We must become storytellers. A good storyteller speaks something into nothing. Where there is absence of story, or perhaps a bad story, a good storyteller walks in and changes reality. He doesn’t critique the existing story, or lament about his boredom, like a critic. He just tells something different and invites other people into the new story he is telling. So let’s begin to tell a better story.
In the XV Olympics, during the height of Russian athletic dominance, Soviets took 29 medals (11 gold), East Germans took 25 medals (9 gold), while the U.S. only took 6 medals (2 gold)—9th place.
How are we to explain the consistent edge shown by other countries in business and athletics? Some might say Americans have lost their clear vision and follow-through, that they now lack the ability to see and stay with a course all the way to its successful outcome. It is disquieting to discover how often those who are “in the search for excellence” stop part way through a program or book once they feel they have grasped the basics or principles but fail to follow through with the important details. This failure inevitably leads to second place at best. We are growing a society where information and book knowledge is highly regarded and good ideas puff up egos while the actual ability to follow through and gain experience through failure and suffering is avoided at all costs. This is the main reason why I chose to leave "corporate" America. Too much time wasted in meetings brainstorming the next great idea, and everyone leaving feeling accomplished that good ideas were discovered only to see nothing actually change a month later. It's one thing to have a good idea. Good ideas pump the ego. It's a whole other thing to actually know how to implement that idea into reality. That's when others are truly served.
In the Soviet Union, students selected for honors programs called spetzshkolas, are trained to think and solve problems for themselves through a classical approach all but ignored in the West. For example, pupils are not taught Newton’s Laws. Rather, they are presented with conditions through which enterprising students can “discover” these laws on their own. In this way, truths become self-evident and the application of truths are applied automatically. Student's, through this type of environment are taught to think for themselves and use knowledge to grow the next set of questions that naturally present themselves once a level of mastery is achieved. This is very different than our current western system that inundates us with information that we are required to memorize and regurgitate during testing. The ability to regurgitate information does not reveal in the slightest the students actual mastery of the subject and whether or not they can apply it to the real world. In my corner of the world, that's why I see too many trainers who can tell you information on how to do a particular exercise, yet very few can do it correctly themselves and even less can teach it to others. It's like the vast number of black belts in martial arts who have never actually been in a fight or ever received a punch to the face. It's a false sense of security. Just like owning a firearm and shooting paper targets that don't shoot back is not the same thing as being in a battle with real bullets flying past you. That's why you hear story after story of police officers emptying complete magazines but not hitting anything...or what they hit is detrimental. Only when tested under fire do you realize the questions and scenarios that come about revealing your weaknesses and what your training really needs to entail.
The best way to learn anything is ultimately by doing. A good coach, teacher, trainer, or instructor is one who has already a level of true mastery and can break down variables and put them into an environment where you can discover what works instead of just giving you answers and information. (And the best instructors are not necessarily those who are naturally gifted or talented. Many professionals we look up to are genetically gifted and didn't have to fight or struggle to achieve. 1 out of 1000 people will be this way. And statistically, most professional sports have numbers in the 1/1000 range if you look at high school participants compared to professional participants--last year over 1.4 million students participated in high school football; there are only 1,696 spots in the NFL. Which means very few got there from sheer determination and hard work. The best teachers are the ones who weren't the most talented, had to overcome critical obstacles and find answers that talented people blew through or overlooked. Therefore, they now know more variables of how to achieve replicable success than a mere talented person who says "just do it like me". If you aren't exactly like them, then they can't replicate success in you. The coach who has faced many obstacles and overcome is the one who can replicate success in all sorts of individuals.)
I do what I do today because of all the obstacles I had to overcome. Family obstacles, money obstacles, health obstacles. I wasn't born naturally talented. My walls, obstacles, and frustrations motivated me to find answers. Like the quote, "necessity is the mother of all invention," great things do not occur without a great sense of urgency. So our gym is full of knowledge, however we don't just spew it out as it is shortly lost. We create an environment where you can learn by doing and feeling, then as you progress, better questions present themselves through your experience which give rise to greater levels of achievement as you break through barriers. It's not for everyone. The main point of our gym is to fail. It's a safe environment to do so, but without failure you can't learn. When people experience success, there is no stimulus to want to change anything. But if you fail, there's a reason to learn and improve. If you continually fail at the same point, you are not learning of course. That's why we are here. To guide you and set up parameters for failing appropriately. But once you learn from failure and succeed, we celebrate momentarily and then get back to work overcoming the next level of failure. This is not a place where everyone gets a trophy. It's honest. It's raw. Many people don't like that because it requires a good look into the mirror and a test of your mental and emotional fortitude. Many don't like the challenge. But if you want to really make something of yourself, steward all that God gave you, it's the means necessary to do so. We enjoy this training environment because the habits formed here transcend into all areas of life. And as a side benefit, you get to be really strong and fit in the process!
Here's to real learning.
One instrument by itself can sound pretty cool. But it will never compare to the fullness, richness, and depth of an entire orchestra. However, if just one musician in the orchestra refuses to practice and play his part and is now missing notes, the whole orchestra suffers and misses revealing the true potential of its glory. The orchestra needs each musician and each musician needs the collective orchestra. Life is no different. Do your part then come join us. We need you too. We need you to be a part of a collective growth in opportunity to reveal the best you. And you will need this environment to push you to be your best. Were changing a culture. You are a part of that culture.
It is extremely important to remember that our attitude is not dependent upon our circumstances. There will always be struggle, disappointment, frustration. However, when we allow our circumstances to get the best of us, it becomes a difficult pattern to remove ourselves from. Anger and frustration if we allow it can make us irritable, then pouty, then whiny, then a whole host of other potential negative displays that quite frankly no one wants to be around. Even placing your physical body in a posture of negativity effects your emotional state. We all appreciate being around others who are positive, encouraging, and cheerful. We gravitate towards others who are determined, focused and motivated. The opposite is also true. Being around negative people tends to bring us down. But in these moments it is crucial that we lead by example. Be the change you want to see in others. Positive attitude is contagious. So what if your circumstances are less than desirable? If you're reading this it means you're not dead yet. Which means you can effect positive change. Most attractive is the person who, even faced with hard circumstances, can muster a smile and takes that simple action into positive movement and makes something out of seemingly nothing. It is this, more than anything else, that enables change in our environment. In the end you don't really have control of most of what happens to you. However, you do have all the power to effect who you want to be. Who do you really want to be? What kind of person do you want to be? Who you are is a choice that has no dependence on your circumstances. Be that person despite your circumstances. Anything less than that is just an excuse. Time to rise above. Do the right thing. A new direction can start with a simple smile.
I have been an athlete and into fitness for as long as I can remember. I had my first major injury my sophomore year in high school when I completely dislocated my shoulder during baseball. You see, I started as the typical freshman who was as tall as I am now (6’1″) but weighted only 140 lbs. I was the fastest kid in school but didn’t have much strength and received the nickname “gumby”. I was a varsity letterman in both baseball and wrestling as a freshman and was ready to start varsity football as a sophomore. Therefore, all the coaches had me doing the typical bigger, faster, stronger programs of how much can you bench, squat, and power clean.
Of course, we only worked the muscles we could see in the mirror and had bad form on top of that. I made it through football season at the beginning of my sophomore year then went into wrestling where I got caught in a bad chicken wing that made my shoulder ‘sloppy’. Then during baseball tryouts at first base (I’m a lefty), I took a ground ball and side-armed it towards third when all the muscles in my anterior shoulder contracted and literally pulled my shoulder out of socket.
The “great” doctors at Notre Dame looked at my MRI, showed me the divit in the ball of my shoulder and told me I needed surgery but would lose my range of motion. My thought at 15 years old was, “If I lose my range of motion how can I pitch effectively (I was also one of our starting varsity pitchers)?” So I opted for physical therapy instead which was also another joke.
Since I couldn’t throw, I DH’ed the rest of my sophomore year, played first base my junior year as I could now just get it across the infield, and didn’t pitch again until my Senior year in high school. And that was a relief pitcher at that. I had to walk onto the baseball team at Purdue University where I attended college since I wasn’t able to show my stuff in high school. I made the team but was plagued throughout with a nagging shoulder. I stayed on the injured reserve list for my whole college career that was done my sophomore year.
When I realized I would never be the successful athlete, I decided the next best thing was to train them. I began my education in exercise physiology and quickly became an assistant strength and conditioning coach at Purdue. I quickly became frustrated at how many injuries I saw in players and also saw how they were falling in between the gaps from the doctors to the PT’s, to the athletic trainers and back to the strength and conditioning coaches. There was no crossover in disciplines so there was a lot of missing content in restoring athletes back to health and actually keeping them healthy.
This led me to my quest. Still in college I began traveling the country to seek out the best in every field of study to learn from them. I took every break, vacation, and summer to travel and offer myself as a free intern. (Everybody loves free, eager help!) I learned from the best, saw what made them successful, then started a system that combined their successive fields of study into a complete wellness model. And even after college I continued seeking out the best in every field to study and learn under them. I did not want to see anyone else have to go through the pain and frustration that I went through. It was time to make a difference that breaks through the current limitations on our healthcare..I should say sickcare…system.
It has been this model that I have continually grown and adapted for over the last two decades. And it only gets better. I have helped everyone from the typical Joe trying to lose weight and have more energy to professional and Olympic athletes. I have helped cancer patients, cardiac rehab patients, patients with various diseases, and post injury/surgery patients. My commitment is that I will never stop learning and seeking out the best ways to help individuals reach optimum health, fitness, performance, and wellness. I sure hope that I am not training people the same way 20 years from now as I am doing today. There is always more to learn. Please join me in this process and hopefully at the same time, you will live a better and healthier life!
Christopher Knott, M.S., CARPT
this is an email i forwarded to a new football team concerning main points of why to train at dunamis.
Here is a quick breakdown of some main points to share with parents concerning training at Dunamis:
1) The proof is in the pudding. NO ONE else worked with 23 players from the Super Bowl 50 Denver Broncos outside of the actual Broncos organization. No other individual was on the plane with the Broncos to and from Super Bowl 50. There are others who have a few professional athletes here and there but the reason I was invited to the Super Bowl was because I had 44% of the entire team coming to me. This doesn’t happen if you don’t get results and I am strictly endorsed by word of mouth. Not only do I have all the Broncos, but several other players around the NFL, MLB, and Olympic athletes. Very few people in the entire COUNTRY can state this. I opened up my gym with the sole purpose to offer our community the same kind of opportunities I give to these professional and Olympic athletes. And hopefully within a year we will be able to offer even more when we open up our new and larger training space.
2) Dunamis is the ONLY place in Colorado that has the equipment and means necessary to train all the main deficiencies in athletes. I always tell people that it’s really hard to learn Spanish if you sit down in the middle of French class. You need to be in the correct environment. Most every gym is unfortunately set up to hurt people and not help because they just reinforce deficiencies. For example, most everyone is quad dominant. This is because we don’t retain appropriate muscle balance and motor patterns from being little kids. (Think about all the 2 year olds that squat perfectly but how many people can squat down past parallel without falling on their butt past the age of 12?) This is because no regular gym has appropriate apparatuses to train glute and hamstring activation properly. So when kids go to the gym for their squat workout, they are just reinforcing squatting with their quads, which makes their quads even stronger (which makes typical coaches happy because they can put more weight on the bar), unfortunately this just means they are solidifying their problem and compensations which is why they can squat more weight but wonder why they can’t run faster and are dealing with torn ACL’s, torn hamstrings, tight IT bands, and eventually hip problems. A football team is no good with guys on the sidelines injured. Injury prevention is the first focus of our program and that is done by getting the body to work correctly again. Most of your players have a long way to go, much more than one summer to correct all their imbalances. But they need to be in the right environment first if they are to have a chance.
3) We create opportunity. One of my biggest pet peeves is the growing epidemic of entitlement in the current generation and generation to come. We have lost the sense of discipline and work ethic needed to really succeed in life. Many kids these days think they deserve stuff. They think that by breaking a sweat, doing some agility drills, going to play their sport, they should automatically be good and get their scholarship. These kids have not had much exposure to sports in places like California, Texas, Florida, Ohio, etc, let alone the kind of training that is required of my Olympic athletes who train for 4 years solid knowing full well their dreams can be done in a matter of 6 minutes. We want to bring kids back to an environment where this kind of hunger, desire, work ethic is re-instilled which far transcends the football field. Anyone can take kids through a 8 week program to get a little faster, stronger, etc…but are they preparing them for life? I care more about their character than I do their bench press. But we use strength, fitness and athleticism to have a tangible way to open up what they are really made of. This is an opportunity. What they do with it us up to them. I don’t force anyone. It’s not my responsibility to make sure they succeed. It is my responsibility to create the best opportunity to allow success to happen. What kind of qualities do you want in the environment your kids are participating in? If you just train them physically, you are doing them a disservice. We use an acronym here called P.I.P.E.S. It stands for Physiology, Intellect, Psychology, Emotion, and Spirit. Here at Dunamis, we believe these are the core elements of a human being. If you are not incorporating all of these elements at the same time with whatever your endeavor is, you are creating limitations and compensations in your ability. We are the only environment here where kids get the opportunity to grow in ALL of those areas. Because of how we train, getting kids stronger and faster is the easy part. Creating the opportunity to grow character, perseverance, will, and fortitude is what makes champions.
4) Understand you will see drastic gains in your kids physicality over one summer if they follow the program correctly. This means showing up with consistency, eating a proper diet, getting enough sleep, and pushing past comfort levels. However, this program is meant to be a long term program. Every step builds on itself. We will be starting by going back to the basics of human movement and restoring those foundations. This is part of the discipline. Kids have to go through foundational work before they get to the real fun stuff. If they don’t you get a quick gain but at a long term detriment. And kids need to understand that being an athlete is a sacrifice. To be good at anything, you must be willing to sacrifice things others are not willing to sacrifice. I hear too many complaints of not enough time, too busy, social life, and tired…guess what? It only gets harder in College. Then harder again out of college. If they are not prepared for the rigors of what it takes to succeed, they will fail. Yes, it is a commitment. But if they don’t want to be good then why are they playing in the first place? Many people say they have goals. Many have beliefs. But ultimately actions reveal true beliefs. Again, here we give opportunity to reveal true beliefs and also walk alongside your kids in this process. I am a parent of 4 kids. It takes a village to raise kids. What kind of ideals and what kind of environment and mentorship do you want for your kids? As you can see, we have the science, the environment, the means to make athletes. But I want you to know that character is what makes champions and that is what is ultimately built into my programs. Bronco athletes come to me because of the physical results I get them but more importantly, they know I genuinely care for them and stop at nothing to give them my best.
This is our commitment. To always grow and give our best to whomever walks through our doors. We are creating a community and culture change. It’s not for everyone. But those who believe in more will get a lot out of our programs.
Please feel free to contact me directly if you have specific questions. How we do our neurological rehab and training, our functional medicine, sports psychology, and other details of why we are successful are more in depth than this email. The rabbit hole can go pretty deep for those interested in getting all out of what we offer. So if you want to know specifics, either email me direct from my website, take a look at my writings, or we can even set a time for a parent/coach meeting as we near the end of the school year.
There's nothing quite like individual, combative sports such as Olympic wrestling. We just got back from the 2016 Olympic trials and came up just short of making the Olympic team. It is amazing, and very sad to know that the difference between making the team and missing the team can come down to one slip of the foot. JD was ahead in the first period and with one slip, the tide of the whole match was changed eliminating him from the opportunity of the finals and his Olympic dreams. I'm writing this as most people, even most professional athletes, don't really have a clue to the true amount of dedication it takes for an Olympic medal. The professional athletes I work with have more dedication than most, but even all my NFL guys take vacations, get away with cheat meals, do some things I don't really approve of, and don't always work out at the intensity or frequency I would schedule, however they can still compete in the NFL. You can't get away with these things if your goal is an Olympic medal. That is a whole new level of dedication. It's a small group of people who understand what it is like to train for a singular goal over a 4 year period, with everyday doing multiple workout and training sessions, monitoring every meal, sleep cycles, stress levels, training cycles and appropriate periodization, recovery, injury prevention and necessary healing...the list goes on and the dedication of being singularly focused for such a long period relentlessly--only to have all that be over in less than a 24 hour period. It's hard enough to see Olympic dreams come to an end, but what people don't understand is the complete abruptness. 1,460 days of dedication with a singular focus and having only visions of success, ended in less than 6 minutes. How many people knowing this still believe it is worth it when you are at the crossroads of another 4 years to the next Olympics? It is amazing to see how many athletes I saw at the 2012 Olympic trials back at it again, 4 years later in 2016. The hunger and dedication within, knowing the odds are against you and at such a high cost, is quite simply astonishing. I wish it weren't so, but I know plenty more people who won't come close to this kind of dedication to their marriage, or kids, or friendships and call it quits well before a 4 year time period. So after working with and seeing Olympic athletes determined and resolved, even after facing bitter defeat, only to keep persevering, please take a second thought before you join the ranks of those cold and timid souls who neither know the thrill of victory or pain of defeat because true dedication alludes you or your kids with excuses of not enough time, too much homework, too busy, etc. It is a true saying that people will only achieve to the level that they are willing to sacrifice. It's time to get rid of all the excuses, set your heart upon a goal, then go after it with all your might without giving the consequences of victory or defeat a second thought. In the end, your peace of mind and stillness in your heart will be more dependent on how well you fight through the process rather than the end result. When the time comes, look yourself in the mirror and know without a shadow of a doubt that you gave it your all. Stewarding that is the highest form of gratitude for your life and the miracle of what you've been given.
Recently, my family was discussing a scare situation with a family friend who has a large family history of cancer and this person was experiencing symptoms that were the same precursors to her mother's cancer diagnosis. The good news is that she did not have cancer. She did though have infection and related inflammatory issues. Our discussion picks up as she was relating getting ready to go to a naturopath for some additional help dietary wise. Her concern was that this naturopath was going to tell her to go gluten free, diary free, everything free and that would be too overwhelming and quite frankly, she likes her bread.
I'm not going to take the time here to discuss gluten, dairy, diet plans etc, but rather this type of conversation lends itself to a bigger issue that is quite overlooked. In a previous message, I had discussed the fact that we all have our "thermostat" where we are comfortable. Go above the thermostat or below, and then we have the urgency to create change. But unless something forces us out of the thermostat, we resist change and like to stay where we are. Cancer, for many, takes us out of the normal thermostat range. People are much more willing to make big habitual changes when forced with instant mortality, and even when they think they have cancer, they even start to make those changes. But ironically, the moment there's a clean bill of health, the old habits immediately return. If someone were diagnosed with cancer and a doctor would say, "this type of cancer can be unequivocally cured by going gluten free", the person would go gluten free in a heartbeat. However, since there are no guarantees like that, only multiple suggestions of how to live healthier, we error on the side of comfort rather than health. Unfortunately, even when you point out the hypocrisy, the only real answer people fall back on is, "I like my bread".
And this is where I want to pick up. What people don't understand is that the sentiment "I like my bread" is not the greatest truth. Remember, everything is a habit and habits come from reinforcement of specific neural pathways. When you were a baby, you didn't crave bread, alcohol, etc, you only craved what you needed for growth and sustenance. (A great conversation comes from looking at what babies crave and what actually constitutes our needs of health...babies crave touch, soothing voices, stimulation...makes you think twice about the stuff that comprises health that many of us are missing out on.) But the first time you had bread, a chemical stimulus was created that formed a neural pathway that created a cycle. If that cycle gets reinforced, it gets stronger and cravings get stronger. We understand this with exercise--when you first exercise it is hard and undesirable. But after you exercise a few times, experience change both physically and chemically (think endorphins), we start to actually crave exercise. We crave feeling better. And the more you exercise and healthier you get, you replace desires for junk and no longer want to put bad things in your system. Until something else comes along--bad news, a breakup, etc and then comes out the ice cream to squash the other neurological patterns that come from emotional health (or dis-health). Bottom line is, we reinforce everything, whether good or bad. Our physical practices, or sleep and recovery, our thoughts, and our food all create neural pathways that are either reinforced and therefore create cravings for more, or are suppressed and take the power away from cravings.
So the next time you have a thought of "I like something" such as bread, ice cream, or whatever, know that it is not necessarily who you are made to be, but rather just a habit you have formed. The discipline comes in replacing that pathway with a new habit that must be formed and reinforced to a greater extent. If you want to do it, you can. You just need to be willing to get out of your thermostat and start the new path to a better you.
When people ask me about diet plans, the first thing I have them do is to keep a 7 day food journal noting everything they put in their mouth, quantities, and times so I can get a true understanding of what they eat as well as show them tendencies and habits they probably weren't aware of. Most people say they eat fairly well, but upon closer evaluation, we see several habits that need attention and change. Having it down on paper keeps out subjective feelings and guessing and forces you to deal with reality.
Managing time is no different. Most people will comment on having no time...which is not necessarily untruthful. When you think about it, all your hours in your day are completely filled up. You can't escape this. Even if you slept all 24 hours in the day, your hours would still be filled up...just filled up with sleep. So yes, no one has more time, and all of us have no more time. So what is the solution? Answer: Displacement.
What is displacement? Displacement is when you move something that is occupying space with something else to take that place. The new object displaces the old. This is ultimately what we do with our time. We are constantly displacing filled time with something else to fill that time. If you're lazy, you tend to fill more time with TV, sleep, Facebook, etc. But ironically, you still feel like you have no time. Because you don't. We all have habits in how we fill our time just like habits in how we eat. But many are not truly aware of their habits and they let time control them instead of them controlling their time. So like in my diet plans, my time management first starts with a journal writing down everything I am doing by category keeping a time journal for 7 days. With this information, I can see what I am putting my energy towards and am also faced with seeing my priorities. Show me how you spend your time and I'll show you what your priorities are. If you tell me getting fit is a priority but don't spend any time trying to get fit, it's not really a priority.
So step one is to keep a time journal. Step two is to list your life priorities. Step three is to list tangible habits that support your priorities. Then step four is to face your journal, see where you have been placing your priorities then choose where you are going to displace time to support your priorities.
Displacement always involves some sort of sacrifice. If you say you value prayer and meditation but have no time, and see you spend two hours a day watching TV, you can sacrifice some TV time to plan some evening alone time or at least go to bed 30 minutes earlier to get up 30 minutes earlier for your alone time. If you truly value something, you will make the time for it. The scariest part is facing your journal as there are no more excuses. Seeing your time exposes your true values and priorities. But if you want to be more productive, achieve more, and reach your goals, you must create the disciplines to allow for change. Understanding displacement and starting your journal is a great first step.
If you do not know what you're willing to say 'no' to, then how can you ever truly say 'yes' to anything?
People commonly ask me what is the best exercise for this, the best training program for that...and what I find most often as the common denominator is not the program but rather the consistency and the fervency with which the programs are done. A poor program done with consistency and with urgency will always be better than the best program not done at all.
Many people start seemingly good programs then complain when they don't see results yet their consistency and intensity while doing workouts is lackluster at best. Like New Year's resolutions. So before a good discussion can be made for types of workouts and best exercises, we must first have resolve to become consistent. I believe a main reason why people struggle to become truly consistent is that they don't know how to say "NO". Life will always consume us. Busy, is always the response when asking someone how they are doing. Do you think successful people have more hours in the day than you? No. They know how to focus their energy, maximize time, and understand how to have the margin they need to do what needs to be done. To have margin, you have to say "no". What are you willing to say no to? What are you not willing to say no to? Both questions are important. If you don't take the time to figure it out, your life will control you, not the other way around.
Once you can say no, you can now say yes to your workouts and become consistent. Then we can talk about what are better workouts for you to achieve your goals.