Month: April 2018

Body of Knowledge  —  Chapter 2  — Contextual Practice


In chapter 2, Kenny shows the value of context through stories about growing up in a fitness business, playing sports, performing stand up comedy, and becoming a human performance coach. Kenny’s life experience has significantly contributed to the development of the Mastery Method, a philosophy for teaching life lessons through the template of physicality. 


-Kenny and Andy

Having context and foundation

Kenny takes us on the journey of his life and what landed him in his approach to training. Coming from a family of high level swimmers, Kenny has always been drawn to the physical and towards challenge. His experience in martial arts, stand-up comedy, hip-hop, soccer, and performance coaching have allowed him to gain profound insights not only on athletic performance, but the mentality surrounding it.

In this episode Andy draws out some of Kenny’s tools for improvement, perspectives on training, ideologies, methods, and approaches. Kenny and Andy explore sustainability in a movement practice and taking each day at a time, deciding whether it is a performance or a mental toughness day. 

Are your actions contributing to the joy of the world, or the misery.” — Kenny Kane

Key Takeaways

  • Living the dream Often we have a perception of the dream that we want to “live”. It is important to recognize that there can come a point where we have “lived” that dream and that it is ok to pivot towards living a new one.
  • Master the foundations Kenny’s mom was inducted to the swimming hall of fame and is one of the most fierce competitors he has every known. He always admired her motivation to get back to the basics and drill the foundations of her craft.
  • Get to know your why An important component for sustainability, especially in a physical program, is to know why you are doing what you are doing.
  • Mental Agility: Approach training, business, and life with a preparedness Recognize who you are when things get really difficult and have some clarity and definition around that before you get there.
  • Developing a sustainable practice is instrumental to success A practice should not be a daily box that you check, especially training. The main reason people quit something is because they get to a point where they feel like they can’t grow and develop sustainability.

Each day, setting an intentional context, this is a practice day, an opportunity for me to work on things short and long term.” — Kenny Kane

Connect with Kenny Kane

Connect on social: Instagram, Facebook

Resources: Kenny Kane

Connect with Dr. Andy Galpin

Connect on social: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube

Resources: Andy Galpin, Phd

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Feed Me Fuel Me — Intuitive Clairvoyance w/ Julie Farha — 83


Julie Farha is one of the Nation’s most sought out intuition experts. She understands the importance of intuition and teaches people and companies how to apply it to everyday life and decision-making. She also has over 10 years of global experience as a recognized intuitive expert, speaker, corporate trainer and author.

Julie has coached hundreds of people, including professionals, executives and leaders. She has delivered business and corporate workshops across multiple industries as well as personal group events and transformative programs.

Julie noticed her heightened awareness as a young girl. In this episode, she explains the gift of intuitive clairvoyance and how it affects all of us. She covers the specific areas of the body in which intuition speaks to us, as well as the forms it can be recognized in, and much more.


– Jeff and Mycal

Psychic ability comes through knowing, hearing, feeling, or vision. Everybody has at least one.” — Julie Farha

Seeing, feeling, hearing and knowing.

There are a range of factors known to have a profound impact on our field of energy, namely the foods we eat and levels of hydration. But the best way to reset and clear your mind, is by personal grounding. Julie Farha shares her personal routine she uses to develop and grow her awareness practice, including strategies she developed to increase awareness and assist with grounding.

Julie is FED by her morning practice, where she takes some time to get quiet and feel the energy move through her.

Julie is FUELED by taking 20 minute naps, spending time connecting with her inner circle of family and friends, as well as spending time in solitude. 

Key Takeaways

  • Intuition speaks to you in very specific places —  Typically, when intuition is felt physically in the body, it is either felt in the solar plexus (a complex network of nerves located in the abdomen), chest, or an “all over feeling”.
  • One of the best ways to clear your mind and assist with grounding yourself is to take a 20 minute nap (no shorter, no longer) — It’s very beneficial to take a 20 minute nap to get some space and reset, especially if you are having trouble with a specific situation.
  • Alcohol, coffee, and sugary foods can impact your energy negatively Julie feels better when she avoids those things. She’s a vegetarian, who feels best when she eats dense proteins, they help her ground. On days when she feels “fuzzy”, she will drink lots of water to flush her system.
  • The power of dreams — Dreams can often be symbolic or prophetic. They show us how we are processing things on a subconscious level, and how we are processing situations or events in our lives.

When you are more in the moment and more present, you can feel your own inner guidance automatically and more regularly.” — Julie Farha

Connect with Julie Farha

Connect on social: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn

Resources: Julie Farha Website, (send her an email to set up an appointment)

Recommended book: The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence

The post Feed Me Fuel Me — Intuitive Clairvoyance w/ Julie Farha  — 83 appeared first on Shrugged Collective.

Barbell Shrugged — How to Grow Your Gym w/ Mind Pump — 311


Mind Pump is an online radio show/podcast that has been described as Howard Stern meets fitness. It is sometimes raw, sometimes shocking and is always entertaining and informative.

The hosts, Sal Di Stefano, Adam Schafer and Justin Andrews have over 40 years of combined fitness experience as personal trainers, club managers, IFBB fitness competitors and fitness thought leaders.

This episode covers training tips, gym owner business tips, mindful eating, and everything in between. Adam and Sal discuss how they are working to combine the worlds of health, wellness and aesthetics, and much more.


– Mike, Doug and Anders

A post shared by Adam Schafer (@mindpumpadam) on


Growing a box

The Mind Pump team have been in the fitness industry for decades. They have earned a wide range of experiences and created a vast knowledge base. Today, they help other gym owners with advice on how to create the right team, how to approach the climate of the gym market, and how to use systems to a gym owner’s advantage.

Grow your gym by following these steps

  1. Utilize systems and keep them the same — Allow members to recognize familiarity in the way they check-in, how memberships work, and how classes are run.
  2. Pull talent from within the facility — It’s best to bring someone who knows the environment and is familiar with the systems.
  3. Delegate tasks based on what people are good at — Your all-star coach may not be the ideal person to handle managerial work, so make sure you place people in the right positions.

Sometimes it’s a good idea to max yourself out like crazy, and test yourself, and find out what you’re really made of. It’s also sometimes good to go take a yin yoga class, get really quiet, and be by yourself.” — Adam Schafer


  • Eat Mindfully —  Today we often find ourselves in front of the TV, flipping through Instagram while shoveling down a meal. It’s important to remain present when we are eating. Around the world, across various cultures and religions, humans have rituals around the time that they eat. We should also be able to chew and swallow without requiring fluids to wash food down. As a challenge: Try to keep fluids out of reach when you’re eating next time.
  • Train across a wide range of modalities — It’s great to have a variety of movements and intensities in your training. Focus on strengthening the connective tissue as much as the belly of the muscle. For example: Endurance athletes can benefit from a Powerlifting cycle and Crossfit athletes can benefit from yoga.
  • Downtime and unplugging are critical to health and success in business — Sal employs a strategy of keeping a 7pm cut-off. No matter how much work he has to get done, the phone is off and put away at 7pm every night so that he can decompress and spend time with his family.
  • Become a good salesperson — It might be the most important skill in building a successful gym. All the passion in the world carries little weight if you cannot get people in the door to purchase a membership. The skill of sales also translates to many other skills throughout life.
  • “Gear” or steroids have a different effect on different people — Some people will have excellent results and no side effects, while others can have some serious health problems, “it really depends on the person.”

Train and eat because you love your body. If you chase health, you’ll get a great deal of the aesthetics.” — Sal Di Stefano

A post shared by Sal Di Stefano (@mindpumpsal) on


Connect with Mind Pump

Doug Larson Fitness

Doug is working some new stuff! Sign up to get notified when he launches at

The Bledsoe Show

The Bledsoe Show (Mike’s personal show) is back! Check out new episodes and the new website at


If you have low back, knee, or shoulder pain, check out Movement-Rx. Dr. Theresa Larson and Anders Varner will get you healthy and strong.

Check out our FREE 50+ page OLYMPIC WEIGHTLIFTING GUIDE! Includes: The Basics, Sample Programming, Links to Technique Videos, and more!


Train smart,

Mike, Doug and Anders

The post Barbell Shrugged — How to Grow Your Gym w/ Mind Pump —  311 appeared first on Shrugged Collective.

Ask Dr. T: Knee Pain During Running?

“Dr. T,

I have been having some nasty knee pain every time a workout pops up with running.

I have really tight ankles and it can affect my squats as well. My knee will flare up with higher rep squatting but nowhere near as painful as when I am running.

It usually takes me three full days before my knees stop hurting even after just a few 400’s. I know this is not normal as I have been a runner in the past. I thought lifting would help the problem but it looks like my ankles are in really bad shape.

I know there is nothing structurally wrong (yet) with my ankles but I need to nip this in the bud quickly.”

— Brandon (Denver, CO)


Instead of thinking of running as a skill inside a vacuum, think about each step as a repetition of a single leg movement. Running is and incredible complex movement that is rarely understood by strength athletes.

Every time your foot hits the ground, 200 pounds of force is being driven into your foot, absorbed, and then shot back through your body. The ankle absorbs the majority of the impact as the foot rolls through the running motion.

If the ankle is missing full dorsiflexion, it is unable to absorb the force of the ground the way it is meant to. This puts additional stress on the knee joint up the chain.

Even in a 400-meter run, you are taking over 100 incorrect strides on each leg. The weight of your body, plus poor ankles, and excessive reps has only one place to go: pian.

Fix the ankles and your knees will love you.


You can start your day with ankle specific mobility that will pay dividends throughout your day. The Knee Fix morning routine incorporates proper breathing, mobility, and movements specific to eliminating knee pain. Running should be enjoyable, not making your knees bark at you every time you take a jog.

To start this process, we have created a simple, six-minute morning routine to help you eliminate your knee pain. To gain instant access to your free morning routine, click the link below.

Thanks for reading!


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Real Chalk  — Dominate The Social Media World w/ Paige Hathaway — 19


Paige Hathaway is a 26 year old fitness model and bikini competitor, who fell in love with training in 2011. She went through a health and fitness transformation and placed 2nd at Ronnie Coleman Classic, the biggest NPC statewide competition in the United States.

Today, Paige is an Instagram sensation and a fitness consultant expert who helps others make their own transformation. She developed her own programs, where she shares her unique method and all of her tips and tricks.

In this episode, Paige shares her story of how she became a fitness entrepreneur, and what strategies she uses to make it to the top in the health and fitness industry. She also offers social media tips, her thoughts of the varying levels of “dedication”, and chats about training after  breast augmentation.


– Ryan and Yaya

If you’re trying to get your name out there, do Sh*t for free. Anything for free.” — Paige Hathaway

Fitness model transformation

After moving out on her own at the age of 16, Paige Hathaway left school before graduation to pursue a career in fitness. With no exposure to the world of bikini competitions, she took up a hometown friend on a coaching offer and jumped right in. After placing second in her first ever competition, she was hooked!

A post shared by Paige Hathaway (@paigehathaway) on


Key Takeaways

  • “Become a yes man” to grow your social media following — The number one way to jumpstart your brand is to do stuff for free. For a while, Paige did photoshoots, interviews, and anything that could help grow her brand for free.
  • Instagram is changing, content that looks heavily produced is becoming less attractive — Try to make your brand appear authentic and genuine, while still keeping your content clean and organized. Videos specifically seem to get a better audience reaction when they are not heavily produced.
  • It’s ok to cheat every once in a while — Allow yourself to indulge and enjoy life from time to time. Paige loves pizza and allows herself to splurge. It’s easy to get into a pattern of being dedicated to your training and neglect the other aspects of your life. So it’s important to block out time for friends, family and stress relieving activities.
  • Different people need to be managed differently — When you are managing and building a team, it is important to realize that different people need to be managed differently. Some people need to be left alone to operate under their own will, where others need more structure and direction.
  • The most important aspect of your health is managing your stress — You cannot make any real progress without controlling your stress levels. It’s important to keep a good balance between training and other life activities. When we go too extreme, the returns start to diminish.

You can be unhealthy about being healthy.” — Paige Hathaway

Connect with Paige Hathaway

Connect on social: Instagram, Facebook, YouTube

Resources: Paige Hathaway, Fit in 5

Recommended Book: Fitting in: The Mask of Health

The post Real Chalk  — Dominate The Social Media World w/ Paige Hathaway  — 19 appeared first on Shrugged Collective.

The Bledsoe Show  w/  Kevin Gillotti: Carrying the Fire #64


Falling in love with obstacle course racing, Specificity training, Why CrossFit is not so functional, Sterilized training, The power of belief, and more.

Guest: Kevin Gillotti

Kevin Gillotti is an insanely fit 48 year old with an unmatched mindset. An elite racer for almost 30 years in both duathlons (running and biking) and obstacle course racing (OCR).

Kevin was introduced to duathlons in college and almost won his first race. He then went on to become a 8 time confirmed All-American with USAT (duathlon), has been on numerous USAT Duathlon World Championship teams, and has won most of the North County-based duathlon races for the past 20 years.

Kevin now focuses on OCRs in the Spartan Race series and is already ranked 12th overall in the Elite NBC Series, second overall in the USA Elite Division and the West Region Division for his age, and fourth overall in the world Elite division for his age.

In this episode, we learn about Kevin’s unshakable self-belief, which helped him overcome a rough accident, why he doesn’t believe in lifting heavy and how he approaches his training, why being brutally honest has hurt his past relationships, and much more.



Connect on Social: Instagram, Vimeo

Resources: Kevin Gillotti


Falling in love with obstacle course racing

Kevin Gillotti discovered his passion for racing at his first duathlon race almost 30 years ago. A friend invited him to a race and he ended up almost winning it without much intention or training. On that day, Gillotti decided he’s going to be racing for the rest of his life and moved against all odds from Iowa to San Diego, CA.

Besides becoming an elite duathlon racer, Kevin doesn’t like to be a one trick pony and does many things, including archery, competitive shooting, graphic design, and more. He even came up with a hashtag to show his intentions: #BeSkilledAtManyThings.

Today, Kevin is very involved with Spartan Race, which he was introduced to by a friend in 2011. His friend called it a mud run then, and even though it was nothing like a mud run, Kevin fell in love again.

“It was nothing like a mud run… It was the Joe De Sena Effect. It really was like chaos. It wasn’t well organized, but you could see the picture he was going for. So it was easy for me to jump on board and see that kind of future he was looking at, but just knowing it was a rough raw stage at that point, but at least I could see what his plan was.” — Kevin Gillotti



Specificity training

When Kevin was studying for his Master’s degree in Sports Psychology at San Diego State University, he learned about a concept called Specificity. For him, it essentially meant ‘train how you are going to race.’

Once Kevin learned about specificity, he realized he has been doing it his entire career. He has always trained solely for races. When he trains, he’s always moving like he would in a race. He doesn’t do squats, pressing, or anything statically, he does everything to help OCR.

Kevin’s training usually incorporates light to medium weight weightlifting exercises sandwiched between runs and sprints. Even though he likes CrossFit and trains at a crossfit gym, he doesn’t believe in heavy weights, else in strength to weight ratio. He strives to be as light as he can and as strong as can be.



Why CrossFit is not so functional

When Greg Glassman originally created CrossFit he did it with intention to focus on 10 general physical skills: Strength. Stamina. Endurance. Flexibility. Power. Speed. Coordination. Agility. Balance. Accuracy. These ten words describe the predominant characteristics of almost any activity you are likely to encounter, and therefore your capability in each describes your fitness.

Today, the expression of Crossfit today over emphasizes a few principles out of 10 neglecting specifically balance, coordination and accuracy work in favor of lifting heavy weights all the time.

Kevin doesn’t believe in the value of lifting 400–500 lb. It doesn’t really happen in real life. He trains for realistic life scenarios, like lifting 50 lb. overhead on a ladder, as he might want to place something heavy on a high shelf in the future.

Pro tip: Avoid injuries by training a variety of stuff and avoiding heavy repetition of the same movement .


Sterilized training

The typical gym environment today is very sterilized. People train on flat floors, using straight bars, and everything is even. Real life scenarios though don’t offer though, which is why you need to diversify your training by adding unevenness and misbalance for example.

If you’re competing at Olympic Weightlifting, Powerlifting, or CrossFit, then those squats, presses, etc. are the movements you want to train. But otherwise, you want to diversify your training as much as possible. In the future we will have more asymmetrical training.

Your core strength is your resilience.

When you see people lifting heavy ass deadlifts on Instagram with rounded backs, it doesn’t necessarily mean they have bad, misinformed form. On the contrary, their core strength is so dialed in that they can do a rounded back deadlift and all kinds of things that look funny.

“I don’t believe there is bad movement. My only concern is… People have been sitting for a long time and their breathing gets fucked up, and so their diaphragm doesn’t expand very well, and not only that, but they use their breath to stabilize their spine during movement. So they’re holding their breath and they’re moving and that’s problematic because they don’t know how to stabilize their spine without creating abdominal pressure… It doesn’t matter how weight they’re doing. I can watch someone walking and I go: ‘Hmm their diaphragm in the right side is a little tight’… No movement is wrong if you can stabilize your spine.” — Mike Bledsoe

Onnit – Total Human Optimization

Get up to 10% OFF at checkout!


The power of belief

In 2001, Kevin was hit by a truck that was going 70 MPH while riding a bicycle. The truck threw him 60 feet, he broke his back in two places, his left arm and his left leg. He had two blood transfusions to help him survive and spent three weeks in the hospital, two of which in the ICU (24 hour care).

After his accident, doctors told him Kevin he’d never be racing again. However, Kevin never approached life thinking he’s in the median group, he always believed he’s an outlier. He even told his doctors they didn’t know who they were dealing with.

He Spent a year in rehab and had his back fused, but he still does all kinds of physical things. He fights discomfort everyday, but he feels blessed to be alive. His mindset allowed him to the fittest he’s ever been post accident.

Belief is a huge part of recovery.

Today, it’s common practice for doctors to tell patients they won’t be able to fully recover from many incidents because they want to cover their ass. Unfortunately, it’s a huge disservice to people, as it sucks out hope, which literally handicaps people. Belief is something we need to fully maximize our recovery capabilities and general life capabilities.


Do you carry the fire?

As a kid, Kevin was very influenced by the movie “The Road”. One sentence in particular spoke to him and was imprinted in his mind:

“Do you carry the fire? The fire to survive. The fire to be a good person. The fire to keep moving forward no matter what happens to you.” — The Road

Kevin was raised in a typical, old school American-Italian family. He was put through hard work, planning, suffering, etc. Even though he didn’t appreciate it when he was young, that path made him resilient and today he’s grateful for the parenting he received.

His father made him work at his construction business and as the boss’s son he got no breaks. He did the lowest jobs, shoveling out dirt and cleaned poop out of the sewer. His family didn’t give him a leg in this world, else work ethic. In high school, he was waking at 4am and worked 10 hour workdays in construction while his friends were partying.

“Most people don’t know what they’re made of they don’t believe in themselves… You need to fail, you have to fail, and failing is a good thing. But unfortunately, now people don’t want to fail and people don’t want to let other people fail. Everybody is supposed to win, everybody is supposed to get a medal.” — Kevin Gillotti


Living his true self

Everything that Kevin does in life, he does with the same intensity as racing. He gives his 100% every time and doesn’t half-ass anything. The only thing he keeps failing in at life is relationships.

Kevin is a no bullshit kind of man, but in relationships, it doesn’t always work. He says things in very uncoated ways that don’t resonate with people very well. He’s very honest and upfront about who he is, and sometimes people can accept it in the beginning, but stuff usually goes south after a while.

When things go south, Kevin always looks for ways to improve. He has married before and been in a 10 year relationship. He isn’t bitter or angry about his ex and will never say anything bad about her, he only focuses on the what can he improve and is grateful for how it made him a 10x better person.


The post The Bledsoe Show  w/  Kevin Gillotti: Carrying the Fire #64 appeared first on Shrugged Collective.

Body of Knowledge  —  Chapter 1  — Deep Adaptations


In chapter 1, Kenny and Andy dive deep into the science and applications of physiological adaptation. Research has shown that people can significantly change the composition of their muscle fibers and the magnitude of such changes can be shockingly high. Human beings can alter their physiology with exercise and nutrition far more than previously believed.


Kenny and Andy

P.S. Before you dive in, make sure to check out volume 1 prologue episode: Body of Knowledge  —  Prologue  —  Origin Story.

Deep adaptations

In this chapter, Body of Knowledge addresses the fact that physiology can actually be built depending on the activity of the athlete. The days of labeling an athlete as having “fast” or “slow” twitch fibers are nearing the end as we understand more about how fibers can be conditioned and trained to actually change fiber type.

Andy helps us to understand the history and evolution of how we understand the function of muscles and the differences between fiber types from the early 1700’s until present day. The future of this knowledge is to determine why certain individuals can handle more volume than others, or why certain people can recover more quickly, and ultimately increase the efficacy of personalized training programs.

As a gym owner, one of the things I am continually trying to anchor is the improvement of people’s quality of life.” — Kenny Kane

Key Takeaways

  • In 1954, for the first time in history, we were able to view the exact mechanics of muscle fibers  — We were able to explain in improved terms that muscles are not filled with air (as many speculated up to this point), but rather there was a signal from the brain, with the involvement of a respiratory process, that allowed muscle fibers to stack on top of one another, causing the muscle to grow taller.
  • The types of muscle fibers (fast and slow) are not necessarily determined by genetics and actually have a high degree of plasticity.
  • Humans have a few types of muscle fibers: Slow, fast, ultra-fast, and everywhere in between  — The ratio of fast vs. slow depends on the activities of the individual. Marathon runners will have more slow twitch while olympic weightlifters will have more fast twitch.
  • Hybrid muscle fibers  — A single cell can be partially fast and partially slow. Inactive individuals will typically have more “hybrid” fibers, which will almost immediately specialize into “fast” or “slow” when they are exposed to movement.
  • Responders vs. non-responders — Based on fiber type and the molecules within an individual’s muscle fibers, certain people can put on muscle more easily than others exposed to the same stimulus. Others, conversely can be better suited to increase strength.

If you compare your glute and my glute, it’s almost guaranteed that the percentage of fast versus slow in your glute is going to differ in mine.” — Dr. Andy Galpin

Connect with Kenny Kane

Connect on social: Instagram, Facebook

Resources: Kenny Kane

Connect with Dr. Andy Galpin

Connect on social: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube

Resources: Andy Galpin, Phd

The post Body of Knowledge  —  Chapter 1  —  Deep Adaptations appeared first on Shrugged Collective.

Body of Knowledge  —  Prologue  — Origin Story


In the prologue, we introduce Kenny, Andy, and Josh who each tell their side of the show’s origin story. They individually explain their motivation for launching the project and provide context for what’s to come in volume 1. The first volume focuses on how human beings can change their minds and bodies to improve overall quality of life.


Kenny and Andy

“The conversations we have in this volume are more about just the science or just the fitness. We are all motivated by better health and wellness.” — Kenny Kane

The intersection of science and Fitness

Body of Knowledge is principally about the intersection of science and fitness, which will be released in volumes. Each volume will have a specific theme with respective episodes. The conversations are centered around health, fitness and wellness, but often go places the listener won’t expect.

The idea is to give listeners the scaffolding to make changes that we want and need as athletes. One of the main things identified are that the consequences of being wrong, are increasingly negative. One of the primary motivations around the conversations is that is ok to be wrong, it’s more about the conversations, the process and problem solving.

“Truth is only a lack of perspective. That’s it, right? When you think you have the truth to something, you haven’t looked at it deep enough.” — Dr. Andy Galpin

Connect with Kenny Kane

Connect on social: Instagram, Facebook

Resources: Kenny Kane

Connect with Dr. Andy Galpin

Connect on social: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube

Resources: Andy Galpin, Phd

The post Body of Knowledge  —  Prologue  —  Origin Story appeared first on Shrugged Collective.

Feed Me Fuel Me — Passion Before Paychecks w/ Rachel Balkovec — 82


Rachel Balkovec is the first female strength and conditioning coach in the history of professional baseball. She has spent the past seven years as a strength and conditioning coach for organizations such as Arizona State University, Louisiana State University, Los Tigres Del Licey Beisbol and the St. Louis Cardinals.  

Most recently, Rachel has joined the Houston Astros as their Latin American Strength and Conditioning Coordinator. Her mission is to live courageously while empowering others to do the same.

In this episode, we learn the value of being persistent, why academia isn’t always the best route, why you need to work to learn, not to earn, and much more.


– Jeff and Mycal

“You’re only as good as what you can communicate. If you have all this information and you can’t communicate it, what good can you do as a coach.” — Rachel Balkovec

The power of persistence and passion

Rachel Balkovec broke through continuous barriers to become the first female strength and conditioning coach in Major League Baseball. As a collegiate softball player, she aspired to change the world, from a philanthropic stand-point, through professional sports.

Having gone through five internships in both academia and professional baseball with organizations ranging from LSU to the St. Louis Cardinals, Rachel has a vast understanding of the science behind strength and conditioning.

Rachel is currently the Strength and Conditioning coach for the Houston Astros and aspires to one day be the General Manager of a Major League Baseball Team. Her thirst for knowledge and relentless learned mentality give her an edge in the constantly developing world of exercise science.


Key Takeaways

  • Work to learn, not to earn —  With a learners mindset, Rachel was able to get invaluable internships, which at the time paid her almost nothing, or nothing. She knew money isn’t everything and the knowledge she gained through these experiences ultimately sprung her to an opportunity as the first ever MLB strength and conditioning coach.
  • Stay persistent — Rachel was rejected countless times by multiple organizations simply because she was a woman. She went as far as changing her name to “Ray” on her resume and cover letters in order to get a response, only to be rejected again once employers found out she is a woman. With her relentless spirit, after countless failed attempts, she was offered an opportunity to oversee 230 athletes with the Cardinals.
  • Academia isn’t always the best route — In the US, academic institutions often prioritize research geared towards the general population versus high performing athletes. Much of the education process in Kinesiology and exercise physiology happens outside the classroom. There are some countries, namely Australia, that do grant a considerable amount of funding towards research on performance athletes.
  • Virtual Handshake — A program started by Rachel in order to help students resumes, cover letters, cold emails, and other professional materials. The program is geared towards young adults as a resource to jumpstart their career when transitioning from academia to the professional world.
  • Daily routines can be based in principal and do not have to be nuanced — Rachel has two principles she lives by daily. She will train everyday and eat clean everyday, no matter where she is and what she has going on.

“Everyone says there’s a lot of ways to skin a cat. I say there is only one BEST way to skin a cat. There’s only one fastest, cleanest, most efficient ways to skin a cat.” — Rachel Balkovec

The post Feed Me Fuel Me — Passion Before Paychecks w/ Rachel Balkovec — 82 appeared first on Shrugged Collective.

Barbell Shrugged —  Learning to Appreciate Your Body w/ Jen Esquer — 310


Jen Esquer, DPT, PT, has been on a ruthless ongoing journey to learn about the body and movement since she was a child. She was a professional gymnast until age 16, studied yoga and pilates, studied physiotherapy, and is continuously exploring and learning more . is creator of and The Optimal Body Preventing Pain & Injury Optimizing Lives.

Dr. Jen is also the creator of The Mobility Method, which is designed to give the everyday person the opportunity to take themselves through a basic screening process and self-diagnose limitations. In addition, there are various modules to help individuals address their own personal needs, whether it be their neck, back, shoulders, etc.

In this episode, we learn why the neutral spine doesn’t exist in the real world, why foam rolling gets misunderstood, how much of training has become robotic, why you need to have more appreciation for your body, and much more. Enjoy!

A post shared by Dr. Jen Esquer (@docjenfit) on


Developing awareness in movement

Jen Esquer is not your everyday physical therapist. Jen left her clinical PT job to pursue her own outside the box approach for helping people eliminate pain, gain mobility, and giving them more freedom in their movement practice and life. She is well-known for her Instagram challenges and concise, informative clips on various mobility techniques.

Jen’s approach stems from her ability to connect with her clients. She encourages a deep level of mindfulness and the development of awareness in movement.

“Why aren’t we moving into restriction, moving into our body in better ways to prevent injury, so that you can go kill your workout, so you can squat lower and heavier.” — Dr. Jen Esquer


  • Gymnastics and Pilates —  Gave Jen a solid foundation in her understanding of how the body works in different positions, as well as the importance of the core.
  • Appreciation is a huge part of the mentality that Jen aims to instill in her clients — She is constantly encouraging them to recognize the things that they can do, which helps to set the stage for a mindful approach to movement and mobility.
  • The neutral spine doesn’t exist in the real world — Jen encourages people to explore movement beyond the “neutral spine” and to develop strength and stability in “less stable” positions. As it turns out, in a squat for example, even when the spine is thought to be “neutral”, it is actually flexing to at least 23 degrees – which means it’s not neutral, but it’s not a bad thing!
  • Much of training has become robotic — Studies show that individuals who can demonstrate a wide movement vocabulary are much less injury prone in sport compared to those who move in a technical or robotic fashion.
  • Foam rolling gets misunderstood — Foam rolling definitely has its place, Jen is a huge supporter, but she disagrees with some of the fallacies around it. Namely the idea that all tissue needs to be smashed to loosen or that scar tissue can be “broken up”. Most of the benefits come from the muscles learning to relax.

“Touch is amazing! Do you need to DIG into the tissue? I don’t think so.” — Dr. Jen Esquer


Connect with Dr. Jen Esquer

Doug Larson Fitness

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The Bledsoe Show

The Bledsoe Show (Mike’s personal show) is back! Check out new episodes and the new website at


If you have low back, knee, or shoulder pain, check out Movement-Rx. Dr. Theresa Larson and Anders Varner will get you healthy and strong.

Check out our FREE 50+ page OLYMPIC WEIGHTLIFTING GUIDE! Includes: The Basics, Sample Programming, Links to Technique Videos, and more!


Train smart,

Mike, Doug and Anders

The post Barbell Shrugged —  Learning to Appreciate Your Body w/ Jen Esquer —  310 appeared first on Shrugged Collective.