Orlando Ortiz: The key is consistency and listening to your body. Always be humble enough to listen to your body and confident enough to keep your ego in check. Being older means risk to reward should be taken into account more often. If it doesn’t feel right, skip it.
Steve: Do you have any specific advice on how people our age can get and maintain low bodyfat % like you? Do you count calories? Avoid carbs? Intermittent fasting?
Orlando Ortiz: The best advice I’d give someone our age is to eat real food. I’ve tried counting calories (my fitness pal), and also fasting (Dr. Jason Fung is the guy to follow). Both work well and serve a purpose. are worth a try. Everyone’s different, so you have to see what works for you. Carbs are the key though… I prefer slow carbs. My main go-to are sweet potatoes. I usually have one fist sized sweet potato for lunch every day. Tim Ferriss has a cool article on the Slow Carb diet. Google it, if you’re interested.
Steve: Fitness-wise, where do you see yourself and what do you see yourself doing 10 years from now? 20 years from now?
Orlando Ortiz: I’m always thankful for how much my body has allowed me to do through fitness. I see myself as continuing to be adaptable to what’s possible as I age. To continue to find new ways to challenge myself, while improving my health. It’s about evolving and always problem solving. I think the best approach is to realize everyone runs their own race. As long as you’re on the path to progress, the pace as not that important. The rabbit and the turtle win this one. Besides, we’re in this for the long haul. Our goal should be to beat yesterday. To be better. To create the person our future self will thank. So, no matter slow or fast, make it last. Stay the course and, like when you finish that 5MD, the rest is simply a matter of time.
Steve: What are your current fitness goals?
Orlando Ortiz: My current fitness goals are to stay lean and keep striving for improvement both physically and mentally. To continue to enjoy the journey.
Steve: What are your biggest challenges presently in terms of health and fitness? Any plans in place to overcome those challenges?
Orlando Ortiz: Desserts! Desserts are my biggest challenge. Nothing to get stressed (desserts spelled backwards) over though. The way I go about it is rewarding myself once a week with a treat, and reminding myself the rest of the week with a trick. The trick? Thinking about my future self. Visualizing my future self.
Steve: Who are some athletes or role models in our age bracket (40s, 50s, 60s) who inspire you? Why?
Orlando Ortiz: I’m inspired by many athletes and role models. Lately it’s been David Goggins, Ryan Holiday, Kobe, Seneca, Lebron, and Marcus Aurelius. There are plenty more. Inspiration comes in many forms for me. It often depends on what I’m trying to do.
Steve: Where can we find you? Web site, email, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter?
Steve: Anything else you’d like to add?
Orlando Ortiz: I’ll leave you one of my favorite quotes from Seneca. “Let no one rob me of a single day who is not going to make me an adequate return for such a loss.” Time is of the essence. The reps don’t’ matter. What matter is that you make the day count.