Rebranding Discipline: Work Softly & Live Slowly


If I were more disciplined, I would’ve written this sooner.


And for that matter...

I'd be stronger, fitter, and healthier.

I’d have more money and more things.

I'd be further along in life.


But lately I’ve been questioning this whole discipline thing so I guess I'm right on time.


For real. I’m sick of waging war on the things standing between me and success. Those obstacles are there for a reason. I’m starting to understand the reason isn’t always to bulldoze my way through them.


I keep considering this idea that life doesn’t need to be a fight all the time. 


So yeah, I’ve been talking a lot of shit about discipline lately because it’s overrated…at least the way we’re conditioned to think about it.  I hear the word “discipline” and immediately think rigid habits and self-deprivation.  Mind over matter.  Flexing that willpower.  I've lived a lot of my years with discipline as my main was fucking exhausting.  


Being about that super disciplined life did have positive effects:


Discipline got me abs and a cool set of movement skills.

It got me 2 degrees and allowed me to excel in my jobs.

It earned me the respect of my peers and I gained more self-confidence.

It taught me how to handle general adulting and develop that “get-shit-done” mode. 


But that’s only the half of it.  The rest of the story ain't so nice…


Discipline made me a little crazy about my fitness and nutrition practices. 


I rushed my learning. I spent too much time jumping through hoops and not enough time figuring my shit out.  


I took my jobs way too seriously and put a ton of unnecessary pressure on myself. 


I missed out on growth experiences and connections that would’ve helped me become more myself.


I created an identity around discipline and doing things the hard way.  This persona garnered respect but I always felt like I had to be that person.  My discipline became my prison.


Discipline is an expression of force and force needs to be applied in the right balance.  In hindsight, I could’ve saved myself a lot of anxiety.  All of those positives could’ve been gained with less force.  


Back when I thought I knew where life was going, having the discipline to stay the course made sense.  Slowly, I began to realize that I have no fucking clue where life will take me…and gripping the wheel so tightly only makes the road rougher.


Now I’m at a phase in my life where discipline doesn’t serve me like it once did.  Making space has become more instrumental than applying force. There isn’t a linear path of incremental goals laid out ahead of me.  My priorities are supporting people in their growth and tapping into my own creative potential.  My success is dependent on my ability to express myself and communicate effectively - less force, more flow.


What does expression look like for you? Maybe it’s building a dedicated movement practice.  Maybe it's putting your creative work out into the world.  Whatever your expression is, you can’t discipline your way through that shit. Not in the traditional sense.  Expression requires a softer discipline. 


So I decided I’m rebranding discipline.


Work softly & live slowly. These are the words I keep coming back to.


To "work softly” is to bring diligence and devotion to your work.  Work in such a way that the work is it’s own reward.  Let go of the chase and the comparisons.  Honor the current version of yourself while quietly and insistently developing your craft. 


To "live slowly” means allowing patience, presence, and intention to overflow into your life.  Live life with a pause button.  Take time to ask questions that have no definitive answer.  Let go of the need to control and micromanage everything.  Trust life to unfold.  As it does, savor your experiences.  Continually revisit your story and stay curious about who you could, one day, become.


This might be overkill for some, but I’m a nerd for words.


These words feel good to me.  They provide clarity and focus for how I want to cultivate discipline in my life.  A reminder that the path to success is much different than advertised.  That it doesn’t always need to be a grind. 


My hope is that this prompts you to check-in with yourself.  What does self-discipline look like in your life.  How is it working for you?  


I don’t write these e-mails to be the final word.  I write them as a platform for you to start asking some different questions.  


Dive a little deeper and sort it out.  Get it on the page or put it in a post.  Whatever, just share that shit.  Go first.


I’d love to hear what you come up with.  More importantly, the people in your sphere could greatly benefit from hearing your voice.  Know that there is power in your voice to enhance the quality of your environment. Play your part.


No rush though. Sit with it. Work on it softly.  It'll come together.


Keep on,


Oh Sh*t Moments



I loved reading the responses to the last e-mail. So awesome to hear from you guys, keep on bringing it!

Also, I started watching Mad Men again. (forgot how much I love that show)

So overall the e-mail was a great move. But then after a few days, I’m realizing “Oh shit…I have to talk now…and there’s no plan…Fuck.” 

I told myself Whatever. Something will come to me. 

(Try it in a super mellow voice with prayer hands, you'll feel all enlightened.)

*Waits a few weeks*

And then the answer hits me…possibly while stoned so no guarantees it's actually the answer.

Play. We gotta go deeper into play.

It's been a thing forever, but the magnitude of it really sunk in these past weeks. It started with a recent workshop I taught in Florida.

I collaborated with some friends to put on an experience called Get Rooted.  The goal was to get this group of adults to embrace some play in their lives and also start to see some of the deeper value in it. 

I knew it would be cool, but had no idea how it was gonna play out.  

I was fascinated watching them interact and decipher these weird movements with tennis balls and Jenga sticks.  There's a lot of growing (and awkwardness) going on. 

Please believe I'm having multiple "Oh shit" moments.

  • "Oh shit, are they weirded out?"
  • "Oh shit, is this even fun?"
  • "Oh shit, how am I going to make this make sense?" 

Whatever. Something will come *Prayer hands*  (basically sliding up in the universe's DMs)

Message received. Things just seem to fall into place when people are playing. I think because it's such a contrast to what people usually feel in everyday life. The whole experience came together nicely and I learned some thangs...

  • Chill out, trust, and let it unfold.
  • Facilitate, don't micromanage. Everyone can take care of themselves.
  • Just play. Let it be that simple. 

That last point is tricky though. We're taught to dismiss play.  It's like, culturally, we confine it to brief moments between periods of work. Grind it out for 5 days and play for 2.

My personal experience of play is much deeper though.

Play is a state of mind that you can bring it to whatever you do.

I’m at my best while in "play mode". I’m in my zone and immersed in the moment. Big stupid smile. Total kid.

I play daily. Once you visit that state enough times, getting back there becomes like flipping a switch.

Play seems like the most important thing to talk about right now so I'm gonna focus on that.

And now I’m really curious to hear what PLAY is like for you weirdos. Lemme throw some questions out there and you can holler back...

  • What messages do you get from the world about play? 
  • What does PLAYING look and feel like to you?
  • What circumstances allow you to get into a state of play? 

ALSO...send any questions you might have for me because I'm going to be doing some LIVE STREAMS very soon (stay tuned!)

In terms of starting a new conversation, I can’t think of a better place to take it. 

Tag, you’re it. 


Change the Conversation

"If you don't like what's being said, change the conversation"

-Don Draper

Hey. What’s up? 

I haven’t sent out an e-mail or wrote much of anything in a long time. (TBH writing what I was writing was draining me.) 

I’ve been hanging out mostly on YouTube recently. If you’ve been following along over there, thank you for watching and commenting. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all the feedback. I’m definitely going to keep that going for a while.  

It’s been cool...but I can feel there’s something missing.

I wasn't sure what it was and then the other day and it hit me. My favorite part of this whole thing are the interactions that I have with you, my fellow weird movement peoples!

Real conversation, exploration, human connection - I really need more of that in my life.

I’ll cut to the point. The current conversations in fitness and self-development are mostly boring AF.

The world really doesn’t need any more skill tutorials, diet protocols, life hacks, or advice on how to compartmentalize your life. It's constant noise distracting us from really digging in and experiencing something deeper. 

We need less people talking at us and we need more SPACE. 

  • Space to cut through the noise.
  • Space to make sense of things and find meaning. 
  • Space to get up and take action.
  • Space to connect with each other and grow. 

What do you say we try something radical and make this space, here, about the process of real life?  

Here’s what I’m thinking...

I’m gonna send out this newsletter every few weeks. It might be related to training but mostly just whatever is on my mind at the time. For better and worse, if it’s one thing that I’m always doing it’s processing some shit.

I’m gonna share some stuff. If you wanna e-mail me back and share some stuff, I would love that. We can stop bullshitting like we have all the answers and have everything figured out. Let’s keep it real and just talk and see what happens. 

My hope is to build a space where we can be open about our flaws, and struggles, and insecurities. To share what lights us up. To be empathetic and loving but also make fun of ourselves and all this fuckery. 

It’s an experiment because I want more "LIFE" in Movement Parallels Life.

Actually, I think it’s gonna be pretty legit.

 Still, I’m freaking out a little bit about sending this e-mail so I’m gonna go make a snack and go to CoMotion. Consider yourself warned and get ready for more weird to come.


Bringing Authenticity Through Flow Movement

How Did I Get Here?

It has taken me a while to remember when I first got into flow movement. The whole practice seems so ”normal” to me now.  I had take pause and think on how did I get here? 


In hindsight I can see it as a combination of doors appearing and a decision to walk through them. It’s funny how certain things come into your life based on the circumstances and your needs.


For me, it all began with a breaking point. The kind where your realize your job is crushing your soul. It was my second job as a personal trainer, the closest I ever got to working 9-5 in a cubicle. I remember the feeling of the gym walls closing in around me. I remember the faces, the entitled attitudes, the general vibe of discontent in both the staff and the members. What I distinctly remember is that it didn't feel authentic to me.


My favorite hangout was overrun with the wrong crowd. This was enough to drive me outside to the park and start finding something new for myself. I put my need for structured goals on hold for play. I didn’t know what I was seeking but I could feel a tiny ember deep inside, gasping for air.  As I started to play more and the ember caught fire...and then it all started flowing.


Shortly, there after I made my escape from the fitness cubicle and ventured out on my own as an independent trainer. One winter, I found myself without access to a gym. No more sparkling locker rooms, steam room, or free yoga classes. No squat rack, barbells, boxes, or bars. I had a couple kettlebells, a yoga mat, and a small corner of my apartment’s “fitness center”.  By then I was thinking like a kid again which made it easier to get creative and switch up my approach to training.


In this exploration, I used what I had available to me. I considered how the tools I had gathered over the years and they could be used in a different way. I drew inspiration from YouTube videos of traceurs (parkour), martial artists, dancers, gymnasts, and yogis. The dots began to connect and I could see these disciplines as different expressions of natural movement.  The practitioners of these disciplines have a unique opportunity to show themselves to the world through their movement artistry.


It’s been a handful of years now since I began to embrace this flow practice. It’s a part I’ve guarded and not taught much. It’s something I am continually crafting. It’s a project that will never be complete but needs no completion.


Don't get me wrong, I still workout and train with purpose and goals in mind. The flow practice is a way to understand my shortcomings and direct my strengths. The practice keeps me from getting swept away in the bullshit and roots me in my values of acceptance, expression, and creation. On a deep level, flow movement feels like the authentic me.


Flow as a Process

More than a style of movement, flow is a psychological state of being. Flow isn't taught, it emerges as a part of the process. You need only to give yourself permission to get lost in what you love. Adulthood has a way of turning us from clay to stone. There is an accumulation of tension that restricts our being. Flow states dissolve this immobility.  We shed what's unnecessary (mind chatter, doubts, comparisons, negativity) and get back to our authentic selves. 


It’s not a prescription or an exact formula. As a coach, I think it's a beautiful and fascinating process to witness.  Movement sparks a small flame which begins to melt the ice. People emerge from behind their masks and lose their fears of being vulnerable. There’s an immersion in joy, a return to childhood. And even though it may be unrefined, it needn’t be critiqued or rushed toward "perfection".  As the practice matures the true meaning of it unfolds to the practitioner.  


This particular movement practice is not for everyone, but as you watch you might feel that small fire ignite. If it feels like truth, lean in for more.

Observe, listen, and take the pieces that draw your interest.

Move and practice. Get to know the movement deeply in your body, pay attention to how it feels.  

Film yourself. Watch with an eye for details, not judgement.

Find your sticking points and your weak areas. Take this is valuable information and use it to direct your fitness training.

If nothing else, follow the love and enjoy the experience of getting lost in it. It’s not so much how you do it as it is having the space to be yourself. What you'll learn there is priceless.

Move Wisely, Age Gracefully


An Old Myth

Getting older is a funny thing. When we’re kids all we want is to be a little older and have the freedom of adulthood. We impatiently wait our 18 years until the day comes and we’re on our own. Everything is great for a few years until one day (usually in our mid-20s) comes the realization that we’re “getting old” and the clock is ticking away.

And so this is life now…a slow descent toward irrelevance. Awesome.

This is the myth of aging.

Of all our gripes on the human experience, aging is pretty high up on the list. From a Western perspective, we have a lot of cultural issues around the finality of death. Getting old is a just a constant reminder of the end looming in the distance. We’d rather just sweep it under the rug. These hang ups have created a pervasive, negative outlook on aging.

We associate aging with a predictable decline in both movement and quality of life. As a result it’s easy to make the fundamental error that aging CAUSES our loss of mobility, strength, cognitive ability, and independence. This assumption of causation downplays the influence we have over our experience.

As kids, we move all the time — it’s expected. We’re vibrant and energetic. As we age, we’re expected to have lower energy and we move less to meet this expectation. However, decreased movement only contributes to muscular tension (stiffness), decreased range of motion, and lowers body awareness…sounds a lot like death right?

Let’s consider this for a minute. Should we really be buying into the the idea that our bodies just fall apart because they get older? That we should stop moving as a form of damage control?

How can we NOT factor in the ways we move, environmental stressors, diet, sleep, habits, and relationships? These are the sum total of our lifestyle choices that shape our health and quality of life.

Aging is inevitable. How we age is largely dependent on our choices. The common viewpoint absolves us of responsibility but dooms us to breaking down with age. We can challenge this myth and change the story. By taking ownership of our lifestyle choices we can remain strong, mobile, and mentally sharp through all the stages of life.


Sustainable Fitness

If you want to age gracefully, not moving is NOT the answer. Neither is crushing your body chronic high-stress training. Fitness at the expense of overall health is short-sighted. If you’re operating your body like a machine — running it hard with high-intensity training…you may just run it until the wheels fall off. Longevity comes through creating a sustainable and balanced approached to fitness.

Moving frequently at a low to moderate intensity across a broad range of human movements is a solid strategy for graceful aging. Hard work matched with building better movement habits will pay much higher dividends than just grinding it out. The key is to support your physical goals with the self-awareness to treat your body with patience and respect. This alignment creates an approach to fitness that is sustainable and evolves with you through life.

This is why I’m such a huge advocate for MovNat training. Making real world movement the focus of my fitness makes more sense to me than logging mindless time on a treadmill. Moving in sensory-rich, natural environments just makes more sense to me than being confined to artificial ones. Moving in healing ways makes more sense to me than prescription medications and medical bills.

Takeaway: Lots of movement and a sustainable approach to fitness is the secret to aging gracefully.


Train Wisely

In fitness, it’s advised to train smarter, not harder. Let’s take it a step further and strive to train wisely.

Wisdom speaks not just to knowledge but to experience and intuition. To train wisely suggests not just applying scientifically-proven principles but to do so in a way that honors your body’s design. It requires not only an intelligent approach to training but the self-awareness to drop your ego and start prioritizing what your body needs.

If we approach training with wisdom, we can age gracefully. This wisdom allows us to recognize when we’re overreaching and chasing goals for the wrong reasons. To train wisely, we see the bigger picture. Fitness becomes a lifelong practice dedicated to improving yourself, 1% at a time.

Training wisely means recognizing the difference between what you want and what you need.

Do you constantly crave a workout that will leave you completely gassed? Or do you only move softly and slowly and rarely break a sweat? Whatever you’re naturally drawn to, you might deeply benefit from getting some of the opposite in your life. Train as you would eat a balanced and nutritious diet.

Training wisely means slowing down and applying your knowledge and experience to your unique situation.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Nor is there any substitute for personal experimentation — for sure there can be an awkward learning curve, though. At the end of the day, we each can be responsible for our own health. Active participation in the process builds a strong sense personal strength that can empower us at any age, in any situation.


From Old to Elder

In our culture, we have a modern archetype of the old person — the grumpy granddad or the absent-minded granny. These are common characters now but we’ve not completely forgotten the archetype of the wise elder. To age gracefully, softly commands honor and reverence for a lifetime worth of experience and insight.

Health is the difference between old and elder. The positive effects of sustaining a life of movement and healthy choices are only more apparent as we get older. With health, aging becomes an opportunity to step into new roles and continue our growth.

In this, we do not become merely old, we become elders — holders of decades of experience and knowledge to help guide others. Will you become an elder or just old?


Changing the Old Conversation

The aging process is real, but this appeal is about changing your perception of it. As with many beliefs, there is the story you inherit and there is the story you choose to write.

The inherited story is easier but, ultimately, bleak. The hope here is to open the conversation for the sake of empowering people to step up for their health. There is much to be gained…decades, potentially. By choosing to buy-in to graceful aging, we are choosing to rewrite an old story that isn’t making our society any better.

The passage of time is inevitable but what we do with that time is completely up to us. An alternative always exists. Sustainable fitness and natural, lifestyle-based movement practices are a solid foundation of our lifelong health. On this foundation, we can age gracefully and continue tapping into our human potential, indefinitely.

Movement doesn’t lose relevance as we age. It keeps us strong, clear, and connected. Movement keeps us fully alive.

So move wisely and age gracefully. Life only gets better with time.

Your Body is Not a Machine

It’s the morning of the summer solstice.

My eyes open just as the sun is kissing the tree tops. The singing birds let me know that I’ve crossed over to the waking world. The cool morning breeze rolls across my skin and I breath in pure freshness.

I begin this day (and many others these past few summer weeks) basking in my senses with a deep appreciation to be alive. In this moment, my body is telling me that it’s a damn fine day and I’m simply content.

My moment of harmony is interrupted as my brain comes online barking orders about his agenda. I haven’t even brushed my teeth yet and already there’s an internal tug-of-war going on…and that, in a nut-shell, is the human condition.

“Rise and Grind, Kel. Don’t fall behind!”

“Let’s HUSTLE! No days off!”

“Time to do work and get shit done! Let’s gooooo!!”

My mind is quick to harp on our current life struggles and doubts. He loves to rehash old news and obsess on an unknown future. He’s a master at making comparisons and keeping score. Stillness really freaks him out. I don’t mean to make him sound like such an asshole; he is me, after all.

At worst, he turns into monkey mind and starts running wild.

At his best, he’s solving problems, troubleshooting issues, crafting masterpieces, and when there’s work to do he’s all over it.

Really, it’s my on-going balancing act between the agenda of doing and experiencing.

I’m not trying to be a slave to grind, nor let life pass me by. I’m committed to having a full human experience — messy, confusing, frustrating…and beautiful.

With that, it’s time to rise out of this bed and continue on.


The Story of the Status Quo

On this day, some self-care takes priority over my mind’s agenda of getting to work as soon as my feet hit the floor. Today the choice was obvious, but usually it’s a real struggle.

I pack up and drive down to the Lakefront for a morning walk to get centered and perpetuate some positivity. I see other people rushing to work or working out and I feel a twinge of guilt for my lack of hustle.

I quickly check that noise. Brain, don’t kill my vibe.

I recognize this guilt as the product of an inherited cultural narrative, the story of the status quo. There’s a lot going on in this story, it shapes how we view fitness and work. The story has us convinced that we can “will” our way to any end. We value tenacity, grit, and hard work to solve every problem.

We pass these values down through our myths and hero stories. We hold up professional athletes as the example to aspire to. We say put your head down and grind away. Don’t complain, don’t ask for help, just work harder.

The thing that makes this story so persistent is that it isn’t all bullshit. Tenacity, grit, and strong work ethic are powerful traits to possess. The stories of people overcoming tremendous odds to succeed, inspire us to become better ourselves. Sometime you just have to STFU and get your work done, there’s no way around that.

The problem with the story of the status quo is that it’s out of balance. The story assumes that the mind is the driver of our experiences and the body is just the vehicle.

We say “mind over matter” or “it’s all mental” with the connotation that we just need to push past limitations. We only get one body, yet we’re incredibly reckless as we use it to carry out the agenda of our mind.

We are a culture trapped inside our heads. We crave the statistics and data to make sure we making the right moves. We’re often paralyzed without this “proof”.

We aren’t taught to trust the innate intelligence of our body. We misrepresent or ignore the signals our body sends us. We’ve become strangers to our own intuition.

The brain drives the body until the body breaks down. Then we throw our hands up and assume that’s just what happens when we get “old” regardless of whether we’re 30 or 80. That’s been our reality for a long time; long enough to see that it’s not helping us live healthier, happier lives.

This is what we’re dealing with in the status quo. A story that emphasizes “doing” and instant gratification often at the expense of our health. This underlying expectation that the brain has to be running the show 24/7.


Finding a Better Balance

In this power struggle, the brain often hijacks the body. I am no stranger to this phenomenon. Over the years my drive to excel has also opened the door for anxiety, depressed mood, and injuries.

More recently, I’ve been focused on growing without forcing, without beating myself down physically and psychologically.

My morning ritual has been a key player in finding this balance. It takes on different forms on different days but it always serves to tame my overactive brain and prevent a mental takeover.

On this morning’s walk, I curb my agenda to get in a workout or record some training footage. I recognize this continual need to be “productive” as part of the problem.

I start by walking the stretch of rocks along the shore. I take a moment to bask in the sun and watch the rays dance off the face of the lake. Then I begin my mini adventure. The challenging terrain demands my full attention. I’ve done this dozens of times over the years. I know this space, I respect this space, I’m at home in this space, but I don’t take it for granted.

The ritual continues as I meander through the park. I observe my alignment and mechanics as I walk. I breath in the fresh air and thank the sun for it’s warmth. I tread barefoot through the wet grass and savor each step — I always maintain this as one of life’s greatest simple pleasures. I break out for a few sprints across the field. I continue on taking any opportunities to interact with my environment. Touch a tree, walk on a curb, duck under a railing…anything to get off auto-pilot and stay curious.

I laugh to think I wanted to film anything this morning. There is nothing to film; from the outside this is an unremarkable experience. Inside there is spaciousness, unconfined by a fixation on the performance or the outcome.

I’m free from the chatter, free from perceived expectations, free of any particular agenda. I’m free to connect with my emotions without having to push them down or blow past them in order to accomplish something.


Slow Down, Be Human

It’s common to rush, to ignore the caution signs that the body sends via physical sensations or gut feelings. The tendency is to numb ourselves during the work and appear unaffected. We struggle to perform like machines but our humanity will always come through.

Where does this need to struggle come from? I see it as a reach for instant gratification. Our drive to be doing comes with the obsession of seeing the fruits of our labor immediately.

It has been said that we overestimate what we can do in a day and we underestimate what we can do in a year. Herein lies the problem. We tend to work hard and burn out rather than doing just enough, day in & day out, for the long haul.

Logically, we know that it is consistency that breeds achievement. However, the stories that inspire us generally only glorify the outcome. The process is boring. We want to see the finale, the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals, the World Series…the regular season can be glossed over in the opening credits.

We want to see our bodies as machines capable of sustaining high output for as long as necessary. We are willing to shut down the parts of our own humanity that we deem too weak to be part of this machine. We are willing to endure high levels of stress and repetitive damage to our bodies for the sake of this output. We will sever our connection to our emotions to numb ourselves to fear & pain and joy & pleasure alike.

We strive to be machines. Cold steel and interchangeable parts constantly working until the work is done (which it never is). We are infatuated with the idea of existing without having to actually deal with the inconveniences of being — uncertainty, vulnerability, mortality.

No matter how hard you try, you are not a machine. Life is simply too short to be lived mechanically. The process deserves to be savored. Through this process, we shift our perspective and start to see the great strength that lies in the traits that make us human.


You’re So Money…You Don’t Even Know It

So maybe we’re not cyborgs, but the human body is nothing short of impressive. Let’s take a moment here to appreciate the elegance of the vehicles we’re using to navigate this life.

From a biomechanical perspective, the body is a finely tuned instrument, a masterpiece of design and function. The average body is capable of arranging itself in a staggering number of ways, more than you could possibly imagine. The nearly infinite number of ways the joints are able to articulate to change the shape of our skeleton is mind-blowing.

Movement is coded into our DNA. Your body holds an insane amount of technology to navigate your human experience on all kinds of terrain and through all kinds of demands. With the assistance of your brain’s ability to recognize patterns and learn from past experiences, your body does incredible things everyday.

However, the hallmark of brilliant design is seamless integration. The human body is so brilliantly designed we don’t recognize how amazing we actually are.


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Speaking of design, we are surrounded by machines that enhance our lives but we know nothing about. As cool as my MacBook is, there’s no real need for me to understand it’s inner workings. I simply appreciate that it allows me to create all kinds of content and make a living. I love it, but in it’s absence I would adapt.

My body on the other hand is not just a tool to wield but an inseparable part of me. It deserves a much deeper dive.

Your job isn’t to technically understand every detail of your body, it’s to fully inhabit it.

From the machine perspective, we might see the brain (via the nervous system) as in charge of telling the otherwise stupid muscles what to do. The reality is more complex. The mind, body, and emotions all inhabit each other and all inform each other.

The mind and body cannot be separated. They are one, indivisible. Our emotions reside in the tissues of our body. Instinct and intuition play just much of a role as logic and analysis. When it comes to the story of us, science is nowhere near having all the answers.

The body is an open system, a constantly evolving organism. Through our senses we are collecting data from the environment and this data is being continuously processed by our brain. This on-going cycle is causing you to restructure yourself throughout your life.

Your environment and your experiences are literally changing you as you adapt to them. This is not machine behavior. Machines are designed to serve a purpose. To a large extent, you choose what experiences you have, how you will perceive these experiences, and thus how you will evolve.

There is an on-going conversation between your brain and your body. To run your body as a machine, dishonors this dialogue. As we learn to listen to the signals our body is sending us, we tap into the innate wisdom that lives in the body. The synergy of the whole system is what leads us to a richer human experience.

Go create art, have adventures, do epic shit…that’s why you have a human body. When you view yourself as a machine, you are missing the point. Machines are designed for the purpose of work. You were designed for so much more.



Return to Human

We’ve been living with the story of the status quo for a long time. Treating our bodies like machines has become our normal. The question we’re facing now is how will we protect the nature of our humanity.

Redefining a new normal is a process, it’s going to take some time and effort. There are no quick fixes and most of the time gratification is not instantaneous (not what anybody wants to hear, I know). But for the brave souls out there, we’ll explore some movement strategies to return to human.

Your body, your responsibility.

Accept full responsibility for your health by making a commitment to honoring your body. Understand that just about every decision you make has an impact on your body. The ways you train, play, eat, work, communicate, and relax all have implications for your physical health. This does not mean you have to quit all your less than perfect behavior. Rather this about turning awareness into a habit. Before you act, take a moment to consider the consequences on your body. If you’re on the fence about whether or not to do that thing, considering your body might just tip the scales in the right direction. These moment are where intuition is built.

Move more mindfully.

Whether you’re working out, cooking a meal, cleaning your house, walking your dog, or standing in line — stay in the moment. Stop checking out and paying half attention. Give your full attention to your body and physical presence. When you’re working out, feel where the effort and the exertion is going. In household chores think about your posture as you find yourself in awkward positions. As you’re out walking, think about your breathing, your stride, and your balance. Even when you’re doing nothing and your mind wanders, come back to the moment and check in with your body.

Go beyond exercise.

The gym offers more machine-like movement than human movement. From exercise equipment to high-intensity beat downs, the gym tends to reinforce the status quo. Resist!

Get outside. Train seasonally and move different ways throughout the year. In the summer, spend more time walking and running in the outdoors. In the winter, spend more time crafting your skills or your strength. Throughout the year make sure you’re not just crushing it in the gym but “exercising” your freedom to move as humans move.

Embrace the “soft skills”

We are used to pushing hard towards our goals. This is the “hardstyle” we’ve become accustomed to associating with fitness. This approach certainly gets work done, but often at the expense of our body.

Soft skills are qualities like mobility, balance, coordination, relaxation, and fine motor skills. These qualities are often overlooked in favor of the lifting heavy, moving fast, or just getting the job done. These soft skills, however, are a means of restoring your body and focusing the mind. When you shift from viewing your body as a machine, you create space to restore function, unlock new abilities, and experience yourself in new ways.

Learn from your mistakes.

We’ve all incurred stupid injuries because of pushing our bodies too far. Hopefully we make fewer of these mistakes as the years pass. It’s definitely not about being perfect though; you’re going to make mistakes along the way. Small injuries are inevitable but they can be some of our best teachers. So many times we try to blame our mistakes on someone or something outside ourselves. By taking responsibility for your mistakes you assume control over your learning process. Did you check out and lose focus? Did you get tired and sloppy? Did you momentarily fall back into the trap of being a machine? It will happen time and time again. It’s our ability to be accountable for ourselves that really drives change.


Change the Game

For a long time, I strived to be a machine and I put my body through hell reaching for “more”. I exhausted myself chasing goals that weren’t really mine in the first place. I lived with a constant sense of never being enough.

When I started to practice natural movement everything changed. I slowed down and I began to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for my body. I came to see that the way that I had been taught was not the way that it needed to be. Natural movement took me in a different direction; it has led me to write a different story for my life.

So then is natural movement your answer to becoming human again? Maybe. There is no one, definitive way. Just as we’re all responsible for our own body, we’re responsible for our walking our own path.

The way I see it, you can never have too much awareness. Anything that creates a positive disruption from the status quo is a good thing. Natural movement has been that positive disruption for me and many others. It has been the catalyst for a shift towards making health a way of life instead of a goal to chase.

You’re not a machine, you never were. Slow down, savor, stumble, make wrong turns, triumph, do what you love. Start owning what makes you human.


Movement Minute - 5 Lessons from Fighting the Monkey

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure to take part in a truly incredible experience.


This was kind of experience that was really fun at the time, but has resonated even more in the weeks since.


My perspective on movement was radically expanded.  I wouldn’t hesitate to say this was a true game changer.


I’m talking about the Fighting Monkey Intensive Workshop


Now, I’m not going to try to fully explain what Fighting Monkey is or who the creators are.  To be honest, I'm not 100% sure yet myself.  


You can check out the videos and do the research for yourself. To be honest, you’re either going to be strongly drawn to it or uninterested. 


If you need the logical road map neatly laid out for you before you test the waters, this probably isn’t for you. And that’s cool, not everything is for everyone.


The principles can be laid out, but it’s on you to find the appropriate application.  I know this can be unnerving for many people.  In a world where dogma is constantly being pushed on us, I appreciated being encouraged to find my own meaning.


As for the Intensive, I spent 5 days with 23 other movement weirdos and 2 of the most genuine teachers I have ever encountered. 


We explored movement and stillness.

We learned to create deeper layers of strength via structural integrity.

We emphasized rhythm, timing, coordination, touch, and interaction.

We broke down our individual walls to collaborate and challenge each other to become better movers.

We worked. We played. We cooked. We processed. We connected.

We used to movement to embrace what really makes us human.


And when I got home, I realized this was just the start. The rabbit hole goes much deeper.


I’ve still been tumbling down this rabbit hole and considering the bigger picture.  


The Fighting Monkey Practice is something that needs to be experienced and evaluated by the individual.


I took a leap of faith investing in this experience.  The ROI was a connecting of the dots and a fresh new perspective.  These are my 5 greatest lessons from the Fighting Monkey Practice.


Study in your own universe. The external environment creates a great deal of activity and noise, it's all very easy to get wrapped up in.

Take time to cultivate stillness as a way to observe your internal experience.

Sense your body from the inside out - the alignment of your skeleton, the tension / relaxation relationship in your muscles, the quality of the breath, the activity of the mind.

Don’t assume that because you have a body automatically means you’re an expert operator.  Be a continual student of yourself.


Go deeper into the story.  We are often presented concepts without the context of how the concepts came to be.  At a certain point, we cease asking questions; we assume we know what we know.

Do we have the full story or could we dig deeper? We fail to see what was before the concept, what were the circumstances around it’s creation, what updates must occur to apply the concept to our lives.

 Acquire knowledge in the pursuit of the full story. At the very least be aware that there’s more to know around what you know.


Embrace totality.  Similar to the last lesson, we’ve got to learn to see things as whole, both what’s visible and invisible.

At any point, we hold a specific vantage point where some things are clearly visible and others remain hidden from our view.  However, there is a subtle art to “seeing" the bigger picture.

In problem-solving, this is abstraction of the mind. In relationships, this is empathy.

To fixate on a single point is to dishonor the whole. Our development will be better served by embracing totality - being aware of our assumptions of what’s visible in order to wrap our head around what is invisible.  


Lean into the fire. “Cook” & “Work!” Two common commands from my teacher. It’s incredible how much is communicated in these two, four-letter words.  

“Cook.” As in prepare your tissues with skill and care. Vary your methods and your temperature.  Sometimes follow a recipe, sometimes off-the-cuff.  Always with precision and intention.    

“Work!” Not for the sake of arbitrary exertion, but for research and ultimately expression. Get out of your head. Get out of the way of your body and move.  Let it flow through you in the moment. Process afterwards. The work is the fire forging your practice. 

Cook with care to increase the quality of your work. Work towards expression and the transformation of reinventing yourself again and again.  Lean into the fire and rise like the phoenix.


Tell your story through your movement.  Your defining experiences, current habits, beliefs, injuries, and emotional state all reside in your body. They emerge in your movement, they sculpt the form you assume.

Sometimes you practice the form - you set an intention for how you want to show up and act accordingly. Sometimes the form practices you - you become attached to past performance and future expectation, handcuffed to the monkey mind. Either way, you tell your story through your movement.

An amazing thing happens as you become aware of the deeper layers of your story and allow it to emerge.  You find healing and resolution. Your movement practice deepens and grows richer.  You release yourself from the narrative you’re clinging to and create space for some a new story.  

I finish this post with an exhalation from the soul. These thoughts have been swirling around for a few weeks now.  It's definitely taken some time for everything to sink in.


Fighting Monkey isn't neatly packaged for mass consumption. It's meant to be speculated on and savored. It's meant to challenge your comfort zone and expand your pre-existing notions.   


It wasn't so much what I was taught as what I learned in relation to my own mental & emotional challenges.  


The fact of the matter is, we are all dealing with our own baggage.  We are all "fighting the monkey" at various points in our journey.  That's the human condition.


Don't get me wrong, the FM movement practices are amazing.  However, my biggest takeaways came from the conversations we all had between training. Practice & process.


The magnitude of the whole experience was far greater. For me, it was about understanding deeper layers of myself, leaning into my personal journey, and connecting with an awesome community of people out there seeking something real. 


If you’re sensing that there’s something deeper to this movement culture than macacos and muscle-ups, I might suggest The Fighting Monkey Practice.


It might just be the missing piece that you didn't know was missing.

Movement Minute - Landmine Pressing + Ground Movement

A few weeks back I started doing some soft tissue work on my adductors using the barbell because that’s how I get my kicks in life.  


From there, I was reminded of the “Landmine” press, a staple in functional fitness.  The barbell slides into a fitting that swivels allowing for all kinds of cool pressing and rotation exercises.  In the absence of the official fitting you can place the end of a barbell in an old shoe or wrapped in a towel wedged into a corner.  I rested the bar in the center of a bumper plate. 


In MovNat we actually train a similar set up when we’re lifting logs (I did a Movement Minute on this last fall).  We take advantage of the stability of having one end of the object on the ground while we position our support underneath.  Lifting long objects is proof that physics can be fun as it makes lifting awkward object super efficient. 


We’re still working on getting some lifting logs in at CoMotion and most average gyms frown on you bringing your own. The barbell doesn’t provide the cool contours and textures of the log but it works just fine; consider it spring training. 


I used basic sitting positions as the foundation for this practice.  Beginning in a bent sit and executing an overhead press being mindful to maintain spinal alignment and support. Then switching sides in a side bent sit position while supporting the barbell.


From kneeling was probably the most practical of the variations.  Going from low kneeling to tall kneeling with a press overhead.  Stepping out into a half kneeling position just made sense and I started to think about getting to my feet or shouldering the load.  Rotation side to side in a tall kneeling position was a great drill I’ll definitely use with my clients.  


Lastly, I used a posted arm in a tripod transition variation to play around with changing my orientation.  Looking away from the bar offered up a nice stability challenge. Rotating and pressing the weight is what I usually see with the landmine, but it was also cool to stabilize the object and figure out how I could rotate myself.  


Try this out as a warm up or as part of a mobility / light practice day. The Olympic bar weighs 20kg /45lbs which was a decent weight for these drills. I would only add more weight if I were planning on staying primarily in the sagittal plane and focused on straight pressing and getting up from the ground.  To modify, you could use any long object that might be laying around your house; your 2x4 balance beam (6'-8’) would work well.  


There’s a lot to play with here and plenty of opportunities to get creative.  For me creating or finding new and interesting environments is a huge part of how I approach training.  It’s in these environments where I adapt and figure out how to apply my skills in new places.  This adds an element of problem-solving which keeps the work fresh for me. In turn, this practice helps me see problems as opportunities to devise creative strategies. We are truly creatures of habit but we are endowed with amazing abilities to adapt to new situations. We’re only limited by the boxes we confine ourselves to.  Embracing curiosity and taking a moment to ask “I wonder what would happen if…” could make a world a difference in your perception. 

Movement Minute - Get Up Challenge

Get up from the ground. Get back down. Repeat. It’s just that simple…not always that easy though.


Get ups are simple but foundational movement patterns to take us from lying on the ground to on our feet. One moment we’re chilling, pondering deep thoughts (or not). The next moment, we respond to a stimulus and we’re on our feet. If we’re not regularly practicing these patterns, it might be a little longer than a just a moment.  


Get ups have a ton of real world application for every body. Studies have even shown the link between get ups and longevity. Practice of these basic patterns paves the way for life long health.  This concept of “health before fitness” insures that we have a good foundation of health upon which higher fitness can be built.


There are many different variations of get ups that can be made part of our fitness training.  The most popular (and hated) example would be the burpee (AKA the sprawl, squat thrust, or whatever the kids will call it next.)  I like to practice a variety of get up patterns as part of my ground movement practice. They strengthen the body, develop better mobility, and are great for elevating your heart rate.  


For today’s Movement Minute, I put together a sequence of my favorite get ups, to challenge you to explore the possibilities in this basic task. We’ll look at 6 variations. By adding volume and intensity to the mix you’ll better ingrain the practice in your body (muscle memory) and learn to find a higher level of movement efficiency as you start to fatigue.  


The challenge is 1-3 rounds of the following sequence:

  • 10x Tripod Get Ups
  • 10x Cross Back OR Cross Sit Get Ups
  • 5x Knee Jump Get Ups
  • 10x Kneeling Get Ups
  • 5x Knee Jump Get Ups
  • 10x Squat Get Ups
  • 10x Rolling Single-leg Get Ups


If you’re new to these movements, start with 1-2 rounds focusing on quality of movement.  If you’re familiar with these movements already, challenge yourself to 2-3 rounds. This little sequence can also be a great pre-training warm up or quick workout.


To increase the challenge, try loaded get ups.  Wear a weighted vest or a hold an object like a medicine ball - I recommend 5-25 lbs.  If using load, you may want to modify some of the patterns, especially the knee jump get up.  


You can also dial up the complexity for an extra challenge.  When you get up, change your orientation or move to a different stance.  This will break the monotony and develop your ability to be more adaptive and really “own” your movement patterns.


Now, for the bigger picture "why". To me, this practice is symbolic of life.  

Get knocked down, get back up…as many times as it takes. Create a solid base underneath you and stand up with strength and grace. Stay aware of your environment and be prepared for what's to come next.


Life will knock you down again and again, but it's only to help you grow stronger.  Train with tenacity to live with resolve and resilience.  Anti-fragile becomes your new normal and you'll meet life's setbacks with a smile and bounce back.

Movement Minute - Learn To Fly

One of the main reasons I began pursuing movement-based fitness was for the feeling of freedom. 


I would spend hours captivated by YouTube videos of kids practicing parkour - sprinting, climbing, crawling, and vaulting through their environment like water. The next day I would go out and practice for hours on end.  I’d walk through the neighborhood looking for opportunities to interact with something besides a barbell or a fitness machine.  


You see the gym had become a prison for me.  A white-collar, $200 per month, all-inclusive prison with pool and steam room.  That part wasn't all that bad, not until I stopped growing. That's when the walls started closing in.


It took a while to realize the toll this environment was taking; it was sucking the life out of me. Seemed like everything about the establishment wanted to hold me down and keep me in the box - my managers, my colleagues, the rules, the accepted means of physical training.   Maybe you’ve had a job like that though. Run.


Out the back window you could get a glimpse of freedom. A skate park, a wide open field, and a beautiful playground in the woods. Sunset Park was my oasis in this mad world. 


In that park, I learned what freedom of movement means to me.  It meant escaping constraints and bad vibes. It meant having fun with my fitness again. It was just doing it just for me. It felt like flying.  No coincidence, vaulting is the movement that most closely captures the essence of what I was feeling in these times.


From that taste of freedom, I could better understand the toxicity of that particular gym environment.  I was pouring in my efforts and I stopped getting anything back.  All my passion and enthusiasm for movement was being squashed. I couldn’t see it until I got out of it - that’s good old fashioned Midwestern work ethic, for you.  I made an important decision that flying was more important than a comfy cage. 


With that I peaced the fuck out.  


That was years ago. Since then I’ve floated, floundered, experienced epic highs and deep lows, and learned volumes about myself.  My movement practice has been there with me through it all. Each facet means something to me and as you may have guessed, vaulting has a special place reserved in my heart.  


So that was a really long introduction to what I wanted to share today, some vaulting practice. 


These are mostly variations we teach in MovNat. I love to get into a flow of overs and unders with this rig we have in our gym. I practiced the individual pieces for about 40 minutes before I got into a more improvised flow.


The tripod vault is my standard. It feels safe, works at all speeds, and is versatile to pass over or climb on top.

The split vault is super efficient (lazy) and works well for for these railings.

The side vault and turn vault remind me of hopping over fences as a kid.  Pushing through the locked out arm insures that you pass over smoothly. 

The front (kong) vault has always intimidated me, fear of face planting.  It takes trust to time the jump. Learning where to plant the hands and how to apply force through the arms is key for a clean exit. This one is super badass and worth the time to learn. 


Vaulting is on the complex end of the spectrum; there are a lot of moving parts. It’s important to break down each movement into a progression of drills to embody the technique.  Good coordination and timing is required...that takes a lot of time and a lot of repetition. The mental factor is high; you can quickly psych yourself out and form a block. In that case, sometimes you work through it and sometimes you put it on the shelf for a while.  Either scenario is a valuable chance to check your ego.


For me, vaulting is a lesson in working with the fear; using it as a tool to grow. Training through that fearful headspace provides some powerful life lessons. Leaning into that fear we stretch the reach of our comfort zone. That’s why I practice. 


Find the environments that allow you to thrive. Break down complexity into manageable steps. Approach challenges with a playful mindset. These truly are timeless principles, applied and absorbed through fitness. 


Sometimes life feels like a cage, constrained by rules and tradition.  Sometime you need to do something new to feel something different.  Let your body out of the cage for a while and see what it does for your mind.

#GroundMovementMonday - Hip Rotations & Kneeling Positions

Slowing down the flow for this week in favor of more static holds to challenge balance and activation.

This type of flow feels especially restorative for me as it target some of my tight areas.  There's a high emphasis on internal and external rotations which always seem to balance out my hips and keep my knees feeling good.  Don't move into any painful movements. Rather use these patterns to make you strong in some new ranges of motion.

I also put a lot of reaching patterns in this flow that challenge balance. The key is active engagement in the seated and kneeling positions; I'm never just resting on my support. I am rooting into the ground and creating length throughout my body whenever possible.  Stability doesn't just happen, it comes from the inside out. 

Seize this opportunity to slow down and savor your practice time. Stretch, breathe, and allow the movements to connect and land in your body.  It's a little different, a little weird maybe, but exactly what I mean when I say "love your practice."

Movement Minute - Parallette Practice

Somewhere back in 2010ish, I remember getting my first glimpse of just how strong and ripped you could get from just bodyweight training alone.  I came across an underground group of physical culturists who trained on playground equipment in the boroughs of New York. The physiques on these guys were only eclipsed by their ability to perform impossible feats.


My head nearly exploded the first time I saw a planche push up. I had never seen anyone do anything nearly as impressive in the gym. I knew I had to explore this culture and bring some of it into my own practice.  This was the inspiration for buying my first pair of parallettes.  


In the fitness world, parallettes or “p-bars” are a highly underutilized tool.  At first glance they look only like glorified push up handles, easy to dismiss. CrossFit really popularized the tool by bringing L sits and handstand push ups into the training fold.  Whenever I visit a CF gym however, I see the parallettes (usually the DIY PVC versions) taking up space in the corner.  


Hmmm, why is that?


Well maybe you start out with a few sets of push ups. OK, nothing special. Then an L sit. 5 seconds in your quads are cramping, your core is in knots, and your cheeks are shaking. For there on out it’s pretty easy to say “ok, I'm good, pass the barbell.” 


The parallettes require very intentional progression…which in turn takes some creativity.  You also get a lesson in patience and being present in your current level. You cannot skip ahead without having a built a foundation, this makes parallette training very honest.  With the p-bars, you’re at where you’re at. However, this give you a chance to get creative with the drills that work for you. 


Patience and consistency are rewarded in calisthenic training as the p-bars can yield both strength and size (hypertrophy) when used properly.  The secret is time under tension.  Parallettes encourage you to place a higher degree of stimulus on the nervous system through sustained strength and stability.  


The video is an example what some of my parallette training currently looks like.

  • Handstand to shoulder (bent arm) stand
  • Shoulder stand to L sit
  • Elevated pike push ups
  • Knee tucks.

These drills will pave the way to the more advanced skills I’m working towards, the planche and handstand push up.  I’m not sure I’ll ever fully solidify those skills, but the progressions alone can craft an impressive physique that performs. 


Overall, I find bodyweight training to be more engaging and more applicable to practical performance than isolated weightlifting. While weight training strengthens the pieces of the body, calisthenics integrates strength through the core of the body.  It’s a personal preference but I encourage everyone to invest at least a little time learning to manipulate their own bodyweight. 


I know, I know. The learning curve. It’s damn steep. But for real, what’s the rush?


There is no rush. There is no finish line. There are no standards.  There is just you and the massive amount of potential that resides within. Acknowledge that shit. Nurture it. Draw it out. All it takes is a step; the step builds momentum and becomes belief.


So take a chance on your greatness and get started. 

Stop Overthinking Mindfulness: Simple Strategies for a More Present Existence.

Lake Park Mindful.png

Trending: A More Mindful Existence

Mindfulness is quickly emerging as one of the hottest new trends in today’s culture.  Practices such as meditation and yoga are gaining increased attention for their ability to help us foster a mindful existence. Tech companies are creating products to deliver mindfulness to us. Corporations are jumping on the bandwagon to support their employees in navigating life stressors.


As our way of life continues to pick up speed, we’re collectively becoming more aware of the need to pump the brakes and smell the proverbial roses.  We are overstimulated, constantly distracted, and increasingly isolated from deep human interactions. We bounce from place to place, person to person, thought to thought with knee jerk quickness. Meanwhile, expanding our awareness of ourselves and our surroundings has become foreign, even unsettling to us. 


Deep down, we may intuitively sense this disconnect and feel drawn to the concept of mindfulness.  After all, who wouldn't like to feel less stress, more connected, fulfilled, and happy? Mindfulness is more than just a new buzzword, it is a pathway towards balancing our lives. But how do we get started?


As a coach, I see the practice of mindfulness eluding many people.  Just like in our daily lives, we often turn what should be simple and intuitive into an overly complicated mess of minutiae. 

  • What’s the proper technique? 
  • Where do we begin? 
  • How do I know if I'm on the right track? 
  • What does it feel like?
  • Am I doing it right?


Stop. You’re overthinking it.


In this article we’ll unpack this thing called mindfulness and explore the ways to make it work for you. Let’s set aside traditional practices and let’s forget about what the gurus are doing for few minutes.  Let’s strip away all the mysticism. Let’s focus less on mindfulness “tactics” and more how to keep it simple and consistent for transformational results.



The Big Picture of Mindfulness

No doubt there are many different approaches, practices, entry points, and language around mindfulness.  We could sit here splitting hairs over these small differences or embrace the big picture and act.


You may have heard mindfulness is “being present.”  To elaborate, let’s define mindfulness as intentionally paying attention. What are you paying attention to? In particular, what is going on around you and within you.  Mindfulness is about paying attention to your external environment, your internal experience, and the connection between the two. 


A key element of mindfulness is observation without evaluation, analysis, or judgement. This is so simple we often get off-track. Our brains are wired to search for problems and solutions.  Be sure to say “thank you, brain” because overall it’s a good thing.  However, left unchecked this becomes a habitual pattern that may distract from the present moment. There’s something to be said for just taking it all in.  Mindfulness is not just going through the motions or flipping through the channels of your mind. Mindfulness is experiencing the many flavors of your life.  


The Real Benefit of Mindfulness

Another place where we get derailed is understanding the benefits. Mindfulness is a subtle practice, the benefits come into focus with time and consistency.  This runs contrary to our culture of instant gratification. There are many potential benefits, but perhaps the most universal benefit of mindfulness lies in it’s ability to shift us towards embracing the process of life.  


We’d love to predict the future or have some way to insure what we want to happen, but we learn time and time again that just ain’t how it works. Mindfulness trains us for acceptance.  Through practice, we learn to see the silver lining of every cloud.  We learn to appreciate the good and the bad.  We learn to recognize that the nothing lasts forever; the landscape is always shifting.  In essence, mindfulness is how we can fully embrace this wild ride on our rock hurling through space. 


Ending the Search

We might hear about mindfulness on a podcast or read an article in our newsfeed and think “I that’s totally what I need!” We then launch a massive search for more articles, books, apps, teachers, classes, and retreats.  We look everywhere in a Google-fueled quest for the answers, how else are we supposed to know if we’re doing it right? 


But in our haste we forget to look in the most important spot, inside us.  Mindfulness is an innate capacity, like strength, mobility, or balance. It’s not an add-on or an upgrade that you need to acquire, it’s already inside you.  Of course, learning new approaches and techniques is a part of strengthening your ability.  All the resources and tools out there can be very helpful but recognize that the ability is already a fundamental part of you.


By seeing mindfulness as something you’re drawing out (rather than bringing in) you’ll relieve the pressure of trying to “do” something or force results.  Understand that it’s your practice and it’s an on-going process.  No one can do the work for you or tell you how it should be done.  Be open to learning new approaches and feel confident in putting this information to use in a way that works best for you.


Building Your Practice

Mindfulness can be applied to just about any practice. Start with a vehicle you’re comfortable with. Ask yourself where you’re already spending your time and energy.  Consider how you could engage in these activities more mindfully. I’ve personally come to access a more mindful lifestyle through my fitness training and spending time in nature. 


Prior to embracing mindfulness, my fitness was defined by pushing forward at all costs. I rushed quickly from goal to goal. Over the years, this got pretty old. I shifted my focus to mindfulness and began feeling my movements from the inside out.  It was no longer solely about more reps or more weight, but also observing the sensations and emotions arising from the movements. I experienced greater patience with myself and for the process of change. This resulted in fewer injuries, increased body awareness, more effective training, and higher overall performance. 


Spending time in nature has also been a way to access a mindful state. I’ve placed more awareness on taking in the sights, smells, sounds, and textures.  Navigating more complex terrain requires a greater degree of presence which prompts me to turn off my auto-pilot and engage. I’ve learned to appreciate not just the comforts of nature (sunshine and warm temps) but the challenges as well (rain / snow, cold, wind, mud, bugs, etc…) My nature adventures might last 5 minutes or 5 hours but the experience coupled with mindfulness always leads me to a sense of awe and connection.


Start with any activity you’re already familiar focusing on. These are your strongest vehicles to access mindfulness. These activities are where mindfulness will click for you and begin to resonate through the different areas of your life.  It doesn’t have to be anything extraordinary; everyday tasks make for great mindfulness practice. Try out some of these jump off points to start practicing.

  • Unplug your workout. Put your headphones away and get off the machines.  Choose 3-5 different movements or exercises and perform them mindfully with quality in mind.  Sense your muscles activating, your heart rate and breathing changes, your stability or instability.  Acknowledge what emotions or feelings stir up and eventually settle. Notice your reaction to these feelings.


  • DIY yoga / stretch. What are you trouble spots? Start out with just one good stretch that targets one of these areas. Stay in your body as you stretch, don’t check out. Pay attention to the sensations and your breathing.  Hold the stretch for longer than you’re used to 2-3 minutes. Move in and out the stretch. Change your body position slightly to stretch slightly different angles. 


  • Take a walk in nature. Get off the beaten path and remove some of the barriers between you and the environment. Go barefoot or make a point to touch as many objects as you can. Find a comfortable place to sit and take in the sensations, smells, and sounds.  


  • Savor a meal. At least once a day, take some extra time to enjoy what you’re consuming. We know how easy it is to rush.  Eating too fast or working / texting / surfing our way through a meal to the point where we’re not really even tasting what we’re eating.  Put your devices away and enjoy something nourishing and flavorful.


  • Create something.  Draw, write, build, film, act, play, sculpt, photo, dance, design. Let go of the pressure of having to make something “good” and just create something for the sake of it.    When you’re finished, don’t judge it or get attached to it. Realize it won’t be the last thing you create. Acknowledge and appreciate the product and the process of creating it.  


Let It (Over)Flow

When mindfulness becomes a routine practice it reshapes your perspective on the world. Mindfulness becomes a habit that overflows into the other areas of your life.  Consistent practice enables you to access a mindful state in both mundane activities and in stressful or emotional situations.


It's great that we have many resources and support around mindfulness training. These resources serve us best when they are used to help us individualize our approach. There may be a wealth of techniques for mindfulness but it's your personal responsibility to integrate them in a way that works for you.  


Keep your sights set of the big picture behind mindfulness - being passionate about paying attention. Instantaneous results won’t happen, but over time the shift that takes place is monumental.  This process is paved by recognizing that mindfulness isn’t something you become, it’s what you express.  Put forth the effort with the understanding that being mindful is something you’ve always done, now you’re just turning up the volume. 


In ways big and small.

Day in, day out.  

Craft your life with intention for the things you love.

Don’t overthink this mindfulness thing. 

Movement Minute - Fix Your Lunges

For months now, I have been all about the lunges. Making up for lost time, I guess.


I pretty much abandoned them some years back. It wasn’t my fault though, I was drunk on some strength & conditioning kool-aid at the time.  Everyone wanted huge squat and deadlift numbers, lunges just weren’t that cool.  


But now mobility is what’s hot in the streets so lunges are cool again. Funny how that happens. Turns out that I actually lunges a lot, they're a huge part of my movement style. I don’t necessarily load them up a ton but instead there's a lot to play around with in terms of speed and different angles.  


The downside of lunges (but really an upside) is that they require more neuromuscular coordination.  I see lunges performed incorrectly all the time. Sometimes it’s super ugly and I shake my head as I turn away in disgust. Most of the time though the issues lie in the small details that go unnoticed. A few good cues can make a huge difference.  


So this week we’re looking to clean up some common mistakes in this natural movement. If lunges have given you problems in the past check out these fixes that may save your knees.  Stop thinking of a lunge as an exercise instead of a practical movement you use in real life.  There is no single perfect form. Rather, it’s a good look to understand the basic mechanics and explore lunging in many different ways.


Here are some of the variations to try:

The half kneeling get up.  This is a transition from kneeling to standing via the lunge. The half kneel is a strong position to start the lunge, beginners should start out here. The core is kept strong and the front hip engaged. Push directly down through the front foot, pressing away through the back toes to stand up


The split squat isn’t a true lunge but close enough.  It requires more range of motion and strength. A key point on the split squat is keeping the spine long and core strong while standing up out of the bottom position. Again, the front leg is doing the majority of the work, the back leg provides the assist.  


Dynamic lunging is a more athletic expression.  Keep the tempo slow and smooth as starting to practice, the speed will come in time.  Focus on all the details: “falling” into the lunge, contacting the ground, absorbing through the hip, strong posture, driving through the ground to standing. 


Seems simple, right? What could go wrong? 


Well, a few things. Structural integrity can break down, there might be some muscular imbalances, mobility restrictions, or some combination. The knee of the lunge leg may want to drift inward.  There might be a failure to load the hip properly or a problem with the sequencing. There might be a loss of posture. Mostly likely there will be some combination. Notice the theme. 


The common faults happen for a number of reasons. Many of them are related to the fact that, as a culture, we sit way too much. We need to balance out that time with more movement.  Nothing major, nothing excessive, just human movement.  Practice doesn’t have to be a be a big deal nor does it have to be perfect right away.  Just stay curious and mindful, you’ll keep peeling back the layers and finding new depth. It never gets old and it will keep you young.

Movement Minute - Hang & Handstand SuperSet

This was one of those weeks where nothing extraordinary was coming up, just putting the in work to move the needle towards better. Amidst that work, sometimes you just stumble across something interesting or inspiring.  


I almost passed on the Movement Minute this week as I'm out in San Francisco attending the Wisdom 2.0 conference.  Before leaving, I did capture some good training footage. I was really happy with how this hanging and handstand superset turned out and happy to share.


This is a quick and effective upper body workout. It might be tempting to jump right in but make sure you take the time to warm up properly for at least 5-10 minutes.  Mobilize your wrists, shoulders, and thoracic spine. Fire up your core and posterior chain because these areas are really going to get tested in this one. Personally, I spent a lot of time working on my calves and hamstrings.


The common denominator here is compression strength, the kind that comes from deep in the center of the body. You’re trying to create an L or V shape that can withstand the pull of gravity. The deep core muscles and hip flexors engage to hold the body in a folded position. In addition the posterior chain needs to be mobile so as not to put on the brakes on the whole situation. This kind of integrated strength makes me feel greater balance in my strength and mobility, it also can unlock some very cool skills. 


This all came about because I’m on a big L sit kick lately and I want to master 1-arm hanging leg raises. I’ve got some weakness in my pulling strength that I get to clean up. Right now, 1-arm hanging Ls feel crazy hard for me so I’ll keep leaning into that challenge. The hanging leg raises require a "pull" into the bar while using the core to lift the lower body into the fold. Easier said than done


The straddle press handstand is a nice pushing complement to the pull of the hang. I’ve got these down pretty well (from standing, at least) so conditioning with some reps is a good look. This movement is all about pressing into the ground for a stable foundation while the core lifts the lower body into the handstand. Also, easier said than done.


I consider this a conditioning workout so pick your progressions wisely.  It’s important to find variations of these movement that you’re comfortable with and that will hold up under some fatigue. Two modifications I suggest are hanging knee tucks and handstand hops.


I have great respect for both of these movements; there is so much going on with each. You’ve got to be intentional to make progress, slowly and incrementally. There are tons of little drills to build up the capacity, way too many to talk about here. My point is just that this isn’t a “one and done” challenge, it’s going to be a long process.  The cool thing is the process shapes not only the body but the mind and heart too. Complexity to challenge the brain and expression to inspire the soul.


This isn't just a quick hit of exercise. No. Building a movement practice is a long-term investment in your overall growth and development. Expansion in all directions. The movement is about more than just moving. So love your practice, because when you do it's going to give back to you in some incredible ways.

#GroundMovementMonday - 2.13.17

What we do on Monday sets the tone for the entire week.  I don't want to wake up on Monday only to put on my war paint and run screaming into battle.  Conversely, I don't want to linger in the aimlessness of Sunday afternoon either. 


To me, Mondays symbolize a blank canvas, the beginning of a new creation.  This can be both daunting and exciting...for me it's usually more on the daunting side. 


Lately, I've been really looking at the practices that set me up for a successful week.  The theme that's been emerging is intentionality.  Laying out my intentions for the week and finding ways big and small to align my actions accordingly.  This is the essence of building a life that your personal masterpiece.


Moving with intention and falling into the flow of life is the inspiration for  #GroundMovementMonday.  A few minutes dedicated to mindful movement and checking in with yourself.  There's a long week ahead, but it will go quick - it always does.  Focus your attention, set your intention, and let's get it.  

Movement Minute - Depth Jump to Roll Progressions

More Than Just Flash

This week we’re getting into something pretty sexy; breaking down progressions for the Depth Jump to Forward Roll.  

Picture this: You’re out running on an epic mountain trail. You leap atop a fallen log and jump outward to cross a small creek to lush green grass on the other side.  The jump is far but you it land and allow your momentum to carry you smoothly into a clean forward roll.  You pop right up and continue running like it ain’t no thang.

Damn, it feels good to be a gangster.  

A little idealistic? Maybe.  A more practical scenario might involve you taking a fall.  The smooth transition into a roll is useful for dissipating the impact of a drop from height or a sprawling jump.  Your ability to land and roll could be the difference between a serious injury and just a close call. 

You COULD live your whole life just fine without this type of physical competence.  However, performance skills give us a greater margin of error in an unpredictable world.  Developing skills like these comes with a definite sense of confidence in your ability to navigate new challenges.   Just a little justification beyond the fact that is some cool looking shit.


The Break Down

The depth jump is what we in MovNat call a skill-to-skill transition.  We have two distinct skills here: the depth jump (jumping down from height) and the forward roll.  Each skill is developed in isolation, but in time trained to seamlessly transition into other skills. Start by mastering both the depth jump and forward roll, separately.  Then start to train the space between these two movements, the transition. 


Warm Up

In this break down, we'll start with movement prep. I like to warm up my feet, ankles, knees, and hips with squat walking, dynamic stretches, and small jumps.  Activating the musculature and prepping the joints is essential, especially for dynamic training like jumping.  I also like to go through some light rolls to dial in the necessary timing for this skill. 


Progressions: Beginner to Advanced

For beginning drills we'll start on the ground. From a squat or knee bend, let your weight shift forward and transition into the crawling position (we talked about this last week.) This is a key piece of the transition between the jump and roll as it lowers your center of gravity to execute the roll.  

For the roll, take note of the forward shifting of weight and elevation of the hips.  These two features create the momentum and allow a smooth entrance in to the roll.  Use the arms / hands to guide you through a smooth transition to the back of the shoulder.  Exit the roll on the opposite hip with a figure 4 leg position.

Start training the transition by performing a broad jump to a crawl landing. Progress to depth jumping from a box to ground and into the crawl position. Rep by rep, make this transition from depth jump to crawl position softer and more controlled.  Feel your momentum shift forward as you catch yourself with your arms.  From that shifting of bodyweight, you’ll transition into the roll.  Depth jump to a crawl position, pause momentarily, and then execute your front roll. Repeat this sequence, gradually reducing the pause between the crawl position and roll.  

Advanced progressions include executing the jump at higher speeds or from swinging off a bar or branch.  The environment you train in has a big impact on how you move.  Keep the complexity manageable so your body can effectively learn the skill. Build your confidence with these advanced expressions on training mats or soft ground and take a progressive approach so you can feel the skills come together.


The Process

Remember that this skill is for the sake of higher level performance...which means you gotta earn it!  First step is building a foundation of proper mobility and stability that comes from restorative movements like moving on the ground, balancing, and squatting.  Mindful practice of each of the individual skills is also very important. This isn’t a challenge just to dive into.  On the contrary, see how many moving part are here and respect the process.  Play the long game. Intention, consistency, and progressive practice day in, day out redefines what’s possible in our lives.

Keep moving and love your practice.


Movement Minute - Clean Up Your Crawling

Hey! It's been a minute. Happy New Year.

It's great to bring back the Movement Minute for 2017.  My aim is provide a lot of value in this little segment.  Being a movement junkie for many years now, I've come to realize that good movement lies in the details. So in addition to movement demonstrations I'll also start adding explanations of more nuanced elements of these natural movement practices.

This week we're talking about crawling and the importance of stable shoulder positioning. The idea is that when supporting bodyweight through the arms, it's crucial to have a solid connection to the ground, sound structural integrity through the arms, and active engagement through the shoulder girdle.  When you start crawling around in space, maintaining proper shoulder positioning and support is crucial to avoiding injury and moving like a ninja. 

The video will explain the key points to keep in mind for the upper body when going through crawling patterns.  This will not only make you a cat-like crawler, but also improve your push-ups, presses, overhead lifts, and even handstands.  When you step back to look at it all, it's pretty cool how all these movement patterns connect.  Step back more and you'll begin to see how these movement connect to the larger context of your life, but that's a conversation for a different time. 

That's all for now, friends. Keep moving, love your practice, and savor the process.

Movement Minute - The Squat Get Up

The single-leg squat get up is one of those stupid little movements that looks so easy but is so humbling if your hip mobility is lacking.  This is the natural movement equivalent to pistol squats, which have always been a challenge for me. 

For a long time, my attempts were fumbling my way off the ground a few inches only to come crashing back down in an awkward thud.  (Some ninja I am) 

I then proceeded to sweep this one under the rug.  Can’t win ‘em all, right? I had plenty of alternative means of getting my ass off the ground so I wasn’t too worried about it.  Maybe it will just show up if I keep practicing around it. 


It didn’t. This movement kept gnawing away at me, but I kept ignoring it. 


My ignorance caught up to me during the physical tests for the MovNat Level 3 course. There was no way around it now. I skirted by on the slimmest of margins.  But the message landed; I needed to ditch my excuses and start earning this one.


No one variation will make or break your movement practice. The important thing is whether or not you can get up from the ground without using your hands.  Once you can do this one way, you can begin to look for other options to expand your toolbox.


Honestly, I’m still earning this one. I have seen this movement come with the greatest of ease for many people, but this one has been the Achilles heel for me and others. However, I have made a lot of slow progress over the years.  But in my experience, slow progress is real progress.  


The initial reaction is usually one of rationalization; I can’t do this because [fill-in-your-favorite-excuse].  I lift weights too often. My ankle dorsiflexion is just sooo bad. It’s a stupid movement anyways. Been there. 


An amazing thing happens when you stop looking for reasons why you can’t do something, you start looking for a solution.  


The single-leg squat get up requires that you are strong in hip flexion.  From a seated position, pull one leg in planting the heel as close to your groin as possible.  Use the strength of the ankle, hip, and core to transition support from seated to standing on the foot in a pistol squat position. Complete the get up by standing up from the bottom of the pistol position. Simple, but not necessarily easy.  


The video feature the progressions that have helped me build better hip mobility to start making progress.  Here is a short description of the main drills:


Sitting Variations

All of these various sitting positions have stand alone value for building strength and mobility. Specifically, these sits have helped me build strong hips and core strength.

  • 1/2 Long Sit - one leg straight out in front, one leg bent
  • Bent Sit - knees bent and feet flat on the floor
  • Side Sit - one leg tucked in front, the leg wrapped back behind the body
  • Butterfly Sit - soles of the feet together, actively pulling knees to the ground


Use active muscular engagement in each of these positions, you goal is to squeeze the creases of the hips in a fully flexed position.  This feels awkward at first but as your body gets more comfortable with this strength it yield more range of motion.  When you demonstrate greater responsibility, you are rewarded with greater freedom. Just a little embedded life lesson.  Anyways, I hold the strongest posture I can manage and even introduce reaching and rotating motions in all planes to further build active mobility.  


Squat Get Up (assisted)

The transition from the long sit to the bent sit and then up into a deep squat positions.  This one can be scaled by bolstering the hips a few inches off the ground lessening the demands of hip flexion.  The mobility badasses of the world can perform this variation without the use of the hand, no problem.  Us, tight/weak hipped folks, may use the assistance of our hands to transition into the squat position.  You can use some momentum to pull the feet in; I don’t call it cheating, it’s nervous system education. 


Rolling Squat Get Up

Using the momentum of a full supine roll is a great way to transition into the deep squat. For the longest time I struggled with this one, but it taught me a lot about the timing involved in the squat get up.  

As I'm coming up from the roll, I pull my feet in strong, push my knees open, and reach forward to bring my center of mass over my feet. My times I’ll stall here and just practice rolling into my deep squat and mobilizing the hips in the narrow stance. 


Rolling Single-leg Squat Get Up

The same movement as above, but when exiting the roll you only pull one leg in and pull into the pistol squat position.  Some flailing and balancing my occur but this is a very educational movement to teach the joints stability.  


Tuck Single-leg Squat Get Up

Next, I take away most of the momentum and just use a small rocking movement and hard tuck on the leg to transition into the pistol squat position. I love training these last two progressions for reps and I cite this as the biggest contributor to my overall progress.


Single-leg Stand Up

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that standing up from the pistol position is hard.  If you’ve never worked pistol squats before this may be the challenging piece of the puzzle for you. I suggest using the assistance of a fixed object to start building the strength.  When you can perform 1-2 reps without assistance keep “greasing the groove” with many sets spread out through the days and weeks.


The bigger point to highlight here is that sometimes it’s the simplest movements that get overlooked because they reveal glaring holes in our game.  Rather than turning away from the things that humble us, lean in and start creating a path. The skill is a nice addition, but the process is where we cultivate the tools to become better students. 


The Single-Leg Squat Get Up isn’t sexy or impressive, it’s just basic human movement.  On the other hand, if don’t possess the mobility for it you don’t have to shut down your training and hit the panic button. We needn’t be fanatical about acquiring elusive movement skills, but don’t discount them either. Try this one out. If you got it, cool; now refine it.  If not, try some of the progressions and practice the ones that feel the most relevant to you at least several times per week.  

Check-in from time to time on the full pattern and recognize your progress and little wins along the way.  It might clean up in a few weeks, or it might take years.  What matters most is that you're willing to put the time in sucking at some something, knowing all the while that it’s only a temporary situation.  Better comes along naturally.