This is a special episode for me. James Hobart was the head coach at my CF Level 1 Seminar a few years back. I remember that experience so vividly and James had a huge part to do with that. It was an honour to reconnect with him after following his journey since then.
James is an eight-year CrossFit Games veteran (3 individuals, 5 teams). And he’s the only athlete to have competed on two different Affiliate Cup Champion teams. Beyond his athletic success, he is very down to earth and has a gift of being able to teach.
CrossFit is just a medium for him to express that.
I wanted to know about things like what goes into prepping for a kickass seminar? How do you give feedback to people with more experience than you? How did you train for the Games on pretty much two meals a day?!
We also talk about why training has a purpose beyond just competition and how he is filling up this new space with some exciting endeavors. I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did.
- (8:00) – Law school to Reebok to CF HQ
- (16:10) – Perspective on adversity from traveling
- (19:02) – Competing
- (21:10) – Coaching
- (24:20) – Flow state when connecting with others
- (25:30) – Prepping for the delivery of a seminar
- (31:20) – Giving feedback to people with more experience than you
- (36:20) – Filling the void and why training has a purpose beyond the competition
Bite-sized action items to go from dreaming to streaming your podcast.
Hey, this is James Hobart and you’re listening to the Airborne Mind show
Misbah Haque 00:35
Hey guys, Misbah Haque here. Thank you so much for joining me today. And welcome back to another episode of The Airborne Mind Show. Before we get started, there’s two places that I would love to point you to.
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Today, my guest is James Hobart. And James is an eight-year CrossFit Games veteran, he’s made three individual trips and five trips on a team. He is the only athlete to have competed on two different Affiliate Cup champion teams in 2011. He was with CrossFit New England in 2015, and 2016. He was with CrossFit mayhem, freedom. After he started CrossFit in 2009, he joined the CrossFit level one seminar staff in 2010. And this episode is so special to me for that reason, because a few years back when I took my level one, James was the head coach of that seminar. And I just remember being so impressed by the hospitality of the delivery of the technical information.
By the way, the practical application stuff was kind of run, just everything, it made such a mark on my development as a coach, even though that was really the start of the journey. I just remember everybody being so engaged, the entire audience was very excited to be there. What an environment that was. And so for me to be able to kind of follow his journey over the last few years, and then reconnect with him now and have this conversation. Super special to me. So I hope you enjoy this conversation. And more importantly, hope you do something with it.
James, welcome to the show, man.
Misbah. Thank you very much for having me. I’m excited to be here.
Misbah Haque 04:44
It’s an honor to have you here because looking back about four and a half years ago when I went to go get my L one. You were the head coach of that seminar and I just remembered being blown away by the entire experience just like many people are So t’s cool for me to look back and be like, Wow, it’s so cool to have seen your journey and to finally get to talk to you and kind of recap and see what’s been going on with you the last couple years.
Thank you for saying that. It’s really nice for you to say it’s always interesting for me, because everybody’s in the gym, and they’re in gym clothes, it’s very egalitarian. So you think just you don’t really understand how people exist outside of the gym they have lives outside of the gym, but it’s always really nice to see what people all the walks of life who come in what people do, and where they, where they end up after coming into the seminar, the two days can always be really quick and ethereal. And it’s, it’s, it’s awesome to see where you’re at now.
Misbah Haque 05:39
You have been doing this for quite some time now. And I know that many people who are on the seminar staff, some people may travel for a seminar once a month, twice a month. But if I understand correctly, you do this every weekend all year round, right?
Pretty close to this year was the first year where I almost took a complete month off, month off, I worked I think once in those last ones March, worked once in March. And that was probably the most time I’ve taken off in a row in a very long time. But it’s pretty close to every weekend of the year for some of us. And a lot of my work is regional. So in the eastern seaboard, and in that area, but sometimes, especially toward the end of the year traveling outside of the United States, which is always a fantastic little trip, but not always a quick trip.
Misbah Haque 06:32
And how many years has this been for you that you’ve been doing that every weekend almost?
It’s about six and a half years for me on seminar staff. And then as I started off, it wasn’t the work wasn’t as frequent, cuz I think CrossFit and affiliates and membership was just still slowly growing. But I would say since about 2012 13 is when it really started to pick up.
Misbah Haque 06:58
I’m assuming that you enjoy traveling, do you use this as an excuse to kind of see different places meet different people, and maybe other aspects outside of just going in and delivering a kick-ass seminar?
If I go somewhere, I always explain as I remember vividly being in fifth grade and taking social studies and looking at the globe and thinking to myself, I love where I live, and I still do today. But I looked at places on the map, I was like oh that place sounds cool. I’ll probably never go there. So whenever I end up somewhere, especially outside the United States, I try to take whatever time I have to get out of the hotel room. A lot of our trips are pretty quick, we are allowed to take some extra personal time there if we want. But then sometimes that’s more or less. But a lot of the people work for seminar staff, they have gyms run full-time jobs during the week, I’m very fortunate where I get to work from home pretty consistently other than coaching. So I do try to take a little time to just see what else is out there, you gain a really big perspective in the world. It is a pretty big, amazing place, to say the least.
Misbah Haque 08:06
Could you rewind a little bit and take me back to when you were in law school? And kind of those series of events that led you from, going to law school to working for Reebok, I think you mentioned to working for CrossFit HQ, essentially.
It’s a really fortunate series of events. For me, the more I look around, I think it’s a story that’s becoming pretty common, especially as travel is easier. And communication through technology is made so much easier. I see so many people who start off in one area and become I shouldn’t say sidetrack but end up somewhere totally different. And that’s really what happened to me. I was finished. I was in law school. And when I moved to Boston, one of the things I wanted to do part-time just to make ends meet, and also I was interested in it was coaching CrossFit part-time. So when I first moved to the city, I started coaching at CrossFit Boston through a connection I made with John Gilson at my level one, but a year and a half earlier. And so I went down there, and I met Neil Thompson, who’s the owner of CrossFit Boston, and he was very kind to give this young punk, some responsibility, he really just threw me into the fire and said, here’s a class coach it if you don’t screw it up too bad, we’ll go from there. I was pretty lucky that I didn’t screw it up too bad.
So that’s kind of what got me into CrossFit in Boston. Now, I would also say that I was pretty fortunate, or I should say, very fortunate, it was a lot like being in the right place at the right time and seeing an opportunity and just kind of saying yes to it. So also, I was at CrossFit, Boston. So John Gilson, at the time he was coaching there. And he was on the level of seminar staff, excuse me, and Eva Claris and Koski. She was also coaching there and training there and She was on the level and seminar staff and continues to work on seminar staff to this day. And so I was really lucky to receive a very solid, honest, constructive, and helpful. And I would say ultimately uplifting mentorship from the two of them as far as my own coaching. And from there, I was able to improve as a coach and make a connection to seminar staff eventually, not until about 2010, but maybe a connection to seminar staff, and eventually go through the process of application and internship. And that would eventually lead to me being on seminar staff.
Misbah Haque 10:41
And I’m sure that the whole process was not easy because so you went all the way, you finished law school and then you decided that I don’t really want to be a lawyer, right?
I have to really thank my mom, for being the positive influence that got me through law school, because even though I’m not practicing law, I don’t regret it. It was the thing that pulled me into Boston, it was a wonderful education. I had a really fantastic school at Stanford Law School and the class of people there and the teachers. But it really was like, week by week, it was kind of like, I’m gonna quit, I’m gonna quit and just pursue CrossFit. And my mom was always like, Hey, you’re able to do both right now, keep burning the candle at both ends, just finished this degree, you’re halfway through and see what happens. By that time, I was in my final year of law school. Let’s see what happens. Maybe a funny little story. I remember.
The CrossFit level two course at the time was coming through Boston, and I really wanted to take it, it was on a weekend, and it was on a weekend that I had midterms or finals. So I could petition the dean of law school because you were allowed to if you had a very important reason, petition them to move when you would take final, so petition them to move my final so I can go to the level of court. And I remember explaining how important this was to her. And she really didn’t get it. So my petition was denied. I might not be up to par, I suppose. But so I missed that chance to go through the level two course. I was really bummed and frustrated. And then I think that’s actually good because it sort of postponed my on-ramp to seminar staff.
And it gave me a chance to learn a lot more and become a better coach. But I remember trying, I was so obsessed, for lack of a better word with CrossFit, that I did everything I could to like make it through law school, but not do law school and be a CrossFit athlete and a CrossFit coach. So, but eventually, I graduated, so I made it.
Misbah Haque 12:48
So what do you feel like? Like, were there any obstacles or struggles that kind of came in the way for you as you were transitioning? And mentoring, to become, on to the seminar staff? I’m sure it wasn’t super easy, there was a lot of struggle throughout the way.
At the time, I probably felt like I was really struggling. One, but as I look back on it, I was also really lucky. I don’t know, in my early 20s. I was in Boston. I wasn’t? Little bit. But I had an apartment. I had really great people on both sides of the coin. I think the only struggle I had was the struggle of the unknown. And the fact that I was like, okay, my entire educational lead up until now was to go to law school, become a lawyer. And I liked for the most part, what I did in law school, and I even sort of had an area of law that I wanted to go into, it was just very direct. And then these CrossFit coaching opportunities came along. And it really threw me for a loop because I never expected to want to take part in fitness, or even want to share fitness with other people. It was like it really sidelined me in that sense. So I was kind of graduating and thinking to myself, hey, they’re telling us in law school that we’re here to become lawyers. I don’t know why that never occurred to me.
Because it didn’t. And I was like, What do you mean, I can only be a lawyer after I graduate from law school. And so that for me, that was the only tough part, other than just struggling with that, like, Hey, I’ve spun up my whole life to do this. And now I found this other thing I really liked. What should I do? I was very lucky in the fact that I had a great support system around me whether it was in CrossFit at home, my mom’s support, the people I went to school with so I had, I think it was in my last semester I was working on seminar staff by now. And Steve’s club, who created the Paleo kit, which I don’t know if you’re familiar with, they’re out in New Jersey, but at that time, they would send paleo seminars for the trainers to eat. And I was just about broke. And I remember, I had no food in my fridge at home, and to get through like my last month and a half of law school, I would steal or take the majority of the Paleo kids from the seminar so I could eat for the week.
I would say that was like, but that was actually a, I would say that wasn’t a struggle, it was something I really appreciated, because it was nice to like, look at a bank account and see it really be bone dry. And I don’t want to make this sound tongue in cheek for people who actually have to struggle financially. It gave me some perspective of like, your life isn’t that bad. And when things are really good, you should appreciate them more. It gave me some good perspective like that if that makes sense but it was like, you’re broke for this month, you have to find other ways to like, eat food. And I was working seminars to pay rent and get through law school. And it gave me some good perspective about what you need to live, what things are necessities, and everything else is pretty much a luxury. So that was I wouldn’t say that was a little bit of struggle at the end of the journey. But it hit me at the right time.
Misbah Haque 16:12
I’m sure looking back at that. I mean, those are all essential pieces to the process. And, that helped you develop into who you are today. Something that I heard recently, Ben Bergeron talked about on his podcast was the whole half, two verses get to the concept. It’s such a simple, like, piece of wisdom. But it’s so when you start to implement and you start to really absorb it, it’s pretty deep. Like when you actually take that approach, I don’t have to go pick up the kids from soccer practice, I get to go pick up the kids from soccer practice, I don’t have to have my coffee, I get to have my coffee, we live on, or there are people in the world. I don’t know what he said, I think it was like 5 billion people, there’s our living on two and a half dollars a day or something like that. What do I mean? So it’s like it like you said, it just gives you a whole different lens to kind of view everything through.
And traveling, I think, has continued. And if I ever have kids, I hope if they don’t want to travel, it’s fine. But I hope if they do, they get to see some of the world traveling and give me a great perspective. I grew up in a town of 1100 people. We didn’t lock our doors at night, I rode my bike all over the place, it was super safe. I don’t even think I wore clothes until I was nine years old. It’s just like, it was as protected and easy as it could be to grow up. And then I remember vividly, I’d traveled to a seminar in India, and millions of people everywhere it felt like and I remember there was a family living almost essentially on the side of the road, under this makeshift scrap wood and tarp hut next to the close, pretty close to where one of the affiliates is there. And I remember, one of their children must have died. And the next day they were holding just as the family was holding a service out there all day.
And it was like one of those moments where you realize, again, and I think it’s good to have these moments, not because we want to know that that stuff happened to the world. But it’s good to have these moments because it puts that perspective, what is it that I get to do? What are the luxuries that I really have? Are the struggles I deal with in my daily life, real struggles, I don’t get to go in the fast lane on the highway. There’s a traffic jam, what am I? Is this a real problem? So it’s immense to see how well humans can survive in front of real adversity, and sometimes how much we can get caught up in essentially hoodwinking ourselves, tricking ourselves into thinking that we have it bad because a lot of us don’t.
Misbah Haque 18:59
What role did competition play for you this entire time was always may be a priority for you? If you kind of think about the deeper purpose or the why behind competing, what kind of comes to mind for you
For the competition, it wasn’t something I expected to do coming into CrossFit. Again, as I said, CrossFit really sparked an interest in me, just because I enjoyed coaching and sharing that with other people I really, really liked. So I like training. I like competing against my friends. I like trying to move faster chasing the times on the crossfit.com leaderboard. And a friend of mine in Boston said Hey, there’s this local competition at CrossFit, New England. Ben and Heather had just moved to Natick at that time and started their affiliate. And you should just go try it. My buddy was like I think you’ll do well at it and I went. I did and I finished like just some rinky-dink finished like fifth and but I think that is It was kind of like I looked around at some of the people I was competing against. And I was like, I think I could do this a little bit more. And then from there, it definitely snowballed.
And at first, I thought the competition for me was a very selfish thing. It was like, I just wanted to measure myself and prove myself and, and get attention for myself. And over time, it really evolved. Because I think I felt like if it’s only about you, it has a short lifespan. And your motivation will have a short lifespan. So the longer I did competition, the more it became about being involved with the community competing for a purpose other than just trying to get recognition, it was to inspire other people, it was to share with other people what CrossFit could accomplish. Or put me in a position to share those things. So I hope that answers the question.
Misbah Haque 21:04
And you’ve clearly had some success with that as well. You’ve made multiple trips to the CrossFit Games. How about when we switch gears and think about coaching itself? Because maybe, I don’t know. Are you still coaching? Like regular classes?
Misbah Haque 21:20
So you’re still coaching classes, you’re coaching athletes, but you’re also coaching other coaches now as well. But if we think of maybe the concept of coaching itself, why were you drawn to that? What’s important to you about coaching?
At first, I think I was drawn to coaching because of the community aspect of it. I think even when I was in law school, I think if I stayed down that path, I would have ended up trying to teach, not necessarily practice law. And so the only thing I really liked about coaching was the teaching aspect. I liked sharing information, I liked helping show people how to do things I was interested in. And at first, for me, that was the entire process of teaching, struggling, learning, having your lightbulb moment, and seeing other people make their way through that.
Misbah Haque 22:13
This is something I heard on the art of fitness, In the episode, you did with Steve, you mentioned how the medium itself, what didn’t really matter as much, it was more so that you were actually teaching and you were sharing maybe these bigger values through the medium of coaching or through the medium of CrossFit. Could you explain that a little bit more?
I don’t think the medium mattered. I think, like I said, I think, if CrossFit, I woke up tomorrow, and everyone was like crosswords gone. And it totally disappeared, I think I would find some way to teach in whatever. Like I said, Whatever around there was, I enjoyed it a lot. And it feels very fulfilling, I think, to see somebody have that moment after the struggle, where they finally realize something’s going better, or they figured it out. That’s a really fulfilling process. And personally, I think sharing and teaching and helping each other learn is one of the big purposes of why the heck, we’re alive. Now, what we’re supposed to teach each other and share with each other, I don’t know. But the more that you get isolated, and you’re alone, it seems the worst things are and then when you’re engaged in an active community, the better things you can be teaching and coaching puts you at the front center of that. So I said that starts it.
And I think we’re really lucky in the level one environment, simply because we get to teach to a captive audience, I have friends who teach in schools, I have friends who teach at seminars, where they have to work with a population who are you there voluntold to be there or are obligated to be there for some other reason, and sometimes things can be a little tougher. When people show up in a room and they want to learn from you. It’s pretty fantastic. And there are a lot of allies, a lot of head nods and smiles, and a level one seminar and that makes it really easy. It’s we’re pretty damn lucky to be able to do that.
Misbah Haque 24:18
I really resonate with that because like you said, like, when you’re isolated, almost you don’t experience that same flow state that you kind of do when you might be training with other people or you might be coaching a class and really just being in the moment being present and connecting with other people. I do a lot of work on my computer and from home as well. And always when I have a break in the day to go coach or to go train. It’s just, it’s such it’s indescribable, the feeling. The closest thing I can say is that it’s almost a flow stat. I’m super in the present moment, just like we kind of are on this podcast as well. And that effect seems to last just a couple of hours, right? Like, let’s say you had an hour where you were coaching like you feel really good. You were in the present moment and the next couple hours, just like after you work out, you kind of remain in that flow state and things that trickle into the rest of your life as well.
I agree. 100%. It’s like you would like self-reflection being alone for a little bit, but I definitely think it’s like the majority of the time is spent with other people. I agree.
Misbah Haque 25:27
I want to know a little bit about what goes into it, because the delivery of the seminar and the lectures are super impressive. To me, it’s just so well put together, there’s a flair of humor like you said, there’s a captive audience. So we are listening. And we’re super engaged, we’re excited to be there. But just the whole, I was blown away by that whole process that I kind of went through, and I was like, wow, I would totally come back to take this all over again if I had the opportunity to do so. And I’m sure you’ve done many of these by now. And it almost might become second nature. But what initially kind of went into the prep to deliver such a seminar.
Personally I will make one quick note of this, the constructive feedback system that Dave Castro, Nicole and some are most there and staff have implemented. Guys like Adrienne Bosman, Chuck Carswell, who runs maybe some names people know, who helped run these seminars and a long list of other people, the constructive feedback system is immense and really effective. So that’s important, just simply by the fact, when you get in there, it’s a lot of people who want to make themselves better. But they’re also given a lot of tools and opportunities to do that. And I think that really helps. From there. For me, I remember, I was never someone I always wrote a lot of things down, I like to write down all my thoughts. And I would practice writing lectures out on boards, I remember one of the things a lot of people do is bring the little dry erase markers with them. So you can write it out in the windows of the hotel room.
So the first lecture was just a lot of rehearsal, and making sure you knew the content to a point you were comfortable with, because I think all of us knew the content because we were so immersed in the community. But it does have more structure than the level one environment. So you want to make sure you hit it in such a way that it’s coherent, and gives everyone who’s listening, a nice packaged piece of information that flows for anywhere from 30 to 50 minutes, the training piece coaching in groups. It’s a perishable skill quickly perishable and I think one of the ways a lot of the trainers practice is that they’re coaching actively in gyms. And like I said, we receive a solid dose of constructive feedback in the sense of like there is some stuff that you step out of line, you screw up, you’re like don’t do that again.
But a lot of it is like sharing coaching knowledge, hey, here’s how I’ve approached it, give it a shot. Because with the amount of seminars that you do, you can fall now, I shouldn’t say it’s a trap. But you can fall into a routine of like, here’s how I coach the squat, front squat, overhead squat, and it works pretty well. And it works weekend after a week when we do a lot of these. But even if you do one thing the same all the time, it works well. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you didn’t grow, or there’s something a bit different or better out there. So we receive a good amount of feedback there. And it’s worthwhile to step back and I’ve been doing it this way for six months, and it works really well. But I want to change anything if I can. So coaching in groups is tough unless somebody is watching you because it is so quick and active. It’s sometimes hard to take useful self-reflection there. But I hope so. That’s how I went about it. I was just, I would sit down, I would write out my lecture, then I might rehearse the board prep. And I would do that at a loss.
Misbah Haque 28:59
When we look at maybe your role because now you are a Flowmaster.
The technical term is Course Overseer.
Misbah Haque 29:11
Could you dig into how your role has maybe changed within the last four years? Like what are you doing more of now?
The head trainer role when you first step onto seminar staff, your main role is just coaching in leading the small group breakout to the squat series, the press series, the flip series, and then slowly the responsibility grows and eventually kind of share responsibility with some of us responsible, you will receive leadership responsibility. Now the course is over zero. I would say the biggest thing that has changed because I think everyone who works a seminar is they’re really tuned in to make a fantastic weekend like they really are a group of people who care about how much fun In the value that everyone who shows up gets out, of course, simply because they had that experience, a lot of these trainers I work with I talked to him, how’d you end up here and they’re like, I went to level one, I had a really great time. And I love this. And I think that drove them, a lot of them to try and achieve a position on seminar staff.
So for me, I would say the biggest change is just providing other trainers with feedback, which I think is very challenging. Some of them age-wise are my seniors, some of them have been working on seminar staff longer than I. Some of them have knowledge in specific areas that is much greater than mine. And because the backgrounds are diverse, it’s everybody from people who have master’s in physics to former attorneys that ran small companies, it’s pretty impressive. So I would say, providing them with some tangible feedback, that is both constructive. And actually useful, is kind of how the role changes significantly when you step into the Flowmaster role. You have some other managerial pieces. And administrative pieces. I think the feedback is great to work, but the feedback piece is a big challenge
Misbah Haque 31:19
So digging into that just a little bit. Let’s even take this to maybe your common gym environment, right? Will you have the beginner athletes that you’re going to give feedback to, and maybe it’s going to be technical, it’s going to be about the way that they’re moving? And now that we’re looking at maybe somebody who’s been doing this for a couple of years, they’re kind of set in their ways on how they do certain things? How do you approach giving feedback to someone who’s a little bit more experienced? And how’s that kind of different, versus how you would give feedback to a beginner?
I think for more experienced coaches and trainers, I’d like to hear what their opinion is, and why they would do something in May, I would say maybe even in all cases, this works very well. Because I think we’re we are our own harshest critics at all levels of learning. And even when they give an evaluation of themselves, I think, hey, how did you think you did this? What did you think you did? Did
Do you like it? When you proceed in that sort of way, it opens up some possibilities to the point over there, where they say things like I tried to approach it by going as quickly as possible. But now looking back on it, I didn’t like that, but I’m not really sure how to handle it. And when you catch those little, like, points where they say something like, I’m not sure how to handle it, or but I think I wanted to do it differently.
That usually, they look to you for a piece of feedback, or that allows you an opportunity to maybe share something like, Hey, here’s what I would do. What do you think about that? And I think that can be really helpful. But where that short is that you have to take another step for somebody like that, especially really, really, really new trainers, and give them another metric, here’s how I would try it. And if this happens, then I think it’s going well. But if this happens, maybe you should go back to your old way. I think more experienced trainers are better at that, they’re better at self-analysis and understanding when something works for them. And when something doesn’t. Where I think sometimes with newer trainers and coaches, they receive a piece of feedback. And they sort of like they receive that as we got to turn the ship and this entire, whether or not right or wrong, like the feedback, becomes directive, and not suggested or food for thought. We gotta keep that.
Misbah Haque 33:41
So I guess language is just a huge piece of the equation. It’s funny when you think about the power of words, like when I’m kind of asking you something or saying something like you might be interpreting something totally different. And the next guests might interpret that same exact question or whatever differently as well. So it’s just kind of being selective with that, I guess.
Certainly. And one of the big things we try to push is feedback to each other in person. Because I think sometimes it’s like if you’re expecting negative feedback and you receive an ambiguous text or email, you kind of automatically go into and you’re reading it as though the writer has a negative tone, even if they don’t. And so the in-person piece is really important. Really important.
Misbah Haque 34:31
Let’s think about So, on the weekends, you are typically traveling, you’re delivering the seminar, how about throughout the week? What does your let’s start with your morning, what’s your morning routine if you have one at all?
This has changed significantly over the last year. Because when I was training full time, my morning routine was to sleep as long as I could and then just go work out and hang on for dear life throughout the day. It sounds a little different. I live in Dedham now with my girlfriend and she works in the city so she has a busy schedule. And she usually hits the train early in the morning. Oh, really, I sort of in the morning, we just try and make time for each other, she will or we’ll wake up between 530 and six, five and six. And sometimes I’ll just go to the gym and watch her workout. And I’ll try and get some work in, or sometimes I’ll work out with her. And then we come back here, and we have breakfast, she’ll go to the train, and she heads off to work. This is probably around 830
By now, on Mondays for me, I typically try back that’s post-seminar, typically try to push working out to the side, because Monday is the day to get the most work done like kinda have the potential to get the most work done throughout the week, sort of following up from the weekend, and some other odds and ends. But after that, I usually try to train in the morning and train from nine until 1030. And then, throughout the rest of the day, it’s work or coaching, or home chores, and then I’ll usually try and train again in the afternoon from about three to four, or I’ll take a class up at Reebok CrossFit One. And so I’m back to having a morning life, which I really, really like. And I think it’s so important for a lot of reasons, but it took some adjusting to because I’m also a night out like I hate God, really. You gotta sleep.
Misbah Haque 36:18
I’m the exact same way. I’m a night owl myself. And I used to be somebody who, if I had to coach or had an obligation in the morning, like, I would roll out of bed, no breakfast, nothing, just to it and jump right in. So you’ve mentioned that you used to train about three sessions a day. Has that changed? And you mentioned that you’ve started to fill up that time with some other things, what does the rest of your day kind of look like there?
I was talking to somebody about this. The other day, I forgot what it was. I think it was, it was one of the guys up for CrossFit. But anyway, you’re gonna try to train to be successful at regionals or APA games, it’s close to a full-time job. For those people who can have that success. And they aren’t training was a full-time job, I really want to know what the heck they’re doing. What I say and look at the teams and the individuals who do the best and training, whether it’s in a gym, recovery, eating, thinking, training, it’s, it’s close to a nine to five job. And that’s what it was, like, when we’re down at mayhem. And I attribute a lot of our success to that everybody’s attitude to treating it, it was fun, but to treat it in such a way that, like, we’re gonna put this amount of effort into it. Since then, the biggest thing was you step away from something that takes that much time, and I kind of made the decision that I wasn’t gonna compete pretty quickly after the games, and was like, I was stuck back.
And my poor girlfriend put up, there were a solid couple months where I would just, I was like, I don’t know what to do today, when I took away that goal for myself saying, Alright, I’m not going to try and compete to or train to win the CrossFit Games, or perform really well, at the CrossFit Games, I took away that goal, and I lost all motivation workout. And like, I would go to the gym, I would maybe do a class or do half a class, I would go in street clothes, and then realize I want to take class and workout. There were some days my girlfriend to come home, she’d be like, would you do then I was like, I sat, were right here, I sat right here and maybe read a little bit of a book, or served on Wikipedia for half an hour, but I would just sit around and I was really wasting one being idle. But I think it was because I lost what my main goal was. And it took me a while to reconstruct what the heck training meant to me, why it had a purpose, and what else I was going to fill my time up with.
Because before it was filled up with working out, and so since then, the main thing was like, I want to still be really involved in the community across fit, I love it. I don’t just have to be an athlete, I can still
contribute something meaningful, that isn’t just heavy, barbells overhead and fast times. So from there, I started looking at some other avenues. How could I get involved? I started coaching again at Reebok CrossFit one classes, which I would say didn’t save my life, but it added a really positive direction back to my life. It reminded me whenever I said, Hey, this is what you started doing. I loved coaching classes. I can’t get enough of it. I can always do it to some extent. So that was kind of the first thing I did. And I left other goals I wrote about what competing meant to me, why I was really doing it because it wasn’t just to go out and win the CrossFit Games.
That was sort of The goal within the year, the goal of our team. But I think for me, competing with what it means I wanted to provide other people something inspirational to see what hard work, or at least that like hard work and discipline, and receiving feedback and failing, but still trying hard. That process could allow them to accomplish their goals and do something they wanted. And I, once I started to realize that more kind of put me in a position to say, alright, I can still train hard, and I can share with people the successes of my training. And that inspiration is what I want to share. I don’t just have to be trained and make the CrossFit Games when I can share the process of what goes on in the gym. Because that, I think, is a special thing. So helped kind of get me back in the gym and training again. And then on top of that, the final goal was just like, hey, I want to work more. And one of the big things I’ll be doing this year, and I’m really excited to do it, sorry, this is too long-winded.
One of the big things I’ll be doing is I’ll be working more with cross-media. So I’m going to do some more work with the update show, I’m going to do some color commentary at the regionals and potentially the games. And that’s been really fun because I’ve seen you know, this thing I’ve been involved with for the last almost eight years now, I’ve seen a whole different side of it. And it’s given me immense respect for it. It literally it’s like you think the game shows up, and it just gets some volunteers and Rogue ships and gear out. It just happens. Wow, is that not the case, from the day after the games to next year are planning that entire event. And there are so many moving parts. It’s very fun to be a part of it, I think it’d be tough being on the sidelines, but I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of it and be working with the Update Show. Sort of has been doing some more administrative work for CrossFit as well beyond my seminar staff duties. So it’s been in programming a little bit here and there for some athletes. So it’s been great to make me.
Misbah Haque 42:09
I think a lot of people will resonate with that, finding your reason behind training, and not just training for the sake of competition and having something a little bit deeper, what does it mean to you? And why do you show up day in and day out? Because coaching, and maybe if you’re working a part-time, full-time job at the same time and doing a bunch of other things, it’s very easy to burn out in a sense.
And I think, one last little comment, I think, success. I wasn’t the most successful CrossFit athlete. Any success makes you a little drunk if you don’t pay attention, in the sense that I was like I did pretty well, this, this CrossFit Games thing. And because I had success there, and it’s what I was contributing a lot of effort to, there were some times something crept in, and it totally whispered in my ear and said, hey, this is the only thing you can be successful at. So if you don’t do this, you get nothing else. And it’s a
complete lie. But I think you can fall into that trap. It’s like when you’re good at something, and you can read a lot of time into it. It’s like, what else? Can I be good at it? What was like, you’re 30 years old, you’ve done all this other stuff. Really take a look at what resources you have, what opportunities you have. Don’t be so narrow-minded. And it was a really important lesson to learn.
Misbah Haque 43:28
I think that you being involved with CrossFit media a little more, is super exciting. I always look at hosting a podcast, I always look at other talk shows, and I look at comedians, and I look at all these different disciplines who are so unrelated to what I’m doing, and I’m nowhere near their level in any sense. But if I can pick up 1% of their process, or their way of thinking that somehow relates back to something I can bring on the show, or maybe coaching or in a conversation like that, to me is super intriguing. So that’s why I’m excited to hear that you’re doing that. And I’m curious to know, is there anything you know, off the bat that goes into that process? I’m sure it’s not just like, let’s show up. And we’re going to start recording 321 Go?
You mentioned you say, you look at comedians, when I was I usually looked at comedians a lot for presentation skills. When I was first lecturing, but anyway, um, yeah, so as far as preparing for media, I had this big. I don’t know how much of it I’m supposed to show but it’s the reporter coaching handbook. It’s been a part of the process and I think all of the personalities and technical people on that side of the media realize they don’t always do everything perfectly, but they certainly have, it is not just like, hey, here’s a mic get up there and talk. They really haven’t rehearsed. They’ve received A lot of coaching on it from people who have done it professionally. And some of them have done it professionally in the past, and their producers and directors and, and color commentators are in it.
I’d say it’s a well-oiled machine and they have training and rehearsals and guidelines, and feedback on how you did and what they thought you could do a little bit differently. It’s pretty immense and overwhelming. And I’ll say this, I’m, I think I’m more nervous to do color commentary at regionals than I was ever to compete for a reason. I think you have to challenge yourself to grow and get better at it. But man, my, my challenge right now and I thought I was good at talking. But it’s a specific way. I mean, what you do in the production, there’s a method, there’s an art, there’s practice. So it’s something I’m trying to pay more attention to.
Misbah Haque 45:57
That’s really exciting. And like you said, looking at comedians, that’s something we’ve talked about on the show a couple of times. I admire comedians so much because it’s one of those things like you can’t fake it, you can’t get away with it. Like you have to show up and you have to deliver and get an immediate response. immediate response. And something I’ve been looking into. And you might enjoy this, too. But it’s a book called The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. And it’s pretty much that show was obviously on like, pretty much every day, and it looked effortless to the person kind of washing. But it digs into all the people that were involved in that show, talking about what it was like and what went into it. And like after listening to that, I cannot believe that much work went into this. But I mean, it was
worth it. Like you kind of watch and you’re like, this is really well put together. And you just appreciate it a little bit more.
You certainly do realize, I was surfing with a friend recently. And the guys out there have some championships. I don’t know much about surfing, to be honest. But I was watching them, go and surf and carve. And it looks so easy. In my head. I’m like, Give me a surfboard, give me a wave, I’m ready. But then in my head, I’m like it looks that easy. They’re probably really good at it. And I think as you said with The Daily Show, it’s very similar. It looks like these guys sit down and bang it out. And I’m like there’s something going on behind the scenes there. So I’ll check that out. That’s really cool.
Misbah Haque 47:34
So a couple of rapid-fire questions for you. Number one is, what’s something that you think most of us take for granted?
Or something I think most of us take for granted? Let me think here for a second-most of us take for granted. The existence of other people. And I just think especially if you live in a crowded city, everybody’s got to go somewhere that not everyone has, and they probably feel like they don’t have time to stop and say hello and hi and smile and wave. But it’s like, there’ll be some times when I’m sitting on a bus or on a train. And I see people bump into each other. And the lack of interaction sometimes is like, it just might be a little bit better if people just acknowledge each other a little more. At some, I constantly have to work on because you get sucked in your own little world because it fits into the palm of your hand. I think that’s a big one.
Misbah Haque 48:47
And I think a lot of that comes back to just being in the present not living like in the future in the past in a sense. What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
The best advice I’ve ever received. I’ve been very fortunate with my mentors. Like I said, if I had one superpower, it was just my superpowers being in the right place at the right time. Think something odd to say? I don’t know if it’s the best advice I’ve ever received. It’s something I certainly think about a lot. It’s just that it’s not all about me.
Misbah Haque 49:36
What are three things you think of more than the average person?
Three things I think of more than the average person. That’s a really good question
Misbah Haque 49:56
You did mention that you think that time to Yourself is also important for self-reflection, which I agree with, and I think is really interesting. So I don’t know if that ties into this at all. But the first three things may come to mind for you.
I think a lot about what other people are experiencing a lot. And I don’t know, I don’t mean that as like what other people are thinking about me. But it’s like, I do think about it a lot. What the heck is the world like, through other people’s eyes, I’ve always had like, this weird desire, since I can remember if like, this is gonna sound so bad, but I wish I could just like absorb what was in your brain and just understand your perspective immediately because it’s like, it’s one of those really, really wild existential things. I sit around, I think, I’ve had all the experiences that I had, and all the complex questions and thoughts that I’ve had, and all the stupid ones too.
But then there’s billions of other people out there who have had equally as many if not more, and completely different. That’s really overwhelming to me. But I think about that a lot. And I like wish, I wish, wish, wish, wish I could just have everyone’s perspective. The other thing I probably think about more than other people. And I always, like I’m missing something. I don’t know if that’s a specific thing that I could think about, but I always, always feel like I’m missing out on something. I guess just awareness, I would say and then I’ll throw in a joke. One. I’m always thinking about ramen noodles.
Misbah Haque 51:34
This actually leads me into something I want to talk to you about. So I heard you say the art of fitness that you were having at a certain point, like two meals a day. And I thought that that was hilarious. Because I am, I was in this boat for the longest time. And I was the type of person who, like I almost, I just, I’m doing so much that I’m like, I don’t really want to eat and like breakfast was not like my thing. And for a long period of time, I was under-eating, like you said about 1000 calories. And recently, I’ve been working with Jason Phillips, and he has been doing a great job helping me get back on track, like one step at a time.
And what forced me to kind of make that change a little bit was that I started noticing in my, the more that I started doing the more podcasting I’m doing, the more work that I have to do and coaching, like my energy levels were low, and I just training didn’t feel as good. Like, all those things started catching up to me. So I was, it’s time to do something about it. But I thought that was so funny that you were in a similar boat. What’s your nutrition kind of look like now? Are you still doing two meals a day? And if not, what kind of elicited you to make that change?
Just this past week, I started applying the Zone diet again, just the last couple of days, because I’m just kind of curious to know what I’m eating and I’m being really picky about I’m logging all my food on this online calculator because I’m also curious about what sort of micronutrient intake I’m potentially getting anyway, just so gonna nerd out for a month or so on that. But what got me eating again, house, I’ll say that I was just hungry, that natural base hunger. My girlfriend, though she’s very routine in her meals. And she loves having breakfast. And I really like to cook. So I’ve started to have breakfast now more of this pasture than I ever had. And I just think that’s good. My training now kind of happens later in the day.
And my days are just longer. So I find myself being a little bit hungrier, but I’m not doing it successfully. I’m trying a lot harder to have three square meals a day, as they say, but I need to focus on stuff like that more. I think people, like those who move fast or feel like they’re really busy whether I am or not. It’s like sometimes you just cut out those little things, because it’s like, you’re also just caught you’re like, I don’t have time to feed myself. You have time for it and it’s very important. You have to do it like you were saying. It’s like the busier you got, the hungrier you were, and then you start to underperform. So I’m more aware of it now than I think I ever have been.
Misbah Haque 54:10
Now how did you make it through like, training at the mayhem and stuff like that, while doing that? Did you feel a difference?
That’s one of the jokes of everyone who would go down there like I’m just rich, I don’t feel like ever really ate a lot during the day. It’s because we were always moving and doing stuff. And I felt like I was kind of like that too. And you just sort of fall into it. I don’t know. How did we survive? I have no idea. I don’t know. I think in some way, whether we ate a lot at night or like snacks throughout the day and or had some sort of protein. I don’t know. I think it’s like we ended up managing to get enough to get by. But um, I just didn’t like eating during the day, moving all day. I’d like to feel full. You didn’t want to take the x away and, and sharpen it. You just want to keep moving.
Misbah Haque 55:02
So let’s say that I gave you a few billion dollars and a staff of 40 people, and you wanted to use that to make some type of change or some type of impact. What would you do with it?
Right off the top of my head right now.
Misbah Haque 55:23
Yeah, it doesn’t have to be an elaborate business plan.
I probably opened an affiliate. I think a couple of them. And that’s just because it’s the thing that comes to my mind. First and foremost, I think something I have my hands most directly involved in, I believe in 1,000%. I think there are a lot of noble ventures out there. But I think sometimes it’s hard to figure out whether those things are working or not. And at least I don’t have aspirations big enough to try and fix anything. And I can kind of be right here at home. So that’s off the top of my head. I know, it’s not the sexiest, most fun answer, but that’s probably what I would do. I would probably also, just from my own personal background, I would like to have some sort of substance abuse addiction recovery center. That’s a bigger issue, but that would certainly be part of it.
I would try and run my affiliate nonprofit for free. It’s like sharing it for people who want to do fitness and take care of their life through fitness but don’t believe they have or don’t have the financial means to do it and then try and make it as available to them as possible.
Misbah Haque 56:46
That’s really cool. Do you know I’m Krissy May Cagney?
I know of her. I’ve never met her.
Misbah Haque 56:54
She’s involved in this project now where she’s giving away a certain amount of memberships to people who are on their road to recovery. Like, of course, there are certain guidelines you have to fit into, but opening up her gym and her place as a place for people to come and train, and just be involved and using that as a way to kind of give back because she also dealt with some substance abuse stuff. And that’s kind of her way of giving back. I thought that was really cool. And she’s kind of turning that into something that I think hopefully eventually will trickle over into other gyms and will be kind of a program that you could almost be a part of.
I can’t tell you how much of that we see at the level one environment, you’ll get emails or people just come to you and say, this was my next step, or I’m doing this to this has really helped me kick my addiction or control my balance those things out and recover. It’s pretty, it’s immense and personally, I’ve, I’ve seen the signs of addiction with loved ones. And I think it’s stigmatized and a lot of people could benefit from it.
Misbah Haque 58:07
Let’s say you’re still a billionaire. And you wanted to give maybe two to three books to everyone in the country this year?
Two to three books about that country. I’ll just hit him with what? What I’m creating, I read a piece in every step. It’s a book by a Buddhist. I believe his name is not Han. Give him that. Some other really influential books, for me some stuff right here. I don’t know what the second book would be.
Misbah Haque 58:57
And here’s the thing, because I’ve been thinking about this question a lot recently. And I don’t want to limit it to just books because not everybody is solely just using books to gain knowledge. Some people use videos, some people use podcasts. So maybe it’s a piece of content that has really resonated with you, who knows, maybe it’s from the CrossFit Journal, something that comes to mind that you want everybody to read and kind of what they get out of it.
That’s gonna come out of the left field. I read this book. I saw a TED Talk by a Ph.D. psychologist, his name’s Guy winch. And he wrote this book called Emotional First aid. And I thought it was like, he basically makes the analogy that if you get a cut, what do you do? You clean it, you put a bandaid on it, you take care of it. It’s a really big deal. You go to a doctor, he says, But he talks essentially about emotional and psychological wounds. He says, just because you can’t see them, you ignore them. And then or see how you deal with them if you have the right skills to and they just get worse and worse and worse forever. He’ll and he kind of makes that analogy. He got it, hit me. And I was like this guy has figured it all out. And I know that’s when you think that there’s always another way, but what he was prescribing and discussing with just sort of like this daily first aid and these steps of how to handle emotional and psychological wounds, I was like, this is essentially CrossFit for your soul. I was pretty blown away. But I thought it was a really nice book. And I think it helps you take a closer look at how you act and how other people’s actions influence you. And it helps you also take you out of that victim mindset, we’re not strong enough to do this, wait what do I do?
You have a program of how to do it, the same kind of thing, like, oh, this thing has happened in my life, upset about it. And here are some basic tools to try and heal from that, or make it better, or make yourself better. But he also talks about, if these tools aren’t working, you need to seek professional help. And I really liked it, because I think sometimes we get this attitude of, like, rub some dirt in it, that person you had this happen to in your life, just tough it out. The same way, if you fail a 315 pound clean because you can’t clean, you haven’t cleaned 275 pounds yet just gonna be able to barbell up. And it was a really nice thing, it’s you’re not if you don’t have the tools to do it, you’re not gonna be able to get out. And I thought he kind of delivered those tools. They are really nice guys and a really cool book.
Misbah Haque 1:01:34
Something that is kind of what that sparks for me is like thinking about your brain as almost like, there’s a, it’s a piece of hardware, but within that, there’s certain software that you have kind of installed, right. And a lot of these things and these are just basic psychological principles stem from a very early age, it could be in the first two years of your life, could be the first 10/15 years or maybe past experiences. And even though you may have kind of put some of that away, and you’re kind of rubbing some dirt on it, or whatever, it still is subconsciously somewhat kind of dictating some of your actions and some of your thoughts, even though you may not see it right away. And so it’s essentially the first step to kind of upgrading your software, just so you can keep, make space for other things, to be able to recognize that. And it’s the awareness aspect, which I think that you seem to have had for quite some time because you also mentioned that you’ve seen you’ve been able to kind of recognize the right opportunity, and you’ve been there at the right time. And a part of that is being able to be somewhat aware. So that’s just kind of what rings for me when I heard you say that.
I like what you said somewhat. I was gonna say I was like, I still think there’s a lot that I miss, somewhat aware.
Misbah Haque 1:02:47
Is there something you feel like you don’t get asked enough about something you wish people would ask you more?
I think we hit some good stuff.
Misbah Haque 1:03:04
What should a coach or athlete take away from this podcast? How can they make themselves better today by listening to this?
I just think as a coach or an athlete, it’s, I hope they take from this that it’s really important to understand there’s probably always a bigger fish out there. And what I mean by that is, there’s always somebody that you can learn something from, and I think I said this in a previous podcast, but this is my other really good advice. I like this, services the retinue pay for being here on Earth, and I think it’s a stay goal-focused, understand that. The world doesn’t revolve around you. But your goal is your goal. And the meaning that you bring to the world is really, really big. And that you can continually learn new things from other people.
Misbah Haque 1:03:49
Now before I let you go, have you seen the like in terms of comedians, who are your favorite comedians?
I was really excited to see Dave Chappelle.
Misbah Haque 1:04:02
That’s what I was gonna just say, you have to listen to the two specials he just put out.
On Netflix, my girlfriend and some friends showed it to us and gosh, I think he’s such a wizard. And sometimes I get bummed out that people laugh at his jokes because he really lays in some social and political commentary where you’re like, that’s clever. He hits hard. But I really liked seeing him again. I’ll just say that.
Misbah Haque 1:04:30
That’s funny. He has a third one coming out so I don’t know if I can’t wait. Yeah, he signed like a three special deal with Netflix, which I don’t know if anybody has ever done that, but to whom already out and the third one’s on its way. So I’m looking forward to that as well.
Thank you for letting me know.
Misbah Haque 1:04:45
Awesome, man. So where can we support your journey? How can people find you? How can they connect with you?
As far as social media goes, I’m not the most active person in the world. If you’re ever up in the Boston area please shoot us an email at Reebok crossfit1 for a guest visit and workout. I’m pretty active on Instagram, which is just at James Hobart, probably the best place to do it. And then if you ever come through level one or looking for more information, my email is [email protected]. So I’m happy to help out with whatever I can or pass you or point the direction to someone who can help you a little better.
Misbah Haque 1:05:25
James, thank you so much for coming on the show. Thank you so much for sharing some of your thoughts. I found it. I had a blast chatting with you and connecting with you. It’s been a long time.
It’s been nice to see you again. And thank you for following up and being patient through the process.
Misbah Haque 1:05:41
Absolutely. Thank you so much for listening, guys. I know you’re probably driving right now. You’re probably eating, cooking, working out, you’re doing something else. But make sure you head over to the airbornemind.com check out some of the free coaching videos, warmups guides, checklists, all the things that you can use to make the best use out of your training time. If you enjoyed this episode, please leave a review on iTunes and let me know we think I love hearing from you guys. And it would really help me out so I can continue creating awesome stuff for you. And remember, the greatest compliment you can give is by sharing it with somebody else who might enjoy it or somewhere on the web. So once again, thank you so much for being a listener and supporting the show. Until next time