The endlessly positive pro welcomes you to show up as you are, put in the work, and push past any limiting beliefs about your body.
As a proud gay man and Filipino American, Tim Landicho didn’t see himself represented in the fitness world. So he filled the gap himself.
“I have become the person that I wanted to look up to when I was in high school,” says Tim, one of Tonal’s new New York City-based coaches. “Strength training has given me a sense of belonging—by not only transforming my physical body, but fortifying my mental and emotional being as well.”
Building his career in fitness has been incredibly rewarding, but for Tim, the work has only just begun.
“When I think of the position I’m in, it does feel like pressure, but I also have a lot of gratitude for the impact I can have,” he says. “With everything happening lately around the country, I think about the gay kids and the Asian kids in the locker room who maybe feel like they don’t belong. I want to show them that they do.”
We chatted with Tim about his fitness journey, the challenges that made him the person he is today, and what you can expect from him as a coach.
What’s your vibe as a coach?
The first word that comes to mind is comfortable. My goal is always to have people feel like they can put down their walls and have them feel like we can just talk and joke. One of the things that I want to do when I teach classes is to show my humanity, too. I’ve been doing this for eight years, and there’s still stuff I need to work on.
As a coach, I’m always thinking about how I can lower the barrier to entry. How can I help you feel successful? How can I help you feel like an athlete? How can we keep that momentum going?
Why should we train with you?
First and foremost, you’re going to feel really amazing, and you’re going to get a nice endorphin rush. Beyond that, I look at everything I do every class as an opportunity to say, what skills can I equip you with so that you’re ready to rise to the demands of your day-to-day life? That might mean that when I give you a deadlift cue, in addition to that, I’m giving you context as to why that actually matters. It’s not arbitrary.
Anytime someone takes a class with me, they learn something about themselves, whether it’s about their body, what they’re capable of, how their mind works, or the context for why we’re doing what we’re doing.
What gets you excited about fitness?
I love the physicality of fitness. I love intensity. I love feeling like an athlete. But to me, it’s just a gateway. Your life is so much bigger than the small vision that we can often have. When people start to have those experiences themselves, there is no going back. It’s that lightbulb moment when you realize, “I am capable of doing hard things.” Fitness is the vehicle for you to live the fullest life possible.
How did you decide to pursue a career in fitness?
I was a pretty active kid. I loved playing soccer, basketball, volleyball—just dabbled in a ton of things. But then I tore my ACL playing soccer my freshman year of high school, and from there, every year, I faced some kind of injury. I started to worry that my body wasn’t cut out for it. I ended up with chronic pain, and by college, was less fit than I was in high school, and I was in a depressed state.
That’s when I signed up for my first coaching program—the same place I ended up getting my nutrition certification. From 2013, to 2016, that’s when my fitness journey really started because I learned about fitness in a structured way. I started to do programs that were actually intelligently designed instead of random workouts I found on social media. I left behind the limiting beliefs that I had about my body.
Then, I took a strength and conditioning course in college my senior year. The final project was to create a training program for an athlete. I absolutely crushed it, and that fueled me to go into strength and conditioning as a career.
You were raised in San Francisco. How has that shaped who you are today?
The Bay Area was a very diverse place to grow up. I’m Filipino American and I grew up in a predominantly Filipino neighborhood. I come from a really large family; my dad is one of eight, and my mom is one of seven. And so all my cousins were within an earshot. Every Sunday, we would get together at our grandma’s house, and it would just be a massive Filipino gathering. I think back on experiences like that, and it really shapes how I feel about the environment that I want to create as a coach. I really value spaces where people feel that they can come as they are, no matter who they are, exactly as they are.
What challenges have you overcome to get where you are today?
I was in college and experiencing a lot of things at the same time. I was discovering my identity as a gay man, I was struggling with my body image, I was experiencing a lot of different worldviews and I was dealing with chronic pain. It was a period of disorientation.
Overcoming that taught me how to be a better coach, how to help people start small and build momentum and find that turning point where they feel good about themselves.
It also taught me about the importance of representation.
When I was in high school, if I saw someone who was a Filipino American and gay and doing heavy deadlifts, I think my brain would have exploded because it would just not compute. The phrase that comes to mind is “generational smallness.” When you grow up, never seeing someone who looks like you and is doing a thing that you aspire to do, you internalize this narrative that you’re the supporting character who doesn’t really get full character development.
Now, I get to do what I love and show people we can break the cycle of smallness. I want people to see me and be like, “Oh my gosh, I can do that, too. Tim’s doing that thing, and I can do that, too.”
Do you have a philosophy that resonates with you?
Show up imperfectly, but relentlessly.
At its core, #ImperfectlyRelentless is the juxtaposition of unconditionally loving and accepting yourself as you are and getting excited by the vision of who you’re becoming and what you can be.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I love to dance. I’m obsessed with seeing how people move their bodies in such an artistic way to music. I’ve never had any sort of formal training with dance, but I joined a dance crew in college and learned from them and and from going down YouTube rabbit holes. Nowadays, I take dance classes to try different styles—sometimes I suck at them, but I still have fun.
What does strength mean to you?
Start wherever you are, use whatever you have, do whatever you can. That’s what I learned when I first turned to a coaching program for myself.
Strength is about understanding there will always be limitations in your life around you or maybe in your relationships, but you always refocus your gaze on what you can do today, right now in this very moment. To me, strength is about agency, strength is about recognizing there is all of this stuff that I can’t control, but I can control me, I can control my response and how I show up in this moment. That mindset bleeds over into every aspect of life outside of the gym.