Ep2 - Movement and Athletic Training with Erin Cafuro Makenzie and Brian Makenzie

Who can be an athlete? Dr. Hill sits down with elite athletes and peak performance and movement coaches Brian Makenzie and Erin Cafuro Makenzie. They talk about Erin’s training during the Olympics as well as Brian and Erin’s goals to help people understand their fitness and movement abilities.

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Who can be an athlete? Dr. Hill sits down with elite athletes and peak performance and movement coaches Brian Makenzie and Erin Cafuro Makenzie. They talk about Erin’s training during the Olympics as well as Brian and Erin’s goals to help people understand their fitness and movement abilities.

welcome to another episode of head first with dr. hill today’s guests are Brian
Mackenzie who is a human performance coach and movement specialist and Aaron Mackenzie who is a two-time gold
medalist in rowing so I welcome guys thanks for being on the show thanks very
much my pleasure why we start by having you actually introduce yourself give us a little bit of your perspective on what
you do day to day start with Aaron all right I yes I was a
professional athlete for about 10 years and now I am working for a company
called power speed endurance which was is owned by Brian Mackenzie but I am
running behind the scenes it’s a endurance based programming and
educational source for endurance athletes and coaches and so we are
basically trying to cover all of our bases from running to you know triathlons to rowing it’s mostly for
working professionals okay not just professional athletes no no yeah so we’re trying to you know now that I am a
working professional myself and no longer professional athlete I see that that is the neat you know there’s a much
bigger need for attention to giving a you know education to everybody not just
the elite athletes we had we were fortunate enough to get so much information and you know have access to
so many people but the every everyday Joe that’s out there slogging miles
running marathons triathlons doing crash B’s everything they need help too and
absolutely even more so yeah we don’t have all the same degree of dialing everything in with a lot of attention
sometimes exactly great and Brian tell us about you I my career kind of started
with a more quality versus quantity approach and that’s basically where I’ve
stayed although many things have change I became very adept at movement and
understanding movement with people in in relation to injury uh that in working
with a lot of athlete athlete’s that were endurance athletes like runners my specialty began and running I worked
with a guy by the name of dr. Nicholas Romanov very early on in my career which
catapulted kind of my learning curve into other areas versus sticking to traditional formats going through
traditional schools things like that I kind of inevitable exited out of that to
get more of a broader understanding of things that weren’t being taught and and a lot of that has to do with physics or
not that I’m I’m doing physics or
anything but understanding physics and things like gravity and how it works with you know and how it’s a very
underutilized or under understood you know not a very well understood thing
that is transpired into more or less just the human performance world okay uh
now most of my work is done within xpt
which is my business with Laird Hamilton and Gabby Reece which is more of a lifestyle approach so it’s a whole
entire holistic deal where we’re looking at not only hey what are you doing for training but hey are you getting outside
you know as we’ve seen with the CrossFit revolution where you know a lot of people just go they worked and they go
into a gym and they’re inside and it’s like how often you’re actually getting out into nature and understanding this
stuff so moving from box to box isn’t like a life goal no I I’m kind of I’m a
little I try not to get into the gym too much okay I do get into the gym but it’s
just I try and stay at it as much as I can and try and focus out outside more often I more more often than not you’re
going to find me in the water okay these days just because I my love of the ocean
sure and what I’m doing there and obviously with the relationship with a guy like Laird Hamilton it’s very easy to do since that’s where he’s most of
his time is sure sure at any rate uh we’ve Aaron and I have really always
kind of looked at things from a more qualitative standpoint especially for her like when she she dealt a lot of
injuries and stuff and I’m sure we’ll get into it too really going hey there’s something going on there’s something
else I could be doing here uh you know and Aaron was a very very early pioneer
adopter of a lot of the stuff we were doing and not not just me I mean from her own side of stuff where she was
going and implementing some CrossFit or even some movement based stuff I mean she was mentored by Kelly Starrett so
you know there’s a lot of crossover with what we’ve done and how we’ve built that
did that lead into your guys getting married you have the the congruent interest before getting together or just
curious yeah Kelly was I started working with Kelly
back in 2007 to record the 2008 Olympics and yeah I think I I was a hard subject
I ask a lot of questions and and I think it was around 2010 you know I was going
into my second Olympic cycle and Kelly had he was just having his second kid
graduating from PT school and he was like hey I have this friend down in Southern California I’ll just ride you
just pawning me off on Brian no but it worked really well because there’s some things that you can learn and read about
and you know research but the biggest piece was the hands-on sure there was
nobody actually watching and giving me feedback on what I was doing I was just going implementing hence a lot of my
injury history okay yeah so that was the big turning point once Kelly introduced
Brian to me and he preface it with don’t make out with him okay so yeah so once
we introduced us that he was working you know like know that you know that’s not
a squat okay that’s not a push up like let’s in actually would show me visually
what I was doing and had to change it so that was was a huge thing for for me so this is
that movement specialist thing that you’re the true yeah so can you loose a movement what do you mean by Guzman
moving sitting walking squatting picking things up I I just kinda it more from
hey I was looking at how people ran mmm – oh these specific exercises we’re doing – oh it’s just what they’re doing
every day so you start as a runner yeah I’ll come of a family of marathon
runners yeah I’m one of these people who’s not I don’t think I’m built to run I’m sort of a stocky Scottish guy built
for climbing up mountains you know and falling off cliffs but yes my little sister runs marathons my dad’s a
long-term runner yeah my body’s never felt like he could handle running and I wonder what do you think about that can
anyone be an athlete of any sort of these movement you know cycling running swimming or I think running is a a basic
human function okay um and I think people and and but there’s variations of
that hey am i a big guy who’s probably better at climbing up something and throwing something or you know fighting
something versus going and just running for days or you know 26.2 miles or
hunting an animal you know and it’s like you know the certain whatever there are very specific approaches to things but I
think by and large and we’ve seen this with CrossFit as well which you know I’m only speaking this because my I spent 10
years teaching you know as a subject matter expert for CrossFit okay on e I
think human beings in general like to look at what the elite or what the professionals are doing sure and then
they want to mimic stuff like that so they hear of something like a marathon yeah and they go damn I want to go run a
marathon okay and it’s not I want to go win a marathon it’s I just want to go
participate in a marathon and participation is a very big deal and the reason I’m using this analogy is because
very few people want to actually spend time actually getting good at like running 5ks which is where most great
marathoners spent a lot of time interesting you know they became really really really really good runners at the
5k actually they started well before that they were doing it like less than 3000 meters duster and
they got really fast and then they you know extended that a little bit and then they extended it a little bit more and you know one of the you know one of the
people all uses like somebody like Haley Gabbar Selassie or even Ryan Hall who’s recently retired but goes climb the
ranks through those basic 5k or 10k half marathon then marathon and then you see
the same you see the same types of things that happened with world-class iron manners mm-hmm there’s no such
thing as a world-class Ironman er who started Ironman ting right sure they started doing sprint distance they were
world class they started doing Olympic distance they were world class then they actually moved up to iron and we as a
people like and I’m as guilty as anybody because I have literally went and scientists did a sprint triathlon and
was like up got my ass handed to me there look I am going to go sign up for an Ironman now so I went from smallest
to I’m going to go do the largest you know and then I ended up doing ultra marathons um the only thing I had in
favor for me was the fact that I was looking at movement and understanding a lot of this stuff which is where a lot
of the training methods came from the ideas on training and and even what was
happening with my athletes at the time was we were seeing people who could actually participate in these things but
they weren’t necessarily doing as well as they wanted to or they were just getting worse over time okay so they had hit that plateau and they started to
taper off and it started to become less an age was a factor or whatever and you know we found that that was not the
reality of it we when you just train one specific way yo let’s just take the long
slow distance approach you’re basically training for long slow distance
nothing’s going to be fast right you’re going to take time to get there the only issue the other issue with that
is that when you and Graeme bad habits and long slow distance hmm that is a
very long period of time that you have now taken where and think you know your
mind hey how many how many shitty habits do I create you know and how many do I stick to how many behaviors have I
associated which now has a physiological loop in it yes where I have emotional responses I
have all these things attached to it and I can’t get out of this thing right this is the exact same thing that I’ve dealt
with and it’s happened with in CrossFit too because people in CrossFit saw what guys like rich Froning who’s won the
games four times who continues to compete at the team level who can handle
a ton of volume who worked his way up to developing all that volume you took the
time to get good volume lost the championship you know not having a lot
of volume under his belt then came back you know and it’s like they see what he’s doing and they want to do what he’s
doing and it’s like rich figured out would work for him he worked out for him
and it was like this was the difference between what Aaron did in 2008 versus
what Aaron did for 2012 and Aaron figured out what worked for Aaron okay
and and if other people come in and start to replicate what it is you’re
doing that worked for you sure don’t expect to get any better yeah than them right right you know all
right so I did run in high school I had this identity as a running family and I’m a runner and so I did distance
running in high school and I was slow and you know ponderous yeah and ended up developing really bad shin splints yeah
to the point where it’s sort of like you say got caught up in this baggage history no from then on like in college
I was in the fencing team at UMass yeah and we would go run and I would go bicycle because I just couldn’t pound my
shins into the ground anymore yeah and so eventually I stopped running completely because I had this identity
ad well if I run it’s going to hurt and I never was able to get the mechanics right to not develop painful shins when
running yeah how would you deal with somebody like that who you know I mean I’m 45 I haven’t run in 20-something
years I mean I I’ve dealt with that you know I used to deal with that weekly you know uh it injury is nothing more than a
movement fault okay the catalyst becomes whether its intensity yeah whether it’s
volume or whether it’s load so those are the exposures of it it’s kind of like a
stressful situation with the with the mind right like look we might all be just fine right now
being in a very calm environment making it safe and protective but what happens when the [ __ ] hits the fan yes you know
what happens if we take you out since you know Laird Hamilton’s a somebody I work with what happens when we go out
into 60 plus foot surf on jet skis what are you what what’s going on with you then error but yeah exactly and so we
start to see things that start to change and it’s like how do we train to get to the ability if this is what you actually
want to do I mean you know and Laird has a lair has a an analogy about all that and goes look you can’t make an eagle
out of a chicken but you can make a super chicken so so you know you can you
can train yourself to want to be to be able to handle certain situations but if
you really don’t want to be there then you’re never going to be that Eagle like
you you like you want to you need to want to be in front of a 60-foot wave
and in that surf you don’t want to be somebody who’s not like because the
thought processes that happen when you’re in those situations and these are the same things that happen with running
it’s just what I’m using an extreme sense right now people don’t want don’t look at it as an
extreme sense but it’s the exact same behavior where it’s like look you really don’t actually want to be here right now
so there’s no real sense and actually forcing this that’s definitely true for me when I was running I was always a
senses I got to do this because I should be doing this not because I want to you
know another personal example a few years ago I got into sentry rides and was doing more cycling I can dam built
for cyclists I’m really in a heavy lower body and I did a cycle a century ride
with my right toe clip adjusted wrong and about 60 miles in my right knee
pretty much failed you know the outside some tendons on the outside of the knee and that was like four or five years ago
and I still can’t really cycle for more than a mile or two before things start to lock up so my identity is congruent
with a cyclist not too congruent with a runner but I’ve managed to get injuries in both ends of things and you know now
all I do is aggressive yoga so I mean where would you take someone like me who would want to build these things back up
Ronit a let’s look at where the pains where the pain good B let’s look if we can apply if we
can get you to apply any of the soft tissue strategies that we understand do
that to start alleviating why the tightness why everything’s happening because it’s not your knees bad there’s
no such thing as a bad knee because no such thing is a bad hip there’s no such thing as bad ankle or bad wrist or bad
knee or you know elbow before your injury yeah yeah unless unless of course it’s like blunt trauma like you fell off
of something that’s an entirely different story or you know a bullet something like good those are that is
stopping movement that’s less you ins yep yeah yeah yeah okay so most people
are just reinforced there most people aren’t paying attention what nature is telling them sure and pain is pain as
nature’s greatest is one of great its greatest assets to say hey wrong yeah I
mean oh you don’t see animals going around and running around with toes internally rotated or externally rotated
they’re following the path of least resistance they’re always doing that we do that as a we do that as babies sure
beautifully then at about five we take our children
there we go you know what we’re going to stick you in school and we’re going we’re going to force you to sit down
there are six hours a day and we’re going we’re going to put you in these really cool shoes that mommy thinks are
really cute or daddy thinks a really badass you know whatever yeah and and we
just start to mold the being into more like us versus allowing that child to
adapt and be pliable and understand things on its own unique beautiful level
okay and and and I’m not saying you need to have your kid barefoot and you know you know so you hair down to their ass
and run around like you know Mad Max is you know a little Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome but I I do think that we’ve
really tried to systematize things because we don’t understand how to deal with stress yeah and we think that a
system is what’s going to say versus our own feeling and understanding that own feeling like hey my foot my clip was
chains k so what did I do here with that clip yeah so if I’m internally rotated there’s something going on
structurally and we know that you can rotate off the tip and fit the knee a little bit but most of that rotation is
going to have to be made up through the hip right so that you know looking most likely at things through the quads it is
where we would start get the soft tissue work then start to look at you from a movement standpoint like when he’s
walking what’s going on you know and then or hey let’s put them on a bike for a mile and let’s see where the neat
where yeah that pain showing up and then we now have part of our solution is to
Rick what he’s doing and rise the pain showing I think I need to visit you guys Newport Beach come on down there so you
mentioned shoes you know putting little kids and shoes what is your thought about this you know barefoot running zero drop is that important is it a fad
what where do you fall on that uh III think you should be barefoot as much as
you possibly can okay I don’t think barefoot running is the answer I I think barefoot running is
great in fact if that’s what you want to do I’m all for it I I don’t have any
disagreements in barefoot running okay on you’re always going to run faster and shoes but that doesn’t mean you can’t
get really fast barefoot the lot of the concrete and everything that we’ve put
in I don’t know the foot is entirely ready to handle all of that like like
from from a legitimate um you know adapt adaptation stamp for sure you know so
have have we made those changes yet and and I just don’t know that we’ve made that but understanding shoes is is a big
thing and hey my toes they all touch they’re kind of you know my little ones
are like wrapped over each other okay except so those aren’t good things those are those are early signs that you’re
probably going to have some issues upstream of that a foot should look like a hand basically where the the toes
don’t necessarily touch they might be really close but they don’t touch okay the entire foot should work you should
have an arch in your foot you know not having arches is another early sign that you’ve probably done some poor
mechanical stuff because you know can that be addressed the one hyper set in flat supposed you know the
term flatfoot is actually not real there’s no such thing like you can actually draw the arch up off before yep
sure it’s just a lazy stance so you’re not actually being you’re not actually in a true stable position in using the
hips or lauching with your feet yeah yeah pretty much you’re collapsing medially so I think there’s I think
there’s merit to barefoot running I my suggestion is for people to walk barefoot as much as they can also you
know if you’re gonna run and you’re going to be in shoes take your shoes off the end of the run find a grass you know
a grass field do a few hundred meter repeats in the grass barefoot just to
reinforce some better positioning um if you’re not going to be somebody who’s barefoot throughout the day but I think
understanding that any sort of a heel lift compared to the front of the foot is a mat ISM is a big big thing and
understanding how you can actually change a lot of things in your life like
in terms of like in a bad sense like if you were to stack blocks on top of each
other and you actually gave a mild lift to the very first block uh-huh and we
were stacking them six feet high those blocks by the time they got to six feet would have to be so compensated you know
just from that minor lift that we did you’re going to be dealing with pain in
some way shape or form and your wrist pain or your elbow pain may just be associated with that pain there so you
know and ladies like to walk around in high heels yeah on another bag that every but isn’t good for you that is terrible really
it’s terrible yeah you removed dorsiflexion yeah so it’s basically just saying to your ankles you don’t need to
work when your ankles are part of your foot your foot is your only thing that it’s connected to ground you know like
Kelly Starrett brought up years ago the the tissue on the hands the tissue on
the feet is the same yep you don’t have that tissue on your ass right therefore
we know what should be in contact with the ground most and it’s definitely not your ass interesting yeah definitely
so um these are sort of getting into how you would approach examining movement problems and causes of injury yeah react
attacks from the biomechanics better habits better training when something like Aaron you know came with lots of
injuries I mean first of all what was that the psychological mental you know you had you obviously were pushing through injuries being relatively
successful in spite of you know wear and tear and weathering these things what
was the different mental game once you started to change how you move what did it do to you pushed your body how you
got injured how you felt about your day to day training pain and things like that yeah so I kind of I come from a
standpoint of I I danced actually the first 12 years of my life you know modern classical everything and I think
movement is an expression I don’t think that there’s right and wrong sure there’s something that puts you into
pain and doesn’t but if you are continuing to get injured yep I think
you are wanting to suffer you know you’re wanting to put yourself in that
place unconsciously somewhere most of the time you know and I think that’s why I was mentally at the time when I was
continuing to get injured and I thought you know growing and any endurance sport that was that was what I was told it was
just a game of suffering okay every the power through it yeah and that was the coaching cue it’s like if you want to go
faster go hard yeah instead of like no you can actually you know tweak a little
bit here tweak a little bit there it’s just you know that was that was the lot of a lot of the feedback that I
gravitated to as well as like oh you know I just need to make it hurt more right and you were a world-class athlete
at this point with this mindset yeah and I was you know praised for that too and
as are a lot of other athletes and I think that’s what you know what draws
people to endurance sports sometimes that are just like oh how long can I suffer for you know how can i suffer
better and it’s like if you’re going into it with the idea of you wanting to suffer then there
is more emotional things tied into the movement and maybe that is that is the
cure you know maybe that is that you have to go out and like Brian went out
and suffer for a hundred miles then you realize that you know okay well that’s not really getting me anywhere like
that’s not answering these questions that I still have so now I need to to
look inside now of course as an athlete you’re always learning you’re always evaluating already sort of you know
personal records and training routines did your mindset change when you started to get some movement sort of meta
supervision on the movement and how you were doing yeah rather how do you might
have it was it was more it was it was a relief that it wasn’t just about going
harder okay you know always going harder and like sure and that injury is a sign
of weakness that’s the other big thing that you know a lot of coaches and and I don’t blame them like sometimes I you
know I I’m coaching now a bit too and I have no other you know when you have no other excuse or no other you know no
other guidance to give your athletes like oh you’re just weak or you’re unfit or you know you’re just not made out
because injuries are continue to show up yeah yeah exactly and it really that’s that’s kind of the easy way out you know
to to blame it on athlete versus the coach being like okay let’s figure this
out okay obviously what what we’re doing or the cues I’m giving you are not resonating
and that’s the hard part about being a coach like it’s and granted I had you know a lot of
years figuring out my body and feeling and and now I know what feels right and
what feels wrong but a coach can’t feel the athlete like they have to just see
biomechanically does it look right right right and so it’s one thing for it to look right and it’s another for the
athlete to actually be able to feel it yeah interesting so I don’t have a good sense of rowing I mean I’ve done some
running I’ve done some cycling my experience of rowing is being you know a freshman sophomore at UMass Amherst and
all the other freshmen sophomores we’re getting up at 4:00 a.m. and coming back at 6:00 a.m. completely beaten up
leading hands then watching these incredible changes in their bodies over the first few years ago few months in college and they
became these sort of massive athletes but it looked to me like they were just you know they had these brutal brutal
early mornings and they were just being sort of shaped into new people over a few months that’s probably not how the
average person rose if I had to guess like especially those who aren’t doing it professionally in a competitive level what are some of the benefits that you
know the average person would get doing some rowing learning that that skill yeah I think it’s that’s going to be
initiation that’s funny because I was just coaching some guy and he’s like yeah I wanted to row but I don’t want to wake up early and it’s it’s kind of the
self weeding process again it’s it’s a sport that has has tradition and just
suffering you know like instead of being like oh let’s tweak this no can you show
up at 5:00 a.m. right right so cancer middle-aged non rowing guy like me right now yes I think I think rowing can open
up its doors to a lot more people because it is such a great full-body exercise and especially for people who
have history of you know joint issues and it’s a new you know it’s a new
movement that a lot of people haven’t done before like a lot of people tried running a lot of people have tried cycling swimming rowing you know is
really low impact on the joints and it’s just it’s a very fluid rhythmic movement
right right I think that’s that’s part of that’s what really drew me to it especially from my dancing background is
just you get to this point where you feel like you aren’t even working anymore because you just fall into this
rhythm and it’s off the water yeah even on even on the concept to or the you
know the static herbs that are not in the gym yeah but the best part of it is
actually I have my teammate here from Serbia she wrote at Cal with me in 2005
we were just talking about this yesterday is like the best part of rowing is rowing with someone else get
to fall into their rhythm and like you just have this connection of course you guys are both going through pain but
it’s really not that painful when someone else is doing it with you and you fall into this rhythm together and
it’s it’s a really like it’s a rad thing yeah I’ve certainly I grew up in Boston area so I’ve something seen on the Charles
you know there’s there’s amazing teams of people perfectly synchronized with a [ __ ] on you know calling time and it’s
a beautiful thing but honestly my own experience of robbing is being a little kid in a rowboat you know yeah and
rowing out to like pull lobster pots in a bay or something so it’s not exactly the same kind of experience optional
rowing function alone exactly exactly and I think you know if you if you do get in the gym or even take role the
rowing machine out of the gym with my preference these days to get a little vitamin D but you know start start on
the rowing machine figure out the movement and then add the instability of the water okay because or you know just
go in the water and then put on a bathing suit and don’t it’s okay if you
fall in that’s right be be okay okay yeah yeah okay what yeah exactly but ya know it’s it’s a sport that I
think we can it can open up a lot more doors the only so the the main reason that rowers like to get up that early
yep to row is because the water is flat because it’s called the weather yeah and
so sure yeah there’s definitely the initiation can you wake up right will you wake up to be part of this team to
you know commit to everybody but also it’s a lot easier to row in the water flat interesting that makes a lot of
sense yet and of course my experience of rowers is in college where they’re all doing it before our classes so they’re doing it like they can Connecticut River
and Massachusetts and you know they’d be coming back at like dawn so to be the being very very early yeah so that’s
interesting so of course you Brian our a water guy it sounds like these days do a lot of your workouts in the water a lot of your
yeah personal exercise you know I grew up on the water I would sail boats put lobster pots in the Northeast the ocean
in spite of being that I mean I’m terrified by the ocean I’m on it a lot most when I belong little terrified but yeah so how do you go from that sort of
a you know appreciating the majesty and danger of it from afar to being somebody who’s you know between 20-foot waves
where’s that inflection I mean I’ve been living in California now for like 15 years
10 12 years this idea of starting to learn to surf is kind exciting but I’m a kid from Maine yeah
the idea of surfing’s a little bit strange to both it it’s an interesting question but you know I mean maybe does
it all mental if it has to do with waves like you just need to have a love or passion for the waves and want to be
able to progress that if it’s for the ocean like I want to go like there’s guys like there’s guys like Mark Healy
who who’s one of the greatest Waterman in the world big wave surfer freediver spear fisherman I mean he has an
intimate intimate relationship does a lot of conservation work with in this the constructs of you know the ocean
he’s a ginger kid that lives in that limbs in you know Oahu but I you know
his life has been literally you know he’s not supposed to be in the Sun that much yeah I could put this right right
you know and and but he is he’s figured out how to do it he’s figured out how to
go and be deep in the ocean and get and have relationships with things like sharks and understanding sharks deeper
you know or you know but it’s the the interesting part of the question is it’s
like look you know and although I brought up like 60-foot waves or whatever I’m not riding 60-foot waves yet but I’m out there and I want to be
out there and it drives me to want to be out there I’ve been doing some towing in
for probably last four or five years now with friends who are connected in that
world and that’s been a progression itself it’s interesting because being
around somebody like a Laird Hamilton or a marquis li um people are fascinated
with what they do they’re like oh my god I mean how do you ride these waves and and and you know layer layers ridden
hundred foot plus waves and and that isn’t really something fathomable by
that by normal even if you see it on video if I were to watch it like live it’s an it’s an unlike you can’t
understand it and the idea is it’s like how did you do that and it’s like well
what you’re not looking at then that that there was some disc it’d that made
a commitment you know when he first learned what a wave could what he could do it wave yeah and he continued to chase that
commitment and try and understand that commitment everything around that commitment and how it transpired like it started with
shore break it got a little bit bigger it started with understanding the ocean floor and why the ocean you know why
waves do what they do and it you know and you know it just goes on on and on on what you can learn and nobody’s going
wow what a commitment you write right they’re like wow it’s skills you have yeah you’re just so talented right
well it’s no different than the example you just gave of the marathon runners or or even like the rich froning’s like you
know and I think that’s I have a you know I’m not extremely comfortable in the ocean either and I think sometimes
what I think our biggest fear is is to be out in a situation that we’re not
comfortable with sure but everybody can stick their feet in the water right everybody can start there everybody can
walk around the block just start somewhere just become and I think it’s with everything that you’re scared of it’s not jumping
into the deep end right literally just getting your feet wet so this commitment that you know you’re speaking about –
speaking about is sort of like developing a different or a continuing depth deepening relationship with what
you’re doing how much of that is similar in your perspective to what happens when you’re mastering endurance
you know long-distance activities how much is the relationship versus the
brute forcing it and keeping yourself going depends on the person because on the athlete for sure I think there’s
some people and that’s that’s literally you know why I look at someone like
Laird he has a he’s a different athlete he has it’s more of a relationship with
the water okay and himself and you know nature versus a lot of athletes
including myself that I’ve been around it was a race yeah and you know and to
train to win too you know and you’re just doing it – for some glory and being
you know fine going on the other side of the rainbow you are standing on top of the podium I can tell you that that last
you know well about the length of the national anthem right you know and
then it’s over and then granted you have you know those stars on your shoulder but if you have a relationship and you
have an appreciation for the your movement practice or whatever you decide to do whether it is studying or getting
you know you know getting being a neuroscientist it’s like you have to
have a relationship with it rather than wanting something from it so you put him to a lot you’ve been up on that that
those steps a lot yeah now you’re retired you’re your coach yeah at this
point I’m old and we’re shaping back yeah yeah I think I’m the oldest at
least in shape person sitting at this bench right now but that’s right how has your relationship with rowing change I
mean do you still do long-distance endurance driven do you still like to you know get behind the the oars so to
speak or is a relationship with that whole process shifting a little now yeah I mean if we could put some nodes on my
head to measure all the emotions and and whatnot that you go through it’s been a
process and it’s been four years so yeah you know the last Olympics um and
everybody it was so funny because everybody is like oh do you miss being there do you miss Gover like how was it
and it’s like at first I was just pissed people are asking but as Brian and
usually and I remind him as well when you’re pissed and like angry about something it’s usually because you need
to understand it more yeah you know sure sure and so I think what I’ve taken away from
it is that it’s it’s hard to step away so having that relationship of just
wanting to win just you know being top the podium being driven of just being
the best in the world sure it gets you get you on top of the podium yeah but then the aftermath of that and I decided
to retire not fit for a physical reason but for I just knew there was so much more I wanted to experience in the world
it must be a very singular Drive if your Olympic athlete or Olympic aspirations so much you realize I’m across for your
cycles must be focused on that moment of competition that’s sort of this looming
thing in the future you must hit it’s coming around every so often yes and with that you get a Hall Pass by
everyone you know that let everybody know hm and understand and with that you lose I
mean like I lost a lot of friends who were just like no you’re like aren’t you
aren’t being a good friend you aren’t being seen in touch like when I have kids or you know get married or there’s
a funeral you aren’t there so no you’re not a good friend anymore and and I think that’s the thing that a lot of
people sometimes are and they still would be like oh no I understand you can’t go anywhere you have to you have
to train for this but you’re so you get this hall pass for like you know four to eight to twelve sixteen years of your
life that it’s okay to not be you know a contributor to society relationship
because you have this bigger goal in mind and I and I think you know I this
is obviously just where I am with the whole movement I think the Olympics are a wonderful thing because it still
really is an amateur contest but and you know originally it was just a practice –
or a you know event to praise the human body and what it can do and and it’s a
beautiful thing for sure but what a lot of people don’t see is on the back end of that like what happened to all those
Greeks after you know they were it’s like racing horses what happens the
racing horse yeah glue glue yeah exactly um and so I think that’s kind of where
I’ve been heading and just kind of watching my teammates and how they’ve been adjusting whether they immediately
adapt that to a new goal okay um which I’ve tried to do and I’ve tried to like I’m going to go run a 50 mile er uh-huh
I’m going to go do you know and just taking that drive but that’s um are you
finding places in your life to apply that same like you know ten thousand foot goal kind of approach and then
pursue those things or are you more in the microcosm now yeah I’m trying to figure out how to use different parts of
my body besides just willpower okay all right if that makes that drawer okay
you know like there’s yeah I’m just going you know studying into you know
yoga the study of yoga not only actually doing too much yoga but I I really I
really like you know at the sauna the the movement practice just one piece of it it’s actually a you know there’s a
lot of really good pieces written about it and you know Buddhism and all of that
and you know without making me sound like I’m doing going too far into the weeds or the only thing that’s really
resonated with me to to make sense of this all of like okay you burn out your
willpower you use it a lot and you got really far yeah but i I’ve had a hard
time applying it to something else and sticking with it and it’s most likely because that flame is like it’s burnt
yeah you know it’s also getting focus in one specific direction for a long time I’m a it’s hard to you know refocus that
a little bit yeah yeah and you know I have a very good partner and he’s you
know he is nine years the wiser of me but he just kind of sits back and is
watching this process of you know me trying to figure things out and I and I
do think that in a big way athletes could be on you know have the
same wavelength of addicted you know people to substances sure yeah that’s
only happens in a athleticism I mean everything from the is assorted body image two or three x ik diets where you
got to be this way about your diet and I mean it’s anxiety its depression its
alcoholism its drug addiction it’s I mean you want to know the list of you know drug addicts and acts alcoholics
that are doing ultramarathons the most loving shape most about that yeah you know it’s a it’s a very as a drug yeah
dopamine is drug okay yeah yeah so so I’m not even of course is going to be an
elite or long you know distance ass eight you mentioned yoga what other sort of other sorts of you know lifestyle a
few activities do you think are useful or beneficial both mentally and physically for folks to engage in who aren’t necessarily dedicating vast
resources to becoming profoundly good athletes you know what things are helpful or should be one of our good
friends doc Hickey he says the best workout is the one you do it’s the one
you do that’s guys although I’m sure you didn’t make that up you know like it is
that’s the first thing again it’s just getting your toes in the water you know like start with that and I think we all
have these including myself I know very well like these grand dreams of like I’m
going to have this perfect workout I’m going to do you know work out six days a week and then rest one day off and even
at the elite level that doesn’t happen you get injured yeah fewer sick some
your partner gets sick things happen and so I think when we hit those hitches and
like you know your knee hurts and that usually injury is what makes people stop moving right and unfortunately you know
my parents that was a big thing that they’re now you know getting hip replacements knee replacement diabetic
issues because they have injuries that they just didn’t wanted to learn more
about sure well maybe we didn’t you know I mean you know I mean our parents are old enough that medicine has actually advanced in
the past few decades my mom had some knee problems built kind of like me you know short stocky and
about 10 or 15 years ago she had bilateral knee replacement and she was I
don’t know like 55 or something pretty young for knee replacement to have both done it once and went from being is
slightly overweight slightly you know tired you know middle-aged person my god
now she exercises for six hours a day she canoes she swims she I mean she’s 67
or 68 and she works out more a day than I ever have in my life Wow and just you know getting all these
back functional freed her to engage all my he’s got surgeons who you know you’ve
got orthopedics that’ll do surgeries based on that and that’s why we should
be doing surgery not for functional ability yeah not because you’ve just worn this out and
you’re just going to go wear that out and you’re not going to do that you’re you know you’re just going to we’ve
fallen into this world where we use in Western medicine as a means to take care
of our lives I’ve got not what it’s intended for its intended yeah like like
prescription medications like me replacements hip replacements I mean I’ve had my hip resurfacing I kind of
read pretty much redone other than having it read you know the bone replaced on you know we we get into
these places where hey if I just continue to take this or I’ve got this crutch I can continue to do what it is
I’m doing so basically I’m muttering off the behavior of stuff that’s getting me into trouble the festering wound
underneath the band you exactly yeah yeah and this is I mean when we deal with a lot of you know mental disorders
or even people who are drug drug addiction things like that like I have dealt with this stuff for twenty years
okay I’ve trained people for about the same time I saw a direct connection between people and exercise and either
alcoholism drug addiction the same patterns that are going on sure you know and these aren’t people who go out and
drink alcoholically or do drives right but they’re doing the same type of behavior Pat and it’s like you start to
catch on this and it’s like yeah what are we really not dealing with here like and it was just I mean hey that was part
of me actually having to really stop not drink and understand why when I drank I
did the things that I did you know oh that’s why and it’s like it’s not that you know my I’m my identity is I am an
alcoholic or because I’m not I think you know if I want to live on that sure I can but I’m no further away from that
than I ever was right sure but if I’m going in I’m using the exercise or I’m
using the the medication to just continue to eat the [ __ ] that I want to
eat life and bang my knee or let my knee hurt and then you know just continue
going down that cycle why should that’s not what Western medicine was
intended for Dutch and and that’s was so we’ve got a big misconception of it okay mixed science I don’t want addiction work myself yeah I actually worked in an
alcohol yeah and I have a former clinic I used to work in we had a moderation
approach where we reintroduced alcohol into your life if you’re absent and wanted to try to drink again and the
whole focus of that Center was not so much the substance you were using or the
consequences it was the relationship with the substance it sounds like yeah congruent with the with the obsessive
exercise it’s the relationship with the gas even molecular going you know now it’s like I was obsessed with it really
now it’s like I everybody’s like oh don’t you just go out for like a paddle and it’s beautiful and I’m like no no I
feel I’m not at the point where you can enjoy it but with all of this movement is still a necessary thing for us human
sure and I think that it is a good way to balance out the stress we create
upstairs okay so I mean as much as we’re I think we’re on we’re definitely on the
on the other side we’re talking about people who are obsessive exercisers
worker routers Fitness errs you know or even per se elite athletes you know
there has to be some obsession in there yeah and I see it yeah do you think you have been as successful as a rower if
you had not been obsessed in 2007 and 2011 I mean would you know and it’s so funny because everybody’s like oh you
know rich Froning like works out five times this guy who won some CrossFit
Games thing I don’t know who that is but anyhow it’s a guy who was very very successful and an extremely good athlete
but he came and worked with Bryan and I this was in 2013 or 2012 and I literally
was watching him and I was like yep he’s in the matrix like he in there left
abscess you recognize that that glaze that ten thousand yard stare on a golden yeah I think us as humans are we praise
it we really look at it and look at it as such like this thing that’s we all
envy and are like oh I wish I was in that tongue with you know yeah those other ways of
being successful as an athlete beyond that is that where we are that’s what I’m saying I mean I don’t I’m trying to
figure it out before I talk too much about it cuz I’m like I swear there has to be another way up a mountain there
really does and I and I know I’ve met some athletes that have had this great
relationship with their movement practice more they continue to just move throughout their whole life you know
Laird being one of them I think there’s a slight obsession there for sure he had it in the water there’s no waves and he
there’s nothing to do like withdrawal you don’t want to be around the house like within like a mile or so K he just
has so much pent-up energy yeah but I mean yes in any buffers that off and and
he but he does have that obsession and I think it’s a healthy obsession to a large degree okay that I think we’re
trying to get to like where you got to understand what a healthy obsession is and how to take that down a notch and
into reality because here’s the problem is that the real world doesn’t work on a
competitive basis like the athletic world when you don’t win a deal right or
get something or somebody or you lose a client yep that that that’s not losing
that that’s like hey there’s not going to be another one right it’s like sure real soon you know and it’s not easy you
look at four years and if you lose the race that’s a big big problem and it’s not just the next four years as you’ve
sort of lost it’s also the two to three to four years you just put in getting here right yeah and then you’re thinking
about that now and so that is really an eight year cycle – based on your sport in terms of one opportunity for
exhaustion – yes but I need your Erin I think in my opinion Erin although we’re
talking about how her experience out of the Olympics now has happened Erin
navigated pretty well from 2008 to 2012 I’ve done in 2008 she had how many rib
injuries by 2010 have you had five one a year yeah
had five she had broken five ribs she had basically been a mess how do you break ribs running is it just your
muscles it comes like you can flexion my head Shimon once on the right once you
can start feeling like a little impulse and it’s just literally you know a lack of mobility and then also your shoulder
being out of position okay and it just strains a certain part you know of your
muscles you just get tight and they don’t move and your ribs are actually pretty flex rate of course you also have
your lungs and diaphragm hitting from the inside and so you know perfect storm
right interesting perfect storm are you but yeah so I mean but just to parlay on
that is it’s like she went from being injured do not having an injuries to crying at the end of a gold medal race
because she felt like she didn’t worked out hard in the race and she could have gone right back out and rode again it
was like well no that’s what it’s supposed to feel like when you’re healthy okay you know not beaten down
worn down Torah I was looking for the suffering yeah you know when I was
running in high school we would run it was cross-country so long distances mostly and half of us would stop the
race and throw up at the end of the race like that that was a sign we had we had given it you know that’s it all that’s
left it all in the field so to speak yeah and I didn’t always like I was always a little bit sort of dismayed by
that that all these you know amazing runners were hurling into the bushes at the end of our cross-country reg so you
know so let me ask you guys let’s finish up with this you have a really broad experience working with elite athletes
being lead athletes working with like prosumers people that are you know not
quite the elite but still very orange towards fitness CrossFitters etc across
all types of people are there any commonalities any things
you think or principles that are important to hold in mind as you engage
with movement as you consider your body as you move through challenges other principles that seem to be true across
people regardless of what level they’re performing at in terms of continuing to
move further are in better and and and I get more control of what you’re doing hmm
– yeah stumped Thea but the heart of the coin house this is the most quiet part
of the whole podcast Wow so let’s just say if you had three things that were the most critical
things to tell people about movement about success in life and we’re just talking about everybody yeah generally
other things are true across no matter what level you’re performing what might be true just start okay just start yeah
and again I think that’s kind of where I’ve gotten and with analyzing my biomechanics and it’s not you know
there’s a perfect way to move and I’m injured and there’s I think being scared of injury or be scared of doing it wrong
it’s a much bigger barrier than actually just you know then we actually just
start okay I’ll just get your toes and toes in the water and that’s how you
know every everything begins really and I think it’s again what we’re talking
about throughout the whole thing is like don’t go run a marathon don’t go try to surf 100 foot waves okay
that’s mental preparation Oh China 9% yeah yeah just just start and practice
get into the practice of it don’t get into the competition or the race of it so you think the the the equation of
performance is you know more heavily weighted towards the perspective and mindset but versus the physical is it is
it largely a mental game yes okay yes one percent III think you just need like
Erin said is just starting that’s an action that I was taking part in something that’s going on in your head
sure so if you don’t actually like if you’re just thinking about something that I want to do and I have some
fantasy about this things what I’m afraid of it yeah just go do it go do it on the most
basic level start it move like like moving is just something fundamentally
we were not weird designed to not not do right if you stop moving that games over
like you’re checking out real soon sure guaranteed and we see just as many
people who are checking out this planet yeah because of not moving it is because
of some disease like cancer or Ellul or whatever it’s like you you you you you
know have somebody I don’t want somebody taking care of me when I get older I got like that of not moving or profound
there’s a study a couple years ago I’m a gerontologist I teach courses in gerontology olá and one of the things we harp on a
lot is that sedentary lifestyle which used to be defined for elders is less
than 5,000 steps a day now it’s defined as less than seven thousand steps a day less than that produces as many health
risks cardiovascular health risks of smoking a pack of cigarette today ah so yeah we have control over this I mean
dr. Hector Annie Gallup they just finished up some study over in Sweden and they found out that the three correlates the three yeah things that
left gave us not only longevity okay the quality quality yep right were vo2 max
okay not getting below I believe it’s 22 and a half okay so if your vo2 max drops
below twenty two and a half liters okay you’re done okay lean tissue mass okay
in the legs yep and the ability to stand up yeah that’s not a gerontologist yeah
classic giant illogical sort of you know if you can do one assessment joint illogically give somebody a chair
without arms have them sit in it and have them lift up stand up without using their arms yeah if the quads are strong
enough and balanced enough to lift you up off a chair without using your arms your body’s probably not aging that
dramatically yeah you know yeah so I mean just going back to like these things I think movement is a big like
just starting cute having a movement practice is huge that means doing things
that require functional movement not just the same things every day every you
know day in day out I think cross it’s done a phenomenal job with with that you know is introducing
what functional movement can be and changing that around varying it around you know and understanding that stuff
and I I honestly I think a positive mental attitude on the entire thing okay is is absolutely 100% unequivocally
going to keep you there great I think that’s wonderful advice when we stop there folks but if our
listeners and viewers are interested in finding more about you your programs or companies your philosophies on life
where can they find you where should they hunt you down yeah well you can find both of us at power speed endurance
just building that bad boy up okay calm and then yeah Brian is xbt life as well
they’re doing experiences but yeah on both either channels one of them’s more of the programming
sport focused because one trying to bring health back into sport again we’re
gonna we will probably have some talks after this but yeah bringing in more of
the mindset of of endurance sports and helping you know athletes that way but and then SVT xpg lifestyle now unpack
xpt for me for the acronym but extreme performance training okay so you’re looking at something that might you know
like inevitably can become extreme because if you start from that small level yeah so we’ve introduced a lot of
the water Waterman training then Laird is done over the years which is in a pool with
dumbbells on so there’s a lot of hypoxic work but it’s work it’s an automatic
meetings you’re holding your breath you know you’ve got to be you’re under water working with dumbbells so on one of the
benefits go have a slight follow-up question but what are the benefits for hypothesis Erie there there I mean think
of think of a swimmer getting fitter throughout a season like their their ability for co2 retention and ability to
absorb co2 gets greater and greater and greater interesting most a lot of people including like sympathetic dominant
people uh-huh are very very they are not co2 tolerant and so they’d be cut in the
ability to actually get more oxygen into the tissue so you can they’re they’re studies that show hypoxic training will
get will have kind of like will get more of an EPO like response and in the
tissue on you know the body will create more hematocrit Kingdom globulin out of it we do a lot of heat and yeah your
animal part but for I mean at all the expertise yeah I think there’s the measurable stress response yeah
um that you know hold it hold wait yeah water yeah well but I’m gonna check you
out yeah sure here’s a couple thirty pound dumbbells and we’re going to put you in a 12-foot deep pool interesting
and you know you drop down the bottom and there you are you’re like well I’m pretty deep right now and then you’re
going to run across or you’re going to swim across you’re going to do something across you know whatever it builds a confidence that really isn’t there as
well as absorbing work I’ve never seen anything in my life and I swam competitively for twenty years so I swam
laps I’d been involved in a lot of swimming stuff yeah I’ve never seen anything build confidence in the pool
for people better than what this water yeah yeah in water in general so we do that we do a lot of heat nice therapy
stuff for the recovery aspect and for the adaptation aspects of it so we’re getting a lot of the stress responses
out of a survivor but but teaching people how to deal with that and then there are things like the gym training
the stuff we do where we apply method to it like hey why are we in the gym squatting well we’re going to need to
squat the rest of your life okay God you know that uh Beach workout stuff we do
there’s just a lot around lifestyle and we get people to go out and you know do
more surfing paddle sports climbing mountains get into stuff get into nature interesting the hypoxic stuff caught my
attention I have a client who’s a profoundly impaired developmental kid yeah who has when I met her she was
having two or three hundred seizures per hour oh wow now she’s down about 50 or 60 per hour through neurofeedback but recently her
mom started working with her on this carbon dioxide rebreathing system which seems to provoke a developmental
challenge that improves seizure status a lot of these really profoundly impaired
brains there’s something about this co2 tolerant maybe the EPO up regulations you’re describing yeah I mean I don’t
know the neuroscience here might all that well but it sounds like we’re actually you know from a impaired individual as well as at peak
performance athlete yeah yeah something similar being tapped into our art theory has always been it is that if an
elite-level athletes doing it a child should be able to do it if a child can’t do it an elite level athlete can’t do it
interested it’s part and they’re just fun and the both congruent with would 100 be having a bottom 100
great well that’s a bit of a mic drop moment so folks thanks for listening to another episode of head first with dr.
hill thank you to my guest Brian and Aaron Mackenzie and I think we go back to peak brain now and talk about your brains but
we’ll do that off air folks so thanks so much for being part of the show thank you for having I’d love to come out to
you guys in for PT as soon come on down all right melodic thank you

Brian Mackenzie

Brian Mackenzie is a human performance and movement specialist. He has participated in Ironman (Canada 2004), and has run the Western States 100 and the Angeles Crest 100 mile endurance runs. He co-authored the books Power Speed Endurance, and The New York Times Best Seller UnBreakable Runner.  

Erin is a 2-Time Olympic Gold Medalist in rowing (W8+) from the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games, and has podiumed at every World Championship rowing competition she has competed at, accruing a total of 6 World Championships Gold Medals and 2 Bronze Medals. Erin was part of the 2-time NCAA Championship Cal Women’s Crew in 2005 and 2006 and became a core member of the USRowing National Team for 6 years.