“Nut Up or Shut Up”

Today’s post inspired by the writings of Keith Norris at Theory to Practice, Ken O’Neill at Trans-Evolutionary Fitness, Chris Guillebeau at The Art of Non-Conformity, and apparently Woody Harrelson from Zombieland.

For the past two semesters I helped as a research assistant in a social psychology lab at UVa. While I learned a lot about psychology research from the experience, the most important lesson I took away is that I am not ready to commit to a Ph.D. program right now. Too much time spent indoors, head buried in books, stressing over numbers and theories, and not enough hands-on application, performance, moving, interaction, etc. Perhaps in the future a more fitting opportunity will show itself, but for now I will not be applying to any Ph.D. programs.

That said, it’s now time to “nut up or shut up” as Woody Harrelson so eloquently states in Zombieland. What do I mean by that? Consider Chris Guillebeau’s article “How to Put Off Making Decisions About Your Life”. Rather than applying for another program (like I did for UPenn’s MAPP), I am actually going to get the ball rolling on a series of ideas and projects that have been brewing for quite some time now. Long work: check. Hard work: on deck.

So here’s what we got:

So the table is nice and full. I am looking forward to the PaleoFX12 Symposium in March in Austin, TX as well.

Lastly, I will leave you with a quote from Clifton Harski’s recent post “80/20” on his blog, Strong. Naturally:

I don’t like the minimal effective dose attitude at all. It annoys me. Why are we encouraging people to move as little as possible? We should be encouraging people to move as much as possible. I’m disinteresting in perpetuating a lazy, pathetic culture that wants easy minimal effort approaches to getting the things they want.

Thanks for reading,


Tough Mudder recap

Yesterday I completed the Tough Mudder at the Wintergreen Resort outside of Charlottesville, VA. A group of 15 guys and gals from CrossFit Charlottesville made the trek, and it truly was a spectacular event. Being more of a challenge than a race, there were no race clocks, no one timed you, and the Tough Mudder staff emphasized helping your fellow Mudders during the event. There were 27 obstacles, including jumping into a dumpster full of ice, scaling several high walls and ramps, crawling through mud and sand, and walking through smoke and electrical fields.

Being somewhat of a culmination to my endurance-oriented season of training, I really enjoyed the multi-disciplinary nature of the Tough Mudder. The course required endurance and stamina to climb thousands of feet in elevation, yet it also required the coordination and strength to get yourself and others over various types of obstacles.

For example, I had to walk, run, balance, crawl, jump, climb, lift, and carry (8 of the 12 “capacities of movement” for Erwan Le Corre’s MovNat system). Throughout the course I also utilized several of the concepts I learned from Carl Paoli’s Freestyle Connections Seminar, such as hollow body positioning and muscle-up skills. Over the past couple years I have been informally studying Ido Portal’s Floreio Art, and while the Tough Mudder did not require me to perform a QDR push-up, I did draw upon the flow and mobility work to get under and over some of the trickier obstacles.

Lastly, during my weekend with Exuberant Animal I did learn some useful, basic Parkour moves, like how to roll and how to efficiently travel over a table (thanks to Colin from Fifth Ape); however, the most important tools I learned were the ability to be mindful while moving and how to be sensitive to the social cues from others. This component of camaraderie was huge: you helped your team, strangers helped you, and you helped strangers.

All in all, quite a day! The course took our team of 11 people just over 4 hours to complete, including lots of stops to strategize and re-group. Afterwards we were awarded with beers, Clif bars, protein shakes, and Tough Mudder attire. Then the CrossFit Charlottesville troupe traveled over to Fry Spring’s Station for more beer, pizza, and ice cream. Love it! Thanks for reading.

Exuberant Animal

I am fresh out of an Exuberant Animal Trainer Jam. Here are a few reasons why I love Exuberant Animal:

  • Frank Forencich has an intense mustache, moves his body fluidly, and can lecture on neurobiology, ecology, and paleoanthropology in the same breath.
  • Dr. Kwame Brown has a Ph.D. in developmental neuroscience, prefers the tango over the samba, and curses like a sailor for emphasis.
  • I met a dozen other incredible people this weekend, including Colin Pistell from Fifth Ape and Jason C. Brown from BJJWorkouts.com.
  • We moved, played, learned, all while acknowledging the strengths and weaknesses of a diversity of perspectives and topics.
  • Influences included martial arts, yoga, dance, gymnastics, parkour, in addition to neuroscience, Taoism, social psychology, paleoanthropology, and endocrinology.
  • I got dirty from rolling around on the ground (always a plus for me).

I plan on a lengthier, more involved post this week combining some things I have learned so far from CrossFit, MovNat, and Exuberant Animal, amongst other things (Carl Paoli’s Freestyle Connections seminar, Ido Portal’s Floreio website, etc.). Thanks for reading!

Been on my mind recently

Fortunately, I have been doing several different things lately, and here’s what’s been on my mind:

  • Performance coaching, unlike the traditional academic classroom setting, requires and demands: embodiment, inspiration, motivation, creativity, innovation, a holistic perspective, a macro-micro-macro approach, consistency, variety, intensity, and functionality.
  • Some techniques for teaching music: learn it cleanly the first time so you don’t have as far to travel later, play one person at a time to enforce individual responsibility, and use tempo progressions from slow to fast for technique patterns and music.
  • When leading a group approach things as if they were on a spectrum of unrefined to excellent; avoid “good-bad” or “black-white” thinking, as that limits progress and causes frustration.
  • In life, whenever possible, you must maximize the effect-to-demand ratio: is what you are doing effective enough given how demanding it is to achieve.
  • Waking up each day with a clear purpose, especially if that goal involves other people in a cohesive social setting, is so much easier and healthier than rolling out of bed without a thought as to what your day will be.
  • Recognize those relationships and activities that are significant, meaningful, and valuable in your life. Preserve, extend, and flourish.
  • So much of modern rudimental marching percussion can be broken down into two things: 1) Play and perfect lots of basic exercise patterns, and 2) Design and execute a creative and appropriate show.

And for a bit of humor, I originally began the draft for this post in mid-July, with a title of “Neuroplasticity and skill-based living.” The only writing I had in the body of the post was, “Practice happiness. Meditation and mental exercise. CrossFit Mindfulness?” Lots of Exuberant Animal and MovNat on my mind methinks.

As for other things I do, lots of exciting things coming up:

  • Michael McIntosh will be arranging for the George Mason indoor drumline. Mike taught me at the Bluecoats, and I credit him with initially inspiring me to seriously pursue a career in teaching others how to drum.
  • The Anatomy of Frank will reunite as a five-piece band once again in November! Kyle Woolard, the lead singer / guitarist, recently toured the entire country (including Canada and Alaska!), and upon his glorious return to Charlottesville, we have a series of shows lined up in VA, TN, NC, and north.
  • I have been teaching much more classes at CrossFit Charlottesville, the epicenter for “Evidence-Based Fitness” in C’ville. It is so inspiring to help people reach their movement, performance, and health goals on a daily basis.
  • For the past two years I have been putting off writing a drum method book about rudimental gridding, but this fall it will happen! Hold me accountable if you see me.

Thanks for reading! Drop by a CrossFit noon class, check out an Anatomy of Frank show, or just go to any Charlottesville coffee house before 5 pm, and I’d love to chat.

Touring and New EP Available

So far on tour with The Anatomy of Frank, we have played at:

  • Rivermont Pizza, Lynchburg, VA (delicious local pizza)
  • Green Bean, Greensboro, NC (had an awesome Italian cappuccino)
  • Elliott’s Revue, Winston-Salem, NC (crowd really dug the songs)

Each show has been slightly different and had its own unique performance energy. Personally I really enjoy the opportunity to express myself artistically and emote each night, in addition to the fact that as a band we are getting much tighter and really starting to live our music. During the days we have:

  • Eaten brunch in Lynchburg
  • Done yoga / gymnastics and played frisbee and soccer in Winston-Salem
  • Hung out at Kyle’s house (pool table, awesome food)

The bonding we’ve experienced during the day really comes out at night, which is great. We have spent many hours rehearsing the finer intricacies of songs (and are continuously doing so with newer material), so now we are able to improve through emotional and social cues, not just technical improvements.

And last but not least, we have a new EP available! Relax, There’s Nothing Here But Old Pictures can be found here. We are incredible grateful to Lance Brenner, our producer, for recording and mixing these songs; it’s really exciting to have a physical product to deliver in addition to our live shows. Yesterday we also talked with Allen Ferro from Los Angeles who might become involved with our band in a managerial role.

New Music Video

Hey there! Lots has happened since I last updated this blog:

  • Recorded an album and filmed a music video (see below) with The Anatomy of Frank
  • Finished the indoor drumline season with George Mason University
  • Traveled to Guatemala with Jenni Gabriela

Lots is also on the way:

As I’ll be away from CrossFit Charlottesville for most of the summer, I plan to modify my training accordingly. I hope to run the Trail Runner Ultra Race of Champions in September (50K trail option), so I will do one sprinting session and one long run each week. Without ready access to weights, I will be doing lots of bodyweight exercises, including working on skills from Ido Portal’s Floreio ArtGymnastics WOD, and Gymnastics Bodies. Given that eating well and sleeping enough will be challenging, I expect to lose some strength and weight.

Okay, as promised, here is “Saturday Morning” by The Anatomy of Frank. Much thanks to Brian Witmer for filming and editing!

Upcoming Gigs

I am playing drumset for two Charlottesville bands nowadays, The Anatomy of Frank and Stories in Stone. Both are playing at UVa’s Battle of the Bands on Friday, February 25th from 8-11 pm at the Student Activities Building.

I also took the GRE’s last week and did pretty well: 800 quantitative and 610 verbal. I could have studied more vocab, but I’m pleased with my improvement from some practice tests (which were in the 500’s). They are changing the format of the exam come August, so if I end up applying to Ph.D. programs in Social Psychology I might re-take the exam.

In the next week I’ll be writing my Penn application essay based on how I became interested in positive psychology. I’ll post it on here when I’m done. Thanks for reading!