Sometimes I feel like I am an undercover agent at my Clubbell Yoga seminars... like I am bringing the ‘yoga secrets’ to movement specialists from “the other side” i.e. the lifters. My most recent London seminar actually had the most yoga teachers in attendance to date, so I got to flip my usual role and teach them about how to strengthen the power poses with Clubbell Yoga conditioning. Everyone practices in harmony in a Clubbell Yoga class, working toward a common goal - being both strong AND flexible. Even though I welcome the yogis to practice, they have most definitely not welcomed me... Yogis often times don't believe that Clubbell Yoga is real yoga. After reading this article, you can decide if it is or isn't.
Photos & Gear: www.fizzycal.com
Some yogis focus a ton on flexibility, some focus a ton on arm balance. The unfortunate result of overspecializing in those picture perfect poses is that the stress placed on the joints is cumulative, and eventually can lead to an overuse injury. I am always sad to hear a big ‘instagram yoga star’ get injured. It happens a lot. Yogis famous for handstands commonly suffer from injured wrists. Ashtanga yogis with injured shoulders. Deep backbending yogis with injured discs. If you follow any ‘instagram yoga stars’ you will eventually see what I am talking about. Injury can lead to depression, especially if you place a high value on your physical performance, which is another common thread amongst these high level acrobatic type yogis.
People seem to have this belief that injury is inevitable, or that everyone gets injured eventually. Being injured is Normal, right? Wrong! The truth is that being really physically active or even a competitive athlete does increase risk of injury, but there is a lot we can do to prevent overtraining. The first and most obvious solution is cross-training for your sport in a way that compliments the movements and energy systems utilized in a sport. Loaded Clubbell Yoga poses is a perfect example of how we can create an sport specific adaptation to yoga asana.
Since very few yogis are open to this idea of strength training with Clubbells, we are creating a new bread of yogis. My speculation on why no yoga studios have shown any interest in Clubbell Yoga is probably due to one of two reasons:
#1: “It ain’t real yoga”
Perhaps it is because there is no specific lineage to trace CBY back to (though it is a culmination of many ancient disciplines including various martial arts techniques, and even Indian Clubs which came from India). Since the system wasn’t directly from BKS, Patthabi Jois ... it immediately loses validity amongst the yoga crowd. I take no offense, just noting what I have seen over the past three years of teaching it around the world.
#2 “It is too focused on the workout, not enough on the spirituality of yoga.”
Or maybe due to a limited amount of spiritual dogma presented in classes. We choose to let the practice speak for itself, and honestly don’t have a ton of extra time to spend on spiritual lessons. Though we may go to other classes for that, or practice meditation on our own... we focus on the biomechanics of yoga, the progression of poses, flowstate and yoga coaching to make sure everyone in a room is safe and injury free.
Once the body is strong, then the mind starts to change. Many people who start with Clubbell Yoga become very proficient in the poses and even start to like conventional yoga classes. Unfortunately, many of the old teachings tell people to practice yoga everyday, even at the sake of their discs or predisposed injury risk. Back in the day when those manuals and teachings were written, we didn’t have desk jobs and iphones pulling our posture extremely out of alignment, putting us at risk for injury in a yoga class. We also didn’t have as deep of an understanding of biomechanics, fascia and performance. As a yogi, I see the importance of cross training, and I even use www.primal12.com to make sure I train for my sport... yoga.
A wise man builds a strong foundation first, then starts building a house. A fool builds a house with no foundation, only to see it crumble at the first sign of stress. Your body is no different, you must build a strong foundation to take your practice deeper. Clubbell Yoga aims to build a foundation of dynamic flexibility, and contrary to some people’s assumptions, it doesn’t aim to replace other lineages of yoga. Strong is the new sexy. See you in the non-Yoga Journal! Oh wow, I think I just found a new niche magazine... Non-Yoga Journal - for alternative mind body exercise. Let's do it.
At first glance, you may look at this former bodyguard and be a hair intimidated by his physique... I know I was when I first shook his hand many years ago. But once you get to know him, you will soon realize that he is a loyal family man with a huge heart. Alberto is also our European/Asian Director at RMAX International and has grown his team of TACFIT instructors to include over 400 dedicated practitioners. I had the honor of being coached by him at his most recent workshop at The Field in London, UK, and was floored by his attention to detail & MOBILITY!
For those of you that don’t get the opportunity to train next to one of the most hard core Clubbell & TACFIT Head coaches of all time, I would love to share some of my observations about what he was teaching. Next, get yourself to a workshop with him stat, he truly owns this movement and most importantly understands the tool being used - The Clubbell.
Lesson One - if you aren’t mobile enough to do a movement, work on that first. Mobility precedes strength, and even guides many of the Clubbell Exercises. Create strength alongside of mobility, and don’t neglect your mobility. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be boring... Alberto demonstrated tons of grounding mobility drills on the floor from his jujitzu background.
Lesson Two - for technical exercises like mills and swipes, starting on the ground makes a huge difference and shows you where you may be leaking form. Alberto had us sitting in a straddle split performing shoulder casts, gamma casts and more with an upright spine and hamstrings actively stretched. We slowly earned our way into a kneeling lunge, and finally upright.
Lesson Three - if you can’t do it slow, you most definitely shouldn’t be doing it fast. Specifically referring to the grinding exercises. When you do things slow, you have to recruit all supporting areas like lats, tva and glutes to support the load. Diego, owner of the Field assisted Alberto in keeping us honest. Slower was better in this instance.
Lesson Four - Isometric holds, and maximizing time under tension goes a long way. Alberto emphasized recruiting all motor units during both the eccentric and the concentric loading phases of Clubbell exercises to build control as well as strength. A concept often overlooked when moving right into the swinging & rhythmic exercises.
It is truly an honor to be able to work with such bad ass Head Coaches like Alberto Gallazzii, but even more is that you can tell he really does take mobility seriously. As someone who analyzes movement for a living, I can tell he does his due diligence with his mobility training. It may not be in a yoga studio, but that doesn’t mean its not effective. Looking forward to teaming up with Alberto again in 2016 in Italy with an Intro to Clubbell Yoga workshop for all of the curious TACFIT instructors & practitioners who want to know how to bridge the gap between strength training and yoga - look for our event on the TACFIT Events page. Big thank you to Coach Alberto for sharing your knowledge with us.
Note: The Next European Clubbell Yoga Seminar will be held this October in Budapest, we encourage all TACFIT and Clubbell Practioners to attend and learn how to strengthen a yoga practice.
Apparently, London loves Clubbell Yoga. Three years ago, when I had just launched this new strength and yoga fusion on youtube (before Instagram was invented) I was contacted by the graceful Brazillian yoga & pilates teacher Danielle Kleber to come teach a seminar abroad in London. At the time, I had literally just conceived the concept and the instructional videos were still in progress. Fast forward to now in 2015, the Clubbell Yoga Certification Seminar is back for a second year in a row at The Field Lifestyle Training Centre attracting local talent, yogis, instructors and several special guests from our favorite social media app for fitness: Instagram!
Photos: Courtesy of Ify, owner of Fizzcal (clothing & media)
Can a hashtag really make or break your career? #instastars
The fitness industry has changed a ton in the last three years. Now with 'Instagram stars' and apps like 'Cody App' that allow you to workout with amazing celebrity trainers, there is an enormous market both nationally and internationally. So how do we separate entertainment from quality instruction in an overly saturated market of fitness entrepreneurs? Can a hashtag ( # ) really make or break your career? You decide...
TIP 1: Use Instagram to follow people and communicate with them, NOT necessarily to build your OWN following. For example, I have under 1000 followers. But I can get an immediate response from people like Mike Fitch, creator of Animal Flow because I use it for networking... not necessarily content. I also invited one of his Animal Flow coaches - @rachpt as a guest to my seminar, via Instagram... very excited to meet likeminded movement & flow coaches. My actual Clubbell Yoga content is on my own website(s) and youtube... this keeps me able to connect with people in real life at my workshops and seminars, and not as bogged down with daily posts during my personal practice.
Agree or disagree? You may have a different view, and that is totally okay - start the dialogue in comments below.
The yoga and fitness market are almost completely saturated. Now, the term "saturation" may seem to be used in a negative way at first glance... but I look at the high concentration of quality movement artists putting their content up on Instagram as a very healthy thing. I would rather have too many qualified movement coaches out there than not enough. Nowadays, finding inspiration to move better is as easy as opening up an app and pushing a heart button. Or buying a pair of leggings from a new up and coming yoga brand. Or booking a retreat online... right?
Well, that is almost true. What I have found is that though there is a ton of ‘content’ out there on the web, easily accessible on the iphone, it’s what we do with that inspiration that matters. Physical training of any kind is cumulative. So 80% of our time is used up by watching videos and 20% is spent trying out a couple of movements/flows here and there then we really aren’t reaching our maximum capacity, nor are we creating much of a training effect. It takes dedication to a system, and meaningful progressions to improve elements of performance - balance, speed, strength, core, flexibility and of course... Arm Balance (we have a pretty big obession right now with standing on the hands). My most progressive work as of yet is Primal 12, where there are 12 workouts and 12 matching weighted/unweighted flows with Clubbells, where students from all around the world can access meaningful, progressive programming via digital download.
TIP 2: Make one meaningful post per day, and link it to a product, service or your parent website. Essentially you are responsible for directing traffic to your own work. Dedicated and loyal followers are more valuable in my mind than sheer number of followers. I would rather have real support from a broad network around the world, than thousands of 'likes' from people that view my work as purely entertainment.
Speaking with photographer/videographer Ify from Fizzycal clothing brand and media company, I got even more insight on this ever evolving industry of fitness and entertainment. Fizzycal’s vision is to explore all styles of movement from yoga to parkour to calistenics on the bars and much more. His brand represents connecting and providing media for all types of intelligent and fun non-traditional fitness methods, with the goal of getting more and more people involved. Sort of a resource for folks looking to try new and exciting forms of exercise, outside of a gym. Literally outside. Like in the grass. Which brings me to my next tip - get out of the gym and into the world!
TIP 3: Use the beautiful landscapes and urban environment for backdrops on your posts. Dynamic photographs that push the edge can give the viewer a sense of who you are, where you live and practice and the essence of what you are teaching. Have fun, and stay original. Happy people manifesting their dreams and using all available resources are inspiring... embody that and you will find success.
TIP 4: Find a form of social media that works for you, and use it - efficently. You may prefer Facebook because of the international reach or the demographic of users, or you may like youtube because you really have something to say and want to reach a broad audience. Social Media is time consuming, and I recommend to make your one post in the morning and get on with your day. Don't spend excessive time trying to be on all forms social media with different posts, just "water your social media garden" once and get back out into the world. Creativity is a precious gift and it is important to remain present in our work to be effective.
Tip 5: Use social media to initiate a relationship. Don't just Follow people via social media, but get out there and meet them face to face. Go to an event like Wanderlust, a seminar, a workshop or their home studio. Real connections matter much more in the ever changing world of social media and fitness, and if you are serious about your career as a movement artist - invest the time, energy and resources to learn from the very best (my next few months include studying with people like Steve Atlas, Noah Maze, Abria Joseph, Jen Sinkler, Scott Sonnon and more). Your work will improve as well as your own practice.
I hope you got some valuable info from this blog, very excited for the new few days in London, UK growing our tribe of instructors organically and authentically.
Engaged in the movement toward more functional fitness. Mama, entrepreneur, leader, mentor, and co-creator of Clubbell Yoga.
Co-Creator of Clubbell Yoga, Movement & Performance Specialist, Head Coach at RMAX International