Viva La Vegan!
Sebastian Grubb is a certified Personal Fitness Trainer and certified Health Coach, emphasizing "whole moves and whole foods" as the basis for a healthy life. Based in San Francisco, he runs Sebastian’s Functional Fitness, where his clients use simple equipment and their own body weight to increase strength, endurance, and agility in every session. A vegan since 2003 and trainer since 2006, Sebastian was crowned the 2014 Champion of the “Battle of the Best Trainers” in SF. He is also a professional contemporary dancer and choreographer, touring nationally and internationally.
Why Vegan?
How and why did you decide to become a vegan?
I’m a logic-based person, so when I finally heard the full argument for veganism from the perspectives of environmental impact, disease prevention, animal compassion, politics, and health in general, I could only say Yes. Taken together, the reasons for following a vegan diet are just so compelling. Much more compelling than the reasoning behind any other way of eating, which usually focuses on just one aspect of food, such as weight loss. With a whole food, vegan diet based around nutrient-dense plants, you get fat loss, environmental protection, a longer lifespan, responsibility to animals, lower risk of cancer and heart disease, and other benefits. There are a lot of details to go into, but that’s the big picture.
How long have you been vegan?
Since 2003.
What has benefited you the most from being a vegan?
Since going vegan I have far fewer conflicts between my food choices and moral values.
What does veganism mean to you?
It’s a confluence of ethical values we can use to lead better lives. It’s not the only way, but it’s a good one.
What sort of training do you do?
I do bodyweight-based functional fitness training, including strength circuits, sprint training, endurance running and cycling, and dancing. I’m a professional contemporary dancer, so I have to adjust my non-dance training based on how intense my rehearsals are.
How often do you (need to) train?
6-7 days per week, 1-4 hours each time. The total number of hours depends on the intensity.
Do you offer your fitness or training services to others?
I run Sebastian’s Functional Fitness and see about 30 clients a week. Most are fitness-focused, but some are clients focused on nutrition or weight loss.
What sports do you play?
Dance is currently the sport of choice.
Strengths, Weaknesses & Outside Influences
What do you think is the biggest misconception about vegans and how do you address this?
Aside from the ubiquitous protein question, a number of people have told me that I’m the first fit, healthy vegan they’ve met. A few of these folks were then motivated to become vegan themselves. This is why I believe vegans have a responsibility to be as healthy as possible.
What are you strengths as a vegan athlete?
I have a lot of leg power for jumping and sprinting. I also have a high strength-to-bodyweight ratio, so I excel at bodyweight-based activities. In the dance world I’m known for my uncommon strength and also cardiovascular endurance.
I’m the 2014 Champion of the “Battle of the Best Trainers” in San Francisco. This was a fitness competition for trainers based on bodyweight exercises and I won by a significant margin.
What is your biggest challenge?
Balancing my own training program. I find it much easier to balance the program for other people and then overdo my own training and get injured.
Are the non-vegans in your industry supportive or not?
They don’t criticize how I eat anymore, which I like to think is because of what I can do with my body. But I don’t really know.
Are your family and friends supportive of your vegan lifestyle?
In general, yes. My parents have really supported me, and eventually have come to follow a more plant-based eating pattern.
What is the most common question/comment that people ask/say when they find out that you are a vegan and how do you respond?
They want to know where I get my protein. I tell them that all whole foods contain protein, and that legumes are a particularly dense plant source.
Who or what motivates you?
I’m motivated by my sense of responsibility of being a good role model. I also strive for excellence in general and that means a big commitment to hard work.
Food & Supplements
What do you eat for:
Breakfast: Oatmeal with nuts and berries; sprouted whole grain bread with nut butter and berries or banana; and/or Larabar when running out the door.
Lunch: Huge salad with whole grains, beans, nuts or seeds. Several vegetable sandwiches on whole grain bread, with beans or tofu on the side.
Dinner: Steamed veggies with whole grains, beans, nuts or seeds; veggie soup with corn tortillas etc.
Snacks: Apples, citrus fruits, Larabars, dates, trail mix, corn thins and hummus, whole grain bread with nut butter.
What is your favourite source of:
Protein: Black beans and split red lentils
Calcium: Dark green vegetables (check out collard greens, for instance)
Iron: Dark green vegetables
What foods give you the most energy?
Dates. Fast-digesting and high in sugar. I eat them often right before or during long workouts.
Do you take any supplements?
B-12, D3, Omega-3s. All vegans must supplement B-12! Do more research on this one if you are not currently taking it - many vegans are deficient, which increases risk of heart disease and nerve damage, among other things. 42% of Americans are deficient in Vitamin D. And I take an algae-derived supplement for omega-3s, aside from what I get from ground flaxseed, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts.
What is your top tip for:
Gaining muscle: Do intense strength-training 3-4 days per week and eat a lot (of healthy) food!
Losing weight & Improving Metabolism: Do circuit training and cardio training that emphasize high intensity intervals. Base your diet around vegetables, fruits, and beans. Eliminate processed foods, flour-based foods, and alcohol.
Maintaining weight: Do a mix of the above. If you want to lose a little, eat more vegetables and no processed foods. If you want to gain a little, eat more nuts and seeds.
Toning up: Same as Losing Weight and Improving Metabolism above. One thing to discuss is what “toning” even means. Most people say this when they want to lose some body fat so they have more defined/visible muscles. Sometimes they also want slightly larger muscles. This means they need to follow an extremely healthy diet and do circuit strength training and interval cardio training (total 6-7 days per week). Just to set the record straight: having “toned” muscles literally means muscles with increased “tone”, ie increased “tonus”, meaning more tension when at rest. The more you exercise and do strenuous activities, the more “tone” your muscles will have, regardless of whether or not they are covered in a fat layer, but this isn’t what most people mean when they use the word.
How do you promote veganism in your daily life?
I lead by example, discuss healthy habits with people, and am ready to answer questions in a compassionate way. I also write and publish articles on health
topics via my website.
How would you suggest people get involved with what you do?
Check out my website and come train with me if you are ever in San Francisco! I also frequently post awesome findings from recent scientific studies. You can catch all this by finding me on FaceBook and Twitter.


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