My 1-2-3 Moment: Mike Bequette

My wife and I met while both serving in the US Navy. During that time, we deployed three times over the course of 3 years. Each deployment lasted six to seven months with a six-month home return before another began. As one can imagine, this cycle of home and away was strenuous but an opportunity that wouldn’t be traded for the world. The rigors of military life can rear its ugly head especially when faced with hazardous, and sometimes, hostile situations. No one can truly prepare you for what you are about to experience, see, or feel. And often, for many of those servicemen and women, you don’t realize the toll deployments take on your mind and body as it becomes “normal” to feel and do certain things you hadn’t before. That became not only normal for me but my wife as well.

After returning home from our last deployment, my wife was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, anxiety and depression, and experienced a leg injury that resulted in her walking with a cane at 23. Her chronic pain syndrome caused her body to overly react to stimulation by sending amplified pain signals throughout her body putting her entire system in “fight mode”. Every muscle, tendon, ligament in her body was under constant hold and tension. Countless doctors’ appointments of scans and testing came back inconclusive and the best course of action was decided on intense physical therapy. This would lead to my first experience with something like RPR.

During her treatment, I tried not to pry too much into her appointments. One day, she came home beaming and began to share an experience she had. Her therapist utilized a modality where he would place pressure on her third rib while asking her to rotate her arm at her shoulder. After doing this modality a few times, her adductors in the corresponding leg would release pressure and return to its at rest state. It sounded too good to be true until I attended the next handful of appointments with her and saw it for myself. Similar techniques would be performed over different parts of her body and her body would “relax” enough that she was able to do activities and exercises she was unable to perform just moments before.

Fast forward through her treatments and what lead me to RPR. After her 3rd surgery two years ago, we were exploring through YouTube when one of Cal Dietz videos came up about RPR. Watching his videos was nothing new for me. As a new strength and conditioning coach, I often watched his videos to learn about new methods and periodization but had never seen this. It was a video of someone with “weak” hamstrings. He tested their legs first, performed an RPR technique, (ed: this was a few years ago before we realized that you could teach someone to do the drills on themselves) and suddenly their hamstrings were more reactive and stronger. We both looked at each other in disbelief and quickly tested each other. Sure enough it worked and we were reminded of seeing something like this before. I wanted to know more and began researching more about RPR and it led me to me to its classes.

In the Level One course, I learned how to implement RPR in a group setting with my athletes. As a “see it to believe it” type of guy I not only wanted to know how it worked but needed to see it in practice beyond my limited knowledge. Our instructor walked us through every question, concern, example, we had and showed us how to implement it. For me, the Level One course reassured me of the work and results I had seen with my wife through her treatments but the real kicker- the “aha” moment for me- was what happened in Level Two Course. For me, it was unbelievable and life-changing.

The Level Two course teaches you how to narrow down specific areas to each individual needs. Our class took some time to find out where each person’s “spot” was and learnt the why. One of mine, because of my constant gum chewing, was my jaw. Every person was able to use an RPR method to reset and correct their spot and it was great to see the joy and relief we all found. I must credit our instructor, Jeff, who enabled and emboldened us through his passion for helping others. He never forced anyone to do anything they weren’t comfortable with. I say that because I wasn’t comfortable performing a specific test around others and Jeff stayed after to work with me some more.

I mentioned at the beginning the rigors of serving our country. Like my wife, I experienced my own troubles after deployment but often suppressed mine. I’ve dealt with anxiety, constantly feeling on guard with my head on a swivel, and my biggest trouble was being able to sleep through the night because of it. When I say sleep through the night, I don’t mean the occasional bouts of restless nights or being about to sleep at least six hours. For at least four years, I was only getting two or three hours of sleep at most a night and unable to go back to bed once I awoke. I tried everything I could to remedy this on my own from changing my diet and workouts, to therapy and sleeping pills, and even alcohol. It became normal for me to have a bottle of wine a night just to get to bed. I would always be too hot, would wake up in a sweat and not be able to fall back asleep. I was willing to try anything for a full night of undisturbed sleep.

I expressed this to Jeff and asked if there was anything he would recommend. After the course was over and the other attendees departed, we began working together to get me to “relax”. After we performed the RPR I had an indescribable feeling. My body felt strange and different- not what I would call “normal”. Everything from my vision to my breathing felt and was different than before. Even as I walked around, I noticed a change. I had been sweating all day and suddenly was cold. I couldn’t express the way I was feeling and even now I would say it was a sort of out of body feeling. Jeff and I exchanged contact information and he told me to let him know how I felt the next day.

When I got back to my hotel room, I FaceTimed my wife to tell her about my experience. I still couldn’t put into words what I felt or was feeling but as we talked, I started to feel tired. My wife is usually the early bird in bed by 9 pm and I never could sleep that early so I would stay up until I got tired around 1 to 2 am and be up again at 4 or 5 am. That night, I fell asleep on the phone with her at 8 pm and I slept for 11 straight, undisturbed hours. My only reason for wakening was the sound of laughter in the hotel hallway. But I wasn’t even mad. I felt more rested than I could remember in a long time.

That night’s rest seemed too good to be true so I began to “test” this reset. I would try sleeping without performing RPR on occasion to make sure it wasn’t something else. Each of the nights I didn’t do RPR before bed I wouldn’t be able to sleep a whole night and was back to sleeping my usual two to three hours. Yet, when I did RPR I would sleep through the night. Now, every night I do RPR before bed and my sleep has vastly improved.

Knowing and seeing the improved quality of life for myself has made me a firm believer in the benefits of RPR. My wife uses it as well and has found her Fibromyalgia pains to have lessened. The benefits it has given us has made me a huge advocate of its use. As a strength coach, I strive to make my athletes better not just physically but mentally as well. I’ve used it on my NFL, CFL, and NCAA athletes and they have shared the same experience as me. They have seen positive improvements in their training, performance, and recovery. Now I’m not saying it’s a cure all, but RPR is certainly a great tool for everyday use and for athlete performance. I can honestly say that it has changed mine and my athlete’s quality of life and I’m thankful for Jeff and the rest of the staff for sharing their knowledge with me.


Mike Bequette B.S. CSCS, RPR Level II

Advice to a New Specialist

This is a contribution from Sam Brown of Sam Brown Strength in Rhode Island. Sam’s got a really special background combining strength with a background as a mental health clinician. He’s a great follow on Instagram.

Advice to a New RPR Specialist

JL and Sam at Holy Cross

JL and Sam at Holy Cross

Neal Dakmak giving Breaux a little RPR intro. Sam’s not the only one!

Neal Dakmak giving Breaux a little RPR intro. Sam’s not the only one!

With the recent introduction of the RPR level one online course, I have seen quite a rise in the amount of coaches and athletes who understand just how game changing the RPR Wake-Up Drills are for performance.  It is beyond exciting to see the new faces in the RPR community each week and the cool new places utilizing RPR to boost performance.

That being said, if you have recently completed a Level 1 clinic you usually find yourself in one of two camps. The first one is the “Holy-Cow-I-am-showing-this-to-everyone-I-know” camp. I was and am still firmly planted here. I have successfully shown every family member, athlete, client, friend, and pet I know the wake up drills and the amazing power one can obtain when breathing correctly. I could not get enough of teaching people what I learned and educating them in how simply they can gain control of their stress and better control their performance. See? I am doing it now too...

The other camp is the “I-know-what-learned-was-amazing-but-how-do-I-teach-this-and-not-look-dumb-or-mess-up” camp.  I totally understand that feeling. Learning RPR was both life changing and intimidating. It is how you decide to act in that moment that will truly decide what you get out of that personal investment.

In order to help the newcomers to the RPR system, I have come up with a few tips and strategies that you can utilize to help implement RPR into your program, your facility, your team, or your clients.  

Tip 1: Practice Practice Practice (on yourself and with others)

Just like with anything else, the more you perform and teach the Wake-Up Drill the easier they are to perform and to teach. I found that the more I personally performed the wake up drills on myself, the better I could identify and describe the specific spots and how they feel to the athletes or clients.

If you are worried about messing up or not doing it “right”, do not fret because you will definitely screw up, forget a step, or not do it exactly like you have learned it and that’s ok. The goal of RPR is not to be perfect but rather focus on progress. Each time you teach a new person the wake up drills, what spots to hit, and how to breathe you will get better and better. Just keep putting the time in and the confidence and skill will develop.


Tip 2: Capture Attention/Build Buy In

The biggest thing I have found to help teach the Wake-Up Drills is to capture your audience’s attention with a test and retest of a particular Wake-Up Drill. In the demonstrations with my baseball athletes, I always take them through proper breathing and Zone 1.  Seeing the athlete’s faces when they can actually feel their glutes firing is pretty cool. You can see the wheels turning in their head on how this drill will help with their power at the plate or from the mound. From this point forward, they are all ears and want to learn more this is also where the “This is voodoo” or “What’s the trick?” and the “Me next!” starts flying around.

This might be different for you or your particular clients.  The key is to capture their attention and interest, then spend the time explaining things to them further.  This is especially true for teaching younger athletes. It is hard enough to get the attention of 12-16 year olds for longer than 6 seconds so you need to make sure you are able to utilize the small span of time when you have their focus and attention.


Tip 3: Avoid the “Guru” Route

One of the best pieces of advice I received from Jeff Bramhall about how best to teach RPR to larger groups and individuals is to always focus on the athlete or group of athletes performing the drills for themselves and on themselves.  One of the reasons RPR is so versatile and effective is because it does not require a trained practitioner to touch the clients. It empowers the athletes and clients to work on themselves and puts the tools of change into their own hands.

Sam’s squad in action

Sam’s squad in action

Since they do not need to see you to feel better, you can have a wider range of reach with the same results whether you are working with one person or an entire team. It is the best way to multiply your efforts and help the most amount of people that you can. This tip has been invaluable to me in being able to reach a greater audience and outcome with the same amount of effort.


No matter where you find yourself after your RPR clinic, the power is in YOUR hands. It is your responsibility as a coach to share this information with your teams, athletes, or clients.  As you learned in the RPR certification itself, it is all about progress - not perfection. Do not be afraid to fail. Be afraid of not learning and growing from the failure. We are always working to become better coaches and trainers, which requires time and daily practice.  Get out there and start sharing what you have learned!

Why The Long Face?

This article by Glenn Buechlein gets into some pretty heavy stuff - dealing with mental health, anxiety, and depression. If you are feeling these things, know that help is available. If you are feeling desperate, call 800-273-8255.

And you may find yourself 
Living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself 
In another part of the world
And you may find yourself 
Behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house
With a beautiful wife
And you may ask yourself, well
How did I get here?

- The Talking Heads

It all seems so simple. Pay it no mind. Just do it. Just breathe. Breathing is life.

Breathing provides the body with oxygen. This is not complicated. Or is it? I already have enough to worry about. What’s next, do I have to set an alarm to remind my heart to beat?

Let’s start with a bit of the old in and out: the breathing basics. There are two passageways, the nose and the mouth. Healthy people use both. It is normal to breathe through the nose where each nostril works independently yet synergistically with its counterpart. Mouth breathing is useful during stressful exercise or exertion.

We are born obligate nasal breathers and this is clearly what nature intended. Nasal breathing releases nitric oxide helping the lungs absorb oxygen and causing blood vessels to dilate so oxygen is more easily transported. Nitric oxide is anti-fungal, -viral, and -bacterial making it an advantageous ally for immune system support and health. The nose acts as a filter when breathing, providing moisture and warming up the air when in cold conditions.

Mouth breathing, on the other hand, leads to a host of problems starting with the creation of an oral climate that is like a desert: dry mouth. Mouth breathing reduces the amount of saliva in the mouth resulting in an increase in bacteria that normally would be washed away. In this dry environment the PH levels drop increasing the acidity of saliva resulting in more cavities, gingivitis, and upper respiratory problems.

Throughout an average day the typical person takes ten to twelve breaths per minute.  Mouth breathers usually double that. The key player in all of this is not who you suspect. When we think of breathing most thoughts center on oxygen, but our lead actor is a character known as carbon dioxide or CO2. Carbon dioxide plays a significant role in the release of oxygen from hemoglobin. It actually triggers breathing and helps to maintain blood PH.

Low carbon dioxide levels lead to over-breathing or hyperventilation. The result is less oxygen being delivered to the body and its tissues as well as to the brain. The result is disrupted sleep. The result is brain fog and fatigue in the afternoon (as a public school administrator, I see this every day). Physically, dark circles may appear under the eyes and an addiction to Chap Stick is common.

All this from moving our air-intake down a couple of inches.

So if we are born nasal breathers what causes mouth breathing?

Well, here’s a short list:

  • Accidents or injury

  • Nasal congestion

  • Allergies

  • Sinus infections

  • Enlarged tonsils and adenoids

  • Deviated septum

  • The shape of the nose or jaw

Mouth breathing is detrimental to both the physical and mental health of individuals. That makes sense, right? If your body is circulating less oxygen to the tissues and you feel groggy, you’re probably not going to be at your best. And if you do this for a long period of time, it’s probably just going to compound.

There are indicators or warning signs that parents and all adults should look out for in children. Symptoms or red flags may include:

  • Irritability or hyperactivity

  • Socially withdrawn

  • Crying at night

  • Enlarged tonsils

  • Teeth grinding

  • Tongue thrust

  • Upper respiratory infections

  • Earaches

  • Dry or cracked lips

  • Problems concentrating or focusing at school

  • Day-time sleepiness

How could these manifest over time if you don’t address this?

  • Crowded or crooked teeth

  • Large overbite

  • Forward head tilt-poor posture (ear hole in front of the point of the shoulder is my definition)

  • Poor academic performance

  • A.D.D.-A.D.H.D.

  • Long narrow faces/facial deformities-uneven ears, narrow nostrils, weak chin

  • Poor growth

  • Other health problems

IT ALL MAKES SCENTS

We stopped checking for monsters under our bed when we realized they were inside of us.

-Charles Darwin

I have been a lifelong mouth breather but it only became part of my consciousness the last few years. I will share my personal story by providing a condensed summary of why I believe I mouth breathe and its effects on my life.  I will attempt to do this with clarity while simultaneously being as pointed and terse as possible. Abe Lincoln shared what a preacher once said, “I could write shorter sermons, but once I start I get too lazy to stop.”

I was three years old playing at my grandpa’s farm when my sister and I must have spotted a barnyard cat. We gave pursuit and ended up almost drowning in a hog pit for manure storage. Mom credits me with saving my sister’s life. She also shared that this was the start of my bad dreams. I have always downplayed or even poked fun at this event, but it appears to have been quite traumatic for me. Sleeping became an issue- and still is.

Also at around the age of three or four I was run over or rather into by a car. Apparently I was playing with a ball and it rolled over to the neighbor’s. As I lunged for my ball an elderly driver backed up in perfect synchronicity and we collided. The result was a badly bruised face. My mother is unsure of the extent of the damage she just recalls that there was facial damage. My right nostril still functions around 50% of my left.

I started getting sick a lot. I also became a loner according to Mom, spending a great deal of time in my room reading or simply hanging out in the nearby woods by myself. I began complaining that my legs hurt badly. The doctor discovered that my tonsils were enlarged and infected so at the age of six they were removed. I experienced recurring bouts with strep and other respiratory infections to the point where there was concern of rheumatic fever. I was also given medication of some sort for my anxiety, but the doctor warned that things needed to change at home before I could conquer my demons (I will not go into detail but my ACE score is a 5). I remember that I could not sleep. I feared the night. My childhood dreams were smothered by the circumstances and yet my nightmares billowed, stoked by a steady supply of anxiety and fear.

In the 6th grade I nearly collapsed at school and yet was not sent home. I was hospitalized for several days with pneumonia. I do not have fond memories of the breathing treatments. Around this time I began having teeth pulled in preparation for braces. I wore braces for two years and got them off shortly before entering high school. Upon their removal I had to visit a speech therapist because I had a tongue thrust.

Throughout my life I have dealt with sinus problems and allergies. I snore and grind my teeth when I sleep. When I reflect back on school I now realize I had concentration problems. I doodled incessantly all through school including college. Thankfully I was blessed with my mother’s photographic memory. If learning something required rote rehearsal I excelled, but if problem solving or prolonged focus was needed I faltered.

I displayed about every red flag there is for mouth breathing yet no one ever addressed it. The symptoms were treated. There was nary a time in my life when a doctor or dentist ever mentioned mouth breathing. Were people indifferent or dare I say negligent? I hope not. Maybe they did know. Perhaps they simply were trained to respond in a designated manner.

FATHER NOSE BEST

“Everyone is a moon and has a dark side which he never shows to anyone.”

- Mark Twain

I briefly shared some of my history that may shed a light on the reasons for my mouth breathing.  However, what if it was just genetic or rather epigenetic? I have my father’s nose. My father exhibits almost all of my red flags or indicators. He handles stress the same way as I do and has a tendency to focus way too much on the shit that really does not matter. My father sports a long face, snores like a locomotive, repeatedly suffers from respiratory problems such as bronchitis, had an overbite corrected in middle adulthood by braces and has dealt with some blood pressure issues. My dad, who I dearly love, chose to deal and cope with his stress and anxiety in a negative way which only led to more stress for our family.

So how has mouth breathing affected me both physically and emotionally? I will say my issues may not be solely attributed to mouth breathing, but all I deal with has been enhanced or exacerbated by it.

  1. I do not sleep well. I generally awaken at 3AM. I do not sleep as soundly as I should, but in recent years I have improved. I mouth breathe when I sleep even though I practice nasal breathing drills. Often, even though I have slept I am fatigued upon waking.  Once awake, there is no way I can go back to sleep. I believe this to be a cortisol problem. Adrenaline essentially wakes me up. I have day-time sleepiness. I have relied on coffee my whole life. Drank it as a kid. I use a variety of techniques to help with sleep and some are effective. I am debating taping my mouth shut while I sleep.

  2. My blood pressure throughout my adult life has been an issue at times. For many years my reading hovered around 140/90 yet doctors were generally not concerned. They chalked it up to my lifting and my bodyweight. In recent years as I have learned to breathe correctly my blood pressure is quite normal. At my last health screening it was 117/67. I do use a supplement with Arginine/Citrulline as a nitric oxide booster coupled with breathing drills from Buteyko that result in the natural release of nitric oxide.

  3. I have always battled anxiety and at times depression. Although I do not display it, I am an anxious person. I ruminate and get paralysis from too much analysis. I have OCD tendencies, yet they do not distract from my daily life. People call me a perfectionist. I am never happy with what I do. No amount of praise or accolades brings me peace or contentment.

  4. My way of breathing always had me in fight or flight. I never could seem to relax. I grew up in an environment of unpredictability. My whole life it seems as though disaster was imminent-a threat lurking around every corner. I assumed a worst case scenario for everything. My perception of threats is different.  I was able to create a false self to deal with the stress. A mask…perhaps even an identity-Power B. I developed a gift for reading other’s faces. I defend my independence even to this day. I have always lived inside my head and developed the ability to escape both when reading and at play. I have always been creative and not afraid to think outside the box.

  5. I recently wrote an article about my injuries and physical challenges entitled ONE THING LEADS TO ANOTHER. I am confident that my mouth breathing contributed to my physical issues. That is, if I would have been breathing correctly my chances of accidents and injuries would have been mitigated.

I do hope by sharing my history that others will be helped, namely children. If a youngster exhibits some of the markers please look into how they are breathing. You cannot just put a band-aid on it.

B

One Thing Leads to Another

Glenn Buechlein (a.k.a. Power B, Apollo, or simply B) is a legend in strength. His accomplishments are many (and often absurd), Paul Leonard does a great job of chronicling them here. In addition to his status as a lifter, his commitment to giving back to his community and the strength community as a whole is admirable. When B and I met at a Be Activated course in 2017, I was struck by how genuinely giving he was.

My eyes light up when I get an email from him, normally it’s on a Saturday morning around 4:30 with the subject line: “Article from B.” I know that inside that email, there’s a depth of experience, humility, and honesty that I aspire towards. This article in particular is special because it tells B’s story from his earliest days, his drives and motivation, and ultimately his path to where he is today. We hope you enjoy it.

ONE THING LEADS TO ANOTHER

Birds do not fly

They ride the wind.

Fish do not swim

They are carried by water.

When I was young my passion was baseball. I collected TOPPS baseball cards and was a proud subscriber to Baseball Digest. I would describe myself as a walking, talking baseball encyclopedia. Back when I was still knee high to a grasshopper I had heard of the legendary hall of famer Dizzy Dean. Throughout the 1930’s Dizzy was regarded by many as the absolute best pitcher in baseball. In 1934 he won 30 games and still holds the distinction almost a century later of being the last pitcher from the National League to do so. It is abundantly clear that Dizzy was a great player, but he is perhaps better known for a seemingly insignificant injury that ultimately led to an early retirement from the game he loved.

Dizzy.jpg

Dean was on the mound in the 1937 All Star game and a low line drive struck him on the big toe of his left foot. Dizzy retrieved the ball and threw the man out at first. Later, legend has it that the trainers or staff informed Dizzy in the clubhouse that his toe was fractured. Dizzy responded, “Fractured? The damn thing’s broken!”

So what’s the big deal with a big toe anyhow? It’s only a toe. Tape or wrap it and be on the go. Hell, football players such as Ronnie Lott have trainers cut off fingers at half-time. Was Diz just not tough enough? Not the case at all just the opposite. Dizzy was motivated and somewhat prodded to return to the mound before his toe healed. He changed or compensated when throwing to lessen the discomfort when landing on his toe. Many would argue that this alteration in his throwing mechanics led to damage in his shoulder and his career ended. The seemingly insignificant injury to the toe wreaked havoc upon Dizzy’s movement pattern. His kinetic chain train was derailed. Subtle cheats may have developed and transformed how he moved his hips and this in turn may have changed how his torso was aligned and in turn may have led to him altering his arm angle as he threw. The human body will always adapt and find compensations when not moving in an effective pattern.

PAIN OR INJURY

Semper Avanti!

Quidquid latine dictum sit altum videtur

Coincidentally, I can trace the genesis of my personal history of injuries  back to the very game Dizzy played and I loved so much in my youth. The ripple effect of a knee injury cascaded into many waterfalls as time passed.  I described the incident in the Tao of B.

The summer sandwiched between my eighth-grade graduation and my official entry into high school offered another life altering event that took place in the neighboring Bluegrass State of Kentucky.  I proudly grew up a Hoosier. My summer baseball team and I were participating in a tournament in the river city of Paducah. I routinely played numerous positions around the old ball diamond, but on this particular day I was kicking up dirt at second base.  In the latter innings, someone on the opposing team hit a can of corn to right field. The softly hit pop fly hovered over my head as I ran toward right field in order to make an over the shoulder snag. The ball did end up in my glove, but I also ended up a bungled heap on the turf.  Apparently my spike got entangled in the Kentucky grass. I learned the hard way why they call it blue. A sharp pain emanated through my knee. As I looked upward with my right leg somehow buckled under my body I was forced to squint because of the glaring sun. I could faintly make out the outline of my hardcore coach.  I knew what was coming next. “Pain or injury?” he inquired, knowing full well what my rehearsed response would be. “Pain,” I cried out. I valiantly played the rest of this game as well as the subsequent games in the tournament. Upon my return home, subtle things began to happen which indicated that perhaps I had given the wrong response after all.  For instance, I awoke and ventured downstairs to enjoy some cereal when lo and behold I found myself face down on Mr. Linoleum. I put an Ace bandage on and forgot about it. Back in the day, Ace bandages were the cure-all rivaling the likes of the almighty duct tape. Later the same day I would miraculously pitch a five inning no-hitter in our local league.  This proved to be all the machismo I could muster as I was forced to travel to a nearby city at the end of the week to seek a diagnosis from an expert. I was informed by the doctor that ligaments were damaged in my right knee and I would be forced to wear a full leg cast for the duration of the summer. My dream of playing in the big leagues was dashed. No more TOPPS card, Cooperstown, cancer from chew, or compulsive crotch grabbing for me.  

Foreigner.jpg

Shortly before my freshman year of high school started I got my cast removed and my leg was freed. I was shocked both how small it was and how much it hurt to flex it. The doctor assured me that the leg was just atrophied and I should be good to go if I listen to the therapists and follow their rehab guidelines. I never met any therapists. My parents had other things to deal with so I embarked on my own training program in order to strengthen my wilted limb. I had a goal of playing in the annual Labor Day Youth Softball Tourney. I found a cement block and wrapped an old belt around it. I then sat on a bench and did one leg extensions. I found some of Dad’s old work boots and laced those puppies up. I would run in place listening to a compilation of songs I recorded directly off the radio. I wore the cassette out keeping tempo to Queen, Foreigner and Journey. I jumped the fence behind our house and ran the trails stopping only to do multiple runs up the steepest hill.

My knee improved on a daily basis and I achieved my goal of playing in the tournament. I thought all was well. As time progressed I discovered that I had a hitch in my giddy up. My injured leg was shorter than the other. It was most pronounced throughout high school when I ran track. I was eventually prescribed a heel lift which I set aside and disregarded because in my eyes heel lifts are a sign of weakness.

image1.jpg

My knee injury, in my opinion, was analogous to driving on underinflated tires.  Under inflation is one of the main causes of tire failure. If a tire’s pressure is too low then more of the tire’s surface is in contact with the road which causes increased friction. The enhanced friction can cause the tires to overheat which can lead to premature wear and tear eventually resulting in tread separation or even blowouts. Blowouts could cause a catastrophic event such as a wreck. For six years I drove on an under inflated tire. Many times, I drove too fast and rather recklessly. My car had no warning lights. I crashed.

THAT’S GONNA LEAVE A MARK

Twenty–one and 200 lbs. of ripped, chiseled, and rock hard steel

Throw in a tan and mega doses of sex appeal

Sporting my snakeskin tights I sauntered up to the bar

I pulled the prodigious load, but the right side did not go as far

I struggled and asked what is this jive?

Two months later the removal of my ruptured L-5

During my early days of lifting back in the 80’s we had no Internet and certainly no local experts. Our primary source of lifting information was our high school coaches and Joe Weider’s Muscle and Fitness. Suffice it to say, if knowledge is power I was a weakling in regards to proper weightlifting technique and form. For instance, my dead lifting motto was grip it and rip it. I would simply walk up to a loaded bar without hesitation and pick it up. There was no thought of using proper mechanics. I thought how hard is this? Just lift it. I was pulling a Malcolm X; I did it by any means necessary.  Sounds macho and hardcore and it was at the time, but you eventually are reminded that sometimes when we pray for rain we have to deal with the mud.

I am uncertain as to where to attribute the exact provenance of my ruptured disk. I have narrowed it down to two specific events. During the summer breaks from college I worked for the city park and recreation department. My primary duty was to mow on an old Massy Ferguson belly mount. When I was caught up or there were dry conditions I helped out the other guys with their duties. During the first part of August in my hometown we celebrate our German heritage by having a street fest, or Strassenfest. A broad variety of events such as log sawing, polka dancing, bratwurst eating and beer drinking are hosted throughout the festival and there is always a need for additional seating. We were charged with delivering bleachers to an event downtown. Per usual, when it came time to load the bleachers onto a flatbed, three or four guys got on one side while I flew solo on the other. We hoisted the bleachers onto the edge of the bed and without warning the bleachers shifted and began to fall off. I reacted and caught the load as it shifted and began to tumble. I saved the day, however, I was in a precarious position when I caught the load and days later my left glute began to hurt. A sharp stabbing pain shot through my ass cheek and down my left leg. I thought I tore a butt muscle. I am fairly certain I remedied the situation by rubbing Ben-Gay on my behind.

Bleachers.jpg

Shortly after the bleacher fiasco I decided to pull some weight in the local commercial gym. Looking back my decision was probably dictated by someone challenging me or lifting something within 100 pounds of my personal best which I perceived as a challenge. I confess that I tend to be an alpha and if another competitor ventured into my domain I generally reacted by marking my territory. I recall loading over 600 lbs. on a bar and without much of a warm-up gripping and ripping in an attempt to dead lift what was at that time three times my bodyweight. To my utter amazement one side went flying up while the opposite side failed to cooperate. I continued to pull and struggle similar to a deep sea fisherman cranking and yanking in an attempt to land a monster sized sword fish. Eventually the weight won. I dropped the ponderous load and immediately began to investigate what occurred. I quickly discovered the culprit was a bar sleeve that slid out approximately 6-8 inches. Essentially the bar broke and caused the weight to be dispersed unequally. My backside hurt the next morning so I slipped on my shoes without tying them. I thought to myself Oh Jeez; I hurt that darn butt muscle again.

In late August I returned to Indiana State University for my senior year of college. I had intermittent bouts of pain, but I carried on with my lifting and my life. In October I recall taking a test in Dr. Sung’s International Law class and I was so distressed my fingernails were sweating, not from the exam but rather from the agony I was experiencing through my posterior and down my leg. I was writhing around in my desk in an attempt to find a comfortable position. The law professor was from Taiwan and was actually not very fluent in English, but the universal language of pain was written all over my face. He asked me if I needed help and of course I said no. I did appreciate his concern. I managed to finish what was required and I drug myself back to our apartment where I informed my wife, then girlfriend, that I needed to go back to my hometown to see a doctor. She drove me home and I was able to see an orthopedic doctor within a few days.

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I saw my doctor on a Monday and his prognosis was rather dim. He said surgery was required and needed to be done as quickly as possible. I had a ruptured disc and it was causing nerve damage that could lead to permanent paralysis especially in my left leg. Two days later I had surgery and was told I would never lift again. I was back at school in one week and I thought to myself if I can read and study then by god I can press and pull things. Again, there was no rehab or l follow-up, and again, I confess that this was not real bright on my part. Perhaps my name too should be Dizzy, or Dumbass.

All these years later and with increased knowledge I wonder, accidents aside, if my knee injury played the key role in my back injury. Did my one leg being shorter than the other put stress on my lumbar? Was I structurally out of kilter and thus moving out of pattern? Did my reliance on compensations mean I was more susceptible or predisposed to have a significant crash?

GOLDEN ALBATROSS

Ah! well a-day! what evil looks
Had I from old and young!
Instead of the cross, the Albatross
About my neck was hung.

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The back surgery in 1989 was and continues to be the most encumbering item that I carry in my life’s backpack. Its omnipresence has dictated my adult life in many facets. The overarching factor is how I move. For decades I realize that I was walking and moving like I had a corncob up my backside, shuffling with an erect posture from the outside in instead of inside out. My drivers were my calves, arms, shoulders and neck and jaw. I became quad dominant as well. I was imploding and this put more stress on my lumbar.  

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1-2-3 was not for me, more like 3-2-1 and that is no fun. Maybe I was Nero...an absolute 0. I too, fiddled while Rome burned.   

Don’t think for a second that one cannot perform at a high level or lift lots of weight because of being out of pattern. I could. For instance, I performed ten reps with 500 lbs. using a safety squat bar off a 15 inch box…with no belt of course. Through my 30’s and up to my early 40’s I routinely could hold my own sprinting with high school and collegiate athletes. At the age of 40 I jumped out of a 55 gallon barrel. The human body is miraculous in its ability to adapt and recruit from other areas in order to survive based on the demands placed upon it. Everyone runs patterns of survival that affects how we move, feel and behave. I have always trained hard and heavy. The problem is that I was actually training and enhancing my cheats. As all educators know, if you cheat you will eventually get caught.

MOJO FALLING

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
Four-score Men and Four-score more,
Could not make Humpty Dumpty where he was before
.

Your body says if you do not take care of yourself I will stop you. Throughout the 90’s and the better part of the first decade of 2000 I managed to avoid any significant injuries. This time period was marked by sporadic issues with my lumbar, namely spasms that would put me down for a day or two. Torn hamstrings and sore shoulders were occasional guests at my house of pain. I blew these things off and chalked it up as being part of what I do-it comes with the territory.

In July of 2005 I competed in a bench press contest held in Nashville, Tennessee hosted by Wade Johnson.  I am unsure why I decided to take this on because my daughter, Taylor, had just been born three months prior and I had lost my competitive mojo. I was not feeling it on the drive down, nor even in warm-ups, however, on my second attempt with 700 lbs. I certainly felt it. I recall pressing the weight but my right side was just short of lockout. I pushed and strained for what felt like an eternity when suddenly an intense searing pain shot through my right shoulder. I finally gave up and the spotters took over. My immediate reaction was to get some ice and place it on my anterior delt. The pain referred to that area. Many hours later when I returned home I happened to walk by a mirror and saw what appeared to be a horn sticking out my back. I soon discovered that I had injured my supraspinatus and then some. I have included some of the doctor’s notes below.

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A shoulder exam reveals limited range of motion in all planes, with forward elevation limited to 120 degrees bilateral, and an external rotation to 0 degrees, bilateral. He has internal rotation to L2 and abduction to 120 bilateral.

The patient’s X-rays reveal moderately, severe advanced degenerative changes of the glenohumeral joints bilaterally. A mild spurring is noted, and lateral tilting of the distal acromion and hypertrophic changes are noted at the A/C joint.

An MRI with arthrogram of the right shoulder revealed a focal defect seen in the cartilage of the mid glenoid area. There was fluid evident within the bicep tendon sheath. There were marked edematous changes seen in the region of the supraspinatus muscle and the adjacent fascial planes. Degenerative spurring was seen inferiorly at the A/C joint facing the underlying supraspinatus. Multiple degenerative cystic changes were seen in the humeral head.

When I first read this and consulted with my doctor it was like lint on a bottle cap, it meant nothing to me. My only question and concern was when I could get back to lifting. I did adhere to the rehab protocol from my doctor that primarily focused on ART, active release therapy, pioneered by Dr. Leahy from Colorado. In addition, I consulted with Dr. Michael Hope from New York and his advice was spot on. I was back at it in ten weeks with the only lingering effect being a slight clicking or catch when pressing. Within months, this soon seemed to disappear.

The Scheiße HITS THE FAN

“Chaos is a friend of mine.”

- Bob Dylan

A year or two passed by and I got the itch to compete again with my sights set on breaking some existing master’s records now that I was 42. I succeeded both in achieving records as well as being one of only a handful of individuals to press over 700 lbs. in the 242 lb. weight class regardless of age. I was at my peak strength.

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I was asked in 2009 to do some demonstration lifts for a relative’s website. I did my usual warm-up, but something just did not feel right. My left pectoral was twitching and felt a little balled up. I informed my cousin that I would still help him out with his video, but I was going to tone it down. I decided to rep 455 lbs. for 10 off of 3 boards. On the decent of the 3rd rep my left pectoral let go. It felt like a wet towel being torn starting from my inner chest and travelling to the musculotendinous juncture where it fluttered. Everyone spotting knew something had happened, but they were unsure of what. It was so quiet you could have heard a mouse piss on cotton. I stood up from the bench and calmly shared that I just tore my f---ing pec.

This was the first time since my back surgery where I truly felt scared. Scared that I may not get to do what I love so much. I was distraught because it was a major part of who I am. One cannot hardly call themselves Power B and have no power. This should have been no real surprise to me. Ever since the supraspinatus strain I has issues with my opposite side pectoral. I believe I developed a cheat because my body was protecting the right shoulder. Something had to give.  

This incident put an abrupt end to my competitive lifting. I recovered from this initial pectoral tear in approximately ten weeks and at that time I accepted the fact that my days on the competitive platform were over. I became content with breaking gym records and felt blessed that I could still do what I do.

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Ever play bull in the ring? I asked my crew this sometime in 2009 at the end of a Saturday workout. Of course no one responded with an affirmative so I felt compelled to demonstrate what I was referring to. I grabbed an orange strap and put my hand in the end loop. I then asked for a volunteer to grab the other end. I explained that the idea was to be in a clearly defined circle and the individuals opposing each other would try to push, pull, drag or drive the other person out of the ring using the strap. This soon turned into a one on one tug of war between me and another member of my crew. He took it much more serious than I. I eventually told him to go ahead and pull with all his might using both hands and I will use one. This childish escapade went on for a minute or so with each subsequent tug increasing in force and intent. I began jerking the other guy around like crocodiles fighting over the hindquarters of a Cape buffalo. I was going to unleash my coup de grace when I found myself floating horizontally in the air laid out similar to Neo in the Matrix. I came crashing down near my basement window. I was lucky to have not gone through it. I managed to absorb the impact primarily on my butt. I quickly jumped to my feet and the crew scattered. I was not happy. The debate still rages over whether or not this was intentional. Either way it caused me much unnecessary grief that I still deal with today.

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Days after my fall I had excruciating pain down my left leg. The same leg affected by my back surgery. It was determined that the impact had greatly aggravated my sciatic nerve due to the impact. The pain subsided with therapy but I soon noticed something no man wants to deal with-shrinkage. That’s right; my left calf began to atrophy. In a brief amount of time it became ¾ of an inch smaller than my right calf. I was assured by doctors this was nothing to be greatly concerned about because I have rather large calves. The concern was that something was causing the disintegration of my lower leg. It was explained that much like kinking a running hose to lessen the water flow my nerve signals and neuromuscular response had also been restricted.  As with my other injuries I adapted and moved on.

I have always trained using a variety of methods and styles, but the fact I could not compete in bench meets pushed me to branch out even further and to challenge myself in whole new ways. Driveway sessions using the Rogue sled proved to be an especially pleasing workout because it took me out of my element. We pulled and pushed the sled. We used a 100 ft. rope and reeled in the sled. We team pushed the sled around the neighborhood. Really anything you could think of we experimented with. As with most guy things, our outside concrete time became a battleground of trash talking. I suddenly was called an old man and other not so appropriate age related names. Pushing and pulling with heavy loads would not suffice. I threw down the gauntlet and barked that we needed to make sparks fly doing timed sprints with that bad boy sled.

I had a history with occasional minor hamstring tears that tended to be on my left side. The tears or strains were probably the result of being quad dominant leading to an imbalance in the strength ratio to my hamstrings. My poor hammies were pulling double duty as they essentially were also serving as my glutes. My incredible shrinking calf also did not help matters.

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I harnessed up on the first timed sprint with the sled and took off like a bat out of hell. I knew when I finished that I had left the young whipper- snappers in the dust. It was not even close. Someone suggested and or challenged me to go even faster. They all assured me I could do it. What the hell I thought. I may as well rub it in. This time I erupted from the starting line like a whole pack of hellhounds and these were no name dogs-there was no calling them back. Again, I instinctively knew as I neared the finish line that a new standard had been set. However, as I crossed the line it suddenly felt as though I had been shot or bitten by a King Cobra, not that I really know what either would actually feel like, as I toppled to the pavement. This was one of those times where pain makes you do and say strange things. I spoke in tongues as I beaded up with sweat and tried not to lose my cookies in front of everyone. I was a crumpled heap shivering on the ground like a horse shedding flies. The timing for this was impeccable. My wife happened to return home and could not pull in the drive-way because my carcass blocked the entrance. The pec tear and bad fall had occurred only shortly before and she screamed now what have you done. The boys loaded me into the bed of a pickup and delivered me to my front door. This was no typical tear. This was a work of art- a colorful masterpiece.

TRAIN KEPT A ROLLIN

The pain is all you ever feel

A concrete will and a back of steel

I give my soul unto the wheel

It may or may not be surprising that I encounter some strange things while serving as assistant principal at a high school. Things really seem to get amped up when there is a full moon. One day I returned to my office from bus duty and received a frantic call from a concerned bus driver. The nature of the call revolved around an alleged case of self mutilation on the bus that was said to have horrified the younger students because of the quantity of blood splatter and droplets left behind. I promptly informed our school resource officer and we made our way to the supposed injured student’s home believing someone may be in need of immediate medical attention. We arrived at the residence and were invited in. It was apparent that the student was none the worse for wear. He was unharmed and in good spirits. Thank goodness. A weapon of sorts was produced as was the fake blood that served to traumatize the youngsters. This was actually a bigger deal than the young wannabe thespian had envisioned. It took an hour or so to sort out what had occurred and why it required school discipline. If the Pope rode through my kitchen on the back of a giraffe it would be no more surprising than the extent that some  parents go to in order to cover for their child. Lots of ifs and buts are unleashed. Yeah and if a frog didn’t have long hind legs, he wouldn’t have squat to jump with. We eventually exited the home on fairly decent terms, but I knew deep down that this family would not be sending me a Christmas card.

It was beginning to get dark as the officer and I stepped from the porch and made our way down some steps to his waiting patrol car. We engaged in some small talk about the weather because it had started to lightly snow. As we began our descent on the second flight of stairs I stepped down on my left foot and as soon as I made contact with the concrete step my calf ruptured. I grimaced and probably muttered a dizzying array of expletives. My friend, the officer, asked if I needed any help. I told him not to touch me. I made it to the car and got in. Only then did I explain that I am certain I just tore my calf. I did not want the family watching us from the porch experience the pleasure of my pain.

The following morning I awakened to a lower extremity that would now be better described as a bull, its calf days were over. I managed to make it to school where I was advised by our nurse that I needed to seek medical attention. The concern was that a clot may develop. I tended to agree and I was also concerned because the injured calf was hotter than the devil’s anvil. I saw a doctor and actually adhered to his request that I go to therapy and wear a boot. The boot got old pretty fast. The therapist tried to plead and persuade me to strap on the boot for 6-8 weeks. I gave it the old college try, but 3 weeks was all I could commit to. There was nothing much I could do with this sort of injury. All you can do is roll on.

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The gastrocnemius injury in 2015 was, without a doubt, directly linked to the fall I had resulting in the atrophy of the left inner calf. When I walked I dispersed my weight and adjusted my stride so that the outside of my calf would bear the brunt of the load. I compensated and this is where the tear occurred.

In the summer of 2016 the local newspaper was winding up a feature article about my home gym. The article focused on my open door policy. If someone wants to come and train at my basement they simply can walk in. This is actually more complicated than it seems. First and foremost people are unaccustomed to venturing into residences where they have never been. Many are afraid of me for some reason. Some are intimidated because of stories they have heard. The death metal music blaring and the sentry like gargoyles may turn a few away. However, those that eventually attend are always pleasantly surprised. Their fears are quickly vanquished by the outpouring of support and camaraderie that exists. I have hosted in the neighborhood of 2,500 free sessions since 1997. The newspaper caught wind of this and asked to do a story for the Saturday edition. A reporter spent months experiencing the way of the B and his crew. As the run date approached a photographer was sent to capture images of a typical workout.

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I had one more set to go. It was early June and I was back to squatting. I generally begin the summer with work sets around 315 and I add fifty pounds per week. One summer years ago I was able to do 500 lbs. for 10 reps off a 15 inch box. My goal was to get back to that. The bar on this day was loaded to 405 pounds and I was to perform 10 reps. I walked into the power rack and got set under the safety squat bar. My common practice was to slightly turn out my right foot. This is how I felt comfortable and safe. I never really bothered to ponder why I had to set up in this fashion. I had no doubt in my mind that this would be an easy set. I figured I could then lead our outside workout that was more strongman event themed. I un-racked the weight and methodically began executing slow and controlled reps.  All was well until the sixth up transitioned to the 7th down. I thought to myself, “Oh no! My VMO just let go.” The photographer was snapping away oblivious that something significant has just occurred. My crew knew and they dutifully took the weight and helped me rack it. No questions were asked and I said nothing. We did not want to scare our guest.

The vastus medialis or teardrop muscle is one of four muscles that make up the quadriceps. This muscle is involved in knee extension as well as correct tracking of the patella, or kneecap. As expected, my right leg above the knee swelled to a disproportionate size. It is sad to say but I was actually getting used to this sort of stuff. I did not seek an orthopedic doctor but I did seek the help of a physical therapist who guided me to a quick recovery. Inside my mind I knew this could not keep happening.

The trouble was that I did not have any idea of what stone to upturn to find solutions. I began to believe that this is just the way it is.  KEPT A ROLLIN

THE FIXX

I don't care what you say anymore, this is my life
Go ahead with your own life, and leave me alone

Billy Joel

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Throughout this article I shared most of my major injuries and why I believe they are ultimately linked. When injured the human body will try to rush you back to service in order to survive. This primal response exists because if you cannot move, then you are dead. My personal history of accidents and injuries is akin to a computer that has been reprogrammed, but there are error codes that pop up. The operating system does not function as it did originally.

The last two years something has markedly changed.  No, I have not opted for surgery or joint replacements. I have not secured Dr. Feelgood to partake of his pain pills. I do not sit in a recliner or live a sedentary lifestyle. In a nutshell, I have discovered the mind body connection and the miraculous power of the body to heal if provided the time and opportunity. I have not experienced a single weightlifting related injury nor have I seen so much as a chiropractor, etc. for the last two years. So what was my fix or cure? There was no panacea but rather a collection of tools and practices I now use to improve my quality of life. Life is about using the whole box of crayons.

The following is my Top 10 list:

  • Be-Activated/RPR Resets

  • Breathing drills

  • Talking to my pain-Dr.Sarno

  • No soft drinks

  • Following the 80% eating rule

  • Barefoot walking/grounding

  • Use of Turmeric/Curcumin

  • Some cold therapy

  • Magnesium Threonate or Citrimate

  • Use of Arginine/Citrulline

**Another article will be forthcoming explaining the details and specifics of the items above.**

This article has focused on movement and movement patterns and my ability to self-reset and maintain a better movement pattern. 1-2-3 has had a dramatic effect on my physical and mental well being. People have noticed a clear change in me. Some remain doubting Tom’s and I have no problem with that. They want data and facts as well as concise explanations of what is going on. I cannot provide that. I can say that the proof is in the pudding. By altering the nervous system of an individual there is a powerful, measureable impact for people. There is a desired outcome. I need no more proof and I do not harbor the need or desire to convince others that what I have chosen to do works.        

Recently someone at the school where I work expressed in exasperated manner that, “man you are really in to eastern medicine.” I responded by simply nodding my head in approval. His response was that I really needed to debate his medical doctor friend. No, I do not need to waste precious time debating anyone.   This rubbish is similar to some of our school’s cheer block. I consistently stress that rather them wasting energy cheering against the other team; it would perhaps be more beneficial to actually cheer for our team. As Tim Tebow recently stated, "You’re always going to have critics and naysayers and people that are going to tell you that you won’t, that you can’t, that you shouldn’t. Most of those people are the people that didn’t, that wouldn’t, and that couldn’t."

Keep moving and keep breathing.

B

Parallel Paths: TeamBuildr & RPR

Hewitt Tomlin is the co-founder of the athlete management platform, TeamBuildr. We at RPR are pleased to have forged a partnership with TeamBuildr because we share the True North of an athlete-centered approach to S&C/Performance. Not only do we share this common direction, but we both know that the most precious asset we have is time - and that performance coaches invest a lot of time in their athletes and relationships. At both TeamBuilder and RPR, we care deeply about giving the coach more time.

As a graduate from Johns Hopkins, you will always be asked if you studied or practice medicine. While many graduates do, there are many who do not and go on to have a great impact in other places around the world. I am proud to be impacting the field of strength and conditioning, and would like to share my story about how I arrived here along with a few lessons I learned along the way.

Hewitt at JHU

Hewitt at JHU

I arrived at Hopkins as a student-athlete playing football after being noticed at the Princeton Football Camp. Of course, my journey was aided by two parents who pushed for strong academic effort as well as the privilege of attending a well-structured private school by charity of my grandparents. Once I arrived on campus, I was lucky to be paired with a roommate, James Peters, who also happened to be one of the smartest people I know. In short, James is a self-taught computer programmer who came up with the idea for TeamBuildr and built the platform from the ground up. He asked me to be his partner in the venture.

By the time graduation came around, I was in a position where TeamBuildr had potential to be a viable business - with a lot of work. James filled the role of “technical founder,” which meant I would take on sales, marketing, customer service, operations and anything else to support and run the business. It was not a company yet, just an idea with a prototype; we had no customers, no users and no investment. But we knew there was a future for a product like ours.

However, understanding this opportunity enough to pursue it was a process that took time. When my athletic career was over, I lost a great deal of confidence in myself; many of the skills I had acquired in sport were now useless. I had to “rewire” my soft skills into “real world” application while learning new hard skills. In fact, out of college I worked at a car dealership in a job I absolutely hated. My girlfriend at the time from Hopkins went on to medical school and broke up with me, and many of my peers moved onto highly-regarded professions. Needless to say, the few months after my college graduation were some of the most insecure of my life.

Running a bootstrapped company is not easy. When we needed a company vehicle, we were lucky to score this '94 Dodge Primetime for $3,500 in cash.

Running a bootstrapped company is not easy. When we needed a company vehicle, we were lucky to score this '94 Dodge Primetime for $3,500 in cash.

Then came a point where I knew a decision had to be made. I began applying to full-time jobs in technical fields and after getting denied a few times, I remember laying in bed the night after getting a rejection and thinking, “It’s time to turn up.” The plan was to claw my way into a tech job in order to gain new skills that I could transfer to growing TeamBuildr on the side. The result was a sales and marketing position in two startups where I would put in 40 solid hours of work during the week and 10-20 hours into TeamBuildr on nights and weekends.

Slowly but surely, TeamBuildr grew little by little. Three years after my decision to work towards a goal, we had a business that generated enough income for me to quit my full-time job and devote myself entirely to sales and marketing for TeamBuildr. Less than a year after that, James was able to quit his job as well. This took place during 2015 - 2016. Today, we are proud to have a diverse office of 7 employees, no investors and a family of over 1,000 strength programs using our software across the world.

 
NSCA Coaches Conference, Nashville 2013. Our first conference ever!

NSCA Coaches Conference, Nashville 2013. Our first conference ever!

As James says, we are still in the “messy middle” and that messiness of growing a business gets glossed over in articles like this. But one of the main highlights in our company's trajectory includes a curiosity as to what our customers like and need. Our product’s value proposition is saving coaches time programming training and collecting training day. In order to know how to do that, we observe coaches work and improve computer-related tasks that can save a few minutes here and there. Another component of having a good working relationship with our customers, most of which are strength coaches, is aligning ourselves with organizations that earnestly advance the profession. In fact, we sponsor all three major associations: NSCA, CSCCa and NHSSCA. That’s a lot of money, but we would not feel right not supporting these organizations.

Keeping with this philosophy, we constantly seek out leaders in education and innovation in order to forge partnerships that benefit our members. This is how we connected with Reflexive Performance Reset. In addition to being founded by some of the most reputable names in S&C, RPR gained traction among some of our customers who raved about it. Once we identified RPR as an innovative idea that will greatly impact the field, we also noticed that the people behind RPR had values that aligned with ours (do good first, do business second), we decided to support their work and introduce it to our customers.

In a way, affiliation with partners like RPR is our company’s way of building the hard skills that I lacked out of college. The more we affiliate and learn from partners like RPR, the better we can accommodate our customers and build relationships with them. Partnerships and collaboration will continue to be an important part of our company as long as our partners’ values align with the strength and performance coaches that we serve.

Hewitt (2nd from left) in Philadelphia at a Strength Coach's Happy Hour after the Philly Area Strength Coaches Roundtable event that TeamBuildr sponsors every year.

Hewitt (2nd from left) in Philadelphia at a Strength Coach's Happy Hour after the Philly Area Strength Coaches Roundtable event that TeamBuildr sponsors every year.

RPR Goes To London!

by JL Holdsworth

In a word, this trip was amazing. It was my first time in London and it was even better than I expected.

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My London Experience

First off, the food was great. Many people warned me about the food but I had a wonderful culinary experience. I had traditional Sunday roast with Yorkshire pudding, which I had no clue what it was when I ordered it (for those of you wondering, it's a bread-like fried dough you dip in the gravy from the roast). I had traditional venison and ale pie, fish and chips, and many other great dishes.  A pleasant surprise was how good Guinness tastes in London. I don't enjoy Guinness in the states but Douglas Heel convinced me it was different and he was definitely right. Don’t let a reputation spoil your experience!

I also loved how quaint London feels. You are in this huge city but every time you turn a corner you feel like you are in another little neighborhood in any small town. It felt much more inviting than New York, which is of comparable size. In my downtime, I took in as much of the history as I could. I visited London Tower, the Tower Bridge, Big Ben, the British Museum, and many other historically significant places. You could be there for a month and not come close to seeing everything. Also, I got very good at using the Underground. By the end, I was at Buckingham Palace giving a bunch of foreign people directions like I was a native. 

RPR in London

Best new word: Niggles - definition: cause of slight but persistent annoyance and/or discomfort.

“My hip has always had some niggles but then I started doing RPR and it went away.”

As always, those in attendance were amazing people. All with different backgrounds and from many different countries. We had people from six different countries at the clinic which made the experience a lot richer - and not just with accents. On one hand, I learned some differences in language (and everyone in attendance was very gracious about that). What was really fun was learning about different sporting cultures and comparing them. Systems in European countries can be quite different to those in the States, and I can’t say one is better than another, but it was very interesting to look at those differences.

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Our host, Andy, did a great job getting everything set up and the clinic was in a great location that was easy to get to from the Underground.

It was great to have the creator of Be Activated, Douglas Heel, on hand for both days. This clinic was the first time Douglas had seen how RPR has modified Be Activated to be geared for performance. We talk about it all the time in clinics but I feel people still don't know that RPR is the performance partner for what Douglas is doing on the practitioner side with Be Activated. I enjoy my time with Douglas because we constantly bounce ideas back and forth and always come up with some ways to make our systems better. Because Be Activated has a longer history in the UK, this clinic in particular was fun because we had several people who had also been through Be Activated come. These folks work with teams and athletes and wanted to learn how we are teaching and implementing with our teams and personal training clients. When Chris, Cal, and I started RPR, our goal was to reach people like that, so this made me really happy..


Overall I want to thank everyone who came to the clinic and appreciate some of the messages I have received from people who have already started to implement and see great results with themselves and with clients. I'm not sure when we will be back to Europe, but this was definitely a great first trip!

My 1-2-3 Moment: Jesse Ohliger

Jesse is a former NFL player and the inventor of The Breath Belt. He has trained thousands of developing kickers and punters over the past 18 years from high school to professional level. He is passionate about Injury Prevention and helping the public make the connection between optimal hip function and breath mechanics. You can follow him on Instagram. You can also pick up a Breath Belt directly from RPR here!

How I Found RPR

I first heard about RPR by going down a podcast rabbit hole!

In December 2017, I was listening to the Barbell Shrugged Podcast where Cal Dietz was being interviewed on Triphasic Training. During the interview he mentioned the prone hip extension test for his athletes, which I kept rewinding because I was so excited that a high level coach in S&C was actually talking about it! Among physical therapists, glute firing pattern issues have been a subject of conversation for decades. But in my experience, NO ONE was ever talking about it in Strength & Conditioning. I had kept coming back to the glute firing pattern over the years with my athletes, but kept hitting a brick wall as it wasn't a "sexy" topic in the S&C community. I sent Cal a message immediately and he was kind enough to respond. At the bottom of his message, he left bunch of videos about RPR for me to check out. As soon as I watched those RPR videos it made perfect sense. I was hooked and couldn't wait to learn more. I went up to go see him in Minneapolis soon as I could!

As an NFL kicker whose career had been cut short by an injury and whose life was turning into a battle with hip and low back pain - which all show up when people have a suboptimal glute firing pattern - I set a goal to create a tool that would get me out of pain. At that point, I’d spent five years diving really deep into breath mechanics building on the work of Brian MacKenzie from Power Speed Endurance. In early 2017, I tied the threads together that if I could create a tool that helped both hip stability and breath mechanics I could get myself out of pain and help my developing athletes avoid the position I was in. This is such a common occurrence for kickers and punters that I needed to get it together as soon as possible. And The Breath Belt was born!

Of course, a tool is only useful in the hands of someone who knows how to use it. While we were testing out prototypes of The Breath Belt, I was using it as a tool to coach people, both in-person and online, into better patterns. Prior to RPR, I thought the strategies I was teaching were efficient to keep people in top form through a practice or a game, but I realized two things IMMEDIATELY in the clinic: my strategies had a lot of holes and it wasn’t a system that was repeatable across athletes or environments. One thing Cal said a couple times during the clinic that stuck with me: “we’re all doing the best we can with the information that’s available to us.” In that clinic, there was a bunch of new information that became available. And by using it, my best got better.

The Light Bulb

From the moment I arrived at the Velocity Training Center and met the other RPR attendees, even before the clinic started, I was impressed. I was surrounded by fellow professional athletes, chiropractors, physical therapists, NFL strength coaches, and athletic trainers. It was clear that everyone there was looking to go deeper so they could be better. For the first time in years, I felt comfortable at a clinic like this because this was the missing piece I have been looking for years in my movement education. I knew I was home.

I would have to say my 'ah-ha moment' came at the end of the clinic. Through the clinic, I was feeling really good about all the education and pattern tests and was already locked in on how to implement with my athletes. A couple times during the day, Cal had hinted towards some of the additional things we would learn in Level Two - especially around vision and some things he’d found with concussions. We all stuck around for a little preview. Cal asked for volunteers and really nice college athlete I had worked with during the clinic went to the front of the room.

This athlete had a number of concussions from soccer and had been in a recent car crash. He was having a lot of trouble with headaches and eyesight which were discouraging him. And then … something amazing happened. Cal was testing his vision field and found a point in his eyesight that he had been protective of (it may have been the same angle that the collision had come from). Cal had him work through a few of the wake up drills while focusing on that point. During the retest, I had a close view of the changes that occurred. Even though he was standing in place, I noticed an immediate improvement in his hip and shoulder position. His face and hands had flushed from the lymphatic response. It literally looked like a weight was taken off his shoulders and tears were showing. That was the moment right there for me. Anyone who coaches knows they make a tremendous impact on their athletes, but once in a blue moon a coach makes an impact that is immediately embedded in the athletes psyche. Those are the kind of moments I coach for and my psyche was forever impacted when I saw that.

What I Did Next

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When I returned home I was immediately ready to put this to work. I am fortunate to have high level athletes come to see me in Miami weekly in the offseason, so I knew I had lots of bodies to work on for practice. Without a hitch, the tests worked great on everyone and exposed hints of compensation my old system had missed. I could then teach someone exactly what to do to overcome this compensation!

For those select few who I wasn't experienced enough to identify, we just went through the drills again to see if we could force a change. This showed me just how different each athlete is. One athlete’s erectors fired up when he worked on his calf points. Another's QL completely changed the way his opposite foot hit the ground. I’d say about 90% of the clients I work with are pretty straightforward and RPR really helped both me and the athlete understand the story of how his or her body may have been compensating for a specific movement. As an athlete, you can quickly bond with and trust a coach who helps you make that connection. As a coach, that athlete who knows how to affect change in themselves is going to go out into the world and send more people my way.

His calf before

His calf before

So if 90% are pretty straightforward, the 10% that aren’t typically have crazy background stories. A great example of this is an athlete I had trained for 8 months prior to introducing them to RPR. He was very explosive but had an imbalance in the way he pushed off his kicking foot. His hip extension pattern was correct, and I had given him many foot, ankle and calf mobilizations to work on. The athlete continued to complain about the issue that was appearing to get worse. Taking one of the keys from RPR that you can’t fix a neurological issue with a movement strategy, when I got back from Cal’s, I taught him RPR. He’d gone through the wake up drills on his own, but had a hard time finding anything in the calf and asked me to help. As soon as I put my fingers on that point, he practically screamed in pain. I understood his pain tolerance and was confident enough in our relationship to know there was something deeper going on. As he calmed down asked him to sit up and we talked a bit. It turns out, when he was a six or seven, he tried to slide under a security fence while playing with friends. He didn't make it all the way through and the end of the wiring had sliced a thin but very deep 'S' scar at the bottom of his calf. He said he was too afraid to tell his parents about it at the time and was hiding a limp from them for a few months. He’s in college now, and still felt ashamed about it. Obviously, I’m a coach not a therapist, but I could tell it was good for him to get this off his chest.

His calf after. Magic!

His calf after. Magic!

The next day I set him up for soft tissue work with a chiropractor friend of mine. After that session and few one-on-one RPR sessions over the next week, the pain from deep scar on his calf, and the mobility restrictions that came with it, vanished and hasn't come back since. Thanks to RPR, I was able to make a real deep connection with this athlete. More importantly, it helped him deal with something he’d pushed back into a memory vault and was holding his performance back. There is no telling how a traumatic emotional or physical experience can affect an athlete years down the road. I’m not saying that coaches should look for these things, but as anyone who’s worked with people in private environments knows, the coach-athlete relationship is a big part of an athlete’s life and we need to treat that with the highest respect.

This is one of the biggest reasons why I believe RPR is so effective. It's a catalyst for any athlete to understand that they can’t separate their performance, mindset, or nervous system. With my athletes there is always a physical compensation that we’re trying to solve, but more often than you think it’s attached to an emotion or feeling about that experience or memory. With RPR, the athlete is able to process that history and unlock their potential.

Jesse Ohliger

RPR (L2)

My 1-2-3 Moment: Neal Dakmak

Neal Dakmak is the owner of DAKMAK Performance, a private fitness and training facility located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. DAKMAK works with clients across all lifestyles - college athletes, people with physical limitations such as amputees or chronic pain, people who exercise regularly, and people who haven’t exercised in years. Neal sets himself apart by bringing a deeply intuitive approach to training and a real, genuine desire to help people feel better and live a more fulfilling life. You can follow Neal on Instagram and at DakmakTraining.com

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For years I was looking for the perfect program, for myself of course, but even more for my clients. I developed a strong understanding and appreciation of the body through weightlifting and functional training but I always felt like there was something missing. The first big step to finding that missing piece came through a “mind-muscle connection” when my brain understood exactly what my muscles were attempting to do during a variety of movements. So many of the people I work with are really just getting to know their bodies. Age is irrelevant, whether they are in their twenties or retired, and it’s extremely important to help them feel at one with their body. As I developed my understanding while working with so many different people, I became confident that if I could help someone find strength in their core and connect their brain to their actions, I could help them improve their quality of life. When I first learned about Reflexive Performance Reset, RPR, I found myself in a state of total information overload and didn’t really understand how it would fit into my program but, as everyone involved with RPR has said, you can’t really get it until you’ve experience it.

The First Moment: Getting RPR’ed

I was first introduced to RPR about a year ago by my buddy, Chad King, but I wasn’t really ready to open my mind to it. My focus was centered on my business and my clients. At the time I just wasn’t truly interested in learning something new but Chad believed in it, and I trusted his opinion, so I really listened as he explained RPR. He taught me how to perform “wake up drills” by demonstrating them on me. Chad learned RPR early on, before the focus was on teaching people to do the wake up drills on themselves. Like I said, I wasn’t really ready to open my mind to it but by the end of our first session together it was clear to me that RPR was going to be a key to growing myself and my business. This was something I could see becoming a regular part of my program, allowing me to help people further. This was going to open up an entire new world for DAKMAK Performance.

After that one session I felt so relaxed. And so ready. I sustained the feeling by continuing to perform the drills on myself daily. A month later a RPR Level 1 clinic was being held in Dallas, only a six-hour drive from my house. No question, I’m there. During that trip I met some incredible like-minded individuals. The 1-2-3 lens we learn in Level 1 put structure to so much of what I believed and lived. The clinic gave me the knowledge and confidence to bring it back to DAKMAK and interlace it into my own program. This was EXACTLY what I needed to push forward and really appreciate the benefits of RPR.

The Second Moment: Back to DAKMAK

Once I introduced RPR into our program, by implementing the wake up drills, we immediately started seeing clients grasp the concept. They were able to experience improvements in breathing and movements within a short time – all without fully understanding much about the mechanics of what they were doing. It was truly an eye opener to improving my training program and business model.

Any trainer will tell you that in our world timing is everything. Some of the things we’ve worked on for months or even years are able to improve instantly when everything comes together.  And it really is everything – from mindset to training to recovery. RPR was helping me improve MY system of training and time management. It has allowed me to do MORE GOOD in LESS TIME. We can provide our clients with more value, proficiency in their training, and an overall peace of mind knowing that we care about more than just getting them in and out the door!

The Third Moment: Walking without a Cane in 6 days

Only a few weeks after implementing RPR I was confident we could help people change their lives much quicker than we previously thought. That led me to the third moment that really drove it all home.

While out one night I came across a guy I knew from elementary and high school, Jonathan Drummond. At first I didn’t recognize him since he walked with a cane, had a drag-to gait, and looked nothing like the person I knew in school. I learned Jonathan had been shot 13 years ago, not long after we last saw each other, and had been in constant pain and forced to walk with a cane ever since the accident. His doctors didn’t have an answer as to why he’d been unable to regain his walking ability. He felt abandoned by the medical system and was out of other ideas. I had already experienced some remarkable results with RPR and Jonathan was ready to try anything, so we decided to work together to see if RPR was the miracle he was waiting for.

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Each session began with RPR which helped to loosen him up, get him ready to work, and also helped to clear his mind so he could focus and adapt to his body changing. Next, we used the Sand Dune Stepper to stretch out his hips, help with balance, and to develop the range of motion in his feet and stride. At the end of each session, he would walk without his cane knowing he was in a safe environment. We both learned through a bit of trial and error and our training was as much about me pushing myself as it was about him. It wasn’t easy, but his strength and mindset helped him progress rapidly. His courage during his training inspired me and carried me forward as well. I genuinely believe that without RPR Jonathan’s results would have been drawn-out and much more laborious before seeing positive results.

Jonathan’s body has reacted very well to RPR sessions. During his first visit his body was extremely tight, as if protecting itself. After RPR, even before any other exercise, his body began to move more fluidly and he was more relaxed. After such fantastic results using RPR and the Sand Dune we performed a full session in a heated pool - to see if we could increase blood flow and muscle movement - and it worked exceedingly well! We witnessed immediate improvements and he was able to increase his momentum when walking. After six days of training together, Jonathan was able to walk across the gym without a cane, something he hasn’t been able to do since his injury.

One of the big challenges we face as trainers is helping people take their mind off focusing on pain or discomfort and reestablishing a better connection between their mind and what they are asking of their body. In Jonathan’s case, that meant overcoming fear and pain that’s been constant for almost half his life and trying something completely new. That takes confidence and hope like no other.

Each time we work together Jonathan has made improvements. His body is relearning coordination, balance, and movement without pain. Simple things such as moving from sitting to standing are now a more natural sequence rather than an awkward struggle. For him this has been a very fast and very emotional experience. And it’s been that way for me as well. I’m such a passionate person that sometimes it has become overwhelming. I’ve cried during sessions with Jonathan, had to walk out and calm myself, and it’s because I care so deeply and I’m so moved to see someone improve their quality of life to this extent. Not that caring is a bad thing, but RPR has helped me grow in this way as well. It can be painful or difficult to care so deeply about someone’s progress, but going back to the 1-2-3 lens, I know I need to take care of myself first in order to help someone else. When I take care of myself, I can give back to people the way I have always dreamed of doing.

Confidence is the biggest key in my world. RPR is a huge catalyst for the confidence I have in myself and is something I’m lucky to have the opportunity to share with other people. This wider lens that 1-2-3 provided me reflects the experiences I’ve had in such a short period and I really could not be happier.

I can’t wait to learn and share more!

Every Breath You Take

Every breath you take

Every move you make

I’ll be watching you

The Police

Many seemed interested in the topic of breathing so I decided to share some of what I know.

I will begin with a simple test that anyone can do to get an idea of how well they are breathing and their general level of health. The BOLT or Body Oxygen Level Test, also known as a CP or controlled pause, is something I do every morning to gauge how I am doing in regards to my breathing practice. I have always been a bad breather. I mouth breathe, especially at night. When I began measuring my morning BOLT is was consistently around 20 seconds. Not real good. I thought I was in decent shape.

The ideal score for a healthy person is 40 seconds. The lower the score equals greater breathing volume which may lead to breathlessness during exercise and a variety of other health issues. Why are BOLT scores lower today than when our grandparents were knee high to a grasshopper? The simple answer is that modern humans experience more stress on a daily basis. We are constantly are on the go and our daily routines are not conducive to proper breathing. We sit too much hunched over desks while playing on cell phones and eating foods and chugging drinks that are often convenient and expedient, but generally toxic to our system. Additionally, our indoor climates are controlled so that we never experience extremes of temperature. We never are uncomfortable. Lastly, our busy lifestyles and being constantly on the go ironically limit our perceived time availability to exercise and move in a healthy manner.

HOW TO MEASURE YOUR BOLT

  • Rest for a bit before testing or do upon waking once you are up and about for 5-10 minutes

  • Best not to do this after a meal-empty belly=better

  • When you are ready to measure inhale normally through your nose and then exhale out through your nose

  • After the exhale immediately pinch your nose shut with your fingers

  • Time how long it takes for you to feel the first desire or urge to breathe.

  • This desire is usually felt in the diaphragm or by an urge to swallow

  • ***This is not a test to see or measure how long you can hold your breath. It is a measure to see how long it takes your body to react to a lack of air-this is a big difference.

  • When you feel the desire to take a breath remove your fingers from your nose and stop or look at the timer.

  • Now breathe in through your nose in a calm manner-you should not feel like you have to gasp for air.

Carbon dioxide is the main stimulus for breathing. The length of your breath hold is directly related and influenced by how much CO2 you can tolerate. When you hold your breath (CP) carbon dioxide accumulates in the lungs and blood.

A lower BOLT score, 20 s. or less, can indicate that you are sensitive to CO2 and this in turn will lead to a greater breathing volume. You are over breathing. When you over breathe then the balance between carbon dioxide and oxygen is disrupted. Carbon dioxide is needed so that oxygen is transported to your body’s cells and tissues.  How we breathe determines our body’s level of CO2. If we are stressed and in turn over breathe, then we expel too much CO2 and then our body cannot efficiently use oxygen. If we breathe correctly then CO2 will be balanced inside of us leading to the proper delivery of oxygen to our muscles and organs.

An individual with a BOLT score of 20 or less will generally deal with issues such as a clogged nose, coughing and wheezing, and disrupted sleep along with lots of snoring. Exercising may result in being easily fatigued and breathlessness. It will not matter if you exercise intensely, take the top of the line supplements and do yoga with a Nepalese guru, if your morning BOLT remains low you will not improve health wise. Earlier I shared that my initial BOLT scores were around 20 seconds. I am pleased that through practice and breathing drills my scores are generally in the neighborhood of 30-35 seconds. That is the key…practice and discipline. We must retrain our brain to breathe properly. Normally we do not have to think about breathing, but due to the demands and stresses of life we now do.

Buteyko thought that a CP of 60 seconds and above was ideal health. When the CP is high then oxygenation of the cells is also high. The chance of getting diseases is significantly lessened.

An interesting thing is that in studies it shows that breathing is heaviest for most people from 4 AM-7AM. CP is lowest during these early morning hours. Sick people are more likely to die at this time. Why? Breathing is heaviest and body oxygen is lowest. Personally I am never sleeping during this time and may be fooling the grim reaper… for now.

ROME WAS NOT BUILT IN A DAY

Start with the morning BOLT Test. Then work on some breathing. Belly breathing is the key. Diaphragmatic breathing aids in lymphatic drainage-the diaphragm is a lymphatic pump. Initially, strive for a consistent BOLT score of 30 s. 24/7. When this occurs then belly/diaphragmatic breathing will become automatic. Before I do any breathing drills I reset my diaphragm using techniques I garnered from RPR. A quick drill gets me belly breathing and this is vital.

A breathing drill I currently use consists of sitting on a bench press with my back up against my Earthquake bar that is racked. I sit with an upright torso as if I was a scarecrow with a broomstick up my back. I place my hands on my knees and relax all muscles. I may play music at a low volume and I like the lights to be dimmed. The temperature is a bit cooler because I am in my weight room downstairs in the basement. I begin by taking light breaths inhaling through my nose. I primarily exhale through my nose as well, but the exhalation can be through the mouth. I practice reduced breathing. That is, I take small inhalations using my diaphragm and nose only and pausing to breathe between breaths so that a light air hunger exists. I do this for rounds of 3-4 minutes. Why? Exposing oneself to reduced oxygen intake for a short period of time will improve your body’s oxygen carrying capacity.

Another drill I practice is to do light breathing followed by what I call unclogs. I breathe lightly for 3-4 minutes and then when I feel comfortable I pinch my nose and tilt my head back and forth averaging a full tilt every 3 seconds. The head tilt is like a super exaggerated head movement as if nodding yes. The first round I perform 10 head tilts and I usually take 30 seconds. When the head tilts are completed I take one breath using my nose and hold my breath for 20-30 seconds. I then breathe lightly for 1-2 minutes followed by a second round of 15 tilts. I finish with 20-25 head tilts with the breathe hold during the tilts being approximately 1 minute.

UNCLOG DRILL

  • Light breaths using diaphragm and nose only-3-4 minutes

  • Round one I pinch nose and do 10 head tilts

  • After head tilts I take one nasal breath and hold for 20-30 seconds

  • I then breathe light for 1-2 minutes

  • I then pinch nose and do 15 head tilts-45 seconds

  • I then take one deep breath and hold for 20-30 seconds

  • I breathe light for 1-2 minutes

  • I pinch nose and try for 20-25 head tilts-60 seconds or more.

  • I finish with a breath hold for 20-30 seconds.

Breathing in the morning will energize you for the day and it will plant in your mind to focus on correct breathing even when the day’s stresses are coming at you like a spider monkey jacked up on Mountain Dew.

Just breathe.

B

My 1-2-3 Moment: Angi McRobbie

Angi is the owner of Dynamic Sports Massage Recovery. Based in Cleveland, she works with athletes of all stripes - from youth to professionals. She’s passionate about Ohio State, the Indians, and most of all the Browns. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter.


I first heard about RPR from a massage client of mine. Completely honesty, my first response was that I had no idea what he was talking about but it didn’t sound like something for me and dismissed it. Then he comes back after going to a Level 1 clinic and says that it’s amazing and it works. He says that he can’t really explain how it works, but that I just need to feel it. Not ready to jump in, but impressed by how excited he is, I decide to look further into the RPR thing.

After reading about it on the website, it seemed interesting but I’m a massage therapist and this looks like it’s focused more on strength coaches and trainers getting their athletes ready for game day or events. I don’t know how it fits into what I’m doing but, going back and forth about it, I decide to go to Indiana for a Level 1 clinic with Chris Korfist. I figure it’s pretty simple - if I learn something, awesome. If not, well, it wasn’t too expensive.


In the clinic, it started to make sense, we’re going through the Wake Up Drills and I think back to a conversation I had with one of my clients who’s on the Cleveland Browns. We were talking about glute function and how the psoas effects that and he told me, “Ang, when I was in Jacksonville, they showed me this thing on the back of my head and jaw and I felt like I could run forever.” He couldn’t remember what it was called but as soon as Chris showed us the glute wake up drill, I realized: this was it!

At the end of the Level 1, I knew there was something to it but I still wasn’t sure how it was going to fit into my massage practice. One thing I’ve learned is that when something’s fresh, you just have to start using it, so I show a few of my clients the Wake Up drills and they think it’s magic - they feel awesome and, well, it makes my job as a massage therapist easier. They ask me why it works and it’s still fuzzy for me, so I know what I have to do - I go to Columbus for a Level 2 clinic hosted by JL.

Here’s where my 1-2-3 moment happens. We’re partnered up doing the compensation pattern tests and my partner and I are having a really hard time finding my stability. We thinking we’re doing something wrong, so we call JL over, thinking we just missed something simple. He does the tests on me and then asks if I’ll come to the front because he wants to use me as an example. Sure - why not?

“Here is a perfect example of a zero,” says JL. You can guess how I felt right then. JL goes on to explain that someone who has no neurological base of stability is a zero. “I don’t know her and I have no idea what’s going on in her life, but her sympathetic nervous system is in overdrive.”

I’m standing there, feeling like I’m naked in front of a room full of strangers, and this guy is telling everyone about me. He was right, by the way, I had a lot of stress going on in my life. All I wanted to do was sit down.

When we break for lunch, I go up to talk to him one-on-one. He asks if we can talk about what I have going on. I wanted to say no and run away but instead I looked at him and said, “Everything you said is no surprise at all to me. I just left a job that I loved. I was stressed about what people thought of me - my coworkers, and my clients. I had just started a business, which obviously brought a lot of pressure and stress. And I was dealing with it by ignoring it and just pushing forward - just plugging along.”

JL says this to me, and it really changed my perspective: “Pretending the stress isn’t there isn’t doing any good to you. And if you’re not doing right by yourself, you can’t do right for your clients.” Now, he’s telling me this because of how I tested? I feel myself getting emotional, and honestly just wanted to get out of this conversation and go home - I came here for some muscle testing stuff to help my athletes and now I’m having a therapy session? What is this?!

For the rest of the clinic, I was kind of in my own head. “How can I help myself get out of this spot?” “How can I fix this?” But as the day went on, I started to feel better. I got stronger, we did some really awesome stuff with vision and color. I went home that night resolved that I was going to take control of my 1-2-3. I was going to get my 1 in line so I could be better in 2 and then 3.

So what did I do? I started doing RPR every day (really just Zone 1). I started working out again. I did meditative yoga to give my brain a rest. I started journaling. I started taking time through the day to simply breathe and focus on that. And I can honestly say that I have never felt better.

That day gave me the confidence to really bring RPR into my life, and then into my practice. My practice has always been about educating my clients, and RPR fits right into that. And it’s not just my athletes who love it (and they do), but my regular everyday clients are seeing such success with it that they use it first whenever something comes up.

That day showed me that RPR truly is a game-changer. Not to sound dramatic, but RPR really did change my life and helped me learn how to thrive in my body. I’ve said it before and will say it again (I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face!): RPR was one of the most influential clinics I’ve ever been to and the 1-2-3 lens is something that I try to bring to every one of my clients.

My 1-2-3 Moment: Jeff Bramhall

This is the first in an ongoing series talking about how the 1-2-3 lens impacts people’s lives. if you’d like to be part of this series, shoot me a note.

At RPR, we talk about the world through a lens we call 1-2-3.

In the body, that’s a metaphor for optimal movement. It’s hip flexion and extension (zone 1), quads, hamstrings, and abs (zone 2), and then out to the extremities (zone 3). Just like your baseball coach told you when you were ten years old: power comes from your hips.

The body’s truly amazing - it will do whatever it takes to move you. If zone one isn’t doing its job to its greatest capacity, your body will compensate to find a base of stability further down the line. Great athletes can be great compensators, but compensations prevent you from reaching your full potential.

When I was introduced to this idea, it made sense but it didn’t rock my world, it just sort of … made sense. I’ll say without hesitation that I’m lucky. I never had any allegiance to what I’d believed because it was never a core part of my identity. Training, bodywork, coaching - those things brought joy and richness to my life, but they were never my sole pursuit.

When I attended one of the first RPR clinics at The Spot in Columbus, meeting Cal, Chris, and JL, looking around the room and seeing NFL coaches and trainers, entire Big-10 athletics staffs, and some of the best lifters in the world, I knew there was something here that was bigger than injury prevention or performance enhancement. There was something more than the lightness I felt when I first experienced the Wake Up Drills that had some incredible value. I was bound and determined to figure out what that was.

It took a long time, a lot of experimentation, and a lot of seeking, but it became clear. What drew me in and held me close was how 1-2-3 applies outside of the body and can improve every aspect of life.

What I found with 1-2-3 was that the ability to separate input from reaction. I was able to engage with myself from a place of authenticity and integrity (Zone 1), which allowed me to bring that same clarity and calm to my interactions with my close circle of people (Zone 2), and choose how (and whether) I wanted to engage with the rest of the world (Zone 3) - ATOF (if you know, you know).

I can tell stories of being a better salesperson using this approach (prior to joining RPR, I was a sales lead at Onshape) and I can tell stories about choosing to stepping away from relationships that didn’t align with my values. But the story I want to tell is when the power of 1-2-3 became REAL to me.

After work one day, I was on the subway heading downtown to meet up with my wife. I’m sitting near the end of a car and across from me is a mother and her probably three-year-old daughter and a few seats down from them is an older man, potentially homeless, probably drunk, but definitely down on his luck. One of those guys who carries an air of sadness with them. One of those guys that is, more often than not, simply ignored.

He’s being friendly with them and the mother is tolerating it because it’s pretty clear that he’s at least mostly harmless. Eventually, he starts being a little more friendly than the mother is comfortable with and she moves away. This does not go over well. “Just a bunch of princesses……..” he starts saying, getting loud, but not actively doing anything. He just starts running his mouth.

Now, this is where for the first 36 years of my life, I would have met force with force. I probably would have gotten in the guy’s face and verbally overpowered him.

But with this new 1-2-3 lens, and the space to separate input and reaction, I just walked over and stood next to the guy, outside his space, but close enough to speak softly and said to him:

“Hey man, is this really how you want to be?”

And he came back with a bunch of noise about princesses and entitlement and how he was just trying to be a nice guy. And after he stopped, I said simply:

“I totally hear you, but is this really how you want to be?”

And he stopped. He just stopped. And he said that he was tired. I’m sure tired couldn’t even begin to explain it.

And I held space with him. Every few minutes he’d get agitated and I’d coach him through to the next stop, reminding him that he was ok and he just wanted to get where he was going.

Now’s where it gets fun.

We reach what he thinks is his stop and he gets up to get off the train. I walk with him over to the door when he realizes that he actually has to go one more stop to reach his destination and, for obvious reasons, turns around to get back on the train.

And some other guy comes up behind me in a ball of rage and yells “NO WAY, YOU’RE GETTING OFF THIS F*CKING TRAIN RIGHT NOW!”

I turn around to the newfound hero, and quietly and gently say to him, “Hey man, you don’t need to worry about it. Everything’s all set here.” This is the moment that I’m honestly the most shocked by because he was so violent and forceful. And I chose to deflect that rage and meet him with calm kindness.

And I turn back to the older guy and say “The next stop’s in about a minute - let’s just get there.” And he does. And he thanks me for staying with him for the train ride. Maybe this is the first time he was treated with empathy in a long time, I don’t know. I just know that I was able to meet him on a level that acknowledged his humanity and reminded him that he had a choice.

Now, the hero’s gone, the older guy is gone, and I sit down - shocked at what had just happened because it’s so starkly different from how I imagine that situation to play out. The mother and daughter are sitting right across from me again. The mother looks at me with one of the most genuinely grateful looks I’ve ever seen and says, “That was amazing. Thank you.”

And I, at a loss for words (which I still am when I describe my feelings about this), simply say, “I’m glad I could help.”

I credit RPR for giving me the ability to create that space to choose empathy and kindness in that situation. That space allowed me to engage with human beings as human beings, rather than as problems to solve or as combatants to defeat. I also credit the 1-2-3 lens for giving me the language to describe this.

Anyone who has attended an RPR course that I’ve taught can attest to the earnestness and passion that I bring to this calling, and this story illustrates why. There is an infinite amount of good that can be brought to the world, all we have to do it choose it.

It’s as easy as 1-2-3.

B Briefly on Breathing

We’re excited to introduce a series of content by Glenn Buechlein! Glenn is a legend in physical culture, but also - and probably more importantly - an educator. Any introduction we could give would pale in comparison to Paul Leonard’s. Go read that, then come back here!

We’re excited to partner with Glenn because he truly embodies the power that comes with living 1-2-3. Enjoy!

B Briefly on Breathing

by Glenn Buechlein

I am now 52 years old and I have worked out or lifted weights non-stop for approximately 35 years.

Along the way I have competed and picked up a variety of certifications. I have read a library of books on the topic of strength and conditioning and have written in the neighborhood of two dozen published articles. Oh yeah, and a book, The Tao of B.

In the past year, especially after learning about Be Activated and RPR, I have come to the conclusion that something we all take for granted is the key to overall health and well being. If one chooses to eat clean and diet, do P90X, compete in a Tough Mudder, powerlift, run a mini, etc. nothing will be optimal unless there is a focus on correct breathing. Breathing plays second fiddle to nothing. Breathing is Batman and all the other things are Robin.

Take a deep breath…

Actually disregard the previous statement.

I will share some key things I discovered about breathing. These may be a bit random because that is how I think.

  • When stressed we will breathe faster and more often

  • When stressed we will breathe with the upper chest

  • When stressed we tend to mouth breathe and sigh more

  • When we breathe too hard or over breathe we get rid of too much carbon dioxide

  • When we get rid of too much carbon dioxide then oxygen cannot be efficiently transported to all the body’s tissues.

  • When your circulatory system is laid end to end it would circumnavigate the earth at the equator 3 X.

  • When we were born we belly breathed (diaphragmatic) and we breathed through our nose.

  • When do we stop doing this?

  • When we breathe through the nose we release nitric oxide that dilates the blood vessels and enhances the amount of O2 taken up by the blood. Drink beet juice.

  • When we nose breathe the diaphragm is activated and we get into the parasympathetic instead of the sympathetic (fight or flight)

  • When we mouth breathe it can change our appearance and facial structure.

  • When we breathe less, it is actually more.

  • When we mouth breathe while sleeping we will wake up tired.

  • When we breathe correctly in the proper pattern then our movement will improve.

  • When breathing pattern disorders exist this will have a negative effect on functional movement.

  • When we breathe with the upper chest it may lead to neck pain, TMJ, low back pain and overall poor posture including forward head placement.

  • When we chest breathe accessory muscles are forced to work harder such as the scalene, SCM, and traps. Basically this leads to a pain in the neck.

  • When I do my daily breathing drills I consider it a workout. I can mimic high altitude training and can enhance O2 delivery as well as unclogging my nose. Warning: High altitude training can make your legs shakier than constructing a Jenga tower on top of a jackhammer.

  • When I help people breathe correctly while working out or lifting weights they consistently perform better and feel better.

  • When you really focus on breathing it should be separate from the exercise.

  • When you know how to activate your diaphragm then it is much easier to learn how to belly breathe.

I have spent a great deal of time researching breathing. It may sound mundane, but it is beyond fascinating. I have experimented with Wim Hof style breathing, but I personally adhere to the principles of Buteyko. Some good reads on the topic are The Oxygen Advantage by Patrick McKeown and Advanced Buteyko Breathing Exercises by Artour Rakhimov.

I have always been somewhat of a mouth breather. I have made progress in becoming a better breather. It takes time and patience as well as discipline and commitment. I did not become a big bencher overnight and I am wise enough that it will take many turns of the clock and changes in the season for me to be a primo breather. I designed my own breathing workout that I do each morning. It is mine. I will share it, but do not be reluctant to get your own. Do some research and experiment. You will then discover what you need to do to improve.

So…do not take a deep breath. Do not enhance or amplify what you were doing to get into a state of stress. Rather, take a light breath… breathe lightly in and out your nose.