Brooks Meadows is the host of Barbell Buddha Rediscovered where he shines light on Chris Moore who, before his passing, left a treasure trove of knowledge and wisdom about strength, family, philosophy, science, vice, and how to live an exuberant, self realized existence.
He also owns Recess 901, a gym located in Memphis where they put the fun back in fitness bound by the same tenets that makes a school recess special: Community, Autonomy, and Simplicity.
In this final episode of The Bledsoe Show with Shrugged Collective, Brooks and I talked about his early trials and tribulations when starting out his gym Recess 901, what makes the gym different, and we celebrated Chris’ life by taking sharing some memories with him and how Brooks is honoring Chris’ legacy through his Barbell Buddha Rediscovered podcast.
Table Of Contents
- Remembering Chris Moore: An Introduction
- How Brooks Started Listening To Chris Moore
- Early Struggles When Brooke Opened Recess
- What Makes Recess 901 Different?
- Mike’s Enlifted Program
- Three Light System at Recess
- New Things Happening With Barbell Buddha Rediscovered
- Mike On Leaving Shrugged Collective
- Honoring Chris through Barbell Buddha Rediscovered
Connect with Brooks Meadows
Remembering Chris Moore: An Introduction
Mike: Welcome to the last Bledsoe Show on the Shrugged Collective Network. Even though it’s the last show on this channel, I’m still posting this show on my own channel. So make sure you’re subscribed wherever you’re listening to the Bledsoe Show. I’m posting new shows on Mondays, so I’ve been posting on Fridays to the collective. I’ll be posting on Monday. So if you’re listening to this on Monday, there’s already another show up there. So go check it out.
Mike: And today we have quite the conversation with Brooks Meadows. He’s a man I’ve become good friends with recently and has started and is running the Barbell Buddha Rediscovered podcast and Instagram. His passion for getting more Chris Moore’s work into the world has inspired me. And today we get to recap all the things, Shrugged, Chris Moore and the future of fitness. It’s really cool to sit down with somebody who has been a fan of the show and only shook Chris Moore’s hand one time.
How Brooks and Mike met a few years ago
Mike: All right. Today we have Brooks Meadows on the show. And Brooks has been interesting to me on many different levels. you reached out to me years ago, few years ago, wanting to move from, was it South Korea?
Brooks: That’s right
Mike: To the United States back to Memphis. And I forget exactly what we were talking about.
Brooks: I think you guys. had a marketing position at Barbell Shrugged opened at the time. I really wanted to coach and I was like, “Oh, I’m not going to do marketing. I want to coach. ”
Getting inspired by Chris Moore
Mike: Yeah. So, and we didn’t need any more coaches at the time. And so that was that. You definitely popped up on her radar then and I was familiar with you. And then, in January you started, the Barbell Buddha Rediscovered and, and really a dove into everything Chris Moore because he had, he’s got books out and he has, he had done how many podcasts that he’d do?
Brooks: He had, this is one of my favorite things. He had exactly 100 episodes, but it starts at 2 and ends at 101. It’s like a perfect set of a hundred, but it’s just like slightly askew.
Mike: Yeah. And so, I was really happy that you had taken that on. And because more people being introduced to his work is a, is a really great thing. and in addition to that, I’ve been talking to Jani Moore, Chris’s wife. and she had talked about you opening up the gym and Memphis, Tennessee called Recess 901. And that, you had, a strength area called Moore Strength.
Mike: For Chris Moore and had a library where all of his books are at now.
Having a library in a gym
Brooks: Man, it was a very serendipitous for sure on the library because, when we had designed Recess from the beginning, we wanted to value education. So like, we wanted to put a library in there where people could learn and start to find things that they really were going to fall in love with.
Mike: And you had never met Chris Moore.
Brooks: He and I met Diane Foo was in town for a weightlifting seminar in just outside of Memphis in a gym and Mississippi. And Chris was in town. Y’All were in town for some reason. And so he came all the way to Mississippi to meet, to hang out with Diane. And, and I had this 10 minute conversation with them.
Brooks: And so it was so funny because I hadn’t actually discovered his individual work at this time. So I was talking to him like I wanted to find anything that I could relate to. And he had y’all just been recently talking about kettlebells. And I had, I had something to say about kettlebells and I wanted to talk to Chris about it. So I went over and I had like a 10 minute conversation with him. fun. But not a whole lot of depth to it.
Brooks: And I don’t have a whole lot of regrets, but it would have been interesting to know Chris a little bit more and be able to have that conversation over. But at the same time, the way that I came across his work was after he had passed away.
How Brooks Started Listening To Chris Moore
Brooks: Mike. This is now, now you got me now you got me on my storytelling mode. we’re going to go from the beginning. Okay. Can we do that?
Brooks: Awesome. Can’t wait. So, you guys started Barbell Shrugged. A family member of mine was on episode, I believe it was episode 31, Dr Brad Cole. So I got peeked into the barbell shrug thing fairly early on episode 31. And so of course, I didn’t actually live in Memphis at the time, so I was looking at you guys like a fan and then flash forward a little bit longer. I’m the coach at a gym called Reebok Crossfit Sentinel One in Seoul, South Korea. And I knew something was changed for you guys. When I saw one of my members who was from New Zealand walk in with a Faction T-shirt and I was like, where did you get that?
Brooks: And he said, Oh, my mate was driving around and he, he went to do a box tour in the United States and he went out of his way to make sure that he went to Faction. And so I knew you guys as a fan, 2013 and y’all were exploding. And one of the things that really connected with me was that it always felt like we were hanging out in the room with you guys.
The feeling of being in a community
Brooks: And I know you’ve probably gotten that a lot, but we always felt like we were hanging out in the room with you guys. It was a bunch of dudes that were talking shop and we felt like we were a part of the conversation. But also you guys were all from Memphis, or at least you went to the University of Memphis. And it was so cool because I wasn’t part of the Memphis crossfit community, but I was a Memphian.
Brooks: And so it was amazing to see people from my hometown, like doing something that ended up becoming the cultural center of the crossfit world, or at least it felt like that. So I was, I was all in on Barbell Shrugged. Anything that you guys put out, I was, I was eating it up and so I was a fan and then we had this opportunity that, that first time we connected, you guys had that job opening at, decided not to take it.
Brooks: I ended up partnering with somebody and we opened a crossfit gym, in Memphis, Tennessee. And then I laterally shifted into education and I was working, at a school called KIPP Memphis Academy Middle. And I was a middle school teacher and they didn’t realize at the time that I was actually changing professions. I was, I’d been a coach a really long time. Being an educator and being a coach are not the same thing.
Brook’s desire to do something different
Brooks: I had this desire to do something different in the fitness space because I realized when I was teaching these kids that I was speaking to them in the language that I had, which was work and I wanted them to work really hard and to do a lot of work. But when you’re in fifth grade and you’re working all day, you don’t want to do that. You want to play. And so there was this, that was that this first little thing that kind of popped into my brain because that’ll come, that’ll, that’ll play into this conversation I’m sure.
Brooks: But essentially I was really down. I was getting my tail kick day in and day out and I almost quit. I almost quit my job. And then my principal walked me off the ledge, thank goodness. And he said, look, just, let’s work together through the end of the semester and we’ll get you set up.
Listening to Barbell Buddha for the first time
Brooks: And so I made the decision, and this would have been in 2017 that I was going to find something to do at the beginning of my day that was going to set me up. And I was like, oh, I’ll, I’ll drink some coffee, I’ll make a good coffee and I’ll just put a podcast on meters. And the first one that I happened to put it in my ears was the first episode of Barbell Buddha. And, I got the day and I was like, Oh wow, that went really well and we’ll just, let’s do that again.
Brooks: And then I did it again and I made it all the way through the week and we’re at the weekend where I’d normally like get off my routine and I didn’t want to, I just kept going. And for a hundred straight days I sat with Chris and something about taking three years of his life, and compressing it into that short of a timeframe.
Brooks: And also knowing that at the end of the story, he passes away, that every time he would discuss his fears or every time he would be vulnerable and tell you what was going on in his life, all of those things took on so much more weight to me because it became so obvious how important it was to act on those things that we really wanted to do. Because in a second it can just be gone. Now I will say that what I also realized is that it wasn’t the end of the story.
Early Struggles When Brooke Opened Recess
Mike: What was it like the first when you open Recess, what was it like for you then?
Brooks: A long series of mistaking knowledge for experience, believing that I knew what needed to be done but not having the, yeah, the, the experience to actually execute the things that I wanted to do. And what I did was I made things way too confusing and complicated at the, at the outset, which the funny thing is that that was one of Chris’s biggest like cardinal sins. It was complexity and making things complicated and he taught me and strength to like make it and keep it really simple. but that lesson hadn’t yet integrated and translated by the time I opened the gym.
Mike: Yeah. What I think I want to point out is, one of the things that we’ve tried to do over the years, and I know Chris did this really well, which was, and I like to separate out a complex from complicated cause complicated is, when you get into something and it’s complicated, it’s confusing, it creates confusion, but you can take something, it takes real genius to take something that’s complex and make it simple So there’s a difference between complexity and complicated.
Brooks: We just, I just read a quote from Charlie Mingus that Chris put one of his episodes and it says, making the simple complicated is commonplace but making the complicated simple, awesomely simple. That’s creativity.
Mike’s early trials and tribulations
Mike: Even though like it’s, it’s pretty, it actually is pretty nice now there. I definitely hit my trials and tribulations now and I like to point out there was a point in time where, when we opened the gym in 2007, I was sleeping in the gym…
Brooks: Ive heard quite a few stories about you and Doug in that crawl space.
Mike: Yeah, we were, we were sleeping in a crawl space, not in a room, at the gym, in a crawl space.
Mike: And then learning about how to run a, a facility appropriately and learning about business. And then, taking it from this place, that zone or code enforcement, it’s showed up, we would have been shut down. And then, and I think it was 2010 moving into a 7,200 square foot facility that was really nice and making a lot of progress there. And then a few years later starting Barbell Shrugged
Brooks: Crossfit was wild west in 2007 man
Someone’s gotta take the arrows
Mike: Wild west. The reason I opened the gym is because I was looking for one and there wasn’t one. And I go, “oh well somebody needs to do this. I guess I’ll do it”. and that’s a common thing for me is why is anyone doing this? Oh, it’s cause I’m supposed to do it. Got It. Got It.
Brooks: Somebody got it. Somebody is going to take the lead man.
Mike: Yeah. Someone’s gotta take the arrows.
Brooks: Yeah. That’s it.Like you, I think that that was something that we talked about, like being first to do stuff. You take the arrows.
Mike: Yeah. There’s no one’s, no one’s taking the machete and, and carve the way yet. So it’s like, okay, well I guess we’re going to do it. And being the first to, I used to believe that being the first to something was the best. But after studying how things shape up in a society and in business and in culture, it’s the first person, they’re usually gets the shit beat out of them and then, and then someone comes up behind him and cleans house. And, really, I wouldn’t say get to the easy, but it’s, it’s already cleared out of the way. And so I don’t always believe it’s the being the first is the best but if it’s in your nature, it’s in your nature.
15 years between the knowing and the doing
Brooks: So Chris had a quote in one of his chapters of his book from a woman named Peace Pilgrim, and she said there was 15 years between the knowing and the doing. She knew that this was something that she should have been doing, but it took her 15 years to get there. And that right there resonates with me so hard. So the reason I say that is because in graduate school I, I studied business strategy and that lesson that you said being first and all of the things that come with being first, that was a lesson that I knew back then, the challenges of being first to do something. and yet here I am living in a time where I’m trying to do something that nobody in my area is really doing.
Mike: I’m essentially trying to be the first, even though I know all of the lessons that I haven’t integrated, from back then. So it has been challenging to take the arrows and a blood at the same time. Somebody’s gotta do it, man.
What Makes Recess 901 Different?
Mike: So tell us about what makes Recess 901 different than other gyms and what inspired you to do it?
Brooks: I would say that inspiration come, came from this, it was like a nexus point of all of the things that I had really experienced. being that I started as a martial artist, I moved into strength and conditioning. I found my way to crossfit, competing and training to like go to the region, go to regionals and stuff like that.
Brooks: And then I moved into middle school education and there was a quote from Greg Glassman that re popped up into my mind and I thought about rearranging it slightly in the quote was essentially athlete’s needs athletes need vary in degree but not in kind. So they argue that all athletes at the same 10 kinds of needs the degree that we need them differs based on the sport. And I was like “No. Human needs vary in degree but not in kind”. I was watching these kids play and how much they needed to play cause I’d spent 45 minutes trying to get them to do the work and then unpackage together five to 10 minutes of free play time.
Brooks: And these kids would run themselves into the dirt and it took no effort from me other than to just like give them the parameters. And I was like nobody’s doing this in the adult space, human needs vary in degree but not in kind. There is a plague of overworking going around and there is, I believe the antidote is play, even just dosed in small bits, 20 to 40 minutes. And I figured, well, if we need to play, essentially need to move and to exercise and to find ourselves physically.
Recess is the perfect time to play
Brooks: There was no better place to do that in recess as a kid because he had the kids that like to play on the monkey bars. But you had the kids that like to like keep to themselves, swing on the swings. You had kids that liked to play organized sports. So instead of me creating a gym with a culture that was based on a methodology, I decided my role as a coach could be to help people discover the thing that they’re gonna fall in love with and that they’ll continue to go deeper in. Because if they love it, then they’ll practice. And if they practice, they’ll get better. And it doesn’t have to be much, much more complicated than that.
Brooks: Yeah, I think that, well one of the big pieces of advice I’d get people now and I surprise people a lot and they go, which training program or this or that. And I always tell them, do the one that is going to be the easiest for you to do for a long time. The one that’s the most fun, the one that excites you the most, and it’s rarely the fixed program to, this or that. If, hey, if you want to be a competitive athlete, you want to compete in a sport specifically. Yeah, you got to do that. But if you’re somebody who really just wants to be in shape, wants to be happier, wants to improve your overall lifestyle and a standard of living more play.
Playing Is The Secret Weapon
Mike: I have a client. I have a one on one client that I coach right now and it’s, it’s really, it’s really funny because, this guy pays me a lot of money to basically coach him and we’re talking about business strategy and he’s talking about like different physical practices.
Mike: That could could improve his ability as a businessmen to have better strategy. And he’s thinking, maybe I should do Jujitsu or something like, and I’m like, No, how much do you play? And he goes, what? You know? And I was like, dude, you got to play if you want to be good at strategy. Because the issue is, especially as someone who’s a gym owner or an entrepreneur or someone who’s running their own business, they don’t have the nine to five, you’re working 24/7. Like the mind is always there taking a shower. You’re thinking about this or that. Some of the best ideas pop up and those open spaces. And so that’s what I’ve found for myself to be true is the more that I played, the better I got it. Strategy. And it wasn’t because I was getting better at the skill of strategy.
Mike: It was that I was creating space so that thoughts could flow so that thoughts and feelings could flow. And then all of a sudden, revelations rolling, like, ah. And I’ve, I mean I still have caught myself even in, even in the last year, it’s caught myself in strategy sessions where I’m locked in a room with a few people and we’re talking about business and hitting points of frustration and like usually I’m so good at this, what’s going on?
Being in the state of play
Mike: And then and then getting out and for and afternoon and playing with some friends, like swinging a mace, throwing a frisbee or doing something like that or, putting together some flows of just being outdoors and all of a sudden a flood of information comes flowing in and I go, Oh yeah, anything where you need to be able to, if you need to be able to, if you want to think about things from a different perspective in and get a bird’s eye view, you have to create space and you can’t create space by thinking more or thinking harder or talking more. A lot of times it is simply doing something so different that you create, you get space from that thing and nothing creates space like play
Brooks: And just to achieve the state of play, you have to be in a position where you feel safe.
Brooks: If you don’t feel safe, then you can’t remove that part of yourself that you need to, to be able to enter into that state. So if you’re learning a new skill and you want to play in learning a new skill, it’s gotta be challenging but not too hard. So if I wanted to like play around with some rail walking, right? I would start on a really, really low setting. I wouldn’t start with a a slack line, 10 feet in the air, right?
Engrossing yourself in an activity that you like
Brooks: That’s not play. That’s fear. That’s not play, that scary. Right? And so we need to remove a fear essentially by putting ourselves in a position where we feel safe. So, and the other thing that we need it to get to that state of play is that we need to be engrossed in the activity that we’re going to be doing. So when you say you’re going to go swing may, so you’re going to go play Frisbee, like you are engrossed into the act of swinging that Mace or engrossed into the act of playing Frisbee and you feel safe because it’s something that you can do physically. So you find that play state, you remove that part of your critical thinking and then bang.
Mike: Yeah, I’m not, what I’m not doing is going out to play for the purpose of coming up with a good idea or solving a problem. I’m going out to play for the purpose of playing.
Mike: Yes. That’s the other thing about playing. It doesn’t have to have a purpose.
Mike: Yeah and an idea that comes in is a complete and total surprise. Yes. If you’re going out to play with the purpose of creating the space you’ve already, you’re losing. Play becomes a practice and I watch, I get adults in the room and I’ve been part of crews where we’re going to do some type of structured play. it’s like, all right, you’re gonna, we’re gonna, just do whatever you want. And people look around like what the fuck.
We forgotten how to play
Brooks: We have literally forgotten how to play. I say this at Recess all the time. People go, “Oh wow, how do you tell you teach people how to do all these things”. And I go, “I’m not actually teaching them. I’m just helping them remember how to do all this stuff”. That which was so natural to us as a kid has become very unnatural to us as adults.
Brooks: And because essentially we’re conditioned out of it, right? Like they sit down kindergarten, five years old and they’re like sit here and do this stuff and keep sitting here and doing this stuff forever. Cause it’s not just school. Cause when you’re done with school, they want us, send you off to college so you can sit and learn some more and then they want to send you off to a job where you can sit and do some more work.
Brooks: And not to say that there’s anything wrong with being in a job where you need to be stationary, sitting and attentive. It’s just that now we’re in a position, we understand the ramifications for removing these things from the human experience. And it’s the, the evidence is becoming more compelling and more obvious by the year. But essentially, we’re seeing the byproducts of an overworked culture and the types of diseases that we encounter in the types of, movement dysfunctions that we see. I mean, it’s very rare to see an adult these days that can like squat, ask the heels.
Building up the foundation
Brooks: So most people come to me and they go, Hey, I would love to do some conditioning and competition. And I go, cool. How long has it been since you’ve done one through seven. And usually it’s a lot of like, oh, well sometimes I walk, I don’t really run.
Brooks: I definitely don’t twist and go, well, we’re just gonna start you here. Not because we don’t want to condition you, not because we don’t want you to compete and stuff, but we know that if you have a cracked foundation, if these things aren’t strong, then you’re just going to break at a certain point. There’s, that’s pretty much the only byproduct of running hard, running a car with missing pieces. eventually something’s going to break down. Yeah. And as long as you’re having fun, I don’t really care after that. even with advanced athletes.
Mike: I see a really common issue. This happens a lot with people I coach, which is what do you want? What do you like? Like, and they have no idea. They don’t know what they want. And so there’s a, there’s, there’s another way of framing that question that really helps people out, which is, and this is in all aspects of life. Do you, do you love who you’re being when you do this? Like how are you being when you’re doing? And a lot of people are in a relationship that they don’t want to be in or they’re doing a job or they’ve adopted some type of training methodology that actually they’re not the best version of themselves when they’re doing those things are in, in those things. And so that for me is a really good markers.
Knowing what you really want
Mike: Do I love who I am when I’m doing this thing? Like if I get into, for me, when I get into hyper competitive mode and I start wanting to beat people, I find that I don’t like who I’m being in that place. So, it doesn’t mean I don’t compete. I definitely like, I’ll go run a spartan race and they’re definitely timing it and they’re gonna put me, they’re going to rank me and I’m going to look at it afterwards and I’m going to be proud or, or, or whatever, you know.
Mike: And I wouldn’t say disappointed because I now show up to a competition for the purpose of playing. Yeah. And I don’t, I may have a goal where I go, oh, I’m going to finish this race and under seven hours or something like that. But the number one goal is to have a good time.
Mike: Yes. And if I add 20 minutes to my race because I want to have fun, instead of try to beat somebody else, I’m going to do it. and that’s something that’s really shifted for me is I’m always tracking. Do I like who I’m being? Do I love who I’m being when I’m doing this thing because I may find myself in a scenario where I like, I don’t like who I’m being when I’m doing these things. Yeah. And, so that’s, that’s, that’s a really good reframe of that question. A lot of times it’s like, what do you like to do? What do you love to do? It’s like, well, who do you love? Who you’re being? Or are you when you’re doing this or why do you spend a lot of time being angry or upset or whatever?
For being the best version of yourself
Mike: But, I’ve watched people go from I, my intention is to do well and to beat other people and things like that too. Oh my job requires me to be healthy so that I can, if something, I was talking to a guy recently who he works, what is it, what’s it called? Highline? He does dangerous work with like electrical wires and he was having an issue with what was happening in the gym.
Mike: And He, and we, I go, well, what if your why was to be the, be the most capable person that it creates a safe environment, your job so that nobody gets hurt. And he goes, I just watched his whole demeanor changed.
Mike: His posture changes, his eyes light up and because he had a really solid why that wasn’t beating other people in the gym, he ended up, he ended up being able to walk back in the gym and really focus on himself and, and have really good technique before he was like cheating technique to beat somebody else or he was so worried about what other people were doing and now he’s like, this is what I’m here to do. And, and now it’s like, oh, I’m not paying attention to what anyone else doing. I’m here for me and I’m going to be the best version of me.
Brooks: Yeah. That resonates with me a lot because I used to have this belief that if I wasn’t one of the best performing people in the gym than I wasn’t valuable enough to be someone’s coach. But then I realize that pursuing high performance took away from my ability to be a good coach for them.
Mike’s Enlifted Program
Mike: Yeah. This is, this is really interesting. This is something we have, what we’re looking at with Enlifted as we are. We put the Enlifted program together because we’re looking at the industry and I’m going, Oh fuck, we’ve got problems. And one of the problems that we’ve cited and we’ve got a laundry list of things that we find issue with in the fitness industry.
Mike: And one of the really big ones is people, training stressed out. So you’re training to him. You’re doing something that’s supposed to be healthy, right? Going to the gym is supposed to be a healthy activity, but people are putting so much pressure on themselves and sometimes showing up and they don’t when they really shouldn’t even be there or, or they’re just gather being really demanding on themselves and push dominating their bodies instead of being in tune with it.
Mike: And, people are practicing to be stressed when they’re exercising. So they’re practicing every time that you do a rep under stress, you’re practicing to have short breath, which creates a cortisol response, stress hormone response. And there’s nothing wrong with stress hormones. There’s a cycle.
Mike: You want stress hormones to be present and this and that. But to learn a new physical skill and stressed when you’re stressed is not, it doesn’t work, You don’t retain it. And so if you’re playing or if you’re in a, in a really clear space where you’re relaxed. If you’re relaxed and training, then then you can learn skills faster, you’ll adapt more quikly, you’ll recover much more fast. People are before they even start the exercise or stressed and then they leave stressed and they leave disappointed in their performance.
Teaching people to train relaxed
Mike: And there’s really, there’s this whole just, it’s just stress on top of stress, on top of stress. And I’m going, okay. And emotional stress, psychological stress, physical stress, all manifest similarly in the body. So, one of the things we’re looking at it go, okay, how do we teach people to train relaxed? You should be relaxed and enjoying. You should have a smile on your face for a lot of the training. You should be with your breath. You should be enjoying what you’re feeling like this should, you should be feeling the entire experience. And I know for myself, I used to escape the feeling and the experience, but I would put my mind somewhere else and..
Brooks: Escapism is a serious problem.
Mike: And I would hide, I would hide from the feelings I was having in the gym. And then I would, and then I would push so fucking hard that I had to listen to my body. But it was only when I was squatting 500 pounds that I could hear anything. And it was only for a few seconds. I would get that piece. And then it’s like, wow, that’s people. That’s another issue is people are using heavy loads to find a moment of peace.
Mike’s 80/20 training method
Mike: Quiet the mind. That’s when it gets quiet is when I push really, really hard. And I’m like, what if you could find quiet without destroying your body? What if you could find quiet? And so the way I train is 80/20, so 80% of time I’m training relaxed, I’m feeling my body, I’m with it. And then 20% I push push really, really hard. I hit that lactate wall. I hit, I lift a load so heavy that I can feel like, oh mechanically I’m close to breaking down and and I’m really sore the next day. So I have that 80/20 rule.
Mike: And since I, I’m at 37 now, I’m more athletic now than I’ve ever been in my life. I can move better. I have better articulation at every vertebrae in my spine and I can, I have better flexibility. I can, I’m better at things like handstands. I’m not squatting as much as I used to, but I, but I can actually squat safely better than I used to.
Mike: And when it comes to physical skills like surfing or if I wanted to go pick up a new sport, if I wanted to go hit a golf ball or whatever, people are commonly surprise out quickly. I pick up physical skills and it’s because I’m not putting the pressure on myself that I used to. I’m relaxed now.
Mike: And most people as they get older, picking up new physical skills, it’s just not as easy. But a big part of it is, is learning to breathe and relax and, and accept failure as a lesson and all these things that put us there.
The concept of autoregulation
Brooks: You were talking about, training stressed and you were talking about the problem of learning to practice training stress. I tell people all the time that stress cannot combat stress. Stress can only compound stress. So what we did at recess to try to help people understand this, a concept that we discuss in GM at GMB a lot is the idea of autoregulation. They have the ability to kind of automatically regulate your training based on your need in the moment.
Brooks: And it, that is a skill that’s hard to cultivate if you don’t have a background in even knowing what your body feels like. Right? So, so that’s one problem that we get at the gym all the time. People aren’t 100% sure where they should or how they should act. Right. and another thing that we discovered is that anytime that we asked, people were like, cool, just ask them. And anytime we ask people how they were feeling, the typically the typical answer was, I’m fine, I’m good. and so I realized that, okay, there’s an opportunity here to help people understand this important concept of autoregulation.
Three Light System at Recess
Brooks: There’s also an opportunity to give them a language to be able to tell me how they’re feeling without actually having to tell me how they’re feeling. And so what we do at Recess is we use what we call like a Three Light System. Red, yellow, green, just like a stoplight and essentially read your red zone is depressed, sad, really stiff and sore, you name it, really little lethargic, hyper stressed out, all those things that, that’s what we call a red zone.
Brooks: Yellow zone is kind of that Middle Zone, right? It’s kind of like the, Ah, I’m here. Like I want to move around. Obviously didn’t want to go home. I might be a little, little bit stiff or sore, but for the most part I’m feeling okay. And then the Green Zone. Exactly what you think it is. I’m really focused. I’m really motivated. I’m ready to, I’m ready to get after the shit.
Brooks: So based on how you’re feeling, we can give you activities that are shown time and again to improve that zone. So if you’re feeling stressed and you’re in the red playing a game, doing some mobility work, finding something that you like to read and, and get, get your mind in place.
Brooks: So, the red zone essentially is, the way to get people out of a stress state because like you said, if people are coming in stressed and then I’m like, hey, we have heavy deadlifts today, it’s a high high stress movement, then I’m not actually serving them in the best capacity that I can. So we wanted to set a culture where people could say, I’m feeling red and I know what that means as their coach.
Helping to improve each other’s mood
Brooks: And then other people know what that means. So, we got, David comes in and David’s like, man, I’m kinda feeling red. And somebody else hears that and they were like, hey man, you want to go play a game? Like we have games that we can play. So it gets people, even though they don’t have to know what the other person is feeling, they can go, oh, I understand what red means.
Brooks: I understand what red things that we could do to help improve each other’s mood. I’m getting ready. I’m feeling green, but I still want to play a game too. So classes would basically be red zone. And then yellow zone is that middle zone that like low intensity aerobic work. Right. The long walks, like you mentioned, if you’re not taking long walks, why are you coming to the gym? Right. If you don’t ever walk around just to walk around, like why go to the gym?
Brooks: Let’s start there, let’s get you some walking, let’s get you some water.
Mike: You should be doing that first. If you’re training hard, you should also be going and walk.
Mike: I used to laugh when I heard that from older coaches. And now I’m like, now I’m the guy saying it. It’s like, all right, let’s see how many of the youngsters.
Zero stigma at Recess
Brooks: And there’s no stigma or shame and not completing quote unquote a workout, right? It’s no, we know how we’re feeling and we know what works to help us feel better. So let’s do those things because the more often I try to do green exercises when I’m actually feeling red, the more likely I am to show up right in the future. But the more often I honor that zone, I do my yellow, I do my red. If that’s how I’m feeling, the more likely I am to show up green in the future.
Brooks: And if someone is honoring it in the gym and they like they come in and anytime they’re feeling red, they do reading time, they’re feeling yell, you do yellow. But yet there’s still showing up red or yellow. We get to have a conversation about what’s going on outside the gym. And that’s what I really love doing the most is helping people connect to what they’re doing in the gym and how it is either making them better or how is it serving you outside of the gym? How is it serving you in the community? Because the founding principal of Recess is we believe everyone has the ability to create change in their community. But the way that we create change is through education. That’s where we start.
Exercising to check other areas of life
Brooks: Yeah. And exercise is a great way to start to help us cultivate these skills that can serve us in so many more areas of our life because exercise is physical and we can feel it and it’s immediate feedback now that’s really great. but it, it shouldn’t stop there. I don’t want to say shouldn’t, it doesn’t have to stop there. What you can do is like, okay, I have now gotten to the point where I check in once a day.
Brooks: What would happen if I checked in twice a day and then what would happen if I’m checking in six times a day and then what, what happened if I’m constantly in a state where I am able to be checking in with how I’m feeling it in and give a moment. And that’s where it goes. Because once you bring the awareness to just that one moment, then you have found your way to a place and you know how to get there and you can continue to find your way back.
Brooks: I look at you and I see somebody that no longer seems to differentiate all that much. Whether or not you’re in tune with how you’re feeling. Used to not be in tune. Now you just live in a perpetual state of being in tune and it becomes obvious when you’ve moved away from that awareness as opposed to, oh, now I get that. I’m in the awareness. No, you’re in the awareness and it becomes weird when you are not.
Being out of tune with the body
Mike: Yeah. I actually, my experience now is when I get out of tune with my body, it’s as if I could only feel things that are happening from like my shoulders up and there’s this hum in my chest and uncomfortable hum. and a lot of it, I ended up in a place where I feel like I need to be doing something all the time. So I’m always thinking, always taking care of something. And then I go, Oh shit, there’s that hum. I’m actually not feeling my body and I take some breaths and I sink back down and I go”
Mike: Yeah. Well, and then recently I spent three weeks in where I was primarily in that state and I chose it. I go there, we really need to push right now and I know what I’m doing. I know that I’m disconnecting. I know that I’m getting out of this. And I pushed really hard, got tired and then had to recover from it. because when I’m in that state,It’s like I go into an old pattern of work, work, work which it’s a gear.
Mike: It’s something that’s also something to honor, which is, know when to push and no one call it. And when I want to point out to people is living this way doesn’t mean that I don’t ever make the sacrifice. There are times, but I’m very conscious of my sacrifice. I go, I know that there is a good three week period where shit has to happen with work. I really got it. And I, I understand that my health is going to decline a little bit. I’m going to be a little bit more stressed and, but we also have a deadline.
The difference between performance and health
Brooks: In the current climate that we live in, most people don’t know that there’s a difference between performance and health And so I don’t, I’m never going to, I don’t intend to ever like tell someone not to push. I’m never trying to tell someone not to aspire to perform. I’m not anti-competition or anti performance. What I hope to do is to help people understand that there is a difference and that you are making a tradeoff in some capacity between your performance and your health.
Brooks: And if you’re not doing that consciously, then I’m setting you up for failure and you are going to eventually break down. Athletes break. There’s a reason that Ilian Ilian takes an entire year off of training when he’s done with the Olympics. Right. He spends three years peaking, he breaks all the world records cause he’s incredible. And then he spends the next year walking and rowing his boat and not doing a whole lot.
New Things Happening With Barbell Buddha Rediscovered
Mike: What’s happening wtih Barbell Buddha stuff right now?
Brooks: Awesome. Thank you for asking. We, just dropped episode 21. We’ll have 101 episodes, because the first one was introductory episode, where I just got to sit down with Jani and her sister Abby. And we got to talk. We ended up talking for 50 minutes and it was a, it was a very special moment.
Brooks: But, my intention is to put out an episode every week for a hundred straight weeks. and what I’m doing is I’m going to recontextualize Chris’s work in the current climate, because like I mentioned before, if you listen to Barbell Buddha while Chris was still alive, he was likely this person that you were a fan of that was doing this cool thing that you really liked. But, once he passed away and all of these things that he said became recontextualize to me, it took on a new meaning of importance.
Brooks: So I’m aspiring to drop an episode, every week for a hundred straight weeks. And what I do is I will pluck out those Chris Moore nugget and pearls from those episodes and I will try to create more context and give a little bit of story backstory on his life too. So where we are in the story is Chris just learned, from Jani through a fortune cookie. but thanks to you baby number two is due. So we’re now at the point in Chris’s story where he knows that May is on the way. and I’m sure that you, you remember that time really well cause there was a Barbell Shrugged episode where he’s making that decision to leave the job and he’s got the other child on the way.
Chris’ dilemma to take the big leap
Mike: Yeah, that was a really interesting time. and that, I’m a very, I’m not risk averse, so I, I really like to make big leaps. And up until that point, I had, I had devoted my full time to Barbell Shrugged and I had, I was doing very little with the gym, during that time and I was looking to move to California and, Doug and I were working full time Shrugged. CTP was pretty much the three of us were fulltime Shrugged and Chris was still, in the corporate gig four days a week he’d done, he did a good job, pull the Tim Ferriss and was able to get one day a week off in the middle of the week, work from home. And, he, he was wanting to leave the corporate gig, which paid .
Mike: And there was also, he also got to work with surgeons and he had like pretty cool gig and a lot of ways, but his heart had him, wanting to do the show full time. And I remember, pushing him, pretty hard. That’s something I used to do. I still will push people like when the timing is right and they’re ready. But, I remember wanting him to be full time, really want to be full time and he was going to have to take a pay cut in order to be full time with us. because like I’m just not going to pay what some medical device companies that I’d be able to pay you.
Brooks: Yeah. You got to pay yourself at first, right?
Pushing Chris to be full time at Shrugged
Mike: I had made the switch previously as a business owner where I, where I dedicated myself fully to something and then it took off. And so many times I’ve watched people, I coach people too are like, okay, I got my corporate gig and I’m doing this coaching on the side, when should I switch over? I go, when you switch over, when you choose that, that’s the day. There’s no amount of money that’s going to be coming in that’s going to dictate when that’s going to happen. And, Chris was in a slightly different position than me to having family And kid on the way And, so he definitely had more to be concerned with than I did. and I’m aggressive, so, but I remember pushing him, pushing him, and it being a big back and forth, and he wanted it.
Mike: It wasn’t like I was pushing him towards something he didn’t want..
Brooks: It was clear in his work too. I mean. The way he described it and the way they described you and the way that it described Doug, I think it was Doug who ended up giving him the phrase that, that ended up becoming a chapter of his book. And essentially what Doug said was, man, you gotta, you gotta burn the boats. Yeah. like if you want to fucking slam them and you want to make it like, you gotta earn the fucking boat, and, and he did. Yeah. Which is again, that, that’s why I think recontextualizing the work, right. Like, had he not chose to do that, then he wouldn’t have done that.
Being at peace with Chris’ passing
Mike: What I’m really stoked about and I was actually after cross after Chris passed, I felt very at peace with where he was at. I knew that he didn’t have any regrets and that made me happy. I was happy that he had, he had left the job that he didn’t really want. He went after the job, he went after the work he really wanted to be doing. in fact he, he left working with us, you know?
Mike: Yeah. I don’t think it had been maybe a month. He had loved working with us and then he passed. But what I was really happy about, and I where I was at peace with his passing was that this dude was following his heart and I know that there’d be no regrets. Yes. and I was, I was really stoked that he had some time to do that. It wasn’t just overnight that that happened. He, he had a couple of years of doing that work before that happened. And I also thought about he could have still been working his corporate gig and passed away.
Mike: And never had really gone after, what he really wanted to do and he was so talented. he’s such a talented writer and researcher and a speaker and it was just really, really a cool to be a part of that. I remember this when you were talking about that it brought up a very specific memory.
Chris being out of character and having a breakdown
Mike: I forget even what we were doing, I don’t know if we were multiple people were presenting or if he was the only one presenting. I just remember him getting up, getting up there, give a presentation. He had so much experience in speaking some experience and writing and being on the podcast. It was just completely out of character. He fucking had a break down.
Mike: Oh. Like during like he gets up to give a talk to 20 people and he just breaks out in a sweat and his heart’s beating fast and hard and I take them outside and we’d go for a walk. I was like, hey, everybody, just chill out. We’re going to go for a walk. So we go out for 10, 20 minutes and he’s just like, Pop, my heart’s beating. It’s hard to breathe. And this was, this was the time this was happening at the time where he was like, I’m leaving my job. I got a kid on the way. I don’t know what exactly the future holds. he signed up to work with me, which I’ve been, I’ve been, I’ve gotten better. but, unpredictable is a common term thrown around inside the company. predictably unpredictable.
Mike: And so, yeah, for a lot of people, like I thrive in it uncertainty. So I think it’s thrilling. whereas other people fucking hate it. and the average person, most people, 99% of people hate uncertainty. And then there’s a few freaks and the, I remember talking with him and just helping him calm down and then getting back in the gym and just being really surprised. I because I’d seen him in so many, I seen him squat a thousand pounds.
Chris wore his life and his heart on a sleeve
Brooks: God, I just love, he wore his life and his heart on a sleeve. Through his show. It was just so, so it was raw. Barbell Buddha was so raw, there were no rules. Like we’re sitting here, we had microphones, like the one that seems like the cardinal sin of radio is like listening to someone drink something with ice in it near your microphone.
Brooks: He would, he would just like hold on, like talk to you, take a sip, a scotch with a little bit of ice in it. He just didn’t give a fuck but he wore his heart on his sleeve. So that’s why again, so important because he wasn’t talking about stuff in an esoteric way, he was talking about stuff because he was fucking live in it, you know what I mean?
Brooks: And it was like you were always hearing his struggle and experience before you got any sort of like pushed to be different yourself. Yeah. He was always going, this is what I’ve learned. This is where I fucked up.
Brooks: This is where I’m seeing an opportunity for growth and change in my life and I just want to share it with you because it just seems like the next best thing that I can do. That was one huge theme of his work is the question, what’s the next best thing you can do to step in the direction that you want? Don’t worry about 10 years from now, don’t worry about five years from now, don’t even worry. About a year from now. Set a direction, but don’t worry about what you’re going to have to do to get there in five years. Do the next best thing you could do.
On Writing Well
Brooks: And for him at that time, the next best thing that he could do was leave that job. We actually have a book in the library. It’s called On Writing Well, I don’t write a whole lot. It wouldn’t have been a book he had. Jani gave us like 250 books and he gave a lot of books away before he pass away. So we, we don’t even have the whole library. We’re going to, we’re going to, do like a, a catalog of all of the books and we’ll try to put together something online where people can just see the types of books that he had in his library. But this one,
Mike: I’ve read a lot of the books that he read. Yeah. And that, that’s why I say big. What I’m, I was telling you this last night, what I realized after the fact, cause I, read a lot of the books he was reading when he was reading them and we would get together in the evenings and discuss them.
Mike: And there were a lot of books that I read after he passed that he had read. And some of them, one of them in particular was one that he referenced quite a bit that I hadn’t read when he was still alive that I read. And as I was reading it, I go, oh. And that book in particular has been the deepest book I’ve ever read in my life. It’s caused the most change in my own life. And when I, after reading a series of books from this particular author, I go, I was able to look back and go, that’s what was happening.
Chris was going through a phase before passing
Mike: What I was witnessing was Chris Moore, the last, I guess a year, year and a half before he died, was in a process that very few people go through. He was going through a metamorphosis of sorts and to, to a really deep degree add it. I don’t think it’s really good idea to compare people because everybody is so different and how their mind has been constructed, bought the level of deconstruction he had done with his own mind.
Mike: Looking back on it with the knowledge I have now is extremely impressive, extremely impressive. I want to point that out as one of the things that you get with Barbell Buddha when you listened to it is you’re actually getting witness to Chris, deconstructing a lot of stories and a lot of who Chris thought he was and then realized he was not, and finding a more of what his true nature was. And so the work is extremely deep in nature, if you can approach it that way. And so I, I like to point that out just because it was something I wasn’t even able to understand until, a year or two later and I go, oh, that’s the process he was in.
Mike On Leaving Shrugged Collective
Mike: it’s out there. Yeah. I like to balance all of them.. One thing I having you out here has been really good for me in that, I would say y’all are, I’ll do super vulnerable share here and this big, this big, the last show on the Shrugged Collective. I think this is like, this is the most fitting.
Mike: And I looked back on Barbell Shrugged and I made the decision several months ago to leave the, the Shrugged Collective and start something new. and the, that process was extremely difficult and it was really identity shifting because the majority of people who know who I am, no me from Barbell Shrugged. And for me to step away from the Shrugged Collective was like a, yeah, it was, it was strange. I don’t, I really don’t know how to put into words other than it was really, really strange and emotionally difficult.
Mike: And about six weeks ago, I was in Austin, Texas and I went through this process and, I went in for six sessions to do like basically this psycho emotional process. Everyone that lives in the shadows, I just sign up for weird shit and I’m just curious. I’m like, there’s nothing to fix, but I, I want to see what, like this new treatment is out that is supposed to be like next level for people with PTSD, anxiety, whatever stress I like.
Grieving Chris’ death
Mike: I don’t really suffer from these things, but I still look in those things and find things. And what I’ve found there was I had never, like really, grieved, Chris’ death appropriately. And, in one of my sessions I just bawled like a baby and I was in, it felt so good. It was like, it was a huge release and I felt this big pressure lifted off my chest afterwards.
Mike: And, what was really cool about that experience is I had a good 30 minute cry. And during the cry I had all these flashbacks of just an era. So it was grieving for Chris in the beginning. And then, and then it evolved into, basically the years of 2012 to 2016, 2017, like I’d say about 2016. It was, me, Doug CTP, Chris, and we were traveling the world doing cool stuff. It was like we were a rock band. We knew it, we knew it. And it was like, we knew that, I was like, Oh shit, this probably won’t last forever. And, and man, we tried
Brooks: And as, as most big great bands do
Mike: Yeah. And I look back and yeah, during this nice little cry session I had, I got to have flashbacks of all that era and just like my relationships with CTP, my relationship with Doug and my relationship with Chris.
Mike: And, I went back and listened to one of the Barbell Buddha shows and it was just, it was incredible. And, yeah, I want to point out that like when Chris died, it was just, it really pulled the wind out of my sails in a big way.
Mike: So it’s years later and I’m sitting in this chair and then boom hits me and I go, oh, wow, this has been, it’s really been impacting me for a long time. And, and it was cool that I had had that experience. And then I meet you the week later. Yes. And I go, oh wow. The guy who is really picked up Chris Moore’s memory and, and help, get it out there, shows up like right after I have this process. And I knew that it was perfect timing.
Mike: Perfect. Perfect timing. And I’m stoked that we get to have this show right now where we get to talk about that. We get to talk about his work. We get to talk about barbell shrugged a little bit and also the evolution of like where we both agree and like what’s happening in the fitness industry and go, yeah, people need to play more.
Mike: I think it’s really serendipitous in a lot of ways, but also not on accident. And yeah, I’ve had a lot of people reach out to me, especially after Chris’ death and over the years and had people say comments like, God really didn’t hear you guys talk about it much and all that. And it’s like, part of me, I wrote, I wrote a couple of emails, I wrote a blog post, I mentioned it on a couple shows at different times, but like I, I really didn’t know what else to say.
Honoring Chris through Barbell Buddha Rediscovered
Brooks: And if you want, listen to Barbell Buddha Rediscovered and I’ll try to help recontextualize it in, in, in the current day. but listen to him, go through that journey and, and see what happens. My guess is that they’re gonna, they’re going to see parts of themselves that they weren’t expecting to see. So, and the other thing is the way that we can keep his legacy going is, is buying a book, give it as a gift.
Brooks: Go to barbellbuddha.com, buy the book and give it as a gift to somebody, even if it’s yourself. and the other way is to actually put his message and his words into action. That’s how we can carry the torch is not by just saying that was something that was important to me, but actively choosing to put it out on the line and to be authentic and to face fear and to see resistance as a friend and not as a foe and learn to dive into the wave and not run from it.
Brooks: That’s how we can honor Chris. and so yeah, man, I’m like I said, I’m grateful for all of you guys. I also see that, everybody is open to be able to move into a new direction. And I think that it’s beautiful that you guys were able to do that and be able to keep the essence of what you guys started.
Mike: Thank you.
Brooks: You’re welcome.