Expert Stack: Chris J. Tolbert (CJT)

The Founder/CEO of 2 Nation shares his BodyStack, training advice, and thoughts on cheat days.
Written by
Drew Kozub
Expert stack cjt 2 nationa final apr 12

Chris J. Tolbert is the founder of 2 Nation, a comprehensive fitness, wellness, and peak performance platform focusing on tailoring customized programs around client's lifestyle and goals. 

Chris's BodyStack

Basics: 

  • Expert: Chris J. Tolbert 
  • Company: 2 Nation 
  • Location: CJT - Born/raised NYC, 2 Nation HQ - Atlanta, Ga, 

Diet/Nutrition 

  • Meals per day: Frequent, smaller meals throughout the day 
  • Macro tracking: Based on periodization for specific amounts of time
  • Fasting practices: Only when doing so correlates with  targeted goals 
  • Foods avoided: fried foods, junk foods
  • Supplement Routine: Invests in High-quality food over supplements 

Fitness/Exercise 

  • Exercise: Weight/resistance training, Cardio - running, swimming, plyometrics, core training 
  • Recovery strategy: Deep tissue massage, self-myofascial release (SMR)/foam rolling, cold plunge, quality sleep 
  • Mobility training: Daily 
  • Mindfulness practice: Pray/Meditate first thing every morning 
  • Sleep tracker: Whoop fitness tracker 
  • Required sleep hours: 7 

Testing Protocols 

  • Lab/clinical testing frequency: Primary care physician - consistent routine appointments
  • Biomarkers tracked: Nothing specific, but constantly monitors overall fitness/health data constantly via Whoop App, and Apple watch
Cjt photo sportscoat actual size 1
Source: 2 Nation

Meet Chris J. Tolbert (CJT)

Chris J. Tolbert is an industry expert with a charismatic personality and in-depth knowledge of fitness/wellness. He is a passionate leader who strives to motivate and educate clients through his company 2 Nation. The foundation of 2 Nation was built over many years and is based on the knowledge accrued from experiential high-level coaching. CJT recognizes that being healthy looks and feels different for each person. 

Chris believes that goal-setting is an essential part of creating an effective, personalized fitness/wellness plan. He provides clients with a comprehensive assessment and helps them develop customized programs that cater to their lifestyles at home and at work. The objective is to build sustainable habits rather than engage in hard-to-follow regimens and fad diets that eliminate many of the things that people love. 

"I never ask a client that I'm bringing in to omit anything in its entirety," says Chris. "Been there, done that, have the t-shirt, doesn't work. I ask for a reduction."

Asking for elimination, quite frankly, shouldn't happen if you're talking about sustainable lifestyle.

Creating customized programs based on an individual's goals and lifestyle that support long-term success is foundational to Chris's approach at 2 Nation. 2 Nation is a fitness, wellness, peak performance company that provides 360-degree comprehensive plans to help people improve fitness, nutrition, wellness, peak performance, lifestyle and more all in one platform. 

Origins of 2 Nation

CJT was inspired to develop and launch 2 Nation after spending a lifetime leading a healthy, fitness-oriented lifestyle, a couple decades of experience as a Master fitness trainer, two years as a full-time MBA student at Wharton (University of Pennsylvania), and several years working in Corporate America at Goldman Sachs and Microsoft.

CJT's exposure to the importance of health and wellness started at an early age. Growing up as the son of an endocrinologist who specialized in type 2 diabetes, he saw the downside of what happens when people's health slips away from them. As a teenager and young adult, Chris prioritized fitness, health, and wellness (working out consistently and maintaining a healthy diet) and chose to get certified and become a professional personal trainer.

While working as an elite personal trainer, Chris recognized that many of his clients lacked the education to navigate their fitness journeys successfully. Consequently, CJT invested considerable time and money in his education to become a Master Personal Trainer - accrued multiple certifications and took classes in anatomy & kinesiology, biomechanics, etc.).

This acquired knowledge enabled CJT to both teach his clients and build holistic fitness/wellness programs that put them on the fast track to goal attainment. Helping one client, a physician, drop 50 pounds in a short amount of time led to CJT getting the opportunity to become the resident trainer at Mandarin Oriental New York and personally training some of the most successful people in the world (CEO's, athletes, celebrities, billionaires, etc.).

The years he spent coaching provided CJT with valuable firsthand experience, insights, and feedback to develop and modify a proprietary system and approach he is now scaling via 2 Nation. 

"When you're working with individuals who are high achievers and on the move, you need to take a 360 look at what their life looks like in order to inject value," says Chris.

I really crafted a system that's predicated on mental preparation, physical conditioning, even tapping into that inner grounding piece.

By combining weight and resistance training, cardiovascular administration, maintenance of a healthy diet, and management of vices, Chris was able to develop customized fitness/wellness plans to support his clients' goals, lifestyles, and preferences.

2 nation chris gym shot

Education & 2 Nation

As a high achiever, Chris understands the needs and aspirations of the targeted customer. CJT has a background as a Master Personal Trainer with experience coaching some of the most successful people in the world and a Wharton MBA degree, which taught him the importance of data integration. Additionally, CJT spent years working very long hours in Corporate America at Microsoft and Goldman Sachs, where he had to figure out how to effectively balance work performance and a high-pressured lifestyle with an effective personal fitness/wellness program.

Ultimately, this has uniquely positioned Chris to lead 2 Nation. As both the CEO and a user of the product/service, CJT intimately understands the desires and challenges of the high achievers 2 Nation serves.  

"I gained a unique perspective, being in that saddle, but also being health oriented that it's now let me come full circle and put together 2 Nation," says Chris. "The whole idea with 2 Nation is to take micro steps towards sustainable improvement."

2 Nation is the antithesis of this quick-fix, fad diet cultural trend. It's about building sustainable habits. 

2 Nation philosophy blends CJT's fitness, wellness, peak performance expertise, and experiential education learned from personal training/coaching with Wharton's data-driven, results-based analytics learnings.  

2 Nation focuses on behavior modification through effective coaching, providing a customized 360-degree program design that adapts to the busy lives of high achievers. Behavior change is hard. 2 Nation addresses this challenge by implementing the proprietary 2 Nation System - a comprehensive framework that uses multiple levers to drive behavioral change.

The 2 Nation System, based on Motivation, Guidance, and Accountability, is incorporated into each unique program while combining technology and the human touch to align with clients' goals, lifestyles, and preferences. This system goes beyond physical conditioning and transformation, delving into mental preparation and inner grounding, helping individuals become the best versions of themselves.   

Diet & Nutrition

In accordance with 2 Nation's baseline philosophy that everyone's goals and needs are different, Chris's meal planning strategy is not based on a typical breakfast, lunch, and dinner routine. 

"I try to eat all the time, I'm a big proponent of eating incrementally," says Chris. "I tell my clients, whether your goal is to gain weight, lose weight, or augment your muscle to body fat ratio, the human body is designed to consume, to digest, and then to perform." 

When CJT looks at his clients' successes, he has found that splitting meals is an integral part of the formula for success. This means that one is  eating less in quantity but increasing the frequency of food consumption. Chris knows what works for his body intimately well. 

"I don't eat conventional foods at conventional times," says Chris. "I'm not a big carb guy. I'm a protein-heavy guy, and I am just as liable to have what someone else may have for dinner at 7:30 in the morning. I've been that way my whole life."

I eat incrementally, I eat frequently, and I have a very clear understanding as to where my mind and body are at all times. 

Chris does not typically meticulously track his macros or practice fasting, except when these behaviors support achieving a specific goal. CJT is a big proponent of cheat days, as long as they don't turn into cheat weeks, because he believes balance is essential. Chris has never been a supplement guy but is highly discerning about the quality of food he buys and consumes - ensuring they are rich in nutrients.  

"Your body is your vehicle that you maneuver through life and you're not getting another," says Chris. "So, just like you would put premium gasoline in a high-end car, I see myself as a luxury vehicle. I avoid junk food, and food that's unhealthy. If the calories are not servicing me, like fried foods, junk foods, and saturated fats I try to avoid them. 

"Now, am I gonna be perfect? No, but as a general premise, I try to avoid food that I deem unhealthy."  

2 nation tolbert fitness lolalandphotography 2018 13 1024x717 1
Source: 2 Nation

Fitness & Exercise

While planning exercise and fitness routines for so many other people, finding time in the day for his plans can be challenging. However, CJT both talks and walks the walk. He consistently incorporates a comprehensive mix of exercises and activities to stay fit, healthy, and balanced—from weight/resistance training to running and swimming. Whether working out at one of his preferred training facilities in Atlanta, NYC, or Miami, his home gym, or a hotel gym while traveling around the world, Chris exercises consistently despite his program design varying.

"I have different facilities that I like to use to do different things, so I can't count the amount of memberships I have," says Chris. 

CJT has constructed an elaborate workstation to complement his impressive home gym, but his pod setup looks a bit unorthodox, given his data-driven approach to calculating optimal program design, goal-setting, and tracking. 

"I joke around whether I'm doing my own program design or program design for my clients, if you see my setup, you would think, okay, this is definitely a Wall Street trader or a computer hacker," says Chris. "It looks more like that than it does someone who is working in the fitness, health and wellness industry."

2 nation cjt rings web
Source: 2 Nation

Sleep & Recovery

Incorporating proper rest and recovery is crucial to any effective workout program, and it is an element of program design that Chris emphasizes. 

"If I could give advice to a younger CJT, I would say pray more and stretch more and meditate more," says Chris. "I've definitely made a concerted effort to do that. Recovery plays a big, big part in my life. In fact, every single day I do some form of flexibility and mobility training." 

Chris gets out of bed every morning at 6:32am (a little nod to "2" Nation), and immediately starts his day with meditation and prayer. 

"I think that sets the stage," says Chris. "I don't want to even engage with another human being until I have centered myself. I can't tell you the importance that meditation and mindfulness has had on my life, on my success, and how much I value it and how much I try to steer clients in that direction." 

Chris's target is seven hours of sleep, but his Whoop (fitness wearable) reveals that he is probably closer to the six-hour range. 

Recognizing that each individual requires varying amounts of sleep, eight hours of rest may neither be sufficient nor attainable for many people. Chris is mindful of his clients' lifestyles when discussing sleep as part of their wellness routine. 

Maintaining a data-driven mindset, Chris does not shy away from regular testing. He prioritizes acquiring and monitoring baseline metrics across the board; consequently, if anything is on the precipice of decline, he is alert and can work to get ahead of the problem.

"I tell people there is no such thing as avoidance," says Chris. "There will be a reconciliation. You either get the information and make decisions in accordance, or you find out the hard way. I prefer to get on the front side." 

2 nation app
Source: 2 Nation

Testing, Metrics, and On-Going Education

Chris recommends that everyone has regular appointments with their primary care physicians and medical practitioners. He stresses the importance of getting regular testing and having those test results explained comprehensively yet in a way that is easily understood.

"Data is king," says Chris. "If they taught me anything in two years at Wharton, it's to get data so that you can make informed decisions." 

What Does Being Healthy Mean?

According to CJT, it is important for each individual to come up with a concrete definition of what being healthy means to them, both short-term and long-term. This foundational step allows Chris and his clients to work together and put together a solid game-plan to achieve transformative results. 

"If you don't set goals, you're sort of in an ocean with no compass, right?" says Chris. "You don't have a North Star. So, I think it's important that each individual really reconciles what those goals look like, because it's gonna look differently for different people." 

For Chris specifically, being healthy means having excellent health and performance metrics. 

"From the boardroom to the bedroom, as I like to say," Chris laughs. "I want to look good, I want to  feel good, I want to perform at a high level! I have a very crystallized vision as to what being healthy looks like to me. 

"I think that a lot of people are moving through life at such a rapid pace, and they're not taking the time to slow down and take inventory as to what being healthy looks like for them." 

If you'd like more information about Chris follow CJT on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok and LinkedIn.

For eveything 2 Nation, and their holistic and customized approach to health and longevity you can connect through 2nation.com or on Instagram, Facebook, X, LinkedIn or YouTube.

Drew Kozub Profile Image
Drew Kozub
Drew is a father of twin boys and a broadcaster and writer living in Canada. He hosts a weekly technology segment on a national morning and is particularly interested in gadgets that combine fitness and technology in practical ways.
Share with your friends
Copy Link Link Copied!
Join the club

Get regular health hits delivered to your inbox.