Freestyle Calisthenics: The World Is Our Gym w/ Rain Bennett

Rain Bennett is an independent international documentary filmmaker who creates projects focused on cultural or social issues, food, music, art, and health. He created the movie Raise Up: The World Is Our Gym to document the history of the art form and the new age of calisthenics. I’m beyond excited to chat with him today because I strongly believe in building bridges between disciplines to have a cross exchange of information and ideas. I appreciate the creativity, style, and expression of movement that calisthenics contributes to the fitness community.

Rain does a ton of consulting with businesses around storytelling to help them connect with their audiences and customers. He does a phenomenal job of translating his skillset in filmmaking and storytelling into actionable items for fitness professionals to use in this new age of technology.

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Show Notes:

  • (8:45) – Brief history of calisthenics
  • (16:05) – Progressing with skills
  • (24:29) – Creativity in movement
  • (30:22) – Storytelling and filmmaking
  • (33:35) – Character development
  • (37:14) – Using storytelling in business and the fitness industry
  • (46:48) – Uncovering your story
  • (52:03) – Short-form storytelling for social media
  • (1:07:16) – Using video

Podcast Transcript:

Rain  00:00

Hey, this is Ryan Bennett and you are listening to the Airborne Mind Show.

Misbah Haque  00:36

Hello, everyone, this is Misbah Haque. Thank you so much for joining me today. And welcome back to the show. Whether this is your first, second, 10th or 30th episode, I appreciate you tuning in your time, your energy, your attention, and your ears mean the world to me. Without you listening, this show would not be where it is today. So once again, thank you. Before we get started, the biggest compliment that you can give is by leaving a review on iTunes, you have no idea how much that helps in terms of rankings, bringing more awareness to the show, and bringing on more interesting guests. So if you could take two or three minutes, not while you’re driving, but take two or three minutes go ahead, leave a review it would be greatly appreciated. Also, be sure to head over to the airborne mind comm where you can check out some free resources and the full show notes there as well. today’s podcast episode is brought to you by If you enjoy books, and you are looking for something new to read, something that is relevant to problems that you’re trying to solve, I made a list for you at the airborne You can see a compilation of all the books that previous guests have recommended on the show. And if you decide you want to go for it, you can grab a free audiobook and a 30-day free trial there as well. Once again, that is the list. 

So today my guest is Rain Bennett to give you some context as to why I’m excited to talk to Rain is because I believe strongly in communicating and connecting across disciplines and the world of calisthenics has always fascinated me because of the creativity involved. And it rhymes with a kind of breakdancing in a sense. But if you have listened to Gina’s episode, we had kind of an intro into that world and into that community. But rain is the man himself who has created a movie called raise up which documents this new age of calisthenics and movement and art. Not only do we get insight from his filmmaking and his phenomenal storytelling skills, but we kind of translate his skill set there into how fitness professionals can use storytelling to connect with their audience. So whether your physical therapist, personal trainer, or nutrition coach doesn’t matter.

How do you communicate effectively to the clients that you are trying to reach? And whether this is through social media in written format or videos, rain gives some very, very actionable thought processes, frameworks and tools that we can implement immediately.

In fact, I actually implemented it, right after I had this conversation. And it’s been a few weeks now that I’ve been messing around with it, and I love it. So rain minute is an independent international documentary filmmaker, who creates projects focused on cultural or social issues, food, music, art, and health. He writes he directs, he produces these strong stories that touch the heart. And he does a lot of consulting for businesses on using storytelling in their marketing and how to convey a clear message, a message that connects and man, I just had such a fun time discussing the art of all that, but then also talking about calisthenics and the beef that kind of is in that community, the heated topics, and then also this connectedness that we have may have experience in the functional fitness community it’s the exact same thing.

And to be able to chat with somebody who understands that community really well, and who is open to this building this stronger bridge and kind of exchanging information between cross disciplines. It’s really cool for me, so I hope you enjoy this episode as much As I did, and more importantly, hope you do something with it.

Rain Welcome to the show, man.

Rain  05:06

Hey, thanks for having me.

Misbah Haque  05:07

Absolutely. I am pretty pumped to have you here because I had a chance to watch your film. Raise up the world is our gym. I had Gina on the show where we started to talk about calisthenics culture. And it’s definitely something I’m really fascinated with. And your film really tells the story and digs deep into kind of the roots of calisthenics, which I thought was really interesting. So could you give us a little bit of context as to what you do and how you roll and how you kind of got here today?

Rain  05:39

Absolutely. First of all, I appreciate it. I appreciate you taking the time. And I want to say it’s really important to me to connect to create this bridge between the calisthenics and CrossFit communities, which obviously exists already, but I think it could be so much stronger. And obviously, we share a significant border in the bodyweight activities and exercises that we do. But I am just really grateful to be on the show today. And I’m grateful to speak to your audience. And I just want to do our part in creating that connection between the two communities. Because I think that together, we could really change things in the world. So I want to say that first and foremost. And they’re both just so positive. And such beautiful people involved in both and a lot of my friends, Gina included, do them both. So I’m a filmmaker first, actually, it’s probably not even fair to say but career-wise, I was an athlete first. Always, I played every sport growing up, I wanted soccer to be my main sport. I played everything growing up. And so initially I got into fitness from just training, but it wasn’t like I needed to stay healthy and stay in shape. But I got into that a little bit later in life. I’m from a poor small town in eastern North Carolina. And health is not really a priority, and there’s a lot of diseases, there’s a lot of obesity, etc. 

There’s a lot of heart disease and diabetes in my family. So a lot of reasons for me to try to take charge of my health, my health journey as a nation. So I became a filmmaker. Not quite 15 years ago, between 10 and 15 years ago now. And I was doing all kinds of stuff. I’m always drawn to good social stories, cultural stories. And I also always love fitness and sports. And so I was boxing and teaching boxing at the time. This is around 2007, and boot camps, it kind of evolved into teaching group exercises and boot camps. And I found, like most people, calisthenics and what was happening in this new version of calisthenics on YouTube. And so that’s when I kind of got introduced to the community. And we can talk about that more in-depth about how this happened. But fast forward three to five years, and I basically saw how it was such a rich cultural and social story that I’ve ventured out, to tell the story, from what I saw from my perspective, in a document, a feature-length documentary, and very much the marriage of my two loves storytelling and sports or fitness and film. And it was a passion project. It was a labor of love that took a long time. But I’m, I’m really thrilled with the outcome of him and and and I hope that a lot of other people are too.

Brief history of calisthenics

Misbah Haque  08:45

I want to kind of dig into the meaning of calisthenics. So in the movie, it mentioned that it’s derived from a Greek word that means beauty and strength. And if you could totally correct me if I’m butchering that, but I want to know maybe the difference between the kind of the version of calisthenics that we saw in the movie, then maybe the version of calisthenics that Jean is doing. And then there’s also you can use the term calisthenics for just bodyweight movements in general that, push-ups sit-ups, and just like regular exercise. So what’s the difference between the kind of swinging around on the bars doing all these cool tricks getting upside down? Do these all kind of fall under the umbrella of calisthenics? What are the different groups between them? Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Rain  09:33

That is a very layered question that will have a very layered response. And like it’s very much up for debate and discussion, right. So I will try to trace it back out. First of all, a lot of what we deal with is kind of like the square and the rectangle argument where every square is a rectangle, but obviously not every rectangle is a square. So it’s something like that with calisthenics, calisthenics. To me from my understanding is, as you know, Webster’s definition is something like gymnastics exercises bodyweight exercises. We’ve been doing them in the military for millennia. Jumping jacks, sit ups, push ups, pull-ups, all these things are considered calisthenics. So to call what these people are doing calisthenics, yes, it’s accurate. In my opinion, it deserves its own name, because it’s obviously something different. It’s not sit-ups, it’s not the same thing. So yes, it falls under the umbrella. And so does what Gina does anyone else when they’re with their style or people that are doing parkour and things like that, like gymnastics? All of these things, I think, and obviously, I’m not the tail all end all be all on or the authority on this. But in my opinion, they all fall under this umbrella of calisthenics. So it’s safe to say that is accurate, but it could be more specific. 

And in what we saw, and to go back to the ancient Greek, callose, strengthen our stenosis strengthen and callose beauty I think, the Greek guy who was in the film, kind of one of the outtakes he didn’t make it, he said it, it means something. It’s not just beauty. It’s something deeper than that. It wasn’t a perfect translation. But what we saw what is different about what I was seeing in the early 2000s, in New York specifically, is where I saw I know that’s another topic that’s highly debated right where this started, click but here’s the thing. It’s like saying where music started what I mean? Like, obviously, bodyweight exercises, the first recorded reference in the film was the Battle of Thermopylae made famous by the Spartans and 480 BCE. But there’s nobody that can tell me that Africans and Asians weren’t doing that before, then it’s because it’s such a loose term. What I saw in New York was happening to me and came out of hip-hop culture. 

And it was that freeform expression that is graffiti that is streetball, that is freestyling. Or, if you’re an emcee that has all these things that kind of come out of hip hop culture is the creative aspect. So what I saw was different than just that we’ve had military fitness exercises, forever. Since we were kids, I did sit up competitions, and won all the gold medals, by the way. But but but yeah, but it wasn’t until then, to me that I saw people putting a style to it and becoming an art form. That’s what caught my eye was the movement. The shifting of body weight from as I always say looked like boxing, it looked like a dance to me from rhythmic and smooth to explosive and dynamic in one quick shift of the body weight. So that’s what was different to me, what these guys and girls were doing in New York in the early 2000s was something that hadn’t been done before the moves that were the foundation. Obviously, they had been done before, but the way they put them together, and then not even talking about how New York organized the community and made teams and shirts and all that. That’s to me, you can’t debate that. But it’s hard to tell someone from California that calisthenics wasn’t done out there, 100 years ago, too, because you have the proof, although the style was a little bit different. Now, the street workout is what got really popular as a term in Russia and Eastern Europe and in Western Europe and most places other than America. 

What I like about that term is that it’s something specific for what this community is, although that’s heavily debated. I don’t think it’s the best term. I always said freestyle calisthenics, which was to me, what summed it up best, the name didn’t really take off,  I still think that’s what it is. And I still use that. So in the big picture, it’s still in its infancy and it’s finding its way. But the thing about this brand of calisthenics, I’m going to call it freestyle calisthenics. And this kind of referenced in a different metaphor in the movie, but I always looked at it as like a country freestyle. calisthenics is in the middle. CrossFit, gymnastics, parkour, break dancing, yoga so many other disciplines and sub-fitness subcultures share a border and to be great and this one, much like mixed martial arts, you have to be well versed in multiple disciplines. I would argue you could be a good boxer back in the day in MMA. Now, if you can’t roll and box and have a kick game, you’re probably going to get destroyed. So similarly, in a freestyle calisthenics competition, you’re going to need to be dynamic, you’re going to need to be statically strong, you’re going to need to have style and creativity. Have someone who does parkour or technical expertise of someone who does gymnastics. So I think that it’s the most multidisciplinary body weight, exercise, culture or sport. 

So I think it pulls from all of these. So you’ll see someone like Gina who, even though she didn’t get good at calisthenics and what she does now because she used to be a gymnast, but she came from that background. So she has that certain style. I have a lot of friends that are B boys and B girls and they come over or parkour and they come So you definitely see someone’s background and their style. But then they learn from someone like Gina and Gina learns from someone who does parkour and it makes you more well rounded, I would argue, but there’s the and it’s not a very direct dancer, I realized that because there’s so many different offshoots of it and so many different things. So I would definitely say it’s all calisthenics. But what the movie was following and this, this brand of calisthenics is something definitely different from what was done in the military for hundreds and 1000s of years.

Progressing with skills

Misbah Haque  16:05

We’ll do it’s such a similar situation to I think, in CrossFit. You’ve got swimmers who are coming into CrossFit, you’ve got gymnasts, and you can see how well they excel at the weightlifting element, the bodyweight movements, you can see endurance athletes where they kind of find their groove. So it’s very similar. I can see that. I also see calisthenics when I watch it. It is beautiful. It is an art form. And it reminds me of breakdancing. And so I’m curious, like, I actually messaged you this morning,  I saw the Running Man was like a move in movie. And I was like, Dude, I want to learn how to do the running man. Like, I really want to learn how to do it. And how is this being taught because you’re also a trainer and a coach, and you’ve taught people? But what I loved about what you told me is that you help people go from zero to one, you help people get their first pull up and that I think is super important. Because a lot of us watch we watch what’s in the movie. And we’re like, holy shit, this right beyond my comprehension of how do I even start? Right? So how is this being taught? And how do you kind of get somebody off the ground and get them to zero to one?

Rain  17:24

So great questions. I’m excited to adjust this to two points, based on what you just said, the two are two things that happen. When people see that, when I got to try out that move, typically, either someone will see if that’s beyond my means Oh, and never try it, or they’ll go out and immediately try it and injure themselves. Yeah. So the point is that most of them don’t go from zero to one. Now let’s backtrack and break it down a little bit. So the answer to that question, how do you achieve these sorts of things, is just what you said. And we’ll explain going from zero to one, but I’m saying I’m gonna say it and kind of a bigger picture statement now is simply you go from zero to one, and then you go from one to two. And then you go from two to three. That’s what so many people’s problems are with anything in life, I would argue what I mean? It’s a process, especially with fitness, because too many times, myself included, yourself included, probably were so so goal-oriented, that we try to jump ahead, and I’m an athlete by nature, so I’m stubborn, and I will run on a hurt ankle, or I will do pull-ups on my shoulders hurting and I try to really work on that and be smart about it. But man, we all suffer from it, I think the goal is to try to make it less and less. So all those things are easy to learn. And, there are plenty of teams. Now you’re starting to see people creating teams and groups and organizations and not just LA, New York in Miami, which is kind of where it started. And then not just in places like San Diego or Boston or Chicago, but now you’re starting to see Dallas, Kansas City San Jose, not just San Francisco, but San Jose what I mean, like all these, mid-range, cities are starting to get it and even cities in North Carolina, they’re starting to have some groups. 

There are some Facebook groups, it might not be a quote-unquote, team, but it’s something and that’s where you learn best, which is great The beautiful thing about calisthenics and CrossFit is the social component of working out with one another sharing ideas, sharing tips and tricks, not tricks, cheats, but just tech technique tips, we’ll call them I don’t like to use the word tricks too much, but what I’m saying? So that’s super helpful, but, but if you’re teaching someone like in class, I would like to tell you I specialize. I work with my client base at the studio workout called sync studio in Durham, North Carolina in Brooklyn, New York. Like it’s 95% women there. And what happens a lot with women is they’re told their whole lives, they can’t do exercises, bodyweight exercises, they don’t have upper body strength, it’s not true. They just don’t train them. That simple is that, as simple as that, and one of the worst we have modified push-ups forever, we’ve called them girl push-ups, I have tested myself so much what I mean? Like, you’re sitting there telling a little girl, like, if I have a daughter, I’m that dude, that’s, it makes me so frustrated. Like, that’s not You’re not limited to that, let’s call it modified push up, okay, because I see men doing those push-ups too if their body’s not at the place where they’re ready to hold their, their whole body weight. Simple as that. So the point is, women are fighting an uphill battle and more and more than just push-ups, but we can start there and for this conversation, so I help them achieve those because it’s simply what we’ve just said, is just taking that step from zero to one. 

So for trying to learn the pull-up, the first step from zero to one is literally just being able to hold yourself, just being able to hang and building that grip strength, and that hanging strength, then we’ll talk about negatives or using an assistance man or resistance band or something like that. But that’s how we build up to push up, the same thing, just hold yourself in that plank, and you got to have good form in your body first, and a lot of the times people are so so trying to achieve that first pull up just for the sake of getting the pool up that they’ll do anything to compromise their technique and their and their body movement. And so my main thing is teaching people how to like to control their body how to hold themselves in a hollow hollow body position, right? How to engage your core to squeeze your glutes when you’re just standing there or lying there or holding yourself in a plank so you have to start with the basics. 

And it’s a process and you go from zero to one to one to two, two to three, then when you get those fundamentals and you can do basics, I started getting into my class where I would do something where we’re working towards the Running Man, you can be in a hanging position and step to the right and step like a step touch and dance right step left to touch with the right you can do creative, things like that when you don’t have the strength to pool and what that does now want to get your heart rate going because you’re doing something different. Number two, now you’re engaging your obliques and your hips and other parts of your lats. I definitely recommend going side to side and getting off of that axis,  anything you do like that you’re making your body have to stabilize, I don’t want to go too far into it. But, to teach the simplest way we can put it as like we already have zero to one, one to two, all the way up to 10.

Misbah Haque  22:45

That’s amazing. So once we kind of establish that base, and the kind of defined the Running Man, and for those listening, if you want to kind of visualize this a little bit, and you probably can do this better than me, but you have kind of bent arms on the pull up bar, and you’re moving side to side, right? And your feet are kind of doing this walking or cycling.

Rain  23:07

Pedaling you’re writing, think about riding a unicycle while doing a pull up.

Misbah Haque  23:10

Yeah, like, Dude, it’s, I mean, it looks.

Rain  23:14

If you’re good, what you want to do, too, is anything I teach anything you do forwards you need to be able to do backwards. And that’s in any movement. So the Spider-Man crawl or Spider-Man push-up?  It’s kind of like a crawl. And like, if you’re crawling under barbed wire, like in a military thing, you have to kind of like, walk like that. I can’t really show you sitting now. Are you familiar with what I’m talking about? I gotcha. Okay, so anything like that, ask someone to do that, which ahead, have a hard enough time doing it forwards and then ask, ask them to do it backwards and watch them or try it yourself. I’m sure that you can do it easily. But when you try the reverse, that’s engaging your mind now, because that’s something you’re not used to and you need anybody moving you have, you should be able to walk forwards and walk backwards you should be able to jump forwards and jump backwards.

It’s always hard or backwards, right. But you should be able to do that with ease and with confidence. And so that pedal, for example, is it’ll be fairly easy for someone to hold themselves in and pull up our halfway pull up position and start pedalling their feet and then after time, you can get where you can slow it down and not just be a hamster on the wheel. But then try to go reverse and watch people sit there and like have to think about it for a second. So that’s a small little thing you can do where now your brain synapses are firing while you’re working your muscle.

Creativity in movement

Misbah Haque  24:29

That’s another beautiful thing. I think about calisthenics, what I appreciate is the emphasis on how engaged your mind has to be able to allow your body to do all these things as you can. Of course, there’s all this endurance and strength involved in these movements. But there’s a lot of coordination that when we’re watching these elite athletes, they make it look super easy. It’s just like watching somebody perform a snatch beautifully. You’re like, Oh, that was looked pretty easy, but there’s a lot going on. And a lot of repetition contractions that have been put in to be able to get to that point. So yeah, I really appreciate that brain or Mind Muscle type of connection that you guys kind of.

Rain  25:10

Creativity like not only that, but you have to be able to come up with something fresh and something new. And that’s forcing your brain to actually work, not just remember, but to actually come up with something new. And that’s, I would argue, is why I had such a massive effect on communities and had an effect socially is because you’re not just sitting there doing a bench press mindlessly like your brain has to be engaged firing at all times in this exercise. And that’s a major major,   plus, in this fitness community.

Misbah Haque  25:41

Absolutely. So before we kind of switch gears into storytelling, because I definitely want to pick your brain on that, with calisthenics. Where can we kind of watch what’s being done? I know there’s a lot on YouTube, we have your film, you also have a podcast that kind of is in that space, and you’re talking to people who are big in that space. Where can people kind of get a feel for how this kind of works right and just get exposed to these types of movements?

Rain  26:11

There’s a lot of great trainers and online personalities that I think are helpful. The bar Stars is a great community, okay. Um, they’re the ad in the film, and they have tons of followers on YouTube and Instagram, and Facebook, they have a lot of beginners tutorials. The covad Low brothers are really good for tutorials and things like that. There’s a ton of that sort of stuff online. There are multiple leagues. Now there’s the world street workout calisthenics Federation and Latvia and Russia, there’s the world calisthenics organization in LA. And I was just actually helping with a new league in New York called the Urban Fitness League, which just had their launch event on July 4. So a lot of these communities where you can see competitions, but man for beginner stuff. Now there are a ton of good apps and a ton of good channels out there to follow mad bars is an app out there that has daily workouts that you can check out. There’s a blog, a shot of adrenaline, which is a bodyweight blog. There’s a lot of good things out there. 

Now definitely raise up was the first film that documents this new calisthenics culture. And so obviously I want as many people to see it as possible because it’s been, my baby. But I think I was very fortunate to be in the time and place to capture this thing as it was growing because when I started this story, it was a New York story. And the World Championships started happening in Russia as I was filming. So I’m like, Okay, I guess we’re going to Russia So it was a really unique opportunity to tell a global story that I didn’t anticipate. So it gives a good overview of the culture as it was starting about 10 or 15 years ago or so. And to be honest, it’s just calisthenics in general that that hashtag, I’ve seen it grow from 500,000 to over two to like two to 4 million now. If you just hashtag calisthenics on Instagram. So it’s out there like it’s out there.

Misbah Haque  28:30

I highly recommend anybody even if you don’t have an intention of trying the stuff to at least watch it. Somebody who was on my show, he was on for the third episode. He’s a pretty big name and weightlifting, as a coach and athlete. His name is Travis mash, and he is this world record powerlifter weightlifter, he follows these ballerinas on Instagram because he’s fascinated with the way that they move and I think it just can open up. I don’t know the different pathways in your brain. It’s got to be doing something, right. It’s consuming this type of art and then being able to take it back to what you’re doing and maybe somehow applying it.

Rain  29:07

Definitely. I will say before we switch that that is exactly what calisthenics is. Every athlete does calisthenics. Every athlete, it’s only when we kind of got away from things where we thought there was one way to be healthy and fit in like the 80s and early 90s. And now it’s shifting, we’ve got all these great options. All of them include bodyweight exercises, then depending on what you want to be or what you want to do or what you’re training for, then you do your specialized training if you want to be a powerlifter if you want to be a runner, a basketball player, whatever it is, but it all starts with that sort of movement if you can’t control your body weight,  you don’t have any you’re you don’t need to be putting external weight on right now. But if you talk to any football players like the first thing they do when they’ve started that whole journey is not going grab 300 pounds and try to bench it. They’re doing push-ups, they’re doing sit-ups they’re doing all these bodyweight movements first and then you start to do football exercises, then you start to do exercises that make your vertical higher if you’re a basketball player, etc, etc, etc. So anyone can benefit from this. And it doesn’t matter. If you’re even trying to be any kind of an athlete or any specific training, like bodyweight is the fundamental of all of it.

Storytelling and filmmaking

Misbah Haque  30:22

Absolutely. So let’s kind of switch gears and go into storytelling a little bit. I want to know, for you, what drew you to stories and to storytelling, which eventually maybe led to filmmaking? How did those two things kind of correlate for you?

Rain  30:39

I come from a long line of great storytellers. You know, I often think about, or Peter, some people ask you the cliche question of like, if money wasn’t an object, what would you do you know, or something like that. Now, I’m, I’ve always been very ambitious and want to be successful, including financially successful, most of that has been for the achievement of freedom, because I’m very independent, I want to do what I want to do, I’m also very stubborn. So because of us being in a capitalistic society that generally equates to having financial freedom to be able to do that. So I’ve never been ambitious for financial success, because I love watches or shoes or stuff like that. But it’s because if I want to take two weeks off, you know, a vacation, I want to be able to do it. And to answer that question, what would you do? Or what would you do? If it was 500 years ago, and making being a filmmaker wasn’t a job or whatever, like, I would love simpler times where I could just hunt, and farm and I would want to be the guy around the fire when we’re all like at the evening telling stories. We’re all having drinks, we’ve got our wives and our families and the day’s work is done. And I would want to be that person, if we didn’t have all the technology and all the stuff that we are doing today that I would love that life, you know, and I’ve my mom, I have to give it up to her. My mom and my brother were all super, super tight. And they’re both really good storytellers. And we still tell the same stories, like, my girlfriend just rolls her eyes now. Because we’ll be at the dinner table telling the same old stories, but it’s just as passionate as before. And then I simply sat in front of a TV as I was a kid and watch movies, like we’re big into movies, big into television, ever since I was a kid. So I was always into it. And I was initially in college, studying pre-law, trust management, and going into financial planning and stuff like that. And I transfer because I wasn’t happy with the school I was attending. And I just said, You know what? My goal eventually was to get into the creative space, I just thought I was going to have a good plan by getting a good job first and saving money for 10 years and then pursuing and I was like, I forget the indirect route, man, I’m going straight forward. And so that’s when I started studying filmmaking, and actually pursuing a career in storytelling, but I’ve been captivated by any form of storytelling, I was writing. When I was in first and second grade, I was writing a lot of horror stories then coincidentally. But I’ve always loved that I’ve always loved writing, I just found recently an old scrapbook. And I wanted to be a writer when I was in seventh grade when they asked what you wanted to do. I’ve always loved visual storytelling with television and film. And, yeah, I’m pretty happy that it was where we ended up with that, again.

Character development

Misbah Haque  33:35

This makes me really excited, because stories are something that our brains are kind of wired to resonate with, right? Like, how we connect, it’s how we connect. Yeah. And I mean, whether it’s in the form of a movie, whether it’s written form, or whether it’s even verbal, like something I’ve tried to start doing is even on these podcasts, the way that we’re kind of asking questions, and having this dialogue back and forth, at the end of the day comes back to telling the story about that guest or whatever they’re involved in. And it’s such an art form that I’ve always wanted to kind of pursue and get better at. And so I always admire people who have that, you know, who have that skill, talent, gift, whatever you want to call it. Could you tell me like, What What, in your opinion, is the formula for a good story? What makes a story captivating and can resonate with people?

Rain  34:35

Characters, I think, are people who want to connect with people. Now if we’re visually you can captivate someone with images, you know what I mean? But at the end of the day, like one of the first rules we’re taught is, you don’t need a lot of frills. Like if you are good at writing a movie, you need good writing and great performance, and then all the other stuff is free. Evitable you can have the shaky camera, you know, you can, you don’t have to have big budget things as long as you have a good story. And what I would say is that, that comes down to the character that you’re following. Whether your audience is rooting for that person or against that person, they’re going to connect to that person. And if you’re talking about character development, they need to be realistic, authentic, you know, that’s another thing authenticity. You can’t have this like a typical one dimensional villain, you know, every villain has layers, and why are they doing that? So you have really good storytelling, you’ll find yourself by right now and television, the anti heroes all you know, started by maybe not started by but perfected by Tony Soprano. Now you have all the water rights and all these, you know, terrible people that are our heroes in these television shows that we are following and cheering for. Nobody wants Walter to die, but he’s a murderer and a drug deal. You know, same thing with Tony Soprano. So that right there shows you that if you can make the hero someone that audience for I mean, the villain essentially or a terrible, terrible person, be someone that the audience is cheering for, then you know, you’re really doing your job well. So you have to have some, that’s what people connect to. And so that’s what it comes down to. And you were saying, whether it’s television or written form stories is always what brings us together. And it’s true. Like, despite all the technology that people argue are taking us further away from each other, we still want to connect with people, despite our you know, growing inability to look someone in the eye and have conversations rather than text, we still want that connection in some way, shape, or form, and we’re going to yearn for it, we’re going to, we’re going to try to get it and, and then beyond having that one, initial bit of advice, little tidbit is just keep it simple, you know, like, you don’t need a lot of frills, you need heart you need so you need to connect with people. So that could mean not a lot of words, that could mean not a lot of shots, you know, I’m saying like, just keep it simple, make that connection really strong. A lot of times, you know, people try to do too much and you’re losing the connection.

Using storytelling in business and the fitness industry

Misbah Haque  37:14

That also cuz you work a lot with, you know, corporations and businesses to storytel for them or help them with that. And including that in their marketing, which in a sense, we could say that marketing is essentially storytelling, right? You’re telling the story of a certain product or service that you offer that business. I want to take a look at our space in the CrossFit weightlifting, functional fitness area. And there is a lot of content that’s educational, right? Like, here are 10 tips to do you know, pull ups here 10 tips for snatches, here’s a technique tip here and there. And over time, you know, that can be a little bit repetitive, right? So what’s the difference between maybe how I’m explaining how to do a pull up versus, let’s say even you explaining how to do a pull up? Does it come down to, I mean, differentiating a little bit comes down to maybe the story that we’re telling, like if for example, I was to talk about a client of mine, and use that story to kind of portray, hey, this is kind of what we did. This is how we develop them. And then you did the same thing with a client that you work with. Those are two completely different stories, but the root of what we’re talking about is the same and maybe it will connect with different people.

Rain  38:33

100% I think that’s exactly what would need to be done and is super effective. Telling that story through someone else’s eyes is really helpful. And I think it’s extremely helpful to know your audience know what they’re going to respond to, if I’m telling someone how to get their first pull up, I got to know that most of the people that I’m talking to or who we’ve already discussed, which is maybe women or maybe people trying to get their first pull up that you know, aren’t sure that they can do it. So I have to craft my story in a way that’s going to primarily speak to them whether that’s using the language I use or using the person that I use as a subject in the story or whatever. Now if you know you have someone who’s trying to get their first muscle up and they’re super tough and you know this maybe they maybe they need something else you know, maybe they need another motivating factor. So I also think to be a good storyteller, you have to know the audience that you’re going after and what they’ll respond to. But definitely I love your example about using someone else and I’ve done that recently. I had a post on Facebook the other day of a client and friend of mine that has had some real success in her weight loss journey after months and months of stagnation and nothing happening doing everything right everything right on paper. And I simply just just put her story out there briefly and just like a paragraph and just had a swarm of metal messages in my, in my inbox for people wanting to know, that’s what connect, I could have put out there, you know, any sort of salesy type of thing, or you guys got to try this or anything like that, and it would have been tuned out by 100% of the people. But all I did was say, hey, a client of mine was struggling for months, I gave her this advice, this advice, She’s 10, she’s 10 pounds down now and one month straight results. And it was all of a sudden, like, 50 comments on that, and multiple messages so that the proof is in the pudding. You know, I mean, people respond to the story.

Misbah Haque  40:36

So in addition to that let’s put this into an actionable format. Because we do have a lot of coaches and fitness professionals listening, whether you’re a nutritionist, whether you’re, you know, a crossfit coach, or a physical therapist, whatever it might be, how do you? How would you recommend a fitness professional storyteller about themselves, their service, their brand, and let’s put this in the context of a kind of short form on social media? Because that’s where a lot of attention is. That’s where a lot of the audience is hanging out? How, what tips would you give that person to kind of start to tell their story?

Rain  41:15

I would say, first of all, you got to look at what makes you different, if nothing makes you different, and you don’t think that you have anything special to sell well, then, but we got to look in the mirror and you know, have some other conversations, you know, and that I’m not I say that jokingly. But I’m not saying that. And acting like it’s easy to figure that out, it takes some time to look within yourself and see what’s going on. And I’ll illustrate that I’ll elaborate. Because we’re all insecure, you know, and we all sometimes have a problem looking inside and figuring out what we’re good at. Or we think we should be something else. I’m gonna give you an example, I’m going to use myself. I still have enter talk, saying that I’m not as good as this person, not as good as that person. Because I’m not a specialist. I’m not a director of photography, I mean, I can compose a good shot. But I’m not that technically minded to be like a person who was put on this earth to be a cinematographer. I love working with those people, by the way. I am not, you know, I’m a generalist, I’m pretty good at a lot of areas, including if we’re talking about storytelling, but in life as well. And so when I see friends of mine that I work with, and I’ve had this conversation, my girlfriend just the other day that is like, have made beautiful music videos and do all this stuff, and I only see them and I compare myself to them. And it’s not even, you know what I do well, and I’m not even looking at what I do that they can’t do. And then I’ll talk to somebody like that, and they’ll be so envious of what I’m doing. And I’m just like cheese. This is like running in circles here. And so what I finally realized, which is, within the past year, we finally sold the film, which was like, you know, a crazy success for this, like labor, super, and labor of love. And businesses picked up in a crazy way, this year because I’ve finally embraced what I am and what I have to offer, which is not the best stylized, you know, Director out there for big-budget commercials and stuff like that. Like just like it took me a while to understand that I’m never going to be the guy who’s training Olympic gymnasts because my market and I have a pretty good hold on that because most people are trying to do that higher level stuff. But I am really, really good at getting people there first pull up, not getting people a 360 muscle, you know. So similarly, and this applies to my filmmaking now I’m starting to see what my skill is anywhere you put me. My skill is being able to do a lot with a little. And that applies to filmmaking. So how did I raise up? I didn’t have shit. And pardon me for cursing if, if you don’t, we’re all good. If we can’t do that, right, most podcasts are, but I didn’t have anything to make that movie. I worked my ass off for 567 years to make that with one DSLR camera with one lens, one microphone, one tripod and a bag and I traveled the world you know, and I made this movie that has now been picked up by Red Bull TV is will be globally just distributed for people to see like, that’s what I specialize in. So as we were talking before, before we started when I was talking about the consulting work I do with businesses. That’s why as I told you then I don’t need to go work with Nike on how to make good marketing videos. Their commercials are some of the best you know, they have David Fincher directing their commercials and stuff like you know they don’t need me but who does is a lot of people who now finally realize that video and storytelling is a huge part of marketing is everything now, but hey, I don’t know where to even start, how to start to do right. How do I get my message across and impact my audience and engage with them? Those mid-range businesses As a nonprofit, it’s like that to it, then all of a sudden, it just clicked them. And it’s like, now I’m getting jobs, their jobs there, because that’s what I do well, and it translates. So that’s kind of a long-winded answer and a little dissection of myself there. But that’s because I’ve literally done this over the past year or two of my life. I would suggest that to anybody, like, what do you have differently? What makes you stand out? What is unique about you? And what audience are you targeting, then you can realize how I tell my story, because there’s a lot of great stories in the fitness community. And I think that if you’re trying to introduce yourself as a fitness brand, which this is the time, storytelling is huge right now, but fitness, man fitness, fitness, and documentaries are like both, I should be thrilled even to be alive right now. My two worlds are like the biggest they’ve ever been. And I’m sitting here two years ago, frustrated, like not knowing what to do with my life, and it’s like the world is at my fingertips, you know, finally click, but to those fitness people, people out there who are starting their brands like this is the time like people want something different. They’re tired of the same old, same old. That’s why we have 100 million different disciplines right out there, right now. So think about what makes you different and what angle you have. And that might take some time. And then tell your story, what inspired you, what brought you to fitness, I was working on a new show, looking at different fitness disciplines. And to be honest, I said, Hey, I’ve always been an athlete. But I’ve also always struggled with my weight. And I’ve seen the consequences of health and disease in my own family. So that’s what got me inspired to really start taking health and nutrition seriously. That’s just being as open and vulnerable and honest as possible. And that’s what connects with people. Because how many people do you think to share that same story? A ton?

Uncovering your story

Misbah Haque  46:48

I can totally resonate with that. Because even when I started the podcast, I remember like the first 10 episodes, at least I literally, I couldn’t, I didn’t have a grasp on my own story. And even to this day, it’s still something that’s developing. And honestly, it’s taken a shit ton of work now that I’m actually thinking about it like me, sitting there asking myself hard questions. I even started taking an improv class to get a hold on, you know, how character works and stuff like that. And just talking with people like yourself, I’ve talked to people who specialize in storytelling and trying to learn more about myself, because I realized that that is the key to connecting with the people that I’m trying to connect with. That’s what makes me different from another fitness professional. It’s our, it’s our ability to be able to tell the story. And I remember watching this thing where Bill Clinton was being interviewed, and they were asking, like, You’re so good. You were so good at connecting with people and listening to them, you made them feel like they were the only people in the room. How did you do that? And he said, You know, I was always taught as I was growing up that most people have a great story to tell. But it’s a shame that most people, you know, have, like, tell it terribly. They don’t have the ability to tell that story. So he’s like, You have to listen, and you have to seek that out and pull it out of people. And it’s one of those things. It’s like, yeah, like, a lot of us have this existing story. But I mean, me personally, as well, I think about how I’m like, Oh, I really don’t have anything that differentiates me or that is unique or anything like that. But you’re right, it takes a shit ton of time.

Rain  48:29

it does. It takes work. Yeah, we sometimes don’t like to look inside man. But it’s like, that’s not true, that you don’t have anything like everybody has something every person on this planet is unique. I mean, that’s just the facts, like nobody’s the same. And so if you’re at the place, and when you’re trying to figure out what story you want to tell, and you’re like, I don’t know, what’s special about me? Well, you got to work on that for sure. You know, you gotta do some digging around, you know, inside. And again, let’s be very clear, you’ve been clear, and I’ve been clear, that’s not easy. digging around inside here is not easy. Do you know what I mean? Like that’s why a lot of people are reluctant to go to therapy and things like that when you start opening up that can of worms, hey, sometimes you might not like what’s inside. But if you’re serious about trying to be on that journey, hey, you got to do the dirty work, man.

Misbah Haque  49:20

Absolutely. So we’ve touched on how we tell the personal story we’ve touched on a little bit? How do we tell the people that we’re working with how we tell their stories to connect? Is there something that we’re kind of missing, something that maybe should be an essential piece when using social media as this platform to connect through stories? What kind of comes up for you and what should coaches and fitness professionals be utilizing?

Rain  49:46

I would say the thing I want to emphasize is that it doesn’t matter. You know, if it’s 60 minutes or six seconds, you know that a lot of times people think great stories The short amount of time that we have these days with people’s attention spans or the short amount of ad time when on YouTube, you know, or something like that, like, we think that they’re mutually exclusive, and they’re not. So I think working on telling a short form narrative is the most important. That’s actually something I’m specializing in. And now, a lot of people are hiring me to help with that. Because we don’t have a lot of time, 60 seconds, is a lot of time now, which is what the Instagram model is around, it’s less than less than less than less than that, they say, if you don’t grab people in the first six seconds, like, That’s it, you know, it used to be you had the first 30 seconds to grab their attention, you know, if you’re doing a scissor, you gotta grab them so fast now. And that’s something that I’ve, I’ve been specializing in, and I see a huge need for people to focus on is anyone, anyone can tell a good story in six minutes, you know, if you see those little documentaries, but it’s really hard to do that in six seconds. And so that’s what I want people to try to work on. And, and actually, what I’ve been helping a lot of people with, there’s a really simple video. Some of my most successful social media videos have been superduper, simple, just text and just images. And they connect because they have a character and they have a good story. And these people have loved them. And so that’s something that I’ve started offering and working with a lot of different brands on doing. So that’s one thing, I think that I’d like to include is that you don’t think you know, that you can’t tell a good story and a little bit of time. And that also includes a little bit of money, because sometimes people think you need all this, you know, you don’t need an 80 minute film, like raise up, you can do them both, or you can do neither. But a lot of times people don’t have a lot of time and don’t have a lot of money. And that might limit them. But it’s like you don’t need to be as simple as you want to be, you just have to have a good story. And that starts with the good characters.

Short-form storytelling for social media

Misbah Haque  52:03

I’ve struggled with that concise, short form storytelling, like it’s hard, it is hard like I even on like Instagram posts a lot of and it’s gotten shorter over time. But when I first started kind of trying to get into it and finding my groove, it was long, it was like a blog post within an Instagram post, you know, and I, I want to know your thoughts on maybe, like, let’s say three to seven sentences, right? Like, that seems like a sweet spot for a lot of mediums that are out there. How, what, how do we capture people’s attention? How do we tell that story within three to seven sentences? How do we practice that? Do you have any thoughts on that?

Rain  52:44

three to seven sentences on like in the description? I think in Instagram, that’s where that’s too much, I think that you’re what you need, what I have found to be successful is including that messaging in the post in the image, okay, you know what I mean? So whether it’s a video or whatever, I think that on Instagram, specifically, your description needs to be short. However, I will also say there’s not, there’s more than one way to skin a cat, I see a lot of people who have a really good image, and they will have a long post. I don’t know how many people read that. But I think it’s okay to do like, just a brain dump like that sometimes, and just get a lot of stuff off your chest. But I don’t know that when you’re trying to see results that’s going to lead to the most engagement. Maybe not, it depends, but what I think is a lot more effective is to include the messaging as much as possible. In your, in your image, I’ll give you an example. When raise up was coming out, we did a post it if you put the image of the DVD or something up or the poster image, and then wrote in the question, or in the description, like who out there has seen raise up you know, blah, blah, or some kind of question where you want to, you know, I’m trying to engage with my audience, let me give them something a call and response. Nobody would say anything. And then one time I put up an image, maybe the poster image or something like that, too. And I just had an app that you can put text on. I mean, there’s a million of those, you’d put text on the image and on the image said like, you know, who has seen raise up? And then all of a sudden the comments were like, all over. Wow, don’t people don’t like to take the time to read the description? It’s really you gotta grab them instantly. So some of the videos that I have had the most success with were little stories of characters in the film tatted strength at Chieko Ahmed Griego, the guy from Norway, and I just, it was eight sentences. I think each and no more than I don’t know how many words but just two short lines of each sentence like had a widow widow widow widow widow. And so yeah, it’s like eight or nine slides essentially and then just an image and that and basically told their life stories and peeking with their calisthenics journey, not their life story and just went off somewhere else like so it was a very direct story that I was telling, but I cover their whole lives in eight slides. And those are by far my most successful like Facebook posts that are seen hundreds of 1000s of times and stuff like that I don’t have you know, a lot of calisthenics, athletes have huge, huge followings the movie doesn’t have a huge following, but those were super, super impactful that was shared hundreds of times. So take again, the proof was kind of in the pudding there for me, like I made a visually compelling piece that had a good story and was very, very simple and very, very direct. business writing as a good tool. If you study any kind of book or blog post on business writing, it teaches you how to be very direct, and lose all the fluff and color. You know what I mean? Right? And so that’s what you have to do. Same thing with screenwriting, it’s all the same concept as you want to get from point A to point B, as quickly and efficiently as possible. You don’t want to go through all these little you want to go straight there, you know, so this happened, then this happened, then this happened, you know, I mean, and if the story is good, it’ll do all the hard work for you. 

Misbah Haque  56:30

Gotcha. So three to seven sentences, too long. A lot of times, with using you said capture that in the image itself, so that that doesn’t mean that you’re using three to seven sentences in it’s like, super concise. 

Rain  56:44

No, break it down, Break it down to what the message? What is the takeaway? What is the one message? Here’s a practice that I do when I’m working with people in Screenwriting. Because oftentimes, a first time or a young screenwriter will write something that they know, and if they’re going to produce and shoot the film as well, that they don’t have the budget for, then they picture in their head. Yeah, but it’s supposed to be supposed to tell her he loves on the top of the Empire State Building, you know, and it’s like, okay, that’s gonna be a lot of permits, you’re gonna have to shut stuff down. So it’s a lot of money to shoot in New York, do you like it? This is a, you know, you got $10,000 to make this movie, like, you know, how are you going to do that? And so you teach them to break down? What is the actual thing that’s happening and being said in that scene, and if all that’s being happening is that he finally confesses to her that he loves her? Well, hell that can happen on a park bench, right? Because that takeaway has nothing to do with the Empire State Building. So take those three to seven sentences, and look at the core message, because there’s no way those three to seven sentences are saying three to seven different things, right, they’re probably all tied to the same message, which is, it could be this is just an example. You know, it could be that if you really break down what all those are saying that all they’re really saying is like, get up off your ass and go do it, huh, you don’t need three or seven sentences to say that you just need to write get up off your ass and start. That’s it. And that is what’s going to be much more impactful. Instead it will take three to seven sentences to say, you know, I used to think that blah, blah, blah, and blah, blah. And what really is effective is if you put away, all you’re saying is get up, get off your ass and start. So that’s the practice that people need to do is whittle it down, whittle it down, whittle it down, what is actually being said, what is the one nugget that is being said, and then if you are saying seven different things? Well, the next is just too much for anybody to process.

Misbah Haque  58:40

And it seems this is definitely a skill, and it’s an art form that needs to be practiced. Because a lot of times you could be that direct, let’s say, but then at the same time, maybe that character development that you were talking about, and those other pieces are missing, right? Maybe it’s sometimes too direct. So you need to figure out a way to kind of, I guess, embody all the things that we’ve just been talking about.

Rain  59:05

Absolutely, I mean, there’s definitely a place for color. But in that example, get up off your ass and start, you’re speaking to a specific audience that might not be your audience but there’s gonna be a specific audience that responds to that and like, he’s right, I’m going you know, and that’s powerful. That’s a powerful language. That’s not just bland, so don’t mistake the business writing thing and being direct with being bland. Okay, you know what I’m saying? So, so, so it’s all about the impact that you should have, it’s just about getting down to the core of the message, you know, and, and like we’ve already said, knowing your audience because some people I was gonna say, some people need to be like, Fustat you know, and some people need to be encouraged. I have two stories. I have one girl client that I used to train with. She was young, she was a professional skier. I think she was 19 and I was training her, and she said, Girls, don’t respond to girls. To tell you’re killing it, you look great, blah, blah. But guys, you know, I want to be Fustat you know, if I’m doing my last sprint, like, I want somebody like come on. And I will say this and give my mom credit on this one because I think this is even a better way to say it. And she forgets what we were talking about, but just she always that she stays in her little town in Washington, North Carolina, and is so confused by my wanderlust, my my, my need to see the world and go and do and be in New York and that sort of stuff and forget what we were talking about at the time, but she kind of put her hand on my shoulder. She was like, she’s like, baby, she’s like, some kid, some children need spurs, and some need rain. Like, you have never needed spurts. So yeah, to that point, I know your audience too. Because some people  get up off your ass and do it might not work. Right. You know?

Misbah Haque  1:00:53

I want to know a little bit about processes like your process and your kind of framework when you sit down. And let’s make it a little bit more relatable. Instead of an 80 minute movie. Let’s say that you’re creating a four to seven minute video, right? And you’re trying to tell a story within that maybe it’s for calisthenics, maybe it’s for a business you’re working with? What is the process for you? Like? Do you start with writing? Do you start? How does that journey even begin? To walk us through that a little bit?

Rain  1:01:24

I’ve got two things right now that pertain to that one is a 62nd piece and one is a 10 minute speech. So I am going to be you know, it’s going to be 10 minutes, you know, and both of them start first for me in the head, like just thinking through. And then they go to bullet points, like what I want to cover, which I may not hit all of those, but that’s a framework, right? That’s just, you know, that’s like, Okay, I want to build a house, what are the things I want? Well, we got a new baby on the way. So I think probably two rooms, and at least an office or maybe three rooms, two bathrooms, I definitely want that deck, you know, whatever you have your bullet points that you need. And then you talk about if you want a cathedral, you know, ceilings, or whatever. So similarly, I started a lot with bullet points. I’m a list maker, I love lists, you know, so I’ll start off with that. And, for instance, on the speech I’m working on now, I started off with the bullet points of the topics I wanted to hit, and then I’ll just brain dump, I’ll just write and not worry about it, I don’t edit in the process, I just write and get it out, and then whittle it down, look at those bullet points that I had initially, move them around, or delete, if I if I don’t need it, and whittle whittle, whittle, whittle, whittle everything down. So it always kind of starts in. I like to think about it a lot first, and then I sit down a bullet, point it or outline it, write it and then edit it.

Misbah Haque  1:02:57

So it seems like even with visual storytelling, too, it starts with the writing.

Rain  1:03:04

100% Because I find that often different images can achieve a similar effect, some might be marginally better than the other, some might be absolutely perfect, you know, but a lot of times I just did a teaser for a show concept I’m working on with the Urban fitness league out of New York. And I basically wrote down the sound bites that we had that I wanted, and we didn’t even do the shots, you know, you could the shots are what’s called B roll, you know, right? The role is the structure and the story structure. So then when he says like, you know, hey, I got this call from the head of the urban fitness League, and he got this big competition coming up in July. Like then I had the decision, once I realized that flows, what preceded it and what follows it. And that’s a good placement for now I have the decision to make what image we should see. And like, Oh, what about that one? When will we have him? We can flash for and we have him at the competition coming out with all the lights on him like yeah, that’s perfect. You know, could it have been something else? Of course, yeah. Could someone else had been better? Possibly. Does watching this play perfectly? Absolutely. You know, so, maybe that shot would have worked, maybe it wouldn’t have you know, so it definitely starts with the writing and that writing is a living breathing thing that changes often you know, you write it and it looks good on paper. And then once you try it out, it may or may not work that well and you have to adjust all along, you know, and again, you have to whittle it down and make it shorter, make it shorter, and that was a four minute piece.

Misbah Haque  1:04:42

So a roll is the meat of everything. It’s that structure, and then B roll is for example, like if you’re on camera talking while you’re talking it’s flashing between different scenes of let’s say you working out or something like that.

Rain 1:04:59

Precisely. So if somebody if you’re interviewing someone, and they’re talking about their job at the supermarket, and then you see shots of them working at the supermarket while they’re still talking, that’s, that’s what’s considered bureau. 

Misbah Haque  1:05:12

Got it. So a form of and I’m really excited because you’re coming out with a podcast, I think you said at the beginning of next year. Yeah, that’s going to be revolving around a lot of this storytelling stuff that we’re talking about. And, it will be directly applicable to, you know, a lot of fitness professionals and people who are trying to use storytelling for their businesses.

Rain  1:05:37

That business is called six second stories. And it was inspired just because I’ve been doing a lot of consulting and, and work in this space. And I’ve seen the need for people to learn how to be effective in that short, short timeframe. And so the podcasts are, you know, I’m going to keep those relatively short as well, probably under 30 minutes, more realistically, probably between 15 and 20. So super easy to digest. There’ll be a blog that accompanies that, where I’m also working on a book and ebook that will help that same framework of just, you know, getting this, this stuff out there and raise up was a good example. But it didn’t, it wasn’t structured in plan, his plan is I would recommend people do it. You know, I was fortunate that I kind of, in a lot of ways, saw something and just went after it and was able to come back and do all the hard work later. But yes, six seconds stories, we’re going to start that in January. I mean, essentially, we’ve already started it, but in terms of it launching, I’ll have everything set up and ready to go. But that’s something that I do for nonprofits right now. I work with the carcinoid cancer foundation. It is a big client of mine that I’ve been helping tell different stories of patients and doctors and it’s rare cancer patients and doctors in their space. And of course, in the fitness space I’ve been doing that as well, too. So yeah, I think it’d be a really helpful tool for people trying to learn this and very easy, the blogs will be short, like easy, tangible, little tidbits that we can take and apply them.

Using video

Misbah Haque  1:07:16

Let me ask you this, because you you gave us a framework for images and text and storytelling on, you know, a platform or medium like Instagram, when it comes to videos, specifically in the fitness space, a lot of what we see is actual working out myself included, I put a lot of videos straight from training and certain exercises that people can use. And that seems like it’s something that works. And it seems like a lot of people are doing it. And that seems like one way to tell the story in a sense, but is there another way that you recommend of using video to storyteller for fitness professionals?

Rain  1:07:56

I think that, again, people really connect with you. I think if you are trying to build your fitness brand, they need to know you as a person. So that doesn’t mean you have to vlog every single day. But I think that you can connect with them as an audience and not just show them, you know, exercises to do, but open up to them. Be honest, be transparent, people love you to be open and transparent and vulnerable. And a human. You know, so the more they can see that side of you. Be yourself. Don’t try to take yourself too seriously. If you’re a laugh play guy, that’s fine. You know, if you’re, you know, like Wim Hof, you know, someone like that, like his character is a big part of why everybody loves him and follows him you know, I’m talking about the Iceman. Yeah, so he’s not back, you know? And then you have somebody like Jocko who’s like you know, square jawed, you know, very serious Navy SEAL type and you follow him for a whole different reason,but it’s still his personality but that’s because that’s out there. So that’s something that I would suggest isn’t to be every video you know, but also engage with your audience however you would Don’t Don’t be anything other than yourself, but be yourself and be an on camera you have to be an amplified version of yourself. I learned that the hard way I’ve done a lot of on camera work as well too. Everything reads less on camera so you have to decide whether you’re going to be the tough guy or the crazy guy you got to amp it up a little bit for the camera, but definitely don’t be anything other than yourself. Your audience will see it a mile away but they want to see you, they want to know who you are, they want to know why your story. Why are you in this? Why are you so dedicated this what you get out of this? You know, it’s not just a paycheck, nobody’s in this for just a paycheck, you know? So that’s that my suggestion would be to open up yourself to your audience. And I think it’ll, it’ll shoot right up.

Misbah Haque  1:09:58

So that could be in there in the form of like, vlog style, but then it could also be you just facing the camera and recording something.

Rain  1:10:05

Yeah, it could be a vlog style, letting them see part of your life, but it’s more about letting them see part of your personality, you know, okay. So even even if you are explaining the exercises, I mean, I’m not saying be even be silly, I’m just saying, just be yourself and engage with your audience, you’re not just like, okay, and that’s how you achieve anterior pelvic tilt, or, like, you know, but have Be yourself, I don’t even want to say have fun with it. Because it’s not necessarily that although people love people to smile, you know, you don’t want to seem like an asshole. But it’s, you know, just be yourself and connect with your audience, I think that helps a lot more they want to be they want you to be credible. So you got to know what you’re talking about. And that’s got to be apparent. But if you want to really create that bond with the audience even stronger, and give them more of a reason to follow you, because let’s be honest, that, like we said, it’s a great time, because fitness is huge. But that also brings a ton of competition, there’s a ton of people out there that are trying to teach you how to you know, how to get posterior pelvic tilt, you know, right? What’s going to make you different, why are they going to watch you versus that person guaranteeing you? Anybody who’s getting a lot of views on their YouTube is because of their personality?

Misbah Haque  1:11:21

It comes back to that story differentiate.

Rain  1:11:25

There’s a reason another reason someone has to watch other than they’re just a really good, you know, technical coach,

Misbah Haque  1:11:31

you know? Absolutely. How are we doing on time?

Rain  1:11:36

Good, good. Okay.

Misbah Haque  1:11:38

We’re gonna transition into a couple rapid fires, and then I’ll let you go. Okay. So let me ask you this, if you had to start over, right, everything you’ve accomplished was gone. And you only had $500 and a laptop? What would you do with it?

Rain  1:11:53

$500 on a laptop? Um, do I have my phone? Let’s

Misbah Haque  1:12:00

Let’s give you your phone.

Rain  1:12:05

I think if I had $500 for a laptop, I’m in a pretty good situation to do what I already do. I love what I do. I think that what I’ve done wrong has not been as planned as I would like it to be. I would take some of that money, and probably invest it. If we’re going back in time, and we’re starting right now, I’d probably still have to do the same thing. And I think I would just start sooner, you know, because what also sounds like a scenario tells me that I don’t have a lot of responsibility and debts and things holding me back. You know, I think I would just go ahead and start at that point. I think what held me back for a while and holds a lot of people back is fear of what will happen. And at one point in my life, I forget what I was going through at the time, but I legit just asked myself like, well, what’s the worst thing that’s going to happen? Like, you’re not gonna die from this? I think I had broken up with a girlfriend and I was probably going to have to move out of my apartment in New York that we had together and, and I was freaking out. And then I just finally had this epiphany. I was just like, well, whatever the absolute worst case scenario, you’re fine. Like, you know, so I think that if I had a laptop and $500, I would just get started immediately and not be holding back, you know, on whatever that is. But for me on my business and on filmmaking.

Misbah Haque  1:13:33

So a lot of writing, filming with your phone and things of that nature. 

Rain  1:13:37

100% just working, just doing. You know, that’s the thing that holds us back to like, I don’t really have this, I don’t really have that. I still do that. Right? Like, well, if you don’t start with that or  it’s never gonna happen.

Misbah Haque  1:13:51

Let’s say that you had a couple billion dollars now, right? And you had a staff of 40 people. So these 40 people could be top performers, top thinkers in whatever it is that you decide to recruit them for. And you want to use that to make some type of change or some type of impact. What would you do with it?

Rain  1:14:11

A couple of things. First, I have firsthand seen the effects of putting up fitness parks in areas all over the world, specifically in some developing nations, which and super wealthy nations and it has the same effect. And both the community immediately gravitates to it immediately. It’s like a magnet, even people that you wouldn’t think you think you’re putting there for people like me and you. It’s 65 year olds going on their walk, it’s kids and their mothers, you know, it’s all kinds of people. I would put up parks in as many places that I could, specifically poor areas that don’t have access to that. And along with that, I would love to help. I’ve spent some time even recently this year. You’re in some countries in Africa. And man, places like that, not just in Africa. But we grossly underestimate how bad some of the situations are there in terms of things like, fundamental needs, you know, water, electricity, things like that. And I think water is going to completely be more and more of an issue. So I would like to take that money, first build parks anywhere and everywhere that I could, and travel with those people to help teach the community and work with them. And hopefully, alongside that somehow work to bring water to those areas, too. I’ve, I’ve worked with some companies and working with some companies that are oil companies in and on the west coast of Africa, and they have social responsibility projects that they do, and bringing water to different villages is definitely a part of that. So I’ve seen how that’s done. And I would love to help with that as well. Amazing. Yeah, first and foremost, putting a park is a cheap thing to do. And it has a massive effect on the community. And you, I really don’t think that you could have enough.

Misbah Haque  1:16:06

Solid. Now, let’s say that a lot of people must ask you questions, right? And you being a filmmaker, storyteller, I’m sure you get your variation of questions where it’s like, hey, what camera? Do you use it? What, you know, what tripod? Should I get? Like technical things that people want to know, right? Like for podcasting? What software do you use? What mic? Are you using things like that? But is there something you feel like you don’t get asked enough about something you wish? Maybe people would ask you more? 

Rain  1:16:37

That’s a great question. Um, I don’t know that I have an answer for that off the top of my head. But I can address the question about what, you know what camera what this what that? Because people always have that question. And I tend to believe or attends tends to seem like people who I don’t know, if they’re waiting to, you know, get that to start or something like that. But a lot of times it feels like that, you know, like, oh, well, I need this to start a podcast like no, you don’t, you can just do it on your phone, if you obviously want the quality to be better. But in general, my philosophy on all this is you possess and this is fitness and filmmaking or storytelling, you possess all the tools you need right now. Right now. And that’s what too many people don’t realize. And they think they need this to start that path. They need this to start that bat, you possess all of it right now. And so for fitness, you don’t need to lose weight to start working on pull ups. You don’t need this expensive gym membership. You just need to start moving now and for storytelling, it’s the same thing. My general and I have to fight this all the time when people are like, what camera do you use? You know, and there are people who love gadgets and gadgets these days. And so they’ll size it up and like, Oh, you just got the iPhone, you know, six? It’s like, yeah, do that’s all I need. But in general, there’s a motto that I like to live by. And that’s, it’s the man, not the machine. Hmm. And if you talk to any great photographer, there’s one that lives on the Outer Banks in North Carolina, David Alan Harvey, he has been a National Geographic photographer for decades. He’s even told me this advice is like he’s like most of the stuff I take is with my iPhone right now that gets in print magazines. You know, it’s like, yeah, you know, if you people always look at what camera should I use for a beginner, it’s like, you got one right there film, there’s movies being made that are getting distribution that are shot on iPhones right now. 100%. Like that’s, that’s 100% True, like, so you most people have the tools, they’re just looking for a reason. And so it doesn’t matter if you can’t tell a good story with the iPhone, getting the new red is not going to is not going to do it for you. You know, this show I was doing for the urban fitness League, one of my camera operators was outstanding. And he had the same feeling people would ask him like, Yo, man, I gotta get that camera. And he’s like, bro, this camera didn’t take that shot. Like I took that shot, you know? So I definitely want people to take that away, that it’s the man not the machine, and you have all the tools that you need to start whatever it is that you want to do right now.

Misbah Haque  1:19:26

I think you answered that question perfectly, because that’s exactly what I was getting at is like, you know, there’s a form of resistance that happens when you want to start anything, really, and you will search for any and every excuse, and a lot of times the equipment or those little technicalities are just ways to delay the actual action that needs to be taken in a sense, you know?

Rain  1:19:50

Yeah, and to bring it back to raise up, dude, I didn’t have I did not own a camera when I started the film and When I was in Madrid, I went and bought a Canon 60D, which is not quite their professors I write on into the canon five DS, but above the T two eyes and T three eyes and that sort of stuff. So it’s kind of an underrated camera, I bought it for number one, it was cheap, I got that and a zoom lens. And it also has a LCD screen that pops out in the swivel, so it helps me shooting from different angles to see whereas the five d and 70 It’s, it’s, it’s married to the back of the camera. So if you’re shooting like this low, you can’t see what you’re shooting. So there was a reason I got that camera, but also I got it because that and the lens was 1200 bucks and not like 5000. So this is a little like a little, you know, fairly cheap DSLR that I shot this feature film with and also still make money off of over five years later, five and a half years later, I still use this camera and make plenty of money. It’s paid for itself a million times and on top of it. I made and sold a feature film that I shot just with that little camera so nobody can tell me that I need a certain camera to tell a story. Now granted, it’s a documentary and things are a little like a little more forgivable in terms of that. But uh, but yeah, you don’t, especially nowadays, shakiness and camera and all that sort of stuff is way forgivable . The style has changed, you know, because we’re so used to seeing handheld video and things like that. Yeah, you got all the tools, man. It’s not hard. So I agree with you that a lot of times people use that as an excuse because well I’m, you know, saving up to get a camera like, bro, you ain’t ever making that film.

Misbah Haque  1:21:50

I really enjoyed this conversation. I feel like we touched on so many different things. It would be great to have you back on some time to dig into some other areas. And I’m looking forward to all the stuff that you’ve got coming out. So tell us you know, where can we find you? Where can we support your journey? How can we learn more about you?

Rain  1:22:09

My social media is rainbennett’s on Instagram, B Rain Ben and on Facebook, Raise Up the movie on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Raise up stuff. You can do the same thing for the website, you can check it out there. It’s available on several different platforms. Now Six-second stories are where we’re coming out within January 2018. And yeah, I’m always around and love to work with anybody and tell stories. And we’ve got some cool projects coming up.

Misbah Haque  1:22:43

I will get all that linked up in the show notes. But okay, thanks again for doing this man. Any last parting words for the listeners?

Rain  1:22:53

Any last parting words? I’ll just say, just start now. I mean, I know we’ve said that a bunch of times. But this is not me preaching to anybody. This is literally the self talk I have every day, because I suffer from this. So whatever it is you’re trying to do. There’s one thing, there’s one thing that makes it happen and separates 1% of people from 99%. And that’s just the people that just sit down and do the work. You know what I mean? You’re not going to be a better writer by doing anything, anything, anything other than just sitting your ass down and doing it. And again, I’m not talking, I’m not being pretentious. I’m not even talking to anybody in this whole world. But myself right now. I just hope that anybody that happens to hear it can maybe benefit from that as well.

Misbah Haque  1:23:40

All about mastering the mundane.

Rain  1:23:43

Right, 100%. Man, you just gotta do it. As simple as that, anything. You just have to do it.

Misbah Haque  1:23:49

Awesome, man. Well, thanks again for coming on. And yeah, we’ll have you back in some time. And I’m looking forward to following your work.

Rain  1:23:56

Thanks so much for having me, man. I appreciate it.

Misbah Haque  1:23:58

Thank you so much for listening, guys. I appreciate you tuning in. I appreciate your ears, and I appreciate your time. One last request I have for you before you head out. And this would be the best compliment that you can give if you’ve enjoyed this episode, or any episode in the past is by heading over to iTunes and leaving a review with your thoughts. If you can make a couple minutes to go ahead and do that. You have no idea how much that helps in terms of rankings, getting more interesting guests on the show and helping me continually push my craft. Be sure to follow along in two different places. One is the where there’s always tons of free resources and on Instagram at airborne mind, which is where there’s a bunch of training videos, free programming and more of a behind the scenes look at what I’m up to throughout the week. So once again, thank you so much for listening, guys. Until next time

Resources we may have talked about:

Raise Up: The World Is Our Gym

How to connect with Rain Bennett:



Instagram: @rainbennett

Instagram: @raiseupthemovie

Facebook: B. Rain Bennett

LinkedIn: Rain Bennett

Twitter: Rain Bennett

Youtube: Rain Bennett

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