Listen to my latest podcast episode:

801: 10 Fitness Secrets Every Busy Parent Needs to Know

TMHS 310: Movement Skills, the Importance of Community & Down-Regulating at Night with Dr. Kelly Starrett

Be honest: what was on your mind the last time you stepped into the gym? Was it your goal to exhaust all of your effort in order to set a PR? Did you make it your secret mission to compete with the guy on the treadmill next to you?

I’m all about taking your workout to the next level, but today’s guest has an important lesson to share about setting a realistic and sustainable intention for your workout. I recently trained with Dr. Kelly Starrett, and I was wholly fascinated by the simple (yet effective!) goal he set for our session: to leave our training session feeling better than we did before.

Kelly is a doctor of physical therapy, a New York Times Best Selling Author, and an all-around stand-up human being. On today’s episode, he’s sharing why fundamental movements are indispensable to your routine, what basic human physiology can teach us about exercise, and how simple swaps with your phone and sleep habits can have an incredible pay off long-term.

In this episode you’ll discover:

  • How to set an intention for your workout (and why a simple goal is so effective).
  • The importance of removing your ego from your training.
  • Why it’s crucial to rebuild and reclaim your body’s fundamental movements.
  • Which exercise is a vital piece of human physiology.
  • What the history of Homosapiens can teach us about our basic needs.
  • What it means to load the long bones (and the essential exercises you need to perform!)
  • Pros and cons of workouts like Zumba.
  • The importance of finding your tribe and having meaningful interactions.
  • What it means to eat like a human.
  • The true meaning of posture.
  • How to keep up a healthy routine when motivation fails you.
  • The importance of community for overall health and wellness.
  • Why self-medication is so prevalent in our society.
  • How lack of sleep is interconnected to mental health problems.
  • What thermoregulation is, and how it can help you get a great night of sleep!


Thank you so much for checking out this episode of The Model Health Show. If you haven’t done so already, please take a minute and leave a quick rating and review of the show on Apple Podcast by clicking on the link below. It will help us to keep delivering life-changing information for you every week!


Shawn Stevenson: Welcome to The Model Health Show. This is fitness and nutrition expert, Shawn Stevenson, and I'm grateful for you tuning in with me today.

I'm on the road right now, here in my home really in San Francisco, my home studio when I'm on the road, and I just had an incredible experience, and I just want to send a big shout-out to everybody who came out to the Take Control Conference.

I appreciate you guys so much, you showed me so much love, and the event was definitely transformational. You know?

So I've been through a lot this past week, so much amazing stuff, but it's still a lot. You know?

And I just left a training session with my guest today, and a lot of the time we're coming into our training thinking that we want to get our butt kicked. Like we really have to have the experience of just getting beat up to know that we have gotten a good workout, and it just doesn't work like that.

You know? We're really looking at training not just our muscles, but also our nervous system, also our endocrine system. All of these things matter in the grand scheme of things.

And so he told me beforehand, we were just kind of talking over to the side- because it was part of a class, you know? So I was hanging out with a lot of other folks as well, but I really am kind of competitive.

I like to do things at a high level, I like to go 120, you know? And he was just like, "Shawn, I know you've been through a lot this week."

I had a photoshoot, multiple interviews, birthdays, a program launch, speaking on multiple stages, and traveling. You know? And it was a lot.

And so he just reminded me that, "Let's just leave this workout feeling good. That's really the goal." You know? And so dialed it back in.

But here's the thing. So we were doing kettlebell swings combined with uphill sprints, alright? But we were doing these at different degrees with the sprints as far as our acceleration.

So it wasn't something where you had to blatantly just kick your own butt, but there can be a draw too.

And so we were going through the sprints, and everything was going well, and there was this guy, and he shall remain nameless, but he's a great guy.

And he was doing his sprint, and he saw me in his blind spot a little bit right there on his heels. And I guess he's the fast guy at the San Francisco CrossFit, alright?

And so I'm basically running him down, and I'm not even trying. I'm not going 120. And so I could have competed with him, but I was keeping it in my mind like, "Shawn, listen to Kelly. Dial it back in. Like your body is a little bit disorganized, you've been doing a lot of stuff, you've been traveling a lot. Just keep it cool."

And so we went back, we did the next set of kettlebell swings, and this guy- usually he would just take right off from the kettlebell swings. This time, he was waiting on me.

Like he was lingering waiting for me to get done with my kettlebell swings so he could compete with me. He was trying to bait me in, but he ain't getting me, alright?

I just kind of stood back, I hung back and just let him go do his thing, and then I did mine. I just went kind of 80% or 85%.

So moral of the story is do what's right for your body right now, you know? Every time you work out, this doesn't mean you have to go 120% and kick your own butt, or allow your trainer to do that. We need to be working more intelligently.

It's not just about working harder, it's working smarter, and we've said this many times. And today, I really felt great after I left, and that was the goal, and so I'm really happy about that.

But it takes somebody at that high level of thinking and communication, like our guest today, to get somebody like myself to dial it back, and so I'm really grateful to have him on and talk to him.

But listen, beforehand- again, I knew I needed a little bit of- a little extra jolt in my system. I always, always travel with my Four Sigmatic, my medicinal mushrooms, my packs, my mushroom coffee, and also my rishi elixir. Those are great to help you sleep.

And so before the workout, I had my mushroom coffee, and listen to this. So first of all, coffee- first of all, coffee. For years, for years I didn't drink coffee. When I last had it, I was a child and I was just like, "I'll never have this again."

It was a terrible experience, and I made a decision when I was like five, but my wife kept going on and on about this Four Sigmatic coffee. And just one day I tried it, and it really, really spoke to me.

And so the big benefit, first of all, this is organic. It's not a cup of pesticides, and herbicides, and rodenticides along with the coffee. So you're getting that little bit of caffeine.

And check this out, because a lot of people- caffeine is included in a lot of different products today as far as training, and this is why.

There was a study that was done that found that caffeine can increase the metabolic rate by about 3% to 11%. This was a study published in the 'American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.'

And the increase in the metabolism was caused by an increase in the burning of fat. So caffeine does directly trigger your body to burn more fat.

Now we don't know the state of health of these folks in the study. Maybe you need to be balanced with your endocrine system, not be under heavy stress, I don't know.

But in general, this can be something safe if you're not using it as a Band-Aid solution to burn fat or to have more energy, because there's a balance there.

And so now here's the thing too with the caffeine; there's dirty caffeine, alright? That's dirty.

There's not a lot of things that have the word 'dirty' associated with it that's good. It's like dirty clothes, dirty mind, right? Well maybe that could be good.

But dirty looks- if somebody gives you a dirty look, that's not good. You don't want that dirty caffeine, alright? We want the good stuff, alright?

So first of all, they start with that. And also because it is a medicinal mushroom coffee, the formula that I had because I was going to be training was cordyceps, and here's why.

A study published in 'Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise' tested thirty healthy athletes for six weeks to record the effects of cordyceps on their performance.

The group that added cordyceps to their daily regimen had twice the oxygen uptake of the control group. So they're literally assimilating and utilizing oxygen more efficiently.

Now this oxygen is essential for supplying nutrients to the muscles, preventing fatigue, and preventing the build-up of lactate. Alright?

And another study by the same group showed a 9% increase in aerobic activity from taking cordyceps. That is substantial, right? That's that 1% to 5% difference in your performance.

This is why cordyceps is one of my favorite things. I've been utilizing cordyceps for literally probably about twelve years now, and it wasn't until I found out about dual extraction that everything changed.

Because I would buy tinctures, which is the alcohol extract to get certain compounds. Then I'd buy hot water extracts from different companies, spending a lot of money, and not really getting something that even worked necessarily how I wanted it to because it was incomplete, and trying to combine them together.

Four Sigmatic does a dual extraction, so you're getting every- because we don't know what it is about the cordyceps- the extraction method that they used in this study.

By getting a dual extraction, you're ensuring you're getting everything from the mushroom, and that's what's so important.

And so make sure to check them out and utilize it. I think you're going to love it. I have my cup of coffee with- I love it with emulsified MCT oil, maybe a little bit of grass-fed butter, maybe some unsweetened almond milk, maybe a couple drops of English Toffee Stevia, maybe a little cinnamon. You get fancy.

Alright, but make sure to check them out, That's and now let's get to the iTunes review of the week.

ITunes Review: Another five-star review titled, 'Changing my life one listen at a time,' by D4374.

"I discovered you by a family member who listens to your podcast religiously. A simple forward of an episode had me hooked. You're relatable and wise.

I love how you break down facts of the topic you're covering. You load your audience with wisdom and knowledge, and you do this with grace.

Since listening to your podcast, I have become more aware of what I put into my body, and I've also discovered the key to success; routine and discipline.

I'm becoming my best self one listen at a time, and I appreciate you. Thank you."

Shawn Stevenson: Yes, yes, yes. Amazing, amazing. The routine and discipline, and I love that word discipline. It can have a negative connotation, but it really means being a disciple, you know?

Being a disciple of yourself and your greatness, and disciplines can create actually more freedom, funny enough. And so wow, what a great message, and thank you so much. I appreciate you immensely.

If you've yet to do so, please head over to Apple Podcasts and leave a review for the show. Alright? I appreciate that. And on that note, let's get to our special guest and topic of the day.

Our guest today is the amazing, the incredible, the one and only, Dr. Kelly Starrett.

He's a New York Times bestselling author, he's written books such as 'Supple Leopard,' alright? 'Supple Leopard.'

He's a Doctor of Physical Therapy, and just one of the smartest people that I've ever met, and he's also one of the best humans I've ever met.

Extremely caring, extremely considerate and compassionate, and he knows his stuff. Alright? He gets stuff done, he executes, and he helps a lot of people.

And what's so exciting about it is that he's also created something far before a lot of other folks when he started his vlog, alright? He's got a vlog called Mobility WOD, or the Mobility Workout of the Day.

I think it's getting close to ten years it's been going on YouTube. In fact the first was probably a little grainy, but it's just been such a catalog and library for learning for folks, for preventing injuries, for rehabilitating, for just being better movers.

And I'd like to welcome to The Model Health Show, my friend, Dr. Kelly Starrett. What's going on, man?

Dr. Kelly Starrett: Well it's good to be here, thank you so much.

Shawn Stevenson: It's my pleasure, man. We just had a little almost incident in the studio.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: Travel with my own ninja.

Shawn Stevenson: A light was going down, this huge light was going down, it was about to smack the floor and potentially bust, and you got your guy here, alright? And he proved to me that CrossFit does work.

He grabbed the light with three fingers of the pole, had coffee in his hand, a tiny espresso, didn't drop a single drip. It was amazing.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: He knows when his job would be on the line if he spilled that coffee. Nathan's our Director of Production.

But also I think the greater question is we know all modalities work, right? But if you want to- what do the doctors say? If you want good outcomes, choose good patients.

Shawn Stevenson: Interesting.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: If you want to have- and we see this in a lot of sports. If you want to have good outcomes with your program, choose people who are already All-Americans. That always is useful, right?

Shawn Stevenson: That makes sense.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: Because I'm like, "Dude, that guy's been spinning lately and just doing Zumba." And like I don't know, but Zumba makes us super athletes.

Shawn Stevenson: But he grabbed that with a Vulcan death grip, and just- it was beautiful, man. It was really remarkable.

So listen, I had the opportunity to hang out with you today to train at your gym, which was such a great gift and pleasure, and you had us doing some really interesting stuff.

But you told me beforehand, "Shawn, you've been on the road, you've been traveling, you've been doing this and that." Why'd you tell me to kind of just take it easy?

Dr. Kelly Starrett: The first thing that happens anytime we have people- we have athletes come and we're just dropping in. One of the things that we really appreciate is that we want our athlete friends to come, and this is our model.

You show up at your friend's house, you eat their cooking. Right? So it doesn't matter what precious program you're on, if your friend is like, "Hey, we're going to go run a 10k," you're like, "Oh, that's going to suck, but okay."

You need to be ready for anything, especially being vulnerable in front of your friends who are really good coaches, really good athletes.

Because you kind of like- if I was like, "What do you want to do tonight?" You'd be like, "We're going to do speed ropes," you're going to show me like five parlor tricks that you rule, but that's it.

I think just showing up and being vulnerable and exposing yourself is the goal. Comma, the other goal is as a coach friend, is to be like, "Look, I know you're sleep-deprived, working hard, trashed."

The goal is not to be heroic, but the goal is, "Hey go have a moving practice. Leave feeling better."

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: And it's okay to train like that.

Shawn Stevenson: Absolutely.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: And so we sometimes have to take our friends with big engines and be like, "Be cool. Be cool."

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: I want you to come out here without being sore, so sore that your wife is pissed that you can't go for a hike.

Shawn Stevenson: Right. Right, or potentially injuring myself.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: Or tweaking yourself.

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: Right? We're not having fun.

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: You know, so we just try to take the ego out of it right away, right?

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, and I thank you for that. And it can be difficult, you know? Like I told you.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: Oh, it's really difficult.

Shawn Stevenson: If this was a year or two ago, I might not have listened to that advice. But I did, and today we had a really interesting combination of things that we did.

We did the kettlebell swings and went right to some sprints uphill. And by the way, first of all, the San Francisco hills. Alright? I've got an issue with this. Like I've never seen such things.

People are walking- first of all, I haven't seen anybody in this city that doesn't have really great legs. Alright?

Dr. Kelly Starrett: Good calves, strong calves.

Shawn Stevenson: It's a pre-requisite, you know? If you want to move here, it's like, "Do you have strong legs?" First, check that box. These hills are crazy.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: One of our friends is a world record holder or world champion in mountain biking, and she was like, "Oh I'm here at a Ripple event, I'll just pop over to the hill." I'm like, "Oh, okay."

And she's like, "I just got a little rental bike," so she was on like some rental with like three gears, and she was like, "Oh my God. It's a good thing I'm a world champion mountain biker, otherwise I wouldn't have made it here." You know what I mean?

Shawn Stevenson: Right, oh man.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: Like it's legit. So you know, the hills. So one of the things we try to do is try to prepare our people for the rigors of their daily lives, which means you're going to have to get up the hill quick.

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah those- so I'm seeing people walking up hills looking like the Michael Jackson, 'Annie, Are You Okay,' he's doing that, and then coming down it's like The Matrix. Right?

Dr. Kelly Starrett: It totally is.

Shawn Stevenson: It's so crazy to see this.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: And you brought a coat, didn't you? Because it's August.

Shawn Stevenson: I didn't, I had no idea.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: I know, it's nuclear winter.

Shawn Stevenson: You know, I'm out here a little nip-nip, man. A little nippy.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: Well the good news is it's always fifty-five. In the summer and the winter, it's always fifty-five, and so it's great training weather, but you can definitely- I mean you've this cute little pastel on, you're like, "I'm going to look good, I'm in California."

We have seen a lot of people make that mistake.

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, forget about it. So the workout that we did today, the kettlebell swings with the sprints, but you were also telling us to- you were walking us through accelerations and also decelerations. So why did you have us do that specific thing today?

Dr. Kelly Starrett: So this class that you dropped in on is our skill conditioning class, which I teach. You can come off the street, it's one of the only classes that you can come into our training facility and come off the street and train, right?

I'm coaching it, but it's really a laboratory for me to say, "How do I create a physical practice for moms, and dads, and athletes that isn't the end-all be-all by itself. Right?

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: Try not to be all things to all people in that moment. We're just saying, "Hey look, let's use this hour to restore your positions, let's use this hour to work on skills."

As a side effect you'll probably be a little fitter, be a little stronger, but you should feel good that you could go leave here and actually do a sport.

In the fitness world, we've taken this golden hour of fitness training and tried to give it- like it's everything, you know?

Like the spin instructor is like, "Leave it on the floor!" and you're like, "But I have to go to work, or do some work, or play some game later, or compete, or train."

Shawn Stevenson: Right.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: So one of the things we're trying to do is create an environment where we can rebuild and reclaim fundamental skills, and one of those skills that we have to talk about is running well.

And one of the things that happens is somehow maybe in your twenties, you stop sprinting. You stop running fast.

What you do is you- maybe if you're playing basketball, you sprint. You're playing some frisbee, some ultimate, you sprint. But otherwise, sprinting becomes not the language that's around, and then you go sprint one day and you get killed. Right? You pull a hammy.

It's like if you're a middle-aged guy, sprinting is like the most dangerous thing you can do because of the end ranges and the forces involved, right? And you just haven't exposed your tissues.

So if moving this group particularly- this group, I have a lot of triathletes in there. We had some pro triathletes with us and triathlete coaches, and trying to get them out of that gear, that low slow gear of, "Let's go run a 5K, run a 10K, let's go run a marathon," and just to feel what it's like to just change tempo a little bit.

So putting that- run the hill, because it controls the range of motion, but then we spend a lot of time getting really warmed up and prepped so that people could just feel the acceleration a little bit.

What's it look like to sprint a little faster? Because sprinting is- running fast is the thing that makes us human.

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, absolutely. Our genes expect us to do it, and like you said-

Dr. Kelly Starrett: And your body. Physiology expects it.

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, and if we really look at it, it's like you said when we're younger this is like built into the system, but as we grow older- so it's kind of associated with you.

And funny enough, you produce more human growth hormone when you're doing sprints versus the long slow cardio.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: We're seeing- what's really interesting right now is we're having this conversation where we can begin to see the 30,000 foot view.

And something I've been talking about a lot lately is it's an analogy that one of our friends comes up with- her name is Katy Bowman.

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, love her.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: She's a movement specialist, she's brilliant, and in her book she talks about- and it's a concept that we're seeing a lot in physio right now which is called mechanotransduction.

We might have talked about this last time with the orca fin. Do you remember this?

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, we've talked about it before.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: Okay, so it's the orca, right? So you put an orca in captivity, that fin becomes- starts to fold over because you've changed the environment of the orca, and the orca isn't loading the fin through hunting, and swimming, and forces, and so subsequently you see breakdowns in the tissues.

So what's happening now- I think and feeling is that the environment has 180'd underneath us. The access to easy calories, the stresses from work, the amount of time we're having to commute, and the kind of work we're doing. Just the way computers have changed our lives.

But you tend to do them in these stationary environments, right? I'm not saying we should go back to working in factories, but what I am saying is that, "Hey, we're not doing the things that fundamentally unite us and express our physiology."

So what you're talking about is you have to load, you have to sleep, you have to do these things. So then when you come into a movement practice, the real question is are you beginning to really expose yourself to these full ranges of motion? Are you exposing yourself to these pieces so that you're sort of inoculated and you get your RDA, for lack of a better word.

That 10,000 steps, I mean that's like the minimum so you don't get Rickets. You know what I mean? That's the minimum so you don't get scurvy. That's how low the bar is.

What we're finding is that most people just aren't even coming close, and I don't think- I think it's not their fault. I think it's that we have- we were talking before just going to the Instagram, it's very confusing right now, and it looks like super high intensity, it looks like tons of- if I don't have six or seven hours to exercise, I'm a failure.

Shawn Stevenson: Right.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: You know, if I don't do food prep, I'm a failure.

Shawn Stevenson: And if you don't have the nine-pack. Batman has a nine-pack.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: That's right. That's right. So you know, what I think is we can get really back to these unsexy simple pieces, and there are a lot of roads that lead to Rome, but as long as we-

I've been picking on Zumba lately, but I was having a conversation with the head of an organization that teaches a lot of Zumba in as part of their fitness.

I was like, "Hey, Zumba is not good fitness." She was like, "Whoa, let's fight." You know? And I was like, "Hang on, hang on. Zumba does a lot of things right. You get some unconditional positive regard.

Maybe the only time of day where someone said, "Great job. You look amazing. That was fun." You're grinning your face off, you sweated, you mirrored, you danced, there was a rhythm, you loaded through the long bones.

Because it turns out, as we were talking about, all of the things that happen during with sprinting, if you don't load your long bones of your femurs, you actually can't control food impulse.

But part of the whole fat utilization is driven by some of the hormone release by loading your femurs. And how do you load your femurs? When you squat, and you jump, and you walk, and you run, you have to load.

So if you're not loading your femurs, guess what? The whole system just doesn't work. It's interesting that our brains are tied into the physicality, and likewise, our physicality is tied into our brain.

So this woman was saying, she's like, "You think it's not legit?" I was like, "Well I don't know, did you get your heart rate up to 190? Can you go to the Olympics and do Zumba?" I'm like, "Are you carrying loads?"

And what ends up happening is you realize that Zumba does fifteen things better than almost any other class, right? Or any other group, right?

But full range of motion? No. High heart rates? No. Right? Loading? No. Sprinting? No. But it doesn't mean that it can't be part of the practice.

Shawn Stevenson: Right.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: And so I think what's happened is we've drawn basically gang affiliations around our tribes, these lazy tribes, because we don't have a tribe anymore.

So my tribe is CrossFit, my tribe is Olympic lifting, my tribe is Zumba, you know? And it's easier to be there instead of saying, "Hey look, what are the inputs that we need to be 100 years old?" Have you read 'Sapiens'? Did you read that book yet?

Shawn Stevenson: I have not, no.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: So I don't know if you guys- Yuval Harari- and if you- everyone, read 'Sapiens.' It's a brief history of humans, and you're going to be like, "Oh, this is a harsh reality."

But his next book is called 'Homo Deus,' and he's trying to project where we're going based on our current culture, our AI, things like this.

And what you realize is like- hey, we used to have a few things we had to deal with. We had to deal with starvation, and now really famine is a political choice.

We have enough food to feed everyone, we don't still get it though, right? War is a political choice, right? People aren't coming down the valley to take our sheep.

And then disease largely is- I mean, I'm trying not to- this is his words. But hey, we've managed some of the big diseases that wiped us out, and there's still disease is a real problem and still not equitable.

But the big things that kept us from thriving as humans, we've gotten a good grip on. Not the best, but a good grip.

So he's like, "Okay, so you're going to be 100, 110." So what's interesting about that is you start to change what your definitions of happiness are, or what's the goal of my life if I don't have to overcome this immediate thing?

But for us also, if I believe we're going to be 100 years old, I need to think differently about my sleep, and stress. And currently in physical therapy, there's this idea that you don't have to be- like posture doesn't matter. They're like, "It's just an expression. Don't be a posture police."

Right? And if you take the word posture and substitute spinal mechanics, then what you're saying is, "Biomechanics don't matter." And I'm like, "Okay so there's no research truly to show that poor posture causes pain."

But we're not talking about pain, we're talking about function. Right? So if I'm in a crappy position, my shoulders don't work well, can't take a big breath, my pelvic floor doesn't work.

And so I can function, but real question for us is, "Hey, what shapes translate better to reclaiming normal function of the human being?"

And then secondarily we can start to say, "Well how am I training that function for the next fifty, or sixty, or seventy years?" Because the problem is we haven't run these experiments of our current generation, we don't know what the outcomes are going to be like, because we haven't seen it yet.

You know, and I think when you come back to first principles- this is why your book is so important, because sleeping is a first principle.

Interpersonal relationships and meaningful relationships are first principles. You cannot get away from them. You need a tribe.

So if you don't have the church, if you don't have a workout group, you need to go find a tribe, you need to go have those meaningful interactions.

And so sometimes when we start dropping those things back in, then it's an issue of, "Well how much running do I need to do?" Some. Right? "How much lifting do I need to do?" I don't know, some.

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: And then it's okay to have like specialists. I really- my friends really like to lift. Great, you can lift, but you'd better be able to run a little bit and you'd better be able to touch your toes, and do these other things, and still eat like a human.

And I don't think we've done a good job of just laying it out for people with saying, "Keep it simple, be consistent, see you in a decade."

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, being fully human. That's really powerful.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: It's hard work, and the problem is not that we're not smart enough, but we all come from somewhere where no one has ever said it was important. You know?

Go to a food desert in New York where there is no fresh vegetable, the bodega is your only source, and tell me you can make a good decision. You can't, you know?

And so I think we really have to- error for us, until this is the valve the boat is on, it sounds so cheesy, but like until we have solved it and given people a choice to opt out, the error is still ours, right?

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: We still have so much work to do.

Shawn Stevenson: A lot of people see you, and they think about the physical aspect, you know? You being a physical therapist, and somebody who works with the body, somebody who coaches other people along with their fitness.

But you said something earlier about with folks going to a Zumba class, and that's the only time they get that positive regard. Or you know, somebody telling them, "Great job."

And that really struck me. Why do you think that matters so much?

Dr. Kelly Starrett: You know, if you pin me down, what's most important? People are most important. That's it.

So I'm completely agnostic about how you get there, but we've got to- in today, more than ever, I believe in Communitarianism.

Like if we want to change the world, do you know all your neighbors? Have you met them? Have you shaken hands? Like we drag up and down the street, all the kids come to our house.

In our little neighborhood, there are like ten families on a mile street we live on, and on Fridays- Friday mornings during school, we all push the start time back.

Everyone comes over and ices and heats. Everyone jumps in the sauna, everyone jumps in the ice tank, and we call it church.

And then we also do the same thing- we have an optional one on Sunday.

And one of the things we've done is just created an opportunity to belong to each other. We don't need contacts, there's just a ritual around showing up and being together.

And the same thing is true with all my training partners, right? So what is happening when you show up to a class, people expect to see you there, you belong.

Like I think Peloton is amazing, right? And one of the reasons it's amazing is that you get to drop in to a class- and like we reduced all the barriers to adherence.

Like, "Oh you can't make it to a class? Oh, here's your bike and you can go spin with Michelle Obama right there." I mean like you can be in that class in a virtual network, but it's not the same thing.

It's not the same thing as me looking you in the eye and talking and seeing how you're feeling and how you're moving, and interacting, and all of that touch, in a way that isn't also attached to just the functionality of being human. You know?

Like cooking, you can see why Michael Pollan got into cooking, because when we all cook, it slows everyone down, everyone's around there, everyone's contributing.

And you can see why kids fundamentally that grew up in communities where they eat dinner together with their family, their eating habits are better, their socialization is better, they don't do shady stuff, right?

And some of that is just all you have to do is say, "We're having dinner at 7:00. Be here at 7:00." Right?

And what we're always looking about now, because it's so easy to get so in the weeds in sophistication, is saying, "How do I set up my environment so I don't have to make another choice?"

So my lowest form of this is if there are cookies in the house, I will eat all the cookies, and I'll wake up at 2:00 in the morning because I'm hot or I hear something, and my brain will be like, "Hey, there's cookies in the house."

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: And literally last night I woke up because I was hot, and there was something up, and I was like, "There are no cookies in the house." And so I had some milk, right? I was like, "Damn, no cookies."

And I literally was like- if there were cookies, I would have eaten all the cookies. But there was no cookies, so I didn't have cookies.

So what ends up happening I think is when we can- we have a walking school bus, right? People drop their kids off on the corner, we walk about twenty kids to school every day.

And for us, it's an easy way to get my kids to walk, we're scheduled, we walk a 5k basically before we even start the day. Right?

And so looking for places where I don't have to make another choice or decision, or I don't have to be motivated.

And you know, who was interesting that was talking about this was Jocko Willink and Lisa Lee. And if you haven't listened to Jocko, Jocko is a friend of ours, and just caveat that my wife is not going to love Jocko the way I love Jocko. Right?

But he's like, "Hey look, you can't rely always on motivation. And it's important that you have enthusiastic friends who are stoked and can carry you, that's vital."

The other thing is he's like, "You've got to rely on discipline." And when you hear the word 'discipline,' think 'habit.' Think, "I don't make another choice." You know?

If I bring a salad for lunch, guess what I eat for lunch? Salad. If I bring- if I don't have lunch, I don't want to be scrambling around, and I'll eat whatever's handy.

And so if this means that we can begin to think about our environment entirely differently about first principles, and I think that that starts to matter more, and then you can really begin to wrap your head around what the- tuning the knobs up and tuning the knobs down based on what you have, and the day, and what you can control.

But I'm really- in Marin right now, we're seeing adults are drinking upwards of a lot of wine. Like we used to be the healthiest county in California, and now the adult binge drinking has knocked us off. And let me say that again; adult binge drinking.

So when I hear the word that, what I'm thinking is, "Wow, I have so many people who aren't critically poor for the first time in their lives, they aren't struggling to pay off student loan debts, and they can afford alcohol, and usually this is wine.

But also, they're people who are in their mid-forties and fifties who are as stressed as human beings can be because they're all good at their jobs now, they all have kids, they're all having huge mortgages, and worried about retirement, worried about college, and they're trying to really figure it out.

And so the binge drinking is really a symptom of self-medication because, "I didn't accumulate enough time during the day to exercise or move, so my stress is high, I'm not fatigued."

And what we've found is some of our friends were drinking two bottles of wine at night to go to sleep.

Shawn Stevenson: Wow.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: And just to take the edge off.

Shawn Stevenson: Wow.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: So now substance- you're saying, "Hey, that's not me," but substitute THC for alcohol. Substitute porn for- what you're seeing is that you're seeing that we have a lot of things that are really wired for our brains, and sometimes it's easy to get in without opening the porn door, it's easy to get into understanding that all of these things affect us at this biochemical level, which is what you understand.

Food is the first drug, right? It is the easiest and first drug. Exercise- I think I am a little ADD. I discovered early on that I could self-medicate with exercise and movement.

My desire to train is like 98th percentile. I'm like, "Want to move? Want to move? Want to move?"

And I had five generations of alcoholism in my family, my father was an estranged alcoholic. You know, he was The Great Santini. My dad was like the captain of the football team in college, and flew jets in the Air Force, right?

But no relationship with me, because his dad was a disaster, right? And my great-grandfather was an Irish cop in Seattle, right? And so what you suddenly see is that, "Wow, we are wired for this anxiety."

And my dad got in between his alcoholic grandfather- alcoholic father and my grandmother, and that set up all kinds of anxiety for him. And how did he manage and cope? Drinking, right?

And so I'm lucky that I got off this, but what you can start to see now is that people are struggling and we have all the access to the caffeine.

So now we're on this alcohol depressant stimulant- depressant cycle, we get out of our rhythms, we don't have meaningful relationships. Why? Because there's no time, right? There's no time to hang out and bro out.

And then all of a sudden, you start to see a human being start to kind of pull apart the edges a little bit, and what we're going to- I think now in the health, fitness, strength conditioning, Zumba worlds, we have a chance to have the same conversation, and it's going to need all of us speaking with different affects, different tones, different styles.

We'll all meet in the middle. We've got to open up the Scrabble board. The Scrabble board right now, people are playing this little tiny corner in the middle. "Where do I place my X? Where do I get my little money?" And they're not playing this long game.

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: And all my friends who are really successful right now are playing this huge game, and they open up the board.

We have to bring more people to the table, and I'm afraid we're going to have to write off a generation of people. That's what I'm afraid of.

Shawn Stevenson: Wow. So many huge insights there.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: I'm rambling.

Shawn Stevenson: No, that's powerful, man.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: Hey, do we have more espresso?

Shawn Stevenson: I'm thinking about just changing the game period, you know? Play a little Chutes and Ladders, you know? Like let's change the game up.

But listen, man, one of the things that you mentioned- and I want to take a step back because it's so fascinating, the ice and heat church. Let's talk about why you do that.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: Well you know, we were talking about- you were saying earlier one of the things that we're not doing a good job of is just being bored. Right?

Like we have times where every phone goes away in our house. Like we just- we're like, "Look, it's 8:00. Phones are up, everyone's got a phone plugged in, just got to get off the phone. No phones in the bedroom."

And part of that is so you can pay attention. So for my kids, for example, we go out to dinner and they're like, "Wow, everyone's on their phone." And they now are aware, and what ends up happening is they people watch, they pay attention, right?

It's okay to be bored. It's okay to lose your connection and not always be diving back in.

And what we've figured out is the heat is a great way of forcing us to shut down at night. So we get into the sauna- we're lucky that we have a sauna in our backyard. You can get them at Costco.

And you get yourself really hot- and I don't care who you are, like get yourself really hot for twenty to thirty minutes, you're going to fall asleep. It's going to break you.

And so what we've found is that in our lives- because right now, Juliet and I are sort of peak stressed. I mean like we have two daughters, one's at the end of middle school, one's at the end of elementary school, we've got these businesses.

We're now- we have a chip in the game like we're actually good enough at our jobs, we can actually be useful, right? We're not just in start-up mode, which means that we're running when the clock goes off at quarter to six, we're flying.

And one of the things that we've found out is that if we got ourselves hot, we slept better. We force a shut-down, and my wife and I most nights end up sitting in a dark lit room talking with no distractions, and it's so hot we're going to die, and you know what I mean?

So we put in these little places where we can slow down, and on those days where I don't heat, usually- I'm also lucky I have a hot tub, and I sit in the hot tub by myself.

My wife goes in and starts to read or goes to sleep and I get twenty minutes of just spacing out. And I really try to put that into my life, because I need places to think, you know?

I think if- and this is- we were talking about this earlier because we're in this beautiful studio right now, and if you think you need a beautiful studio to be able to have conversations to put out in the world, that's the wrong thing. Right? Start the conversation first.

But what we're feeling now is, "Man, you need a place to think." And in a busy life, when do you have time to think? So you're going to have to create spaces where that automatically starts to happen.

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, absolutely.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: And that could be exercise.

Shawn Stevenson: We talked about this with Cal Newport, and we'll put that episode in the show notes, Deep Work. And he talked about how our brain associates every time we're bored, and we go for novel stimuli.

So your brain starts to associate boredom/stimuli, boredom/stimuli, instead of really exercising those faculties to think, and to use your brain, which is a crazy thing that we're even talking about this.

But our brains in a way are devolving, and it's-

Dr. Kelly Starrett: Devo, right?

Shawn Stevenson: It's an interesting time to be alive right now because we have this access to everything. You know, I just realized something the other day.

It's been a long time since like even when my wife and I are talking, and we just kind of think of something, we're trying to figure out, "Do you remember that thing?" You just Google it. We have every answer. We really don't even have to think about it.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: How many phone numbers do you have memorized?

Shawn Stevenson: Like two. You know? And it is what it is, you know?

Dr. Kelly Starrett: My parents and the Chinese restaurant that just went out of business. And I know Juliet's number.

Shawn Stevenson: And also the pizza place from when I was like ten, you know? I remember Alisha's Pizza.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: That's right. Isn't that amazing? You just lost that.

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: Yeah, look technology has made our lives better, but it's confusing and we're going to have to figure out how do we put it in?

And what I want to make sure is that we're not being Luddites. For example, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation found out that kids like ten to eighteen were spending basically eleven hours a day in front of a screen, and that was independent of socioeconomic stats.

So some iPad, some television, some Netflix, some thing. And fundamentally we were like, "Okay so maybe that's not the way our brains are warped.

Even the way our eyes work, how much movement we're getting, but look at the associated environmental sort of- if we aggregate some of the behaviors around that, that really changes things.

Like just look at your shape, your shrimp shape, you know? And you just cannot sit in a great position because it's too difficult.

So what we're going to need to do is think differently about how we configure the environment to protect us from these things.

And we're clever enough to say, "Well hey, let's give ourselves more movement options. Let's sit on the floor. Let's be at a moving standing work station."

And it doesn't have to be crazy, you don't have to be a ninja. If you sit down, your spine is not going to explode. But the real question is if we look at these behaviors over the long-term, how do we know if we're losing capacity?

How are these things changing us? And I think that's really where we can start to think about if we look at obesity in America, it's really unchecked. We're not doing a good job.

We're part of a team lift group, this is an incredible organization of some coaches and some really brilliant physicians who are trying to get ahead of childhood morbidity.

So there's morbidly obese teens, and now there's a new category called super morbidly obese teenagers. Which means it is not their fault.

We have failed these kids. These kids are perfect expressions of the system, right? You just hook the brain on all of these novel stimuli, and look what happens.

So if we give ourselves a grade, how are we doing on ACL injury rates in women? Not good. How are we doing on low back pain in America? Not good. How are we doing on anything that matters?

And suddenly we're going to say, "Okay well maybe in what part of the environment?" Sleep is one of those first things.

We were talking about today in The Mobility Confessions, if you- we have friends who have anxious teens and we say, "Okay well I appreciate you're doing all these things, you're unwrapping. It's complex, we're psychoemotional human beings and there are a lot of behaviors. How much does your teen sleep?"

You know? And then I'm like, "Well let's just control what we can control. So where I'm doing a lot of my thinking right now is Complexity Theory.

So the problem is that there's no more complex system than the human physiology, right? But at some point we can begin to control what we can control, and the way we think about it - and I think this is useful for people - is to say it's about capacity, it's about function.

So don't worry about pain or no pain, worry about, "Hey am I losing my function or not?" And then I can say, "Hey, I can still do this behavior, but I'm willing to make the concession to my loss of function, my loss of capacity."

So you know- and that maybe is going to matter for you when you want to get back on the bike, right? Or do a triathlon or run, or take a breath, or have your pelvic floor work.

But if you're down for loss of capacity- if you're down for your brain not functioning as well, if you're down for your neuro endocrine axis getting thrown out of whack and become insulin sensitive, you may not be down for that when you're sixty and seventy and you need that function.

I mean just on the walk home today, Juliet was like, "You know, I don't think maybe even we're that fit for now. I think we're being fit because we're going to be seventy someday, and this is all insurance."

Shawn Stevenson: Wow.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: So I think you can be play and run in multiple baselines at the same time, you know? You can do well, you can do good, you can have bottom lines that are multiples, but really I think it's hard for us to have enough context.

And then especially when people are trying to sell you stuff, and they're trying to get your attention on Instagram, and you just see a snapshot and you're like, "Oh those guys are fools, and I'm the man," you know?

Shawn Stevenson: They've got the nine-pack.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: It's hard. And then if you're- all of us, we're debusers. Like we can kind of see through the veils of crap and not crap. We start to see the principles.

But for my mom coming in, my aunt is coming in, my friends who were exercising at our house this morning. We have about a crew of like ten people who come and train at the Starrett Home Health Center just in our neighborhood.

And they're just like, "I don't understand. I walk every day, my blood panel is a disaster, look at my skin. I've gained fifty pounds. I don't understand." And it really is confusing for people.

Shawn Stevenson: Absolutely, and it just goes back to those fundamental human things, you know? Like you said, the sleep and being able to down-regulate.

And by the way, when you mentioned earlier about the heat in the evening. So there's this process humans go through called- it's thermal regulation.

So it's a natural drop in our core body temperature to facilitate great sleep, and when you get yourself warm in the evening, maybe an hour or thirty minutes before bed, your core temperature goes even lower than it naturally would.

So it drops down, it's kind of a rebound effect, you know? So it does in fact help you to down-regulate and to improve your sleep. It's really cool.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: I will say that if you go to bed freakishly hot, let me know how that goes for you. You know? That's why my wife and I have two fans on and I sleep on this thing called the ChiliPad.

Shawn Stevenson: The ChiliPad, you told me about it.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: So when it's really hot, I go get as cold as I can before I go to bed.

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah. Yeah awesome, man. There are so many things I want to ask you about- actually I've got one more question for you. When we were doing the sprints today, you were having folks to focus on breathing differently. What was that all about?

Dr. Kelly Starrett: Once again, in this hour- so if we back up and say, "Look at all the good work done by so many good thinkers right now."

You've got PRI, you've got XPT, you've got all these incredible- Brian Mackenzie, 'Art of Breath.' Like you look around- look what Brett Bartholomew is doing.

Look at all these people, and they have incredible thinking, how do I integrate that into an hour so that I'm not adding on and adding on.

There's software that's called Kludge where I have a big chunky piece of software that works, and then I just keep bootstrapping on things. And what ends up happening is you don't have an integrated system.

So what we really struggle with is to say, "Look, if I get people to come to my gym three times a week to train, how am I putting restoration of movement practice? How am I forcing them to think differently about breathing and down-regulation?"

So when we just said, "Hey during- on the recoveries, you just need to as soon as you can, breathe only through your nose." What I did was get you a little more sensitive to high CO2s, right? So I'm building CO2 tolerance.

But one of the other things for me, which I don't care about the human dynamics, what I care about is the mechanics. So there's only one way to breathe well through your nose.

That's powerfully, that's effectively, initiate through your diaphragm. So all of a sudden, if you look at the breathing postures that people are engaging walking down, everyone's chest is up.

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: Everyone is working hard to get caught up, and so we just look at where do I constrain the system a little bit so that I have better outcomes over and over and over again?

Shawn Stevenson: Awesome.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: Yeah look, we just trick ourselves. We're smart, trick yourself. Like if you really have an addiction to your phone, which we all do, just let your phone die. Turn it off.

Turn it off, put it in the drawer, then when you need it, turn it back on. Right? Just make it hard for yourself to do the wrong thing. And I think that really has helped me massively, is I make it hard for myself to do the wrong thing.

Shawn Stevenson: Kelly, you are an absolute superhero.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: So fun to have you guys come to San Francisco. Just bring a coat next time.

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah. So just thank you so much for being who you are, and can you let everybody know where to connect with you, and also you've got something new that's available for people right now.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: Oh yes, well thank you. We are @MobilityWOD as in 'workout of the day.' And if you just stumble on Kelly Starrett, you'll run in.

But we just published our first book ourselves. So this is our fifth release, but we believe that there were so many friends who have these stories, and things they needed to get out, and self-publishing is a possibility.

So we got out of the traditional publishing game- and there's times for traditional publishing certainly, and we are so grateful for our publishing friends.

But we just published this book, 'Snout to Tail' ourselves. It comes out September 5th. It's about paddling- my wife and I are professional boaters- we're professional paddlers, so we gave a love letter, 'Waterman 2.0,' September 5th.

I'm really excited about it, it's a love letter to my community, but we also have been working on a radio project, for lack of a better word, a podcast, and it's called The Ready State.

And instead of trying to do anything like our brilliant friends are doing, what we ended up doing was create a little season around an idea.

And so our last eight or nine episodes are all about pain, and the complex nature of pain, and we have interviews with the Amelia Earhart of training- the first ever woman trainer in professional sports, Sue Falsone.

We've got- I forget. Laird Hamilton is on there talking about his relationship with pain, we've got Georges St-Pierre the fighter talking about his pain.

Like a pretty incredible group of people talking about the different aspects and relationships and the complexity of how we think as modern humans around pain.

And then we just drop it all at once so you can binge and then go away and come back to your regular podcasts, and this next season is going to be about kids.

Shawn Stevenson: Perfect, and people can check that out where?

Dr. Kelly Starrett: Well, it's everywhere. You can see it on our site but it's on Stitcher, it's on iTunes.

Shawn Stevenson: Apple, yeah.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: It's called The Ready State.

Shawn Stevenson: Perfect. My man, Dr. Kelly Starrett.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: Thank you so much.

Shawn Stevenson: Thank you, man.

Dr. Kelly Starrett: Always a pleasure.

Shawn Stevenson: Everybody, thank you so much for tuning into this episode today. I hope you got a lot of value out of this.

Listen, this really brings to mind asking ourselves, "What is our goal?" Right? What is our goal for our workout?

When we're going into our workout, asking yourself, "What is my goal for today? Is it to feel good? Is it to build muscle? Is it to get an increase in my human growth hormone production?" Right?

Let's get clear on what that looks like for us, because how we go about it, it can be radically different. And sometimes it's running ourselves into the ground, especially doing the same thing over, and over, and over again.

We're missing a lot of flavors of human potential, right? Because one of the things we talked about today, running is something that your genes expect you to do.

And this is something that becomes a bit of a distant forgotten skill for a lot of people as we go on in age.

And so I hope this is some re-engagement for you in your mind and also in your actions for doing some sprinting, but doing it in a safe and smart fashion.

So doing sprint drills beforehand, making sure for yourself that you're adequately warmed up, and making sure that you're also learning about the skill.

Because this is something- there's different ways of running, you know? Where are your arms? Are you running like a baby raptor? Are you running like Steven Seagal? You know? Are you running like a truly great sprinter?

And these are all skills that you can also pick up from checking out Dr. Kelly Starrett.

By the way everybody, if you're excited about the brand new health coaching program that's kicking off and the scholarships that we're giving away - $2,000 scholarships through ITN - take action right now because the twelve-month incubator is about to kick off.

We've got twelve of the top teachers in the world in health and wellness and also in business that you're going to get to learn from directly.

This is a nationally certified health coaching program for people just wanting to get started, and also people who already have experience in the health and wellness field but to take things to another level and learn from the very best.

So some of our instructors, JJ Virgin, Dave Asprey, Dr. Kellyann Petrucci, Dr. Terry Wahls, and on, and on, and on.

These are many folks who I've had on the show, and you get to learn directly from them. It's just absolutely priceless.

So head over right now to That's and you can get access to the health coaching assessment to see if this is a good fit for you. You know?

And that's really what it's all about. And then from there you can take action and execute on this because the twelve-month incubator is kicking off soon, alright?

You can enroll in the school later, but you might miss out on the very beginning of this twelve-month program. Alright?

So take action on that right now. That's

Alright, guys, we've got some incredible- listen. We've got some incredible guests, and much desired and requested show topics coming up as well, so just be ready. Alright?

We're going to keep taking things to another level. I appreciate you so very much. Take care, have an amazing day, and I'll talk with you soon.

And for more after the show, make sure to head over to That's where you can find all of the show notes, you can find transcriptions, videos for each episode, and if you've got a comment you can leave me a comment there as well.

And please make sure to head over to iTunes and leave us a rating to let everybody know that the show is awesome, and I appreciate that so much.

And take care, I promise to keep giving you more powerful, empowering, great content to help you transform your life. Thanks for tuning in.

Maximize Your Energy

Get the Free Checklist: “5 Keys That Could Radically Improve Your Energy Levels and Quality of Life”

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Thanks! I was a great episode. I think communities are a fundamental part. If you get involved in a fitness community, that will greatly improve your motivation. The key to staying young is in exercise.


The Greatest Gift You Can Give Your Family is Health

When you gather your family around the table to share nutritious food, you’re not only spending quality time with them - you’re setting them up for success in all areas of their lives.

The Eat Smarter Family Cookbook is filled with 100 delicious recipes, plus the latest science to support the mental, physical and social health of your loved ones.

Eat Smarter Family Cookbook


The Eat Smarter Family Cookbook is filled with 100 delicious recipes + the latest science to support your family’s mental, physical, and social health all in one place.

A family that eats together, thrives together.

Order the cookbook and get an amazing bonus today!