KEVIN: [00:00:00] And when you say treat the person we actually — in the back of Movement as Medicine for my staff, like the other therapists that I have here, I have a list of things for them to think about every day. And one of the ones on there is treat the whole person and don’t treat just the injury.
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JESSE: [00:00:41] Welcome to the Smart Athlete Podcast. I’m your host, Jesse Funk. My guests today, that is with an S, it’s plural. I am lucky to have two people here today to speak with me today; include co-authors of Functional Training Anatomy, this nice book here. One of the guests is certified functional strength coach and certified massage therapist, Kevin Carr, as well as his co-author of Functional Training Anatomy and Former Division 1 Soccer Player. She has a Ph.D. in teaching in administration and is currently an assistant professor of strength and conditioning at Springfield College. Mary Kate Feit. Welcome to the show, guys.
KEVIN: [00:01:19] Thanks for having me.
MARY KATE: [00:01:20] Yeah, thank you.
JESSE: [00:01:22] Thanks for joining me, thanks for making the adjustment to Skype. For you listening, you get to just listen on whatever platform you’d like to listen on. But we have to deal with all of the intricacies and annoying technicalities of using Zoom or using Skype and recording and editing and doing all that stuff. So, you don’t know that, they’re both nice enough to accommodate me and help us all get recorded and have a good conversation today. So, thank you, again, for making the jump over the last minute. It’s always tough sometimes trying to schedule everybody, especially when we’re doing, now three people scheduling across time zones.
So, I guess I’ll jump right in a bit. And the thing I was kind of wondering about since your co-authors is how do you decide to co author a book instead of just being like, all right, I’m doing my own thing, I’m doing my book, and then they can do their book, and the heck with it from there? How do you negotiate? Who does what, that you’re even going to put together a book to begin with? How does that process work?
KEVIN: [00:02:34] I think it’s kind of the model that Human Kinetics uses for these anatomy books. You see they have these like anatomy in motion series kind of covering everything from like a functional training like ours, or basketball or hockey or football. And what they tend to try to do is find someone who’s an author or a coach, and then they want to find someone like a Ph.D. attached to the project. And so Mary Kate and I both come from the MBSC, Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning kind of coaching tree family. And so it kind of worked out that we could team up for this project, that they were kind of looking to put something like this together.
And so this was a natural fit, you know, someone who was kind of — Mary Kate, who’s in academia at Springfield College and then myself who actually worked in Mike Boyle Strength Conditioning, as a strength coach. So, I think we were kind of a good match for the project.
MARY KATE: [00:03:30] Yeah, absolutely. And I’ll piggyback off that. I mean, I tell everybody, Kevin’s really the star of the book. I was just there kind of supporting him through the journey, which was exactly how I wanted it. So, definitely we work nowadays, you work everything through a computer through a shared doc with comments, and feedback and whatnot.
So, Kevin would take the lead on sections, and then he would send them to me, I would provide him as much feedback as I could, he would go ahead and make adjustments, and then we kind of moved on from there. So, it was really — At the beginning, obviously, a little complicated, who’s doing what and how, but once we figured out our system, it was very, very smooth.
JESSE: [00:04:08] So, with the content of the book, because I always wonder — this isn’t the first time this publisher has sent me a book. And I always wonder who decides, did they approach you and say we need a book like this, or Kevin, are you coming up, or Mary Kate, are you coming up with the idea and saying, I’d like to do something like this, like nobody else is, is doing this book. I always just kind of wonder how does the idea or the genesis of the book happened? Because I’m sure both of you can write about a number of topics, you can kind of niche down and say, I can write about this. But what gives birth to this particular topic with you guys?
KEVIN: [00:04:55] Yeah, I mean, this was actually an interesting process because Mike [inaudible 00:04:58] from Human Kinetics reached out to me as the acquisitions editor and kind of had a few different ideas about different book projects that they were looking to put together. And with a couple of volleys of emails back and forth, we came into this functional training anatomy idea. And it goes really hand in hand with the certified functional strength coach course. So, if people have been to our CFSC course, we kind of take people through the training program that we use at Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning from foam rolling all the way through conditioning.
And this book was kind of like an anatomy adjunct to that kind of explaining what we were training in those exercises and why we were selecting those exercises and what we were targeting. And so when we were discussing different book topics, I thought well, this would be a perfect opportunity to kind of have another accompanying text, to the courses that we are teaching, and it would kind of fill the niche and a need for a book for Human Kinetics as well.
MARY KATE: [00:06:02] Yeah, I think Kevin nailed that. So, I’m going to let you…
JESSE: [00:06:09] As I went through the book, one thing that struck me is that there’s been, and I haven’t been alive quite this long, I don’t think either of you have either. But coming through 60s, 70s onwards to now, it’s like, there’s this shift from isolated lifts to more functional training. So, I kind of wanted to ask you guys more about that. I kind of live in the endurance world so it’s like we are more functional approached, but — So, I have just a little bit of a touch point with it. But you know, not very deep knowledge.
So, what’s the journey in the field kind of changing from what I would consider, like the bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger approach to fitness that kind of blew up when he was big, to now focusing more on functional skills and functional training. I know, I’ve forgotten his name at the moment, but I’ll come to me later. He’s a downhill skier. He was talking about the camps he does with his skiers, and how they work on all these different kind of movements and skills to get, I almost want to say, random kind of movements that are useful into muscle memory. So, I’m just curious, both your thoughts, opinions, knowledge on the history of the development of strength training, and why we’re kind of moving in this direction?
KEVIN: [00:07:50] Yeah. Yeah. I mean, if you think about all of our thoughts and beliefs on strength training are kind of initially influenced by strength sports, right? Like, powerlifting, or bodybuilding, or strongman, right. That’s kind of the foundation for where a lot of people learned about strength. But then kind of as we progressed to thinking about overtime to preparing people for sports, or just preparing people for life, I think we want to clarify our choice of exercise is based on our intended outcome, right.
So, I think, for a long time, people just used the same tools that we use for bodybuilding and for powerlifting. And those were really appropriate for those outcomes. But then, as we start to evolve, we want to start to think about, okay, well, what is the tool that I really want for the optimal carryover? And I think that’s really what functional training speaks to.
MARY KATE: [00:08:47] Yeah. I always tell people I’m the luckiest person in strength and auditioning because my career started literally at the age of 13 when I started training at NBSC. And I talked to, I’m in my late 30s, and I talked to people who’ve been in the field as long as I have, and they talk about the olden days when they did this or that, and they’re these awful training methods, right. But I didn’t have that. I mean, I can tell some stories about some stuff we did at MBSC back in the day that we probably wouldn’t do now.
But overall, MBSC has evolved but those general concepts remain the same. So, I’ve been lucky that I’ve always kind of been on that track. But again, I talked to other people, and they’re talking about reading magazines and then doing a bench cycle or meeting up with the old guy at Gold’s Gym and learning about bicep curls.
So, I think you have seen this evolution. I was lucky that I was — I think I was right on the beginning of the wave, so that I saw it right away. But there’s definitely been a change over time. What I see that I really like the change is that it used to be thought that older people should use machines, right, that they should. And I think that’s something that we’re really seeing a transition now, especially in the last 10 years of realizing that just because you’re old doesn’t mean you need to use machines. You can use free weights too. And I think that’s the best evolution that I’ve seen recently, is this acceptance that even people who would consider elderly, they can use their body weight and use free weights. And that’s more effective than sitting and using machines.
JESSE: [00:10:29] I think it kind of begs the question a little bit, in some ways it’s kind of addressed in the book, but is there any room for or purpose for isolated movements now? Like, I know, my father who is in his late 70s now, his fitness thing is still get on the bench and do bicep curls. Like, that’s his go-to move where he workouts in his basement. If you’re listening Dad, I love you. But hopefully, you can maybe learn something. But is there any room for that? Does it play a part anymore or should we just say, it’s a relic of the past, and we move on?
KEVIN: [00:11:11] I mean, it’s all those things I was telling you. Like, it won’t make you any worse. It just might not get you to where you need to go. And I think with fitness, the battle is always time. That’s our most valuable asset. How much time can we devote to exercise? And with most people’s case, it’s maybe two hours a week, I would say the average client. So, if I’m spending 20 minutes doing arms each time, then I’m probably not getting everything that I could get out of that to get where I need to go.
And that’s especially for athletes, people who are trying to develop themselves for sports. You just have to be really efficient in your usage of your time in the weight room or out on the field trying to get prepared. So, I always tell my athletes, hey, you can get your arms in at the end. After we get our conditioning, you can come right back in and you can run the rack. Because I mean, there’s nothing wrong with training for some aesthetics, I think, as long as you’re doing all the other stuff you need to do, have your meat and potatoes before your dessert, so to speak.
MARY KATE: [00:12:07] Yeah, for sure.
JESSE: [00:12:10] One of the things I liked in the book, and I want to know was this something that Human Kinetics said, hey, we want this or was this something you guys said this is what’s needed? Is it the exercises aren’t in isolation, they’re — okay, this is what they are, this is how they do them, this is what they affect, and this is the purpose of doing it. Because I think that’s, I know for me, and a lot of people, it’s like let’s go back and talk about bicep curls. It’s like, why the hell am I doing this? Like, what benefit am I going to gain out of this? And I think it makes it a little easier to use the book too, if you come from basically no background. And you can go, oh, this is the actual purpose of this. So, therefore, this exercise might be useful. Was that something you guys came up with or that Human Kinetics said it would be nice if you included this?
KEVIN: [00:13:10] Yeah. I mean, we kind of discussed what would go with each section. And I think the purpose or like that functional focus section was intentional. Because again, if we’re going to define functional training, I’d say it’s purposeful training. We’re picking exercises to get to a certain outcome. And we always reference the book Start With Why, from Simon Sinek, which is like it’s in our book club here and MBSC. One, for our coaches to define their purpose for coaching, but also for them to have clarity on programming. Like, we always audit the program and say there’s a reason that everything’s in here. It’s not just we’re selecting something that we like and putting in there. So, I think it’s important in the book that we took the time to explain the why, between each section so they can understand the value and the carryover from each exercise.
MARY KATE: [00:13:58] I like that you pointed out the functional piece as well. That was kind of my favorite piece of all the writing that I would get from Kevin is looking at how he was able to incorporate it in there. And my mom probably bought like 10 copies of this book, I think, and sent them to all her friends. So, my mom used to train with Kevin too, so she’s really invested in the book. But she sent it to all her friends and they’ll send me back and they love that piece. So, speaking as someone who’s spoken to people who are reading the book who are in their late 60s, they love that functional focus piece and seeing why this matters and why they should do it. Because if they’re going to invest their time into it, they want to know why. So, yeah, that is absolutely my favorite piece of all the chapters.
JESSE: [00:14:42] Well, that’s the thing that sometimes it’s very useful for like, either you guys if we go into a really deep dive anatomy or physiology book, and there’s all this information and you can make use of it. But then, so someone like me or someone less knowledgeable than me, and not that I’m not very knowledgeable. But you know, I’ve been around a minute so I know a few things. I’m not scared of the book. So, someone like me or someone less knowledgeable, it gives an ability to jump in and figure out why I’m doing it. Versus if we’re going to go into a heavy manual, a thick manual where it goes, okay, here’s all these things. And you’re like, okay, yeah, but I want to be able to kick a soccer ball better. How do I kick a soccer ball better? And you can go in, you could probably find the right exercises to do that movement and it makes sense.
Instead of going, okay, well, now I have to learn about how the knee is connected to all these ligaments and the tendons and muscles and which muscle groups I need — It breaks down and makes the entry point a little bit easier, which I thought was nice. Since the other direction is, I’m sure both of you have experienced this, if you’re in like a course of some kind. I was a math undergrad and my first 400 level math course, the professor taught it like it was a graduate course. And just no consideration for where we were, just like, this is what it is, and here you go. It’s so daunting to be presented with that. So, I guess I’ll just say, a collective thank you, which I think Mary Kate, you’ve already gotten from people for including that to make it manageable for somebody who doesn’t really have as deep a background.
MARY KATE: [00:16:38] And I think when you read towards the end, and you start to see how you put it all together it gets to a point where you’re like, okay, I need to plug in an upper body exercise, let me go to that chapter. Let me pick one. Okay. I need to plug in a lower body exercise, let me go to that chapter. Let me pick one. So, it kind of almost becomes — it helps you create kind of a menu of what exercises you’re going to do to create one of these functional workouts.
KEVIN: [00:17:03] And it’s actually, it’s kind of a callback, Mary Kate definitely remembers this, like at MBSC, we used to have a whiteboard, and all the athletes would have their sheets, and they’d write their exercises in for the day. Before we were using Excel sheets, they had like their cards. And that’s what I think of when I see that chapter is like going to the whiteboard and writing in your upper body exercise, writing in your lower body exercise, because then you can — it’s almost like paint by numbers for the person who’s learning how to build a strength training program for themselves.
And so, like you said, we want to be able to make it as a reference where they could understand how to build a program based off the pieces we gave them and start to understand the overall concept. Because most young coaches or people who are just recreational athletes who are taking care of themselves, they got to start somewhere. And this is a really good kind of starting place for them.
JESSE: [00:17:49] And this is where I think Human Kinetics come in, but doing all the illustrations too is very nice. Because I know, this is a sidestep, but I know if I’m injured or something, I’m always trying to look at anatomical models, and then drill down where it hurts on my body versus what it looks like on the anatomical drawings I’m looking at. And trying to understand all the intricacies of what’s actually being used, what’s being used for the certain motions, why it might hurt is always tough. So, having that visual representation in each of the exercises, and going, oh, I’m actually using — ‘cause like —
Going back to my soccer ball kicking example, I mentioned, I’m just using my leg. So, how do I use my leg? I just need to make my leg stronger. It’s like, well, yeah, but you’re forgetting that you’re using your core and your obliques and like there’s this twisting motion, and there’s all these other muscles that are being used that you don’t think about. So, it’s a nice way to think about that and understand it so intuitively quickly that they can include that for you guys, instead of just reading through things and try to communicate 3D and time sensitive information, like it’s a motion, in just text because that’s always difficult. [crosstalk] Go ahead.
MARY KATE: [00:19:22] I was going to say, I think that’s something that’s changed over time too. I can remember the first time I had an anatomy strength training book, you would see an exercise and it would point out that one muscle it was working, right, which we’ve learned that’s not really the case. It’s probably working eight muscles, right? So, I think that hopefully people can take a lot out of the book, just looking at those pictures and being like, wow, each one of these does a lot of things. This is not just working my hip flexor, right. So, I think having again, that image or understanding that it’s like more movements. It’s not just one muscle that’s working at a time.
JESSE: [00:20:00] So, I guess the question, Kevin is, are you going to make a video series to go along with the book where you’re showing all the movements and you’re doing all the models, and then break it down and show all the muscles just like the book has going on?
KEVIN: [00:20:15] Yeah. Well, I am working on a video kind of project with CSFC, that’s going to go through a lot of the anatomy concepts. And if you’re familiar with the company, Muscle in Motion, they have like a lot of Instagram videos, and working with them to do it as well, to help highlight like hey, if we go through a single leg squat, what are the frontal plane muscles that are working? What are the sagittal plane muscles that are working?
So, like Mary Kate said, if you went to an old book, it might just show on a single leg squat like quadricep and glute, right? When, in reality, a lot of the value in that exercise comes from glute medius, and the adductor as well as stabilizers, and so being able to call the attention to that. So, yeah, that is something that we’re — This is actually the video studio that I’m sitting in here working on filming some of those things over the next couple months and collaborating with them. So, we can highlight the muscles on there. So, hopefully, that’ll be coming up soon.
JESSE: [00:21:10] Like I said, that’s the nice part about having the actual drawings, and then video obviously takes it to the next level. There’s just something — because of the way we perceive information, there’s just something nice about just seeing it, and then obviously watching yourself. I know I was doing single leg deadlifts and my wife was like, I don’t think you’re doing those right. It was close but not quite.
Like, I’d started doing them, but I hadn’t been watching myself do them and hadn’t realized, oh, like this is a little off. Like you need to move that a little bit. And so once you can see somebody else, do it, and then see yourself do it, like, that’s so much quicker than trying to go through if you just verbally explained to me, this is how it’s done when that may not click. So, that’s why I kind of wanted to give you a hard time about the videos, but it is nice that you’re actually working on that.
JESSE: My most pressing question for you guys today is a personal one. And I want to know because I have terrible posture. Although I try to work my best when we’re on video. Can I fix my terrible posture with strength training? Can I just work out my back muscles really well and improve my posture? This is something I’ve been struggling with for a long time and I have never found the right answer. So, since I have you guys captive I want to see if you can help me.
KEVIN: [00:22:41] Well, this is what I always say is, because like — I mean, I work as a massage therapist in rehab corners, so I have the posture question all the time. And like I would say the best posture is a changing one. Because we’re meant to move. And so I would say don’t get stuck up on what you look like on a plumb line when you turn sideways and you’re like oh, my head’s a little forward, my shoulders are back.
Because if it was easy, it’s just doing a bunch of rows and your shoulders went backwards, like we’d be able to change how people look really easy. But what I tell people is, we want to — if we can keep all of our joint spaces healthy, like move your neck through a full range of motion multiple times a day, move your shoulders through a full range of motion, once a day, move your T spine all the way through, then we’re able to maintain joint health, right?
And usually people complain about posture because their neck is stiff, or their shoulder is stiff, or their back is stiff. And so continually going through a joint maintenance routine and then breaking up your time when you’re sitting. Because we’re really adaptable to the positions that we’re in. You’re going to find what is probably the most energy-efficient position, which might not be the best long term position for how you feel, right, like crunching over the desk. And so being able to set times, movement breaks into your workday, if you’re someone who’s seated very often saying, okay, I’m going to get up in 25 minutes and move my neck, move my shoulder, move my hip, and then just participate in a full body strength training routine that’s pretty balanced.
And that kind of help you build the capacity to get through your day if you’re someone who’s seated. I always say like, working with the average desk jockey, they have to prepare and be fit enough to get through an 8-10 hour work day sitting down just like an athlete does. And so that means developing core stability, developing upper back and shoulder and postural stability for your neck by doing things like basic stuff, push ups, planks, core exercises, so that they don’t fatigue throughout the day. Because again, you search for the most energy efficient position which is typically hunched over so you keep moving.
JESSE: [00:24:43] Okay, okay. The main reason I asked actually is I tweaked something in my back while swimming. It was a rest week so I wasn’t even moving that hard and I didn’t notice it till the next day and then it was like, swollen and it just — I got tape on my back now and just the most bizarre thing. And I have never had anybody actually help me fix what’s going on. It’s been an issue since college though, and it is very rarely severe. I always felt like — I play the violin and I always felt like it came from that, where you’ve got your hands up, and then I have this long, annoying neck.
And so I’d be like, crunched to hold the thing. And then that tightens all these muscles back here, because you’re not supposed to do that. It’s supposed to be relaxed, but because my neck is too long — it’s a whole thing. And I keep searching for answers, because I’m like somebody’s got to be able to help me fix this. So, when I have you guys captive, I just say, maybe I can get something out of you that will lead me down the right path, and maybe give something to you guys to think about. Because I don’t know that — I don’t know how many violinists you work with. But it’s something — [crosstalk]
KEVIN: [00:25:52] It’s interesting. Actually, I have a violinist and a cello player, and it’s all neck, shoulder, scap type stuff. And it’s like with any sport, you start to adapt to the sport. If you look at pitchers, they tend to lose internal rotation on their throwing shoulder and they gain a bunch of external rotation on the throwing shoulder, right, as an adaptation to repeatedly throwing, so it makes them better at what they do.
But as you start to go down a path with specificity in any activity, whether it’s throwing a baseball or playing the violin, there’s probably other compensations or other things you’re going to sacrifice, right? And so maybe for you, it’s rotation of your thorax one way or rotation of your shoulder one way. So, I would say we got to start to kind of find out where we want to have you, you got to like work on moving the other shoulder, work on specific shoulder mobility to try to kind of offset that over time.
JESSE: [00:26:53] So, this is for you, specifically, Kevin, but May Kate, I’m hoping you can maybe comment as well. I asked about your hoodie, which is online, listed anyway, Movement as Medicine. I think it’s an interesting idea. As a concept before you describe it, I’ll probably agree with it. But I kind of like to know more about what it is specifically, both as a concept and thing where I think business for you. So, could you tell me a little bit more about it?
KEVIN: [00:27:27] Yeah, it’s funny. So, Movement as Medicine is the name of my massage and rehab business that’s actually attached right at Mike Boyle Strength Conditioning. And it’s funny, the name Brendon and I got, Brendon Rearick and I went to UMass Amherst together and studied kinesiology. And our professor is in Exercise 110, Barry Braun was our professor, he wrote an article about exercise and diabetes management in the reference in the article that he quoted used was movement as medicine.
And so Brandon and I were like, I love that name. And after we went to massage school, we worked in MBSC, and we want to open a business, that name still stuck with us. So, we used it as our business name. And because what I tend to think of here is what I do as a therapist is I don’t want to make the client a passive participant in the process, I want it to be an active rehab process for them.
So, what I mean by that is I don’t want them to just be like, hey, you’re going to come rub my leg, and then I’ll be better. And that’s the mindset, unfortunately, that a lot of patients have when they come in to get treatment. And so I try to explain in the beginning, like yes, there might be some passive modalities like massage work that I might do, but much of the process of getting better and feeling better is going to be solved by exercise by you. Because most of the time people end up in my clinic, due to a lack of fitness in some regard. Whether it’s they don’t have enough hip mobility to run and play the sport they want, or they don’t have the overhead mobility to play tennis, and then their neck hurts. It’s always about kind of solving those issues.
So, we’re always tracking people from the massage table, to the mobility section over to strength training. I’d say ultimately, it’s a success for me, if I can just refer you out to the gym, and you can start training in a group or training with a personal trainer and you don’t have to see me week in and week out anymore. And so that’s kind of the overall theme that we wanted to have in here, as opposed to just kind of traditional massage in rehabilitation.
MARY KATE: [00:29:25] Yeah, and I think — I mean, they really fill kind of a gap that’s needed. Often you go to a massage therapist, or you go to a personal trainer, or maybe you go to a physical therapist, but then you need a referral and all those other barriers that are in the way. And again, I’ll bring this back to my mom, who I’m sure is Kevin’s favorite client ever. But when she — a couple years ago, she started having joint pain. And she had always been really healthy and she was like, I think I’m going to start going to the gym again.
And I was like, and she’s like because she had been doing workouts at home that I had taught her when I lived there 15 years ago, you know what I mean? And I was like, you really need someone to watch you, Mom, you know? And thinking about it, I was like, well, what does she need? Well, she definitely needs some massage work, she definitely needs some prehab stuff or rehab stuff, she definitely needs some strength training. and reflecting on it, that’s how I ended up sending her to Kevin purposely, right. I was like, you’re not just going to Joe Schmo over at this gym, let’s figure out something that’s going to work.
So, she drove 45-50 minutes to go get a training session in. And I think that was — obviously, I looked for a place that I trusted, but also, I don’t think she could have found something closer. So, I think that it’s a model that’s needed and I don’t think there’s enough of them out there. I know, I have a lot of students who are interested in this kind of model. They’re like, kind of want to go to PT school, but they’re not sure they do. They like the strength training and they’re kind of in this like a gap world, that I think Kevin’s business really fills. But I hope — I don’t want him to have too many competitors, but I hope there becomes more gyms like it or more facilities like it to help people get what they need, rather than just going to a group fitness class, that’s not going to address the needs that that person has as an individual. So, yeah, I think it’s a great model, we need more of them.
JESSE: [00:31:21] Yeah. I think a lot of the thinking is interesting. Although I don’t specialize in what you do, Kevin, I think about my company and what — associated with podcasts and like, how do I treat people. And I realized, it only like recently solidified in my mind that, oh, I’m trying to treat people as whole athletes or whole people, not just like this individual thing, where it’s like, where it let’s — and that’s kind of the theme of the podcast, in some sense is like, let’s not just talk about like — have you guys come on and be like, okay, I run.
Tell me how to run better and let’s talk about exercise. Like, that is a component, obviously. But then there’s like, there’s the mental component. Are you stressed out today? And like, how does that feel? And then in your case, Kevin, are your muscles tight, let’s massage them. But also you need to work on this amount of mobility and this flexibility and the strength — like, the whole athlete.
It seems like they’re — I’m sure the idea has been around for quite some time. And maybe it’s simply a matter of self-fulfilling prophecy, or that’s like what I’m after. But you know like when you’re in the market for a certain car, and you see that car everywhere? So, maybe it’s like that where like, I’m kind of in that mindset now, so I’m starting to see it everywhere. But I kind of feel like that more, I’ll say like holistic approach is going a little bit where it’s not just reserved for like, woo woo mystical experiences in Colorado where they’re talking about what I consider hokum. It’s actually let’s apply the science from various fields and treat you as a whole person. So, Kevin was that, like, the genesis of that, was that something you started with kind of growing up? Is it something that just kind of sparked at some point? Where is that wanting to marry those things, where does that come from?
KEVIN: [00:33:28] Yeah. I mean, it’s kind of grown holistically. I mean, I’m like Mary Kate, in that my first experience working in fitness and strength conditioning, other than like, when I worked at Gold’s when I was 19 years old, was Mike Boyle Strength Conditioning. I interned here when I was 20 and I’m still — I’m here now. And so I was very lucky that I started in the right place because I probably saved myself a lot of time and frustration, and I saw what a holistic functional training program looked like. So, it kind of opened my eyes to what training could be. And I saw people getting better, like people with back pain coming and working out and getting better. I saw people who were coming off some sort of surgery or some sort of accident and getting better and using strength training as a tool to heal people.
And Brendon and I kicked around the idea of physical therapy school. I talked to some physical therapists I knew, I talked to massage therapists, I talked to Mike, I talked to strength conditioning, and then also the economic decision of going to massage school was also part of it because I was working full-time here. And I was like, okay, how am I going to pay for this and do this part-time, so we do nights. So, it kind of was all holistic. And when I talk about good timing, I mean, at the same time that Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning was expanding, we got out of massage school. And there was this extra office space next door that was unaccounted for. So, me with zero business acumen at all just said, Mike and Bob we’ll just start renting it and then we’ll figure it out.
And so it was holistic in that we were in the right place, like if I didn’t have the foundation of training here and seeing the power that training and a whole person could have, then I wouldn’t have kind of known how to put these pieces together. I might have gone a different route. And when you say treat the person, we actually [inaudible 00:35:09] in the back of Movement as Medicine for my staff, like the other therapists I have here, I have a list of things for them to think about every day. And one of the ones on there is treat the whole person, and don’t treat just the injury. And so you talk about the psychological end of things, it’s like, sometimes my session, for someone who might be dealing with chronic pain is just explaining them dealing with pain as opposed to me making them do exercises.
Or me working on them, because we know pain is a pretty complex biological and psychological process. So, getting them — understanding the whole person and kind of where they’re coming from is everything in managing pain. If it was as easy as it just being a mechanical stimulus, we’d be able to get a lot more people better, there wouldn’t be people with chronic pain for years. So, that’s got to be the top of the list, I think, in both strength conditioning and rehab settings.
JESSE: [00:36:06] The idea and your talking about clients reminds me of a guest I had way, way back, Episode 23, name was Debbie Booth, and she works with typically older clients and does like work in pools. So, these are clients with very limited mobility, like sometimes can hardly even get them into the pool when they start. And I remember her telling me about just thinking about Movement as Medicine, like being able to get them in, and having that assistance of like water and increasing circulation, and doing all these things like these movements they haven’t been able to do in who knows how long, and how much that improved their quality of life and like, being able to get some of them, being able to get them like to walk on their own without the assistance of a walker and these kind of things. So, that’s where I wonder how do we get more Kevins and distribute them to the people that need them so that we’re not so ailed by our own lethargy, is it, or our lack of mobility.
KEVIN: [00:37:27] Yeah, I mean, education. I mean, to have more practitioners who are going to get people where they need to be. Like, you want professors like Mary Kate, who are in a position to educate young coaches to get them in the right mindset coming out of school. Then you want certification programs that are going to educate about treating the whole person and managing health on a broader spectrum than just doing singular-focused approaches to coaching. So, it starts really at the base level so that people can, like I said, both Mary Kate and myself, we had really, really good foundations to begin with. And so that’s going to form how you think about developing programs for people going forward. So, I think it’s getting the right people in places to educate.
MARY KATE: [00:38:10] I think to add on that, it’s also the general population of that, understanding that movement and exercise is as good as medicine, right? So, sometimes it’s easier to pop a pill than go and invest an hour into training, right? Or maybe it seems like too much of a financial investment to join some type of facility or become part of a program where that financial investment is going to pay off because you’re going to be pain free the rest of the day, or hopefully into the future. So, I think, I know a lot of people ask me, like, hey, can you write a program for me? And I’ll be like, hey, can you do this, this and this for two weeks, and then I’ll write your program, right? Because I want them to show that they’re committed to it, right? And if they’re not committed to doing the things on their own, then they’re not going to be committed to my program either.
So, I think education, absolutely. Hopefully, I’m helping to develop these future amazing coaches who are going to be able to provide these services, but also educating and we do this a lot at Springfield, we have an Exercise as Medicine Program, where we try to teach about the importance of exercise to people and continuing to spread that that this is a way to feel better, and this is worth it. And even though you have to set time aside to go and train or do your exercises, setting those two, three, four hours a week aside to do that is going to be incredibly beneficial to the rest of your time.
JESSE: [00:39:36] I’m a big proponent of the idea that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And so I’m wondering from both of you, do you ever have to sell that to people in that that framework where it’s like, okay, let’s project out. It’s like if — because, as you mentioned, Mary Kate, they have to spend an hour. I mean, that’s literally how we talk about it, we spend it. It’s something I have that I spend, just like I spend money. And sometimes money is involved too. So, it’s like, I’ve got to spend this time, I got to spend this money on this thing that I don’t really like it. But then it can hopefully help prevent maybe chronic issues or pain or problems, health issues down the road.
Do you have to sell it that way? Do you sell it that way, where you say if you work on this now, you’re going to be better off for it later? Because I feel like a lot of people have trouble thinking about, like, I’m in my early 30s, so saying, well, 60-year-old me will appreciate it. Like that — it’s just such a long time frame and we’re so focused on, like, what’s happening today? You know, so I guess, do you guys tell it that way, and how do you get them to bite?
KEVIN: [00:40:52] I always say you’re going to pay now or you’re going to pay later, but you’re going to pay one way or the other with time and money. Because essentially, you’re investing in your future, mortgaging the future like you said. It can be hard for someone who’s like 20 to think like, the inputs that I start and habits I start now are going to affect me later in life. But again, continuing to getting people to understand that it’s a lifestyle investment for the long term, we know it pays off in the long run as long as people are doing the right things, and consistently applying them. So, yeah, I mean, you always have to kind of get people to understand that. And I mean, sometimes you have motivated clients, and sometimes you have clients who aren’t so motivated. And so you might have to kind of use that approach to get them to understand.
JESSE: [00:41:41] Mary Kate, are you — I know you’re working at the college, and before we get going, before the recording, talking about trying to work at home with kids; are you still taking on clients too, you’re mostly working with students now? [crosstalk] You mentioned writing training programs, and then the program at the college.
MARY KATE: [00:42:02] Yeah. So, 75% of my job is teaching classes, 25% is overseeing the graduate assistants who run our strength conditioning program at the college. So, I kind of supervise and mentor them. But then my husband and I, we also have a company on the side. We’ve kicked it off mostly this summer where we’re training youth athletes in the area. I tend to do any of our personal training high-end people, sometimes administrators or local important people, I’ll do one on one training sessions with But then I also — was it just yesterday, we had 30 kids out on a field doing speed and agility, ranging from six-years-old to 16, it was awesome. [crosstalk] Yeah, it was great.
So, I try to get my hands in and keep them dirty. I think that’s really important as a professor to still be doing it, while also having sanity, right. So, finding that balance between still being in it, but you know, teaching is my primary job. But yeah, I’ll take — I’m pretty selective. I’ll take like two or three personal training clients at a time, and then do small group stuff when it’s fun for me. Coaching is more of a hobby right now than it is a profession.
JESSE: [00:43:20] So, the thing I’m kind of curious about and just, it’s — I’m interested in people, hence, I have a podcast. But I’m wondering if either of you can think of any clients that come to mind if I asked you like, stories about like, most improved clients or things that you saw and really, I’ll say, dramatic results. And I don’t mean to play that up, but just going back to Debbie Booth and her — she has specific clients that just even the things that happen with them surprised her, because they bought into what they were doing. So, I was just wondering if either of you had any clients you can think of that you’re able to share about, I don’t know what you can share or not share. And if you can’t, that’s perfectly fine, but just a curiosity.
KEVIN: [00:44:10] Yeah. Well, it’s — I mean, at MBSC, we work with a lot of kids as well as adults. We’re a pretty mixed population. And I always reference this one story when I talk about coaching in that I had a young man come in, he was about 14 at the time. He came in with his mother and he was really tall. He had grown almost 11 inches in a calendar year. And so he was about, I think he was about six foot four, six foot five, and he was about 145 pounds. So, he was very thin. And he came in with back pain.
His mom brought him in not really to lift weights, she had reached out and said, I think he needs stretching. He seems tight and his back hurts, his hips hurts, he’s not playing sports right now because he’s in so much pain and he’d just grown so quickly. And so what happens when you grow that quickly, it’s not necessarily that you need stretching as much as you need to get stronger, because your limb links are so long, but your strength and stability hasn’t really caught up.
And the one thing I noticed about him is he wasn’t very confident in himself either. Like, when you’re that tall, you kind of see people kind of hunched down, and they kind of keep themselves to make themselves smaller, and he was pretty quiet. And over time, myself in the staff, we kind of broke him in socially, which was fun. And he started to get stronger. And when he started to get stronger, he started to get more confident in himself, like how he communicated, like he would flex in the mirror.
And over time, he gained — he left here almost — he was around 190 pounds, which is still skinny at that height. But imagine he was like a whole nother person. Right? And so not only did he not have back pain — I remembered he had back pain and he had shoulder pain. That stuff was gone. But he was strong. He was playing lacrosse at his high school. He was going to college and he was into weightlifting.
So, now, like for me — he didn’t go and play college sport, but now he always like — he sends me stuff on Instagram like, oh, look at this workout I’m doing. Or like, hey, have you seen that? So, now he has a love of working out. And so that’s a win for me. Like, I don’t care if he plays a college sport, or professional sport. I care that he’s healthy, one, but two, that he’s confident and passionate about something and because of the experience he had here. He thought he was coming here to stretch and we wanted to get him lifting weights and getting fit. And so it’s — talk about treating the whole person or training the whole person, that was definitely an experience for me where I was like, oh, this kid had a pretty life changing experience coming through our facility, and that’s what it’s about as a coach, really.
JESSE: [00:46:34] Did you have to get him or his mom to buy into it’s not stretching that he needs?
KEVIN: [00:46:42] Yeah, a little bit. I mean, sometimes early on in the process, the parent drops him off and they’re like, hey, I think — they tell you what they think you need to do. Hey, you need to do stretching, you need to do these drills. And you’re like, yeah, yeah, yeah, we’re going to work on that. We’re definitely going to work on that. And then you maybe do a little bit of that, and then you give them a little bit of what you know they need. And over time, as you develop a relationship with those individuals, then they start to trust you. Right? So, kind of building a foundation of trust with them over time, then you get buy-in. Okay.
JESSE: [00:47:13] That’s the thing that always, it kind of kills me is it’s like, when you know just enough to be dangerous. You know, I don’t know if it’s that or if it’s a parent thing. I’m not a parent so I don’t know. Mary Kate, maybe you can comment. Though you’re an expert so it’s a little different, I guess. But I would guess, and I don’t know that that is probably not an unusual situation like you said that people coming in and be like, all right, Kevin, I need you to do this thing. And you’re like, okay. And then you’re like, that’s not the thing that we need to do to fix this problem. So, it sounds like you’re pretty tactful about dealing with that situation.
KEVIN: [00:47:55] Yeah. Well, it’s interesting. Fitness is an interesting field because all the consumers have some sort of casual experience with what you do. And so they have their own belief system that they’ve already formed based on TV and magazines and what they’ve done in the past. And so you don’t go to get your car fixed and say to the mechanic, like I think that this is what you should do. Maybe we should try doing it this way, that you just trust them to do it because you have no idea like really what needs to be done. And so I think it’s important. One of my — My initial intake question, one of the ones I always ask is like, tell me about some of your past experiences with exercise.
And so that way, you have an idea where they’re coming from, because everyone’s coming from some different background, or it could be a positive one or a negative one. It gives you an idea where they’re at and then you can understand how to speak to them to get them where you want them to be. And some people are easier to deal with than others. And, again, that’s why I say to my coaches, it’s just you got to build trust with people, and then they give you an opportunity to teach them and to bring them along.
JESSE: [00:49:02] Mary Kate, can you think of any individuals that have good stories you’d like to share?
MARY KATE: [00:49:07] Sure. So, before I was at Springfield College, my husband and I, we ran a business with Coach Bobby Smith in New Jersey called Reach Your Potential Training, and I was the adult Program Coordinator there. So, I oversaw our adult program and personal training and whatnot. And I became pretty connected, and this was when I was a new mom too, to a lot of the moms that joined our gyms. And a lot of them were in that kind of awkward stage where their kids were just old enough to start going to school, and all of a sudden, they were home by themselves from like nine to two. Right? And they hadn’t had that for years. Some of them had three or four kids they always had a baby they were taking care of. So, I can think of one specific individual that she came in and she felt really guilty that she was coming in to train during that time because she should be devoting that time to something that her family needs, but they didn’t need her.
So, there was this kind of loss of identity, loss of purpose during the day, guilt about not doing something for the family. And just working with this individual and helping them kind of discover the fact that self-care is important, that by doing something for yourself, you’ll actually be a better mom later. And you know, I’m thinking of one specific individual, but she was able to change her eating habits, completely, stress levels, she’d picked up her own hobbies. She hadn’t had hobbies in 20 years. And by doing all that, she started feeding her family healthier food, her daughters started seeing her running half marathons and do different competitions.
So, then all of a sudden, her daughters were becoming more into fitness. And just seeing that evolution there, which I’m sure Kevin experiences at MBSC, like, we were training the kids in the afternoon, the adults in the morning, like you knew their whole family, you know? And seeing this evolution of how this mom was able to kind of re-find herself and start to love training and fitness and nutrition and to see the effect that that had on her whole entire family was just awesome. And I think that was one of my favorite things about working in the private sector was that you were really able to see how you could help assist a whole entire family in becoming healthier and learning to love strength training and fitness and eating healthy and all those other really great aspects.
JESSE: [00:51:26] That’s a really cool story. As we’re starting to wind down on time, there’s a question I ask every podcast guest each year. So, each year I have a different question that I ask for the whole year. So, I’ll ask you both, give you both a chance to answer. The question I’m asking this year is how do you stay motivated after failing to reach a goal?
KEVIN: [00:51:47] I think being able to frame it as a learning experience and realizing there’s no set timeline, right? It might not happen right when you want it. But being able to use that as a learning experience to build off and then get closer, right? Everybody fails. Like, there’s nobody who doesn’t fail. Like, I fail. We have many failures on a daily basis as coaches. Like, sometimes the set doesn’t go the way you want or sometimes the group doesn’t flow as easily as you want.
But then you learn hey, okay, what do I have to do next time? Like yesterday with my group of a bunch of new interns, we got a little bit of a traffic jam in the weight room. We had them scramble with a bunch of middle school kids. And then we grouped up afterwards and I said, hey, so tomorrow, when we take our group at three o’clock, I want to go out, and this is how I want things set up. I want to have you assigned to these coaches, you assigned to these coaches. I’ll be assigned to these athletes. And we’re able to kind of replan how we’re going to go about it today.
And I was going to run into that failure one way or another probably. And so being able to — us being able to get better from it, and then go out there today and do a better job; and I was continually looking at it as a process, not necessarily an end goal. And so when you think about in terms of fitness, thinking about like, yeah, we all have mini goals, hey, I want to bench press this much, or I want to lose this much weight, or I want to do whatever. But thinking about this is all part of the bigger lifestyle change that Mary Kate referenced and understanding how can I make this as a consistent practice in my life, as opposed to just like I’m reaching an end goal.
MARY KATE: [00:53:23] Yeah. I would love to piggyback off that. I think Kevin really hit on a lot of really important pieces. For me, as an educator, as I said, I oversee our GAs who are our strength coaches for athletes. And before they train any athlete, they need to bring me their workout that they’re going to do, and I need to look through it and approve it, right? And when I do that, I see things that I think are like, meh, maybe not the best idea, right? But if I just stop them and prevent failure, they’re not going to learn, right? So, I make sure it’s safe, no one’s going to get hurt, nothing awful is going to happen, no sport coach is going to call and yell at me because something bad happened. But I allow some things to go and I’ll say, hey, I want you to really pay attention to this and reflect on it and let’s chat after and you let me know how it went, right?
And they go, they do it, they come back and they’re like, oh, that was such a bad idea. I should have done this, this, this, and this. I go, great. Let’s make the change. You know? And so often I know it’s coming. Hopefully none of them listen to this, because they might not know [inaudible 00:54:19] as much as I do. So, don’t tell Andrew, Kevin. But often, I just kind of let things happen because you’re not going to learn unless you fail. Right? And I think you can even bring that back to your own health and fitness. Right? Like, you got to try something, you got to see how it goes, then you reflect on it and then you make an adjustment and then you try again. Right? And again, if someone’s stopping you from failing, you’re never going to learn and grow. You’re just going to stay in this little safety bubble, which is not where we want to be.
JESSE: [00:54:50] Both good answers. Letting people fail I think is interesting. One of my business mentors, he always talks about you don’t need to watch somebody fall off a cliff to know you don’t want to fall off the cliff. But sometimes I think people do need to fall off the cliff to know that you don’t want to fall off a cliff. As nice as it is to think, oh, just watch them and then go, that’s a bad idea; for whatever reason, sometimes you’ve got to experience and have that visceral reaction of like, oh, that was not good. Then it all comes back to, okay, where do we go from here? So, I think there’s definitely something valuable in letting people fail in a controlled environment, not a catastrophic falling off a cliff kind of situation. But anyway, both of you, thank you for coming on. Where can people connect with either of you, where can they pick up the book, all that kind of stuff?
KEVIN: [00:55:52] The book, you could get right from the Human Kinetics website. You go in there, right in functional training anatomy, could also go to Amazon. But I think Human Kinetics would like it if you get it from their website. And then you can find me at @MovementasMedicine on Instagram is probably the best place for training content, or CertifiedFSC.com for our CFSC certification information.
MARY KATE: [00:56:15] I’ll be honest, I’m awful at social media. If you want to see pictures of my kids, friend me on Facebook. I would say go into SC Strength and Instagram is the best place to kind of learn about what’s going on at Springfield College with their graduate program. And that’s really — those are my kids, those are my babies, right? So, my grad students, they are creating great content, and I am quietly behind the scenes cheering them on. And so if you want to learn more about me and what I’m cheering on, go ahead and check that out.
JESSE: [00:56:46] Awesome. Thanks for hanging out with me today, guys.
MARY KATE: [00:56:49] Thank you.
KEVIN: [00:56:49] Thanks for having us.