Written by Christopher Kelly
Aug. 18, 2017
Christopher: Hello and welcome to the Nourish Balance Thrive Podcast. My name's Christopher Kelly and today I'm joined once again by Aaron Alexander. Hi, Aaron!
Aaron: Hey, man! How's it going?
Christopher: It's going great! I'm very excited to be recording this podcast live in glorious mono from my Bonny Doon studio. We are looking at the redwoods and the manzanitas as we speak here. Hopefully you're appreciating the audio quality. It's much better than I normally have using Skype.
Aaron is on an amazing adventure and it's very exciting. Talk about how this all started. So you're originally in Bend in Oregon and what happened?
Aaron: Well, originally -- are you saying from this present trip? Because originally --
Christopher: Well, go back a bit further because you were in Bend, right? And then you made this decision to move down to Southern California.
Aaron: Yeah, and before Bend, it was Colorado -- or that was Hawaii -- so there have been other transitions before that.
Christopher: Oh, I'm Johnny-come-lately.
Aaron: Since our relationship, it's been Bend to Santa Monica, California. Yeah, it's just been -- I've spent the last 12 or 13 years being in these kind of crunchy-granola meccas, so the quality of life, exceptional, but the level of network was kind of less than what I would've preferred for what I'm creating I guess you could say.
Christopher: Right, and this is in Bend you're talking about right now?
Aaron: Yeah, and so I felt like I spent about a decade just honing in on the craft and such and then coming to a point where it's like to do what I'm visualizing doing, I need to be around people in Los Angeles or San Francisco area, so I took off.
Christopher: Well, let me interrupt the story for a moment and let's talk about your craft before we go any further. What is your superpower? I remember seeing you -- I think I talked about this in the last podcast we did, but the first time I saw you was at the Ancestral Health Symposium. I think I've seen you at several Ancestral Health Symposiums and you do look like a superhuman, perhaps an action character that stands out from the skinny, scrawny, maybe slightly ill-looking people at the Ancestral -- oh, I'm going to get in trouble now for saying that. That's kind of how I think of myself compared to you, so tell me about your craft. What is your unique superpower?
Aaron: I think everyone, as you start to dig in and research and just start to self-witness as well, you might start to notice things that are like frayed wires or things that are hanging in the world that really could be changed, but people just are going deeper into a path of -- when I see people, the way that we're moving through the world, being stuck looking at cellphones, being stuck looking at computers, stuck into our cars, it's forming us into these hunched over, depressed positions. They are literally archetypal positions of depression. And so, you could translate that to hyperkyphosis of forward head posture and medial rotation of the shoulders or you could just say that person looks down.
And so, if I would have a superpower, if I would describe it that way, it would probably be just seeing that correlation between someone's personality and someone's physical structure, and then being able to do that dance with someone and start to bring them back into a little bit more -- your daughter, Ivy, she was singing this song which I was like, "Yes, keep singing that song." She's like, "I am straight as an arrow. I stand straight as an arrow."
Christopher: That sounds like a Forest School thing to me.
Aaron: I think that's a Forest School thing, but that's legit. So if we can find that midline within our bodies and if you can have a hand pressed down on the top of your head or your shoulders and you feel that connection straight down to your feet, you're starting the process through the path of winning, but as long as I push down and you blow up the hip or the knee or whatever it is, every step that you take is inflammatory essentially.
Christopher: Right, so that's where this is coming from, me asking if you had some sort of superhero/superhuman/action figure, is because -- I mean, you can see it in the way that you hold yourself. You're a big, young, handsome guy, but then you're also holding yourself in a way that makes you look more confident. I could probably imitate your stance quite easily to some extent, but I wouldn't be able to hold that for very long nor would I -- do you see what I'm saying?
Aaron: Nor would you want to.
Christopher: Nor would I want to. I stopped myself from saying that then you finished the sentence for me. Such is the magic of recording a live interview, but yeah, what I'm saying is I would not be able to hold that posture for very long, and before very long, I would go back to that kind of slumped shoulders rolled forward, looking at my iPhone, tight posture. So how do you hold it consistently? You're moving like this all of the time.
Aaron: Yeah. It's cultivating interest or intrigue. It's just like anybody. When you get really interested in cars or in computers or whatever --
Christopher: So you found your passion?
Aaron: Yeah. I think I did that or I'm doing that out of need. It's not just out of like, "Oh, that's cool, figuring out how to stand on your feet." You've seen I have varicose veins for example, so that's a genetic thing or maybe I got whacked in the leg or maybe it was a bodybuilding thing when I was a kid, whatever it was, so that's something that --
Christopher: Is that what started all this then?
Aaron: Partly, yeah, not just varicose veins, but the varicose veins is a great example of going into the fire to gather the treasure.
It's like Joe Campbell kind of talk like you've got to go into the storm in order to pull out something relevant, so sometimes a lot -- The Wounded Healer is a book that I was recently gifted that I've been reading, so that idea of the wounded healer. Originally, it's like if you never had a wound to nurse or heal yourself then you don’t really have that value that someone that would have walked that path does.
Christopher: Of course, or surely I can appreciate this because I've been to -- I mean, I spent most of my life feeling like shit, to be honest.
Aaron: You're a wounded healer.
Christopher: Exactly, but I would also say that I have the same alignment problems that you see in people all around you, but I somehow haven't managed to really fix that, I don’t think. I still think I'm doing something that means my lower back is prone to hurting and I have some ways to manage that including doing lots of walking, which is helpful, but I still think there's something you're doing with your posture that somehow you found some superpower that I haven't tapped into yet.
Aaron: It's the workout side. Anytime when you tell someone, "Stand up straight, stick in butt…" Can I swear? Is swearing okay?
Christopher: Yeah, we do swear a little bit.
Aaron: A little bit, so I was going to say stick in ass, but that's barely a swear word. So I was going to say 'stick in butt' and you hold yourself up for a second and you're in this contracted place. That's not it. We're not there yet. Through the work that goes into doing something like front squatting would be a nice example of an exercise that could start to help cultivate that midline or that alignment, deadlifting, kettlebells up over your head, dance, martial arts, yoga. There are all these different factors that the aggregation of those factors eventually compounds into youths just standing in their body and feeling like, "Oh, things feel pretty organized in this thing."
The combination of intention and education I think are the two most probable things. So first it's like okay, I have the intention and I want to go, and then it's like okay, are you going in the right direction? So it's been that combination of getting to speak to people like you. I've done over 150 odd interviews now, getting to dig into people's literature, in their books, magazines, talking to them, spending time with them, watching them, observing them, and then that along with actually giving a damn. So it's that momentary giving a damn, that's the big thing to crack that a lot of people I think would just -- we just do our P90X or we just do our Tae Bo or CrossFit and then we go back to moving like [0:07:35] [Indiscernible].
Christopher: Yeah. I remember we talked about that on the last podcast. You talked about taking off the suit that you wear when you ride a mountain bike. You can't really get away from the fact that you're in a crappy position when you ride a bike, but once you finish riding the bike, you need to take that suit off. I really remember that as a key takeaway from the previous podcast. I installed a chin-up bar on the recommendation of somebody else actually on the podcast. I would always take time just to hang for a few minutes, holding on to the chin-up bar after I -- not doing chin-ups, just hanging and it just allows all that to decompress after you've been on the bike in that hunched up position for a little while and that seems to be quite helpful.
Aaron: So the thing that -- as you went into that hanging position -- and you, by the way, you're like a self-deprecation master, but you're actually doing quite well. I've gotten the opportunity to work with you a little bit in the manual therapy perspective and just spent time in your home with your family and all that stuff. You're doing great. I mean, I think you already know that, but I think --
Christopher: It's interesting you say that because you've never really --
Aaron: That's British humor.
Christopher: British humor, yes, self-deprecating. Tommy does a lot of that too, but you never really know, do you? Somewhere in my mid-30s, I had this realization that I had no idea how anyone else was feeling. Once you've had that transformation, you're like, "Holy crap! What else am I missing here?" so you just don’t know. Maybe I got to disappoint where I just assumed that I was just awful with everything, movement, everything, so I'm actually maybe not as bad as I think.
Aaron: Yeah. It's all the feedback. That's the fascinating thing with how your body language creates a feedback loop all the time. So if I'm standing in a position -- you can tell the difference between I'm posturing up to show you how big and strong I am versus I just feel comfortable and stacked up in my body. And so, when you receive that message from someone -- or the opposite of that, I'm slouching forward and it feels like gravity is knocking my tree over. You can see all those three different perspectives on somebody. And when you see someone and they're standing organized in their body and they look comfortable, for one thing, that makes you comfortable, so we're always sharing this attunement with each other, but as soon as someone's perception changes a little bit, you can feel that through I think their body language. But as we start to create organization in our bodies, that becomes body language where we communicate something, like 60% of our communication is body language and 30% is tonality, then a little bit, 7% is the words we're actually saying.
Christopher: Oh, I've never heard that before.
Aaron: Yeah. Obviously that's going to change person to person, conversation to conversation. A phone conversation might be a little bit different than that imaginably, but it's this feedback that we're always getting.
So if you are moving around the world in a confident, strong, organized position then all of a sudden you'd start getting feedback from other people saying, "Wow! You look really good. Have you been working out?" "It really seems like you've been reading. You put your ideas together…" all these things, people trust that person that's able to come from a place of strong body language, and then that reaffirms itself and then you're off to the races. And then the vice versa, the same thing happens in the other end of the spectrum where you kind of look like crap and you're hunched over and people are kind of, "Are you okay?" I don’t know. Am I okay? I'm not sure. The worst thing to say to somebody is, "Wow, you really look tired."
Christopher: Yeah, especially with children. When their kid falls over and you're like -- oh, it's the worst thing you could do.
Aaron: So if you can get yourself in that sweet spot where the feedback is feeding back positive growth, now we're talking, but I think it takes work and intention and education to get to that point that you're in that sweet spot.
Christopher: Right. Yeah, let's talk about the work. Recently, I've come to realize that the most powerful thing I can do is to change, physically change my environment. I'm a computer guy and maybe you'd expect me to be really into quantified self and all of that, and I've really not found that stuff helpful, tracking heart rate variability, tracking steps, tracking blood glucose even at this point in the morning. Maybe those things were useful at some point, but now they really aren't. And the most powerful interventions I found are to physically change my environment, so I'll give you an example -- a couple of examples recently.
We got a dog. I've mentioned that before in the podcast, and that just totally changed everything in terms of how much I'm walking, which I think is really helpful for my back. And then another thing that I did recently was I have a stand-up desk and my dad came to visit and I realized that the only chair that he could use was this one I had at my stand-up desk, so I rolled it through from the office into the living room for him and then I guess I've not been bothered to roll it back, and guess what? I'm now standing all of the time. I definitely would've been sitting more had that chair been there. So really for me, it's about creating the environment.
I'm wondering. You're gesturing, pretending that you're holding a mobile phone as we're speaking in order to create that rolled over, hunched position. Is the next thing for me going to be getting rid of the mobile phone so that I'm not doing this text-neck rollover thing? Can you think of any other things that maybe we can do to change our environment to improve our --
Aaron: Well, even just looking at the way that you're holding the phone, so as you're holding the phone -- it's the same thing -- you could say like CrossFit gets a lot of flack for destroying people's backs or knees or whatever and it's not the CrossFit. It's not the movements themselves. I don’t care about CrossFit. I'm not dogmatic with that. I think do whatever feels good to you, but it's not the movement themselves that's destroying people. It's people doing the movements incorrectly, so they have the intention, but they don’t have the education.
And so with the cellphone, it's the same thing. It's more powerful than any tool NASA had ten years ago or whatever it is. It's this amazing tool that we have in our hands. There's no reason to say like, "No! Go back." What you can do is the same principles that you'd get from something -- back to the analogy CrossFit, if you can maintain that neutral, strong spine, so neutral just being all those joints are in their most optimal position. You're not pushing them to the edge of what they can do in any moment. So as you're in that neutral position with the spine, just something as simple as practicing hip hinging, so if you need to lean over and look at something, instead of hunching up in your thoracic spine, this 12th vertebra behind your heart territory here, hunching over into this depressed position to look at your phone, something you play with, one, you could bring the phone, raise the phone up, which I know this is going to look really silly. As I'm doing that, you're like, "I'm not going to do that." The other thing that you could do is keep yourself strong, but instead of hunching here, keep that spine nice and long and hinge forward just a little bit. So I'm looking at my phone and I'm in this position as opposed to this position, and this position is hinging at my hips versus hinging in the middle of my back.
Christopher: Can you describe what you just did a little bit better for people that are only listening?
Aaron: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So maybe we could just do some pictures. I have videos and all that stuff as well.
Christopher: Okay, so people can come to your website and see some of this.
Aaron: We could link specifically to this video.
Christopher: Okay. Well, that's what we should do then.
Aaron: That'll be the easier way to do it.
Christopher: Yeah, I think so.
Aaron: But it's just choosing your movements better. The big thing is our glutes, our hip joint, this is the most robust joint, robust set of muscles we have in our whole entire body, and most of us are in a space of what we call gluteal amnesia. Your ass forgot.
Christopher: You know what? I have to tell you about this. I totally forgot. Sorry to interrupt you. I'll try and remember what you're talking about.
Aaron: Oh, that was over, no.
Christopher: Gluteal amnesia, now I've remembered it. It's on the stack. I'd pop that back off in a second. I wanted to tell you, one of the things that Aaron did for me when he came here was he took a thick rubber band and you put it around my knees and then got me to do a squat. And then you told me to push against that rubber band as I did the squat, and I'm doing it right now and it's not -- it's funny. Once you've done it once with a rubber band, you don’t really need the rubber band there to know how to do it. And then the next day, I did some goblet squats holding a not terribly heavy kettlebell. And then within maybe two reps, my hamstrings actually started to hurt not in a bad way, but a delayed onset muscle soreness sort of way. And then the next day, they were really hurting, which was probably not great because I was doing a bike race, but there you go -- or two days later, I was doing a bike race.
I thought it was really interesting in just the way that I was pushing out with my legs completely changed the way that I was engaging the back of my legs, which brings us nicely back. I'll pop that back off the stack. You're talking about gluteal amnesia.
Aaron: Yeah, so hopefully you feel some of the burn in the glutes as well.
Christopher: Yeah, exactly, so that's what I'm talking about.
Aaron: So that external rotation, pushing the knees out wide. Just before this, Chris and I were talking about you're supposed to have some type of polysyllabic word every five minutes, but no more or no less than that.
Christopher: You're allowed your one technical word.
Aaron: You get one, so external rotation, that doesn’t count. So if you put the knees out in that external rotation position kind of like pushing them -- you can literally imagine you're standing on two dinner plates and you want to imagine you're screwing those plates out. And so, what you're going to do with that -- and everybody at home, they could do this even if you're driving a car. This is a big thing. As you're driving in a car, something you can play with just to start to re-engage some of that gluteal forgetory is you can just push your knees out against the side of the door, outside of --
Christopher: Right, so I'm not even twisting. I'm just pushing my knees out.
Aaron: Just pushing them out, just starting to create a little bit more conversation around that lateral posterior, the side of your legs and the back of your legs.
Christopher: Yeah, it's really interesting, so when I squat, sometimes my left hip by the joint clicks and when I push out and get organized like that, it doesn’t click.
Christopher: I can imagine it visually in my head, the ball joint. You've created tension and you've moved in such a way where it's not flopping around anymore, right?
Aaron: Yeah. You're putting it into its neutral position. Every five-minute polysyllabic word would be joint centration. You're finding that center point, that balance point with the joint. The goal is to do that from your foot to your knee, to your pelvis, to your respiratory diaphragm, to your neck, to your head.
Christopher: Right. I can only think about one thing at a time.
Aaron: Well, that's the thing, so you can do some of these integrational movement practices you could say where if you can, for example -- say, holding a weight up above your head, if you have a kettlebell in one arm and you're punching that guy straight up, ideally having a coach with you or some type of tutorial, some way of knowing, "Is this right?" but if you can find that stack -- I'm reaching my hand up over my head as we're doing this -- you can find that stack from your hand and then create that external rotation, rotating the arm out, so just thumbs facing back behind you. That stabilizes the shoulder girdle. It starts to integrate all those muscles in the back side of the shoulder. If you start, okay, cool, so now we have done the hand, integration from the shoulder girdle and to the spine, so we're starting to think -- imagine a lightning bolt that it's slowly going through the body.
Christopher: Yeah, it's propagating.
Aaron: Yeah, or radiating would be a fancy --
Aaron: So as you're coming down through, okay, cool, shoulder girdle integration, spinal integration. Now, I'm going to create that same tort or hip rotation down in the hip, in the legs. Now, all of a sudden we're turning on my hip, which is also you're going to put that knee a little bit wide to the foot. All of a sudden, you'll see the arch support in the feet come up. So as opposed to being a collapsed house, you have a pitched tent on your feet, the arches of your feet, and now you're feeling that connection. You're punching up high into the sky and you're punching down low into the ground and literally it's like you're completing an electrical circuit.
So that practice of completing that electrical circuit, that is integration. That is, okay, we're putting the parts back together. As long as you isolate the individual parts and say, "I'll do my tricep kickbacks and then my bicep curl and then my leg extension," it's all nonsense. You're literally disassembling the body. You're reducing it down into the parts. The whole is greater than the parts.
Christopher: That is what I used to do in the gym, was go and do those individual machines like the hamstring curl where you lie flat on the thing and then you pull it over the back.
Aaron: That's evil.
Christopher: Yeah, exactly, the leg extension and all that, and I never really felt it made any difference to my cycling at all, then I got into James Wilson's stuff, who I've interviewed on the podcast, MTB Strength Coach, and he got me into the TRX and kettlebells and stuff. That was the first time that I really felt like there was some benefit to doing strength training. Actually, for my racing, it's not just a hack for health or longevity. It's actually improving my performance on the bike.
So you think then that it's all about education. That's interesting to me. So I can find ways to hack my environment so that I don’t make these mistakes, but you could argue what the hell are you going to do when you don’t have your dog chewing at your leg, reminding you when you need to go for a walk, right?
It's really all your special light bulbs or your special food or your special sauna or your special whatever else it is that you're relying on in your environment, so really it's about education so that you can find ways to cope whatever your environment.
Aaron: Yeah, and also looking at -- so an example, you've mentioned travels and stuff like that, so I've done several trips around the world kind of thing where I spent like four to six months backpacking and climbing and surfing and podcasting, pretty cool things mixed with a lot of moments of, "What the heck am I doing out here?" I'll be like in a blank room in an Airbnb or hotel or whatever it was and kind of like, "Man, it would be so much more radical right now to have a full gym and have this community that I'm connecting with and have all these things. All I have is a blank room."
And so, what that does -- again, going into the fire to get some treasure from the furnace, you're in there and you're saying, "Okay. I don’t have any kettlebells. I don’t have any bands." Okay, I have the weight of my self, and so if I have that education -- I know what good is. I know what finding neutral joints and being able to -- once you find that neutrality, now can you stretch the limits of your movement maintaining, broadening what neutral is to you essentially, if that makes sense. So now, instead of just neutral being a stand in place, and I organize, it's like okay, what if I went down? I was in push-up position and then I brought my right hand out as far as I possibly can and did an archer push-up.
What if I brought my other hand up? What if I brought up my leg? You have infinite potential of crap that you can do in a blank room by yourself, but it just takes a little bit of a more expansive creativity. Every time I see a big, expensive, plastic gizmo that you can only do this thing with the big, expensive, plastic gizmo, to me I see that as outsourcing your own sophistication where it's like all those things the gizmo was doing, not 100% of the time, but a high percent of the time, those are things that if you were just maybe a little bit more creative in your body, you'd probably be able to find most of those. And so, sometimes I think by putting ourselves in those situations where it's like I got nothing, sometimes the most effective practices manifest from that.
Christopher: I think the endurance activity might kill a lot of the creativity that you're talking about because it makes you tired. You're doing 15 hours a week or maybe even more of cycling or running or swimming, and I know that many people who listen to this podcast will be doing those activities, and then you don’t really feel -- so even that, we've seen that in the literature. People, there's less -- they call this non-thermic effect of food, so basically you move less because you've just expended so much energy, and that's a way of conserving energy.
And so, I think this is happening to endurance athletes that are doing 15 hours a week. They just don’t really feel like moving their bodies after they've ridden their bike for three hours for example, and so the last thing they're going to do is be really creative with their movement in the way that you've just described.
Aaron: Well then it's being creative with the way that you're moving when you're in your endurance activity.
Christopher: Okay, [0:23:25] [Indiscernible] dancing on the bike and --
Aaron: Well, first I'd say yeah, but maybe that would be too much of a stretch for people, so I'd say looking at your mechanical respiratory efficiency like looking at the organization of your respiratory diaphragm, your thoracic spine, your thorax here and seeing am I setting myself up in the position for respiratory success while I'm doing an endurance activity? If I'm only filling my alveoli and lung sacs up to 60% to 70% of what I could, my potential is, what the heck am I doing? I'm leaving so much on the table to get to that point where you're actually able to find that respiratory efficiency and organize your respiratory diaphragm and know all the parts in your chest here. To get into that position, I promise you, you're going to need to figure out what's happening in your feet and what's happening in your pelvis.
If we can start to organize the whole system, the whole system can start to relax into itself. Now, all of a sudden, you're not expending as much calories and energy as you were and you're doing the same thing, but you're not creating friction every time you pump that joint. So you're making it kind of like a leaner system. We used that term earlier. You're leaning up the system by getting rid of any of that superfluous, static flack that you get every time you dump that knee in or disengage your glutes and try to pedal. Does that make sense?
Christopher: Yeah, it does make sense and I've seen that some of the very best mountain bikers in particular that I've seen, they are extremely dynamic on the bike. They're not just a sack of potatoes that sat there bouncing off of every object that comes along in the trail.
They're working their body all the time like they're incredibly dynamic and they always have a perfect hip hinge. That's where all of the power is coming from, the hip.
Aaron: Same thing with paddling, same thing with martial arts, same thing -- have you ever tried standup padding before?
Christopher: No, I don’t think I have actually.
Aaron: Okay. Well, for people -- I'm sure it's a pretty popular thing, SUPing, so as you're standup paddling, it might be easy to think that it's all back because you've got to paddle. You're pulling and you're pulling. In reality, what you're doing there is you're just hip hinging over and over again. So you're coming into this and then you -- so literally you're just pelvic thrusting the air for freaking several hours, whatever you do. So once again, it's that concept of cultivating this foundational movement of a really strong hip hinge. Now, it's like, "Oh, that relates to standup paddling," "Oh, that relates to biking," "Oh, that relates into…" Literally everything that you do --
Christopher: It is the same.
Aaron: Yeah. You're not going to find too many practices that better the body that the foundation of that isn't the same as all the other ones.
Christopher: Right, I totally get that. So last week, I was chopping some wood. There's a huge pile of wood down there that I split with a great big splitting maul and it's exactly the same thing. If you try and use your arms or your back --
Aaron: That's garbage.
Christopher: I mean, you just can't do it. It starts hurting too quickly and eventually -- I think I watched a YouTube video of this Irish farmer doing it and I'm like, fucking hell, he's doing a deadlift. Look at that. And what he's doing is he used the minimal effort to lift the splitting maul. So splitting maul, for people that don’t know it, it's like a cross between an axe and a sledgehammer, so it's real heavy. You just use minimal effort just to get it over your head and then you let the weight of it come down by itself. And then at the very last moment just before it's about to strike the wood, you hip hinge and you do it like a squat. It's that chopping motion and it accelerates the axe towards the wood.
The other thing that's essential about it is if you can imagine as you lower your body weight, as you hip hinge, that changes the angle of the axe so it's less likely to swing through all the way. Imagine the hands of a clock going backwards. They're not going to swing all the way through to six o' clock and the axe land in your shins. It's only going to go halfway, right? It's going to get to being horizontal with the ground and no further because you've just lowered your body weight, and so the axe can't come round any further, so it's a safety thing as well as an efficiency thing. My God, it's so satisfying. I did a couple of hours with that the other day and it's just really satisfying to feel the wood split. It's just a really cool thing. That's interesting then that these same principles, they apply to sports that I've not even tried yet and that's very, very cool.
Aaron: Yeah. You can think of all of your muscles or your lymphatic flow or your nervous system or all these pathways as rivers. When you see someone, when you see Mark McGwire crack a ball out of the park, what you're seeing is you're seeing the force of his rivers being fully open. He's tapping into all of the physics of how do I get the most out of it, and the way that he does that, you need to be grounded in your feet and then you need to be able to pull through your hips. So if you can make that connection, same thing with kicking, same thing with Muay Thai, same with throwing a punch in boxing, it's coming from your feet and that power is being distributed through your whole body and then out in the fist. And if you can make that clean connection and you don’t have dams up in the rivers -- a dam would be any type of joint that's kind of twisted off into some oblique angle --
Christopher: Yeah, so all the power is dissipated.
Aaron: All the power farts out that knee. You could call it parasitic movement. Moshe Feldenkrais I believe coined that. So literally anytime you have a joint throughout your whole body that is in any type of dis-ease type position, it's not in that strong neutral position, you're literally draining energy out from that point.
Christopher: And I'm sure I've seen this in other sports as well, so I'm thinking about wakeboarding, snowboarding, kiteboarding where many of the interesting things you can do with that board is to progressively edge and build power and then release it suddenly, so I'm thinking about the kite. You send it the other way and at the same time, you're edging. And it's that sudden release of the energy that you've been building up in the board that sends you flying 30 feet into the air, but if all of that edging power just somehow dumps out in your hip or in your knee or something --
Aaron: It's over.
Christopher: Yeah, I know. Like you said in the kite, nothing happens apart from you literally get laid out and then slapped down onto the water and you bruise all your ribs.
Aaron: Yeah. I use the kite analogy on a fairly regular basis. You could look at that same way with your joints. If your joints are stacked and balanced and organized then it's kind of like -- in kite surfing, you call it the window, the power window. You want to keep the kite within that power window.
Christopher: Yeah, exactly, so it's the same as sailing. You can't just put the kite wherever you want. There's a specific place that it needs to be in order to pull you forward.
Aaron: Right, so the difference between having that kite in that power window fully filled up, it's -- whoa, we're going. As soon as you take the kite out of the power window or say you pull one side too much and folds over a little bit, that folded over kite is analogous with having a knee dumped in immediately your valgus or having your arch support collapsed or having your glutes disengaged and having pelvic floor disorders or having -- up the list.
Christopher: Of course.
Aaron: So same concept with the kite, you want to keep it in that sweet spot all the time. Okay, great. We want to keep our physical body, our physical tissue in that sweet spot all the time where the kite is always full. So as soon as we go into some position that's just dysfunctional, essentially that kite is falling out of the window. And eventually if it gets too much then the kite collapses and now we have no power, so that energy can't be distributed through to lay correctly because at one point, that kite's just folded over.
Christopher: Okay, I get this. So can you teach people how to avoid this pathology without seeing them in person? Because that must be tricky, isn't it?
Aaron: Yeah. Squatting is a really nice litmus test. Overhead squatting is an even nicer litmus test.
Christopher: Oh, you know what? It's really interesting to interview all these experts and see a commonality between them all. It's very reassuring that you're not just being pulled in different directions.
Aaron: Right, or we're all just listening to each other.
Christopher: Or you're all just a huge echo chamber and everybody says it's the same podcast. I don’t think so though.
Aaron: No. I mean, yes and no.
Christopher: I've been paying Micah as my coach for a few months now and he's been putting together programs, which I've been enjoying, and that's one of the things he gets me to do. I don’t really know what the purpose of it is, if I'm honest. It could be just having a laugh like "It's quite funny to get Chris to do this in his garden and his neighbors are thinking he's a complete loon," but you get a broomstick and then you hold it overhead and then do a squat with the broomstick overhead.
Aaron: Hopefully he has you break the stick too. Did he ever give you that cue?
Christopher: Oh no, he didn’t.
Aaron: Oh, Micah, I hope you're listening right now.
Christopher: I know, yes. I bet Mike did and I'm going to get in trouble for this.
Aaron: Yeah, so as you're out there, it's something you can do. So a similar concept of how you're coming down on that squat, we're going to push those knees out to get that gluteal engagement.
Christopher: Yeah, okay, so breaking the stick is going to --
Aaron: If you want to break the stick, it's the same cue. You literally don’t break it, unless you can, in which case, kudos. So get yourself a nice, thick stick. And then as you're going up into that position, you would want to try to punch those thumbs again back. So imagine you're hitchhiking, going the other way behind you, so those thumbs are going to be facing back, which starts to create that engagement of the posterior side of the shoulder girdle. Most people for sure are too well developed in the front, so it's like the glamour muscles, the beach muscles, so you're doing your push-ups. You're doing your bench press and the bicep curl and we're good. Oh, abs, right? That's the --
Christopher: I've definitely fallen into that trap before.
Aaron: Oh man, me too.
Christopher: When I was 17 or 18.
Aaron: Speaking of why I'm doing what I'm doing or have been doing what I'm doing, a big part of that is I just destroyed myself growing up, so insecurities and essentially that manifesting into, "Okay, I'll just pack on slabs of muscle and Creatine and protein farts until I feel better in my body essentially." And then what end up translating to after that was my joints falling off, so I start dislocating my shoulders. I dislocated my ankle. I did all these because I was literally just imbalancing myself and I was working so hard to do it. That's the big thing. So many people -- once again, I would absolutely say majority -- are working so hard to imbalance themselves all in the name of diet or weight loss or muscle gain or whatever it is.
Christopher: The things you can see in the mirror, only the mirror. If you have a 360-degree view of yourself, you probably would do it.
Aaron: Right, totally. That's a nice trick too for people actually. Videotape yourself the same way --
Christopher: Yeah. Micah has been getting me to -- and I have to admit that I've been quite resistant to doing it. It's easy enough to do and I have probably only sent him one or two videos.
Aaron: Yeah, literally just watching yourself walk. You can gather so much from somebody, the way they walk, and seeing yourself in the back --
Christopher: [0:34:12] [Indiscernible]
Aaron: Right, exactly. Well, literally it's the same way as listening to yourself talk.
Christopher: I know. You get over it though. I really had problems hearing my own voice in the beginning and now I listen to my own podcast at least three times because I really like my podcast. I mean, the guy that does it is really good. He asks all the right questions, so I listen to my podcast quite a lot.
Aaron: So having that moment of self-reflection, it's like AA. The first step is recognizing you have a problem. So in order to get to that point where it's like okay, you know what, I have a lot -- first, be nice to yourself as well. Have a lot of good things going on. People like you. Look at the mirror. "I'm swell and smart and people like me," but also come to Jesus and you're like, "You know what, there are some things that I can work on." And one of the fastest ways to do that is to freaking see yourself, so it's like we see these coaches and these coaches point out all these amazing things and you're like, "Oh man, if I didn’t see Micah or whoever, I never would've…" Well, you can coach yourself through the power of mirrors and video.
Christopher: Which is why they put mirrors in gyms, I guess.
Aaron: Why is why they put mirrors in gyms.
Christopher: Oh, bloody hell. Finally, my garden gym is not looking as good as it once did.
Aaron: But then there's something else. There is value to closing your eyes. You could even go as far as putting eye mask around your eyes as you're lifting and really just focus on that interoception. Really just focus on that deeper introspection of what's happening and not be looking from a superficial place. Both are valuable. It's just recognizing when is the tool appropriate for what moment. If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. That's Maslow. Abraham Maslow came up with that.
Christopher: Yeah, they use that in software engineering a lot. They call it an anti-pattern. People learn just one or two patterns or tools and then they try and solve every problem at computer science with exactly the same principle.
Aaron: Right. The sun's coming out.
Christopher: Yeah, it's beautiful. Well, that's what I was going to say. That's the advantage of my garden gym, so you get to lift weights with no shirt on in denim cutoffs in the sunshine. There has to be some value in that.
Aaron: I do [0:36:06] [Indiscernible].
Christopher: Well, tell me about this adventure you've been on. I'm dying to know about it. So you've driven from Santa Monica up north and you've been traveling around interviewing people with your very cool audio setup, so tell me about some of the people that you've been interviewing.
Aaron: Well, as I've been going up, I went up to -- I mean, the specific people is not so important as the trip as a whole, I think, but yeah, I've just been going through -- essentially going up the West Coast from Santa Monica to Bend, Oregon, so I have a place in Bend. I set up a clinic and stuff up there, so I'm kind of tending to that in a way. I haven't been there for six months, so I had a lot of things.
Christopher: Wow! You better hope it's still there.
Aaron: "Oh God! What have you done?" So I had five days of pretty much 100% go, put things back into what I think is -- maybe my perspective of what it should be isn't even necessarily right, but it's what I wanted to be. And so, I spent five days doing that, but in between there, just reaching out to various different, what I find to be super inspiring people, and getting a common -- stay at their homes and spend time and break bread and record conversations.
Christopher: Break bread? We haven't got any bread in our house. What are you talking about?
Aaron: Well, break a gluten-free or whatever -- what do we break here?
Christopher: Rib eye steaks.
Aaron: Rib eyes.
Christopher: A can of sardines. You broke a can of sardines last night.
Aaron: I broke a can of sardines here. That's the whole reason I started the podcast, man. It was a means of creating network like last two years ago or so, I told myself or the world or my notebook or whatever that this year, these coming years is about creating tribe, creating community. Before, that was creating a home, so I got a house. It's like okay, a home, and then like okay, I have a home, but I've got to put people in the home. This isn't enough. You can't just have a shelter. I would need people. We need to have big dinners and have dance parties and to do that, you need to have people around, people that you really value and care about, and so, finding like-minded people.
The power of the internet -- if you're in a community where you feel like, "Oh man, you know what? I just don’t like anybody in my community. I have these things that I'm into and I don’t find people with similar connections." The internet, you're able to reach out to these people and do road trips across California or whatever and really dip into various different parts and see like you know what, maybe the community that I presently live in, maybe it's not really for me. And so, this trip has just been like -- it's been a really nice experience of getting to literally stay in people like your house and just have those moments of -- again, I think this allows you to witness yourself better. If all you know is your own world then that's all you know. There's no relativity there, but if you can go spend a few nights in somebody else's place, walk them out in somebody else's shoes then you start to I think develop better awareness of what you actually want. Just because you're in a place and you do the things you do doesn’t mean that's feeding your soul the way that maybe something else that you just haven't discovered would.
Christopher: Very interesting. I should be doing more of it. There's really no reason for me to be completely rooted in --
Aaron: We're going to get you this setup.
Christopher: In one place, yeah. I think I'm going to have to go with a setup. I'd love to interview more people. In fact, one of the things I'd really like to do is do more roundtable interviews, so you get a group of people that don’t necessarily agree and have them all around the same table. Tommy and I recorded one about Chris Masterjohn and his views on weight loss and calorie counting and it would've been so much better if we could've gotten everybody around the table.
Aaron: And Chris was there.
Christopher: Yeah, and rather than --
Aaron: So you all gang up on him.
Christopher: Yeah. So talk about were there any nuggets of gold that you've picked up from people or did you come in with some specific problem that you were able to get solved by talking to any of these amazing people that you've been seeing? Can you mention some names for us?
Aaron: Yeah, all the names that probably people will be familiar with on here like Robb Wolf and Ben Greenfield. Recently, I had Steven Kotler on and we were talking previously about Stealing Fire a couple of times actually.
I don’t even know. I mean, you just go through the lineup. The lineup of people that I've had on, I'm really blown away that they were willing to talk to me.
Christopher: Yeah, you are really good at getting people to talk to you.
Aaron: I'm like, "Really? Okay, all right, here we go," and we're off.
Christopher: I thought you were going to tell me that you've gotten Robert Sapolsky for a minute, but no.
Aaron: Coming soon. It's going to happen. Robert Sapolsky, I have spoken with him and he has blown me off.
Christopher: Maybe one day.
Aaron: But he didn’t say no. He just said he's really busy and all the things that someone says.
Christopher: You said, "No shit. I'm still asking."
Aaron: Yeah, exactly, but that's the thing. You've got to ask. Again, we leave so much on the table just because we think that the person will probably say no. And if I thought the person would probably say no, I probably never would've started this podcast and it would've been just a stupid idea as opposed to being this thing that's somewhat of a career and it's brought me the community, the whole community thing that's more than anything that I have had to date, and it doesn’t need to be a podcast. It just needs to be some medium to communicate to people. For somebody else that doesn’t want to do a radio thing, it could be just having a hobby that puts you in a social environment like dance. It's like ever since I started dancing, all of a sudden, I have a reason to reach out and grab someone and pull them on the floor and create this intimate connection.
If I didn’t have this silly medium then I would never have the reason to do that. And every single -- I think it's -- I don’t know. You're going to have to look it up, Harvard or Yale. It's like one of the oldest running studies. I'm sure you've heard of it. I think it's like 70 years now that it's been going. All these specifics are a little bit funny, but look it up. They've been following people since they were little kids through their whole lives and now they're like 70 or 80-year-old men and watching -- you're doing interviews with them on a regular basis, watching how they eat, watching their relationships, watching all the parts, and what they see, the people that end up being the healthiest in an old age and living the longest end up being the people with the best social group.
The community is the part that keeps us engaged. The community is the part that keeps us waking up and saying, "You know what? Today, I'm going to help Bill shovel his driveway," that feeling of, "Bill needs me. We're going to shovel the driveway together." That's what keeps us going amongst other things, then there's nutrition then there's movement, so that’s been what it's been. I don’t even know if that was the answer.
Christopher: Yeah, that was very interesting, but I still want an answer to my questions. So the question was you've seen some of these amazing people and I want -- you've obviously got problems that you're trying to solve as an entrepreneur, and if any of these people -- I sometimes wonder. We're sitting here thinking God, we just don’t know how to do marketing. We really need to employ someone that knows how to do marketing. I really need a copywriter or someone who can actually communicate what we're trying to say in a non-technical, compelling way, and if only we can just get out there and talk to some of these other people that have already done this then all of our problems would be solved, but of course, it's not quite as easy as that because people are busy and they've got their own things they're trying to do. You just can't grab their attention like that, but that is what you've been doing with this road trip, so I just wonder whether you had any problems that you left home with that now are solved having spoken to some of these amazing people.
Aaron: Well, the last ten days of road tripping, I would say maybe, yeah. I just went up and did a double interview with the guys from Mind Pump, which people might be familiar with.
Christopher: Yeah, I am familiar with that.
Aaron: Yeah, and they've done a really good job. They have this really beautiful Mind Pump studio in San Jose. It's like a legitimate gym and they have this nice recording room. It's legit. There are so many people there in the podcast realm that it's just like it's not that at all. They're like, "Whoa! You're full-on -- this is like a real business you guys have going on here." And so, we actually went out to watch Pink Floyd and we had box seats. We spent the last couple of days just kicking it, shooting the shit. We talked about playing NHL 99 when we were kids and we talked about just having those intimate type connections. Eventually when you meet people like that, a big thing they want to talk about is their business. That's where they focus so much of their time and energy, so --
Christopher: That's their passion obviously.
Aaron: Right, so if you reach out and call somebody like that and say, "Hey, tell me about your marketing" or whatever, they're like, "Who are you? What is this?" But if you can create common ground with the person -- and first, they're always arriving with some degree of value, whatever it may be. It may be, "Hey, I want to interview you and support your message," whatever it is. "Hey, I offer people body work, Acroyoga" or "Maybe I can fix your elbow" or bring gifts. "I brought you guys raw cow butter."
Christopher: Yeah. I've just been eating it with a spoon in the morning.
Aaron: Yeah, so it's starting off having that like okay, there's a reason that I'm here and it's for you. This is to help you and then from there, it's also when we come to that point of like okay, cool, this guy is cool. I trust him.
I'm enjoying my time with this. It doesn’t feel like I'm just doing this to help somebody out, then we get into another layer of, okay, what are you spending most of your time thinking about? Oh, you're thinking about the same thing I'm spending most of my time thinking about. You're just doing a better job of it than I am. Maybe we can brainstorm and connect. Maybe I can get some support. So talking with those guys, they've been helpful with things like monetizing the podcast in more effective ways.
Christopher: Right. How are they doing that? Talk about that. I'm sure some people who are listening to this would be wondering, "How the hell does this guy make money doing this?" And the answer is I don't. I lose money.
Aaron: Yeah, right, so the first thing is for me, sponsorship is really helpful, so having that baseline of every episode I release, I know that it's worth my time, which also puts me into a place of I really want it to be good. When it's always free, it's really easy, even free in costing you money. It's easy to have the feeling of like, "You know what? These stupid people are just lucky that I'm doing this because this cost me $175" whereas it's like actually this is like paying the rent. I need to treat this like it's a real job and really like, oh, you know what? I'm going to buy that expensive microphone or gear or whatever it is because it's not a drain on me. The more that I can invest in this, the better it can become.
Christopher: What that podcast is to me, I should clarify that I don’t think I'm just doing this as a charitable donation to people that listen and I'm losing money on it. What I really think is that this is my education. We're doing this for three years now and I will be super embarrassed to listen to some of those early episodes because I knew -- there's this point where you think you know something and then the further you go, you realize the less you know, and then you get to maybe this idea where you're like, "Oh, I really know nothing" whatsoever, then perhaps I'm starting to come back from that idea now.
That's what this podcast is really all about, is just me sharing my education and every single expert that I've interviewed has given me something really, really valuable, so why not record that and just make it available to everyone?
Aaron: Sure. It's by no means just a "I'm doing this for everyone else" because you're getting so much as far as being able to talk to people and learn from people and all that stuff. The next thing would be creating really great courses or creating some type of program or coaching or something like that. This is all stuff that you already established and figured out.
Christopher: Not online courses. I mean, we should be doing that kind of stuff, right.
Aaron: Well, you do coaching.
Christopher: We do coaching --
Aaron: Or whatever the term would be.
Christopher: But you're right. It would be nice to have a prerequisite course. So we specialize really in people who have already figured out some of the diet and lifestyle factors and they're still not getting results. And so, that might be a really good time to start doing some testing to figure out why you're not getting results, what is the thing that's still holding you back or things.
Sometimes people come along and we've not even tried -- they've never heard of -- some of these free consultations I did in the early days, I would talk to people all the time and they've never heard of the Paleo Diet. And so, I would spend 30 minutes on the phone with them saying that you've really got to read this book and this book and this book. This book, the narrative is not great, but the meal plans are awesome. This one's got really good shopping -- so they would need to try all those things before they even thought about working with us. And it would be very cool to have an online training course that we could send those people to rather than having me or Amelia or Julia or someone else say that over and over again on the phone each day. That would be kind of a big win, wouldn't it?
Aaron: Yeah. The other thing I think for people that have something of value that could potentially -- if you have something of value, which I think most everybody does that could potentially help tens or hundreds or thousands or millions of people and you're not taking the steps to actually be able to release that information and be able to help people along, I think you're doing people a disservice.
Christopher: Oh my God, you're like all these life coaches I met at Mastermind talks. [0:49:01] [Indiscernible] and you say, "Chris, you have a moral obligation to do this because people need what you're doing" and I'm like --
Aaron: I don’t think it's -- it's not like you're a bad guy if you don’t do it, but I think that the issue is sometimes we can have a little bit of like -- kind of like a stopping point where it's like, "Oh, I feel bad about charging for this" or "I feel bad about what…" I know that you're not in that place at all, but I think we can have that thing of like, "Who the heck am I to do this?" like all these limiting beliefs. Maybe you don’t have -- and whatever you're doing, maybe it's better for you to just do the job that you're doing and do all that and nobody [0:49:34] [Indiscernible] if that's the case, but if you have something and you're holding it and if other people had it and it would make their lives better, no big deal if you don’t release it, but I think you could easily look at it from the perspective of if you're on the edge and you're [0:49:48] [Indiscernible], it's like no, don’t be on the edge. You're actually doing them a disservice by keeping it secret.
Christopher: So I think part of that maybe is happening for us because we didn’t invent any of it. Not even Tommy invented it.
It's stuff that -- we're standing on the shoulders of giants is what we're doing, so we're taking this great thing that this guy over here does together with this thing, this thing, and there are like a thousand things. And then we just bring together the best of everything to put together in one program, so maybe you make the assumption that you don’t really have anything because all you did was take from other people and you're just standing on other people's coattails.
Aaron: That's fine.
Christopher: Yeah. I mean, there's so much information out there. It's incredibly helpful to have somebody sift through it and assimilate it and distill it down and --
Aaron: Yeah, and also having the way that you approach the thing like having your genuine perspective on it and your personality and your tonality, your language on it. That's the big thing. You're talking about Tommy reading 30 odd papers to distill into 600 words. Okay, cool, so nothing in there is really, really genuine, new, but what the heck is? What you're doing is you're a distiller and I think that's supper important. Also, you could receive the best information from someone in the world, but if you don’t want to hear it from that person, none of it matters. So it's like okay, maybe my superpower -- to use that language-- is that this group of several thousand people, they'd like me to present them this message. They'll hear it from me -- even if we were both saying the exact same words, they'll hear it from me better.
Christopher: Right. They prefer my Glottal T sounds.
Christopher: [0:51:25] [Indiscernible] now that I've made it. So we've been making these whiteboard explainer videos that you can come to our YouTube channel. I'll link to that in the show notes and then also our Facebook and I think we're going to do some more of this. Tommy has been doing these brilliant highlights email series, but some people, including me, prefer to look at things rather than read them when they're learning. And so, I've been making some of these whiteboard explainer videos and that came from an idea that I got from Mastermind talks. I met somebody that makes these beautiful whiteboard explainer videos and I can't afford too many of those particular videos, but I'm going to make some from other people too. I did that voiceover for a couple of them and Tommy started complaining about my Glottal T. I think most people know what that is.
Aaron: Tell me.
Christopher: Okay, so when you say, "I went to the shop to get a bottle of water," the way I might say it is -- the Glottal T sound is, "I went to the shop to get a bottle…" I can't even do it. It's like one of those things that when you think about it, it's hard to reproduce. Do you see what I'm saying? And Julie pointed out that the Americans, they do the same thing, but it's a slightly different sound, so they might say "water".
Aaron: If you're from the East Coast, that's how you do it, "water". I hate it when they say it like W-U-D-D-E-R. That's the worst way to say it. "Get some water."
Christopher: Yeah. So I think you can probably visualize this that you're no longer using your tongue to make the T sounds. It's just the vocal chords slapping together that makes -- it's a lazy way of speaking.
Aaron: It sounds nice though.
Christopher: Well, so here's the thing. I Googled it and there are some lessons online from British elocution people and they're saying, "Oh, you should use the Glottal T occasionally because it's very British and people will be able to know that you do have a British accent when you use it, but use it judiciously. You shouldn't go too far because you can overdo it." I know where this is really coming from, is that Tommy's dad saw him doing his PhD defense and pointed out his Glottal T, so now I think Tommy's on a mission to stop everyone from using the Glottal T.
Aaron: Well, you guys had it first. It's the Queen's English.
Christopher: I'm not sure the Queen would have a Glottal T. We should be pronouncing our T's correctly. So what else did the Mind Pump guys say about your podcast then? Did they give you any specific things, any tips or tricks that you're going to implement?
Aaron: Yeah. So the first thing is get your ass in gear and get the coaching programs [0:53:42] [Indiscernible], which I'm in the process of releasing all that, so I'm going to run the first test drive coaching eight-week program with people.
Christopher: Okay, so tell us about that then. What will the format be? Will it be one-on-one? Will it just be videos?
Aaron: Yeah, so we will be accepting a limited number of people into each group. That way, we can maintain a personable relationship and it's like we're all working together. The big thing once again is creating community, and so having that community and then the combination of that education and intention all wrapped up into that community. That's kind of the big goal.
Christopher: Oh yeah, I can add something of maybe some value that I had at Mastermind talks actually.
Aaron: What have you got?
Christopher: So there was a roundtable discussion on coaching and I think most coaches assume that group coaching is one-on-one's ugly stepchild. If you can't afford to work with this one-on-one then maybe you should consider the group program. And what they were arguing is that when you get a group of like-minded people together and you start to form this drive then you get a certain energy that you don’t get with the one-on-one coaching. And so, group coaching may actually be better than one-on-one, so that's something that we need to think about. Sorry to interrupt you. Go on.
Aaron: No, that was perfect. No, I completely agree. And so, it's realizing that a lot of the people that listen to the Align Podcast, my podcast, everyone that I've come in contact with, I've been really honored and impressed with their listening. I'm like, "This guy looks legit!"
Christopher: It's terrifying because when you find out there's somebody you really respect --
Aaron: Yeah, like, "Why are you listening to this?" I'm like, okay, cool. Maybe there's something to this thing, and so bringing those people together to share their ideas. We have doctors and chiros and people that aren't in the healthcare field at all, but they're just into philosophy or whatever it may be, really smart people. So to think that I have all the answers, that's insane, but what I can do is I can create some degree of vectorization or hub and say okay, cool, the Align Movement, the Align Academy, Align Podcast, whatever is kind of this point and then the funnel goes out beyond that and we can all be in this thing together.
What we need is we just need to organize the group. That's the thing that we lack. People that have something like, "We're going to change the world," well, good luck doing it by yourself, but if you can have a group of people together to share ideas, I think it could become stronger. And so, creating groups maybe like 40 to 50 or so, I don’t know if I'd want to go too much bigger than that, and then going through an eight-week program kind of like a high school classroom essentially. And so, I have 26 video series that I've already all filmed that's all ready to go and it breaks down to 26 Life Asanas, so breaking down how to integrate the functional movement into literally everything that you do, so leaning down into a low cabinet, leaning up into a high cabinet, getting in and out of your car, chopping vegetables, figuring out breathing, sitting down the floor. Literally every moment throughout your day is an opportunity to get better. If you don’t see it that way, you're probably leaving money on the table.
And then from there, doing Facetime, bringing everybody together, having group discussions every week, every two weeks, we'll see what that is, and then every day releasing a video saying, "Here's your homework for today. Here's what everyone can be thinking about," and enjoy, and then coming back together and saying, "Okay, where's everybody at? Where are our pain points? What can we work on?" And I really want to create integration between people. That's a big part of it.
Christopher: Right, and do you think you'd need to see people like knowing -- that's what I always worry about when I sign up to these online things, and even actually with Micah's program to a certain extent, although admittedly I said I wasn't sending him videos. You're terrified that you're not doing it right, so you watch the video and you think, "Oh, I get this. I see what he's doing," and then you try and imitate it, but you can never really be sure that you're doing it right even if that uncertainty niggles you in the back of your mind and it's somehow unsatisfying. How do you cope with that with an online video-based system?
Aaron: Start really simply. I call the four movements the Four Pillars, so you start off from a foundational, the Four Pillars being can you stand correctly and really break down like what's standing? What do you mean? Of course I stand all day, but like Tadasana Mountain Pose in yoga. It’s a legit position, so figuring out where is your feet in relation to your knees, in relation to all the way up the chain. And then from that position, can you bring your arms up over your head? So something like that where it's like -- I'm not saying do a pirouette. I'm like, am I doing the pirouette right? No. Stand. Can you stand and figure out these -- okay, so knees are a little bit wide. Just by giving someone simple cues, it's like, "Oh, I feel that. I've never felt that before," just like when we did the band thing. So we put the band around Chris' knees. He's like, "Oh, you know what? [0:58:25] [Indiscernible] my ass."
Christopher: So you're telling me there will be some feedback. I will know if I'm doing it right.
Aaron: Yeah, yeah, exactly, and as well, I have the aligned decompression band that includes a door anchor. It's an elastic band. I think I showed it to you. Maybe I didn’t.
Christopher: I'm not sure you did actually.
Aaron: I'll show you. I have it in my bag. It's a heavy duty elastic band, so you can put that around your knees. It's probably the band I put around your knees.
Christopher: Oh, was that what it was? Okay, yeah. It looks like you're improvising there with that. It's a multipurpose band.
Aaron: That's the thing. So again, the more fanciness of a tool, the less I trust it, the less I give a shit. To me, it's like, okay, what have you got? Oh, you've got a band? We can do a lot with a band. You got a kettlebell or a foam roller, we can do stuff for days. As soon as you have that really myopic plastic gizmo that does this one thing, "It's the Ab Crunch! Super!" okay, that's garbage.
Christopher: Yeah, so the same thing happens in the kitchen if you notice that. Resist the temptation to buy tools for the kitchen that only have a single purpose.
Aaron: Yeah, except for the fragile whisper tea thing. That thing is actually good.
Christopher: Oh, totally busted. Yeah, you've got the electric whisk thing that what it does is puts a little froth on the top of your hot drink. Yeah, we've got loads of stuff like that, lemon squeezer.
Aaron: Yeah, right, so through basic fundamental practices, from there. It's not saying, "Okay, cool. Am I doing all the 26 Life Asanas correctly?" It's like, are you implementing the elements from those four basic practices that we broke down ad nauseam, that we really understand that inside and out? If you're implementing those practices into the umbrella that is the rest of your life, you're probably right.
There might be some little mistakes and there are things you might be thinking about and then okay, cool, next Thursday at 12:00 p.m. we're going to be talking with the whole group and we can talk about this and work through this. We can send each other videos and all that stuff.
Christopher: So there is going to be some accountability. That's why I would fail this because I think -- well, I've done it before. I bought [1:00:19] [Indiscernible] and I did it three times and I thought it was very good and then I had to stop doing it because I was --
Aaron: I think people need to receive titrates, titrate being a fancy word for drops.
Christopher: To be fair, [1:00:30] [Indiscernible] is titrated, but what lacks is the accountability like nothing bad is going to happen if I don’t do this.
Aaron: Right. Well, then we need to set stakes. I think setting goals, giving people a really solid outline of here's where I am and here's where I want to be and I have eight weeks to do it and figure out -- not just I have eight weeks to do it, but here's where I am and here's where I want to be in two weeks and I have 14 days to do it and slowly breaking that down. I think we can really see excellent results.
Christopher: That's a good point actually. I've seen some of these again at Mastermind talks, lots of stuff coming out of that. There was a guy called UJ and I'll link to his productivity planner in the show notes for this episode.
Aaron: Is it Ramdas?
Christopher: Yeah, that's it. Do you know him? We went mountain biking. It's an amazing story, unbelievable. So there's a group of us that went mountain biking and they were all pretty experienced guys including one guy that have been in the Tour de France several times. We're riding bikes and UJ was the only guy that never ridden. Everyone was going, "Yeah, let's see all the best…"
Aaron: He's literally never rode a bike?
Christopher: No, he'd ridden a bike, but never a mountain bike, and everybody was rooting for the most difficult technical trails and I really wanted to show people -- I was leading the group and I really wanted to show people the best that Santa Cruz has to offer. I mean, how can you do that to a guy that's wearing five fingers on flat pedals with a cotton t-shirt that's never ridden a mountain bike before?
Aaron: How did he do?
Christopher: He was an absolute rock star. He was unbelievable. I couldn't believe it. We literally went down the most technical trail in Santa Cruz that dumps you out by the ocean and somehow we made it down. You wouldn't have been able to walk down it. It's that steep in one place in particular.
Aaron: I gave up mountain biking for the reason of getting dumped over your bars.
Christopher: Oh yeah, that doesn’t really happen with the modern bikes. The nice thing about the Santa Cruz factory in Santa Cruz is they rent you very expensive bikes and with the modern bikes, it's nearly impossible to go over the handlebars. If you get a Santa Cruz Nomad or something, it's got a 67-degree head angle --
Aaron: And it's a 29er too, so you --
Christopher: Yeah, so you're not going over the handlebars on those. That's like kind of the older mountain bikes with the 26-inch wheels and V-brakes that you couldn’t really modulate. They're either on or off. You could go over. And then a tight head angle, maybe a 70 or 71-degree head angle, so it's sort of the frame wanting to go over in that direction anyway. Yeah, sure, you go over the handlebars every five seconds, but with these modern bikes, it's like riding a couch is my best analogy. You just point it down the hill, keep your hands off the brakes and it's going to be fine.
Aaron: That's kind of a funny thing. Maybe that was you that was telling me that. This isn't going to be that interesting for you at all. I think it was motor -- no, it wasn't you -- a motorcycle racing, cutting around corners, one of the worst things that you can do oftentimes is put the brake on.
Christopher: Oh god yeah, it's true, and a car as well. The last thing you want to do is brake in a corner.
Aaron: Right. Well, it's not just the worst thing you want to do is put the brake on it, but the worst thing you want to do is come off of the gas because you want to keep --
Christopher: Yeah, so you also want to power through.
Aaron: You want to keep that traction in, but that's probably a metaphor for a lot of things.
Christopher: Yeah, I think it is. I was just coming back to UJ. He has this productivity planner that I've been using here for the last week or two and it's really bloody good. It actually works. It does some of that, "If I don’t use this thing for the next five days, I'm going to…" What did I say I would do? I said I'd read 'Ivy Goodnight Gorilla', which is my least favorite children's book. It's terrible. And so, I said I'd do that if I didn’t do the five days of the productivity planner and then I said I'd treat myself to the float tank that Amelia kindly bought me [1:03:53] [Indiscernible] that I've still not used, which is completely ridiculous because it's only in town. So there are ways to add accountability even when there really is none. So yeah, maybe I'll just use your course with the productivity planner.
Aaron: I think that would be a really good idea. Linking people up I think is another -- that's the magic with the whole internet thing. You don’t need to be by yourself in your whole 'my thing is the best and everything else sucks'. I think by sharing ideas and being open with that, I think that's like the idea economy. By connecting with each other, I think that's the only way to be sustainable. Any type of like the Roman Empire or any civilization that's really done anything, they've done something because of communication. Without that communication, everything gets stale and stuck. Of course, that's analogous with the body. As soon as you have that lack of communication or lack of appropriate reception, connection with the rest of your body then we end up getting stale in that place. So if a connective tissue can't move and get pumped and get rung out on a regular basis because it's just out to lunch, it just disengages. It's not in there. It’s not connected to the rest of the system, so eventually it starts to kind of die.
I think that's a metaphor for your business. That's a metaphor for your relationships. That's a metaphor for your body. It's always the same. All the metaphors are just like you can say anything about the body and like oh, right, and that relates to freaking everything else that I do.
Christopher: So do you think you could do meet-ups? I wonder if this could ever get big enough, your online system to where you could get enough people within the vicinity like Santa Cruz or something. You could have an Align meet-up.
Aaron: Yeah, absolutely, so coming together -- and something that is interesting with that is coming together -- and you mentioned either on this podcast or mine, I'm not sure which one it was, but environment and how the environment affects your physical body and it also affects your creativity. It also affects all the things, but it just affects your body. If you have a couch that sucks you into this folded over position and then you have a TV in front of that with the antenna ears shooting up in the air then what do you expect? You're going to turn into a turd. You're going to turn into just like a folded over sack of something you don’t really want to be, but if what you have is maybe like -- so you have a couch because it makes the room nice and you don’t want to be like the weirdo guy that just doesn’t have any furniture in his house --
Christopher: Yeah, we're like that, yeah.
Aaron: Right, but you have the couch for these moments that it makes sense to have it. It's also good for acoustics to have soft things and all that, but then you have flour cushions. I have these Moroccan poof things that I brought back. I shipped this huge duffle bag of all these random crap I got from Morocco, rugs and poofs and colors and fabrics and stuff. So by filling my home -- and I have a hardwood floor, so that way it's like, okay, we're on the floor. We're crawling around. If someone's into dancing, you can do some ballet moves or whatever you're into and then we have the poofs on the ground so when we eat, we eat on the poofs. We have a low table.
Because of that environmental change, all of a sudden the river starts to form to the way that the rocks are positioned. And so, your body starts to literally change just because six months ago, we started sitting on poofs. Now, all of a sudden, my hamstrings are not hypertonic and my quads are starting to become more soft and supple and my glutes are engaging. My low back pain is going away and I'm not as stressed out. I'm able to breathe better because I'm stacking my spine just because I'm sitting on a stupid poof.
Christopher: And there's all this in the course. You talk about furniture in the course.
Aaron: Of course, yeah, so a movement makeover.
Christopher: A movement makeover, okay, so of course I'll link to this in the show notes, but yeah, that's one of the things I worry the most about and I'm sure other people listening to this will be the same. It's like, "Did I buy the right mattress? Is this mattress too hard or too soft? Is this the best office chair? Which is the best stand-up desk? Or maybe I shouldn't be using a stand-up desk. Maybe I should be doing something else."
Aaron: You need to figure out how to stand in your stand-up desk.
Christopher: Yeah. I think I've mentioned it on the podcast before as well that too much standing for me is as bad as too much sitting.
Aaron: Yeah, you don’t need it because it's all the same stuff. Sedentary lifestyle is the issue. There are random statistics I've heard of like I think now is the first time in history that there's more obese people than there are appropriately weighted people and diabetes has increased something like four times in the last ten years. All these really crappy things are happening at the same time that we're outsourcing our movement.
And then the other big connection with that that I think is pretty fascinating is the correction between depression and posture, so you can see by being in these hunched over positions, you end up increasing cortisol levels, stress hormones, decrease in testosterone. These are things that you know more about than I do, but if we see that by standing in an upright, strong position that literally changes the way that your endocrine system responds to you, yourself, then what about all the other positions? Okay, cool, we have this one freeze frame then we have this other freeze frame. What about everything else throughout the day? Is there some way that we can start to support our endocrine system, support all of our systems through our movement function as well?
Christopher: Yeah, it's a game level intervention, as Josh would say. If you don’t know what that means, you have to listen to my interview with Josh Turknett where he tells the Angry Birds story and he talked about a game level intervention that will make a lot of sense. That's exactly what you're talking about here, is a game level intervention versus a micro source code level intervention.
Aaron: Yeah, right.
Christopher: So yeah, I listen to that one and that will make more sense. That was a really good interview. I really enjoyed that.
Aaron: Not to mention the entropy that happens as a product of sedentary lifestyle, so entropy being like going out in the disorganization, the same way your house --if you're in your house for --
Christopher: Tends to fall apart.
Aaron: Tends to fall apart. If you're not actively -- you don’t realize -- if you're an organized person, you probably don’t realize it like pretty much --
Christopher: You're actively holding things back together.
Aaron: Yeah, I pretty much sweep my floor every day, sometimes twice a day. If a pillow's out of whack, I put it back.
Christopher: It's much easier than trying to repair it once it's completely fallen apart.
Aaron: Right, and that literally is exactly what's happening in your body, so you can see that with your connective tissue. You can look at it on a microscopic level and see disorganization as fibers. It's a product of just sitting on your ass. And then by going in and then picking up some weight or riding your bike or whatever it is, as you're riding that bike, it forces those tissues to come back into organization unless you move dysfunctionally, in which case, you're going to be -- dysfunctionality begets more dysfunctionality.
So if you're in a position that's not your most effective movement patterning then that's just the same thing, is you go into your house and psychologically you just don’t give a darn. You approach to living in a house and you see all sorts of -- every time you see a slobbish person, you're like, "Why is that?" Well, that's their patterning. That's normal to them. Why do people stay in positions that are causing them back pain and disc herniations and neck issues and they're only getting a fraction of their breath and they're wearing orthotics in their shoes because they don’t stand right, all these things, why is that? It's just lack of intention, a lack of being aware of okay, first, I have a pattern. There is a pattern here. What is it? Now, is there some way to rewire that pattern to make my momentary existence more effective? If you can do that then now all of a sudden, you have the fountain of youth or the keys to the kingdom or whatever analogy you want, but you have to first recognize you are a habituation of your past experiences. Now, how do I start to slowly, gradually change the course?
Christopher: Oh shit, I'm definitely leaving a lot on the table here, I think. I caved and I got the dog and I'm walking finally for the first time in years, but I'm certainly still leaving a lot on the table when it comes to movement. I am I think quite lazy and uncreative and I'm almost certainly paying the price in some regard. Tell us again the name. I've forgotten it already.
Aaron: Of what, Align Therapy?
Christopher: No, the name -- what the course is going to be called.
Aaron: Oh, of course. Well, we'll see, either Align Academy --
Christopher: Oh, so you're not settled on the name yet.
Aaron: Yes. So we have all the video, we have all the content and all that stuff, and then we're going to launch the beta program, so taking -- we already have people that want to do that, and then we'll launch the official -- okay, we'll actually accept 45 or 50 people into it after that.
Christopher: Okay, so by the time I air this then that will be available, I think, so I've got a little bit of a backlog of podcasts at the moment.
Aaron: Yeah, for sure, and by the time you air this for the least, it'll be available to get on the list for the next release of it. Even if we're going on one presently, it would just be we're going to launch this in six weeks and you'll be involved with it.
Christopher: Okay. Can people still come and see you personally as well? Can they come and see you in Santa Monica?
Aaron: Yeah. I'm like a real practitioner. It's unbelievable. It's unheard of in the internet world. Yeah, I see clients three days a week over at the -- have you heard of the Barbell Shrugged Podcast?
Christopher: Of course, yeah.
Aaron: Yeah, so my office is in the same space. It's one of the places that they use for that, so yeah, it's called -- they're changing the name of it actually. It's going to be called The Oak Tree I believe is what it's going to be called or something. I don’t remember the change of the name. Right now, it's CrossFit LA. Again, I'm not a CrossFitter, but I'm familiar with it.
Christopher: Talk about the type of work you do as a real-life practitioner.
Aaron: Yeah. Essentially, it ends up looking like a combination of physical rehab or physical therapy or movement coaching along with manual therapy, so combining both of those worlds of it's not just -- all right. Anytime you go see a therapist like a manual therapist or a hands-on body worker person and there's like, "Okay, lay down. Head down on the table…"
Christopher: I love all that though. I love a good massage.
Aaron: I know. Well, that's good. I just --
Christopher: Especially the really gentle ones where you can fall asleep and you wake up an hour later and you're like, wow, I just spent $200 --
Aaron: Different strokes for different folks. To me, I'm like if I'm going to pay you any amount of money, I want it to work, so working with people. First, it's a combination of seeing how do you move. If you already move great, why the hell are you seeing me? You're good. Let's amp up your movement a bit and maybe like okay, cool, you move great like you have functionality throughout your ankle hinge and your knee and your pelvis and all your diaphragms are stacked up and it looks good. We could challenge you more, so let's figure out a way that we can make you go run further or figure out a way that you can pick up more weight or figure out a way that you can dance better. So if that's the case then I don’t think you need to be touched by me. Go do a soft, feel good massage or whatever, but you don’t need work right now.
For most people, that's not going to be the case. In those situations, I want to use either my hands or elbows or what have you. In my office in Bend, I have bars. I can walk on people, which is quite fun, to start to reorganize connective tissue like Rolfing Structural Integration is something that I went to school for among several other things, but that would be something to identify with, so we reorganize connective tissue as opposed to whacking bones into place.
We're thinking about getting that connective tissue structure to be hydrated in its proper home, you could say. As long as your joint, your shoulder for example is stuck in this forward-folded position then the head of the humerus is sitting on the precipice of that joint, the glenohumeral fossa. Your movement throughout the day is irritating, so we use our elbows and hands to start to reorganize those joints.
Aaron: And then get people moving in such a way that your movement becomes therapeutic. It needs to be both. Anybody that’s selling just one, I think it's limited. I think at some point in their career, they'll figure out, "Yeah, I really need both."
Christopher: Yeah. "I wasn't helping people as much as I could've."
Christopher: Cool! So the Align Podcast is where people can listen to the adventures that you've been having over the past few weeks.
Aaron: Yeah, and the last winter, I spent four months -- I did a little teaching tour/surfing whatever, random tour through Western Europe, Morocco and Eastern Europe. I guess I could just say Europe instead of saying Western and Eastern. And throughout that time frame, I was recording various sounds and various cultures and such like making sounds in the streets.
Aaron: It's all sorts of ridiculous adventures.
Christopher: Cool! Is there anything else you want people to know about?
Aaron: I think that's probably good. They can jump on to aligntherapy.com and then they can get for free the Four Pillars.
Christopher: Where do I get that band that you put around my knees?
Aaron: You can get it from me actually and it will be up for sale on the website/Amazon in 25 days. I'm going to receive the shipment here in the next two weeks and then that's --
Christopher: Okay, so that'll be available then by the time I get this up. Find the link in the show notes to get that band that I put around my knees. I'm definitely going to buy one of those.
Aaron: I think that'll be really good, so the band comes with a door anchor so you can attach that band into any height in the door and then you can wrap the band around first just having it as an exercise implemented. It would be fine too if you can pull on it, just stuff like that, but use it as a decompression device. Totally wrap that band around the shoulder, around the knee, around the ankle, any place that you feel like you have gunky joints. Step away from the door so you can create a little bit of space in there and then move your body. What it does is it tractions that joint and helps get rid of some of the gunk.
Aaron: Slash other stuff. You can do a lot of things with it.
Christopher: Excellent! Well, this has been fantastic! Thank you very much, Aaron. I really appreciate you. Thank you.
Aaron: Thanks! Good times!
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