Archive for the Health and Welbeing Category

AeroSling: Ready to work!

Posted in Body weight resistance training, Fun stuff, Health and Welbeing, Kettlebells, Mobility, personal diary, Sustainability, tension training with tags , , , on February 27, 2012 by markeu

download 1 I was recently contacted by a fellow called Elmar Schumacher over at Aerobis Germany to test one of their suspension trainer devices- The AeroSling Pro Set. Knowing that I had pretty extensive experience with other suspension trainers and that I have been using them for some of my clients here in Japan, I appreciated their forthrightness in approaching me for a critical evaluation of this new line of equipment

The Goods.DSC_0107

The first thing you notice when you receive one of these kits is the packaging. Its well thought out with little extras that make it obvious that a lot of effort and thought has been put into making this kit as complete as possible. For example, I liked the re-sealable plastic bags that all of the equipment came in, instead of the usual rip and throw variety. It shows an environmental sense. The main parts of the aerosling come already assembled, with accessories separate and each with an instruction guide as to how to set up or add to the assembly.The handy doorknob sign for the busy businessperson staying in a hotel that lets people know- hey, I’m training in here! The exercise chart and easy to follow dvd made my first workout a breeze, with little time spent in set up. My first impressions were- this kit is well thought out.

Getting started.

Compared to other equipment I have used, the Aerosling was both lightweight and sturdy.For anyone carrying equipment or wanting portability with their workouts, a few grams here and there make a big difference. This equipment fits easily into the draw string carry bag (comes with the kit) which can be put in a backpack for an outdoor in-the-wild adventure or take with you to your gym. Here in Japan, we have a mainly urban environment, so the ability for me to pick up the kit and head to the local park is a big plus. All the components were sturdy and built for hours of use. Attaching the device to a wall mount or overhead beam etc was as simple as flipping one end of the attaching cable over the attach point, and then clipping it on the carabineer. For more sturdiness, two winds around the beam give you an extra sure attachment point. Then a simple weight test to check proper set up, and you are off to work.

Having used similiar devices before, I found this one really simple and user friendly. Don’t get me wrong- I like heavy duty, and there is a place for such types of equipment, but there is also some sense of overkill at times, such as in weight. I usually carry other equipment with me, such as kettlebells etc, so the ease of trasnportantion was a big plus for me. For your average athlete or gym who needs equipment that can take a hard workout and still be ready for me, the Aerosling fits the bill.

Instant fun.DSC_0117

If you are already used to doing body weight/resistance training, or have some gymnastic background, you will immediately sense of advantage when training- the core muscles are instantly involved to balance you while you work out. For first timers with this kind of equipment, I recommend watching the instruction video and setting up your Aerosling for beginner intensity level. Then as you gain confidence, you can up the intensity easily by a quick unwind of the main handles.

Scalable workouts.

I love the versatility that this equipment brings a workout. You can push yourself as hard as you like, or take the more moderate path. Each exercise shows a simple form and then an advanced level version on the cd, and the exercises are easy to follow. I recommend though that you watch all the exercises through completely first, and perhaps don’t attempt to do them all straight away. Pick a particular area of  your body that you want to train, and then follow the related exercise. DSC_0122

I tested the Aerosling out on a couple of my students, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. Its a fun machine that you can set up in your own house, take to the gym, or set up outside. For us, it was smiles all round and my students were exhausted after a 45 minute session. I can see it being a real boon to any professionals out there wanting to keep fit while they travel for business and have to adjust to busy schedules. You would hardly notice this kit in a suitcase, even a carry on bag. Perfect. Crossfitters, this equipment has something for you too. Fighters, well enough said- this equipment rocks.

What it will cost you.

The staff at Aerobis have made this equipment very affordable. ( see the details and special offer below!)


For those who travel, the lightness, sturdiness and well thought out design of these easy to use kits will mean that you can take it anywhere with you and give yourself a good workout. Whether you are a professional athlete, sports trainer looking for equipment for your clients, or someone just out to keep your body toned, this kit has something for you.

Two thumbs up from me.

Q: How do I get one???

Elmar at Aerobis headquarters sent me these useful links and some extra information for you :

Go to

Go right to the aerosling models: (our aeroSling Models) (I received a Set which is called the aeroSling ELITE)

A new model for you to check out as well. I will let Elmar explain:

The new aeroSling XPE is a lightweight smaller brother of the ELITE that you tested. It retails at 139 EUR incl. Door Anchor and DVD. It also has great material but is simpler as such as it cannot be extended with other grips etc.. So professionals would go for the ELITE or ELITE set – beginners in Suspended Pulley Training would go for the XPE.

And a special coupon offer from Elmar at Aerobis for you!

People that are interested will get a coupon code for 15% off to cover shipping and such (100 EUR order value min):


So..what are you waiting for? Go get one!!! Smile

Double kettlebell workouts

Posted in Conditioning, Health and Welbeing, Sunday reading, web articles on December 19, 2010 by markeu

Nice article on one strength coach’s experience with the k’bells with some different applications. Its just nice to see how this form of training is gradually finding itself at the core of many physical conditioning and strength programs- where it should be!

Have a read!




Here it comes….

Posted in aging and sport, Balance, Health and Welbeing, Kettlebells, Nutrition, personal diary, Sustainability with tags , , , on December 13, 2010 by markeu

Lifestyle change. Capital letters. I am tired of constantly struggling with food choices, and wading through the slew of false information out there as to what is best for you, good for you, fat free etc. I can say that in many regards I am as confused as my stomach feels after a normal meal.

In other aspects of my life and training, things are definitely improving. I am hitting some of my own personal training goals, bringing in more and more kettlebell practitioners, and keeping a pretty good balance between work and down time. I stopped drinking alcohol 2 months ago, and I can say that I feel differently because of it. But I really wish that I could get more of a peace of mind from what I eat.

Now I want my regular food intake to support me in a cogent way, hence I have been edging slowly over the last few months towards the Paleo lifestyle.

Don’t know what it is? Have a look in my links bar and take your pick :)

Lets just say I am sticking my toes into the water right now and seeing how I feel, reading up differing approaches to emulating a paleo lifestyle in the modern world, and then brainstorming on how I can support that lifestyle change here in urban jungle Tokyo.

To others who might be considering a similar move in the near future, here is a great piece by the recently retired blogger Methuselah of Pay Now, Live Later who pretty much nails many peoples pet fears and misunderstandings about changing what they eat to a Paleo system and how to get there gradually.

Its going to means saying goodbye to grains and sugars for a start. But if it means I am going to look and feel healthier, so be it.

Gotta get back to study.


Better sleep to live longer and reduce stress!

Posted in Balance, Health and Welbeing, Sustainability, web articles with tags , , , on September 4, 2010 by markeu

More studies being reported in Time magazine this week on the benefits of a good night sleep.

This kind of news may seem rather obvious to some, but hey, come and live in Tokyo or any big city around the globe for that matter and you will see just how easy it is to slip into an unhealthy late-night lifestyle. No offense Conan!

In Japan, six hours of sleep for many is a luxury that they just cant or wont afford themselves.Late night tv has big draw power as well, with many full time workers not getting home until ten in the evening, they need a couple of hours of just staring at the tube to start their relaxation process off.

Sometimes its a struggle to get eight hours- work, worries, noisy environs, late night messages appearing on your mobile- all these things can cut into your down time. Without proper rest you can forget about maintaining your training schedule or your desire to keep at it. And if its bad for us, you can imagine what it must be like for kids.

So do yourself a favor, and make sure that you can truly switch off to recuperate from your modern day lifestyle.And while I am at it, a little meditation or some yoga/Qigong wouldnt hurt you, either.

Put that mobile on flight mode, and rest easily my friends.



Scary news on that western diet and your gut

Posted in Balance, Health and Welbeing, Nutrition, web articles with tags , , on September 1, 2010 by markeu

Well, nothing they said was really that surprising, considering the profusion of overweight people in our societies around the world today.
Even in Japan, where the myth that somehow the Japanese diet helped keep people slim is starting to show signs of cracking as the Japanese start to fill out like many of their western trade partners.

Hmm…food for thought?

All puns aside, have a read and a good think about your own diet, and what you can do to make it a bit healthier…



Drink Water and guard that waistline!

Posted in Health and Welbeing, Kettlebells, Nutrition, Sustainability on August 26, 2010 by markeu

Well, they have finally proven that it is true. Drinking water before a meal significantly helps you not gain extra inches in the waist line.

Its such a simple solution, and one that you should try out for yourself.
Our modern day lifestyles aren’t really conducive to getting our recommended daily intake. Add that on top of our already sluggish metabolisms and dysfunctional digestive systems…and you get the picture.

Why not give this a shot yourself?



Sunday fun

Posted in Body weight resistance training, Conditioning, Health and Welbeing, Japan Kettlebell Club, kettlebell group meets in Tokyo, personal training services with tags , , on August 1, 2010 by markeu

IMG_2892 Well we certainly earned our keep today- the weather turned around and went from threats of thunderstorms to a beautiful hot Tokyo Summer day. Two first timers joined us and in all we had a great time.

The feed afterwards certainly didn’t hurt either!

We will have another meet again probably in about three weeks to enjoy the Summer while it lasts, and get some of our other friends along.


Ed Coughlin- Living Qi.

Posted in Breath, Health and Welbeing, Inspirational kb practitioners, Qigong, Sustainability on July 21, 2009 by markeu

6373_1165867915855_1502629688_420292_1228642_nEd Coughlin is one of the key elements of the International Kettlebell and Fitness Federation’s core teaching philosophy, and who is busy this year spreading the awareness and uses of Qigong  for practitioners of the Kettlebell Sport . I had the great pleasure of studying with him earlier this month in Malaysia at the IKFF CKT Level 1 & 2 Teacher’s training, and asked him at that time if I could interview him for Gaijin Kettlebell . Here is the start of what I hope to be a regular spot here at Gaijin Kettlebell on Qigong.

GKJ-Thank you Ed for taking the time to speak with us today. Could you start with telling us a little bit about your long and diverse background. You have been a long time friend and associate with Steve Cotter, to the extent that he often refers to you as his brother.
What led you to Qigong initially? And what is it?

I began studying martial arts 30 years ago beginning with Uechi Ryu karate, I achieved 4th dan and received my teaching certificate after training in that style for 18 years. In the late 80’s I began studying Tai chi and qi gong with various teachers. About 15 years ago I was introduced to my current teacher Master Kao by a friend and fellow student. After being introduced to Master Kao I gave up everything else I was doing at the time to devote myself to his teachings.  Master Kao is a Master of Chinese Internal Martial arts including Xing Yi Quan, Bagua Zhang, Tai Ji Quan and the rare Taoist System called Xiao jiu tian or “Little Nine Heaven” which includes martial arts , qi gong and Chinese sword. He is also an excellent traditional healer. In 2001 I was made a 35th generation disciple in the Little Nine Heaven system, one of only four of master Kao’s students to be made disciples. My friend and Kung Fu brother Steve Cotter is also a close student of Master Kao. In 1996 I graduated the Florida Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine and now work as a doctor of oriental medicine, I also teach martial arts and qigong to a small group of students at my home. For the last decade I have been practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism as a student of H.H. Penor rinpoche.

I had  been introduced to qi gong at various times , first in the mid 80’s with tai chi and a few years later with a number of teachers. Later in Chinese medicine school , qigong was taught as an element of the curriculum. But my real serious training has been with Master Kao. Qigong is an important element of both Chinese internal martial arts and Chinese medicine and acupuncture. Briefly qigong means to exercise the qi .  Qi can be defined as the vital energy of the body and qigong is a method of exercise to preserve , strengthen and circulate this vital energy in the body to promote health and vitality.

GKJ- Tai Chi Chuan is quite well known in the west, but Qigong has appeared relatively recently in the common consciousness. What does Qigong have to offer the average person and why is it important?

Tai 6373_1165820194662_1502629688_420108_1360238_n chi chuan Or tai ji quan is a system of Chinese internal martial arts related to qigong in that they both relay on a cultivation and understanding of qi. Whereas traditionally tai chi was taught as a fighting art and only recently is done primarily for health. Qigong is a health promotion and rehabilitative regime.

For the average practioner qigong offers a simple method to promote health and energy and as a way to repair the body from stress and overuse. While traditional methods of exercise focus on the building physical strength , speed and endurance, the focus of qigong is on the subtle energetic network of the body and the internal organs. Ordinary exercise can be damaging to the body which is in fact why it works by causing the body to adapt to stress, qigong can repair the  body by reducing tension, regulating breathing ,improving circulation and strengthen the internal organs and endocrine system.

The combination of physical exercise such as kettlebells, bodyweight conditioning or martial arts with a consistent practice of simple qigong is an ideal method to promote health , relieve stress and increase longevity. Continuous vigorous exercise without a rehabilitative component to it is a recipe for injuries and a short athletic career with a lot of chronic pain. I believe adding a simple qigong routine to your exercise or just on its own can greatly improve performance , reduce or correct injury and promote overall health.

GKJ.- I have read and heard that it is very important in Qigong to have proper instruction from a teacher. Why is that so? Are there any Qigong practices that a person can try if they are interested in exploring Qigong?

There are many systems or methods of qigong training , primarily what I’m talking about here is qigong for health and longevity  . but there are also qigong methods for martial arts to strengthen and harden the body, medical qigong to cure disease and religious or philosophical qigong done as a spiritual practice. Some systems of qigong are very complicated and involve holding the breath for extended periods , directing the energy(qi) with the mind or the breath or the use of weights or other equipment. The more complicated the method the greater the possibility of side effects .

Therefore complicated qigong systems require instruction and monitoring by a competent teacher to avoid pitfalls, however there are very simple and effective qigong systems that can be practiced on your own once the basic principles are understood. A good example is the level one qi gong that can be found on the IKFF YouTube channel. (Link to the clip here) This is a good introductory qi gong exercise that can be done by anyone and has no side effects, yet is very effective for promoting circulation and reducing stress among other benefits.

GKJ.- In my own short time experience, I have experienced Qi as a form of energy that resides in the body and the atmosphere around us. Doing Qigong practice brings an awareness of this energy that exists around us every day. What is Qi? It is often left as a mystery. Also, this energy awareness comes and goes- is this natural?

6373_1166442210212_1502629688_421951_1194653_n “QI” basically means energy and exists all around us and in us . there are many types of qi. In the human body Qi can be thought of as the body’s vital energy . our body has an energetic system related to but apart from our nervous and circulatory systems.

It is this energetic network that is manipulated in the practice of acupuncture and some types of Asian body work. In traditional oriental medical theory , the energy aspect of this network is called “qi”. Qi  is the body’s motivating force, it is the “stuff” that animates our body. Every living organism has Qi. With conscious training this vital energy can be strengthened and controlled to promote health and longevity, this is the practice of qigong or “working the qi”. Similar ideas of this energy exist in other cultures like the “prana” of yoga. Bio electricity is also a comparable term.

GKJ.- It is also said that Qigong is very effective at relieving stress, and also making the body stronger. How does it do this? Here in Japan, the average office worker deals with low energy levels constantly, due to a fairly intense working environment, non natural light environment and long working hours. Most people feel incredibly lethargic, especially during the hot and rainy seasons. Can Qigong help them?

Through a combination of breathing , movement and posture qi gong practice can increase oxygen uptake , relax the nervous system , increase the circulation of blood and lymph through the activity of propulsion. through breathing combined with right and left movement brain hemisphere and wave frequencies can be normalized. The endocrine structures of the brain can be stimulated by intention , meditation and visualization which are all elements of qigong practice. Increased immune function can be stimulated by breathing ,relaxation and meditation . all of these things have been observed in clinical settings related to the consistent practice of qigong along with other wonderful effects. For people who are high stressed, with long work secludes , sedentary work conditions and who have low energy or only short periods of time for activity or exercise , qigong is the ideal method of training to promote their health and longevity and  eliminate stress and tension .

GKJ.- It seems that from now on, Qigong will feature more prominently in IKFF seminars and activities. What are your own personal aspirations with the spreading of knowledge of Qigong? Can we look forward to having you touring around teaching about Qi?

Steve Cotter and the IKFF are at the cutting edge of fitness and as I noted above the combination of kettlebell training, body weight conditioning and qigong are an ideal health promoting exercise and fitness combination. I look forward to traveling to and teaching qigong at the various level 2 certifications. In the future we hope to be putting out a book and DVD on qi gong and to doing qigong workshops around the globe.

GKJ.-Thank you for your time and I hope to have you hear regularly answering questions about Qigong. It was certainly an honor for me meeting you in Malaysia earlier this month.

Thanks for this opportunity to talk about qigong and I look forward to working with you in the future. More info about can be found at and


Mike Mahler – telling it straight.

Posted in Balance, Conditioning, Health and Welbeing, Inspirational kb practitioners, Interviews with experts, Kettlebells, Kettlebells & Fitness around the World, Mental attitude, Nutrition, Sustainability, Weekly Discussion Topic with tags , , , on June 17, 2009 by markeu


Mike Mahler is one of the top level figures in the international kettlebell and fitness community today, and a man whose name and reputation loom larger than life. Known and admired for his straight talking, no-nonsense approach to personal development and physical fitness, he is one of those modern day personalities that lead by embodying the essence and veracity of their own teachings.  I recently had the chance to ask Mike a few in-depth questions about his own path as a sportsman, the development of his business Aggressive Strength , his ongoing research and study into the field of hormone optimization, and the trials and tribulations of his own personal journey. Here is a rare insight into a remarkable man.

GKJ- Hi Mike, thanks for taking some time out for us at Gaijin Kettlebell Japan. As you probably know, although kettlebells are still very much an unknown quantity here in Japan and still in the early days, you are quite well known. Your name, your books and dvd’s pop up on and the Japanese internet regularly. How is your own kettlebell practice progressing? What other forms of exercise do you use to supplement your personal physical development?

Thanks for doing the interview. My kettlebell training business has come a long way. I went through Pavel Tsatsouline’s RKC course in early 2002 and started my kettlebell training business full time in May of 2002. My very first workshop in Northern Virginia had eight people. Now there are probably hundreds of people doing kettlebell workshops all over the US and all over the world. There are several certification options now and more kettlebell information than ever before.

The first few years of my business were very difficult. Very few people even owned kettlebells and it was not something that people were either familiar with or cared about. I kept pushing hard and in 2005 my business hit a critical mass and my income tripled. Workshops started filling up fast all over the country and my DVD’s started to sell really well. I pushed hard for the next few years doing tons of workshops and producing several Kettlebell DVD’s.

Regarding my own training, from 2001 to 2006 kettebell training was my primary source of working out. I used other tools as a supplement such as clubbells, resistance bands, body weight drills, but kettlebells were the primary focus. In 2006 my wife and I moved to Las Vegas. Going from an apartment to a big house allowed me to set up a nice home gym and add some variety to my workouts. Now I use kettlebells in addition to thick barbell training, trapbar for deadlifts, I have a pull-up station for pull-ups, chin-ups, and hanging leg raises. I also cycle in clubbells, power rings, resistance bands, sledgehammer training, and battling rope work. Finally, I like to do some 2-3 mile walks a few times a week with a 106lb weight vest. My goals are more strength, power, and conditioning these days and I like to have a fair amount of variety to keep things enjoyable.

GKJ- Your work now with Aggressive Strength expands to cover a wide range of topics and disciplines. What is it you look for in a topic of study to expand your base of knowledge?

I look at real strength as much more than how much weight you can lift or how fast you can run. Being in great physical shape is no doubt important and a critical component of being strong and fit. However, I like to encourage people to take what they learn from training and carry it over to other aspects of life. Be a better person. Be more assertive and pursue the life you want, rather than settling and just coasting through life. Being strong in the gym but weak everywhere else is not real strength.

Aggressive strength is a philosophy on taking charge of your life. It is about taking self responsibility for your health and well being on several fronts. renegade_row

I like studying things that improve the quality of one’s life. This is what led me to the field of hormone optimization as you are only as healthy as your hormones. If you do not optimize all the major hormones: insulin, growth hormone, DHEA, Testosterone, DHT, androstendione, progesterone, estrogen, thyroid hormones, glycogen etc you can forget about being your best and enjoying life fully.

GKJ- Recently, you released some very interesting work on hormone optimization for health and well being. What brought this about? As an athlete and trainer that is getting older, does this type of issue become more and more important to you? In a nutshell, what advice do you give people who approach you with these kinds of questions? How much of this is really a “science” ?

Often we study things that are self serving and then we realize that other people can benefit from the information. This is why it is important to share our stories in life as many can benefit from our personal journeys.

This is the case with my devotion to learning about hormone optimization. I went through some stressful periods during the first few years of my training business. In addition to financial stress, I was dealing with personal stress on many levels, which eventually resulted in a severe case of pneumonia. I almost died from this and by the time I had medical treatment they had to pull 40 liters of fluid out of my lungs. I realized full well where an overload of stress will take you.

Stress literally kills and ironically many people are addicted to stress. Stress causes the hormone cortisol to rise and an increase in cortisol activates the fight-flight mechanism which makes us very alert. Many people are actually addicted to this state and that is why they crave stress. Stress makes them feel important and alive. Some level of stress is no doubt important as we do not grow and feel enthusiastic when everything is easy. However, too much stress kills healthy hormone production and places you in an accelerated aging state. If your cortisol goes up and stays up for too long you will eventually crash hard.

Mike CC Photo

When I was going through high stress I was literally in an andropause state. This is what many men experience when they are in their 50s. However, I was only 29 at the time. My sex drive was non-existent, my sleep was off, my workout recovery was declining, and my overall zeal for life was low. I was getting depressed often even though I was doing the line of work that I always wanted to do.

I just did not want to live life this way and started studying endocrinology. The more I studied the more I realized the strong connection between optimal hormone levels and overall well being. When your hormones are healthy, you are healthy. When your hormones are optimal you have a feeling of being able to take charge of the world. Your sex drive is high, your mood is great, your strength is solid, and you sleep well every night. This is where I am now and have been for several years. My hormones levels are great and I feel strong, energetic, and excited about life.

When people come to me asking me advice on optimizing hormones, I tell them that they need to get detailed blood work to see where they are at. If someone does not have blood work then I am not willing to offer any advice. It is like someone saying they want to add 50lbs to their bench press when they have never bench pressed before. How I am supposed to help them if I do not know where they are?

Regardless, some basic information that helps with hormone optimization is:

  1. You must get 8 hours of deep sleep every night. Deep sleep meaning no tossing and turning and sleep where you dream vividly. Without adequate sleep you will not produce growth hormone, testosterone, DHEA, and all of the other important hormones. Sleep lowers cortisol and increases Melatonin. It is the ultimate anti-aging practice.
  1. Eat organic at least 90% of the time. 100% is even better. If you eat meat or any animal products (dairy-eggs) you must eat 100% organic. Meat, dairy, and eggs that are not 100% organic are loaded with hormone disrupting chemicals. They are loaded with chemical estrogens with disastrous effects. Look at the way animals are treated on factory farms and do not have the illusion that consuming factory farmed meat is even remotely healthy. Even if you could care less about the animal’s welfare at least show some respect for your own body and health and feed it only the best. Develop a relationship with a local farmer and get all of your meat, eggs, and dairy there. This is much cheaper than getting organic meat and dairy at the supermarket. However, it is worth paying the extra money for your health. What you spend now will save you money later on expensive medical bills.  I tell people that if they are not willing to invest in high quality food then I am not willing to help them with hormone optimization as clearly they do not care. Don’t expect me to think about how to help them all day when they are not even willing to do the basics to help themselves.
  1. Have a balance of protein, fat, carbs at every meal. Barry Sear’s The Zone (30% fat, 30% protein, 40% carbs) is a good place to start. This keeps Insulin stable and a good amount of healthy fat is required for adequate hormone production.
  1. Do high intensity training 3x per week such as sprinting, sledgehammer striking, circuit training. This kind of training ramps up growth hormone and helps keep body fat low. When you are fat you have more estrogen receptors which lowers testosterone.
  1. Don’t drink beer. Beer is loaded with hops which is highly estrogenic. At least look for old Scottish Ale which is made with “gruit” instead of hops.
  1. Work on stress management. Meditation, chi-kung, tai-chi, yoga are all great ways to handle stress.
  1. Take magnesium lotion twice per day. Magnesium is a critical mineral for optimal hormone production. The lotion is a more efficient delivery system than tablets or powder. Rub on 2 teaspoons twice per day. Works very well to increase DHEA. The brand I use is Dr Shealy’s Magnesium lotion:

Also make sure to take 30mg of Zinc Citrate daily. Zinc is critical for testosterone production and also helps block the conversion of testosterone into estrogen.

Beyond the above, I only work with my online clients for personalized hormone optimization advice.  I have spend too many years and dollars studying this field and I am not willing to offer more free advice. People can also learn more from the Collision Course DVD set which contains a hormone lecture and comes with a hormone optimization e-book.

GKJ. You have an upcoming book: Live life aggressively: what self-help gurus don’t want you to know. What is the book about?

It is basically a protest to all of the self help books out there now. It is a more brutal and in your face approach to how to take charge of your life. I am tired of moronic advice such as attitude is everything and fake it until you make it. I am tired of the focus on positive thinking and sayings such as everything happens for a reason. Thus, I am basically putting down some very straight forward information on what you must do to take charge of your life and be successful and why the advice that many self-help gurus espouse is flawed and ineffective. People are loving the information that I put out in my online magazine and the book will be in the same vain.

GKJ- One great thing about you Mike is that you do a lot of collaborative seminars and projects with other sports and training personalities, sharing your own knowledge and making the joint project stronger because of it. Do you see value in collaborative projects such as these?

Collaborating with the right people is powerful. It gives people much broader and more comprehensive information. In 2008 I decided to stop doing kettlebell beginner workshops to focus on other interests and put on more progressive and innovative workshops. For example, last year I put on a big 2-day workshop called “Collision course” which covered battling ropes, strongman training, body weight training, and kettlebell training. This year I am putting on a course called “Kettlebell Training In the Age Of Quarrell.” It will be a three day course that covers all of the many ways to use kettlebells effectively. The course has an incredible line-up: Steve Cotter, Ken Blackburn, Jason Dolby, Andrew Durniat, and myself. It is going to be a three day course that breaks through all of the confusion on how to use kettlebells effectively for a variety of goals. It is going to be an incredible course.

GKJ. Well Mike, this has been a rare glimpse inside for many of us, and you have certainly given us plenty to think about. What is the future for you? Where do you see yourself in ten years? What would you like to have achieved?

Thanks and I do not look at life that way. There is no point planning on where I will be in ten years now as that is too far out. Instead I trust my abilities and work ethic and do not worry about where I will be. I know what I am capable of and what sacrifices I am prepared to make to keep growing as a human being.  Focus on the moment and apply myself now and the future will take care of itself. Achievements, while important, are also illusory. Achieving goals is often anti-climatic as put people put off living now for some hopefully future happiness. Work hard and achieve goals but learn to enjoy the process where ever possible. Be serious about your goals but do not take yourself too seriously. As the Hindu Text The Bhagavad Gita states you have a right to your actions but not the results of your actions. Make your actions count.

With regards to this year I will have my book completed and I am looking forward to having a great course with the all star Age of Quarrell line up which will in turn be filmed for another information packed DVD set.

Thanks Mark for taking the time to do the interview.

CC Photo 1

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Mark Sisson and the primacy of life.

Posted in aging and sport, Health and Welbeing, Interviews with experts, Mobility, Nutrition, Sustainability, Weekly Discussion Topic on June 14, 2009 by markeu


All of us today, living what we call the modern lifestyle, struggle with daily food choices and long-term nutrition. Everywhere we turn, we are constantly being told what is good for us, what we need, and yet a quick assessment of the health and longevity of the society we live in will tell us quite frankly that, as a whole, we are making many of the wrong choices.

Obesity is on the rise globally, most frighteningly amongst our children, and as our society ages many adults will be struck with increasing mobility issues, digestive system breakdowns and rapidly failing health. Much of the blame lies in the food we eat every day.

So, what are the right choices? How do we navigate through our weekly food choices and come out long term winners for both ourselves and our families? How can we support our active lifestyles with a balanced and healthy food intake?

One shining light with cogent answers to these problems is Mark Sisson, whose long term practical studies have educated millions and new book, The Primal Blueprint ,was released this year. He is one of the world’s leading proponents of an alternative, realistic and achievable lifestyle that has taken the fitness world by storm. Coming from a background as a top level athlete and having served for 15 years as the anti-doping and drug-testing chairman of the International Triathlon Union, Mark embodies everything he knows and believes within his own pragmatic lifestyle.

I spoke with Mark regarding his work and how he incorporates what he teachers within his own lifestyle. Here is a brief look at an extremely intriguing man and dynamic personality.

GKJ- Thanks Mark for taking time off your busy schedule to answer a few questions. You have carved yourself a niche as one of the premier writers of the sporting/nutrition world, gaining much respect from all due to your willingness to embody your own teachings and develop your ideas as an ongoing “work in progress”. For many, you are the cutting edge of this kind of research. Do you feel that this is a heavy burden?

Not at all. I am very opinionated in this area and have always felt compelled to call it like I see it. I think I offer a unique perspective carved from a diverse background as a top athlete, coach, researcher, anti-doping administrator, supplement designer, etc. Few people have the background and the platform to be able to put all this information into a “world-view.” My mission with the Primal Blueprint is to show ten million people how they can regain total control of their health. The only way to do this is to provide cutting edge research and making the explanation understandable and entertaining.

GKJ- What is the nutritional state of the world today for your average person or athlete out there eating what is considered a normal diet? What kind of dangers do they face without consideration of how much diet plays a part in their long term health and performance?

Well, as you know, the state of nutrition world-wide is dismal. Many of us are eating too much of the wrong things and paying the price – whether we are an average non-exercising citizen or a top athlete. Many people will be able to “get away” with dietary indiscretions for most of their lives and not be dramatically affected by the small aches and pains that they could avoid by altering their diets. But far more people will likely suffer ill health in some form or another unless they change what they are doing. It might be diabetes or obesity in “normal” people and arthritis or heart problems even in regular exercisers who abuse their bodies with the wrong workouts fueled by the wrong diets. Exercising alone does NOT necessarily confer a long, disease-free life. Diet is crucial. The Primal Blueprint actually started as a diatribe against athletes training too hard and eating too many carbs. It eventually expanded to encompass all people.

GKJ- You yourself have been through an incredible physical journey. As you get older, what is the biggest challenge for you?

Not getting injured. I still like to play. In fact, all my so-called “training” is done so I can play Ultimate (Frisbee), snowboard, surf, golf, etc. Being 56 means that playing hard may sometimes result in an injury that takes weeks to recover from instead of days like when I was young. So I back off a bit when I feel myself getting too caught up. I no longer race my 15-year-old son down the black diamond runs when snowboarding or I back off when I’m racing to catch a Frisbee in a crowd of defenders.

GKJ- This year, you have released a new book, The Primal Blueprint. What kinds of answers can the average reader expect from reading your work?

I think the Primal Blueprint very succinctly explains how humans evolved to be strong, healthy and disease free and how our genes expect us to behave in certain ways that we don’t always honor. No one has yet explained health in exactly this context. Most of the book details the steps we can take to literally “reprogram” our genes to be healthy, lean, fit and disease-free. This reprogramming is possible even if you think you are doomed because your family history is one of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, etc. It is a very empowering program and the results we have seen over the past few years are overwhelmingly positive.

GKJ- One of the things you talk about in your theories is the fact that a person needs to look to natural foods rather than supplementation which is primarily chemical based. How easy is this to do? The main issue for many people is time and cost. What is the answer?

Of course natural foods are best, but there are some shortcuts in supplements as well: things like protein powders that can fill the void when we can’t get to real foods or fish oil capsules to make up for the imbalance in Omega 3s in our diets. But eating Primally (mostly meats, fish, chicken, veggies, fruits nuts and seeds) can be quite inexpensive if you approach it right. When you remove all the processed foods we have come to rely on and focus on natural foods, you find that you naturally eat less (without getting hungry). Many people tell me they have saved money going “full Primal”.

GKJ- What is your advice today for your average person who is wanting to take more control of their life and diet? Where should they start?

Start by cutting out the sugars. No desserts, candies or colas/sodas. Next start cutting grains (pastas, cereals, breads, pastries, etc). That alone will result in huge benefits. It takes a few weeks of discipline to cut these out, but when you do so and realize you can eat all the meat, veggies, fruits, nuts etc whenever you find yourself hungry – and still lose weight – it’s a powerful thing. After about three weeks, you lose the cravings for the carbs and simultaneously your body starts learning to extract most of its energy from your stored fat. At that point you are well on your way. The exact process is detailed in my book The Primal Blueprint (

GKJ- Mark, thank you for your time today, and I look forward to reading more about your discoveries. I am off to get the book!

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