Hi there! First off, thank you so much for visiting my website. If you clicked on my About page, you’re probably interested in who the heck I am for some reason or another. This probably isn’t your typical Fit Pro “About” page (I think those are normally written in third person?) Basically what you have is me pouring my heart out for a bit, waxing philosophical and hopefully giving you a sense for a least a part of my personality and my passion (the other part of my personality is wrapped up in an elaborate dance to the Numa Numa song). I often talk about the power of narrative, so here’s mine.
A Bit of Backstory
I started freefitguy in 2009 with the hope of a new beginning and a chance to follow my passion. At the time I was living abroad in Japan as an Assistant English teacher in local schools. And I loved it! But for some reason, my thoughts kept returning to movement – the different aspects of training, nutrition, psychology, movement, mobility. Lifting had been a hobby of mine since high school soccer but had taken on a completely different intent once I was first exposed to CrossFit (yes, CrossFit) and realized that there were so many other aspects to moving, training, and exploring than just 3 sets of 10 reps on every machine in the building. Training had been where I built my confidence as a high schooler, but now it had become something more. I started exploring the varied aspects of movement – one thing led to another I was buried under a mountain of books, blogs, podcasts, and videos that were just. so. fascinating! I couldn’t stop thinking about movement, practicing movement, reading about it, and then going back in for more. But it was more than the movement itself – it was the sense of freedom that came with moving. The sense of connection that resonated with me when I saw kids playing together on the playground, or Erwan Le Corre of MovNat moving through a natural landscape. There was something deeper at play here – and I wanted to bring that into my life and into the lives of others. But how?
It wasn’t until I received some serious encouragement from my wife that I decided to take the leap I’d been talking about for months. I put my Japanese studies on hold, got certified, and started training clients on playgrounds around Japan. (Initially these were just other volunteer English Language teachers.) It was through these experiences that realized I didn’t just like movement for my own sake – I loved coaching and bonding with others through the training process. (If you are an aspiring trainer reading this page, that’s the best advice I can give you. If you want to be great at coaching other people, you will be. If you love training and are looking for an outlet, seriously think about what it means to be a coach. Make sure it’s something you’re as passionate about as yourown movement.)
I started this blog around the same time I started training with the hope of sharing my journey and making a positive impact on others exploring similar paths and questions. It didn’t have a clear voice yet, and felt pressure to create content every day. A lot has changed since those first months. I DO have a clear and yet evolving vision of what I stand for. I don’t believe in creating content for clicks or just because. I only want to put out stuff that means something to me, because that’s why I started this thing in the first place.
The previous 5 years+ have been a whirlwind. I moved back to the states, got an internship and then a job as a full-time trainer, became an instructor for Original Strength and created my own workshop based around play, launched the Ninja Academy and started to verbalize the WHY I had been searching for. All because of a swift kick in the rear and a kiss on the cheek from my wife! Thanks honey!
Like anything, understanding can only come through time, experience, and reflection. I’d be lying if I thought that five years from now I’d explain my motivations in the exact same way I explain them today, but there are a couple of threads that have remained consistent throughout my time training and coaching.
My fitness practice brought a sense of freedom that I didn’t fully understand, but I wanted to explore and share with others. And it wasn’t necessarily what fitness enabled me to do that was freeing, it was the process of engaging day in and day out in my practice. Over time, I realized that what I was searching for was balance. The thing I love about balance is it isn’t static – it’s not about holding a single position, it’s about moving back towards the center when you realize your too far to one extreme. It was what my clients were searching for too, both individually and as a community. Somewhere along the way, we lost touch with our sense of joy, play, and connection to our bodies and each other. I gravitated towards MovNat (“natural movement”) and parkour because of the practicality of the movements and the connection I felt to my ancestry, biology, and environment. This was the beginning, but it wasn’t until I also dove into the fields of restorative movement and play (shout out to the awesome blog by Rafe Kelley) that I started filling out my toolbox. These are things I love to teach not only because I’ve seen these things change lives, they changed my own. They brought me back to balance, back to freedom, and back to reconnecting with my loved ones and community.
As a coach, my goal isn’t to tell people how to live – it’s to be a partner with them on their own journey. To provide whatever insight I can, to help them discover where their own gaps lie, and to use what tools I have to help them unlock their natural born ability to be free and vibrant. And ultimately, to be a part of something bigger than themselves (whatever that is for them). THAT’S why I coach. And it might sound like lofty ideals – but I’ve seen it happen time and again. Movement is an entry point. It’s not THE entry point, but it is AN entry point to exploring these concepts. And it’s a piece of the bigger puzzle of a holistic lifestyle for every human animal.
I train only as much as it helps me be a better man, father, husband, and member of my community. These are the things that drive me. And because of that, my major focus is play and restorative movement. I want to feel good, so I do things that help me feel good but also capable of providing for those I love.
I often ask people Why they want to train – then Why again. Then Why. Eventually we get to something raw or challenging. A lot of times people aren’t really sure. And that’s totally cool – I’m still not sure I’ve got it down myself – but just by asking the question I’ve uncovered so much that I think it has value for anyone. A big problem I see in the fitness industry today is that the means often don’t match the motivations – or that we haven’t even clearly identified our motivations in the first place. As Ido Portal would say, our methods are dominated our dogmas when it should be the other way around. We’ve become so fixated on superficial aspects of our lives that we lose sight of why this stuff matters to us at all – how it can enrich our experiences, our relationships, and build the content of our character.
Then a Podcast was Born!
We launched The Human Animal Podcast for several reasons. 1) Most of my growth as a coach and as a husband/father/person came from talking with my family, friends, colleagues, and clients. Selfishly, I wanted more of these experiences. 2) I’m a much better talker than a writer – I tend to think out loud and work through stuff to help me solidify where I’m at. 3) We truly believe in the message of holistic health and wellness. We felt like this was something not being talked about enough in our sphere of fitness. We thought it would be cool to share with others the types of conversations we’ve been having and build a bigger community around those concepts. 4) It’s so FUN!
Credentials and Stuff
I’ve been coaching at Force Fitness and Performance since 2011, and am lucky enough to direct our coaching programs and continuing education. Force is also the home of the Ninja Academy – a series of programs based around my core mission of play, community and balance. I often tell people that we have courses for 6-9 year olds, as well as ones for adults that want to act like 6-9 year olds (I know I do!).
I’ve been really blessed to learn and study under some amazing people. I have to give special thanks to my mentors Tim Anderson of Original Strength, Nathan – my brother from another mother, Whitney – my padawan turned master – and my beautiful wife Valerie for her constant guidance, patience and empathy. Oh, I’ve also taken some official courses too :).
- Original Strength Certified Coach and Workshop Instructor
- MovNat Level 2 Certified Trainer
- Precision Nutrition Level 1 Coach
- Functional Movement Systems Level 1
- Certified in Barrel Training w/ John Brookfield
- CrossFit Level 1
- Fitness Revolution
- International Youth Conditioning Association – Youth Fitness Specialist 1
- American College of Sports Medicine – Certified Personal Trainer
And participated in cool workshops on topics ranging from Kelly Start’s Movement and Mobility course, to Kettlebells, Parkour (training with the Yamakasi and my friends at BASE fitness), Train Like a Girl 2, and more. I REALLY love reading to, though that’s going to have to be a post for another day. :)-
In 2015 I launched OS Play, a specialty workshop hosted by Original Strength that further explores the ideas of play, freedom, and the joy of movement. We get to be ninjas, play Zombie Dodgeball, and save the world from sloth and evil. *thumbs up*. Thank you to Tim, Dani and John of OS for believing in this project and giving me a platform to spread the good word about play! If you want a little preview, check out the Dojo Rules Page or my Ignite Bloomington presentation on Youtube. It’s a timed 5-minute speech that’s similar to a TED talk.
Thank you to all the coaches, clients, colleagues, mentors and friends who have walked with me along this journey. I am eternally grateful.
Most of all, I want to thank my family: my wife, my son, and our beautiful pup Greta. You ground me and lift me up. You’ve taught me more about life, connecting, and coaching than I could ever dream of learning in a thousand books, courses, or podcasts. I love you.
Wow, that was a mouthful! I hope you find something here that resonates with you. As we say in Japan, thank you so much for you kind consideration!