In the busy and glamorous city of Luxembourg, there is one person who stands out for his determination, energy and extraordinary multitasking skills: Mattia Vaccargiu, a 39-year-old Sardinian coach, who has embarked on a different life path, cleverly balancing his financial career, his role as a caring dad to 3 adorable girls and his involvement as coach at the renowned CrossFit® Valens.
After being moved to Luxembourg for professional reasons, Mattia enthusiastically faced the new challenges that life presented to him.
In this exclusive interview, we will discover Mattia's secrets to be able to balance the multiple roles he plays in his life. He'll share his training philosophy, his future goals, and the valuable advice he's learned along the way.
With a unique look at his multifaceted life, Mattia Vaccargiu shows us that it is possible to achieve success in every area of life while maintaining a deep connection to your core values.
Hello Mattia! In the meantime, thank you for the time you dedicated to us. Tell our readers a little about yourself!
Hi everyone! I'm Mattia Vaccargiu, I'm 39 years old (40 in October), I work full time in the financial sector and I train mainly in my homegym and in the gym where I usually teach on Saturdays, CrossFit® Valentines.
Before starting CrossFit® in 2015, I had been breakdancing (since around age 17), with a particular affinity for high skills acrobatic figures (called powermoves).
When I started CrossFit® I had the idea of improving the explosiveness and performance of breaking but slowly the love for CrossFit® took over and since 2019 I have practically stopped exercising and I have left dancing aside dedicating myself only to CrossFit ®.
Silver lining? thanks to breaking, gymnastics skills weren't an obstacle for me!
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What prompted you to go and live in Luxembourg?
I was born and raised in Sardinia but after finishing my studies in Milan I wanted to take advantage of the difficult period (2009, full economic crisis) to try to gain some experience abroad.
Together with other friends and colleagues we came here in search of a career and due to a series of coincidences I stayed here for longer than expected. When my fiancée joined me we decided to put down roots here and 3 girls were born, aged 4, 2 years and 10 months!
And how is the sports landscape there?
I would say that there is no reference sport. It's a small state, a grand duchy to be precise, and churning out talent isn't easy.
Probably what's going the most is cycling, led by former 2010 and 2012 Tour de France winner, Andy Schleck. CrossFit® arrived around 2011 thanks to CrossFit® Valens and the current owner of Icelandic origin.
Why did you decide to do CF level 2?
When I took Lv1 in 2018 it was more to learn more about the CrossFit® methodology. Then I started co-teaching classes for fun and finally discovered that as a coach I could help others move better, make the most of and make the hour in the box more enjoyable.
Level 2 is a natural result of this passion, which I prefer to stay that way, and therefore not become a real job.
Thanks to level 2 I was able to deepen the dynamics of class management and give more added value to my coaching style. I realized that there is so much to learn and experience alone is not enough.
The level 2 trainers are amazing and I realized that being a coach is a job that anyone can do but not many are good at it, regardless of the certifications one has.
I'm happy because the members of the box appreciate my style and above all my attention to the technique of execution. I recognize that I always have to improve and in fact I go back to reading my course notes and try to do a self-assessment after each class.
One thing that intrigued us about you is the fact that you have quite a dynamic life! How is your daily routine?
Let me distinguish between the expected routine and reality. I train 5 days a week concentrating training early in the morning, between 6 and 7.30. I just drink a coffee and some dried fruit (dates, prunes, apricots) and go down to the gym, in the basement of the house.
After training I get ready and take the girls to kindergarten and school and then I go to work. I come back around 18.30/19 and between dinner and post-dinner routine we are all in bed between 9 and 9.30.
The reality is that it's almost never so schematic and a lot depends on how the night went, given that the little ones (10 months and 2 years old) don't always sleep regularly. It often happens that the training session is reduced to 50/60 minutes or simply postponed to the next day if I haven't slept well enough.
In any case, I make an effort to be consistent, thus doing at least part of the day's schedule.
And do you follow a specific schedule or diet?
I followed Comptrain for 5 years, since I mastered 35. I really appreciate the founder Ben Bergeron, his mindset and the Comptrain community that has grown a lot over the years.
However, I wanted to change, mainly driven by the curiosity to try other programs, without detracting from Comptrain's one. I am very comfortable with Shane Orr's PRVN (coach of Tia Toomey, Brook Wells, Saxon Panchik etc.).
I personally think that for those who don't compete at high levels, the schedules are generally very similar. In the sense that the results come regardless, if a person has the perseverance to follow the program.
With Comptrain, even after years (comparing the results of the wods and the ceilings), I have had small but constant improvements, despite the fact that the family context has definitely changed.
As a diet I have tried different ones, from vegetarian to paleo but over the years I've learned that the flexible approach is what I like and fits best with my needs. By flexible I mean that I don't look at the quantity but at the quality of the food, which is almost all homemade (yes, even the pizza!) and often organic.
There are foods that I obviously limit as much as possible or avoid if I can, such as processed foods, sweets (85% chocolate is not among the sweets), fried food, white bread, dairy products, alcohol.
This is practically the rule for 20 out of 21 meals a week, so this approach allows me to indulge myself every now and then without having any repercussions on performance or physical shape.
What many underestimate, however, is the quality of sleep. As I get older I notice more and more that lack of sleep or interrupted sleep (for obvious reasons) has a more deleterious impact than one or more cheat days.
Considering that the only thing I can control (for now) is the diet, I focus my efforts on that hoping to be able to sleep better in the near future.
You told us that in addition to having your own job in finance, you are a part time coach and a dad. How do you reconcile it all?
It's not easy and you need to be able to prioritize, get used to multi-tasking and be flexible.
You have to be good at planning but also be patient in changing plans at the last minute. The family always remains in first place but for mental (as well as physical) well-being a "agreement” at home that I allow myself at least one hour 5/6 days a week.
Movies, TV series, evenings are a memory but honestly I don't miss them that much. For work I am fortunate to have the flexibility to start a little later or work from home. Since we don't have parents nearby, we rely on local structures to keep the children, but that's not always enough, especially on weekends.
Dulcis in fundo, 99% of the time, the daily meals are prepared by us at home so even cooking takes us a long time because we vary a lot in the various protein, carbohydrate and fat sources (I'm not for rice and chicken every day) .
If I had to give advice to a new father or an encore father who is afraid of not being able to train anymore or not having the time, I would say that the time and the way can also be found with a pair of dumbbells and a kettlebell at home in the living room.
You need to understand what you are capable of giving up to invest in your health, because regardless of whether it is CrossFit®, constant physical activity must remain a priority, especially if you are a parent; if we want to play, run, climb with our children we must be strong, feel good and above all set a good example.
Let's talk about competitions: do you do them or have you done them?
I've always been competitive in breaking and I've always been competitive in CrossFit®. Apart from the local competitions in Luxembourg (individual or team) I also participated in France in Reims at the Battle of the crown in 2019 as Master 35 and I'm waiting for the video review for this year's one as Master 40, in November.
Being the first "abroad" is the one that marked me the most even if it ended with an injury in a steeplechase. Later, I also tried other qualifications, but they are a big obstacle because the level of master athletes is always higher!
Given my unfavorable size, I often have disappointing results in wods with rowers and medballs, not always compensated by good performances in wods with skills; participating in races is already an excellent goal for me.
Apart from that, it's not easy to get organized to go racing since we would have to get the grandparents to come and help my mother in my absence; starting with 5 is hardly an option!
So I'm looking for competitions 2/3 hours by car from Luxembourg. Being in the middle between France, Belgium and Germany, the choice is not lacking.
What are your plans for the future? Will we see you in some races, maybe in Italy?
For me, CrossFit® is longevity training, so my long-term plan is to continue doing pretty much what I do today in 20 to 30 years, stay healthy, fit, and physically active for as long as possible.
In the meantime I'd love to do 2 or 3 races a year to get some satisfaction but not at any cost.
For me, training must be a pleasure and the qualifying wods can become an additional stress, especially if you slept 4 hours the day you set out to do them.
For now, having qualified for the quarterfinals of the CrossFit® games as an individual and as a master (the latter I also officially did) was already a great result.
The races in Italy would certainly be a great emotion as well as an experience; For example, I'd like to do one in Sardinia but the southern warrior, the Italian showdown or the fall series have always attracted me. Logistically speaking it's not easy but you could combine a family holiday with a race!
We wish you all the best and hope to see you on the national floors soon, Mattia! If you are curious, you can write directly to him on his IG profile @sardogram.