Optimize Fitness

Locked 101 Classes

Movement 101

How to Optimize Your Energy, Genes, Mind, Mood and Body as a Perpetual Motion Machine

Movement. It’s about more than just exercise. Did you know you can be active *and* sedentary? Yep. In this class we’ll take a look at how to optimize your energy, genes, mind, mood, and body as a perpetual motion machine!

Locked 101 Classes

Spartan Training 101

How to Become Immune to Obstacles in Your Life + Do Your First Spartan Race

I absolutely love the idea of *paying* to run through (and over and under and up and across) obstacles. It’s the perfect metpahor for life–which is one of the reasons why training for Spartan Races is my new sport-hobby. In this class, I share some of my favorite Big Ideas on how to become immune to obstacles in your life and, if you’re feeling it, do your first Race. The biggest obstacle you’ll face? Well, that’s Big Idea #1. :)

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Spartan Up!

A Take-No-Prisoners Guide to Overcoming Obstacles and Achieving Peak Performance in Life

Spartan Up!! Want a swift kick in the optimizing butt?! This is the book for you. It truly is "a take-no-prisoners guide to overcoming obstacles and achieving performance" delivered with enthusiasm by Joe De Sena--the renowned endurance/adventure racer who created Spartan Race. We'll look at what's impossible vs. just really hard, how to pass the cookie test as we develop grit and learn how to get to the next telephone pole in the race of life.


The Joy of Movement

How exercise helps us find happiness, hope, connection, and courage

I’m a big fan of Kelly McGonigal and her ability to help us apply scientific wisdom to our lives. We’ve covered two of her earlier books: The Willpower Instinct and The Upside of Stress. So... When I got this book, knew I’d enjoy it. But, I didn’t anticipate JUST how much I’d love it. We have some great Notes on Movement (Spark, Spartan Up and No Sweat among my favorites), but Kelly’s book will be our new go-to for the science of WHY exercise/movement is so essential to our well-being. It’s PHENOMENAL. Reading about the SCIENCE behind stories of transformation (and how, as per the sub-title of her book: “Exercise Helps Us Find Happiness, Hope, Connection, and Courage”) also made me that much more clear on the power of what we’re doing with all of our work and the importance of focusing so much on Energy (especially with our Mastery and Coach programs). Big Ideas we explore include: Hope Molecules (and how to create them), persistence highs (and how to create them), collective effervescence (and why it's so awesome), how we endure (hint: TOGETHER!), and OMMS!!! (Obstacles (literally!) Make Me Stronger!).

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The Maffetone Method

The Holistic, Low-Stress, No-Pain Way to Exceptional Fitness

I was first introduced to Phil Maffetone in Christopher McDougall’s great book Natural Born Heroes. Have you ever heard of Mark Allen? If you’re a triathlete you know he’s a legend. For those who might not know, Allen won the Ironman world championships an unprecedented six times. Triathlete magazine voted him the greatest triathlete of all time. You know his secret? Maffetone. In this book we get an overview of The Maffetone Method. Big Ideas we cover include the importance of remembering it's all about health AND fitness, making your workouts feel like a GIFT rather than a chore, how to build a super-strong aerobic base while burning fat for fuel and tracking it all via your #1 piece of equipment: that workout diary of yours with goals (what are yours?), strategies (yours?) and workouts (how're yours?). Ready to Optimize your energy and actualize your health AND fitness goals? Let's do this!

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The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain

Exercise. At this stage—especially if you’ve read many of these Notes!—we KNOW it’s important. This book tells us WHY. John Ratey is a genius from the Harvard Medical School (well, technically he’s a Professor of Psychiatry there :) and his book is *packed* with goodness. If you’re looking to understand the “Revolutionary new science of exercise and the brain” then Spark is for you.

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No Sweat

How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness

Dr. Michelle Segar is the world’s leading authority on what motivates people to choose and maintain healthy behaviors. As you’d imagine, Dr. Segar has some *really* powerful ideas on, as the sub-title suggests, “How the simple science of motivation can bring you a lifetime of fitness.” Big Ideas we explore include the importance of meaning, moving exercise from a chore to a gift and embracing a learning mindset.


Eat Move Sleep

How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes

Eat Move Sleep. The simple, powerful keys to optimal health and well-being. We talk about these fundamentals ALL the time and this is my new favorite book on health. Big Ideas we explore include 10,008 hours and 36 minutes (the magic # of elite performance), candy for cancer cells, the power of measuring whatever it is you want to improve, how to buy willpower at the store, and a vaccine for the common cold.

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Move Your DNA

Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement

Katy Bowman is one of the world’s leading biomechanists—helping us integrate proper body movement to optimize our well-being. She has a great podcast + blog you might enjoy as well. This book is packed with a ton of exercises and plenty of info on the science of biomechanics to help us pay more attention to the loads we’re putting on our bodies throughout the day so we can get in harmony with how our bodies were designed to move. Big Ideas we explore include moving your TRILLIONS of cells, why movement > exercise, why walking is the secret sauce, and how to take a forest bath.

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Spartan Fit!

30 Days. Transform Your Mind. Transform Your Body. Commit to Grit.

Joe De Sena is the founder of the Spartan Race. He’s also, as Angela Duckworth, author of Grit, tells us: “a paragon of grit” who “shows you how you’re capable of so much more than you think.” A paragon of grit. That’s the perfect description. After inspiring us with stories of real-life heroes and ancient Spartan lore, De Sena walks us through the seven pillars of Spartan training + a 30-day plan to get Spartan Fit. Big Ideas we explore include getting to the starting line, developing obstacle immunity, making thousands of small decisions and your gritty oath.

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Born to Run

A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

Christopher McDougall is an extraordinary writer and this is a fascinating book. We covered his more recent book Natural Born Heroes in which he profiles World War II Cretan resistance fighters and their amazing physical feats. In this one, Christopher takes us on an incredible journey to meet a hidden tribe that can run forever (well, almost!) and an eclectic group of iconoclastic superathletes who meet them in the Copper Canyons of Mexico to run the greatest race the world has never seen. Big Ideas we cover include the secret power of glee + determination, the two goddesses (wisdom + wealth) and which one to pursue, the beast and how to love it, proper running form, and how to do super-challenging things.

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Body Mind Mastery

Creating Success in Sports and Life

Dan Milllman's a former world champion gymnast and coach of the Stanford and Berkeley gymnastic teams whose got some Big Ideas on how to achieve Body, Mind and Spirit mastery. In this Note we explore a bunch of 'em including how to deal with the fear of failure, what we can learn from babies and how to build new habits as we become masters of our lives who shine everywhere!

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The Spartan Way

Eat Better. Train Better. Think Better. Be Better.

Joe De Sena created Spartan Race. He's one of my favorite people on the planet. His mission? To "yank 100 million people off their couches to start living instead of being passive observers of life.” Angela Duckworth calls him a "paragon of grit" and, as you know if you've been following along, I'm ALL IN on Spartan Races as an epically awesome way to use obstacles to make ourselves stronger. We featured his first two books Spartan Up! and Spartan Fit! In this one, Joe walks us through the ten Spartan Core Virtues—from Self-Awareness and Commitment to Grit and Integrity. If you’re into embodying the classic virtues of ancient Greece as much as I am, I think you’ll dig the book as much as I did. Big Ideas we explore: A quick look at our Top 10 Spartan Virtues, how to find your True North, commitment (do you know what it *truly* is?), marshmallows (and our six-year-old sons), and what you'll know at the finish line (get there!!).

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Designed to Move

The Science-Backed Program to Fight Sitting Disease and Enjoy Lifelong Health

Joan Vernikos studied the effects of weightlessness on health and served as Life Sciences Director at the NASA Ames Research Center. We featured another one of her earlier books: Sitting Kills, Moving Heals. This book is kinda like Part 2 of that book. The theme is the same: Sit too much and you’re going to experience the same types of negative effects that astronauts experience in the microgravity of outer space. Big Ideas we explore include the fact that gravity is our friend, why we don’t want to be active AND sedentary (are you?), some stats on the health problems caused by sitting (did you know it can be as bad as smoking or drinking heavily?), and the keys to Optimizing.

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Don't Just Sit There

Transitioning to a Standing and Dynamic Workstation for Whole-Body Health

Katy Bowman is the world’s leading biomechanist—helping us apply wisdom from that domain to optimizing our lives. This is a great, quick-reading, smart and funny look at how we can optimally transition from sitting all.day.long to creating a standing and dynamic (<— key word!) workstation to help us optimize our whole-body health. Big Ideas we explore include whether or not sitting is the new smoking, checking in to see if we’re active yet also sedentary, the 3 M’s of movement, working out our eyeballs, what sea turtles can teach us about our sleep and how to have the best ideas.

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Natural Born Heroes

Mastering the Lost Secrets of Strength and Endurance

Christopher McDougall is a brilliant story teller (and author of Born to Run). In this great book, he weaves together a number of different narratives, with an emphasis on two: one about an extraordinary wartime adventure on Crete and the other about Natural Movement. In the process, he shares a ton of Ideas on how we can each tap into the extraordinary superpowers latent within. Big Ideas we explore include the ancient Greek meaning of the word “hero,” the mantra of the hero, why weeds + fat are optimal fuel and a great test.

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The Sub-Two-Hour Marathon Is Within Reach―Here's How It Will Go Down, and What It Can Teach All Runners about Training and Racing

Phil Maffetone is one of the greatest (if not THE) greatest endurance coaches ever. He’s coached everyone from the best triathlete in history (Mark Allen) to some of the best race car drivers (like the Andretti brothers). He even toured with The Red Hot Chilli Peppers as their wellness coach and helped Rick Rubin Optimize his life. This book is a fun look at Maffetone’s perspective on how to go about breaking the elusive 2-hour marathon. As he says in the sub-title, it’s all about “how it will go down” AND “what it can teach all runners about training and racing.” If you’re a marathoner, this might be the perfect way to get introduced to Maffetone’s core ideas. I loved it as another way to drill Maffetone’s core ideas into my mind and training methodology. It’s basically a holistic look at all the marginal gains we can apply to reach our running potential. Big Ideas we cover include a quick look at just how fast a 1:59 pace is (sub-4:35 min mile for 26.2 miles = CRAZY fast!), the importance of the MIND in hitting the target, why AEROBIC speed is so important (plus, what it is and how to train it), the ideal training schedule (is super dynamic and personal), how to run properly (hot coal technique!), and balancing the catabolic + anabolic phases of training.

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The Endurance Handbook

How to Achieve Athletic Potential, Stay Healthy, and Get the Most Out of Your Body

Phil Maffetone is a brilliant, iconoclastic philosopher-coach. He’s one of the best endurance coaches ever and has been advocating a fat-burning approach to ultra-endurance for decades. The sub-title to this book captures the essence of all his work perfectly: “How to Achieve Your Athletic Potential, Stay Healthy and Get the Most Out of Your Body.” This "Endurance Handbook" is basically an abridged version of "The Big Book of Endurance." As I was shining a flash light into all the nooks and crannies of Maffetone’s brain that I could find (hah), I kinda thought of these two books as a sort of parallel to Epictetus’s "Discourses" (the “Big Book”!) and "Enchiridion" (the “Handbook”!). Big Ideas we explore include Rule #1 (first, do no harm!), Rule #2 (build your aerobic base!), the importance of fat burning (and how to build it), the #1 pro tip (ELIMINATE SUGAR!!!), body economy 101 (uncapping your athletic potential), and winning the ultimate endurance race: life (see you at 100!).

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The Overfat Pandemic

Exposing the Problem and Its Simple Solution for Everyone Who Needs to Eliminate Excess Body Fat

Phil Maffetone is one of the world’s all-time great endurance coaches. In addition to coaching the best triathlete ever (Mark Allen), he’s also toured with The Red Hot Chili Peppers as their wellness coach (he considers them endurance athletes) and he’s coached legendary music producer Rick Rubin—helping him Optimize and lose over 100 pounds in the process. He’s a fascinating, iconoclastic guy who’s been preaching the power of burning fat for fuel for FOUR decades—demonstrating that it’s not only an optimal approach to endurance fitness but to our optimal health as well. In this book, Phil focuses his big brain on what he calls the “overfat” pandemic. He uses the word “overfat” to describe people who have “excess body fat sufficient to impair health.” Overweight and obese people fall into this category. AND... Even people at a “healthy” weight can be overfat. In fact, according to his research, 90% (!!!) of Americans fall into the “overfat” category. (Yikes!) We'll take a quick look at why we should care, figure out if we (and/or our loved ones) are overfat, look at the #1 cause and then focus on the solution so we can become optimalfat! :)

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Fix Your Feet

Build the Best Foundation for Healthy, Pain-Free Knees, Hips, and Spine

Let’s talk about our feet! Our feet? YES! Our feet. Although pretty much ignored, they’re kinda important. In fact, they are, of course, literally (!) the foundation of our entire body. And, we only get one pair that needs to last our whole life so... Get this: Over 25% of our bones are found in our feet. And, did you know that each foot endures over 100,000 (!!) pounds of pressure with every mile we walk? Yep. Why should we care? Because a bunch of our biomechanical issues—from sore knees and hips and lower backs—can be traced back to sub-optimal feet. Enter: Fix Your Feet. We'll take a quick look at the #1 cause of foot problems along with the #1 solution plus some other goodness to make sure your feet (and the rest of you!) are smiling.

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The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing

This is our second Note on one of Phil Maffetone’s books. This is called “The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing” for a reason. It’s a REALLY Big Book. (Hah!) It’s 516 pages, but the small font and two-column pages make it considerably denser; like, encyclopedically dense—which I found fantastic as I wanted to get into every nook and cranny of Phil’s brain. (Studying it was a wonderful mental-endurance workout. :) It’s essentially the distillation of over three decades (!) of clinical work with the world’s absolute best endurance athletes. Big Ideas we explore include the "Big Four" of the Big Book, the difference between aerobic and anaearobic (it's not just about oxygen!), building your superchargers (aka your mitochondria), flipping the switch to fat burning (pro tip: eliminate sugar and flour!), and stress: the good, the bad and the ugly (remember: training = work + rest!).

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The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance

Jeff Volek and Stephen Phinney are both academic researchers and professors who have been studying sports nutrition, ketogenic diets and peak performance for decades. To put it in perspective, Dr. Stephen Phinney (with his MD from Stanford and PhD from MIT) coined the phrase “keto-adapted” in 1980. Big Ideas we explore include: the accepted dogma (vs. compelling data), two fuel tanks (you want to go hours or days?), veto-adaptation (how to), protein (necessary but in moderation), fat (your most important fuel; the good and bad!), and the macro breakdown (here it is!).

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#332 Meet Mr. Royal H. Burpee

Your BFF for Energy
I’ve mentioned the fact that I love to do 100+ burpees every day but I realized I haven’t formally introduced you to Mr. Royal H.
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#440 Exercise vs. Zoloft

Feeling Depressed? Pop Your Exercise Pill!
We’ve talked about how exercise is kinda like taking a little bit of Ritalin and a little bit of Prozac, but somehow we’ve gotten this
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#462 The Thread Thru Your Head

Pull It Up for Poise and Relaxed Power
On June 8th, 2001, I was on the back patio of my apartment a block from the beach in La Jolla, California reading Michael Gelb’s How to
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#470 How to Win the Olympic Games

Hint: Compete
I can’t resist. One more +1 on Aristotle. So… The Olympic Games started in Olympia (not too far outside of Athens) in 776 BC. A few
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#505 Solvitur Ambulando

Latin for: “It Is Solved by Walking”
Today we’re going to talk about walking. Walking is awesome. In fact, it’s so old-school epically awesome in helping thinkers think that
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#544 Becoming a Champion

What’s Your Best REALLY Look Like?
In our last +1, I introduced you to my new watch, Mr. Suunto, who asks me every day, “What direction are you headed today, sir?” To
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#561 We’re All Athlētēs

What Contest Are YOU In?
We’ve been talking a lot about “athletes” lately—from traditional athletes going for the gold to cognitive athletes kicking their
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#583 The Little Things

Aren’t So Little
Jerry Rice was one of the greatest (American) football players ever. He was a wide receiver known for his astonishing work ethic and
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#600 Ballet, Anyone?

Head Threads + Power Poses + Thor’s Hammer
In our last couple +1s, we talked about the lead-up to a recent keynote talk I gave and some wisdom gleaned in the process—including
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#602 The Ultimate Anabolic (Pseudo)Steroids

Aka: Training Your Recovery
In our last +1, we talked about The Mystery of the Hairy Fingers and how to alchemize suffering into laughter like a five-year-old. 😜 I
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#674 Meet Leo(nidas)

The Ultimate #OMMS Symbol
In our last +1, we met Spartan Race Founder/CEO Joe De Sena’s son Jack. As you may recall, at six years old he had the willpower of an
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#676 100 Pounds of Sand

The Story of Two Sandbags
In our last few +1s, we’ve been having fun hanging out with Spartan Race Founder/CEO Joe De Sena, his son Jack and his cast-iron friend
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#684 The Best Deal in Medicine

How to Get a 64,000 (!!!) Percent ROI
In our last +1, we talked about taking a 1,000-mile swim with Maslow. Today I want to talk about what Robert Lustig describes as “the best
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#731 The Best Deal in Medicine Part II

1 + 10 + 100 + 1,000 + 10,000 + YOU
If there’s one thing I’ve missed most since losing the use of my left hand, I think it’s my burpees. (I know, I’m weird. That’s by
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#927 Aristotle’s Yoga

Which Way Do YOU Need to Bend?
A couple years ago, we chatted about Aristotle’s Virtuous Mean. Then, a year ago, we dusted off that wisdom and approached it from a
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#928 Got Hormesis?

And The Inverted U - Part Deux
In our last +1, we talked about Aristotle’s virtuous mean (again!) and reminded ourselves (yet again!) that “both excessive and
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#952 Be Fit to Be Useful

Says the Founder of Natural Movement
A couple +1s ago, we hung out with Christopher McDougall and his Natural Born Heroes. For those who may not know, McDougall is also the
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#1025 Exercise: It’s a Well-Being Tool

Not a Weight-Loss Tool
In our last couple +1s, we talked about a key (arguably the #1 key) predictor of our long-term health/morbidity: our visceral fat. We also

#1064 How to Sidestep Depression

Did You Know There’s a Magic # of Steps?
Did you know that scientists have identified a threshold for your step count under which you make yourself more vulnerable for anxiety and