In the first installment of this interview with Greg Carver, I learned a lot about his background and his unique approach to fitness, which has helped him get into the best shape of his life in his late fifties. And in today’s interview, we go a little bit deeper into the nuts and bolts of what Greg did to heal himself from a lifetime of health challenges, what he does now to stay in excellent shape, and how he helps his clients do the same (i.e. mostly aged 40+).
So, if you enjoyed part 1 of Greg’s interview, you’ll love this one, too!
Interview with Greg Carver
Here are some of the topics we discussed during Greg’s interview…
- How Greg overcame decades of serious health troubles in just 60 days by taking a chance, changing his diet, and supplementing wisely
- Greg’s transition from traditional gym training to unconventional fitness methods
- Greg’s multi-faceted approach to joint mobility training, why you need it, and how to benefit the most from it
- How Greg programs barbell training and other heavy weightlifting for people who aren’t bodybuilders or powerlifters
- The difference between mobility and flexibility training and how to make the most of each
- What Baby Boomers and Generation X needs to know about fitness
- The value of natural movement training (e.g. MovNat), Greg’s unique approach to it, and why he still does an “arm training day” once in awhile.
- The most fundamental fitness and movement standards that everyone should be able to achieve, regardless of age
- Why being uncomfortable might be one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself, and some practical ways to practice it in daily life.
- And much more!
I want to thank Greg again for taking the time to do this interview. It was a pleasure to finally get to speak with you and talk training, and I hope our paths cross sometime soon!
Health-First Fitness Coach
Note: this is part 1 of my interview with Greg Carver. Click Here for Part 2.
Meet Greg Carver, a one-of-a-kind fitness professional who found fitness later in life than most do, took the road less traveled, and lived to tell the tale.
I never knew this until today, but Greg has a long history of health troubles. Of course, you wouldn’t know it by looking at him because even at 58 years young, he’d fit right in with ancient Greek warriors. But Greg had it pretty rough health-wise until his late forties. Ten years later, and let’s just say that things are very different for him. He’s in the best shape of his life, and owns a successful and very unconventional gym where he shares his passion for fitness with others.
Greg specializes in not specializing, and has a knack for helping men in their 40s, 50s, and 60s finally make fitness work…and actually enjoy the process.
I’ve long admired Greg ever since I learned about him through his connection with MovNat, and have been meaning to get him on here for awhile now. Now, Greg is a busy guy. So, I incorrectly assumed he’d send me back some succinct replies to my interview questions, leaving me begging for more. I was only half right, though. Because Greg shared so much in this interview – going into great detail – and still has me itching for more.
Fortunately, we’re going to do a part 2 via phone later this week to dive a little deeper into some of the subjects we discussed below.
So, if you’re at-all interested in unconventional fitness, and particularly for older folks who have a little more wear and tear, you will love this interview. Enjoy!
JOHN: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, your background, and what you do today?
Greg: This may be a longer answer than you’d expect, but I think it’s important to know where I started from…
The first point would be my journey from sickness to wellness, and then to fitness.
I didn’t come from a fitness background; in fact I was faced with a number of health challenges as a young adult right up until I reached my late forties. Most people don’t know this about me. I was often sick and spent frequent bouts in hospital fighting everything from pneumonia to anemia. I was underweight and suffered three spontaneous lung collapses as a result of ruptured air blisters in the lungs. I did eventually recover, but as I got older my body basically reached a breaking point and I developed autoimmune disease.
Joint pain and fatigue suddenly became daily experiences — the kind of deep fatigue that seemed to go well past the typical tiredness of day-to-day life. Aching extremities and stiff joints were combined with symptoms of exhaustion and brain fatigue. The long hours and demands associated with maintaining a high-level corporate job didn’t help matters. My sleep was poor, stress was high, and my energy levels were at an all time low. In fact, just getting through a work day was proving to be challenging.
Frustrated with being “sick and tired” all the time, I decided to take matters into my own hands. While I thought I was eating well, I followed the advice of a natural health expert Bryce Wylde and attempted to control my own immune responses with daily probiotics, fish oil, and an anti-inflammatory diet rich in omega-3s, colorful vegetables and quality meats. I further supplemented with magnesium, zinc, B-12 and D, ginger and turmeric.
The prescription worked. In fact, it was almost unbelieveable. Within 60 days practially all symptoms of inflammation disappeared and I was finally able to feel strong and healthy. I had been taking ibuprofen daily for a few years just to manage chronic pain, so when I was finally able to move and feel energetic again, you can imagine how liberating that was.
I started sleeping better, began a program of resistance training, and made various lifestyle changes that contributed to my health.
Whether it was the anti-inflammatory diet, or the supplements, or even just psychosomatics that caused the change, it mattered little to me. But the transformation really changed my way of thinking, and my life. No longer sidelined, I took up fitness and athletics as a challenge — and with time discovered that I was actually pretty good at it. I kept at it.
As I progressed, I began training others who were noticing my results. I did some personal training, ran bootcamps, and provided feedback and advice to anyone who sought out my help.
In January of 2010, I chose to take my passion and turn it into a full-time gig. I left the corporate world and opened the StrengthBox — a training facility in Toronto. And while there are certainly stresses involved in running your own business, the stress was nothing compared with my former desk job.
What I’m most interested now is in helping early Gen-Xrs and late Baby Boomers rediscover and explore their natural physical abilities. I’ve been coaching at the StrengthBox now for eight years, and it’s been an incredible experience.
Dr. Julie Angel did her PhD thesis on parkour. I didn’t know you could do PhD theses on things like parkour, but she did it. Oh, and she can jump. Pretty good at it, too, from what I hear.
After living a sedentary lifestyle for twenty years, Julie found parkour and fell in love with movement. Twelve years later and now in her late 40s, she’s a veteran of both parkour and MovNat, among other movement practices. Julie trains with a group of women in their 40s, 50s, and 60s, which is probably not the first demographic you’d associate with parkour (more on that later).
When Julie is not moving, she makes films, does photography, and other creative projects.
In her own words…
I create work I like, for, or about, people and companies that I like. I spend a lot of time documenting the current ‘age of athletisiscm ‘ – Parkour, MovNat, buildering and much more. Films, photography, action promos, research, writing and presentations. Anything but drama. Filming and understanding what people do so I can share their vision and stories to inspire others.
I first learned about Julie’s work when I watched this mini-documentary series on MovNat. I also saw that she did some work with Christopher McDougall (the author of the best-seller, Born To Run – recommended!) while on tour for his latest book, Natural Born Heroes: Mastering the Lost Secrets of Strength and Endurance (also recommended!).
Julie has also done some writing of her own. She is the author of Breaking The Jump: The Secret Story of Parkour’s High-Flying Rebellion.
Here is one of Julie’s short films on parkour…
How I Jumped Into Cold Showers, 10 Lessons Learned, How To Get Started, Tips For Success, Overcoming The Mind Gremlins, A Challenge, And More!
WARNING: Please do try this at home.*
Cold showers give you superpowers. They make you feel like James Bond. And they can truly change your life, in both subtle and powerful ways.
I challenged myself to start taking cold showers about a year and a half ago – beginning in the dead of Winter, where the ground water up here in New England is a bit nippy. While it was unpleasant at first, the experience has done me a world of good. So, I’d like to share a little bit about it, what I’ve learned, and how you can start experimenting with this powerful tool to enhance your health, fitness, mental toughness, and quality of life.
So, why cold showers?
Well, the main reason why I started taking cold showers is because I didn’t want to. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but hear me out.
You see, I kept hearing about this guy, Wim Hof, who is known as the Iceman because he’s trained himself to endure extreme cold. While I’ve always been skeptical of some of his claims, he’s definitely on to something big. After some of my friends attended Wim’s training events with positive reports, I decided to dive in, too. I read articles, watched documentaries, and then started doing my own research on hydrotherapy and using cold as a training stimulus.
So, the seed was planted. But I wasn’t taking cold showers yet, except maybe an occasional cool shower on a hot summer day.
Then I watched the following TED Talk, and I was totally sold on the idea. Not because of the long list of health benefits I would experience, but because I knew this would let me exercise my “willpower muscle.” And that’s the main reason why I’ve kept up the habit for the last year and a half, and intend to continue for the foreseeable future.
So, why do I take cold showers? Because I don’t want to.
Simple as that.
Of course, there is a long list of benefits to be enjoyed from cold showers. For starters, they make you feel awesome. They wake you up, energize you, and increase your alertness and ability to concentrate. They also strengthen your cardiovascular and immune systems, among others. Cold showers enhance recovery, reduce inflammation, increase testosterone, and improve skin and hair health, too. But that’s just the icing on the cake. Deliberately getting uncomfortable daily – and doing what I would really rather not – has provided the best rewards.
Because let’s be honest. Nobody likes taking a cold shower (at first). But if you stick with it, big things start happening.
If you’re seriously considering cold showers, then that TED Talk is worth the eleven minutes of your time. Here’s the take-home point…
Here is a simple concept you can use to dramatically improve your fitness results starting today.
Barbell Bench Press < Dumbbell Bench Press & Barbell Bench Press together (i.e. in the same workout and/or program)
In other words, you’ll get better results from bench pressing with both barbells and dumbbells than you will from just using barbells alone.
Here’s another example.
Barbell Bench Press (BBP) on a flat bench < BBP on flat bench, incline bench, and decline bench
In other words, you’ll get better results from bench pressing at different angles than you will from specializing in just one.
How about another example?
Barbell bench press < BBP with standard grip, wide grip, and close grip
In other words, you’ll get better results from varying your grip width on the bench press exercise than you will from only ever using the same grip.
Okay. Want to really throw your head for a loop?