Dr. Ryan DeBell is founder of The Movement Fix.

He’s been doing CrossFit for 9 years. When he opened his clinic, Dr. DeBell began traveling around to CrossFit gyms with a little two-hour presentation to help lifters. After he published a watershed post, “The Best-Kept Secret: Why People Have to Squat Differently,” he was invited to bring his paid seminar to over 20 boxes. That was two years ago; he’s already booked for 30 weekends in 2016.

This podcast presents a fresh perspective on some prevalent dogma in our community. You’ll see topics like “butt wink”, the “perfect” squat and foam rolling in a new light!

4:15 – “Can you have too much mobility?”

6:10 – Two types of stability

11:45 – Different methods of abdominal bracing, from wall balls to heavy cleans

15:10 – Learning and “muscle memory”

17:00 – Why your squat doesn’t look like mine

18:30 – “The Real Purpose of the “Butt Wink”

25:20 – “Are the ones we see on TV just the ones who didn’t get hurt?”

26:00 – Dr. DeBell’s personal warmup process

28:50 – How your body adapts to foam-rolling

34:30 – The REAL definition of “muscle tone”

43:00 – How can we test people at intake? What’s best?

48:00 – The scope of practice for coaches

50:00 – What’s covered in “The Movement Fix” seminar

Dr. DeBell’s podcast is excellent. You’ll find it here.

In “Critical Questions”, I turn the tables and suggest the NUMBER ONE QUESTION you should be asking your clients, your staff–and yourself.

Recorded on April 12, 2016.

Dr. Debell travels a lot. There’s a good chance he’ll be in your area soon:  themovementfix.com/workshops
Here is a link to a 2-hour recorded workshop:


Dr. Ryan DeBell is founder of The Movement Fix.

He’s been doing CrossFit for 9 years. When he opened his clinic, Dr. DeBell began traveling around to CrossFit gyms with a little two-hour presentation to help lifters. After he published a watershed post, “The Best-Kept Secret: Why People Have to Squat Differently,” he was invited to bring his paid seminar to over 20 boxes. That was two years ago; he’s already booked for 30 weekends in 2016.

This podcast presents a fresh perspective on some prevalent dogma in our community. You’ll see topics like “butt wink”, the “perfect” squat and foam rolling in a new light!

4:15 – “Can you have too much mobility?”

6:10 – Two types of stability

11:45 – Different methods of abdominal bracing, from wall balls to heavy cleans

15:10 – Learning and “muscle memory”

17:00 – Why your squat doesn’t look like mine

18:30 – “The Real Purpose of the “Butt Wink”

25:20 – “Are the ones we see on TV just the ones who didn’t get hurt?”

26:00 – Dr. DeBell’s personal warmup process

28:50 – How your body adapts to foam-rolling

34:30 – The REAL definition of “muscle tone”

43:00 – How can we test people at intake? What’s best?

48:00 – The scope of practice for coaches

50:00 – What’s covered in “The Movement Fix” seminar

Dr. DeBell’s podcast is excellent. You’ll find it here.

In “Critical Questions”, I turn the tables and suggest the NUMBER ONE QUESTION you should be asking your clients, your staff–and yourself.

Recorded on April 12, 2016.

Dr. Debell travels a lot. There’s a good chance he’ll be in your area soon:  themovementfix.com/workshops
Here is a link to a 2-hour recorded workshop:

Announcer: 00:00:00 – It’s Two-Brain Radio. Every week we’ll deliver top-shelf tactics to help you improve your fitness business and move you closer to wealth. And now here’s your host, the most interesting man in fitness, Chris Cooper.

Chris: 00:00:17 – My guest today is Dr. Ryan DeBell of the Movement Fix. My favorite thing about Ryan is his propensity to ask “why.” So instead of just sticking to dogma, tell people that they should be squatting below parallel with their knees tracking outward over the outside of their foot, he actually says what’s natural for the human body. And he combines anthropometric measures with mobility and joint stability, and we’re going to get into all of that. He’s also really good at kind of painting a picture in your mind so he doesn’t have to get deep into the weeds to help you understand what the difference between mobility and stability and what the optimal levels of each are. He’s a great public speaker. He is one of the busiest guys traveling around and doing seminars every second weekend, or maybe even every weekend. He’s got about 30 booked in 2016 and you’re about to find out why. Very personable dude. He’s not one of these white-collar academics. He is a hands-on practitioner who works with CrossFit gyms and coaches just like us to help assess people. He’s not going to force functional movement screening down your throat. He’s not going to say that you have to do a one-on-one assessment of every client before they can do CrossFit. What he’s going to do is just give you helpful tools to help solve problems. And that’s what this show is all about. Without any further ado, here is Dr. Ryan DeBell.

Chris: 00:01:35 – All right, Dr. Ryan DeBell. Welcome to Two-Brain Radio.

Ryan: 00:01:37 – Thanks for having me on here. It’s a pleasure.

Chris: 00:01:39 – Pleasure’s all mine, man. Why don’t you tell me your story and the story of the Movement Fix, where that came from.

Ryan: 00:01:45 – Yeah. So, the Movement Fix is the name of my brand and kind of where it came from—well, the short version of the long story is that my background is I actually went to business school at the University of Washington. And through that process I had several internships in corporate life and they were not appealing to me, which is why I transitioned to going into the health-care industry. And for me, the thing that was most appealing was the sports chiropractic realm. So I went to a chiropractic school in Portland, Oregon, and I got a DC, doctor of Chiropractic, as well as a master’s degree in sport and exercise science. That’s sort of my formal educational background. And then when I graduated, I realized that because I had a business degree, I think I should go for it and start my own place. Which is what I did. And during that process, you know, you have to go out and make things happen. And so I did all these live events. I emailed all the CrossFit gyms within 20 miles of my clinic since CrossFit—I had been doing CrossFit for seven years or six years at the time that I opened my clinic. I started in 2007. And so maybe five gyms responded to me out of 20, maybe less than that. And I went and did a two-hour talk there, and all the gym owners thought that it was something I should be charging for actually because they thought the content was so valuable. And after—the first time somebody told me that I thought nothing of it. And then the second person told me, and a third person told me and then someone asked if I could make a full day where I present on topics I think it would be important for trainers to know about. And so that kind of led to the full-day workshop, which is what I do now. And I had some really critical success early on, which I think is why I’m doing what I’m doing now. You know, if I didn’t have the early ones successful, I don’t know if it would have panned out, actually. It’s sort of interesting how that happened. That’s where that grew out of. And then as I grew the workshops, I really started to put out a lot of online content in terms of videos and blog posts. And I’ve been doing a podcast as well recently and it’s just been a steady growth process since then.

Chris: 00:04:10 – OK. And I’ll link to your podcast in the show notes too, Ryan. So why is it called the Movement Fix? What problems are we trying to solve with this service?

Ryan: 00:04:21 – Yeah, so it took me a long time to think of a good name, actually. I was thinking about it for a long time and then I trademarked it immediately, which actually saved my butt a couple times. But I called it the Movement Fix because I didn’t want to just call it some motor control or technique or mobility because all of those are important. And I look at movement as a whole thing and I give people what they need on the spectrum of movement, if you could call it a spectrum in terms of—some people are really, really flexible already. The Movement Fix, if that’s how I start looking at things, I will not bias myself towards one offering for somebody. So somebody who’s really, really flexible and my mindset is I’m the flexibility person, then I can’t help that person. But if I think about, well, there’s many different aspects. Maybe the best thing for that person is strength. So by having it named what I named it, I think it allows me to give people what they need on that whole spectrum. That’s why I named it that way because it is more than just—there’s many components to movement and I wanted to make sure that I can encompass all of that.

Chris: 00:05:45 – OK. Are you seeing a bias towards mobility over stability? A few years ago, would you even have heard the terms before? Are we doing too much now?

Ryan: 00:05:56 – Well, I was just talking about this a few days ago actually at a course, and I asked people, do you think you can have too much mobility? And I think everybody would say, yes, you can have hypermobility. That’s a known thing. Once somebody has enough mobility, I don’t think that, if we’re thinking about it in terms of CrossFit or whatever sport, at some point having more doesn’t help you in your sport because we just agreed that there’s a thing called hypermobility. And once somebody has enough and they have a buffer so that they don’t get into a position where they start to compromise, like say you’re talking about a squat, I just want someone to be able to squat to the depth that they need to plus a little bit. So they don’t, you know, if they go a little bit deeper by an inch or two, they’re not introducing some weird joint positioning. But once they have that, I want to develop other things. Like now we can develop your strength, now we can develop your control. And I think that people really want to be very, very flexible and stretch a lot. And that’s not like terrible, but a lot of times people who are already really flexible try to overstretch, overstretch, overstretch, and I think they’re focusing on the wrong thing. So I think it’s good that people are talking about the terms. I think that the term “stability” could be better defined. ‘Cause I think we say it but we don’t really know what we mean by it. But I just see too many people stretch out things that shouldn’t be stretched. That happens a lot.

Chris: 00:07:31 – What is optimal stability, then?

Ryan: 00:07:34 – Well, there’s really two kinds of stability, in my opinion. There’d be passive stability of a joint. So if you think about the passive stability of a joint, it would be the ligaments in the capsule. The tissues that don’t contract, that would be passive stability of a joint. Active stability of a joint is more controlled by the musculature. So through range of motion, when you’re at the end range of motion, the thing that limits you is the ligaments. So somebody has lax ligaments, they have poor, you know, passive stability. But through a mid-range of motion, you’re primarily being controlled by the musculature. I would call—so if you took stability, you divided it into active and passive stability, I would call active stability, I would just call that motor control. That’s how I would call it. Generally. I think it just makes it a little bit easier for people to conceptualize. And so I focus a lot on how people can control their body. You know, once you have a large range of motion, how well can you control the range of motion? If you have enough range of motion to do what you need, then I want to make you as strong and as controlled through that range of motion rather than trying to expand it. Once you have the sufficient amount, rather than trying to expand the boundaries. Because if your goal in life is to be healthy, be fit, do these movements that we do commonly, once you can do them with nice range of motion, there’s just—I don’t know the urge to go so far beyond that.

Chris: 00:09:01 – So tell me a little bit about—maybe give me an example of what you mean control during the full range of motion.

Ryan: 00:09:08 – So say someone is doing a split jerk. And they have a ton of mobility but they don’t have a lot of control. Well, when they lock it out, it’ll be, instead of sticking it and planting it, maybe their arm gets cranked back too far. You know, they can’t control their arm. Or say they’re doing a Turkish get-up and they can’t control the weight. Do you see what I mean? That would be what I would consider a sort of motor control. You can also think of motor control in the bigger sense of sort of how you use the body together and its components like, cause if someone rounds their back in the deadlift. But the reason they’re rounding their back is because they don’t know how not to round their back in a deadlift, that would be sort of motor control. So say when they lock out at the top, they let their hips sway forward. They don’t know how to control their range of motion. They rely on the end of their joint to lock out. So that would be them not knowing how to control the range. I’m sure you see that all the time. You know, they stand up, push the hips really far forward, and that’s where they think the end is. That’s not the end, that’s beyond the end of range of motion of a deadlift, because they don’t know how to stop themselves actively.

Chris: 00:10:18 – Is that a lack of biofeedback or is that just, there’s no external feedback coming from the coach?

Ryan: 00:10:25 – I find with those people that do that, and it’s typically very flexible females that do that, in my experience, they, they feel like that’s the end range. Like they feel like that’s the top. I think they don’t know what the top is supposed to feel like because a lot of times that’s not the end range of motion of their joints. So if they continually train that and tell themselves, this is what it feels like to finish a rep, this is what it feels like to finish a rep. Then when they actually get to just vertical, it feels like they’re short. And so they associate that feeling with the end range. So, I dunno. Maybe no one’s taught them how to stop when they need to stop.

Chris: 00:11:13 – So it’s more like proprioceptive learning.

Ryan: 00:11:17 – Yeah, exactly. It’s motor learning.

Chris: 00:11:19 – So are you making a case here for mirrors in CrossFit gyms then, Ryan? That’s what is sounds like.

Ryan: 00:11:24 – I don’t think that because then they’re going to have their head twisted the side while they’re deadlifting and that creates its own issues. They just have to be watched and instructed. This is where you stop. You don’t need to go beyond this. And it’s also good for something like the Open because if you’re going an extra two inches backwards every single time. But that’s what I mean sort of by how well can they control the A to B. Another thing would be, too, like say when someone’s doing wall balls. Some people just get pushed around by the wall ball when it comes off the wall. You know what I mean? They don’t meet with stiffness, they don’t know how to create stiffness to meet the weight. And if someone’s very flexible and they just train the mobility, they don’t train how to create stiffness and control, then they don’t know how to really use their body as effectively as they can. And so I would say, maybe 60% of the time I’m working with somebody, it’s not on mobility, it’s on something else.

Chris: 00:12:19 – So walk me through that. You know, you have an athlete who just gets knocked to the ground every time they catch a wall ball, they kind of collapse in the bottom. How do you coach them to create that stiffness on the catch?

Ryan: 00:12:32 – Well, I have a way where I always look at how they breathe and how they brace, what’s their bracing strategy. And so for example, I’ll see if they can breathe—and a lot of people have heard of diaphragmatic breathing. It’s interesting. People are told to breathe in and brace, but people interpret that differently. They will brace in a different way. Some people will brace by sort of crunching and using the rectus abdominis muscles that, you know, the six-pack muscles essentially. Other people will do more of an expansion where they will contract the abdominal wall more so like on the sides, they’re using their obliques, and that’s sort of what’s coached like in a kettlebell where they do the little hiss? It’s to stiffen the sides of the abdominal wall. And so I look at an athlete’s ability to create that stiffness by how do they breathe in and then how do they brace once they breathe in. Once they know how to do that—and that’d be like laying on their back. Once they know how to do that, then when I go put them on their feet, we can speak the same language about what we mean by breathing and bracing and then I’ll coach them or cue them on how to time it because when the ball hits the wall and now it’s descending towards you, you should take a anticipatory breath in and brace before the ball comes in contact with you so you can meet it with a stiffness through your body.

Chris: 00:13:51 – What effect does that have on heart rate? Are they almost doing like a Valsalva maneuver when they’re catching then?

Chris: 00:13:58 – It would be enough. So if someone was doing a really, really heavy deadlift, I’d have them maximally brace, but when they do it in a wall ball, you just need to brace—or any other sort of like a kettlebell swing, which is not going to be a max lift—I would have them brace enough. Not maximally, just brace enough to not lose your positioning or to not let the ball push you around because why would you want to meet a wall ball with maximal tension when it’s 14 pounds? Yeah, that would mess you up. Because you’d get overly fatigued when you do it that way. So yeah, I wouldn’t have somebody maximally do it. Just create enough stiffness.

Chris: 00:14:34 – And can they learn to do that automatically? Thinking about this spectrum of maximal bracing, doing like a diaphragmatic squeeze versus not bracing at all and just kind of like collapsing.

Ryan: 00:14:51 – Right. Yeah, they can. And that question gets asked to me quite a bit. Do I have to think about this every time I’m lifting? And I say, you have to think about it until you don’t have to think about it. When you learned how to type on a keyboard and someone said, write me a term paper when you’re in school, you’re not thinking about the content of the paper. You’re thinking about where the hell are the keys. Once you learn how to type, you’re not thinking about where the keys are at all. You’re thinking about expressing your ideas in writing. Once someone learns those sort of—basically it’s sort of where’s the key on my movement keyboard. Create breathing, bracing. Once you know how to do it automatically, you’re not even gonna think about it. It’d be like, do you think about hook gripping when you’re doing clean and jerks? Or is that just how you grip the bar now? But at first it was very awkward. So I think it’s like anything else in that way. Once you learn how to do it, you don’t think about it. It’s just the normal way that you put things together.

Chris: 00:15:43 – So when people are fixing their movement this way, they’ve got increased cognitive load. They’ve got to think about it at first. Does that usually slow them down?

Ryan: 00:15:49 – It does. So I don’t try to train people how to move differently in a WOD. It has to be separate, because when you’re going fast and when there’s a clock going, when you’re trying to push heavier weight, you can’t learn how to move differently. Or at least it’s not the best environment because you have to focus on it. It would be called the cortical learning, meaning cortical would be the part of the brain where you’re really trying to figure it out. And it takes conscious effort. Once you repeat it so many times, so many times, so many times, I mean, we call that muscle memory, but essentially that’s really a deeper brain movement pattern that you’re incorporating where you don’t have to think about it. It’s sort of how you do it. So you have to think about it until you don’t have to think about it.

Chris: 00:16:36 – OK. I love it. Well, let’s go to the big ass. Let’s talk about the squat. One of your most popular articles of all time some interpreted as heresy. You mean not everybody squats the same?

Ryan: 00:16:54 – I’m amazed at how much—first of all, yeah, that article got tremendous traffic two years ago. It was very surprising. I wrote it sort of on a whim. It was just something I had been thinking about and I wrote a little thing and I found some cool pictures of hip bones and I’ve really expanded my own knowledge and interpretation of that over the years as I’ve read more and more and more and more. I’ve been reading too, like a surgical, like bone surgery, medical journal articles about this, too, because they, you know, when they do a hip replacement—it was interesting how many surgeons shared that article.

Chris: 00:17:36 – No kidding?

Chris: 00:17:37 – Because they were like, oh, someone gets it. Because when they go cut in there, they see it. My wife’s an operating-room nurse and she tells me all the time like, oh, you should see all the different-sized femurs and how they’re oriented differently and how we have to measure it and the medical reps have all these different pieces of equipment because everyone’s bones are slightly different. So yeah, a lot of people thought it was sort of like fake, but it went sort of against the grain, which is why I think that happened. But I would say the opposition sort of softened to the idea now because it has been such a talked-about thing after that article came out. And there’s been a lot of other people talking about this for a very long time. But yeah, essentially what the article said is that everyone’s squat on sort of a macro scale or when you look at them squat, it may not look identical, but fundamentally, and if you think about the squat as being a principle-based movement, the principles will remain the same. Meaning I primarily want the hips to be where the motion’s happening. I don’t want the back to be rounding and doing all this sort of stuff. When we’re talking about under the load or high reps, I don’t care if somebody back rounds while they’re hanging out in the bottom of a squat, that’s sort of normal mechanics. But if someone’s doing it heavy and repetitively, I don’t want the back to do a ton of moving. I want primarily the motion to be at the hips and I want the knees to not be rotated or twisted. So I want them to track over the middle to the outside of the foot. So if someone has to toe out or go a little bit wider for those things to happen, I don’t have a problem with it. In fact, many times an athlete will be squatting too narrow and their back rounds and I widen their squat stance and have them toe out a little bit. Then their back doesn’t round and they aren’t sacrificing anything at their knees. And I don’t know why that would be a bad thing. To me, that’s only a good thing. And so that’s sort of where I stand on it currently. Actually, I am releasing an article today which I think people will find very interesting and I don’t know when you’re going to post this conversation, but the article is the real purpose of the butt wink.

Chris: 00:19:48 – I love it.

Ryan: 00:19:49 – Which is going to be—it’s a totally different way to think about the butt wink.

Chris: 00:19:52 – Can you give us just a brief overview?

Ryan: 00:19:55 – I certainly will, ’cause the video has already been released. It releases ahead of time for my YouTube subscribers. So we think of the butt wink as being a rounded back. Like, oh, the butt wink, that means your low back is rounding. The purpose of the butt wink isn’t so that your back can round. The purpose of the butt wink is to reposition or reorient the hip socket. So because the hip socket is on the pelvis and the pelvis is attached to the low back, if you wanted to point your hip sockets up towards the ceiling, you would have to rotate your pelvis to actually move where the hip joint is oriented. Now just so happens because your pelvis is attached to your lumbar spine, your back has to round in order to reposition the hip socket. So the purpose of the butt wink isn’t to round your back, that’s just the side effect. The purpose is to change where your hip is pointing. So say for example, someone runs out of hip flexion range of motion, so they’ve maxed out their hip joint. Well, the only way to go deeper into a squat is to move the hip joint itself. And that’s really what the butt wink is. So it’s not just your low back is rounding. Why is the athlete trying to reposition her hip joint? Do they not know how? Do they not have the ankle range of motion? Are they at the end of their hip range of motion? Do they need a different stance? Why are they repositioning their hip joint? It’s a piece of evidence to me that they’re adopting a strategy that isn’t moving within the hip joint. So think that will spark some interest. Now what’s interesting is that in the upper body we reposition the shoulder socket all the time. That’s called scapular motion. When you move your shoulder blade, you’re repositioning the shoulder joint. But the scapula, the shoulder blade, isn’t attached to your neck, like how the pelvis is attached to your back. So you can swing your shoulder blade around all the time and we call that normal shoulder mechanics. But because it’s not attached to your neck, it doesn’t make your neck do all these crazy things. So it’s sort of interesting, if you think about it in that way.

Chris: 00:21:58 – Is the butt wink always dangerous, then?

Ryan: 00:22:00 – I don’t think so. I think you know—well it depends on, again, when are we seeing the butt wink? If someone’s doing it with a really heavy load on their back and it’s quite a lot of range of motion, then it’s something I would try to train out. I did a podcast recently, on mine, what a guy named Greg Layman and this guy knows research like nobody knows research. And he was telling me that there’s several studies done by some of the best researchers in the world and they were having people do squatting and deadlifting and they had like 10 or 20 degrees of their low back moving, which I just still can’t visualize, so I’m going to have to really look at that. But I think if someone starts standing really arched and then their back sort of rounds back to neutral, maybe that’s what it is. Maybe they are going into rounding. I’d have to look at the actual article and see, I’d love to see some photos or video of it. But a little bit of motion isn’t like the worst thing in the world. Now, when someone’s lifting really heavy, I want them to be braced and I want them to create stiffness in their back because I don’t want them to move their back under load. But if someone’s just hanging out at the bottom of the squat, I mean, look at all the people in the world when they relax at the bottom of a squat, their back is rounded. That’s sort of normal because if they didn’t do that, then they could potentially just be right at the end of their hip range of motion and sort of hanging out on the end of their hip. And if you reposition the hip socket, then you’re potentially not stressing the hip joint in that position quite as much. So it’s sort of an idea I’ve been thinking about quite a bit and you know, I really blog for myself as much as I would like to say I blog for the readers, I have to make things that I have been thinking about and that’s been on my mind for quite a while.

Chris: 00:23:47 – OK. I know if you look at Andy Bolton deadlifting, it looks like he’s rounding his back. He’s got the world record. If you look at some of the best-suited squatters in the world, they don’t do butt wink, but it’s because the suit prevents them. You know, if you visited Kenya and see kids who don’t have chairs in the classroom, it looks like, you know, the pelvis is tucked underneath them and that’s how they sit.

Ryan: 00:24:15 – Right. Yeah. Those are interesting observations. I think that if someone wants maximal—at high-level sports, and if you look at a deadlift, you can actually deadlift more if your back rounds. It’s just the way it is.

Chris: 00:24:33 – So why is that?

Ryan: 00:24:36 – I believe it changes the pulling angles to a way that makes it more mechanically advantageous. And probably because when you round your back, you’re sort of tensing up, like more things are getting under tension, so it kind of creates more stiffness. There’s probably a more scientific explanation than that, but that’s my understanding of it. So if you wanted to lift as much weight as possible, you can—and most people do that. They round their back on their max, right? However, most people aren’t trying to break records in powerlifting. And so the way I look at it is maybe I lift less weight, but I decrease my risk of injury, and my goal as a person is to feel good all the time and you know, be healthy. And so I would do it in a different way. So that’s how I would consider it. If someone’s going to do these high-level things and that’s the way that they’re winning, and breaking records. I’m not probably not going to try to change that very much, but yeah, I mean, yeah, like OK, so say you look in Kenya, you look at other countries and everyone sits around in this sort of butt-wink position, there is an article that showed—and I was talking about this with Stu Miguel when he was on my podcast, and we talked about when people grow up and over many, many, many, many years, they’re sort of in that position, they can actually have a little bit of a thickened connective tissue on their spine. So perhaps by doing that as a kid that they develop more like almost like a little bit of a callous I suppose. But sitting with your back rounded, I mean that’s not—it’s not dangerous to do that. It’s just are you doing it under heavy load? Maybe a lot of people got weeded out who would have broken the record with their back rounded in a powerlifting competition, but they got weeded out because they got hurt. And the people who don’t get hurt are the ones we see. That happens a lot like in gymnastics, too. The ones we see on TV are the ones who didn’t get hurt. So I think we have to take that in consideration too, if we say is that the best way to do it or not? You know, did a lot of people get weeded out? Maybe they did. Maybe they didn’t. I’d have to think about it.

Chris: 00:26:37 – OK. So you know, sticking with the belief that more is better, or maybe the dogma, what I want to hear is what’s your warm-up routine? How much mobility, stability work are you actually doing each time you work out?

Ryan: 00:26:54 – Well, it depends on the type of workout I’m doing, I guess. Since the Open’s been over, I’ve actually been doing a 12-week hypertrophy training program because I like to go into cycles after. Do you know what I mean? Yeah. So I’ve been doing that. That requires much less warm-up because it’s not like you’re snatching and you have these big ranges of motion you have to hit. Over the years I’ve de-emphasized the amount of rolling out that I do on like a roller. So maybe I do a minute total in a warm-up session just to kind of, well, rolling out’s a whole ‘nother topic. But I think when we roll out, we’re really just getting muscles to relax. So I just do it to try and get the muscles to sort of relax in the areas where maybe they need to decrease their amount of tension. And then typically five or 10 minutes. And what I do is I’ll roll out very short. Then I’ll do a couple range-of-motion drills, right? Just try to take my joints through a full range of motion. And then after that I’ll do something to get everything sort of primed up, by creating muscle tension, loading myself a little bit, and then that would lead me into the actual workout.

Chris: 00:27:58 – So how long does that all take?

Ryan: 00:28:01 – Oh, maybe five or 10 minutes. It doesn’t take very long, but it’s very pointed. It’s very pointed, I don’t lay on the ground and roll out for 10 minutes, ’cause I could do a lot in 10 minutes. For example, say I could do some mobility drills to warm up my hips and ankles and then you could do some sort of loaded drill, say like a, well you could do like a goblet squat slowly where you really try to go smoothly through the range of motion. Then you could load up yourself with some actual weight to get yourself primed, you know, to turn on a little bit of neural drive. And you go through that three or five rounds and that takes like 10 minutes.

Chris: 00:28:39 – OK. So you’re saying that the rolling out is really just like a trigger point?

Ryan: 00:28:41 – Yeah, so a lot of the research and thoughts are going in a way that when we roll out, we’re really not changing the anatomy. We’re changing how much the muscles are contracted. So we’re actually just getting them to relax more or less. And maybe we’re changing some elastic properties, but that’s very, that’s pretty temporary. Most people have had the experience, they roll out, they get a huge increase in range of motion immediately and then the next day they’re tight again in the same way. I mean, how many people have ever had that experience? And then they roll it out the next day and then they roll it out the next day and then they need a firmer foam roller. Then they need a firmer from roller and then they need one with the nubs on it to create more and more and more stimulation. So there’s two sort of ideas that are happening with that. Have you ever had that experience? Where you have to get harder and harder foam roller? So there’s two. There’s two things that you could consider. Number one, you need a harder and harder foam roller because foam rolling is making you stiffer, so you need something stronger. That’s theory one. Theory number two is what we’re really doing when we roll out is we are presenting a stimulus that makes the muscles relax underneath where you’re rolling, and you need more and more and more stimulus over time to create that response because you’re sort of wearing it out sort of like, you know, back in the day when everyone took N.O. Explode and just got super pumped up, like you had to go work out or you were going to explode? And literally explode, I didn’t mean to make that sort of pun, but you start with one scoop and the world is the most amazing place. You know exactly what I’m talking about, you could not be more pumped up. Then by the end of the jar, you’re taking three scoops and you don’t even feel anything.

Ryan: 00:30:36 – You’re just getting used to it. I think when we have to go from a harder to a harder and harder and harder foam roller, you’re just getting used to it. So you need more to make the change that’s happening. And if that’s not the case, then the other alternative is that you’re making yourself stiffer by rolling out, which is why you need something more aggressive. I mean, those are sort of the two explanations. You’re either making yourself stiffer or you need more stimulus.

Chris: 00:31:01 – Neither one sounds very good.

Ryan: 00:31:04 – Right. Yeah. So there’s a lot of talk about what’s called a novel stimulus. When something’s novel, it has a larger effect on the nervous system. So like if you do, you know, like the metal tools, people are using the metal tools to scrape like graston or hot grips, those types of things. It’s a very novel stimulus for people and it can create a large change in their range of motion. One of my mentors told me, “Ryan, you should try doing soft tissue on people, soft tissue work, as light as possible. Do it as light as possible rather than as hard as possible.” So I started doing that and the changes are almost the same in terms of how much range of motion they get, like within two minutes of doing it. So it makes me question the underlying theory of what we’re doing.

Chris: 00:31:48 – So in the chiropractic world, is this why you see people jumping from chiropractor to chiropractor, because that novelty effect is really what was fixing them?

Ryan: 00:31:58 – That’s a great question. I think, you know, different chiropractors practice differently. Some people will do ART, some people will do the metal tools, the graston-type stuff. Some people will do—I do a technique called cupping quite a bit where I just use these little silicone cups and glide it around the skin as they move through ranges of motion. Cause that’s very nov—I mean how often do you have cups attached your body and you glide them around your skin? Probably not very often.

Chris: 00:32:25 – Saturday night, that’s it.

Ryan: 00:32:25 – Every Saturday for the last 10 years. Well, I don’t know why they jump around, and then there’s different manipulation techniques, there’s different ways that people get adjusted. I’m sure some of my patients go somewhere else and other people’s patients are coming to me cause it’s just a better fit person personality-wise, too. So there could be a lot of different reasons why that is, but certainly people who had a lot of—say they’d been to a previous provider and they had a lot of the metal-tool work done. I’m not going to do that. I’m going to do something else. Even if it’s the similar sort of mechanism, I want it to be a different experience because that may open up the window of opportunity to help them. Now, I think about soft-tissue treatment as doing a couple things. Number one, decreasing the tone or the contraction of the muscle. Number two, it may make the pain stop, and maybe they just need the pain to stop for a little while and break the cycle of pain. If I’m doing it to decrease the tension in a muscle, that’s not the end. That’s the means to the end. The means to the end would be now that that muscle tension is gone, can I strengthen the area? Can I teach you how to move it differently? That’s sort of what I’m thinking of versus I’m doing the soft-tissue treatment to break up the scar tissue that I have no proof of existing just because it hurts there. I’m kind of a cynical person, it’s blessing and a curse. I just can’t help it.

Chris: 00:33:51 – I think it’s at least 60% blessing. Charles Daily used to say that he could get better results for anybody just by looking at what they were currently doing and doing the opposite. And so maybe that—

Ryan: 00:34:04 – Addition by subtraction. I tell a lot of people just stop doing that for a little bit and let’s see what happens. Say something is aggravated, and what the natural human tendency is to stretch it or to do something to it. What if it was a scab? You know what if you had a cut on your arm and every time it felt weird to you, which you’re just feeling tension in the scab, you tried to stretch it harder or you tried to roll on it. Maybe the scab just needs to heal. Like, say for example, you had a paper cut on the back of your finger. This is a very classic example here. You get a paper cut on the back of your finger and it scabbed over on the knuckle, it was right on the knuckle. And every time you try to bend your finger you go, “Oh, that feels tight. I need to stretch the hell out of it”. Well, because it’s on the skin, you can see it and that would be a bad idea. But I think a lot of times that happens at sort of a low level—not that people have these huge scabs inside their body, but same idea, they keep picking at their scab and they never actually just rest it and let it recover because we want such an instant improvement that we don’t think, well, maybe it just needs to actually like get better for a week or two or three depending on what it is. But when you can see it, it’s much more obvious. Like, OK, obviously you wouldn’t want to pick the scab. So yeah, addition by subtraction, right? Or change what you’re doing and stop stressing the thing that needs just to be relaxed or have some recovery.

Chris: 00:35:33 – So you know, with that in mind, a few minutes ago, you mentioned muscle tone. You were talking about muscle tension. Can you just kind of define what muscle tone really is? Because I’m sure there are some listeners who don’t know.

Ryan: 00:35:49 – So, yeah. If you put someone under general anesthesia, all of their muscle tone would be gone, right? They’re just flopping on the table. Muscle tone would be how much a muscle is sort of contracted at rest. So if you did a bicep curl, you’d have to increase the tone to lift the weight. Can I say bicep curl on the show?

Chris: 00:36:09 – You sure can. One time.

Ryan: 00:36:10 – One time. Say you were doing a squat, you have to have a certain amount of tone and how hard is the muscle contracting? Some people are very high-tone people, meaning they just hold so much muscle tension all the time. And by muscle tension, it means how many of the little units are contracted, essentially. When someone goes under general anesthesia, all of the muscle relaxes. When you try to do a max effort, all the muscle contracts, when you’re sitting there right now, there is probably a certain amount of tension or tone in your traps to hold—when you kind of—the way you hold yourself. So when you roll on something, there’s a reflex where you stimulate the nerve endings in the skin and the fascia, or the connective tissue, it relays to the brain and spinal cord, and then it sends a message back to make the muscles relax a little bit. So it decreases the neural drive, and then you get this large increase in range of motion.

Chris: 00:37:04 – Does that also decrease inhibition?

Ryan: 00:37:08 – Sure. Well I think it would be—that would be sort of inhibiting. Like by rolling out, you’re sort of inhibiting the drive.

Chris: 00:37:16 – OK. OK. So, you know, back to muscle tone here, is there an optimal level of muscle tone? So let’s say that I did 150 wall balls yesterday, I didn’t care. My tonal quality is going to be higher, right, today?

Ryan: 00:37:29 – I don’t know that your tone would be increased. You’d probably just feel some soreness but I don’t know that you’d have—

Chris: 00:37:36 – OK, so what could I do to increase tone? So let’s say that—

Ryan: 00:37:39 – Bodybuilding.

Chris: 00:37:39 – Bodybuilding? OK.

Ryan: 00:37:42 – Bodybuilding is the most—those people drive so much tone because the more resting tone you have, like the buffer you look, because the muscle is more contracted. Think about flexing as hard as you can, you look more muscular than if you’re not flexing. So in bodybuilding, the idea is to squeeze the muscles as hard as you can because you’re essentially driving tone into them. And then if people do bodybuilding for a long time, they have a lot of tone because they’ve trained themselves to be that way. And so when they try to do something that requires them to go like overhead, it’s very challenging because they’ve driven so much tone into their lats and their pecs and all that as well as probably developing some stiffness in the muscle and maybe concerning the connective tissue as well. But yeah, if someone wants to drive tone, then they need to do some really maximal or the rep range—well, I mean the rep range could probably vary, but things where they’re really trying to generate tension in the muscles as hard as they can, that would be an increased tone.

Chris: 00:38:38 – So Tony Francis used to say that he would want Ben Johnson, his best sprinter, to do like a maximal squat the day before a world championship race or even hours before. So how would you say that you would increase tone better by bodybuilding then by powerlifting, is there a difference?

Ryan: 00:38:59 – Sorry, I was thinking more long term. If you’re thinking the example that you just mentioned, that’s some neural preparation, I would think. Like when you go under something heavy, you know when you’re going to do like an Open event and say they have squat cleans. Do heavier and the other ones feel lighter. Same idea. You’re sort of neurally prepping yourself for the demand. So perhaps when they were doing that, you know, do the squat because it teaches you how to drive maximal percentage. That can allow you to go harder in the race because you’ve driven more contraction, maybe recruited more what are called motor units when you do that. I’m thinking sort of long-term tone. That’s—sorry. That’s what I was thinking. If you were going to go do something like powerlifting, of course you’re going to, you know, I’d be laughed at if I said that wasn’t going to create more muscle tone. So that’s definitely not what I’m saying. I was just thinking that bodybuilders have a lot of tone because they train like mind-body connection, and I’m going to squeeze these muscles as hard as I can, which is really driving a level of contraction. And the stimulus from the way the rep range they use is that they get hypertrophy. Now in powerlifting, obviously they’re going to drive tons of neural drive. They’re going to recruit their muscles like crazy. I mean I think that powerlifters probably have the highest level of recruitment of muscle fibers. And that’s one of the explanations of why people get strong so fast when they’re untrained, is that they’re not actually changing the muscle fiber. They’re changing how much of their muscles they recruit. So that would sort of prep them. If someone wanted more muscle mass and sort of more resting tone, I think that bodybuilding is—people really get that quite a bit because they have that connection that they’ve built by trying to squeeze their bicep as hard as they can. I don’t know any powerlifters that are trying to squeeze their pec as hard as they can when they bench, they’re thinking more task-oriented. You know what I mean?

Chris: 00:40:52 – Could that be limiting long term? I mean if I’ve got a former bodybuilder in here who’s been working out that way for 20 years and we’re gonna be learning the snatch today, could that limit his overhead mobility?

Ryan: 00:41:04 – Right, exactly. And part of that too is because of driving the tone, that athlete may not know how to relax overhead. And in Olympic lifting, one of the arts of Olympic lifting is creating tension and then relaxing and then creating tension so that you can be quick. And if someone has been training in a way where it’s all about creating tension through the full range of motion, then they will probably not be able to be quick because they can’t relax their arm from being down at their waist to suddenly being overhead. Do you see what I mean? And so that is something that you’ll see in bodybuilders is they don’t know how to relax quickly. And in a lot of sports, the thing that makes people great is their ability to relax and contract quickly and go between the two. And so if someone trains themselves only to create tension and never how to relax and generate tension quickly, then yeah, when you start thinking about other movements, that could be very limiting.

Chris: 00:42:06 – So how would I assess that? Say that I have a new person coming in and they’ve got a history of exercise. What are some little tests that I can do if there are any issues?

Ryan: 00:42:17 – Well, I’ve never really thought about if there’s a test for that or not. I would just watch them and if it looks like they’re not relaxing, that would tell me what I need to know, I think. I don’t know that there’s really a specific test. And then what I’d have to teach them to do is how do they let—how do they learn to relax through the range of motion? So I wouldn’t even have—I mean, you could have that person do a bunch of stretching, but if their issue is they don’t know how to relax as they go up overhead, stretching them really hard isn’t getting sort of at the root of what I’m trying to do. Because in that case, you’re trying to stretch and pull on the muscle. And I’m trying to teach them how to make the muscle relax as they reach up overhead. And so maybe you have to do both. Maybe you have to roll them out to decrease the tension by rolling, and then once that tension is gone, you can show them how to move their arm in a relaxed way overhead. And that’s gonna take a long time to help rewire, so to speak. It’s not going to be like you’re going to do it one time and suddenly it’s going to be this easy thing. It’s probably going to take some training. But that’s how I would think about it.

Chris: 00:43:23 – OK. So I mean obviously we want to keep these clients around for 10 or 15 years anyway, but are there any quick tests that you do, adding to that, that you recommend we trainers adopt?

Ryan: 00:43:34 – Well, so the way that I’ve structured the workshop that I teach is specifically aimed at that. So I have four core modules that I look at. I take people through a way to assess breathing and bracing, because I think that clearly in gyms that’s something that can be coached. And if you could take someone through a little process to see, can they do the fundamental pieces easily? That would be very helpful. I do another module on deadlifting, picking things up off the floor, and how to do—and for each of these things, I do what’s called a qualifying test. Meaning I’m not going to do all these fancy tests unless I think I need to do them. So if I can qualify someone to do a deadlift, I’m not going to make them do all sorts of stretching and things before I let them actually train. So if I can qualify them to lift a bar off the ground with Olympic-sized plates, then I’ll do that. If I have to raise the plates two inches and then they can qualify, then I’d have them train with it raised. And then on the side track, I’d have them doing things to be able to lift it off the floor safely. And then, if they can’t do it from the floor, there’s a couple of components we could look at. We could look at sort of their hip mobility and hamstring, you know, sort of the posterior chain flexibility. And we could look at their motor control through their hip to see if that’s the issue. Like they just don’t know how to do it, really. That would help—

Chris: 00:45:01 – I was going to say, I like the idea of a qualifying test, because whenever I’ve tried to implement things like functional movement screen into my intake process, it always feels like I’m looking for problems with the client and I think no client wants to be told the first day you’re bad at this. Right?

Ryan: 00:45:17 – Yeah. I think the FMS is good. But it really depends on what you’re trying to do with somebody. If somebody just wants to go lift weights, you have to ask yourself the question of is it going to start sort of, like you said, it’s going to make them feel bad or if their goal is just to start working out, I mean, it could be very good information from the FMS. That’s just not how I teach it. I teach the qualifying test for the lifts because if somebody can fundamentally do it, then I want them to be able to do it. And then if you want to do some more investigative work, then perhaps, you know, you could go through the FMS, you could go through other things and that may be a way to do it. But if time is very limited and the focus is just on the lifts, then I would look at their deadlift. I would look at their squat. And for the squat, I do the same thing where there’s sort of a qualifying test. There’s, I believe, six sort of component tests that are done if there’s an issue with the squat, so we can figure out what to give the athlete. And then I do the same thing for overhead lifting. There’s a qualifying test and then there’s some follow-up tests. Now, I don’t want people to misinterpret that I don’t think the FMS is valuable. I think it is. But I think when I’m dealing with people who are doing squatting, deadlifting and overhead lifting, I want to watch how they execute the lift and investigate more deeply, if needed.

Chris: 00:46:39 – OK. Is that assessment beyond the scope of most CrossFit trainers? Who should be doing this stuff?

Ryan: 00:46:45 – What I just described?

Chris: 00:46:46 – Yeah.

Ryan: 00:46:47 – I think people can, I mean it’s pretty simple stuff, I think. We’re not assessing for pain. We’re not assessing—if someone has pain, they should get evaluated, I think. This is just a way to have people go through a couple of little things, like for example, the way that I look at qualifying the deadlift would be, OK, put someone in a cat cow position, you know, like the all-fours thing where you round and extend your back, and then take a dowel and put it on their back and look at sort of how the dowel lies on their back, because you just took out all the tension in their legs by putting them here, and sort of gravity. Then have them go set up on their deadlift. And then compare: How does the dowel lay on their back in the deadlift versus how did it lay on their back in the cat cow? And if we find quote unquote “neutral” in the cat cow and then it looks different when they’re in their deadlift from on the ground, then I know that they’re not lifting in sort of neutral. And when we’re doing heavy lifting, we know neutral would be the quote unquote “safest” place to be. And so it allows me to quickly see are they close to that or not? And so, you know, I think anybody could do that. And then you could do a couple of easy follow-up tests to that. But none of it’s super complicated. And certainly when somebody is first exposed to this type of thing, it can be a sort of mental exercise to think about how you would break these things out. But you’re only going to help people by doing this. I don’t think anyone would be harmed by doing it. Similar to how the FMS, you know, anybody could do the FMS. That’s the way it’s designed. And I don’t think it’s bad to give people recommendations based on what you find. If you’re gonna have them lifting heavy deadlifts, I think that it’s pretty OK to tell them they can do these stretches, too. As long as the goal isn’t to reduce pain, because pain could be anything. Pain could be a bone tumor. I mean, so you just don’t know and that’s why you should get evaluated. But if someone has a hard time in their deadlift and then you can see that you can help them by having them do a couple of easy drills, I would absolutely want somebody doing that. Absolutely.

Chris: 00:48:59 – So what do you teach in the Movement Fix seminar?

Ryan: 00:49:02 – Yeah, so the first hour and a half is some background materials. So we discuss the sort of movement theory using what’s called the joint-by-joint approach, which kind of comes from—well, it doesn’t kind of come, it comes from Mike Boyle and Greg Cook, and I expand on my ideas on it and how it relates to what we typically do in a CrossFit setting. And then I talk about the concept of relative stiffness, which I think is a very under-appreciated concept. Then we discuss what rolling out on a foam roller or lacrosse ball or tennis ball or whatever is and what it does and how we could be using it. Then we look at the four core modules. The four core modules would be the breathing and bracing that I take people through, the deadlifting, squatting and overhead lifting. Now each one of those core modules has little mini assessments built in, and based on those mini assessments, it will tell you what the target drill that you could use with that athlete is. So say for squatting, for each step, if someone has a hard time with squatting, for each step throughout the follow-up tests, there’s target drills, what you could be doing to help that person. And it’s very specific because if someone has an ankle range of motion issue, you don’t want to be stretching their hip. You want to be working on their ankle. If someone has a hip thing and they have a ton of ankle range of motion, you don’t want be spending time with them on their ankle range of motion. So it helps you identify these things. And the overhead lifting section, there’s a lot of very, very valuable things in the overhead lifting section, I think that’s—I think they’re all good sections, but I think the overhead lifting section’s the best section, and same idea, there’s I believe 28 total target drills that people will leave with from the workshop in terms of drills they can use with people. And then at the very end, we talk a little bit about low-back injuries and some considerations for certain exercises that are done where the low back repetitively bends.

Chris: 00:51:02 – Wow, that’s excellent.

Ryan: 00:51:02 – So that’s the structure of the workshop. It’s gone through—you know, I look back to that first one I told you about that I did, and man, it’s come a long way. The way it’s transformed, yeah, it’s come a long way. A lot of iterations. I change it every single time I do it because there’s always a little bit better way to do something. There’s always a little bit—so it’s gone through 60 iterations. So I think that it provides people a lot of stuff they haven’t seen before because it brings things from many different worlds, like the world of functional movement, for example, that inspired me a lot and I give them due credit for it. The world of what’s called DNS, or dynamic neuromuscular stabilization, which comes out of Prague, that has greatly influenced me. Stuff from a guy, Mike Reinold, who is a shoulder guy, shoulder physical therapist guy, and he would say I pigeonhole him by calling him a shoulder guy, but he worked for the Boston Red Sox. He’s a world renowned shoulder expert. And so his stuff has inspired me in how you would incorporate that into this setting. So a lot of people have—and then McGill, of course, and his low back and hip stuff. So all of these things I’ve tried to bring together in a way that’s very usable for trainers and athletes. I have a lot of athletes that come take the course, too. It’s not just trainers. There’s a lot of health-care providers that come, I get a lot of physical therapists and chiropractors who come too, because I think it’s useful and people will get out of it what they need to get out of it based on their level of experience and background education and that type of thing. So people take away different things. But yeah, that’s sort of how it’s structured as of today.

Chris: 00:52:55 – And when are the next seminars that are coming out?

Ryan: 00:52:55 – Well I’m going to Chicago this weekend–.

Chris: 00:52:59 – CrossFit Illumine?

Ryan: 00:53:03 – CrossFit Illumine, that’s right. And then I think there’s 20 more on the schedule throughout the rest of the year. And I just scheduled London.

Chris: 00:53:11 – Good for you.

Ryan: 00:53:12 – I’m so excited to go overseas for it. I never thought I’d be doing that. So it’s been fun to see. So London will be in December. But there’s many, many other locations that are coming up throughout 2016 and will probably be scheduled for 2017 here soon. And those can be found at my website, which is just themovementfix.com and there’s a menu thing for workshops and it has them all listed there as well. If the listeners want to find those. And we’re always looking for great new hosts in cities. So if anybody’s interested in hosting, we’re certainly open to that.

Chris: 00:53:45 – I’m sure you’re going to get slammed with emails right after this podcast. Ryan, I’m gonna leave it there man. Thanks so much for being a guest on Two-Brain Radio, and I’m sure you’re gonna hear a lot from us in the future as well as our listeners.

Ryan: 00:53:56 – Awesome. Well, it was a pleasure being on here. The questions you asked were very, very good and I think are things that will really help people. So thank you for putting the questions together like that.

Announcer: 00:54:09 – It’s time for Critical Questions. Got a question for Chis? Email chris@twobrainbusiness.com. Here’s our most critical question this week.

Chris: 00:54:20 – Every second week on this podcast I answer critical questions, and if you have a question you can just email chris@twobrainbusiness.com and I’ll try and get to it within the next couple of episodes. This time though, I’m going to turn the question on its head and I’m going to give you the number one question you can be asking about your clients, you can be asking of your staff and you can be asking of yourself to improve your coaching business. This is a question that came up several times over the seminar in Charlotte last weekend, which is also why my voice is kinda gruff today, and it’s one that I want to share with you because it helps with introspection about where your business is going, it helps you create the best possible meaningful career opportunity for your coaches and also the best possible long-term experience for your members.

Chris: 00:55:04 – So that question is, what do you want now? And in the book “Help First,” I started with the question that every good marketer asks themselves, what do people want? It’s one of the hardest questions to answer until you really know your audience. And this is what “Help First” was written to do, is help you identify the needs of your audience and help you propose how to help them solve their problems. But when we were at the seminar in Charlotte, the question that kept coming up is how do I help my staff more? How do I help my clients stick around longer? How do I turn my business into something that’s viable and is going to stand up for the long term for myself and my family? And the question that I kept coming back to was, what do you want now? So starting with yourself, many of you have read about the Perfect Day exercise and I’ve been writing about that for about six years now. In the Perfect Day exercise, you’re asking yourself, in a perfect world, what would my day look like? And it’s a visualization exercise, but it also establishes a Point B for us to work backward from in our mentoring program. With your staff, it’s really important to ask yourself, what do they want? So instead of what do we want for them, what does the staff person actually want? Do they want to work for you full time? And if so, are they going to be working for you as a coach? Or will they be doing personal training? Or will they be coaching only one element of fitness all the time?

Chris: 00:56:29 – The other thing that you need to be asking them is, has that changed? So instead of just saying, “Hey, what do you want?” and then spending the next three years working toward providing that goal for them, only to find out that they’re target has shifted, it’s really important to be asking your staff, “What do you want now?” All the time. This weekend in Charlotte, I talked about Elliott Jaques’ Levels of Thinkers quite a bit, and we related a lot of problems and solutions back to the way people think. People are happiest when they are at the level of thought that challenges them a little bit, but not too much. And that’s going to be different for everyone. For example, some of my staff are happy cleaning. They like the mindlessness of it. They like having a checklist and following it the exact same way every time, punching out at 9:30 and going home and that’s it. They don’t have to think about their job after they leave the gym. Some staff like to have a little bit of choice. They like to have a little bit more decision-making power, or some control. So they’re more Level Two thinkers. They like to be told, if this happens, then do this. And this is why I call it a binary decision-making process; they’re a binary thinker, a Level Two. Level Three would be more identifying a problem and then choosing a solution based on a preset, you know, set of a templates. So for example, doing squat therapy with somebody, we see their knees caving in and we, you know, think in our brain, what is my repertoire of solutions for knees caving in? And maybe we choose from one of six choices, you know, depending on what our favorite is and what the last one we heard was. Level Four is really the entrepreneurial level. So this is where the person starts projecting, you know, what’s the next problem that’s going to come up and how can I solve that before it happens? What’s the next opportunity and how do I overcome the problems that are in the way of me reaching that opportunity? A lot of staff, a lot of people in general, believe in this romantic ideal of entrepreneurialism, which is, yeah, I can stay awake all night and I can, you know, stress over this. And in the end it’s going to be all worth it and I’ll be a millionaire. But when a lot of people are actually given that opportunity, they’ll revert back to a Level Three stage of thinking. They want systems that they can just press buttons or you know, fill in the blanks or paint by numbers. In the real entrepreneurialism world, that doesn’t exist.

Chris: 00:58:51 – But sometimes people need to get really good at Level Three before they can move to Level Four. And so in our ramp-up program, we do teach some more black-and-white ideals; do things specifically this way. Later on as people move on in mentoring, they learn that everything’s really a shade of gray and that different solutions are going to work for different boxes, but not every box, yada yada. So when we’re asking ourselves, what do my staff want? The question that we have to really be thinking about it is what do they want now? Have we given them a taste of entrepreneurialism and they didn’t like it? Have we not challenged them enough? Are they bored? Are they going to be looking for something else? Can they make a living at what they’re currently doing? If not, what should they be doing instead? With our clients, it’s important to always be asking, “What do you want now?” Because we attract them based on this ideal of novelty. You know, people come and do CrossFit because it’s unlike anything else. Most of my clients have tried other things before and they might have liked it, they might not have. It might’ve been effective, maybe not. But what’s important is that it’s a different workout every day. And some of us who have been doing this for a while forget that. So when I asked, you know, 32 gym owners in Charlotte how many people are still doing CrossFit the same way they did it on their first day, only about three hands went up. I started off doing CrossFit.com; I don’t do that anymore. You know, I focus on Olympic lifting and I’m going slightly back to powerlifting. And in this episode Dr. Ryan DeBell talks about using bodybuilding. It’s important to continually be asking the client “what do you want now” so that we’re providing that novelty that we promised them in the first place. So this might take the form of specialty programs; it might take the form of reassessment. It’s probably going to take the form of constant reminders of achievement.

Chris: 01:00:34 – We are not wired to pursue one single goal, focused and relentlessly forever. That’s just not how our species is wired. What we’re focused to do is to pay attention to threats, to look for new opportunities all the time, to harvest the opportunities that are within our reach, and also to celebrate success. This is something that we’ve been doing now forever. So when we do Bright Spots, we call people every time they hit a PR and we don’t always, you know, talk about their previous workout goals, instead what we do is celebrate their little successes. It’s more important for somebody to have frequent successes, even if it’s not a goal that they’ve identified, than it is for them to constantly be pursuing one goal. It’s true that very high-level athletes have conditioned themselves to the pursuit of one goal. These are not generally our clients, and high-level CrossFit athletes, even, are not focused on one goal. They’re not gonna just deadlift 700 pounds because that’s not going to win them the Games. This is why CrossFit is so attractive. This is why specialty groups are so attractive to my veteran members. This is why constant reassessment and celebration of Bright Spots is so critical. What it comes back to again is the question, “What do you want now?” And if you’re constantly asking yourself that, that’s going to change the way that you deliver your service. If you constantly ask your coaches that, it’s going to change the way that you put your services together to make a viable career for them. And if you ask your clients that, you’re going to make everybody happy and make your job a lot easier. Have a great week.