Why you should keep your workouts simple and a circus-inspired core workout

Hey there,

In my experience, most people overcomplicate fitness.

They’re always looking for something new and different, seeking out the next fitness fad that will finally get them into shape.

This usually results in a yo-yo exercise habit full of stops and starts. Unsurprisingly, this approach to exercise usually isn’t sustainable in the long run.

Working out doesn’t have to be so complicated. Stick to some variation of the basics:

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Push-ups
  • Pull-ups
  • Sprints/intervals
  • Flexibility/mobility
  • Walking

And you’ll be good.

Remember that ultimately, the best form of fitness is the one that you’ll do — not just today, but day after day, and year after year.

And if you do want some more variety, think about adding a new skill or sport to your athletic arsenal to keep things fun and interesting!

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On choosing to pursue your potential and how to get better at double unders

Hey there,

Ever since I was young, I’ve been obsessed with the idea of human potential.

As a kid, this meant I was always encouraging others to aim higher and pursue their dreams. As an adult, this has led me to pursue many of my own highest goals, including things like learning to handstand, write books, step into boxing ring, and most recently, learn jiu-jitsu.

If, like me, you’re also on a growth journey, I’d love for you to join the new course I’m helping to run, Transcend!.

Transcend! is an eight-week course helping you to live a more creative, meaningful, and fulfilling life based on the science of human potential. The brainchild of Columbia University psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman, Transcend! Is grounded in the core principles of humanistic and positive psychology to help you build a life of meaning and purpose. I’m honored to be a part of the course as a head performance coach.

The course starts on July 3rd and runs for eight weeks. There will be LIVE weekly coaching sessions with me and our other head coach, over a dozen hours of on demand content, hundreds of awesome resources to help you on your growth journey, a really cool community, and so much more.

It’s a really special course and I’m so excited to be a part of it!

As Abraham Maslow said, “One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.”

If you’re interested in pursuing growth and your own potential, I encourage you to join us!

Find out more about the course and sign up here.

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Why believing in yourself matters and how to build up strength for push-ups

Hey there,

Before embarking on any new fitness journey, one thing is non-negotiable: you must believe your efforts will pay off.

This is true whether you want to be able to do a cool new skill like a handstand, build a consistent workout habit, or compete in an obstacle race.

The belief that your hard work and effort can make a difference is the hallmark of what psychologists call a growth mindset. The opposite, a fixed mindset, means you typically believe your abilities are set in stone, and there’s not much you can do to change them.

Why does believing in yourself matter so much?

For one main reason: if you start out believing that you can get stronger, faster, and more athletic, you’re much more likely to put in the time and work needed to actually make that happen. On the other hand, if you start out believing that talent is innate and there’s no point in even trying, you won’t put in the work, and you won’t make much progress.

Henry Ford had it when he said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right.”

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How to stay motivated to exercise and beginner handstand tips

Hey there,

People ask me all the time how I stay motivated to exercise.

I work out nearly every day, sometimes twice a day, most days of the week.

But the truth is, these days, motivation doesn’t play much of a role in whether I work out or not. I don’t wake up in the morning and decide whether or not I’m going to work out that day — I just know I’m going to. Exercise has become such a deeply ingrained part of my identity that motivation is no longer required.

I wasn’t always this way. It took time and experimenting to create an exercise habit that worked for my lifestyle. But I now look forward to my workouts more than just about any other part of my day.

My workouts are my time to get away from all the other stressors in my life and focus on values that are important to me, like the pursuit of self-mastery, lifelong learning, and health.

They’re key to my mental health and performance as well (as anyone who knows me has encountered, I get grumpy if I don’t get enough exercise).

Maybe more than anything, my workouts have become my time to play and learn. Yes, I still do my push-ups, pull-ups, and squats, but I also train handstands, kickboxing, and jiu-jitsu. I skateboard and shoot baskets. Movement has become a fun, joyful part of my life.

If you haven’t found your thing when it comes to exercise yet, keep experimenting!

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Letting go of limiting stories and a jump rope + resistance band circuit

Hey there,

We all have stories about ourselves that limit our growth.

Growing up, my story was that I was weak, cowardly, un-athletic, and that it was too late for me to change.

I held onto this story for a long time until I couldn’t anymore. I started to realize how much it was holding me back — and that the only way to grow into the person I wanted to be was to let go of it.

I started with baby steps, first taking small risks, then eventually, bigger ones. I began leaning into challenges instead of running away from them. Slowly, I let go of my story to create a new one.

We can all let go of our limiting stories and choose the growth option. All it takes is a little courage, belief in ourselves, and most importantly, a willingness to try.

Keep going.

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On starting where you are and a medicine ball core circuit

Hey there,

When you start something new, it can be tempting to try and rush through the beginning or intermediate steps and try to get right to the cool and sexy stuff.

I did this when I first started boxing. I barely knew how to throw a basic jab — let alone defend one — when I convinced my coach to let me start sparring, the boxing term for practice fighting.

When sparring, you’re supposed to practice all the skills you’ve been working on while training. But because I didn’t know much yet, I’d often leave sparring sessions feeling frustrated and defeated. I compared myself to others who had been training for years or a decade more than me and thought that maybe I just didn’t have what it took to be a skilled boxer.

Looking back, I realize that I wasn’t willing to start where I was. By pretending I wasn’t a beginner, I skipped crucial foundational steps. Doing so held me back and slowed my progress.

Whatever your goal or pursuit, there’s no point in pretending you’re further along than you are. By being honest with yourself and accepting where you’re at, rather than fighting it, you can then figure out the necessary steps to get where you want to be.

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The secret to improving at anything and an equipment-free circuit workout

Hey there,

Recently, someone came up to me at the gym and asked me how I got so good at jump roping.

I responded with a simple answer: I practiced a lot. For a really long time. And I didn’t give up.

And it really is as simple as that.

No matter what you want to get better at in life, the key to all improvement is long-term, focused practice.

This same lesson applies whether you have a fitness-related goal like jump roping, pull-ups, or sprinting, or a non-fitness-related goal like writing, public speaking, or becoming a less reactive person.

Practicing — really practicing — doesn’t mean putting in just a couple of mindless practice sessions here and there.

Showing up and putting in your reps is an important first step. But eventually, you’ll want to be more intentional about your practice.

This means diving into focused, deliberate work with the specific goal of improving performance. And doing this day after day for the long haul.

When I picked up a jump rope for the first time since elementary school, I wasn’t naturally gifted at it. I tripped a lot, got rope burns, and some days could barely jump at all.

But I kept at it, and eventually, it became something I’ve become pretty good at.

No matter where you’re at in your journey, keep going.

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Aiming for mastery and a park-friendly workout for warmer weather

Hey there,

When most of us think of masters, we think of athletes like Michael Jordan and Laird Hamilton, thinkers like Einstein and Bill Gates. We think of black belts, Grandmasters, and other superstars who have risen to the top of their craft.

But mostly, we think of these people as others — as in, people not like us. People blessed with talent and drive to become masters in their craft and fulfill their potential.

This is the same response I had when I was first training at circus school. I was mesmerized by the talent of those around me. What I didn’t take into account was just how long they had been working to get to the level where they were at — and the likelihood that if I worked as hard as they did for as long as they did, I could get there, too.

Mastery depends less on initial talent than the willingness to pick a path and stay on it.

As George Leonard writes in The Way of Aikido: Life Lessons from an American Sensei:

“What we call “mastery” can be defined as that mysterious process through which what is at first difficult or even impossible becomes easy and pleasurable through diligent, patient, long-term practice.”

Go here to read my article on Medium about my path to handstand mastery and how to work toward mastery in your life.

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Changing your limiting story and three basic handstand drills

Hey there,

The stories we tell ourselves about who we are often limit us.

For example, my story used to be that I was shy, weak (physically and mentally), and unable to deal with failure.

Your story might be that you’re not the type of person that could be fit. Or that you could never move away from your hometown, change careers, or take risks.

These stories can come from anywhere. They can stem from a single comment from a bully in third grade. They also come from our families, the town and country that we grew up in, and society as a whole.

These stories inevitably shape who we become. But we can change these stories to become the person we really want to be.

The first step to changing your story is to take action, no matter how small.

Act as if you are already the type of person you want to be.

For example, if you want to become strong, do the things that strong people do.

This might mean you start day one doing a single push-up against your countertop because that’s what you can do right now.

It might not seem like much, but do this consistently, and you’ll get stronger. Over time, as you continue to challenge yourself, you’ll have changed your identity from someone who can’t be strong to someone who is strong.

But you have to start with that first step.

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