Episode 64 – Training Think Tank

 

Sometimes I invite a guest on the show because they are nowhere near as popular as they should be. This is the case with today’s guest, Max El-Hag. You will hear a lot of humility from Max in this episode but don’t mistake it, as he has profound knowledge of the fitness industry. In this episode we talk about his company, Training Think Tank, and how it is helping athletes of all sports connect with coaches who are able to advise and train them to the highest abilities. We talk strategy, methodology, and more related to his business and life!

 

Reminder: The 2017 Two-Brain Summit is coming this June 3rd and 4th in Chicago. Be sure to register now!

 

In this Interview:

 

  • What are the first steps to creating an online training program
  • Testing Philosophy with remote clients
  • Do athletes need an individual mindset to be successful?

 

Plus:

 

  • Finding the right balance with the commoditization of intensity
  • The one message all CrossFit gyms need to hear
  • Building nutrition into remote training programs

 

About Max:

 

Max has had a long career as an athlete and was first inspired by his father who was an Olympic fighter. After qualifying for the CrossFit Games a team and making it to Regionals as an individual, Max decided that coaching is what truly inspired him. At this point Max coached many clients from models and future NFL stars to ultra-runners and CrossFit athletes. He now runs Training Think Tank, a company that focuses on remote coaching, educational courses, and online programs for athletes and coaches.

 

Timeline:

 

0:58 – Training Think Tank introduction  

2:41 – The lead up to Training Think Tank with Max

4:52 – Finding CrossFit for the first time

8:05 – Starting out as a personal training prior to CrossFit

9:18 – CrossFit principles mixing into training for fighters

11:10 – How Training Think Tank has grown to where it is today

14:07 – Training Think Tank from a global perspective in today’s world

16:45 – What are the first steps to starting an online training program?

19:09 – Tools needed to start a remote coaching program

20:30 – Testing Philosophy with remote clients according to their goals

23:56 – How often should you be retesting clients on their progress?  

25:27 – Building nutrition into a remote training program

28:18 – Keeping workouts nontraditional leading up to the CrossFit Games

32:41 – Different training programs for games athlete’s vs non games athletes

37:00 – Finding the right balance with the commoditization of intensity

41:00 – The top solutions gym owners take away from Max’s program

45:03 – Recommending group training to individual clients

46:20 – Do games athletes have to have an individual mindset to be successful

47:50 – Firing individual clients when it’s not working out

49:43 – Keeping clients compliant with the program

51:06 – Giving athletes a win when you know they are down

54:49 – Creating a template for your clients leading up to the CrossFit Open

56:10 – Establishing a format of training for your gym

59:18 – Where should a client look to do individual training in a group training gym?

61:03 – How to implement a culture of one on one training in your gym

63:16 – The one message all CrossFit gyms need to hear

 

Contact Max:

 

https://www.trainingthinktank.com/

max@trainingthinktank.com

https://www.facebook.com/trainingthinktank/

https://www.instagram.com/trainingthinktank/

https://twitter.com/trainingthinkta?lang=en

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzUd3H_e_qWqs4dR4GxVHOQ

Listen to Stitcher

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 – This episode is brought to you by Liquid State Design. Is it worth it to outsource your programming? And when I started twobrainbusiness.com, twobraincoaching.com I built these sites myself from scratch because I wasn’t satisfied with what else was out there. It’s important to know how to build a website yourself. It’s important to know how to change your own oil. It’s important to know how to rotate your own tires, but the value of your time is what’s most important. I’m not a graphic designer. I’m not a website designer. And so I trust Liquid State Design to take care of all this stuff for me. Check them out, talk to Theresa. They do some pretty amazing work and a lot of Two-Brain gyms are already using them to huge advantage in their local market.

Chris: 00:00:58 – I admit it. Sometimes I invite a guest onto the show because they’re popular. But sometimes I invite a guest on this show because they’re nowhere near as popular as they should be. This is the case of Max El-Hag of Training Think Tank. I’ve been hearing about Max’s stuff for years. When I was working for the CrossFit Games site, I would interview athletes who would mention Max and mention his methods and his individual assessment and his training philosophy. But a couple of months ago Max’s information was shoved in front of my face so clearly that I couldn’t ignore it anymore. My friend Jason Brown who runs boxprogramming.com said, “You’ve got to talk to this guy,” and another of my favorite all-time coaches, Keith Zimmer, has been following Max for years using his last buck to travel to Max’s camps, and that to me is important. If you haven’t heard of Training Think Tank, there’s a good reason.

Chris: 00:01:49 – They probably don’t care if you have. While I’m sure like most of us, they’d like to be busier, they don’t really pursue new clients. In fact, just getting a picture of Max or a bio was like pulling teeth. In this interview, you’re going to hear a lot of humility from him. But as I’ve learned from running this podcast now for over a year, underneath that humility is usually profound knowledge. There are known experts in our world. You’ve heard their names before and a lot of them have appeared on this show, but there are also, if you start to sift through the layers, people just below the surface of popularity whose wisdom and experience are profound. This is one of those interviews. Enjoy and don’t skip the last 10 seconds

Chris: 00:02:37 – Max. Welcome to Two-Brain Radio and Two-Brain TV.

Max: 00:02:38 – Thanks man. Happy to be here.

Chris: 00:02:41 – So we’re going to start with your story, Max. I’m not sure everybody here knows, you know the whole story that led up to Training Think Tank.

Max: 00:02:47 – Yeah, I guess as an athlete, probably is the best place to start cause I think I learned a lot of the stuff that I have about biomechanics, training, nutrition, all that stuff really in the pursuit of making myself an athlete when I was younger. My father was in the Olympics for Judo and that got me into wrestling at like five or six. And then I wrestled and played football all the way up into college and was a pretty high-level wrestler. I went to Lehigh University, which was Division 1 in football and wrestling, did one season there, moved on after that, got into MMA. I did some grappling once, analia tournaments, then moved into CrossFit. As a team, qualified for the 2010 Games. I think we took 18th that year. 2011, I went to try to make the Games as an individual and took 18th or 19th in the South East Regional. And at that time I was coaching a bunch of people individually and just realized that I wanted to do that full time and that my athletic career with all the injuries and the aches and the pains and cutting weight and doing that was just, it was time to move on to a different phase of my learning and my life. So I guess if you kind of rewind back from there, I did a a lot of personal training before that. I’ve worked with fitness models, bodybuilders. I did NFL prep, speed prep with people preparing to go to the combine.

Max: 00:04:21 – I’ve worked with ultra-runners, triathletes. I think I’ve coached—the last number I took, I think it was like 34 Games athletes, either individual or team-level Games athletes, which is what the big portion now of my organization is, and then a bunch of other sports. So that’s kind of like the, you know, the quick run-through of who I am, both as athlete and coach. Does that give enough specifics to get started?

Chris: 00:04:51 – Yeah, absolutely, man. So tell us about finding CrossFit for the first time. Where did that come from?

Max: 00:04:56 – Yeah, so I was at an MMA gym. The owner of the gym was a fighter who was on, you know, he was in the UFC as a 185. And he knew somebody that owned a CrossFit facility in Florida and they were pairing their conditioning up at the time. And I was already, you know, training people and into nutrition and weight cutting and doing my own conditioning. And he was like, “Hey man, you got to try this new thing.” I was 2008, I think coming up on nine years. And I was like, “OK, yeah, sure. What do I do?” So we showed up and they tried to—the coach, I didn’t know this at the time, told the guy that owned the gym who is now like one of my close friends to try to like fuck me up. And so they did Fight Gone Bad. They made the weight 95 pounds instead of 75 pounds. And they told me that over 300 was a good score. So I think I got like 297, I did like 150 or 180 reps in the first round and just exploded. And it was one of the most painful and demoralizing experiences of my life. And I took that as a challenge to try to figure out what was going on because at the time, you know, at 230 body weight, I could run a 22-minute 5k and row a19-something 5k. So it wasn’t like I couldn’t breathe for a duration of time and it kind of like blew my mind and made me start thinking about energy systems and bioenergetics differently because I was like, “Whoa, hold on. This does not make sense. It shouldn’t be that I had such a profound reaction to this and sucked at it.” And then I started down the path of continually using that as training and it almost—it hooked to my mind trying to figure out what the hell was going on because it kind of defied all the literature that I was reading and just purely strength and purely energy systems.

Chris: 00:06:57 – And I went down to spar with the American top team and got kicked by the number-10 ranked fighter in the world at the time at 185, and it kind of just charged my head and I was like, “Oh man, I don’t think I want to get kicked in the face for the rest of my life.” I think that was kind of the transition point where then CrossFit became a little bit more important to me than fighting. And I just slowly veered into doing that and I wanted to coach people right away in it, because I would go in, I never did classes. I wasn’t—I’m relatively antisocial to begin with and I was obsessive. So I was like, well, you know, within three months of lifting I was snatching 285 and cleaning like over 330, which back in 2009 was like huge. And I was like, “Well, I need to be able to run and row and do burpees and box jumps and double-unders and all of these people are weak so I shouldn’t be training with them.” So I started trying to experiment on myself and I needed more test dummies to figure out what would work and what didn’t work. So I kind of started coaching it right off the bat.

Chris: 00:08:04 – And at the time, were you doing personal training with regular people too?

Max: 00:08:08 – Yeah, yeah. That was what my income was coming from. It was just a lot of fitness, body comp, people who were coming off surgeries and that went through the rehabilitation phases and were trying to get back to doing something training. I was working with recreational endurance athletes. People who were pretty good endurance athletes, but just not like pros at the time. And that’s where I was working with more like varied goals. Like I had people who were training to be in, you know, in the major leagues, people who were trying to get to the PGA tour, like I call them the next-level elite, not the people that were like the notable, I’m at the top of my game, but the people who were trying to break through and were trying to use fitness as like the, you know, one of the components of their development. So I was doing all of that and then throughout the process of just getting myself developed in CrossFit, I then contacted James Fitzgerald who was at OPT, which is now OPEX, and I worked with him individually as a coach and then went to work for their organization. And at the time it was just me and him, and then started Training Think Tank coming up on four years ago now.

Chris: 00:09:17 – Wow. OK. So when you started doing CrossFit yourself, did you find that it started to bleed into the programs of all these, you know, regular folks and athletes that you were training?

Max: 00:09:25 – I don’t know if the actual CrossFit was bleeding in, like I wouldn’t, you know, my baseball players weren’t doing snatches and burpees and chest-to-bar pull-ups just because I was thinking even now as a CrossFit coach, my elite CrossFitters’ programs, they don’t really look like traditional CrossFit-structured programs until they’re preparing for Open, Regionals, Games. You know, I do everything on an individual basis. So some of the conditioning protocols that we were developing from CrossFit I definitely was using and probably most so with my fighters, because the respiratory patterns of CrossFit mimic fighting a lot. Like you’re throwing punches and you’re dodging and you’re ducking and you’re kicking and people are grabbing you and you’re not able to breathe on like a normal sequence. And that causes problems with O2 and CO2 exchange.

Max: 00:10:23 – And that, I think, is one of the primary pains of CrossFit. So for conditioning fighters, when they wanted to do their conditioning in the gym and not using sparring and fighting in their classes, when they were in phases where they were doing skill development work in the MMA gym, I would use a lot of a CrossFit-style training. But I don’t know if it necessarily bled, it kind of like slowly I started figuring out like, OK, this is applicable to these types of people or this is applicable to these types of people. This is only good for CrossFit. And it slowly just kind of evolved into a training theory that looks at people as individuals. What’s your goal? What do you want to work on? OK, these are the methods that are effective for what you want.

Chris: 00:11:07 – OK. And you know, I’m dying to dive into that, but first, to continue on with the story, you know, how did Training Think Tank grow to the level it is today?

Max: 00:11:15 – Ah, man, I wish I could take credit for it and pass some elaborate reason. Whatever was built here was built on a competent model. Just starting to dig into literature and reading on social marketing and digital marketing and how to get things out. But really my entire business was built on word of mouth. It started with my own clients, I think I started with 45 in that first year. I built up to 65 all through referrals and I was like, man, I can’t take any more of this. Cause I was working a full-time job as a head of strength and conditioning at this 55,000- square-foot facility. And so one of my coaches—one of my clients was a coach who had been almost a, you know, world-level swimmer in the 50 free, his name’s Kyle Ruth. And we used to geek out on training theory and I said, “Hey dude, like I’m not really sure if this is going to turn into something, but based on the growth of what’s already happened with just me, I think we can potentially do something. Would you want to take any overflow of clients if they reach out to me?” And it started just like that. And he eventually got 30 clients and then we started, you know, our clients were like, “Dude, I don’t understand how I’m getting better, why I’m doing this or what I’m doing, but you know, I feel great. Everything’s going well. Can you teach me?” So people wanted to be mentored. So I tried to do a mentorship program and I realized that everything that I was saying wasn’t making sense to people. So I’d be giving them like, you know, 10 or 15 books, like, hey, read through this and when you get through this, then we can probably have a discussion about how to take things forward.

Max: 00:12:56 – I then realized that that was too time-consuming and didn’t make sense for like me as a business owner. So we developed our courses. I had three coaches at the time, when I moved to Georgia, we brought a fourth coach on. And then that was about a year and a half ago. And since then we went from like 120 clients worldwide to 250 worldwide. And our five courses have sold, like I dunno, something like 200 units in the 18 months that they’ve been launched. And honestly, I think it’s just, I try really hard to be a good coach and to live by my principles and to treat people well and make sure that they feel like they’re getting their money’s worth. And I have a really good team that supports me and believes in the vision of what I’m trying to contribute to the fitness industry. So I’m not really sure I could retroactively explain why it’s been successful and why it’s grown. I think the only thing that I can say is like the cause of it is like luck and chaos and good people around me.

Chris: 00:14:04 – Oh, that’s great to hear. OK. So the competence model. So what does Training Think Tank look like today, from a global perspective, how many people come to see you in person every day? How many people do you train remotely? How many people come to these seminars?

Max: 00:14:19 – Yeah. So, it’s kind of erratic with regards to the seminars. I did a bunch—two years ago, I did probably 13 camps all over the country that kinda like helped get the name out and talked about my philosophies and what we were doing and what we were trying to build. And then from then until two months ago, I haven’t done any more. I just did one in Ireland that we had 45 people at. That was awesome. And I think probably in the off season next year after Games we’re probably going to have a more structured series of traveling around and doing some more education and doing athlete development camps. So that’s not really like structured. We have five courses that start with exercise physiology and assessment, then a movement course that teaches like movement theory, breathing and autonomics, tension, methods in the market, joint rotations, how to assess movement, just like kind of redefined movement in the broad context of what it is.

Max: 00:15:15 – And then a program designed for strength and energy systems, I think we have 20 or 240 athletes right now. So distributed amongst seven coaches. So you know, people have anywhere between 25 and I think my highest coach has 42 athletes, and they’re really all over, all over the place geographically in the world and all over the place in terms of goals. I think probably a quarter of them are people that are aiming to be either Games-level, Regional-level athletes, then probably a quarter of them who want to be competitive in the CrossFit-type recreational environment but they don’t ever envision themselves being a professional, then a quarter of them who are gym owners that want to learn what we do and do it with themselves. And then a quarter of people who are just like general population, other goals, fighters, endurance athletes, just like full gamut of goals.

Max: 00:16:16 – So it’s kind of more of a training organization than a CrossFit training organization. But because of, you know, what’s happened in the course of my career and how many Games athletes I’ve ended up coaching, I think it’s kind of trending into the development of, you know, that helping people with their gyms, helping people with training models in their gyms. And so that’s kind of like the overarching, what Training Think Tank is at the current moment.

Chris: 00:16:43 – OK. So looking back in time, what were your first steps into online training? Where did that demand come from? Who was your first client? How did you start laying that out?

Max: 00:16:53 – Yeah, it’s funny. I actually started doing it in college, so that’s 13 years ago. People that I knew from high school started going to college and gaining weight and they wanted nutrition programs and training programs. And at the time there weren’t really any resources out there to do that. I would give like basic nutritional guidelines and basic training. It was really just like, you know, it was not athletes, it was not anybody that had any training experience. It was just like, I’d call it typical bodybuilding protocol. Like, you know, a single body part split for the day, plus some sort of conditioning. And then, you know, macros, which is funny that that circled back around to become like the new nutritional strategy, the new thing. But it started then and then, you know, I kept in touch with a couple people. I probably had three or four clients for, you know, six, seven, eight years. But most of that business turned into like in personal training, program design. I always did program design though for my in-person clients because I didn’t want to divert that much time to personal training. And I also wanted to build self-reliance. I never thought it made sense for people to need five hours of one-on-one training every single week. I thought it was a extreme waste of time and money. So I would program designed for those people. Then, I think it really turned into a career when I went to OPEX because me and James, I think when I went there, James had like 13 or 14 clients. I don’t remember the exact number. And then by the time I had left, you know, the organization, I had 50, James had 60, there were three or four other coaches that were in the 20s. Then it really had turned into a more expansive market. And then that was just kind of a natural segue as I went into Training Think Tank. My clients came in with me and I didn’t really know what I had intended to do with Training Think Tank when I started it. It was just what was currently paying me. And then I had philosophies of what I wanted to change in the fitness market, but I didn’t know how that would actually turn into a business.

Chris: 00:19:07 – OK. What tools are you using for remote coaching right now?

Max: 00:19:11 – Just email and Excel. I’ve worked with some programming software, and I know there’s some good ones out there. Actually one of the ones that’s big in CrossFit space right now, Fitbot, was actually—he was one of my clients for a long time and actually had talked about that. With regards to the amount of data that we take and the amount of review of programming and adding up contractions, it’s just some of my coaches choose to use Google Drive. And I’ve had a system in place for so long using Excel that it’s really hard for me to try to change platforms because it would end up being such a loss of time. So I really have a outdated system of, you know, copying and pasting from my Excel and then sending them an email. Then they either post on blogs that our coaches or me if they’re my clients have access to or they email back every day with results. This is what happened for the day. And then from a tools perspective, some people track HRV, some people track, you know, morning weight, some people weigh and measure all their food. And that just kinda depends on the person, their goal, what the relationship is with their coach and you know, kind of what’s necessary to take the next step in whatever their fitness quest is.

Chris: 00:20:28 – OK. So we are going to talk about that. How do you assess what a person needs if they’re a remote client? What’s your testing protocol?

Max: 00:20:35 – Testing philosophy would probably be better terminology than testing protocol because everybody, I believe, needs to be tested according to A where they are and B where they want to go. So, you know, if somebody comes to me and they say they want to be a 5k runner, they’re going to go through a different assessment protocol than somebody that says they want to be an elite Games athletes. So it all kind of stems from how we categorize physical training. So everybody goes through some sort of a movement screen. It starts with full-body joint rotations, which gives us an indication of how well every joint independently functions through its full range. Then a global movement screen that’s dictated by whatever their goals are. So a weightlifter, I’m just going to use a simple example, a weightlifter might do back squat, front squat, clean, overhead squat, then their full lifts. They go through, you know, a snatch and go through a clean separately and then a clean and jerk and a jerk from the blocks. We’d have more tests than that, but that just kind of gives like a, you know, broad, this is the movement screen. Then, you know, 5k runner might just be like more standing single-leg knee extensions or that would be like a hover in an FRC-type model. Just basically standing up back against the wall, terminal knee extension on one knee, drive one knee as high as you can get it, extend the leg as far as you can get it without the back knee bending and without getting any spinal deviation to like get an indication of how well they control their hips and how well their hips work independently.

Max: 00:22:13 – So they’d go through a different movement screening process. Then we break out like some sort of nutritional intervention. So like, hey, weigh and measure your food or keep track of your macros for, you know, one to five days depending on who the person is. If they work with somebody else, it would just be a day to make sure that they’re somewhere in the guideline of where we think they should be. Five days if they’re, you know, uncoached and we just want to kind of get insight into whether or not that’s holding them back from their goals. Then there would be like our strength category system, which would be dependent upon the goal obviously. So, you know, anywhere from a 1-RM back squat on one side of this speed-strength continuum to a max broad jump or a max vertical on the absolute speed side.

Max: 00:23:01 – And then we do the same thing with energy systems from the shortest time domain all the way to the highest. And then we have a separate categorization system for CrossFit, which includes just a bunch of tests that we think hit different types of limits in CrossFit. Everybody gets their own independent assessment, which really comes from the one-on-one intro conversation. We just like ask questions; if they’re a CrossFitter you have to kind of translate what tests are most important for this person? So ask them like, Hey, do you like three-minute workouts? Do you like 10-minute workouts? Do you like 20-minute workouts? Do you have trouble breathing when you’re doing high-volume kipping gymnastics? How are you at this? How are you at that? And we slowly start ticking away boxes of the things we need to test. And that assessment process can last for anywhere from two weeks to a month depending on how complex they are and what time of the year they come on.

Chris: 00:23:55 – Wow. And then what about reassessment? How often are you like retesting and updating this stuff?

Max: 00:24:00 – Yeah, I get made fun of because one of my coaches used to be like one of the lead podcast people on Barbell Shrugged and he’s like, “Dude, your answer is always ‘it depends.'” But it really depends on the goal. Like what are they trying to get better at? Where is their training age? Where are they in the season? How adaptable are they? Sometimes I’ll put a retest in as soon as two weeks if it’s something really simple and sometimes we’ll go through a six-month training phase before we retest something. It really, really does depend on how long that adaptation takes to get and how committed and compliant they’ve been, how old they are, what’s going on in their life. I try to make sure that I’m using my tests and retests as a way to get feedback as to whether or not things are going better, but I always also try to make sure I’m setting clients up for success because it’s really fucking demoralizing if you’ve been busting your ass for three weeks in a system that takes longer to develop and somebody tests you and you’re the same or you got worse because it was a bad day. So I try to make sure that they have at least enough time to get the adaptation, figure out, do some like you know, micro testing, like 60% of the test just to be like, oh, build confidence and be like, hey, I think I could beat that test now. So it really, really, really depends.

Chris: 00:25:25 – OK. So every client has nutrition built right into their program from day one, right?

Max: 00:25:30 – Yeah, that’s one that I’m trying to figure out what the best strategy is. Depends on how detailed their nutrition needs to be and how much work it’s going to be for the coach because the training design and the coaching process of altering the design for tweaks and tapers and peaks and keeping in touch for competitions and all of that stuff is what we’re charging for. And our coaches, my major goal is to over deliver on all of that stuff. So then if you add nutritional consulting to that, it becomes like you’re doing two jobs for half the price. So really depends on how much of a limitation that person’s nutrition is to their goals. If somebody comes on and they’re a body-composition client, then the coach is pretty much going to be doing primarily nutrition and training for that person.

Max: 00:26:25 – If somebody comes on and they’re going to be an elite-level Games athlete, it’s really just a matter of is their food a limiter or is it not. If it’s not and they’re eating an amount that’s at the level that we want to eat it at, it usually will just be something that’s on them to keep track of. And then some people just choose to outsource their nutrition or talk to people, you know, get an actual nutritionist to oversee their food. But probably because as the leader of my organization, I think that there’s a lot of people that put too much emphasis on what nutrition can do relative to what their long-term training goals are, and it takes away from the focus of what they need to work on that’s limiting them from getting to their goals. So I always try to build systems of self-reliance and we’re in the process of trying to figure out how to build that. I think the current model that I think that I have, that stuff is going to be a six-week-long program that people purchase that allows them to learn how to eat and how to make their own adjustments and then consult with someone at the end of that week to ensure that they’ve up like kept up with what they were supposed to do and made the change and help them deal with their schedule and their timelines. And then over the course of six weeks, hopefully that teaches people how to be self-reliant with their food. But right now there’s, you know, there’s always discussions of it. It’s always something that’s on the table, but it’s not really like, hey, everybody also gets nutrition coaching because the organization is Training Think Tank. So we’re primarily helping people with their training and then their food is like constantly a discussion of whether or not that’s impacting their recovery or their adaptation to training. So we usually bring it up on an as-needed basis.

Chris: 00:28:17 – OK. So right out of the gate, when we started talking, Max, you started saying like, your typical clients’ workouts might not look like traditional CrossFit until the Open comes close. Can you give me some examples of that?

Max: 00:28:31 – Yeah, so, this is a deep rabbit hole because it really depends on how you define CrossFit. If you go back to like the Greg Glassman original literature, his development of broad, general fitness, the 10 general skills, all the capacities in the energy systems. I believe if you actually trained according to those philosophies, it would look very different than doing strength with a barbell and a metcon, which is what most people now consider classic CrossFit. So when I say they don’t look like classic CrossFit, that’s what I mean. Generally they’re on some sort of cyclical energy system stuff in the off season. So development of run, row, swim, Assault bike, SkiErg, it’s lower loading, generally, on the joints. It doesn’t slam the patterns of CrossFit that are constantly slammed. It allows them to not always be doing bilateral work. So that in their strength work they can do cycles of single-leg stuff and rotational work and throws and more advanced gymnastics and isometric development.

Max: 00:29:37 – So their strength work in the off-season could like a powerlifting or weightlifting program that’s just designed to build the 1RMs. Then more structural balance and gymnastics development work, then their energy system work tends to be more simplified in the off-season. So we’re working on building the system. So building the cardiac system, building the respiratory system, building the muscular system, but not practicing the sport as much. There’s a lot of people out there that say, hey, to get better at the sport, you need to practice the sport more. I do think that is true. I think you need to practice any sport to get good at it. But you know in fighting, we weren’t just going out and punching each other in the face 24/7, you need to learn the skills, you need to upgrade the body if you’re going to be able to use it as a performance machine.

Max: 00:30:24 – So the off-season’s about tuning the system in a more simplified but elegant way. So you know, a sample design for an energy system might be like, you know, like come in and do a 10-minute easy row to get warm. They do breathing mechanics, drills in, let’s say if they were rowing, it’s in a hinge pattern day. So they might be doing like unloaded barbell power snatches and power cleans, working on the respiratory cadence and pausing and different positions to ensure that they could get a full diaphragmatic breath in each one of those positions and doing positional breathing drills for 10 or 15 minutes. Then you know, some sort of a deadlift program and then an EMOM that has, you know, some sort of rotational, like a single-arm kettlebell snatch on one minute and on the other minute, row or SkiErg.

Max: 00:31:16 – Then, plus cool-down, movement/mobility, gymnastics stuff at the end. So that would typically not be what you would consider classic CrossFit, but it is what my Games athletes pretty much do in the off-season. Make sure their bodies work more efficiently, make sure their movement quality’s improving over time. I think it’s a huge mistake that CrossFitters make is they’re constantly thinking of getting back squat, front squat, deadlift, snatch, clean and jerk, and then crushing metcons and doing cyclical work all year round. And if you look at them over time, they start to get really, really stiff through just their forward plane, like their spine will stop rotating, their hip capsules work well in flexion and extension, but they don’t work well in rotation. So they spend all this time like band distracting themselves in pigeon stretches and trying to open their hips up. But some of that I think is just because, neurally they’re so, so weak in the hips from a rotation perspective and the brain sets the stretch reflex relative to how well you can control your system. So in the off-season, movement quality and the emphasis on movement quality and strength and varied patterns just goes way up with our organization relative to just what I’ve seen on blogs and typical training.

Chris: 00:32:41 – OK man. So some of the real, OG guys that I hang out with, you know, they insist that the best training for the CrossFit Games is just CrossFit all the time. Do you think the training is different for people who are going to compete in the Open versus regular CrossFitters like the people at my gym?

Max: 00:32:56 – Yeah. I do believe that training to be a Games athlete is different than a regular person. With regards to building a Games athlete, the best thing to do is CrossFit. I would say it highly depends on what the person’s background is. The people that you see now who are, you know, 28 years old, that are doing CrossFit year round, have 10-year training histories of doing bodybuilding or sport training where they were building capacities, running and doing bicep curls and lat pull-downs and bench press and back squat and deadlift. And they were doing traditional strength/conditioning programs. Or they were gymnasts or previous endurance athletes who built one system really well with traditional training models and then started getting better at the sport. So if you’re good at everything already, I would agree that you could probably do get away with doing a lot more of CrossFit to be better at the CrossFit Games.

Max: 00:33:50 – But I don’t think most people are going to be in that boat. And I think you’re gonna start to see changes in that when there’s more competition. Right now there’s probably only like, you know, a small number of people that really have the goods to be Games athletes. So you’re seeing talent as the primary dictator. Training models will be the dictator of whether or not people go when there’s 500 people who have the potential to be Games athletes, then the 5% or 10% that you can change and keep people healthy long term and ensure that statistically are most likely to not get a weakness come up, like that’s when I think coaching models will really be the differentiator. So I do think that they have an argument, I just might disagree with them in terms of how the people that are quote unquote “doing CrossFit” all the time are—what they actually did just start doing it now. Like they built huge training bases. Regular people, I think it really depends on what the goal is. I think nowadays it seems like most people’s goals, even though they say they want to do well in CrossFit are just to look good, and if just looking good is your goal, I don’t think people need to train as hard as they are to get that adaptation. I think they need to be able to stay healthy so they can train with consistency for long periods of time. They need to move well and they need to control their food.

Max: 00:35:17 – Most people at some point in their life either like get too old to be able to put power out to do intensity or their life becomes too complicated. They have too many responsibilities. It takes too long to warm up for that type of intensity. Their pain and mechanical system starts to get jacked up and if you start to do that for long periods of time, you start, you know, you start to eat into your own system, like you start to undermine your own adaptive reserve and I think that’s where things like the adrenal fatigue and 40-year-old men with low testosterone and women with thyroid issues. I think it’s kind of stemming from this cultural need to fucking go hard all the time and constantly be doing the right thing and dieting hard and intense nutrition and everyone constantly needs excitatory stimulation. I don’t think it’s the most effective way to train a general person. For an elite athlete, I think you do need to push yourself like that. But I think at some stage, especially if you’re a gym owner and you want to have longevity, the militaristic model of being like, Ooh, we’re going to fucking go hard every time you come into the gym,” will really burn people out that have a weak psyche.

Max: 00:36:29 – There’s only so many people out there that can take that. And it seems like that has become the people who are at the top of the fitness industry. It’s the, you know, the toughest warriors that are trying to tell everyone why they can’t succeed because they’re not tough enough. And I think that’s probably the biggest thing that I say I would do different with a general person than I would do with an athlete. An athlete needs to be pushed. A general person needs to be pushed only as hard as they need to get their goals, in my eyes.

Chris: 00:37:00 – Oh man. That is a huge can of worms, Max. So, you know, one of the things that I think CrossFit has kind of done is commoditized intensity, right? And as a CrossFit gym owner, I know people won’t come in if the workout looks like it’s too easy or no fun. You know, if we’re doing lunges and the clock isn’t on, they’re probably going to skip that day. How do you balance though that stuff?

Max: 00:37:25 – I’m probably not the best person to answer that because I don’t run a group-training facility. So it kind of self-selects. If you listen to people that have coached professional athletes in a bunch of sports, it just turns into work at some point. Not always, I mean like even here we have, you know, three Games athletes that train on a regular basis, a bunch that fly in, like we have a really good intense training culture and we have a lot of fun, we talk a lot of smack. We compete on a regular basis, but it’s hard and it turns into a grind. And I think that’s true even for general people. If they want goals, they need to go back and develop some base-level qualities to be able to tolerate more intense work. So I think education and education of my own demographic has had buy-in to that. As an example for my community, everyone was complaining about doing what I call movement work. And it’s not like band distraction mobility. It’s a more complex system of movement than that. And it requires a lot focus and a lot of gymnastics preparation and stretching and PNF-based protocols. And I was like, “Dude, guys, if you want to be able to snatch until you’re in your mid-thirties, you can’t allow your movement patterns to degrade from getting like hyper tense in your quads. And constantly wearing Oly shoes for all your lifting to bypass your ability to stay vertical at the bottom of a thruster.” I said, “You’ve got to improve your movement quality. You gotta do it.” And they would explain like, “This is so boring. This is so boring, this is so boring.” And then finally I was like, fuck it. I’m just going to do this myself.

Max: 00:39:13 – And over the course of like a two-year period, I developed the ability to do like a full split in both directions, still be able to snatch 300 pounds, do a back lever. And now it’s kind of turned into a quest to develop movement just for fun for myself. But that started being like, “Oh, that’s why he did all that boring shit. It’s not because he liked doing it, it’s because whatever the end goal from the boring stuff was valuable enough.” So I think a lot of times people just have to realize what the outcome of that boring work is. And I think a gym owner is the only person that can do that education for people. But I usually just tell people like, hey, this is what I think you need to do. And if you don’t like it, you just need to tell me what you can deal with or what you will enjoy doing. And slowly that helps people realize that the goals they think they had aren’t really the goals that they had. There’s a Ronnie Coleman, he’s a professional bodybuilder and like, there’s a video of him, like I think he’s back squatting or deadlifting and everyone always uses the quote like, “Everyone wants to be a bodybuilder, but no one wants to lift this heavy-ass weight.” And I think that’s true even in general population, people are like, I want to be lean. Or I don’t want my back to hurt anymore, but I’m going to complain if my workout doesn’t have power snatches, deadlifts, front squat, squat cleans, snatches or something that’s going to stress my back out in it. And I’m like, that doesn’t make any sense. No, you can’t have it both ways. So yeah, I don’t really know the answer to that, but I’m definitely not the best person to ask the question cause I’ve always had a one-on-one training relationship with my people so we can work through those issues together.

Chris: 00:40:59 – OK. So I know you do work with a lot of gym owners, and early on, the CrossFit model has always been three days on, one day off. But early on, a lot of gym owners found that they had to be open every day, right? They had to accommodate everybody’s schedule. So they started making these training changes kind of based on the demands of business and knowing that you work with a lot of gym owners now, Max, like what solutions have you heard that these guys take from your seminar, go back to their gym and use your practice in a group setting?

Max: 00:41:28 – Oh man. Yeah. So I have a bunch of people that I’ve been trying to figure out what effective training models are out there that allow people with group businesses that have changed their training models to satisfy the emotion of the group as opposed to what was required to get progress in the group. And try to figure out how to start making those changes without rattling the community that’s already built. Because I saw people were saying that this was going to be an issue in 2011, even when I went and worked with OPT was adamant that that was going to be an issue long term. And I saw what happened to people’s organizations when they tried to just say like, fuck it, we’re doing good training principles. And people hated it because that’s not what they came on board with. Some of the things that I’ve seen were really effective are like more elaborate entry-level protocols.

Max: 00:42:22 – So getting people into on-ramp systems that are more long term, more one-on-one that force people to develop base-level skills prior to getting in. Multiple-tiered systems, multi-gold systems. So there’s people that have like five or six programs that people can choose from and they come in and the class is more open format. So there’s a coach still that works there and there’s still time slots, but people come in and after going through an assessment process, it’s like, hey, you know, based on your goals, you should be following the weightlifting program, the movement program, and the cyclical energy system program. So when you come in, you do those days and I’d recommend that you come in on this day, this day, this day, this day. And then constantly having a low intensity and movement protocol on every day in the week that people can come in and do, even if they’re not doing the hard stuff.

Max: 00:43:17 – Because the problem I’ve seen is it’s hard to push yourself year around all the time, stress this, that. So if it’s just like, hey, I have a CrossFit program. It’s one time, once somebody falls out of the rhythm and stops coming, like habitually, it’s very easy for them to look at that expenses as meaningless, because they’re like, oh, I don’t go there anymore. I can’t be part of the community because I can’t do thrusters cause my knee hurts or my back hurts. So I’ve tried to figure out like, well what is the balance? Those seem to be the systems that have been most successful. It’s almost like individual model would be on one side of the continuum and then purely one group system would be on the other side. And then based on whatever community you have and based on whatever the goals of your people are, figuring out some sort of like hybrid system is like what I perceive to be the best model and it has to take the principles of training into consideration if you want people to have success in training. But that’s more of a question that every business owner needs to ask. Is the gym about results or is the gym about community? If it’s about community, then, you know, my courses probably wouldn’t help. If it’s about getting people results and figuring out how training adaptation makes people, you know, get stronger, get leaner, get more enduring, move better, how to create training protocols, then the principles basically come out into those systems that other coaches have told me about. All those things that I told you weren’t things that I came up with. They’re just things that I’ve seen the gym owners that I’ve worked with that wanted to transform their businesses over time have done with a lot of success.

Chris: 00:45:03 – Have you ever gone the other way, like taken a one-on-one client and they were just struggling to push themselves remotely and so you said, go get in a group two days a week or something like that?

Max: 00:45:13 – Oh yeah, for sure. We have a lot of people that we program for that still work a couple days a week. Either they’re on a team in CrossFit or they, you know, they wanted to be part of a community. So they’ll do all their like cyclical movements and basic strength work in their home gym and then they’ll go to a CrossFit gym two days a week. We have a ton of people that do that. And I think it’s a pretty successful model. I’ve actually seen hybrid programs, so gyms that have people that come in and three days a week they do individual training on a different side of the gym. And then on two days of the week they just do the group training and then any accessory work that would be part of their program. So that seems to be the, like, I don’t know, the middle ground or best of both worlds, but I for sure have told people before many times that one-on-one training just wasn’t for them. It takes a certain mind state to really push yourself and really try to succeed at something. And if somebody doesn’t have that, it’s like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. It just doesn’t work.

Chris: 00:46:20 – Yeah, I definitely don’t have that anymore. But what about Games athletes? Do they have to have that individual mindset?

Max: 00:46:28 – Have to I think would be a stretch. I do think that anybody that wants the highest level of anything needs to be willing to do whatever is required. Now, one-on-one training might not always be what is required. I do think people need individual aspects of their training to get to a Games level, or if not yet, they will in the future. But that might be like, OK, I’m going to take a running program from this place, a deadlift program from this place and then I’m going to mix this in and I’m going to keep competing against my community in these metcons. If they get injured, though, they need one-on-one training with regards to movement that they get from their physical therapist. So they are still individualizing, even if it is operating under the guise of being in a group, they’re still doing everything that is required for them to get better. So I think everybody that wants to be a Games athlete has to have some individualized aspect of what they’re doing. They need to be developing self-awareness, movement quality, getting better at all sorts of testers, getting better at competition and if the limiting factor in them getting better is just competing and like rest times and all that stuff within metcons, then practice in a competitive setting with a bunch of people that are trying to get better at CrossFit will get them better.

Chris: 00:47:49 – Right. So Max, you know, before I found CrossFit, I was doing one-on-one training for about 11 years and one of the things that really attracted me to group training was that if you had a personality clash with a client, their personality would kind of get assimilated into the group. But one on one, if you have a personality clash, one of you is getting fired. You ever had to fire a client?

Max: 00:48:12 – Yes, I have. Usually remotely it’s just from a compliance perspective, people aren’t reporting their results. They’re not filling their food out. I don’t think I’ve ever had anybody that has offended me. I’m pretty hard to offend just in general. I don’t care that much when people are mean.

Chris: 00:48:33 – Mean? Are they mean to you?

Max: 00:48:34 – No, no. Just in general if people were, I’ve never had somebody like hurt my feelings and be like, I can’t work with you anymore. I think that I’ve probably fired five total since I’ve started. Yeah, it’s shitty, but I only have a limited amount of time to help people and if people do value my help, I want to make sure that the people that are utilizing it, that are paying for it, and I feel guilty when I’m taking money and not giving anything for it. So I have fired people. I do agree with you that if there’s a personality clash in a group environment that, you know, can become parasitic and start to like affect your group culture. It doesn’t really seem to happen with one-on-one training as much because of that. But we definitely have been trying to figure out a system in terms of how do we deal with or fire noncompliant people. But it’s tough. It’s just a really tough thing. It’s a business, like your reputation, if you fire people that are like paying you and saying they’re happy with the service, even though they’re not using the service, it’s a very weird thing, but I have done it. I just hate doing it.

Chris: 00:49:43 – Yeah. I don’t think any of us enjoy it. You know, what point would they have to reach with compliance? We talked about doing the boring stuff. If they were ignoring all of that stuff, I mean, would you say to them you’re not gonna get optimal results here?

Max: 00:49:57 – Oh yeah, sure. We have those conversations all the time. Yeah. Those types of things happen all the time. And generally the people who are noncompliant, I think my best athletes in the world with regards to compliance are still probably only 90% compliant. I mean, you’re dealing with people and we’re a very complex species that doesn’t make sense and doesn’t make rational choices and operates on emotion. And we have chaotic lives and schedules and other relationships that we’re balancing. So I think the best we get is probably 90% compliance or 95% compliance. So when people are like in the 50, 60 range, we’re like, hey, this is the priority of your design. You can’t skip that anymore. And we’ll just remind them over and over and over again. Or like go back and use principles of like changing habit and be like, OK, fine. If you’re not going to do this every day, how about we pick one day of the week that you’re willing to do this and I’ll put it in just on that one day. And then if you can do that successfully for a month, we’ll build in and put it in a second day. But it’s just kind of like a process that evolves independently with each coach, each athlete.

Chris: 00:51:06 – Yeah. I really love, you said a couple of times like you need to give people wins and you need to build habits. I’m a huge fan of that stuff and we like to teach it with business. Can you give us a scenario when an athlete was feeling kind of down and maybe you program something that you knew they could win just to kind of get them back on track again?

Max: 00:51:25 – I think I might be able to do one better in terms of something that I totally disagreed with that I allowed one of my athletes to do. So my most notable athlete is Travis Mayer, he’s been my athlete for five years. He’s been to the Games three times now. You know, Noah’s on board, but he’s only been on board with me for eight months. And even though we had a lot of success in that eight months, I still consider the investment that I put into Travis and his longevity and his ability to stay healthy and get better with maybe suboptimal genetic profile and size profile at the Games to be more of a coaching achievement. He was starting to get really burned out this year. There was a lot more pressure on his contracts. He was having a hard time—snatch is one of his biggest weaknesses and we’ve sent him to, you know, weightlifting coaches and this and that. And like nothing seemed to be clicking and he was starting to lose confidence and we had a great Regional—bad first day, but he made it back to the Games. We sit down, we got a plan in place. He got kinda sick for two weeks, came in and he was just really burnt out. And I think some of it was just being, you know, under the pressure of having a coach in person pushing you all the time and telling you like, OK, that was good, but this is what you need to work on. OK. That was—and never getting the approval. And you know, like the positive reinforcement that he thought he needed to be confident. And I told him to take over his design leading into the Games. It was obvious that that’s a huge career risk on my part because he’s my most notable athlete. He’s all over my media. He’s everywhere. I knew he probably didn’t have the intellectual resources to be able to design things optimally. I told him I’d look over everything every day, but I needed accountability buy-in and him to be doing something that he loved to find it again. He took 10th at the Games this year in spite of, he was like so weak by the time he got to the Games, like all he did was metcons all the time and he had tendinitis in both knees and his elbows were killing him and that was a horrible thing to watch. Like this athlete that you’ve helped get better for four and a half years and have tried to measure every contraction and everything that went in to make sure that everything was optimal and realize that his emotional state was the most important thing and that I couldn’t do anything.

Max: 00:53:48 – I couldn’t control anything with regards to that and letting him take control. Then after the Games he said that was the biggest mistake of his life and he’ll never do that again. But I think that is the coaching process. It is taking into consideration that we’re not science experiments, we’re fucking humans, and that I think can only be modeled on a one-on-one N=1 study basis. Like I got to be working with a person and dealing with that person’s issues. So I do give people a bunch of leeway and I’m not one of those people that’s like, this is my way or get the fuck out. I don’t think that’s a successful long-term viable business strategy. But I do think that there are lines I’ll draw. I’ll be like, look, I don’t agree with this and I think this will make you unhealthy and I can’t get behind it as a coach. So if you want to do that, I’m cool with it, but I won’t be your coach while you do that. And I’ve had to have those conversations before and make people make a decision. But I usually only do that if I think it’s going to cause harm to the athlete.

Chris: 00:54:49 – Wow. OK. So in your gym, you know, back to the N=1, everybody has their own distinct program and they’re coming in, maybe training at the same time or are they all kind of on the same template? How does that work?

Max: 00:55:02 – Yeah, so everybody’s on their own design and then three weeks out from the Open, everybody who’s competing in the Open, I wrote Open-style testers for Friday and Saturday. They would do all of their workouts together on that day and then they’d have their own accessory work or shared accessory work. Then Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, they do all their training for their priorities and what they had to work on. So it becomes kind of a hybrid model when we’re going into the Open. And then anybody who doesn’t qualify for Regionals that’s in that group will go back to their own design and anybody that qualifies for Regionals will stay on that design through Regionals. And then Games prep is much more competing metcons together. All of the individual aspects of training become movement accessory work that allows them to stay healthy to tolerate the stress and the contraction volume. But the program start to get really, really, really similar when you start to actually prepare for the Games because they need to be preparing for the same thing, the same type of chaos,

Chris: 00:56:08 – Same type of chaos. That’s right. So I mean, this is purely hypothetical, but is there any argument to be made for running your template like that year round? If I’m a CrossFit gym, maybe Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, everybody’s working on their individual program design. Thursday, Friday, Saturday, we’re doing group training.

Max: 00:56:25 – Yeah, man. I mean I love that model. I think it really depends on how the business was established to begin with because people hate change. And so a lot of the problems I had when I was doing—not the problems I had, but the problems that I was helping coaches work through when I was consulting more with actual gym owners was how do I go and tell this group of people that I’ve been coaching for three years that did find success. I mean, they were, you know, really out of shape, really overweight, hadn’t done anything physically, got on my program, got better, loved it. But now there’s more burnout rates. There’s more attrition. People are wanting to leave. And how do I go and tell them that everything that they love about my community might be the thing now that they need to take away slowly and put in other things and other strategies to get better? Or, the people that are in, you know, the glory phase where it’s still good, where everything’s firing on all cylinders and they love it, how do I tell them that I’m going to change their shit for no reason?

Max: 00:57:25 – That was a really difficult thing to do. So, I think if you have a really, really long established gym that’s continued to grow and continued to thrive in a certain system, it doesn’t really make sense to make that much change. If you have, you know, a system that is starting to show signs of weakness and breaking, then a system like that would be fucking awesome to try to do a hybrid-style system and to start incorporating, you know, some one-on-one work. I know Travis, my gym, 2,500 square feet is actually in CrossFit Passion and they have their own 7,000 feet and then we have all of our offices back here. So I’ve been working with him on that same type of thing. Like how do you offer movement programs for people that have joint pain that want to be doing the classes but can’t, and how do I offer like a lower-intensity day type environment for people that still want to come to the gym and still want the environment but they can’t handle five days a week of it. And we’re trying to figure out what the optimal system is for his culture. And what I’ve been realizing over time is that it needs to be culture dependent. The principles can always operate, but it depends on like who your demographic is. Like how long you’ve been building it, how much they trust you and like what they’re there for.

Chris: 00:58:48 – OK. I’ll send you what we’re doing. We’re getting a lot of gyms now who basically have a one-on-one consultation and then they’ll make a prescription for the client that might include, you know, different degrees of one-on-one training and different degrees of group training and different degrees of nutrition. But I really like kind of the idea as you said it, I saw lights go off where people can do one-on-one and individual work for part of the week and then you focus on the group the rest of the week. Excellent. Cool. OK man. So, like if somebody is coming to your clinic, Max, and they come back and they’re fired up and they want to do a lot of one-on-one stuff, individual program design, they’re going to a gym that’s really only ever offered group classes. Where do they start?

Max: 00:59:32 – I’m sorry, I don’t know if I understood the question. So they want to work with us remotely, but they work out of a gym that only offers classes?

Chris: 00:59:41 – Yeah, let’s go that way first. Let’s go that way first.

Max: 00:59:44 – Yeah, I mean, I think that’s usually an easy thing to bypass because there’s commercial gyms now everywhere that have barbell spaces and pull-up bars and set-ups that people can just get a normal membership in. Generally if a gym owner believes that you’re undermining their authority by outsourcing programming, they won’t allow people to do that. So if you’re at one of those gyms, you might have to just be willing to find another community because there’s a lot of gyms now that realize that they need to have open gym offerings. And I know a lot of places offer you to come in and do your own thing, especially with competitive people because they know that the competitors can’t really train the same way as the one-hour class. So I think if you want that, you just gotta make sure you do your due diligence. There’s gyms everywhere. You can set up a garage gym and finance it. And usually over the course of a long period of time that does pay off for people, not just financially, but just emotionally, the process of actually doing whatever it was that you wanted and making sure you’re getting an effective system for yourself. So people figure it out. I don’t know how they figure it out, but at the speed that our business is growing they gotta be figuring it out cause they’re all over the place now.

Chris: 01:01:02 – OK. So let’s say that you’re a coach and I come to one of your seminars and I’m really fired up to train individual athletes now. I go back to my gym and they don’t have a tradition of one-on-one training at all. You know, where do I start? What do I say to the owner to get going?

Max: 01:01:18 – Yeah. I mean, well, I’m definitely not a salesperson, but that was exactly what I designed my courses for. So there’s a lot of people that have never written programs before. Even well-established coaches that will pull cycles off the Internet. They’ll pull hatch cycles or they’ll pull, you know, a squat cycle or they’ll take somebody’s program off of a blog and then change it to fit their design and they have no idea why they’re using whatever they’re using in there, what the principles are that make a hatch cycle so successful or what prilepins table even is or what it means. So our course was originally designed for that to give people A, the basic level exercise physiology they needed to understand adaptation, then how do you assess people, then how do you program both strength and energy system training? And then finally with the movement course, which I think is the most important for general people, but that’s methods of movement, what movement is, how to create movement change, what tension is, what pain is, how to do respiratory training and what it actually does to the nervous system, what does this stretch reflect and why does it get engaged so that people get more restrictive over time. How to assess movement on a broader basis. So those kind of five courses, I think—I’ve taken so much educational stuff over the course of my life and I don’t think I would be saying it if I didn’t believe it, but I think that would probably be the best bang for your buck education if you wanted to go from like I’ve never written programs to writing programs. I don’t think there’s anything out there that can beat that. If there is, I would love anybody to email me and let me take it so that I can upgrade my own shit.

Chris: 01:03:10 – OK. So guys, we will have a special link to Max for Two-Brain clients after this. But Max, if you could walk into a TV station somewhere as the CrossFit Games is playing and you could broadcast one message to all CrossFit gyms, what would you say?

Max: 01:03:26 – So I’m watching the Games on TV and walk into a gym?

Chris: 01:03:31 – Every CrossFitter is going to see this message from you. What do you tell them?

Max: 01:03:35 – And it’s fitness related?

Chris: 01:03:36 – Anything.

Max: 01:03:38 – Oh man. Find the joy of life. I do think that physical fitness is a catalyst to being able to enjoy life. I tell everyone like, you know, if you’re able to put yourself through more metabolic pain in the gym, then the pleasure response from sex or food feels better. I think if you can, you know, you have a strong heart, you can climb a mountain and see better sights. If you have a good respiratory system, you could play with your kids for longer. I do think that fitness is a catalyst for making people’s lives better, but that might just be my passion, and as a physical human being, it might just be something I’ve become obsessed with in understanding the human body. But I think I’ve seen too many people that are willing to live unhappy lives and make excuses that I would try to make a statement that actually had nothing to do with fitness and tell people to, you know, to really go on the quest to figure out what makes their life meaningful and purposeful and fucking do that and double down on it and make it the primary focus of every single day of your life is to find that. I spent way too much of my life being unhappy and miserable and scared about the future and not being good enough. And I think understanding the value of what joy as an emotion is now, it would be the thing that I would tell people to focus most of their time on.

Chris: 01:05:00 – That is amazing. We are never going to top that, Max, so I’m gonna leave it right there, man. Thank you so much. Where can people get in touch with you?

Max: 01:05:09 – The website trainingthinktank.com has like all the info of the courses and all that stuff. Info@trainingthinktank.com, sources like all the questions or anything that anybody has. My email’s max@trainingthinktank.com. We actually just launched a YouTube page. We’re going to try to put out a piece of content that’s, I mean, the first one was 25 minutes. I think probably it’ll be anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes and try to do a new one every single week, which I’m pretty excited about. And then I think just like the normal Facebook, Instagram profiles, I think that’s pretty much where we are on the Internet.

Chris: 01:05:45 – Fantastic, Max. Thanks again and we’ll see you soon.

Max: 01:05:49 – Cool, man. Thanks a lot.