Grand Slam Journey

35. Mark Reifkind: A Journey of Movement, Coaching, and Optimizing Personal Fitness for Health | Part 1 of 2

May 16, 2023 Season 2
35. Mark Reifkind: A Journey of Movement, Coaching, and Optimizing Personal Fitness for Health | Part 1 of 2
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Grand Slam Journey
35. Mark Reifkind: A Journey of Movement, Coaching, and Optimizing Personal Fitness for Health | Part 1 of 2
May 16, 2023 Season 2

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Mark Reifkind website: https://giryastrength.com/
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Training, competing, and obsession with movement have been Mark's passions for 50 years. When he stepped foot in a gymnastics gymnasium at age 14, he knew he had found a home. Gymnastics taught him a love of pure movement and an appreciation for what the human body can do. Endurance training taught him to breathe and keep going, no matter what. Strength training and powerlifting taught him focus, power, and intent. Now back full circle with kettlebells. Back to swings and the weightlessness of gymnastics. Coaching and teaching have always been as natural to Mark as breathing. He loves to help others experience the joy of strong movement and physical courage.

During the Part 1 of 2, we discuss:

  • 🏆 Mark's journey of sports and fitness: from being an elite athlete -gymnastics, marathon, ultramarathon, triathlon, iron man, bodybuilding, powerlifting - to the gym owner, coach, professional trainer
  • 1️⃣ N = 1 vs. the theory of everything
  • 🤸🏼‍♀️ Gymnastics for understanding movement vs. competitive gymnastics 
  • 🤕 Dealing with setbacks and injuries
  • 💯 Mindset to succeed
  • 🌟 Standing on the shoulders of giants, choosing your coaches and mentors, and learning from the best
  • 👑  Mentioned in this podcast Louie Simmons, Scott Willson, Kurt Thomas, Christopher Sommers, Paul Chek functional fitness, Kelly Starrett, Pavel Tsatsouline
  • 🧑🏼‍🔬 Science vs. 🏋️‍♀️Understanding the body as a coach and athlete
  • 💪 Importance of strength for health
  • 🧑‍🎓 Difference between a client and a student
  • 🏃‍♂️ Primal patterns of movement and qualities
  • 🧱 Building your foundation & base
  • 🦸‍♂️ What's the action hero
LEORÊVER COMPRESSION AND ACTIVEWEAR
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8 EIGHT SLEEP
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Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

This content is also available in a video version on YouTube.

If you enjoyed this episode, please share it with someone who may enjoy it as well, and consider leaving a review on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. You can also submit your feedback directly on my website.

Follow @GrandSlamJourney on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and join the LinkedIn community.

Show Notes Transcript

Send us a Text Message.

Mark Reifkind website: https://giryastrength.com/
Instagram
Facebook

Training, competing, and obsession with movement have been Mark's passions for 50 years. When he stepped foot in a gymnastics gymnasium at age 14, he knew he had found a home. Gymnastics taught him a love of pure movement and an appreciation for what the human body can do. Endurance training taught him to breathe and keep going, no matter what. Strength training and powerlifting taught him focus, power, and intent. Now back full circle with kettlebells. Back to swings and the weightlessness of gymnastics. Coaching and teaching have always been as natural to Mark as breathing. He loves to help others experience the joy of strong movement and physical courage.

During the Part 1 of 2, we discuss:

  • 🏆 Mark's journey of sports and fitness: from being an elite athlete -gymnastics, marathon, ultramarathon, triathlon, iron man, bodybuilding, powerlifting - to the gym owner, coach, professional trainer
  • 1️⃣ N = 1 vs. the theory of everything
  • 🤸🏼‍♀️ Gymnastics for understanding movement vs. competitive gymnastics 
  • 🤕 Dealing with setbacks and injuries
  • 💯 Mindset to succeed
  • 🌟 Standing on the shoulders of giants, choosing your coaches and mentors, and learning from the best
  • 👑  Mentioned in this podcast Louie Simmons, Scott Willson, Kurt Thomas, Christopher Sommers, Paul Chek functional fitness, Kelly Starrett, Pavel Tsatsouline
  • 🧑🏼‍🔬 Science vs. 🏋️‍♀️Understanding the body as a coach and athlete
  • 💪 Importance of strength for health
  • 🧑‍🎓 Difference between a client and a student
  • 🏃‍♂️ Primal patterns of movement and qualities
  • 🧱 Building your foundation & base
  • 🦸‍♂️ What's the action hero
LEORÊVER COMPRESSION AND ACTIVEWEAR
Get 10% off Loerêver Balanced Compression and Activewear to elevate your confidence and performance

8 EIGHT SLEEP
Save $200 on 8Sleep and get better quality and deeper sleep with automatic temperature adjustment

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

This content is also available in a video version on YouTube.

If you enjoyed this episode, please share it with someone who may enjoy it as well, and consider leaving a review on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. You can also submit your feedback directly on my website.

Follow @GrandSlamJourney on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and join the LinkedIn community.

Ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Grand Slam Journey podcast, where I, together with my guests, discuss various topics related to finding our passion and purpose, maximizing our potential sports, life after sports, and transitioning from one chapter of our lives to the next, growing our leadership in whatever we decide to put our minds into. For my guests today, it is areas of health and fitness. My today's conversation is with Mark Rifkin. If you're a regular listener of my podcast, you may recognize the name. I did a podcast episode with Mark's wife, Tracy Rifkin, about a year ago. It's episode number 15. If you haven't listened to it, I highly suggest it. Mark and Tracy are such a power couple. I get to know them both living here in San Jose, obviously throughout Dogs Ridgebacks. They now have two Ridgeback puppies, and we found out that we share way more than our love and passion for the breed. Mark is no real key to the health and fitness industry. He's been around, he's seen it all and he's done it all. Training, competing and obsession with movement have been his passion for over 50 years. He excelled in many different sports, from gymnastics to Mariton and ultramariton to triathlons to bodybuilding and powerlifting, a task achieved by only a few. And through that whole journey, he also coached people, helped them become healthier and stronger humans, and had various different gyms. To share a bit more about Mark. From the moment he stepped foot in a gymnastics gymnasium at age 14, he knew he found home. Gymnastics taught him love of pure movement and an appreciation of what the human body can do as well as its frailties. It also taught him to look at movement with a discerning and disciplined eye. Endurance training taught him to breathe and keep going no matter what. Maritimes ultramaritons and triathlons were tests of the mind as well as the body, of how much it can really do. Strength training and powerlifting strengthened his focus and power and intent. They taught him the creation of force from a single thought and how to bring that force to bear in an instant. Coaching and teaching have always been as natural to Mark as breathing. He loves helping others experience the joy of strong movement and physical courage. Now back full circle with kettlebells, back to swing and veillessness of gymnastics. This discussion certainly took us on a fun journey, and I have decided to split it into two different episodes. During this first part, we mainly cover Mark's journey of sports and fitness, from being a gymnast to runner to bodybuilder and powerlifter. Gym owner, personal trainer. Mark talks about the importance of paying attention to yourself and what works for you. We dive a bit into the gymnastics itself. Mark has a critical eye on what he believes movement should look like, and he's taken that perspective into coaching his clients and helping others continue to move through life and achieving their goals no matter what their age is. This episode also covers the importance of building your foundation and understanding your base. Perhaps it may inspire you to practice your action hero walk. Mark talks about learning from Lou Simmons, Kelly Starrett, Scott Wilson, Kurt Thomas, Paul Check, Christopher Sommers, and more. And lastly, practice a nonatachment and experimenting the importance of trying something new and meeting yourself where you at and doing what works for you. If you enjoyed this episode, I want to ask you to please consider leaving review on Apple podcast or Spotify. Or perhaps you may decide to share this episode with someone who you believe may enjoyed as well. Please don't forget to subscribe to the show by hitting a subscribe button so you don't miss the episode. And the second part of this conversation with Mark Rifkin that will be released in a week from now. And now I bring you Mark Rifkin. Enjoy the listen. Mark, thank you so much for accepting my podcast invitation. Great to have you on. How's your Sunday? It's going great, and thank you so much for having me. I'm honored. It's great. Appreciate it. Sundays are always good. I believe it's almost a year anniversary, actually, since I had Tracy on your wife. Who. No pressure, Mark. She's the top performing episode on my podcast. Oh, really? Yeah. Okay. No pressure there. Yes. That's great. I'll do my best. And so I see both of you as such a power couple, and I wanted to interview you about your journey from athletics, being a gymnast and how you transition through so many different sports in your life, and coaching, obviously, people to be healthier humans now. So we have so many topics we can dive into and cover. I'm actually curious where this conversation takes us, but before we go too far, I want to give you a chance to introduce yourself to listeners who may not know you. My name is Mark Rifkin. Um, I've been a personal trainer full time for 23 years now, going on 24 years. And I've been training, competing and coaching for 51 now. So I started very early as a gymnast when I was 14 in 1972, something 14 like that. And it's just been basically in this world. I loathe the term fitness. The only thing I hate more than fitness is fit pro. But it's the world of training and sports and athletic and fitness that I've been involved with since I was young. I really haven't wanted to do anything else, and that's kind of how it turned out. It's been a lot of different incarnations that I've had as an athlete, as a coach, as a business person in this fitness business. It's not over. I'm 66 years old now, and I'm still in the middle of it. I guess I don't hopefully it's the middle, but I'm still in the mix of it. I've had numerous gyms. I've had numerous personal training studios. I'm still now since COVID I'm working pretty much 100% online. I have a couple of people that come to my garage gym, but pretty much my transition my clients to online, which, thank God, we could do that. And um, I've seen the fashions and the trends and the industry come and go, so I have an interesting perspective on that after 50 years of observing it too. Yes. We can take so many angles. I agree. I'm really curious about just the longevity, I have to say. I follow you on Instagram, and when I look at Mark and all your lifting still, I was like, oh my God, obviously I can't ever lift so much as you. I still believe there's difference between male and female strength. But if I am able to do all the things that you do, or half of the things that you do at your age, I would call it a success. Thank you. So I, uh, would love to dive into even your progression and routine as we age through life recovery, focus on performance and how you have learned to navigate it. I actually do have a story even from my morning workout today, so I have to sell Selfish. Absolutely. A lot of this podcast and questions might come from my own, um, frustrations I have as I issue everything I've. Learned, I've learned through my own frustrations and injuries and journey. I mean, everything I've learned to take to my clients and my students and everything has come through that. So absolutely that's an important topic because how I evolved to where I am now came from learning how to negotiate around so many injuries, starting when I was 17. Basically career ending injuries. I like a cat, I guess. I have more than nine lives as far as my training life goes. But, um, that was a process of learning how to figure it out and how to find the exercises and the routines and the recovery modalities and the, uh, self care stuff that I've learned how to do was through injuries. I mean, I look at the stuff on, but obviously that I put up on Instagram and Facebook and say, yeah, I lift some big weights and I move some big things. But also I've learned that I only do any more of the things that don't hurt me because there's a lot of things I can't do. People say, oh, you swing these really heavy bells. And I do, but there's a lot of, uh, variations of those I can't do anymore. And I learned the hard way that my body doesn't like them. So that's a big principle for me in terms of talking about routines or going forward in longevity for older people and for younger people. I almost called the studio I have in Palo Alto. N equals one. Because really, it really only matters if it works for you, for me, for you, for everybody. Individual. I mean, a lot of what I got caught up in for years, and I think a lot of trainers do, a lot of people do, is they try to figure out, essentially the training theory of everything. Especially if you're a trainer, you're always trying to figure out the grand overview of training so it can apply to all your clients. What's the theory of everything for training? And, uh, there's always a starting point. You have to have standards, basic mechanics, basic things like that. But once you're past very beginning levels of training, you really have to individualize, in my opinion, because everyone's so different in terms of everything, in terms of limb lengths, male, female proportions. Okay, so I was a gymnast. The only reason I was good at well, not the only reason, but the main reason I was good as a gymnast was that I'm built perfectly for gymnastics. I mean, I'm five five, and I was a gymnast, I was 130 pounds. And if you look at the gymnasts of my error, kurt, Thomas, Bark, Connor, the Japanese, all, ah, the best gymnastics at my time, we're all the same height and weight. One reason I don't play basketball is because I'm five five. Right. You don't find six or five gymnasts. It just doesn't exist because the physics don't work. Uh, yeah, this is funny, because I remember our conversations with Tracy, and we talked about gymnastics when I was growing up. I was part of gymnastics. They put me in really mainly just it's good for life. So I have to say it was grueling two, three years that I tended. I think it teaches you so much about life, especially the harshness. Like, you fall and you got to shake it off right away and get up and keep performing. So I think there are some amazing respect I have for gymnastics, and I would even love to dive into that, because I really highly regard and appreciate gymnastics. I think it's just, uh, such a fantastic sport in regards to all that. That's amazing. Yeah, I agree. And I'm a big fan of recreational gymnastics for kids. I think there's nothing better for every kid to have basic tumbling skills, cartwheels handstands, that type of rolling back and forth. But I'm a harsh critic of competitive gymnastics, especially for kids. I m tell people this without any remorse. It's like if you put your kids in competitive teen gymnastics before they're essentially hit puberty, it's child abuse. And I still stand by that. The way teen gymnastics is just abusive. I'll argue that with anybody, because I've been there and done that, and I've coached at the highest levels, and I've seen it, and it's happening now. It's a very harsh sport, but on one level, you have these ten year old girls or eight year old girls, and not the boys, because the boys, it's just boy gymnastics a different story. But the girls, you can't force someone to practice 8 hours a day, seven days a week. You can't make them go to they want to, and that's almost more dangerous because you have to be careful because they will go until they break. And they break. And I have, uh, one very good friend of mine whose daughter got in gymnastics, and I told him the same story and he said, well, she's fearless. I said, she hasn't gotten hurt yet. She won't be fearless. As soon as she gets hurt, they all get hurt. She did get hurt. What I tell parents is like, gymnastics is great for your kids until the team coach comes up and says, listen, your little darling has special talents. We want to put her on the team, then turn and leave and run the other way. Literally. That's the beginning of the end for that kid, because it all ends badly. Gymnastics is a very beautiful, great sport, but it's also one of the weirdest sports. So we can go into that or not. But yeah, I fell in love with gymnastics. I was a kid growing up in Florida and I grew up in the water and diving in the water and doing handstands at the bottom of the pool and flipping off diving boards. I got into gymnastics in 9th grade, which is the big difference for male gymnasts, because you're not strong enough. Now it's so different because progressions are different. But back then, if you hadn't hit puberty and you weren't actually had some strength, you couldn't do anything. Mhm, so girls, they get them in when they're five or six years old. There's much less upper body strength involved, so they can get into a much early age, which is problematic in itself because they're so young. But, uh, the boys at least have a little chance of getting in a little later. But it still has its own problems. I didn't know that guys get into gymnastics later. Is that still the case, Mark, now? Or was it more when you were starting? I don't think so. Um, we're talking 1970, 219 73. It's all school gymnastics. There's very little club gymnastics now. It's changed completely. Now it's just all club gymnastics for boys and girls. And I think now the boys get in at a much early age. I think the Chinese and the Soviets, they really paved the way for that. They started training the kids much earlier and the equipment is better and the progression is better. I mean, we were just kind of thrown into the deep end of the pool and it's like, go for it. Which leads to a lot more injuries. So I think the boys can kind of circumvent the lack of physical strength they have younger by just a lot of the equipment they have for progressions and deloading the lifts, the lifts, the tricks. But I don't think it's as prevalent now. I think the boys get in younger, but there's hardly any gymnastics anymore for boys. Some clubs have coaches, but for the most part, universities all over dropping programs, even high schools. There's almost no gym. We had trampolines when I went to high school, which is unheard of because they're insurance risks. And I think most of the clubs don't have many boys teams and the high schools have none. And the colleges are dropping programs. The boys demands. Gymnastics is an endangered species in the United States at least, so that's a shame. Did you have a specialty mark that you focused on? I did all around. So I did all six events. Some I was better on than others. I blew out my knee really badly in, uh, my junior year and had a horrific tumbling accident with a dislocated knee and an operation. And I came back the next year and, um, because I was insane about gymnastics. They kind of tape your knee up. There's no rehab, there's no strength training. Just get back into gymnastics and practice. And I did well. I won the state championships, I broke some records and then got a scholarship to the University of Iowa and went there and, um, did fairly well there. I was captain of the varsity team my sophomore year. And then my senior year, midway through, I had another bad injury on the rings and completely destroyed my shoulder. M, so that was problematic. And that kind of set the stage for everything else I did. Because in my mind, when I got into gymnastics, I was going to the Olympics. That was it. There was no question. I mean, I saw in 1972 Olympics and I saw the Japanese gymnastics team win the gold medal. And I saw these guys that to me look like Superman. Mhm, I want to be that. I want to look like that. I want to move like that. I want to be that guy. As soon as I found out there was gymnastics and I could train for it, I went to the gym and I, um, was home instantly. I was training five, six days a week, 5 hours a day. And I loved it. I loved every single second of it. I dreamt about gymnastics every night for entire high school and college. That's all I thought about. So I was obsessed right from the beginning. So when I blew out my shoulder in my senior year of college, I was dead mentally. I had a mental breakdown because my entire identity was being a gymnast and going to the Olympics. Here I am, 21 years old, and I'm finished. That's not acceptable. And I was the peak shape. I was 21 years old and been training for eight years every day for hours. What can I do? How can I get to the Olympics? And I tried running and that's how I got into, um, marathons and ultramarathons. And I realized like, okay, you're really slow, dude, you're not going to go to the Olympics as a marathon. Runner then. That was the year, I think it was 79, that the first Ironman Triathlon was done. And it was this crazy race nobody ever even thought of. I was like, okay, well, I'm not fast, but I can suffer. And I knew how to swim, and who can't ride a bike when you're a kid? So I dove right into marathon training, and I did that for two and a half years. And I knew that it was going to take ultra training. I knew it was going to take years. You just don't become an ultra marathon or be good at it. I just didn't compete much. And there was hardly any competitions back then anyhow. So I just trained and trained and trained and trained. I mean, I moved all over the country. I moved to Boulder, Colorado, to learn to run because that's where Frank Shorter, the Olympic Marathoner, lived. And I just wanted to train in altitude. So I moved to Boulder, then I moved to Jean, Oregon, because that's the track capital. Just also for running and cycling. And then was coaching gymnastics this whole time, too. And then I moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, again for altitude and trail running in the hills. That was my life. I was kind of this athlete monk. Yeah, that was kind of the plan. I didn't really care about money. I wasn't married. I didn't have any kids. I just wanted to train. I needed to get back to elite levels of something. The Olympics were like, okay, there are no ultra marathon Olympics. Then I kind of shifted my focus from being an Olympian to being an elite athlete. Then I ended up back here in Palo Alto after Santa Fe because it didn't work out in Santa Fe in terms of jobs and money and all this other stuff. So I ended up back in here coaching gymnastics again. That's where I ended up. This whole circuitous route from Miami to Iowa to Colorado to all those other places and starting this whole array of different pursuits. I, uh, do want to touch base on just, uh, almost like the genre, I would say, of the sport, because it seems very different when I think of gymnastics. For me, gymnastics is like one of the most ultimate sports. You need strength, power, flexibility, speed, control. But to me, it's more about that in that moment, top performance. And then it almost seems like you twist it to a completely different things because, uh, running marathons and ultramaritons or triathlons, those are completely different muscle fibers, I would think that you need for that long endurance. How did you make that transition and why? That's a good question. There's a really simple answer. After I hurt my shoulder in college, I was done with gymnastics, obviously, but my shoulder was done too. I couldn't do anything upper body. I had to find a way to train. And the only thing that didn't hurt was running, I m also pretty much had a nervous breakdown. I gave up a full scholarship that I didn't have to give up. I literally ran away. So, I mean, when I went into running, it was much about trying to run to kill the mental pain and anguish that I was in. I mean, I literally ran. I was running 120 miles a week for years. Twice a day, seven days a week. One because that's what the elite did. Whenever I look at training protocols when I was an athlete trying to compete, I always looked at like, okay, what do the best guys do? I'm going to try and start as close to that as possible. Obviously I'm not going to start doing that immediately, but I want to see what the best athletes do. How do they train? They train three days a week. These guys are all training six days a week, seven days a week, running twice a day. Gymnastics is revered. People like to say, well, gymnasts are the best athletes in the world and there's a good argument for that. Mhm the thing that's missing in gymnastics is lower body. Like, there's no legs, there's no leg development, there's no leg strength, there's no leg power. I mean, tumbling is a little bit nowadays all the equipment is basically the floor exercises for all intent purposes of mini trampoline. The vaults of mini trampoline. All the equipment is juiced up so that you need less and less and less power. So the missing component for gymnasts is leg strength and power. And I was no exception. I was 130 pounds and it's like 120 of it was upper body. So when I got into running, it's like my legs were super weak and it took me a long time to build up. And again, it was mainly a I don't know if you've heard of this book, it's called The Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner. No, it's a classic book from the was all about long distance runners, marathoners and such, and that whole mental space of just kind of checking out and doing these solitary pursuits and that's kind of what it was like. I could get away and I could run for 5 hours and kind of kill demons. That was a big part of it. I resonate, uh, after my tennis career ended. I think for every athlete, when the sport ends, and especially when it ends in a way that you don't see the end coming in a way that you had an injury which pretty much you see as your body failed you, it's just a huge identity crisis, as you mentioned, that we have to go through. And so you're trying to find who you are next. And yeah, I remember when my tennis career ended in college, which I knew it was coming to an end eventually, but we don't plan for it. I started running. Exactly. That's what you live on right and. Then I sprint my ankles, uh, which was the worst. So then I started swimming because I needed to put my energy somewhere. Exactly. That's what it is. You have to put your energy somewhere. And for me, it was like after my high school knee injury, clawing my way back to elite level, and I was terrified the whole time because my knee injury was just this horrific full knee dislocation. And then the rehab was essentially nothing. So it was like I was always afraid to go spend another five years getting back to where I'd left off, and then to have the rug pulled out for me, I was pretty much mentally shot. But after all that running, like I said, I was kind of this athletic monk. I was poor and I was skinny. I was, like, five five and 100 now. Running, I was even lighter. I was 125. So I was broke and short and skinny. It's hard to get a date. I mean, really, it was hard to get a date. If I'm going to be poor and broke, I might as well build myself up. That was the beginning when Arnold Schwarzenegger really was in the mix and Pumping iron came out. I had a bunch of good friends that were bodybuilders, and I was very much naturally, my upper body just was from gymnastics. And I had years, eight years of upper body training. It was the same thing. I saw the Japanese gymnast when I was in high school. It's like, I want to be that. I saw Arnold. It's like, I want to be that. So I started bodybuilding, and I did really well. And that was more inclined to my natural predispositions physically. And all the bodybuilders are short for the most part. I mean, you look at these guys on magazines and stuff, they look like they're 9ft tall, but they're all my height or a little bit taller. Arnold was exception, but most guys are short. Lifters are short in general. They have better levers. I competed in Bodybuilding for eight years and got to a very high level. I qualified for national competitions. I was a, uh, training partner for one of the best pro bodybuilders in the world, scott Wilson. I was his training partner when I worked at World Gym again, when I met Tracy, I was working behind the desk at World Gym because everything I did was basically to allow myself to have the greatest training situation. So that, um, was my career, right? I wasn't trying to make a career in terms of financial career. I just wanted an athletic career. So trained with him, learned a lot, and then we ended up being fortunate enough to be, uh, we got a gym together. We had some friends who helped us buy a gym. So we had a gym in Campbell, California. World gym. And we had that for ten years. And I competed, and I ended up coaching at a very high level. I coached Scott as well as being his training partner, and he was Mr. Olympia quality. And then there was a female I trained, Suan McKeen, who was one of the first uber muscular women at that time, because most of them at the time were what now we would consider barely fitness level. But she was, like, very muscular, natural. She's a black belt and aikido. And I trained her and coached her this whole time, and she ended up in Ms. Olympia three times. So I learned a lot coaching and training with them. And that was like a ten year incarnation as a bodybuilder and a bodybuilding coach. But bodybuilding, it was very frustrating because it's really not athletic training is, but the competitions, there's really no competition. You kind of stand up there. It's a male beauty pageant, and the judges kind of move you around like pawns on a chessboard. You can't really compete in that sense. Like, you compete in gymnastics, you can compete in, obviously, marathons and that type of thing. But bodybuilding, once you've done your training and competition, you stand there, and it's like, very frustrating. When you feel you're as good as someone else, it comes down to there's really no objective criteria. I did that for a while, and I'm like, you know what? The training was awesome, and the dieting sucked, and the competition sucked more. At the time, we had bought this gym that had been a very famous power lifting gym in, uh, the World Gym. It used to be called Ironworks, and there's a bunch of international level power lifters, Olympic lifters, highland, uh, games guys, throwers, like track and field guys, real athletes. That's when I made the transition into powerlifting. Well, also, I ended up helping a friend of mine at a, uh, powerlifting competition that went to our gym, and I showed up at this national competition, and I was shocked. I looked at these guys, and I was very judgmental at the time because I was a bodybuilder, right? I thought, Big is strong and muscular. I looked at these guys like, these guys, they can't be that strong. They look like nothing. If you watch, uh, the competition, it's like, oh, my God, this guy that looks like a fat truck driver just squatted 800 pounds at 195 pounds. Okay, there's something else here. And I kind of like that. After living under judge's scrutiny about how defined my obliques were, it didn't matter how I looked, it just mattered what you did. I was ready for that. Then it was another 13 years of power lifting. Yeah, well, I'm seeing a little bit of trend here, and I've actually personally, haven't been part of sports where you, ah, have somebody else judge your performance. Right. That's one thing I left about tennis, because if you know the rules, there might be a little bit of a judge call in or out, but that happens. Every so often. But I've always wondered how it is to be performing and relying on judges to give you a scoring and whether it's in gymnastics, too. There might be something that one judge sees slightly different than others. Then you moved into running, which is purely performance. There is very little gray area. You just finish where you finish, and that's very straightforward. And then you jump back to the bodybuilding that is even more so judge oriented. And then you go back to raw performance, going based on the black and white numbers. What you lift is what you achieve. How did you balance this trend? Was it conscious at the time? Like, these transitions? In retrospect, I saw that more than at the present moment. One of the things I say all the time, and I still believe it, it's like all sports with judges suck. Sports with judges suck. Um, tennis, like you say, minor judge. It's in or it's out, maybe, but you win. You win running. You're faster. Here. I lift more than you lift. Although there's plenty of judging problems in power lifting. I can talk about that, too. But gymnastics, it's ridiculous. Gymnastics rules and scoring. Like, everybody remembers well, everybody my age remembers the perfect ten, right? Nadia Comanich, the Perfect Ten. And that was, like, a very simple, objective criteria. 10.0, you got a perfect score. Right now, the scores are you can get a perfect score is 15.3.425. It's ridiculous. The commentators, the analysts don't understand the scoring. I don't understand the scoring, and I don't even want to try. But what happens is, every four years after the Olympic Games, they change. Like in gymnastics, every skill, every trick has a number value, a letter value. So when I competed, there was a B and C value tricks, and C was the highest. So your routine had to have one C skill, one B skill. And these other A skills, now they have E skills and S skills. And the requirements are such that your routine needs this many of these and this many of those, or else it's not a 10.0 start value. Everybody doesn't start at ten. You may start at nine, and you have to build your score based on what you put in. But what they do every four years is they devalue the skills. So what was a D skill is now a C skill. What was a C skill is a B skill. So they're always pushing, um, the envelope for these athletes, and they're pushing the athletes further and further towards oblivion, in my view. It's like they're pushing the athletes to put together these routines that are so dangerous and are so off. I mean, I look at modern gymnastics now, and I rarely watch it because I can't stand it. And I say, like, how do you practice that? How do you go to practice and do these releases on high bar every single day? Like, every single skill is like a death skill. I wouldn't want to do gymnastics at that. We had one level, one skill, two skills. If you look back at the gymnastics films from the equipment was raw. There was no help from the equipment. These guys were much more muscular, much stronger. The women were much stronger. And they were women. They weren't baby girls. They're actually women's gymnastics. Then it should be preteen gymnastics, because you had to be stronger to do it. And then if you look back and even when people think of a handstand, right? You think of the trophy handstand with the arch back and the chest up, right? Now, that's default. You have to do a hollow back handstand with a front. That's just a fashion. That's, um, literally a trend in a fashion. If you look at any little kid or any person learns to do hands, and they're going to kick up, they're going to do that kind of archback handstand because it's natural. It's where the body will find a balance point. But the judging and the organizations weeded that out and made it harder and harder and harder and harder. And you had to be more reliant on equipment. So those types of things where the judges, they just went overboard. And then everybody's heard the well, the routine was great, but they didn't stick to landing, so they're done. So I've always hated that the landings one, because I ruined my knee on landings. But it's just kind of the antithesis of the flow of gymnastics to stop on a dime. You know what parkour is, right? Yes, I love parkour. It's weird because before I ever heard of parkour, I used to dream of parkour. Like I said, I dreamt about gymnastics every night. And I would imagine myself being able to run up walls like parkour before I'd even heard of there was such a thing, or ever seen anybody do it because it's just a natural outflow. And the same thing with running down. Like, these guys will run downstairs and kind of bounce off walls, but you see them jump off buildings and hit and roll, right? That's smart ways to dismount when you're falling from 30ft in the air onto any surface. That's the intelligent way. So I've always hated everything in the routine coming down to John. Did he stick the landing? Oh, that's why he lost the gold. It's just silly. Getting back to your question, it's like when I switched sports, the judging aspect was less of it. Because when I went to powerlifting, you think, oh, clear, uh, cut. There's as much ridiculous rules that they have about squat depth and where the bar can place on the bench press and the types of bars. That's why I said every sport with judges suck. Because the organizations always want to micromanage the athletes and make it harder on the athletes and get to the point where they're just inflicting rules on athletes just to inflict rules and making it harder to perform. So, in retrospect, when I went to Bodybuilding, I had done enough marathon running and stuff like that. Enough demons were killed. And like I said, I okay. I want to develop my body. So, I mean, literally, I was, like, looking for a girlfriend. It wasn't very successful. And I was like, okay, man, maybe I'll get more developed. It never occurred to me to actually get a job and make money. Um, well, it seems like it worked. You ended up with amazing wife, Tracy Mark, somewhere in business, and I met. Her in the Bodybuilding Gym. Okay, so I met her at Gold's Gym. So it actually worked. Yes. Although she didn't care about that. She didn't care about that. But that's funny because that's how we met. I was working behind the desk at Gold's Gym, and she would come in and completely did not give me the time of day. So I had to work harder for that one. But, yeah, that actually ended up being how it worked. And then I did power lifting for 13 years. I got to a fairly high level, came within 15 pounds of an elite ranking from my weight class. And I, uh, was coaching. I was a head coach for Team USA, women's team for the World Championships. And I was an assistant coach for the men's team. I was head coach for the Pan Am team in 2000. Whenever I did, I always kind of mixed my training and coaching. I'm a natural teacher. I have to stop myself from coaching people. It's what I do. So it always went hand in glove with me, my training and passing it on, and then ended up with personal training. And, um, that was from gymnastics, actually, because when I was doing gymnastics coaching, I would give private lessons to the kids and then, uh, realized, like, well, if I give private lessons to the kids, why can't I give private weightlifting lessons? And this is back. There are no personal trainers. When I started doing this in early 80s, there's no such a thing as personal trainers. They're coaches. And yet coach and athlete personal trainer. Except for private lessons for gymnastics, I guess tennis people have that, but there's no weightlifting private lessons. So I started doing that. That worked out really well. Yeah. I have few questions, just when I'm hearing from you. What really stands out is the ability for you to excel in almost every single sport you did. And so I actually do not know a person who's done through this, the widest span of sports as you do, or athletic performances. Reflecting back, what do you see was the key to success? Like, how were you able to transition from this top elite gymnast to grueling marathons ultramaritons triplons? Being one of the best bodybuilders, best power lifters? What I'm wondering is there a nurture or a nature? And has gymnastics perhaps and the skills you have learned through your first sport really help you with that resilience and drive and continue to focus on the little things that really matter in progress that helped you then in your subsequent sports. The honest answer is obsession. That's the honest answer. I've been obsessed with. Not success, but, uh, I guess it's success. It's accomplishment of figuring things out. Mhm, it's mindset. So obsession is just I like the phrase obsession is a word used by belay to describe the dedicated. When I got into gymnastics, I was a total spaz. I literally was a total spaz. I loved the idea of it and I saw it, I was like, oh my God. Every time I tried to do star, I couldn't do it. The best gymnast in my high school, Kurt Thomas, who's also, um, probably the best American gymnast we've produced, was a natural. Like, literally, Kurt could look at a skill, just observe it and do it the first time he tried it. Me, on the other hand, it would take me a thousand times to do it right once, and then I'd not be able to do it again. So I learned really quickly that I didn't have a natural ability except for tenaciousness and a, uh, work ethic. I mean, that's probably the biggest thing that I have, is I will not be outworked. I love that. That's just the long and short of it to this day. I mean, that's the thing is if I can't outlift you, I'll outlast you. I mean, I have a natural competitiveness and from the work ethic comes the discipline and comes the stoicism that's necessary to do it and the willingness to study. Whatever I do, I do a deep dive into the history or the background of, uh, who are the greats. Like, we stand on the shoulders of giants. I didn't invent stuff I do. I stole it from the guys who did it before me and I took it from them and I used what worked and I threw out, like I said, N equals one. I'm a research group of one. All it matters is it works for me. And it may work for my students or my clients, but it may not. But it's like, I'm going to study what the best do and I'm going to try to form fit it and see if it fits for me. And if it doesn't, I'll try something else. So I had the, uh, work ethic, the drive to succeed. We can go into the psychology of why people have a need to succeed. Usually it's because they feel a lack. Nobody goes to the gym to be a bodybuilder because they love their body. They go to the gym because they want to build something else. They want to be something other than they are. It's the same for me. I think it's the same for almost everybody. So I had that drive, the attitude I have now and had always had, I will do what it takes. If you're not willing to do what it takes, I don't care. But don't complain. You didn't get results for the work you didn't do right? And then the willingness to focus and study, whether it's kinesiology, anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, all those things that go into understanding how to achieve what I'm trying to achieve. So I've had a lot of good coaches and a lot of good mentors. And one of my mentors, who was one of the first power lifters to, uh, squat 1000 pounds, and he was 45 years old and he was a 245 pound guy, not a giant guy. And I asked him about because at the time, I was still in academia. Should I go into, uh, physiology? If you want to learn how to drive fast, you go to the racetrack. Uh, there's an answer. If you want to be an academic and you can write research papers and all this, that's great. But those guys don't compete, they don't win, they don't perform, they study the guys that do. And I wanted to be one of those guys that did. I made that choice. I didn't finish college, I went to the gym. That's where I wanted to learn. Everybody put the secret. So, yeah, they're secrets. They're absolutely our secrets that the average person doesn't know and the price of the average person won't pay. Mhm one thing that stands out to me, mark and I've been thinking about quite a while, even from my own journey. And as I talk to my guests who have different backgrounds, it seems like as humans we cling to a specific ways of learning. Maybe since we're young and obviously I talk to a lot of athletes and since the athletes that I talk to, and even from my own experience, I just love learning by doing and by experiences. Because I think that as an athlete, you learn so much through the different sports and exploring the different talents you have and parts of your body and with that, parts of your mind. So to tie it on, one frustration I have now in the field is that you have these scientists that have so many different studies and they structure the studies and they try to come up what's the key to longevity and what we should be doing as humans on average, in general. And then you come up with these conclusions. Example one of them is that I'm really frustrated lately. Well, if you continue to keep moving throughout your life, you're going to be better off than if you don't. And to me, it's like, really, isn't this a common sense? At which point do we stop spending money, um, on these stupid studies? That it just seems if you observe athletes or nature in general, you're going to be so much better off if you do at least something and be active throughout your life. And as you age your life, than if you do nothing at all. Right? To me, it's common sense. So I ponder about why are we coming up with these studies? We just should tell them why. You want to know why? Yeah. Because they can sell it. That's all it is. It's all they're trying to sell, the answers. So when Tracy was writing her book, The Swing, and we were talking with the publishers, and she was saying, like, every year, do you know what the best selling book every January is? Regardless of what's going on that year, it's a diet book. For the last 70 years, it's a diet book. Because every year somebody's thinking, okay, I bought diet book every January. The new, the latest, the Secret, the Secret Pill, the Golden Bullet, whatever it is, silver bullet. And those secrets weren't the secret. But this year, this is going to be the secret to allow me to lose weight without dieting or exercise, right? Because people are looking for something for nothing. So there's a constant need to resell the same information over and over. If there wasn't that need to sell it. When I had my gym I love joining a gym. It was my favorite job that I've had because I felt like I could help people without having to ask them for money. If I'd be sitting behind the desk and you come up and it's like, mark, would you write me a diet no. What do you mean, no? You're not going to do it? I'm not going to write it because you're not going to do it. At this level, I'm like, uh, essentially a professional level bodybuilder. And nobody's a better dieter than bodybuilders. Nobody. They get results. And I said, you're not going to do it. I make them beg me. Now, somebody's paying you. You kind of have to do it because that's where you're getting paid. But it's like there's a freedom to tell people what I consider to be the truth without having to put my hand in their pocket all the time. So I love that job. But the science, this is a constant argument, um, for me. And I mean, I get into Internet arguments all the time because partly because I like to argue. Um, but arguing is fun. It kind of sharpens the blade for me. It's like I want to make sure my skills are challenge me. I don't mind being challenged. I'll debate if I can't prove my point. I'm always willing to change my mind. But people always come up with studies. And for every study you have, there's another study, at least another study, probably dozens of studies that prove the object. So one of my favorite quotes is, one of the most successful male gymnastics coaches, gentlemen named Christopher Summers, who's a multiple national team coach and a very successful coach for years. And he was being interviewed, and I was listening to it. He says, I've never seen a gold medal produced by peer reviewed, double blind science inscribed on the back. He says, if you're waiting for science to tell you what to do as a coach, you're five years behind the curve. And that's it in a nutshell. As a coach, you have to do what works, and you'll figure it out later. Another quote that I love is from my mentor, Pavel Satsoline, who's kind of the origin of the American Kettlebell Revolution. He says, Understanding is a delaying tactic. You want to swim or understand hydrodynamics? M you can figure it out later. Does it work? Is it repeatable? Is it safe? Use it. If you understand it, great. But that's the bottom line. Understanding is the delaying tactic. I have people all the time, clients, all they want to do is talk about their training. You're not training. You're talking about it because you're trying to find some, like I said, theory of everything that'll make it so you don't have to actually sweat. You have to sweat. You have to do it when you don't want to do it or not. I personally don't care. Uh, the people that don't train, in my sense, they're easier for me to beat. If you're my competitor in any way, sense or form, and you're lazier than me, I got you. I just like that. I, uh, still like that. I'm 66 years old. I don't go to competitions anymore because it's mostly a waste of my time. But I still compete. I still try to get personal best, and I take note of all those things, and I'm trying to improve. That's the essence of it. It's like studies. Somebody just the other day, this guy writes the textbooks for the National Strength in NSCM and the as American College of Sports Medicine textbooks for training. And he's saying, basically, like, front squats don't work your abdominals. That's like my first question was, like, what's your heaviest front squat? It's not an AB exercise. And he shows me this study, and I dive into the study, and the participants in the study had, uh, basically a year's worth of training. These are recreational lifters, beginning recreational lifters. And he says, well, they use a 90%, one repetition max. Who cares if it's 150 pounds? Put 400 pounds on the bar and tell me it doesn't work. Your ABS. Anybody who's lifted anything heavy knows how much your, uh, abdominals are used in deadlifts and barb, any type of heavy lift. Then he goes into this physiology explanation. It's like, yes, the abdominals are flexor muscles, but they have a static component. They stiffen, they create bracing, blah, blah, blah. M so going back to the academic part of it, you need both, right? You need the science. But training is an art. If you don't have the science, it's like an artist, like a painter that can't draw. They might be just throwing stuff on the canvas, but if they can't actually draw. They really don't know what they're doing. But once they draw magnificently and they've mastered that, then they can supersede that with the art. But if it's like, okay, you're a mechanic. I don't know where the carburetor is, I don't know what a carburetor does. You're going to be a bad mechanic. You don't know the origins and the insertions. You don't know the energy systems of the muscles. You don't know the kinesiology of how the body works. You can't be a good trainer. You can't you're basically flying blind. But if all you know is that, and you never step into the arena and test this stuff out on yourself, then you're just guessing. I can be a little dogmatic about stuff because, uh, I see this stuff over 50 years. I once did a talk in Italy for a strong first. It's called the renaissance of strength. And basically what it did was it looked at the development of strength and the fitness fashions that had happened since basically World War II. Um, and the comings and going of strength and development and bodybuilding physique and all this stuff. Once I started looking at it, it was a very interesting dive into it because when you had Arnold come in and Stallone come in and bodybuilding was in Hollywood as a big thing and then it kind of disappeared and was replaced by functional. Remember functional fitness? Mhm standing. And that was Paul Check and that brought in like, lunges and get off your bench. And then what did that evolve into? That evolved into CrossFit and kettlebells. Pablo was part of that also. So it was this whole evolution of the fitness world, which is kind of going back to where it was in the beginning. Strength and health. Mhm. You really can't divorce strength from health. Yes. And you really can't divorce the ability to move. Well, uh, this is something I do want to bring up. You asked me this is a good segue as far as writing routines and programming design. And as you get older, you can but it's at your own folly to divorce strength from health and movement from health. Because like you said, open your eyes, look around you, right? Yes. If you can't move, it's a problem. And then for me, it was especially poignant because for 20 years I couldn't walk right because of my knee. I mean, I hit a point in 93, actually, where my knee basically stopped working after my injured knee in high school. And it didn't bend more than 90 degrees and I was limping and it just got worse. And, uh, of course I kept training, but there's really nothing to do at the time. The knee replacements at the time are just terrible. So I just kept persevering. But I couldn't walk, which meant I couldn't do any aerobics, I couldn't cycle, I couldn't walk. I couldn't walk more than two blocks without serious, serious pain. When I got my knee replaced ten years ago, it was like an epiphany. It was a miracle. I could walk, I could move like a human being. It became new life, literally. And I never expected it to be as good as it was. Looking at how the type of clients that I have, and I differentiate clients from students. Most of my clients are clients. I have a few students. Clients basically want to be told what to do. They show up because they don't want to think about it. And I'm not judging at all. It's like dogs, right? I'm not going to become a dog trainer. I've got two Ridgebacks now. You got to come over and meet Crazy Ronnie. Yeah, he's such a cutie. But, I mean, I'm not going to become a dog trainer, so when I hire a dog trainer, I'm a client. Tell me what to do. Tracy is becoming a student of dog training. I don't have the time for that, but that's what I want. I want, like, I hire the trainer, the trainer says, Do ABC. I'll do ABC. But I'm not going to spend nights studying dog training philosophy. I have mostly the clients and some students, through students, they want to know the depth of it. So when I'm working with clients or I'm, um, working with anybody that's interested in how do I stay healthy, how do I exercise without hurting myself or I'm talking to other trainers, there's a basic template that I use, and I've used this since I found this out in 98. Paul Chek, who's pretty much the father of functional fitness, this guy was just a brilliant manual therapist. He's done a deep dive into all this stuff in terms of physical therapy, kinesiology, energy systems, every part of it. He was one of the guys that got everybody off their benches and onto standing and doing stuff. So there's seven primal patterns of movement. Mhm. So they're squatting, lunging, pushing, pulling, bending, twisting, and gait. Mhm. So when somebody's looking at their program design or developing a program, those are patterns. Now, uh, I'm not talking about loading. I don't do barbell squats anymore because I don't want to load my spine because I also had a back injury. But I always squat. I squat every day. I mean, squatting is how you get down to the floor for the most part, that are bending. So first things you need to do is have some competency, learn. These are movement patterns. Can you put your arms over your head and then gait, right? What's gait? Walking, running, or swimming. Now, I'm not talking about cardio. People talk about cardio. I'm talking like, this morning, I just did a six mile ruck. That's gait, and I hear it every day. I hate doing cardio. Anything more than three reps is cardio. It's like you're weak if you're not injured, and you can't walk 3 miles an hour, which is not even hard for an hour. That's your foundation. If you don't have an aerobic foundation, everything else you do is a waste of time. That's a base. And then people think walking is natural. Have you seen most people walk? It's horrible. I mean, I get upset looking at people. They can't walk. Their ankles don't work, their hips don't rotate, their shoulders don't. I tell people when I'm trying to work with their gate patterns. It's simple, but it's not easy. I call it the action hero walk. Watch any action hero. Watch Denzel Washington or watch Tom Cruise or any of these guys that are literally action heroes. Watch when they walk. They look like they're going to break out and run at any times because the mechanics are there, their shoulders counter rotate, they're loose, they're moving. And you watch everybody else walk, and their shoulders don't move, and their hands don't move, and it all ends up in their lower back and their ankles don't bend. Or they walk like ducks. And people take walking for granted. Like I said, I couldn't walk for 20 years. I had to teach myself, rehab myself from walking from zero. So I did a deep dive into that. Now I feel like I need to come over to your garage, Mark, and you need to examine we'll do a. Little analysis and what actually comes into mind. Now, I've never thought about gates in such a depth. Tracy and I actually a little bit talk about running, so I always study runners, and I can see when somebody's running, whether they're moving efficiently or not. And some people definitely shouldn't be running. Maybe they should start with walking. Here's what I tell people all the time that want to run. If you want to run, you need to be able to walk 4 miles an hour, 15 minutes mile first, easily. If you can't walk a 15 minutes mile for an hour, you can't walk 4 miles an hour. You don't need to run. You need to walk. Because walking at that pace is hard. It's not easy because you have to have a great deal of efficiency in your walking mechanics. And that goes right down to your toe flexibility. And that's the next part of what I'm going to talk about in terms of you have, uh, seven primal patterns, but you have five primal qualities or abilities that are important. So from your toes, like your toes dorsiflex, because if your toes don't dorsiflex, your ankle won't dorsiflex, your ankle doesn't dorse flex. Your knee won't bend right up through their neck. It's a kinetic chain. Yes. If those things don't work, then everything you do is hurting you. Everything you do is going to make things worse. So those five primal qualities this is from Paul. Check again. I didn't make any of this stuff. I just stole it. And I always give credit, right? But I learned it from him. So the sequence of programming. Is flexibility, stubbility, strength, endurance and power. Let's think about that for a second. If you're power training and let's say you're weak and you can't squat body weight or you can't bench press half your body weight or something like that, what is power? Power is strength divided by time. So if you have no strength, you're not going to have much power. So you can increase your power just by getting stronger. So power comes at the end of the chain, not at the beginning. So let's go back to flexibility. So what's flexibility referred to? Tissue quality. So flexibility not mobility. I'll get to that, but flexibility is the softness of the tissues. Okay? So why is that important? So it's called soft tissue, right? Mhm, you go in and you want massage. It's soft tissue work. It's supposed to be soft. What's soft? Raw meat so you can go up and then you push on people. I do a lot of body work on me and other people. It's like if you push on your muscle and it resembles beef jerky, that's not soft tissue, that's beef jerky. So it should be you got raw, then you got rare, then medium rare, then medium, then well done, then beef jerky and tissue, if it's not supple and pliable doesn't give, what happens if it doesn't give? The joint doesn't move, right? The joint doesn't move right. Your squat pattern is not good because your squat pattern relies on your toe and your ankle movement and your knee movement, right? So even worse, let's say your left side of your body is perfectly supple, your right side of your body is only half supple. You're going to torque, you're going to rotate. So this is where most of these injuries come from. People are lacking some suppleness, some tissue quality. I mean, Kelly Starrett, he used to cross at San Francisco and he's a brilliant physical therapist. That's where the whole foam rolling thing did come from. That's the crossballs. You're trying to get those adhesions and that grittiness and that dehydrated horrible muscle tissue into soft pliable tissue to allow the correct knee, the joint movements, right? So it's flexibility that allows mobility and then stability. So you can move your knees, right? But you can't stabilize them. So then you have to practice some type of stability and then you have to strengthen that pattern. So that's the sequence, right? So if you get ahead of the sequence, if you're doing strength but you don't have tissue quality, you're going to get hurt. If you're trying stability and you do nothing but stability but you're not strong, then you're like most yoga people, right? They're super gummy, but they're weak as a kitten. It's knowing these little things when you're planning. And that's what as we age, because as we age, of course, the tissue quality, naturally, it literally calcified our body, leeches calcium out of the bones, which is the beginnings of osteoporosis. And it puts it in the M tissues, in the arteries and in the muscle tissues, and we become like exoskeletons inside internal exoskeletons. So keeping the mobility and the pliability as you get older becomes equally as important, more important than strengthening. Because if you don't have that, your basic primal patterns are going to be bad and worse. They'll be asymmetrical, and then you've got torques and torques. That's where all the injuries come from, rotational torques on your spine. I mean, I've injured everything, and I've rehabbed it all to the point where now I'm not in pain. I mean, I used to be in pain for years and years and years. Now I can do all this training because I do a ton of body work every day. I've learned what hurts and what doesn't. And I've chosen the exercises over time that I know my body's friendly to. I don't have to do everything. I don't have to barbell squat again. I don't. I mean, I do really heavy standing presses, but I don't do bench presses because my shoulders doesn't like them. So it's learning how to pick and choose. People think they need to do all the exercises. The most important things are the ones that are user friendly to you. Yes. And they fall into that category. Right? Do you have a squatting movement, a lunging movement, a pattern, all these things? Do you have something that resembles that? And it doesn't have to be loaded? Like now we have this puppy, and the last five weeks, I've squatted down to scoop him up off the floor 100 times a day. Oh, God. I don't want to squat that much, but sometimes that's what life requires. But I have a good squat pattern, so it's not a problem that's when we get older, people lose these capacities, and what do they do? They just stop using them. They don't fix them. They don't repair them. They just stop. And then eventually they stop doing everything and they just sit down and stay down. I get it, but it doesn't have to be that. But the other parts all this stuff's hard, right? It's not easy. Mhm I don't tell people it's easy. It's not easy. It's hard, but depends on what you want. I didn't move for 20 years. I want to be able to move again. And that's where I put the kettlebell. Too few questions. Mark so if I heard you right, would you put flexibility before strength? And this little bit actually goes to a podcast I've done with Jesse Birdie, who's powerlifter. And so he argued that you need some muscle strength in order to be flexible. And we haven't gone into that in great detail, but given you have all the background in gymnastics, powerlifting, and I have to say I started adding a little bit more sort of the powerlifting routine in my life now. I'm awful. Power lifter. All power lifters would laugh at me or even CrossFitters for. I watch all your squats and your benches. I don't laugh. I like them. Your form is great. Let me tell you something. I know all the ex power lifters that are the super duper heavy power lifters, they're all cripples. And I'm not even exaggerating. They're all freaking cripples. None of that ends well. So you're doing great. Your squats, uh, everything that I see that you put up, your patterns and your strength are great. But as far as strength, what I don't want people to hear is like, I'm advocating six months of flexibility training and then six months of stability. No, it's integrated. It all works at the same time. You need to work on all these louis Simmons, who was the godfather of West Side Barbell, and he was my mentor and my coach for my power lifting. I was honored and lucky enough to talk to him every week for years. That's where I learned so much of this. His system is and he took it from the Soviets, it's called the conjugate system, where you're working on all these different parts simultaneously, but you preference. You put at the top the ones that are weakest. Like, say you're pretty flexible and you're pretty mobile. You don't need to do that. First for me, when I was rehabbing my knee from my knee replacement, one thing I realized that my knee was redone, but my ankle hadn't bent right for 20 years either. I couldn't go downstairs. So for me, I had to prioritize ankle and calf flexibility. Ankle mobility, which was relied on calf flexibility. Let me tell you something. If your calf is stiff and beef jerky, your ankle ain't bending. I don't care how strong your calf raises are, your ankle is not going to bend because Dorsiflexion relies on the soleus being allowed the ankle to bend. So if it's stiff and like concrete, great. You got a 300 pound standing calf raise, but your knee can't go over your toe. So I would say you have to prioritize your weakness. And then, yes, you're going to work some flexibility and some mobility and some stability. These all have to be worked consistently together. Prioritizing what's weakest and strength is certainly part of that. But if you don't have a full range of motion in a pattern, what good is strengthening a partial range of motion? Well, if you can't reach parallel in the squat and your goal is to squat below parallel, how is doing heavy partial squats going to increase that? Yeah, maybe not heavy, but when I'm thinking about I don't train like you, I have occasionally some friends who come over and I, uh, try to just sure, you can train with me. Usually it's people who haven't worked out and they don't know what their routine is. So I take them through my workout and adjust it a little bit for them to where they at. And I find many people can't naturally squat, even parallel. And I actually used to be one of them, even from tennis, actually. The CrossFit training and eight, nine years of CrossFit I've done. And I've been lucky enough to have some fantastic coaches who help me how to squat, really help me understand the movement and getting into barrel. So I feel like you need to start maybe just body weight, right? And teaching them how to squat so I don't put load on them. But I think that alone be like strengthening, to try to move the muscles in a way to where they learn where the parallel is and start strengthening them. No, I agree with you, but remember the first seven, the primal patterns came before the five, um, primal abilities, right? So before flexibility, stability, strength and power, it's squatting, lunging, pushing, pulling, bending, twisting, gait so that's the primal patterns, like, if you can't mhm squat with no weight and you don't have that flexibility, that's what needs to be worked on. And if you find out the limitation is this is tight, that's tight, then that's when you use whatever modalities are necessary to increase the mobility flexibility of those joints, tissues to allow a normal pattern, then you strengthen it. Yeah, right. That's exactly what you should do. If you have somebody come in there and you're squatting with weights on the bar, and they can't do a, uh, body weight squat to parallel, then you have them hold on to something. They need to learn the pattern first, then they strengthen it. Right? So it's still flexibility, stubbility or say they squat down and their lower back is so weak they can't maintain their lumbar curve when they're squatting. You could say that's a strengthening. I would say that's working on stability, you're strengthening the stability. And this is where I always get into your arguments with scientists, the semantics of things. Is it strengthening, is it stabilizing it, is it flexibility, is it mobility? I try to back it up from there. It's like, can you do this? Mhm no. Okay, that's where we start. One of the things I learned from coaching with kettlebells, teaching people those types of movements in groups is like, if I want somebody to hinge and they won't hinge, but I say, listen, try squatting, and they do a perfect hinge. I'll call it a squat. I don't care what the name is. I want them to do the movement. It's very easy to get caught up in the labels and the semantics, the details of the names and the movements, and is it strength, is it power? I mean, I know what I'm thinking about, but the average person, they get overwhelmed. They get overwhelmed. It's like, that's why I want it as simple as possible, not so many different things. That's why it's can you do a body weight squat? Can you do a body weight lunge? Most people can. And then you have to find out what's the limiting factor. Is it a joint? Is it a muscle? Is it weakness? They have been joint. Range of motions are fine, but they're weak then strength. That's what I'm saying. These are not set in stone, this order. And that's the other thing I learned from Louis Simmons and West Side Barbell is like train your weaknesses. If you only train your strengths, you never get better because your weaknesses are never going to catch up. It's the same thing with bodybuilding. Like if you have guys go in there and they have no legs, but they train chest and arms all the time. Chest and arms all the time. It's like, dude, you got to train your legs. And that's what I did when I was powerlifting. It's like my legs were so far behind because of gymnastics. I didn't give much attention to my upper body because it was a natural. But if you're not willing to do that, you don't have to. But you're not going to make much progress. Yes. So your progress is easy in those types of sports. Are your numbers getting better? It's like the same thing. It's like weight loss. I tell people all the time, make the scale go down. I don't care how make the scale go down. Weigh yourself. And if the scale is not going down, eat less. Try something. Experiment. Don't be afraid to experiment. I do. I think it's Thomas Edison. He says I haven't failed 10,000 times. I found 10,000 things that didn't work. And that's my approach. I'm completely unafraid to try anything and see how it goes. Okay, that didn't work. I'm not attached to it. I experiment. If it works, it works. If it doesn't, I'll try something else because I'm going to be in the gym training anyhow. What difference does it make? Yeah, there's no finish line. I mean, it's the only thing Nike has ever done that I like. There's no finish line because there isn't for me. I'm not going to stop training when I get old. The older you get, the more you need to train. How you train is going to be different. But I'm not planning on stopping. I had a cut back a lot. Long time. Now I feel like I got a second chance once I got a new knee. So I'm not trying to break the thing either. So I'm being very careful that way, I guess. Selfish question mark. This is totally things I personally have been thinking about and a little bit struggling with even this morning. I hear you give yourself this space. If you enjoyed this episode, I want. To ask you to please do two things that would help me greatly. One, uh, please consider leaving a review. On Apple podcast spotify or any other. Podcast casting platform that you use to. Listen to this episode. Two, please share this podcast with a friend who you believe might enjoy it as well. It is a great way to remind. Someone you care about them by sharing a conversation they might be interested in. Thank you for listening.