When I was in 7th grade, my buddy Mike and I would grab a pack of Corn Nuts from the lunch counter concession stand at Brentwood Middle School in my home town of Greeley, CO and head right to the gym where we had permission to use a weight set the gym coach set up in the corner.
Most days, we would grab the barbell, throw a 45 on each side and bench press until we got bored. We were both strong for our age, Mike growing up on a farm and doing hard manual labor while most kids were watching Saturday morning cartoons and wolfing down Capn Crunch by the bucket full. I was just lucky and had some decent genes. Thanks Mom and Dad.
We didn’t know much about lifting, about overtraining, about leg days. We certainly did not know how or what to eat. We were kids, blessed with ignorance and the unyielding belief that we knew it all because we could put up over 200lbs on a bench.
We eventually left that middle school gym for greener pastures. Highschool brought a whole new athletic playground from which to learn bad gym habits. Our coaches meant well, but like my middle school self, they simply did not have the knowledge base from which to help us younglings grow into the strong young men we pictured ourselves as while flexing in the locker room mirrors. The Bigger, Faster, Stronger workout was taped to the wall in our high school weight room and many of the older kids swore by it. I gave it the old college try (while in high school, I might have been a little ahead of my time) and was not impressed. Naturally, the excessive use of squats was a big turn off for me. And so, while most kids followed the program, participating in lower body exercises, I knowingly focused all on upper body and let my genes and adolescent metabolic rate do all the real heavy lifting. While BFS was a great program at the time, our understanding of strength and conditioning has evolved light years beyond 1976 when that program was first introduced.
Since then, not a single moment has gone by where we haven’t developed some new and often crazy way to get in shape. And while I haven’t tried them all, I have sampled enough of them to know that they all fall short of where the science says they should be. Prancercizing being the one notable exception.
It seems that modern physical fitness has driven people into a handful of camps where participants are deeply, if not fanatically passionate about their choice of physical activity. Peloton, Orange Theory, F45 all have massive followings, yet pale in comparison to the fanaticism of the CrossFit community. Having done a class or two in my time, I can say that it doesn’t float my boat. Maybe it’s because every day is a leg day, or maybe because the fundamental problems of CrossFit are the same thing that I experienced way back in my early years of lifting. What CrossFit does have going for itself is the strongest community I have ever seen. Stop me if you’ve heard this one but how do you know someone does CrossFit? Oh, you have heard this one. Since it’s my joke, I’m giving the punchline anyway. Because they will tell you. I was on a trip to Peru a couple years ago and the first night briefing began. I sat down next to this woman who managed to slide into the conversation that she had just come from the local Cusco CrossFit within 30 seconds. Amway reps aren’t that good. For 5 days she managed to bring up CrossFit at every possible opportunity. Here’s the rub. I was annoyed beyond all belief but simultaneously inspired. What were they spiking the pre-workouts with to create such zealots? I’ve asked myself that time and time again, even more after we had the chance to interview Dave Castro during the Glassman scandal.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter. Whether you believe in CrossFit, P90X, Sweatin to the Oldies with Richard Simmons or you’re a real baller and go straight to Prancercizing, working out is working out. And in a world plagued by obesity and metabolic disorders, anything that gets people off the couch and moving is a good thing.
Now, all that being said, I like to solve problems. And the fitness industry is a problem worth solving. Evolutionary Biology dictates that we are designed to move a certain way. Certain movements in the gym are great for supporting our evolutionary biology. Squat, deadlift, shoulder press are all examples of movements that we would do as cavemen (or women) in the wild. Snatches and kipping pull-ups are not. Sorry Crossfit, you brought that one on yourself. A kipping pull-up is about as effective as me in a laundry room, and in my not so humble opinion, looks ridiculous. Perhaps that’s why the injury rate is so high in CF. Beyond the evolutionary biology of strength-based movements, we are also designed to utilize both hemispheres of our brain in the process of movement. The redundancy of certain movements begins to limit that brain utilization. I call this cross body functional training, or contra lateral for you beautiful science geeks out there. Back in high school, all those eons ago, we would do ladder drills. I do declare that these came rather easy for me. However, I tried them again recently and felt about as coordinated as a pig on roller skates.
You see Boys and Girls, as we really looked hard at modern fitness and health and wellness, we realized that there were a lot of gaps. That is were Complete Human Sport comes. It is our solution to the problem worth solving. It’s the next generation of health and wellness.
So what’s involved? I’m glad you asked.
How did breathing become a lost art? The autonomic nervous system exists so that you don’t have to think about filling your lungs with life giving oxygen, but yet we have forgotten how to breathe. There is an art form to it and reclaiming that lost skill set has been shown to have massive physiological improvements in our health and wellness. Complete Human Sport incorporates activity specific breathwork into every session. Since doing Complete Human Sport, I have noticed that my HRV has gone up, resting heart has gone done and my respiratory rate has improved. By re-learning how to breath, I’m improving lung function and cardiovascular health. I heard on the news recently there is this virus out there that attacks the lungs, might be time to work on that lung health.
I’m going to preface this section by explaining that I don’t have any mobility. None. Zip. Zero. Bending over to touch my toes produces a sound equivalent to stepping on a dried tree branch. The mobility Sit Stand test that determines longevity; can’t do it. Which is one of the reasons I developed Complete Human Sport. We all need better mobility. I met this guy at a gym once who was 92. He was there in every day working out, mingling with people, having a blast. He looked great and there is no way anyone would have ever guessed his age. So many times, I would see him on the floor stretching. This dude could full on do the splits. Do not even try to tell me that mobility isn’t a morbidity factor. Longevity is directly tied to muscle mass and mobility, all things that have the tendency to go away as we age. The reason for that, at least in my humble opinion is pure laziness. We stop doing the things that keep us strong and mobile. I’m as guilty as anyone. I hope to go back to that gym in 10 years, see that old dude and challenge him to a mobility contest. He’ll win no doubt but I can’t wait.
Contra Lateral Movement
A contralateral exercise is any exercise where the resistance comes from the opposite side of the working limb. We are built to move this way. Think about it, you don’t walk with your right leg and right arm moving at the same time. Complete Human Sport uses unique contra lateral exercises to improve overall strength, balance, and more fluid moving musculoskeletal system. Contralateral exercise increases core activation and aids in core strengthening in functional patterns. This isn’t 6 pack work but real core strengthening that you need for a long and healthy life. One of the best parts, contralateral exercises have a higher demand on the nervous system. This means than can be performed with less weight saving joints from unnecessary strain.
Imagine that you and your family of cave men are squatting around a campfire enjoying a dinner of roots, bird eggs and maybe some wooly mammoth (do you think it tastes like chicken). The forest gets eerily quiet and the big hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Something is coming. Then it happens. Out of nowhere the saber tooth kitty descends on the pack. All that stands between you enjoying a peaceful night’s sleep and becoming kitty’s dinner is your agility and parkour skills. You scoop up your kids and run for the hills, jumping boulders, sliding under fallen logs and shimming up and over trees. This is how we were built to move. Sitting on a stationary bike or walking around the block listening to The Complete Human Podcast was never part of our evolutionary biology. Of course, you should still listen to the podcast and walking is never bad unless it’s the only source of movement you are getting. We developed our program to incorporate movement that keeps us agile, nimble and ready to take on the Sabretooth Tiger or the fiercest house cat.
Complete Human Sport in all its glory, is not original. It is a compilation, a mixed tape of greatest hits from all the people Janna and I have had the pleasure of interviewing in the past. We stand on the shoulders of giants to bring forth a new training modality that we hope will inspire healthier people for a healthier planet. Wim Hof, Gabby Reece and Laird Hamilton are some of those giants. They have taught us all the value of active recovery, of using heat and ice to make us resilient. This isn’t biohacking (and when has hacking ever been a good thing). This is Bio Optimization. And for that we go old school. Sauna and ice baths. I recently wrote an article on the differences between cryo pods and getting the ice bath. It’s totally worth checking out if I do say so myself.
The origins of Complete Human Sport are steeped in man’s evolutionary biology. However much we think we evolved, modern human is not that much different from our ancient ancestors, and when we ignore those deep roots by participating in activities that move us in ways we were not evolved to do (yes I’m talking to you Mr. Snatch), we run the risk of catastrophic injury. Where evolution has separated us from our loin clothed ancestors is in the realm of technology. Complete Human Sport uses many of the advanced technology options available to us to enhance health and longevity. PEMF, Powerplate, MitoRed are just a few. These advancements exponentially increase the value of evolutionary movement.
So, what is Complete Human Sport? Is it as innovative as prancercizing or pole dancing aerobics? Not remotely. Will it have you setting new PR’s in the snatch? Hell no and we are proud of that. Complete Human Sport seeks to harmonize body, mind, soul and planet in a way that puts health and wellness above ego and aesthetics. It is the recognition that we pay for our health now or pay for our disease later. It is a community of like-minded people who share in the belief that healthier people will equal a healthier planet and that it is our job to pave a better way forward. Most of all, it is my lifelong quest to build a better mousetrap, to take the hard diligent and passionate work of those that came before me and improve upon their work so that we as a species can begin to push towards the light of true health and wellness. Complete Human Sport is a movement, and like all movements, it has humble origins. And like all great movements, it is growing. Come be a part of the movement.