“Going Deep with Danny Twoguns” – Part III “The Nerding Out”

Posted: February 22, 2017 by dannytwoguns in About Me, Guest Blogs

When we first were talking about this interview, we didn’t really intend for it to be as long as it ended up being, so we broke it up into parts because segregating topics flowed well – Part I we talked about individual and personal history of Danny. Part II we talked about some training principles and philosophies and what is behind them. And then Part III is a little different.

As anyone who follows Danny knows, he takes continuing education and “being a nerd” to the next level. Part III is all about that. We worried it might be a little “over people’s heads” a bit as it is the kind of being the scenes / inner workings of his mind or the science aspect of things but we think valuable nonetheless and a good way to close out the interview…

CH : How did the “nerd” reference come about?

D2G : In all honesty, we heard from a member who has a friend that recently had starting working at a gym in Erie and it was mentioned that the owner of that gym when asked about us said, “Oh those guys are just nerds. All they do is learn.”

It was meant to be a dig somehow but we thought it was perfectly fitting.

A gym in the area who hasn’t learned anything new since they opened their doors (except what they steal from us…) thinks it is a knock on us that we are continuously learning, improving, evolving and getting better. Where they thought it was a dig on us, it was actually the perfect dig on them and their ignorance so we fully embraced the “nerd” moniker.

nerd-socks-base_1

Danny couldn’t find a picture of him wearing them but he indeed owns these socks…

But also, we just really love the science, and behind the scenes rabbit holes of fitness, exercise and nutrition. Then also finding ways to parlay that to clients and how it relates to them and in a way that is easily digestible. It always sucks when someone is talking to a client and that client needs multiple certifications and an exercise physiology degree to understand what they are talking about. Or you have people who use fancy words and jargon to make themselves sound impressive or cover up the fact that they don’t know what they are talking about.

A true understanding of content comes with the ability to chunk it down and teach it in a way that is easily understood and comprehended. I imagine the rest of this interview will likely fall into something not that easily digestible haha. Primarily because the topics are extremely complicated and being able to explain them in person is challenging enough, let alone in an interview, but we can roll with it. I know a lot of our clients and readers like the “nerding out” aspect.

CH : Before we go down the “bigger” rabbit holes I was thinking, I wanted to touch on one that you introduced me to and has been an amazing experience and probably the least “rabbit hole-y” of the things I wanted to cover. What exactly is Kinstretch or what you so sassingly call “Not Yoga”?

D2G : While I would love to take credit for the name “Not Yoga” that was all Dr. Andreo Spina [hereby referred to as “Dre”] – the creator of Functional Range Conditioning and Kinstretch. He used it as an easy description for Kinstretch.

Kinstretch’s tag line is “Control Yourself” and at its core is mobility training. But not mobility training in the “this is so relaxing” and easy sense. It is mobility training in the sense of when we are doing things that are truly going to make a change, hence it requires effort and work – and mobility training is no different. You treat it the same way you treat strength training in terms of progressive overload and issuing the people a challenge.

To quote Dre – “Kinstretch does all the things Yoga says it does, but actually does them. So it is technically “Not Yoga”.”

His line, not mine. I am not “anti-Yoga” in any way.

But the major issue does arise when it comes to Yoga that the super bendy woman who immensely needs strength training / stability related training and no more mobility or flexibility work is the one who does and enjoys doing yoga – because she is super bendy and it is easy.

Hypermobile

She does not need more Yoga…

Whereas the meathead male who doesn’t have enough mobility to be a human who could benefit from some Yoga, won’t ever be caught dead doing it because it is too hard, although exactly what he needs.

The premise comes from the fact that increasing flexibility without any intention isn’t necessarily better. Increasing range of motion that we cannot stabilize introduces a mechanism for injury. Which is what he sometimes see with that super bendy woman who loves doing Yoga. She will sneeze and throw her back out and blame the sneeze. Not the fact that her training has destabilized her lower back because she is overly concerned with range of motion and flexibility not stability or “true” mobility.

The goal of Kinstretch is increasing usable range of motion. Increasing mobility with end range stability. Because that which you cannot stabilize, does you nothing beneficial.

A popular line from Dre – “As per my clinic [he holds multiple manual therapy licenses and has a clinic in Canada] as I can’t speak for everyone… Where do you think we see more lower back injuries from, Crossfit or Yoga?”

Crossfit isnt as big in Erie as it is in a lot of areas so my readers / clients / prospective clients aren’t always familiar with the high injury rate of Crossfit, but the vast majority of the time people will answer him with Crossfit. And his answer is Yoga. From the reasons we mentioned above.

Again, his words, not mine. As I make it a point not to bash Yoga in any way because it has its value to the right person for sure. It just isn’t for every person. Whereas Kinstretch typically is.

Whether a person lacks range of motion (the average male we see), has far too much (the average female we see), or somewhere in between, the methodology applies because it works on stability at end rage mobility.

And in addition to all of the mobility benefits, there is a joint health and joint integrity aspect to Kinstretch as well. A lot of the positions address the hip capsule (in non-science speak that means essentially the closest muscle to the actual joint) and that leads to a host of benefits for joint health and durability reasons.

People tend to have a love hate relationship with our “Not Yoga” sessions because they are rather challenging (all individualized to the person as per that level of challenge though – we have 70 year olds who do it and stud athletes who do it) and induce some cramps but the benefits and how you tangibly feel immediately after are significant and immensely valuable.

kinstretch-judy-90-90

Judy demonstrating an Internal Rotation variation from the 90/90 Base Position in Kinstretch

CH : Love it. I was thinking of venturing down three different “official” rabbit holes in the “nerd” topics even though the answer you gave for “Not Yoga” could have definitely been a rabbit hole haha.

I am thinking let’s start with the one I am most familiar with and the least “rabbit hole” like of these three – nutrition and intermittent fasting?

D2G : I think the first major part is that the only absolutes we really know in nutrition are processed sugar is bad, healthy fats are not bad, protein is good and eat as close to real food as possible.

Everything after that “depends” and is negotiable as per the person’s situation. For whatever reason, people always want black and white when it comes to nutrition and the reality is it is usually shades of gray. Not fifty, but gray nonetheless.

And the best nutrition program is the one that people can make a part of their lives and adhere to as best they can. The absolute best nutrition program, as per science that a person can’t stick to, is not a good nutrition program.

With that said, intermittent fasting is certainly an effective “tool in our toolkit” when it comes to building a nutrition protocol that fits into someone’s life as well as having some science to support it.

Couple main points about it because for whatever reason people tend to freak out about not eating every 2-3 hours as well as freaking out about not eating breakfast. I used to joke that people got the same level of offended when people “talked ill” of breakfast as they did when someone talked ill of their mother.

And then I thought about it and it may be the same thing – I think the breakfast backlash part comes from people not wanting me to say that their mom was wrong for telling them “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” all their life so dissing breakfast is like dissing their mother. Nevertheless, there is nothing magical nor detrimental about breakfast in the grand scheme of things.

The whole eat every 2-3 hours thing seems to have been born from 250 pounds bodybuilders wanting to be 300 pound bodybuilders and in order to get as many calories as they needed, had to break up their 3 meals into 6 in order to be able to eat as much as they needed. It wasn’t born from science.

And I think it is safe to say our “middle aged” women looking to move better, feel better, lose some fat and have more energy, do not want to be 300 pound male bodybuilders, so eating like one really doesn’t make any sense. And there is so much bad and downright incorrect information at every step that knowing what to do is challenging and it gets confusing.

pineapple-lies

Like This… It does not.

The myth is that more frequent smaller meals “increases your metabolism”…

There are two main faults there, the first is there is science to show that there is no increase in metabolism whether it is from 1-2 meals a day or 6-8. And there isn’t science to show that it actually does increase your metabolism.

The second is that the average female simply does not have enough calories to give in a day to be able to spread those calories out over 6-8 meals and both be satiated and not over eat. So they are either miserable and always hungry or they overeat. What typically happens is both.

Then there is the fact that there is a lot of support and science around the benefits of fasting – better insulin sensitivity, growth hormone benefits, cortisol management, ghrelin (the hunger hormone) benefits – among other things. In addition to science to show that there is no metabolic detriment inside of 48 hours of fasting, as well as 72 hours, among longer time periods.

So eating very frequently has its detriments and short(er) periods of fasting have little detriment, if any, with a plethora of benefits. So it makes sense that when we look at factors to manipulate in nutrition, fasting is an easy go to. It is effective and it allows people to not have to live off of chicken and broccoli their whole life.

The chicken, sweet potato and broccoli all day every day diet would work pretty well, if someone could actually do it over anything but the short term. But we can’t do it long term, so let’s figure out ways to build something we can actually do long term.

CH : But I’ll get low blood sugar in the morning if I don’t eat!! :p

D2G : Haha – if one is actually diabetic, then that is possible. Though Dom D’Agostino has shown some interesting things in relation to diabetics and fasting… Anyway, it is possible if someone is diabetic, it is unlikely or incredibly unlikely if they are not.

The reality is that not only does breakfast not improve cognitive function for most people, it is actually a detriment to it and a lot of times the things we will hear when people start skipping breakfast is they have a mental clarity and a lack of a mental fog that they don’t have when they eat breakfast.

I was never a breakfast eater, so when I came upon this information, I embraced it quickly because I always forced myself to eat in the morning even though I didn’t want to or I would have a shake “because I was supposed to”.

Some people, eating breakfast starts a daily habit of making better food choices throughout the day. This person should probably eat breakfast. As usual, it is all individualized to the specific person we are talking to. Is breakfast good or bad? Depends who we are talking to. Is fasting good or bad? Depends who we are talking to. Individualization always wins.

CH : That always seems to be the trend!

Speaking of individualization to the person, that is a good segway into our second rabbit hole – motivation science and behavior change?

D2G : Motivation, habits and behavior change are all far more complicated than the average person gives it credit for.

This kind of echoes a things we said earlier in the interview a little bit but it is based around the point that motivation, habits and people’s behaviors – more specifically “the behavior gap” is the more challenging part of this whole healthy lifestyle and fitness thing. The knowledge gap and knowing what to do is mandatory and more important in the grand scheme, but it is the easier aspect to master.

The act of “how do I make myself do this” is where we want to put the emphasis, in all the ways we mentioned previously earlier (in Part II) in the interview and shaped a lot of the ways we approach how we implement our programs and what we do.

It is seemingly simple things like focusing on process goals instead of outcome goals. Example being…

Outcome Goal – Lose 10 pounds.
Process Goal – Go to the gym at least 12x this month.

When you focus too much on the outcome, the typical result is being underwhelmed when you get there in addition to being a little too vague to track, measure and manage. Process goals focus on the journey and the progress we get from it, rather than arriving at a final destination.

Then it can be deeper into why people do things and how can we best motivate them to be able to do the things they want to be able to do. It is one thing to say, “Okay, process goals are better than outcome goals,” but then we have to focus on what does that process actually look like because simply making the goal doesn’t mean it is going to magically happen.

Habit formation is the key and that is also an easier said than done process. Because in order to truly be a habit, it has to be frequent, triggered by environment, automatic and subconscious / below the level of awareness. So we will never have that moment where we arrive home, sweaty and like we got a great workout and not know how we got there or how we did it, because there are too many factors that have to go into that process for it to operate below our level of conscious awareness.

Then we also have what makes or drives motivation. The myth that an outside source can fully motivate you is false because to be successful there has to be a level of autonomy to success in that endeavor. All we as coaches and facilitators of these goals can do to the best of our abilities is provide a motivational climate, which is essentially creating conditions in which people can motivate themselves.

I can’t “motivate you” because no on can because it isn’t possible but I can provide the culture, community and climate so that motivating yourself is not only possible but facilitated.

Creating that motivational climate involves three things primarily as per Self-Determination Theory – autonomy, competence and belonging.

Autonomy in the regard that you are in control of the outcome, it didn’t happen to you, it happened because of you.

Competence in the regard that you are getting better at this thing you are working on and seeing progress on multiple fronts or aspects.

And then belonging in terms of having that support system and a team in which both supports you and you support.

A lot of “traditional gyms” lack the belonging aspect and a lot of “random bootcamp beatdowns” that do the community or belonging aspects really well, miss out on the autonomy and competence aspects. Workouts constantly changing makes you feel like you are never getting better at anything as well as feeling like you don’t have the control of the outcome or that outcome is within your control – frankly, because you don’t and it isn’t.

CH : We had a conversation where you talked about autonomy and what it is and what it is not. Can you touch on that real quick?

D2G : Autonomy is a little tricky because the way it is typically used isn’t the exact way the “motivation and behavior change world” uses it. It is often used, not necessarily negatively but certainly not positively in that if someone is “autonomous” they kind of go to the beat of their own drum / do their own thing or even “go against the man!” or whatever.

And that really isn’t what it is. It isn’t negative at all.

It simply, or rather not so simply, refers to acting in accordance with a person’s own values and having a level of control in the outcome. The opposite of autonomy is control rather than the opposite of autonomy being listening to or adhering to. It is probably the most impactful basic psychological need we have and is the key to a lot of things in terms of motivation and reaching goals.

An easy example in the context of what we do, is writing a step by step, time by time “meal plan” for someone is less effective than giving someone guidelines to follow because the first challenges their autonomy and the second allows them control, using the right things on the right path. You can give them the ideas that they make their own, which is the best of both worlds.

The running joke is “What is the easiest way to get a person to do something.” Tell them not to do it.

But in all seriousness, once we are “told” to do something, rather than choose on our own to do something, it makes it a lot harder to do, especially in the long term.

CH : That is perfect. Now down the ultimate rabbit hole, number three – What is PRI and how has it influenced what you do?

D2G : This is easily the deepest and most interesting rabbit hole we have come across. I don’t know if that means that this answer will be shorter or longer than the rest haha. PRI stands for the Postural Restoration Institute.

I have been through a lot of their courses – Myokinematic Restoration, Pelvis Restoration, Postural Respiration, Impingement and Instability (wrote about that one HERE), and a couple of their Annual Sympoisums that cover various topics from various professions all related to PRI principles (attending another in April of this year, hopefully). And I would absolutely be lying if I said I closely understood it all.

Even when I had the biggest grasp of the information I did, I still struggled somewhat with how to apply it into my fitness businesses. It is super interesting because it completely changed the way I looked at posture (both static [not moving] and dynamic [moving]) and movement as a whole but didn’t drastically change “how we do what we do” at our gyms.

I joke with fellow fitness professionals when it comes to PRI that it has changed absolutely everything in terms of how we look at and approach things, but in terms of what we’ve applied into our business practice, protocol and procedure, it hasn’t changed all that much.

It always gets funny looks but that is the main gist of it. Biggest thing in terms of the gym and “what we do” is I am constantly correcting people’s standing positions. Often saying “Don’t stand like that” (which for the record isnt incredibly autonomy supportive haha).

The principle is that we as humans are drawn into certain asymmetrical postures and positions via the fact that our organs are inherently asymmetrical and they predispose us to these patterns.

Looking at the organs, your heart is only one your left side, opposing it on the right is more lung on the right than there is lung on the left side. Your liver is only on your right and is opposed by your spleen that is only one your left and significantly smaller than your liver. Your diaphragm aka breathing muscle is bigger on your left than your right because of the space the liver takes up, etc etc. And this asymmetry leads us to certain patterns, particularly the “in your right hip pattern” which PRI will call “L AIC” standing for Left Anterior Interior Chain.

pri-l-aic-2

pri-l-aic-3

pri-l-aic

I saw scrolling through Facebook one day and these three pictures were three of four posts all in a row and the first thoughts I had was holy PRI! It gives a good demonstration of what “the pattern” looks like… You will see it everywhere now.

– Sitting back in their right hip so that their left hip is in front of the right.
– The left his slightly posteriorly tilted and the right hip is slightly anteriorly tilted.
– Right shoulder below the left shoulder.
– Because the right hip is “back” the right side of the torso or trunk has to rotate to the left so the torso faces forward.

And there is more but I gather people have stopped reading by now haha. The main thing is that if you look at people “zippers” of their pants / what they are wearing on their lower body, whether there is a zipper there or not, it is oriented to the right. Sometimes you will see people standing on their left leg / their left leg is bearing most of their weight instead of their right, but they still have a “zipper” that is still oriented to the right.

Just because we are “drawn” into this pattern just by being a human, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t come with potential overuse or asymmetry related issues, it definitely does.

In addition to looking at static and dynamic postures like I just described, PRI also looks a lot at “breathing” and the diaphragm, which earlier mentioned is your “breathing muscle”. Your diaphragm excurses “up” when you breathe in and excurses down when you breath out. What ends up happening is people breath compensatorily so often that they aren’t able to hit the full ranges of motion of the diaphragm and issues arise as a result.

An easy analogy is the biceps. If we never let the arm reach fully locked or extended and never let it fully bend, we would lose the ability to and walk around with a weird bent arm all the time. Similar to people and their breathing/diaphragm. It loses capacity because it isn’t used.

You will typically see people who breathe “apically” rather than diaphragmatically which essentially means they breathe through their chest (thus having limited space because the ribs dont allow it to expand) rather than their diaphragm or 3-dimensionally through their “belly” or lower trunk area, which has more room to expand and breathe fully.

PRI started as primarily a model of Physical Therapy and getting people out of pain, but has made strides to the fitness world as well. I am not sure it will ever fully take off in the fitness world because of how complicated and in depth the protocols are, but it has 100% shaped how we look at things and patterns people are predisposed to. It has allowed us to take someone who was a good 9-12 inches away from touching the floor on a toe touch to touching the floor in that same toe touch, with a simply positioning and breathing exercise that had absolutely nothing to do with her hamstrings.

Her hamstrings weren’t “short” or “tight”. Rather she was simply operating from a starting position that put her behind neutral so she had further to go and couldnt, then when he got her neutral she could no problem.

Ian Extension

Ian is exaggerating the posture in the above picture, but it gives you an example of someone who has hips that are “dumped forward” like this in this picture are going to have a hard time traveling in the opposite direction to touch his toes.

Ian Flexion

Similar to someone who has an upper body similar to his in that above picture, would have a hard time getting their arms overhead. The starting position dictates how far you are able to go.

It comes back similar to the Not Yoga / Kinstretch conversation. Arbitrarily stretching people who have either of the above resting postures, will not work at all and potentially cause further issues, because they don’t need stretched, they need their resting positions corrected. And that can be corrected with a simple positioning exercise or two or over a longer period of time with individualized strength training work.

CH : Mind blown. In closing out this interview is there anything you wish I had asked but didn’t?

D2G : I honestly don’t think so as I am pretty sure we covered literally almost everything and any more would potentially be redundant or too deep to cover in text in an interview.

I came across a great quote from Dre the other day that I think fits the overall theme of all three parts here but especially this part…

andreo_spina_is_a_savage

It would be super nice if simple, generic and easy all worked. It would make everything we do a lot more easily implemented and a lot less complicated.

But the honest reality is and always will be, the expert path is the best and the pivotal key to success in fitness, health and lifestyle goals will always be a coach, because the act of actually doing it, will always be the hardest part.

Of course, with the explicit caveat that simply hiring a coach isn’t a cure-all because that coach actually needs to know shit, because while it may not be rocket science. It certainly isn’t as simple as showing up to a “Circuit Training” or “Cardio Blitz” bootcamp beatdown with everyone doing the same thing poorly and there are so many people in there that actual coaching and doing things correctly is at an extreme minimum.

Again, if that worked, we would absolutely do it. If Yoga were better than “Not Yoga” we would absolutely do it. If jogging / aerobics were better than metabolic high intensity interval based “cardio” combined with strength training for true fat loss, we would do it.

But our goal is the best and what truly works, so that is what we are doing to do. Because it is better and you deserve it.

CH : I don’t think we could end on a better note than that. Thanks for doing this, it was great.

D2G : You’re very welcome. It was my pleasure.



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