Hi everyone and welcome to another edition of Two-Brain Radio with Sean Woodland. Today I talk with current director of media for CrossFit Health Pat Sherwood. Over the last month, I’ve interviewed some truly amazing guests like Stacie Tovar, Tanya Wagner, Adrian Bozman, Chris Hinshaw, Rory Mckernan, and Julie Foucher. If you’ve missed out on this stuff, check out our archives for the best stories from the fitness community, and to avoid FOMO, please subscribe to Two-Brain Radio. I’ve got spectacular guests coming every single week, and speaking of spectacular guests, Pat Sherwood: He has worn just about every hat you can wear in the world of CrossFit. He has been a member of the seminar staff, an analyst on the Update Show, and he still runs his own online affiliate CrossFit Linchpin. We talk about his experience going through BUD/S to become a Navy SEAL, how he got involved in CrossFit, what it was like becoming one of the first members of the media team and what he defines as good programming. Thanks for listening everyone. Pat, thank you so much for doing this, man. How are you?
I’m doing well, Sean. My pleasure. Thanks for having me on board.
Let’s start way back in the life of Pat Sherwood. What sports or athletic endeavors did you pursue when you were younger?
Oh my goodness. I was born with no athletic ability in any way, shape or form. I as a young kid just played a little bit of little league baseball. That was about it. But that was before sports were crazy. I’ve got kids now and sports are crazy. I don’t want to be that old guy that’s like, I don’t think it was the same, but I don’t think it was the same. We just, you know, we got a T-shirt from like Frankie’s pizza and we went down to an old ball field and hit it around. And anyway, now it’s crazy. So I did that. I ran track in high school and in college I didn’t do anything other than just train every day to go into the Navy. So that was about it. But I was never good at any of them.
So before CrossFit and before the Navy, what did fitness look like for you?
Oh man. We used to get after it, we had a Gold’s gym in the town next to mine in high school, we had the high-school crew that would go in, and Monday, Thursday it was chest and tris. Tuesday, Friday back and bis. And then Wednesday and Saturday must’ve been legs and abs and somewhere in there I’d hit the elliptical or maybe the stair machine and thought I would just turn into a ferocious animal.
How’d that work out for you?
I was wonderfully mediocre and I was eating, you know, just a horrific diet at the time that I thought was healthy. So I had isolation movements at low intensity mixed with a poor diet; shocker, like I wasn’t getting the results that I wanted.
You mentioned preparing, ?going into the Navy, but what motivated you to join the Navy and become a SEAL?
I don’t know. I have some military in my family, but like not a huge presence and it was never ever like a thing or talked about or pressure, you know? I just, for whatever reason, even just from the time I was a little kid, I think I knew that I wanted to go in and serve. I don’t know why. Just felt like that was the right thing to do. Probably watched a lot of Chuck Norris Missing in Action movies and too much of the A Team. But I just wanted to go in. And then when I wanted to go in, I just—this was of course pre-internet time, I just started reading books on the different branches of service cause I didn’t know a lot about any of them. And then I learned about special operations community in the various branches.
Started looking into that and figured, well if I’m going to go in I might as well try to do what would appears to be the most challenging. And then I read about the SEALs and BUD/S and I was like, well I guess that’s it. So that was kind of the—that was my simple decision-making tree.
How did you prepare for that?
I prepared OK, but man, if I had a time machine to go back and talk to myself there’s so many things that I would do different, which is cool because I’ll get—people will reach out to me now and I can give them far better advice than I did. But I did just death by volume. I did so much training, you know, those were the days of long slow distance. So I ran every single day. You know, a short run was three miles, a longer run was 11 miles.
There was, you know, mile repeats at the track. There was just going to the pool three to four times a week, putting on swim fins and just finning for 75 minutes. There was, I mean hundreds and hundreds of dead-hang pull-ups and push-ups and flutter kicks mixed in with all the classic, you know, bodybuilding stuff that I said before. And it, you know, it was adequate for sure, but I could have made my life a little easier if I knew then what I know now.
When you get to BUD/S, what was it like going through that training
It was unpleasant. BUD/S was—that’s a great question actually, and it’s tough to articulate. I mean, BUD/S sucks, I mean that’s just the easy way to say it. It really, really, really, really sucks, which is, you know, as somebody who speaks for a living, that’s a great sentence, right? It’s just, they don’t teach you how to be a SEAL in BUD/S. BUD/S is just six to eight months of them trying as hard as they can to get you to quit within the confines of the law. You know, they can’t kill you. They can shoot real bullets at you, but whatever they can do to make you just get in your head, beat you down, to wear you down, to make you question why you’re there. And it’s just a very long time to get kicked in the teeth, you know, half a year or so.
And the cold is such a unique aspect of BUD/S. I mean when in doubt, they can just freeze you. It doesn’t matter. You know, it doesn’t matter if it’s the middle of summer, somebody sticks you in 75-degree water on a summer night, they just keep you in longer. It will still drop your core temperature to the point that you’re jack-hammering and freezing and you go hypothermic. So I mean they have it down to a science, a diabolical science where given this ambient temperature, this temperature of the ocean, we can keep them this long in the water before somebody dies. And so we will pull them out right before that point and have probably had a bunch of quitters before that. And then when we pull these frozen zombies out of the water, you know, roll them around, get sand in every crease and crevice of their body, and then to heat them up, we’ll just put boats on their heads and run them for four miles down the soft sand.
And then when they’re warmed back up and dying, well then we’ll just put them back in the water until the brink of hypothermia, then we’ll pull them back out and run them. And we’ll just do this until people just quit left and right. And so it just sucks, you know? But it’s one of those things where they just have to make sure that the people that graduate training to the best of their ability are those people that, heaven forbid, if they get into a situation down the road, real life, that they won’t quit then. And so it is a very effective selection process, I would say. I didn’t like it.
Given all of that, what are some of the mental tricks or things that you told yourself that allowed you to keep your head during that time and not quit?
Man, I don’t think you can casually want to be a SEAL or fill in the blank, you know, whatever your goal happens to be. So I don’t think you can do that. So for me it was an obsession. It was literally an obsession to a clinically unhealthy point. I mean, it’s all I thought about, all I read about, all I trained for and somewhat of an identity and probably not making it through training would have bestowed upon me a level of shame that I didn’t want to have. And so on top of that, on top of being my life dream, everybody knew that I was there. You know, there’s a peer pressure there, but of course the people who quit had peer pressure also, but for some reason they tapped out. But I also had every now and then in the back of my mind, my grandfather, who was just the coolest dude to ever walk the face of the Earth, he was a Navy vet, World War II, very rarely talked about it, but his ship in World War II got kamikazed, it went down.
They had to abandon ship, the whole nine yards. I mean, like literal, terrible war. And I couldn’t imagine ringing out, seeing my grandfather, who would never hold it against me, ever, you know, would love me the same no matter what. And telling this guy who survived something like that and I’m saying, Hey, you know what? You know, it was just too tough, Gramp, you know, it was really cold and I was tired. And so I decided it was more than I could handle. You know, my life’s not genuinely in danger. No one’s actually shooting at me and I decided to quit. So that was always in the back of my head. And then there was one other thing, you know, it’s kind of like coaching a movement. Like you might give somebody, there might be 10 different cues that you could give, but one hits home with that person and the other nine just fall on deaf ears.
There’s this one thing an instructor said that it hit me like a ton of bricks and this was leading up to hell week. I think hell week was the fifth week. It’s when most people quit. And the week beforehand there was an instructor giving us like a little pep talk, which was rare because usually they don’t care if you quit. And he said, look, here’s the deal. You guys are all sitting here and you know months from now what your graduation date is, which I think was February 27th, 1998, was the day that our class would graduate, which seemed very far away and he’s like, so February 27th, 1998 is coming no matter what. No matter what happens, you can’t stop the hands of time and you are going to be somewhere on February 27th so right now you need to choose where you want to be. Do you want to be standing with your class on graduation day full of all the pride of having endured what we’re about to throw at you, or you can quit and when February 27th comes, you’ll try really hard to act like you don’t know that the rest of your class is standing in their dress uniforms and they sucked it up and had you sucked it up, it would all be over.
And they’re like, he’s like, you know, God forbid you’re not where you want to be on February 27th and I was like, Holy crap. After he said that, I couldn’t imagine that date of the calendar coming and just saying to myself, the time went by, like had I just sucked it up, it would all be over for the rest of my life. And it’s funny, like when you’re there, seconds seemed like hours, like time’s not going by, but now in the blink of an eye, that was 22 years ago, time flies by. So anyway, that one stuck with me.
What did you learn about yourself after not only making it through that entire ordeal, but also from your time serving in the Navy?
I have no idea how I did it. I don’t know if I was in a different phase of my life where I’m just a soft civilian with a couple of kids right now. But I think back, that’s definitely like, how in the name of—how? How did that happen? If there’s a cold rain outside right now, I will push women and children out of the way to go inside.
I cannot stand being wet and cold and maybe it’s cause I went through all that stuff, but I think about just what I endured, and man, I don’t know. I do think it is just, you know me, Sean, I’m a slow, dumb animal. No one has ever described me as you know, a talented athlete or a beautiful mover or technically proficient. But I think I can just grind. I think I can shut my brain off and just suffer. And so I think in an environment like that, I just learned to tap into that place of just enduring the suck and somehow telling yourself that the seconds will tick by, you know, breakfast will come, then lunch will come, then dinner will come, the sun will come up the next day. Even though the night seems really long and really cold, the sun will come up in the morning.
And I dunno, I think I just learned to grind, quite frankly.
What did you do then when you got out of the Navy?
When I got out of the Navy, man, I didn’t know—I got hurt. And that kind of helped that decision for me. I thought I’d be in 20 years and that, that took us a sidetrack, which turned out to be a blessing. But then when I got out, I didn’t really have a back-up plan, you know, cause I barely graduated college with a degree in sociology, which was not a really sought-after resume. Oh, you’ve got a 2.5 in sociology, let me get you a corner office, Sherwood.
So I wasn’t sure what to do. And I had what I felt anyway was a limited skillset. And so I went and worked for a company that now has become a bit infamous, you know, bad press and whatnot, but Blackwater out in North Carolina. So I went down to—I was in Virginia Beach in North Carolina, which is just a few hours, hour-drive away. So I went down and just continued to, you know, do a line of work that involved carrying a firearm for probably the next, at least three years, maybe a little bit more than that. It was three to four years. I was down there with them doing stuff overseas. And then when I figured out I didn’t want to do that for the rest of my life, because while it was decent money in overseas contracting, you can’t spend your money if you’re dead. And so I figured out this is not what I want to do long term. And so I got out of that line of work and then that’s when I started to get involved with CrossFit and you know, opening an affiliate and CrossFit HQ and all that kind of good stuff.
How did you find CrossFit?
There was a gentleman by the name of Dave Castro, I think you’ve heard of him. He’s a positive motivational speaker. Dave and I went to BUD/S together back in 1997. Class two and five. So I met Dave in 97 and you know, we went through BUD/S together, graduated together. We both ended up at our first command together at SEAL team four, we were there for years together, hung out together, you know, outside of work became buddies and he’s from the area out in California that HQ was at and he went back out to California and he was always a climber. I think there was some famous climber working out at the original CrossFit and he wanted to go meet that guy and sought out the original CrossFit gym and then just by happenstance, got involved, fell in love with it. And then he called me, I was still on the East Coast. He called me and turned me onto CrossFit, I started doing it for training.
And then when they slowly started having seminars on the East Coast again down in North Carolina, I was asked to like just drive down and volunteer, you know, take out the trash, get coach Nicole coffee or whatnot. And that was kinda how it all started.
What then led you to the seminar staff?
Well through helping out at the level ones, I just, I didn’t screw it up so they just kept giving me a little bit more responsibility and a little bit more and OK try running a group, you ran a group, try this, you know, relatively easy lecture. OK you did that and just did another lecture, another lecture, run more groups. And then little by little that went from volunteer work to part-time independent contractor work to full-time occupation work. So it just kind of baby stepped from one to another.
I’ve asked this of every seminar staff member who’s been on here, Zach Forrest and James Hobart as well, but what is your craziest story from your time in the seminar world?
Oh man, the craziest story. You know, there was one or two times at a physical altercation. Due to a participant not treating a staff member with kindness. Luckily that didn’t occur, but actually one of the craziest ones occurred with James Hobart. I don’t know if this is the same story that Hobart said and he might have already talked about it, but James, I, and several other people, Austin Malleolo was there, were doing a seminar up in Canada. We were doing a lunchtime workout, doing a run. And while we were doing a run, we saw a guy, you know, we’re running through a neighborhood, we saw a guy in his driveway basically physically abusing a woman, kicked her in the chest, and while we were running by. And we’re like, Holy cow. So we went over as good Americans would do, you know, the world’s police. And we decided to take matters into our own hands. And we, you know, let the gentleman know that we didn’t think that that was appropriate behavior and he disagreed with us and you know, a hullabaloo occurred at a small degree and then we went back and you know, the police were involved and whatnot. But that was probably a singularly bizarre, unique experience that occurred during a level one, but overwhelmingly fantastic. But yeah, if you do enough of them and you cross paths with enough people, you’ll see some wacky stuff.
You competed at the CrossFit Games in 2009. A lot of people don’t know that. What was that experience like for you at the ranch?
Man, it was—at the time, I mean, it was great. The short answer is fantastic. At the time, just didn’t really know, it wasn’t obviously what it is now, with the recognition and the pageantry and everything else that goes on. It was still just, even though it was in its third year and it grew each year, it was still just a very gritty, dirty throwdown behind the ranch with nothing fancy going on. And I had no interest in really like competing, like being a competitor because that kinda wasn’t the vibe back then. It was just this fun thing that Hey, if you happen to make it out there, come on out and throw down. And so I went through the qualification process, somehow qualified, so blows my mind, went out there and just had a blast throwing down with my buddies and even a lot of, you know, names that were starting to make themselves something out there in the community at that time.
And you know, Chris Spealler and people like that. And I finished wonderfully, I think middle of the pack, you know, I did not do, you know, I didn’t crush it in any way, shape or form. I think I made it through four workouts and then got cut, and was honestly stoked to get cut, and that was plenty of working out for me. Like, I’m tired, I’m ready to go, you know, grab a hot dog, get in the crowd, cheer for somebody else. But it was a blast and obviously it’s cool just to now knowing what that event has become and the worldwide recognition, it’s cool to at least have somehow been involved in it on the competitor side, even if it was quite some time ago.
You go from seminar staff to the media side of things with CrossFit. How did that whole thing come about?
Oh man. I think it was just right place at the right time. So when that occurred I was starting to get a little burnt out from all the travel with the seminar staff. It’s a rugged schedule. It’s fantastic. But it’s tough. I mean you’re in a different city or country every weekend of the year other than Christmas and New Year. So if you’re full time, that’s 50 trips a year and it could be just going to Perth, Australia, for the weekend, which messes you up for 10 days. And so it’s rugged, and I’ve been traveling basically since I entered the military cause that’s a bunch of travel. Then I did the overseas contract work. So I really started living out of a suitcase and airports when I was 21 and never stopped. So after four or five years on the seminar staff, I’d been traveling almost continuously for 13 to 15 years and I was starting to just, you know, blur.
There are points in time where I wasn’t in any one particular location for more than 10 days for like three years. And so that’s tough to put down roots, tough to have any kind of normalcy. So I kind of let Dave and Nicole know like, Hey, I’m not there yet, but I feel the burnout coming and if it does come that doesn’t benefit anybody. Obviously the participants won’t be getting what they deserve. I won’t be having a good quality of life. And so just putting it out there, if there’s something else, it’d be great. And the company was still, you know, growing, and different departments were still very young. So there wasn’t really a huge media department that I could easily transition to. But there was one starting to emerge. And again, just through good timing, you know, I spoke for a living, so I was comfortable doing that.
I’d done some of the like Zone Chronicle videos, just very low budget Blair Witch Project and I was looking at my phone, which back then that was a lot of media experience and so they kind of offered me the job there in the media department, which was more of a regular commute to work, show up to HQ. You know, if you work for CrossFit, you’ll always travel to some degree. But it was significantly less travel than being full time on the seminar staff. So I accepted that and it was a blast and a heck of a run. You know, I met fine characters like yourself over there.
What were those early days like for you guys covering the emerging sport of the CrossFit Games and not having a ton of experience doing it?
Man, I think potentially ignorance was bliss. Meaning I didn’t know what it took to be a good media professional, so I probably didn’t know what I was doing wrong. So we would just go down there and click on cameras and it was the wild West. And you know, whether the transitions between talking or packages were smooth or professional or whatever it was, we didn’t know, we were just throwing it out there. So it was very, very real, very authentic, very, you know, just off the cuff. And it was again a blast just to be a part of something growing. Every year that went by, we got a better idea of what we were doing or we’d get somebody in that knew what they were doing or give us a little bit of counsel or refresh or professional development and we’d get a little bit better at our craft and a little bit better at our craft. And the graphics got a little bit better until, I mean, you can go back, if I went back and looked at some of our early Update Shows, they would be tough to watch.
I mean it would make me just uncomfortable seeing how many things we were doing wrong or how terrible we were on camera and to where we eventually wound up with such a polished, smooth production that still allowed everyone to be authentically who they were with their personality and delivery but done in a way that still makes a good show and the packages were slick and I mean there was just so much, I mean you well know there was just so much progress that occurred in a relatively small period of time. It was great.
Out of that chaos, like you said, emerged some order. What were some of the things that you did to make sure you were as successful as possible anytime that you were on camera?
Oh man. I would just, you know, peer pressure is an amazing thing, and so especially when I was on the desk with you, Tommy or Rory, each one of you guys pushed me to get better in a different way that you just don’t want to be the weak link in the chain. And so you would just put in monster amounts of preparation because there’s no hiding. If the camera clicks to you and you just stand there like a fence post and everything that you say is wrong and you deliver it poorly and your points aren’t coherent and you don’t know the package that’s coming up like you can’t hide, like it’s very exposing and you, I’ll give you a compliment, you’re so astonishingly good at what you do and it’s obvious because you make it look like it’s not hard.
And that’s the trick right there. You just up there talking and Hey, let’s throw to this package and here’s a break. We come back from the break and catch up on what’s going on. And people at home are like, Oh, that doesn’t look that hard. It’s profoundly hard. I’ve had to host every now and then and it’s absurdly hard. So I knew that you were going to be squared away. I knew that Rory was going to be handsome and so I had to make sure my makeup was right and my hair was done because you don’t want to look ugly next to Rory. I look ugly and short next to Rory. So I was screwed there. And then Tommy is just an idiot savant with Games knowledge and facts and what color was so and so’s shoelaces in 2010, he just had all of that stuff on the tip of his tongue that you knew if you didn’t have your facts straight you were going to look not good cause he was going to have his facts straight. So it was just the crew that we had. I mean everybody that was there on the desk was ready, rockin, squared away and so help you God, you better have your ducks in a row.
Hey guys, before we go any further with Pat Sherwood, I wanted to ask you a question. Remember when pictures of bloody hands and vomit attracted clients to your gym? Well that stopped working in about 2011 or so. It’s also not enough to be a great coach or programmer. The key to success in 2020 is building a personal relationship with each client, then helping that client’s friends and family. Total ad spend on that? $0. The average gym owner can also add $45,000 a year in revenue just by keeping each client a few months longer. Two-Brain’s new Affinity Marketing and Retention guides will give you everything you need to know. You can get both and 13 other guides and books for free. Visit TwoBrainbusiness.com/free-toolsAll you have to do visit Two-Brain business.com/free-tools. And now, more with Pat Sherwood. We and you eventually get on ESPN, CBS network television. What was your sort of welcome to the big time moment?
Oh man. You know, just to let the listeners at home know, you know, before we started recording this, we were talking about Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm. And I kind of feel like a lot of my media stuff was Larry David-esque nature, and what I mean by that is people would die and kill to get on camera, right, in front of that big audience. And in a funny way, I’m actually relatively introverted, believe it or not, and I don’t like being the center of attention. With my small group of people that are my close friends, yeah, I’ll open up, we’ll be silly and cut it up. But like if I’m at some big party with a bunch of people that I don’t know, I’m in a living hell, and absolute living hell, I just want to run away. And so being on camera in front of thousands of people, like I never ever sought it out.
Not by a long shot, but for some crazy reason people kept putting me in front of large audiences. I don’t know why, I never asked for it. And they’re like, now you’re on ESPN. And I’m like, ah, all right, I guess. And you know TV networks as well. And again, it’s just funny because yeah, it’s almost like Larry David when he’s writing Seinfeld, he kept hoping that the show would get canceled so he wouldn’t have to go to work anymore. It’s like, cause some of that stuff, it’s just funny because I would’ve never sought it out, but I just kept getting these opportunities and I guess we kept doing well so they kept growing and you know, for me, you know, you were there as well. For me getting on ESPN or you know, one of the television networks. It has a cool factor, right? So it has a cool factor but it wasn’t any different to me than anything else cause it’s still just the black circular lens of the camera, you know, and you don’t know, are there seven uninterested viewers at home watching or are there 7 million, you know, it’s still the camera. So I just tried to always, I tried to not let it get into my head, the size of the audience, cause then I didn’t want to just, you know, freeze up on camera, do something. But I had a definite appreciation and gratitude for the experience for the opportunity. And I can tell you a story to make fun of myself, which was I think the first time that we were on ESPN, we were at the StubHub or I guess it was the Home Depot Center then at the Games, and we’re having a production meeting in the morning before we go on, we’re going through the rundown, which I didn’t even know what a rundown was at that point in time.
And there’s all this, you know, these are all professionals and so you know, you’re going through this multiple-page rundown and they have everything abbreviated in shorthand. I don’t know what any of it means. And something goes to me and again, I don’t want to look like the idiot on camera. So next to it it says this one word all together. HILITES. I didn’t know I didn’t have any coffee in the morning. I was looking at it, but in front of, I don’t know, 30 people there that were doing it forever, I’m like putting my hand up like quick question, you know, line item 41 throws to me and it says that I’m on the hell-eet-ees, and what are hell-eet-ees? Whoever was running it was very kind instead of just, you know, stomping me into the ground. Said that says highlights. Ah, the highlights. Luckily I just identified myself as a veteran professional in this room.
I’m sure that meeting ended people were like, is this the guy we’re putting on? Do we have anybody else for when he freezes up that we can stick on there in a commercial break? Time’s gone by, my friend.
One of the things that you did during your time with the media team that I thought was fantastic was that road trip through South America. How did the idea for that come about?
Wow. Yeah, that was 2013 I want to say. You know, I was talking to Ian Wittenberg and we were both into motorcycles and we loved Latin America and Spanish. He’s obviously a filmmaker. And I’d done some seminars down there and I knew that the emerging CrossFit community culture in Latin America, it was phenomenal. And it was strong and passionate and full of enthusiasm. And I felt like it needed to be highlighted more. And at that time, I think I had also watched The Long Way Around with, you would know this, the guy who played in Star Wars, McGregor—
Yes. You know, he did a motorcycle trip, like around the world. He’s a millionaire so he could pull it off. And it was amazing. And he documented his adventures and I was so envious of—I wanted to have an adventure like that, but I’m not a millionaire. And I was like, you know what? What if we did it for a work trip? This is so crazy. What if we get two guys on motorcycles, minimal gear, and we drove from basically a road from the Canadian border all the way down through the US down through Mexico, down through Central America to the bottom of South America, popping into affiliates along the way, telling the stories. And you know, when I presented this, it had all that and I said, there’s just no way that you’re going to ride a motorcycle 13,000 miles and not have 57 things go wrong. Like so there will be unscripted adventure and action and heartbreak and comedy all mixed in with telling the story of Latin American affiliates that inevitably when myself and Ian get into trouble, those are the guys we’re going to call.
So like there’s going to be this real thing happening and it somehow got approved. To this day I shake my head. I don’t know how I was paid to do that for a job for four months, but it was one of the richest, most rewarding, fulfilling experiences of my life, and that’s no exaggeration, it was through all these places in the world that the news would tell you not to ride through and don’t you dare do that and you’re going to meet these bandits and terrible people, and don’t get me wrong, there was plenty of danger and dangerous areas, but no matter where we were and no matter what country we were in, the overwhelming majority of the time the people that we met were so giving and open and welcoming and friendly that it just, again, it made me feel good about humanity again. It was awesome.
You also started CrossFit Linchpin while you were on the media team. Why did you decide to go down that road?
Man, I started Linchpin—I love programming. Always have, there’s the quick answer. Absolutely adore programming. I don’t know why, but it makes me happy. And I was always posting on my personal Instagram the workouts that I did, which was just something written on a dry erase board, like very low production value and it was gaining a very good following. So it must’ve been because they were good workouts, cause I don’t think they would gain a following if they were bad workouts, and people started to enjoy them more and more. I started to post more and more and then since I was programming for myself anyway, and posting anyway I figured why not affiliate my garage and then at least post these workouts through what would be my garage affiliate.
And so I just decided to affiliate my garage and continue with the same posting and programming that I was doing but now do it through an affiliate. I didn’t know, maybe down the road I’d want to you know, open a bigger one and have clients. It’s nice to always have that opportunity. But in the meantime I could have the garage affiliate. So I just pulled the trigger on that. And it turned out to be a really good decision. It’sman absolute blast.
One of the most popular things that you would post was the monster mash. How did that get started?
Good Lord. I mean it started because people are crazy. People are crazy and even though they don’t say it, they love to suffer. People love to suffer. I don’t understand it, Sean. And that started with, again, back at CrossFit HQ with a few of our knucklehead friends, Heber Cannon, a young filmmaker in desperate need of a proper haircut.
Marston Sawyers and Tommy Marquez and they were all competitive against one another. They’d all been doing CrossFit for a decent amount of time, so they had some capacity, and once a week they would, they would program something and want to throw down to see who is who in the zoo and who is the top dog. But obviously if you program for yourself, even if you’re very unbiased, you’re going to tilt it a little bit towards what you like, you know, chances are you wouldn’t program a 5k in something that you were doing.
And so they trusted my abilities and they eventually said, well, will you program this for us once a week, so I said sure. And it was three workouts they hopefully could accomplish within the course of an hour and you know, varied each week but try to be unbiased and cover a broad range of movements and time domains and rep ranges and loadings and capacities.
And then at the end of it they could kind of look each other squarely in the eye and say, I got you today, I’m the best today. And I started posting those on my personal Instagram as well and they were wildly popular. And so that got transferred over to Linchpin as well. And the term monster mash, I’m sure it exists in various places, but that was also something back to the SEALs, which was every Friday we would normally have a monster mash and a monster mash was just, you know, we’d work out PT every day, but whenever a monster mash came up, it was a particularly grueling, long, miserable PT session. And so I thought that was a very fitting name for these workouts. And then doing them on Monday had the added alliteration and there you go.
What do you define as good programming?
Ooh, good programming—good programming, it obviously increases your fitness, work capacity across broad time and modal domains. It obviously increases your fitness and fitness is obviously not just your engine. Fitness is not just your deadlift went up, your back squat went up. It’s also your body-weight stuff, so it moves the needle forward on all of those things simultaneously. It does so at a pace and frequency that pushes the athlete just hard enough and challenges them just hard enough to get the adaptation from the workout because that’s what you do, right? Like you stress the system, the system recovers for a bit and it adapts. You stress the system, recover and adapt. So you have to stress the system, but good programming stresses it enough to get the adaptation and allow them to recover; to come back in the next day, the next week and hit it again with intensity without overstressing the system, which might lead to some short-term gains but then doesn’t allow for adequate recovery.
Hence it does not permit long-term gains in any way, shape or form and overstressing the system could be potentially injurious to shoulders, knees, backs, things of that nature, which you don’t want, but then overstressing the system and the athlete also could have the potential negative effect of what happens between the years. Now this athlete’s overtrained, they’re tired all the time, their muscles ache, working out doesn’t seem fun anymore. I don’t want to go into the gym. You don’t go into the gym as frequently, now you start to backslide and when you do go into the gym you’re not fired up so maybe you don’t or can’t bring the intensity that you should because the programming was improper. Now you’re backsliding. So good programming, while obviously covering all of the facets you would have to, like I mentioned before, of loadings, rep ranges, time domains, the way that the body and the external object move from pulling off the ground to below parallel to overhead to various planes of movement, like all of those things going together but then have to go together in this beautiful symphony that’s just enough to get what you want and keep the athlete healthy and happy and not too much because bad things happen. But then it can’t be too little because then all you’re doing is delaying progress as well. So I know this is a very long convoluted answer, but good programming has to take—or maybe you could say that’s great programming, but it has to take all those things into consideration, which is why I think there’s far more that goes into it than most people realize. It’s not as simple as, well, yesterday we went below parallel, so today we’re not going to. OK, true. That could potentially be a good place to start, but there’s 500 other facets that have to get taken into and a whole bunch of big-picture stuff and then a whole bunch of nuanced items as well that I think separate what people can do and sustain for a week, a month, or can you do it for a decade and be still hitting PRs and feeling great. So that’s my really short, concise answer.
Along those lines, what makes someone good at programming?
Oh boy. I get this question a lot. I don’t exactly know and here’s the only reason I’m going to say that. You have to have a baseline competent technical knowledge of how the human body works, of all those various different pieces and components that I mentioned a second ago that have to be taken into consideration. You have to understand how those interplay with each other, how much is too much, how much is a little bit. But then after you get all of that, you could have all of that basic knowledge, which potentially you could get from a book or an article or a website. But that doesn’t mean that you’re going to be a good programmer, because there is, you know, what’s the phrase, like it takes 10 years to become an overnight success? Like you know, 10 years of experience takes 10 years.
So, OK, great. You read all that stuff, fantastic. But now, even though you have that knowledge, you have to start to apply it to different groups of masses of people and what you think might happen may not happen when you have real, live human subjects. And you might find out that what seemed like it was too little is actually too much or vice versa or this isn’t enough rest or this was too much rest or fill in the blank. So even once you get that technical knowledge between your ears, you have to then begin programming. And that’s how you can become a good programmer is you have to begin programming and you’re going to be a beginner, or novice programmer that makes a fair amount of errors for a very long time. There’s no escaping the novice programmer phase and it doesn’t last a month.
It lasts a very long time. And then you don’t jump to expert, then you barely squeak into intermediate and you’re there for years. And then you get glimpses of being an expert and then you still screw up every now and then and little by little you just gain—again, you can’t buy experience. So you have to have all that technical knowledge and then you just have to do it for a very, very, very long time to become profoundly good at it. And some people love it and some people hate it. I think I’m just lucky in the fact that I really enjoy it.
What is your current role with CrossFit Health?
So my title is media manager, but what occupies the overwhelming majority of my time is once every four days on crossfit.com you will see a video of an older individual or a, you know, an individual that doesn’t appear to be in your classic ripped, shredded 10-pack abs, you know, shape, be it physically or the age range is greater than we normally see, in a living room set, working out with milk jugs or whatever it happens to be.
So I’m in charge of creating that content. So there’s a never-ending every four days for perpetuity, there has to be a video up there. So I’m regularly flying down to HQ, setting up filmings, putting the athletes through that stuff, making sure that it gets edited, uploaded, all that good stuff. And then on top of doing that, you know, we have, you know, one day to two day courses which occur for physicians that have attended the MD L1 course and hold that credential. They all come back to CrossFit HQ for a series of speakers involving you know, how you should eat, good science versus bad science. All kinds of fascinating things that occur. There’s a lot of networking interaction that takes place with that. And so I’m intermingled with all those physicians and speakers and helping those events be successful as well. And just whatever miscellaneous stuff crosses my inbox.
Sorry to interrupt, but you mentioned the doctors who come through that level one seminar. What’s the reaction you get from them after they’ve gone through that for the first time?
The docs are great. They really are. They are just as fired up and you know, most of them that come through are, they’ve already bought into the fact that doing functional movements with variance and intensity, that’s the way that you get fit and eating unprocessed foods. That’s the way to long-term health. So it is great to see an orthopedic surgeon or you know, fill in the blank, your favorite specialty that understands deadlifting and squatting aren’t actually bad for your back and knees. They’re a physician who will be telling you this is what you should be doing to keep your body healthy long term. So that is such a breath of fresh air. And it’s very interesting, you know, I feel very lucky to get to interact with these individuals so regularly and hear their stories and maybe some of their frustrations that they’re dealing, with potentially their hospital administration or the old guard that’s in there, still not on board and thinks that if you deadlift, you’re going to blow your back out. And you know, blahbity blahbity blah. So it’s interesting to see this new upcoming wave of people entering the medical community, which hopefully will slowly start to take over and we’ll be getting not only the treatment that you would like to get at a hospital if you happen to break your bone, they put it back together, but then when they say, Hey, what should I do for physical therapy and how should I eat, move? They’ll be giving you some pretty darn solid advice.
This is a question I asked to Julie Foucher and I’m curious to get your reaction on it, but it always seems that whenever we talk about health care, especially in the United States, the part that gets left out is personal accountability. Why do you think that’s not part of the bigger conversation right now?
Personal responsibility in the age of Instagram and the Kardashians. I mean personal responsibility is something gentleman of our age talk about, Sean, we say what’s happening in America right now? I agree. I think you nailed it. I don’t know. We could have a very long conversation about this. I don’t know when personal responsibility just fell to the wayside and I think it’s mixed in with far too many people wanting to hit the easy button on something that you can’t hit the easy button on. A pharmaceutical intervention of taking some sort of pill that will supposedly do something to your health is a lot easier to do than a lifestyle modification. It’s far easier to just eat what you’re normally eating, sit in the couch and just pop the pill and hope for the best than to say all these delicious, tasty foods that I’ve become accustomed to eating for decades, I now will have the mental fortitude to never eat them. You have to work hard. There’s going to be some sweat pouring down your face and your lungs are going to be going and there’s going to be some muscular discomfort. To some degree, it’s not a pleasurable experience in the moment, but the results that you get from that hard work are increased health and wellness. So you’ve got to make difficult choices with food, which is as addictive as any other drug. And then you need to make a choice to not sit on your relaxing couch and watch Netflix, but get up and put yourself through an uncomfortable scenario more often than you don’t. And I think—I don’t know what it is. And in today’s culture they’re like, can I just take a pill instead? And they’ve been told by plenty of people and advertising that yes, you absolutely can.
So go ahead and pop that pill. And I think, hopefully we’re starting to turn the tide and let people know that, A you haven’t been told the whole story. B, it’s not as effective as you hoped that it would be. And C, some good old fashioned hard work works just as well as your grandparents knew that it did.
Your latest job now is fatherhood. What has that taught you?
Oh man. Fatherhood is—so I’m the stepdad to two amazing boys and they are absolutely phenomenal and I’ve been in their lives for about five or six years now. They’re eight and 10 and they are absolutely the coolest thing in my entire life. My everything, hands down. And it’s taught me that I wish they’d came into my life a whole lot sooner, first and foremost. But then it has taught me patience to a degree that I just didn’t have before.
You know, you just have to be patient with kids. And it really has made me a better man for sure because it has made me more self-aware. I reflect more and pay far more attention now to my behavior, to how I’m conducting myself to the words that I use because they’re also a little sponges. And so if they see me not working out and you know, stuffing Junior Mints into my face and washing it down with a Mountain Dew and just sitting on the couch and watching Netflix, that’s going to be what gets into their brain versus do they see me making better decisions? Do they see me going out into the garage and working out? Do they see me reading a book more than watching Netflix? Like all of these little things mold these little pieces of clay into something. So that is a profound responsibility and an honor as far as I’m concerned. And then the other part about kids, which is so cool is that they think work is stupid.
Which is awesome, because by my nature, I’m a workaholic and I could just be at my computer or immersed in something. I like to be busy. I like to be productive, so I could work myself to an early grave. And it’s good to have these two little crazy people that sanity check me that wander into my office at five and they’re like, are you still working? And I’m like, Oh yeah, I got something I could, you know, I could finish up real quick. And they’re like, you said you’d be done at five. It’s five isn’t it? And I was like, you know what? It is five, so let’s pause the computer and let’s go throw the ball around. And that’s, I needed that in my life, you know? So they have given me probably far more than I have given them. They’re awesome, man.
Throughout your kind of time at CrossFit, it’s been like, OK, I want to do this and I’m moving here and I’m doing this and now it seems like you’re settled. What’s that feeling like for you right now?
Settled is great. So I’m 44 now and I just think I was a very late bloomer in life. Just you know, so like I said, had these kids in my life and done this stuff for probably the last five or six years, which means I didn’t really settle and have some sort of sense of normalcy until I was 38, 39 years old. Most of my time before that was, you know, bouncing around the planet and living out of a suitcase and all that and you know, being solo. So going back home at night and to an empty house and you just got nothing to do so you just, you know, watch Seinfeld until you fall asleep after four hours and now life is—I can’t imagine, I had no idea that life could be this hectic and crazy and there’s just kids going in different directions with school and sports and I got to hop on a plane and fly somewhere and my wife has something going on and you get them to their friends appointments and so-and-so is going to the dentist.
I mean it is nonstop burning the candle at both ends from the time I get up to the time I go to bed. But with that being said, all that craziness and hecticness comes a life that is full, like it’s full of people who you love and they love you and it’s full of experiences and it’s full of laughter and that chaoticness, well that’s life and it’s a household full of life and so I mean I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Life is busier and more crazy than it’s ever been, but at the same time better than it’s ever been and the two are definitely linked.
Well listen man, I appreciate you taking the time to do this and best of luck with the family and best of luck with everything professionally that you have going on as well.
No worries man. I appreciate the opportunity and I look forward to linking up with you guys next time I’m down there in California.
All right man, take care. Thank you.
All right brother. Thanks.
Big thanks to Pat Sherwood for joining me today. He is a great follow on social media. Check him out on Instagram. You can find him at @Sherwood215 and you can also check out his programming at CrossFit Linchpin. He is simply @CrossFitLinchpin. Thanks for listening to Two-Brain Radio. If you’re a business owner who craves actionable advice that can move you closer to wealth, you’ve got to pick up Chris Cooper’s book, “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief.” It is on Amazon today. We will see you next time, everybody.