Best of Philly Spotlight: 90 Minutes with Personal Trainer Roger Schwab

Sweat (and curse) with this year’s Best of Philly personal trainer, 77-year-old Roger Schwab of X-Force.

personal trainer roger schwab

Personal trainer Roger Schwab / Photograph by Gene Smirnov

This year’s Best Trainer has been coaching for more than 50 years. We watched the 77-year-old do his thing at X-Force, his Center City gym equipped with what are called “eccentric” — or negative — strength-training machines that provide a tough-AF workout.

3:00 p.m.

Schwab swears by the science behind X-Force — machines that “stimulate a physiological response by engaging muscles in their full range of motion” by increasing the resistance by 40 percent in the lowering (negative) phase of the rep. Everybody, he believes, should train the same way: “We all have the same muscles in our bodies.” The only thing that varies is intensity.

3:30 p.m.

Schwab’s first client arrives — a 30-something male lawyer who’s trained with him for four years. Schwab grabs his training log to record the workout and leads him to the hip extension to warm up.

3:39 p.m.

The client next slides onto the seated leg press three machines down. “It isolates none of the leg muscles and instead fatigues them all,” notes Schwab. After the final rep, the client’s heart rate is thumping along at 150 beats per minute. “You’re getting in your strength and cardio,” Schwab says.

3:50 p.m.

Client’s form is compromised, so Schwab tells him to pause, take a breath, and do one more rep with arms straight, neck in neutral position, and eyes relaxed.

3:59 p.m.

Session ends. Somehow, the client’s still smiling.

4:00 p.m.

Client two arrives: a woman in her 50s who’s also been training at X-Force for four years. She begins the same regimen.

4:04 p.m.

To keep her from rushing into the “negative” part of the quad extension, Schwab tells the client to pause at the top of the workout before lowering her legs back down.

4:12 p.m.

Client yells, “Fuck!” seven times while doing lat pull-downs.

4:25 p.m.

Negative dips are last. To keep the client motivated — her muscles are fatigued by now — Schwab counts every rep aloud. On the final one, he says, “You’re a real winner. Thank you!”

4:30 p.m.

Now it’s my turn. I try the new “Gluteator,” which works the glutes (obv) by combining hip extension­ (legs pushing down and backward) with hip abduction (legs pushing outward). The next day, I feel those 15 cheeky reps.

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X-Force is located at 30 South 15th Street in Center City.