INTRODUCING FIT FLO
What is FIT FLO?
It really is a lifetime culmination of over 30 years of experience in pursuing both personal improvement and working to help others improve the quality of their lives mentally, physically, and spiritually. This has been my mission statement for the past 20 years. The tools and methods have been many but the mission has been consistent. It has been suggested to me by several people, who I have the utmost respect and admiration for, that I should develop my own system of training and put my name on it. I have been resistant to this idea for several years but have finally decided to accept the advice and challenge.
There are many reasons for my resistance and some are more deeply seeded than I am probably aware of. However, I am aware of the face that I am, by nature, an introvert. I want our gym, Alliance Champions Training Center, to be known but I would prefer to remain more in the shadows and not put my name out there as much. As my wife tells me, I am “ sensitive”. I admit I don’t like being wrong and I tend to take criticism personally. If you put your own ideas out there then there is a good chance somebody is going to say you are a “fool”. Well, I’ve decided to take that risk because I realize that if I want to truly impact as many people as possible I have to be willing to accept the risk and face my fears.
F = Fletcher
I = Integrative
T = Training
F = Fundamental
L = Life
O = Optimization
So, to start with, this training system is “My” system. This does not mean that I came up with these ideas all on my own. It is quite the contrary. I have learned from many great teachers and mentors. Some I have worked with and know personally and others I have learned from through reading and studying their work. I will try to give credit to those I have learned from as long as I remember where I learned it.
When I say, this is “my” system, I mean that it is my opinion based on my experience which includes many mistakes which have brought me to these current conclusions. This system also has my own personal biases which no doubt are influenced by things I personally like and believe in. I am giving the system a name simply to give us a point of reference. This system is a culmination of:
35+ years of physical training and participation in competitive sports ranging from football, track, bodybuilding, powerlifting, and Jiujitsu.
30 years of personal training and fitness coaching.
20 years of martial arts training.
Part of my philosophy of training is heavily influenced by the teachings of Bruce Lee. Bruce’s particular style of martial arts was called Jeet Kune Do. What I remember reading is that he really didn’t want to give his art a name because he viewed it more as a philosophy than simply a style of martial art. That philosophy was simply to seek to learn as much as possible, maintain an open but critical mind, and then take what works and incorporate it while discarding what doesn’t work. I aim to follow that same philosophy. This is an ever-evolving process and I will continue to search for better methods with a “white belt” mentality. However, for now, this is how I view training as a way to live an optimized life with ‘Flow’, which I will be discussing in more detail later.
This idea is heavily influenced by former Navy Seal Commander Mark Divine. Coach Divine is also the founder of SealFit, Unbeatable Mind, Kokoro Yoga, and the famed crucible event, Kokoro.
I remember reading about Mark, SealFit, and Kokoro years ago and his message resonated with me. When I began looking into Kokoro Camp for myself I first went to Mark’s Five Mountain Training course to learn more. This course was nothing like the physical and mental challenges of Kokoro or 20X but focused more on the Five Mountain philosophy and integrative training that Mark had developed from his years as a Seal, martial artist, and yoga practitioner. The Five Mountains consist of :
5. Kokoro ( warrior or heart spirit)
I left thinking this is a philosophy I would really like to articulate and develop as a part of the culture at Alliance.
In many martial arts or yoga training traditions, you have the opportunity to train the mind, the body, and the spirit. FIT FLO is a training system which also allows you to train all three simultaneously and synergistically. If you embrace and go “all in” with this approach, you will realize that every moment of every day is an opportunity to work on yourself. You can always spend time focused on individual aspects of the mind, body, and spirit and I encourage you to do that as well. However, if you become accustomed to being present and aware of your thoughts, breath, and movement at all times then you are always training. This is one of the goals of FIT FLO.
In my opinion, training should have a purpose. As I mentioned in the last email about the purpose of an integrative approach, everything we do is training. We become what we do and think. When it comes to thinking, you can proactively choose to have a positive attitude and positive internal dialogue. You can also choose to surround yourself with positive people who share similar values and goals. On the other hand, you can also choose to be negative and surround yourself with negative people. Although, I don’t know why anyone would purposefully and proactively do so. What is far too common, and in my opinion more dangerous, is that if you don’t take a proactive role in how you think, you can very easily be programmed by all the negative in the world, especially the media.
So, the real choice is either being proactive or not. Either way, whether you choose to or not your mind is being trained. Physical training is the same. You can choose to physically train or not to train. If you workout and don’t have a specific purpose you are still training. It just might not be for the right thing based on your goals. More people than ever are exercising but more people are also becoming injured. This shouldn’t be the case and it need not be. I have never had anyone come to me and say I want to start training so that I can be injured.
Sport is a different animal. If you are competing in a sport, there there is an inherent risk of injury. A good strength and conditioning program can and should help mitigate this risk not increase it. You should not become injured during your strength and conditioning. It is important to make the distinction. This is one of the reasons I dropped my affiliation with Crossfit. When I first became affiliated with Crossfit, Its founder, Greg Glassman, said that Crossfit was the best form of GPP, general physical preparedness, and I agreed. Crossfit was meant to work and develop the ten general physical skills
Crossfit was originally designed to develop these skills and remove chinks in your armor that are inherently developed as a result of sport-specific training. In other words, if you only play a sport or train specifically for a certain sport, you are likely to develop imbalances which can lead to injury or a plateau in performance. By balancing out the system you will reduce the chance of injury and break through those plateaus. In the beginning, Crossfit was about making you better at your sport.
The problem, in my opinion, is that Crossfit became the sport and, as a result, created some of the same problems it was originally designed to solve. Julien Pineau, creator of Strongfit, who I have been working with for the past year as part of his mentoring program has largely built his business trying to balance and fix injured Crossfitters. A competitive atmosphere in training can be a very productive thing and if you choose to compete in fitness events that is awesome. However, I think it is very important not to blur the lines. You must know what you are training for. One of the goals of FIT FLO is to help make and keep you healthy. Another is to help you find balance mentally, physically, and spiritually. This will not only help you become better in your sport if you have one but will be just as important for improving your life overall.
When it comes to mastery of anything, fundamentals are key to reaching that mastery. The FIT FLO system places a huge emphasis on doing just that. We often talk about the importance of the five critical areas:
These five areas are fundamental to living a balanced life in Flow, which I will discuss in further details in a later email. In each of these areas, there are also fundamentals and layers associated with mastery. For example, the FIT FLO system has three main components within the physical area:
Within each of these areas there are also fundamentals. For instance, within the movement component we have fundamental basic human movement such as the hinge, squat, push, and pull. However, we also want the capacity to move freely and beyond the basic movements. We want to create freedom to move. To do this safely we have to start with fundamentals and layer new movement on top of that. If we skip the fundamentals we are more likely to experience injury.
Whenever, you reach a sticking point you can always to go back to to the fundamentals and see what can be corrected.
To optimize life we focus predominantly on five critical areas:
In my earlier emails, I referenced the word “Flow”. The FIT FLO system is also designed to help you Flow in your life. This is one the reasons for the name. Flow state is something that has always intrigued me but something I have been contemplating a lot over the last year. Although Flow is something that I have occasionally experienced in several different areas of my life at one time or another, I realize that my approach or belief system for attaining it has been somewhat flawed. I have always prided myself on working hard. At times it has served me well.
I remember being at Clemson and working out at the famed “Dungeon”. It was basically a gym in a basement underneath Fike Recreation Center that was filled with a bunch of free-weights and old-school weightlifting equipment. I remember telling someone that I may not ever be the biggest and strongest but no one here is going to work harder or longer than me. Later, I remember working with one of Tony Robbins personal development coaches and one of the exercises I was asked to do was to write down what some of my beliefs were. One of mine was that “Hard Work Pays Off”. Upon examining my beliefs my coach suggested I examine that specific belief and consider thinking about “Smart Work Pays Off”. I remember that I didn’t like her suggestion. Terms like “Embrace the Grind”, “Embrace the Suck”, and “Get Comfortable with the Uncomfortable” have all been a part of my vocabulary and belief system. Don’t worry, Im not going soft on you here but I came to the realization that maybe one of my false beliefs is that being in Flow can lead to becoming soft. This belief could lead to a feeling that you should always choose the hardest path. I am reconsidering that path. There is a time and place to grind. Many things can be learned from crucible challenges and grinding it out. However, there are also times to be smarter and more efficient where you can enjoy the experience that is Flow. Part of the FIT FLO goal is to find a balanced life in Flow. So, what is Flow exactly? It is something I think all of us on some level seek but don’t know how to create it in our lives. Flow, or the “ one”, is easier felt than described. It can come in many different forms for different people. Rafael often talks about Flow in Jiujitsu. He and Cobrihna both talk about “action and reaction” which is a form of flow, where you are not going against the energy but with it using your opponents energy against him. We have many of our Alliance Jiujitsu athletes who exhibit this ability. However, this is just one example of flow.
John Demantini speaks of seven areas of Flow:
In their book “Stealing Fire”, Stephen Corley and Jamie Wheal write about how everyone from CEO’s, to Navy Seals, to professional athletes are all looking for Flow. Through their research, they have created the acronym STER to describe the components that make up Flow State.
Thom Shea, in his book “Unbreakable: A Navy Seals Way of Life”, refers to the five pyramids:
Although he doesn’t talk about flow, he does talk about finding balance among these five areas. He says to perform at your best it is important to have that balance. From my viewpoint, this is another example of Flow.
Commit, Show Up, Don’t Quit, Be Uncommon, Be Your Best Self,