What language does your body speak?
Hey guys, it’s James here again with this week’s #ThrowbackTuesday. My Throwback today is the crossfitter and mobility expert Kelly Starrett.
I have to admit, I’m not normally drawn to the fitness alpha male types.
I’m a poet and writer, so my favourite people in the London Real vault are guys like Akala and Anthony Anaxagorou.
But something about Kerry got my creative juices flowing as I was trawling through the London Real catalogue. (That’s pretty much how I spend my days, yes!).
Kelly Starrett is not just another fitness guy pushing his own dogma.
Actually, he’s a kind of an intellectual, a philosopher of the body.
Kelly Starrett Explains Crossfit
There’s a phrase that he uses repeatedly during the course of this interview – ‘the language of the human body’.
Kelly’s big frustration seems to be the fact that we spend so much time expanding the full range of our mental capacities – especially in this day and age – but we don’t do the same with the body.
Like our language, our body has a massive vocabulary.
Each muscle group and sub-system has a set of archetypal movements that it’s designed to offer us, but which we have neglected in our desk-bound, sedentary lifestyles.
Brian was joined by co-host Timothy Shieff, the amazing freerunner and movement professional.
If you check out Timothy’s showreel, you’ll see why he was an ideal addition to this awesome discussion.
Timothy Shieff's Showreel
Something weird happened to me as I was watching this episode.
Kelly’s BIG on protecting and making proper use of the spine, and that means we should be sitting as little as possible.
In fact, he even busts out some science showing that our minds work better when we are moving.
So by the time I had finished taking notes, I was standing at my desk, in my boxers, barefoot and doing squats as I wrote!
Sorry, not a great image, but I am going to place money on you doing something similar by the time you are finished with this #ThrowbackTuesday.
Kelly’s got a great ability to communicate to a broad audience.
He’s able to talk to the bookish, ideas types, and he’s also got that alpha male energy that allows him to win over the tough guys and gym rats.
Kelly kicks off the interview by talking about Joe Rogan.
He says Rogan’s big achievement is his ability to bring high levels of awareness, and a kind of esoteric consciousness, to a popular audience.
Rogan, in Kelly’s eyes, is a sort of philosopher in disguise, and it’s shows like his, and London Real, that are at the forefront of culture.
As Brian says himself, London Real is about curating the best knowledge in the culture and distilling it for people so they can apply it in their lives.
It might be a corporate whistleblower. It might be an olympic athlete. It might even be an academic like this week’s guest David Graeber.
In the past, the knowledge of these divergent types of expert would have been confined to their immediate culture, but they are now available to everyone through programmes like London Real.
Not only that, the ideas and fields combine in new ways, and so there’s this convergence of expertise that is kind of unprecedented.
This ties in with what seems to be Kerry’s approach to his own life’s work.
Having what he calls a movement practice is essential, and you should avoid getting stuck in a dogma.
In fact, says Kelly, you should always be testing your capacities, learning a new skill, pushing your body to new limits.
Just like we read books and listen to interviews to expand our mental capacities, Kelly insists we need to treat the body in the same way.
At one point, Kelly even drops the name of Ido Portal, and his non-dogmatic, evolutionary approach to exercise seems to be similar to Ido’s.
The body, says Kelly, is like an Ipad!
It’s a sophisticated, complex piece of hardware and it is built in such a way that it is easy to use.
We have no excuse, then, for NOT pushing it to it’s fullest capacity.
Our lifestyles, our dogmas, our cultural preconceptions, all mean that we limit the body with our habits, rather than express it’s true abilities.
This is true in anything, from the way running shoes are built with too much lift on the heel, to the way children’s playgrounds seem designed to make them lazy!
If Kelly has one fundamental foundation for all his ideas in fitness and health, it’s what he calls ‘good practice’.
Pain and Biochemically Bad Positions
There’s a hilarious story he recounts about the day his wife dragged him to a yoga class in Australia.
The minute he walks in the door he’s getting evils from the teacher, who writes him off as just another American middle-aged jock.
All the girls are looking at him funny, in a patronising way.
By the end of the class he’s put them all to shame.
But on top of that, he’s demonstrated the basic tenet of human health.
No matter what you do, do it properly, with good posture and self-awareness.
Kelly lifts weights. But for Kelly it’s not just packing on the muscle. It’s not about getting juiced.
Lifting massive, Olympic-heavy weights, is Kelly’s spiritual practice.
That’s why he was able to go into a yoga class cold, and blow them all away.
His daily routine is already focused on agility, breath, and mind and body congruence.
For Kelly, the worst thing we can do is just confine our fitness to an hour at the gym.
We have to integrate good movement into our lives if we want to actually prolong health.
The key here is bringing consciousness to how we move in our everyday routine.
It’s an integrated way of looking at health, a way of life.
I really like this guy.
He starts the episode quoting Vonnegut and ends it quoting Andy Warhol. That’s my kind of fitness!
I was going to say ‘sit back, relax and make yourself comfortable’. But no, don’t do that!
Get uncomfortable, make sure you’re standing up barefoot, bust out ten squats and get ready to have your mind blown all over again.
When you are done with this #ThrowbackTuesday you’re going to be changing the way you move and the way you THINK about movement.
In the comments below, let me know what you movement practice is, and let me know how you plan to change it in light of what Kelly says here.
So get ready for some serious coaching from a London Real favourite – Kelly Starrett.