As you may know, this Clubbell Yoga thing has gone international pretty quick. I wanted to interview Coach Iain Wisdom, owner of Flight Skool in Australia, whom I had the honor of meeting in person last March at FlowFit in Vegas. He will be hosting the upcoming Clubbell Yoga seminar in Brisbane this October 18/19. VIP registration has been extended until August 1st, so get registered asap!
Summer: Tell us about how you found CST and brought it all the way to Australia?
Iain Wisdom: I guess like most people, I 'discovered' Scott and his work on YouTube; and I fell in love! So there was no question that I needed to become a certified trainer in CST & TACFIT. This took me to the US, where I met Scott and the RMAX Team. We discussed getting Scott back to Australia (it had been a long break since his previous visits)...The rest, as they say, is history.
Summer: So you own a Flight Skool, with Antigravity Yoga... What is it like pioneering that style alongside TACFIT?
Iain Wisdom: The name 'Flight Skool' is my own; although I do have to credit my friend Ragahunath's infamous 'Flight School' classes in NYC. But Flight Skool was always about my journey back from injury. Having experienced a total mental, emotional and physical meltdown, AntiGravity (and CHEK) gave me physical space and movement capacity that I hadn't had for many years (I have prolapsed lower lumbar discs and degeneration of the facet joints; AntiGravity prepared me to 'close the chain' and get involved with TACFIT (for which i am eternally grateful). Particularly helpful was the alignment and structural integration required when working with the Clubbell, as well as the fluid 6D of movement in the Prasara sequences (although it has to be said i still struggle with those - I actually think Prasara Yoga is Scott's best work).
Summer: What interests you about Clubbell Yoga, or why is it a good fit for you studio?
Iain Wisdom: Personally, I have always struggled with floor-based yoga; not least because of my back injury, but more so because i am further down the 'flexibility' spectrum than most. But what I find most intriguing about this fusion is the way the Clubbell is used to 'steer' the body into correct alignment. Being straight and true and unambiguous, the Clubbell somehow guides the body to easeful structure through extension, lifting and grounding, simultaneously. Also being able to 'cantilever' poses like skandasana, gives me opening in the hips, where perhaps I might have compromised the low back. I can see lots of potential for healing and rehabilitation within this modally. Excited to learn more when you're here :)
(note; I studied under Alison West and Deberoh Wolk at Yoga Union in NYC; they specialise in yoga for back care and scoliosis...I would love to know how Alsion would take to the Clubbell's use....they are heavy prop users because they deal with some quite restricted people - they have a Harrington rods class, as an example...their method is Iyengar-esque, but quiet open to alternative styles).
Summer: What's the yoga scene like in OZ (note: don't hold back, we want the truth!)
Iain Wisdom: Saturated. Within a 2km radius of Flight Skool (here in West End , Brisbane), there are 16 yoga schools, 12 pilates studios, 6 dojo's and at least four 24 hour gyms....you either look at that defensively or you take the 'centre of excellence' perspective.. Sydney is really the epicentre for yoga in Australia and i think there is a lot of variety in what is offered - although I don't see the same level of quality of teaching as i have experienced in say, NYC. Australians don't really go in for 'show-boating' and thus we don't have the culture of super-star yogis that you do in the US, but we recently saw the arrival here of the Wanderlust brand, so maybe that will all change
Summer: Thank you Iain Wisdom for doing this interview and for rallying the troops in Brisbane for Clubbell Yoga this fall. You are a pioneer in many ways and I look forward to working with you again.
This past June, I had the honor of leading a Clubbell Yoga Seminar in Budapest, Hungary assisted by Bogi Sofi (pictured left). This woman is a fierce leader and not afraid to take on the work required to truly lead from the front.
In the CST Family, we use don't use the phrase "lead from the front" lightly. My translation is to: expect the highest level of performance, don't leak power, and maintain a strong focus. This can be applied to both physical performance as well as life. I will state that again.
If you want to lead from the front:
1. Expect the highest level of performance.
2. Don't leak power.
3. Keep your focus.
Bogi teaches in her TACFIT, Kettlebell, CST and Clubbell Yoga classes at her dojo in Budapest. She has also become very well known for pioneering these disciplines in her country via media, news and fitness magazines. I always joke that she is more famous in Hungary than I am in the United States, because she is regularly teaching at huge fitness conventions. Very impressive....
Outside of the world of physical movement, she is also a scholar finishing her PhD, at the top of her class. Somehow, in between writing academic articles, teaching movement, oh, and studying Yoga at a local yoga school, she is also a parent to two amazing and beautiful children (pictured below). When I spend time with Bogi, it makes me feel a bit more normal attempting to balance a life of family, career, continued learning and yoga.
In this day and age, we want it all.
We want success.
We want strong family bonds.
We want to excel at whatever we are doing.
We want to learn, and keep learning, from those that inspire us.
Going to Budapest to teach Clubbell Yoga with Bogi brought me closer to her in many ways. Though she is older than me and more experienced in life, somehow she has chosen me as a teacher. But what she doesn't know is that she is also a teacher to me, and helps me understand this delicate balance that she makes look effortless. Watching her interact with her kids with sheer love and affection between classes and appointments, and integrating them into her life illuminates another aspect of leading from the front.
Leading with love and patience.
One thing I was fortunate to discover early on in my movement teaching career is: You can't take others where you haven't been yourself. This applies to the love and patience practice as well. You must embody love and patience to be able to teach your students this as well. Practicing love and patience daily, with yourself, your students, and your family will allow you to start on the path of leading from the front.
I look forward to coming back to Budapest again and sharing space with Bogi and the other lovely Hungarians in her tribe.
These past 3 months have been a whirlwind of inspiration, movement, challenge and most importantly... growth. I figured it would be fun to give some insight about the journey and what has 'come up' for me during these experiences. After all, yoga is not about the destination... it is truly about the journey.
1st FlowFit Seminar in Las Vegas, March 29/30
Plane ticket, check. Hotel reservations, check. RMAX Ugg boots, check. Last March 28th, I hopped on a plane from Bellingham to Vegas, the first time I had ever left my little one Cedric for more than half a day in his short little life.
Those butterflies wore off once I arrived at the seminar to realize that I was going to spend the next three days surrounded by the some of the most inspirational people in the fitness industry. Scott Sonnon led a stellar seminar on FlowFit, teaching us his 6D Flows to unbind even the most stubborn bodies. I met two of his International Coaches, Iain Wisdom who is hosting Clubbell Yoga seminar in Brisbane Australia this October and Rodrigo Soto Feoli from Costa Rica, who is also doing great work bringing CST programs to Central & South America. The more time I spend working for RMAX, the more I realize that these people are like seeing long lost relatives, but the kind that you actually like.
I reconnected with Lisa Wheeler, Creative Director at Equinox, who had flown in from New York to take a peek at this new material. Also got to see my favorite Coaches from Los Angeles: Mr. Cody Storey of Storey Fitness & Mark Wildman of Wildman Athletica. They are doing amazing work pioneering CST & TACFIT in So. Cal. As if it couldn't get any better, I was blessed to share a room with Emily Fisher, who is heading up Clubbell Athletics on the east and west coast. I enjoyed getting to spend some time with her, as she is a brilliant woman and very inspiring. Overall, the trip was perfect. I had time for learning, networking, playing and getting some work done on my manual for an upcoming Clubbell Yoga project I have been working on for months now. Quality takes time... lots of time.
The take home message here... when in doubt about doing something to help you grow as a professional... take the plunge. Do it! Sign up for that workshop. Mix work and play, surround yourself by people at the top of their game and you will walk away filled with vibrant energy to serve the people work with on a daily basis.
Next up... London, Clubbell Yoga Seminar 4/12/2014
Arriving in London for the first time, I was picked up from the airport by my charismatic and beautiful host, Danielle Kleber. She took me directly to her and her husband, Diego Core's training centre, The Field.
As someone who has spent a good ten years explaining what a Clubbell is...I can't quite describe the feeling to walk into a perfectly manicured spa meets fitness meets pilates centre and see a window sill full of Clubbells. It was magnificent. There were dozens. I was home.
The seminar was very well received, and the students who attended came from all different disciplines. We had a gentlemen with over 30 years of yoga experience, we had a CST Coach from South Africa, we had a male Pilates instructor from Poland, we had a TACFIT instructor from England, we had several experienced yoga teachers, and everyone in between. It became clear to me that this system, CST & Clubbell Yoga, was bigger than me. My mission statement to "Bridge the Gap between Strength Training and Yoga" that I have been stating since day one, is absolutely being manifested with this work.
London was a complete success. I look forward to bringing another Clubbell Yoga Seminar to The Field next May with my host Danielle Kleber, who is expecting a baby soon! Congrats to her and Diego's new family!
New York City, June 7, 2014
I knew this trip would be special for two reasons:
1: I would be teaching a Clubbell Yoga seminar on my birthday (no I won't tell you how old I am, but you can guess in the comments section ;) )
2: I was returning to my old stomping grounds, where I had lived for 2 years and launched the first Clubbell Yoga youtube videos.
There were plenty of other things that made this trip phenomenal... ahem... the food in New York. It tends to ruin people. Or practicing with one of my favorite teachers, Sri Dharma Mittra age 75, who was one of the first independent yoga teachers on the east coast. This spiritual man has a brilliance about him that is hard to put in words, so I always go to practice his masterclass whenever I can. Or learning more about Hip Hop from one on my instructors and close friends, Brie Helmuth. All of these things put me in a very grateful state to teach a Clubbell Yoga seminar at the OM Factory yoga studio that weekend.
Saturday, day one of the seminar, we did a 90 minute Clubbell Yoga practice.
It was thorough.
It was sweaty.
It was deliberate.
I wanted my students to truly feel what this system could offer when the principles: Awaken, Condition & Practice are integrated with intention. Out of the 13 or so people in attendance, only one came as a 200 hour yoga teacher. By the end of the two day intensive (and I mean INTENSE-ive in every sense of the word)... Everyone left with their own unique yoga teaching voice. That is what this work is about, it is empowering the brave to find flow. Giving movement specialists who are willing to learn more, the opportunity to learn as much as possible about CST and Yoga in a 2 day period. To give them a framework for how to teach people to use yoga as a training tool, breath as a training tool and mindfulness as a training tool.
Everyone usually comments that there is so much to learn at this seminar, and I agree. It is a challenge. That is why you prepare (12 week prep chart comes to mind). My response is that I would rather overwhelm you than underwhelm you.
Home in Bellingham
So as I prepare for the next three seminars, I am left to contemplate what you all have taught me. I am challenged to bring you the material in a way that is meaningful for you. I can't explain to you why this system is something that will change your life. That is something that you have to be open to discovering on your own. It is something that if you do the work, you focus, you breath and you release your former idea about what 'yoga' is... then you will start to understand. It is a process. We are all still learning and steeping in it.
www.clubbellyoga.tv for Scheduled Events
Whistler, July 31-Aug 4th
Orcas Island, August 22-24
Los Angeles, Sept 27-28
Brisbane, AUS Oct 18-19
Very often chiropractors or doctors will recommend 'yoga' or 'exercise' to help with x,y,z. The only problem is that all yoga is not created equal, and it may or may not help improve your core strength and functional fitness.
Likewise, 'exercise' is a very broad term... and walking 30 minutes a day may not help your body improve at all. This conundrum of sending clients to get workouts and yoga, but not knowing what exactly that means is tricky.
A local Chiropractor and former client of mine, Dr. Theresa Murray of Murry Chiropractic and Associates, trusts me to take her clients to the next level in improving their functional fitness with Clubbell Yoga... just as I trust her to help realign my clients with back pain. One such client is Gretchen (pictured left). As a movement specialist, I am very fortunate to have the privilege of working with a client like Gretchen. Not only for her hard work ethic, but for her loving attitude about life. I am honored to share her written testimonial with you. It speaks volumes about the positive effects of combining strength and yoga into personal training sessions, and empowering people to find flow.
"I have been suffering with back pain and bulging disks for 30 years. I have been on and off seeing physical therapists, and taking anti-inflammatorys and prescription pain meds for this chronic condition. I used to workout a lot, but it always resulted in injuring my back more. So I would take three weeks on the drugs again, and then start back up with the workout. The funny thing is I told my husband, "I love working out as long as I don't sweat!' So thus, the vicious unproductive cycle continued. However, three months ago I found a wonderful Chiropractor, Dr. Teresa Murry who told me to give Summer Huntington a call.
Well this was like striking gold for me!
Summer has changed my life! Her approach was to protect my lower back while teaching me to gain core strength along with gaining back my lost mobility and stability. My goal was also to lose weight, inches and gain strength.
The results are in and its been two months of working with Summer three days a week and I have lost 8 pounds, 6 or so inches and gained muscle, endurance, flexibility and over reduced lower back pain! I am able to do things that my lower back would have never allowed before. Summer has taught me to work out independently and safely at home and I am very confident in the group classes now also.
I am continuing to work out with Summer in private sessions and would recommend anyone who wants to free themselves from chronic crippling pain to dedicate time to "taking care of YOU"..... through the professional, caring and educated approach of Clubbell Yoga! I tell myself "I am worth it!" Summer is my coach!"
Thank you for the awesome testimonial Gretchen! Hopefully your words will help others heal their bodies through finding flow.
If you are not local, but still interested in learning more about Clubbell Yoga, please visit www.clubbellyoga.tv for all info: products, DVDs, manuals and Clubbells (3 and 5 lb weights).
www.clubbellyoga.tv for Scheduled Events
Orcas Island, August 22-24
Los Angeles, Sept 27-28
Brisbane, AUS Oct 18-19
A note to Tacfit instructors:
If you want to further your understanding of CST and apply the
principles to another discipline... Clubbell Yoga is the next step for
you. Where Tacfit gives you stamina, CBY gives you finesse. Where
Tacfit gives you absolute strength, CBY gives you precision. Where
Tacfit allows you to develop mental strategies, CBY cultivates your
I practice and teach TACFIT which incorporates all elements of CST:
Intuflow, Clubbells and decompensation. Clubbell Yoga is the sister
to Tacfit in that it helps fine tune all aspects of performance. You
need endurance, you need stability, you need flow state, you need
isometric muscle control, and most of all you need dynamic flexibility
to enter mastery of movement.
You are what you train. Diversify and
accept the Clubbell with yoga flow into your practice. You may be
surprised with your own results.
www.clubbellyoga.tv for Scheduled Events
Orcas Island, August 22-24
Los Angeles, Sept 27-28
Brisbane, AUS Oct 18-19
Tissues need decompensation work in order to unload the stresses placed on them during training. However, time is so precious that it is hard to justify putting a yoga class into an already jam-packed schedule. So when faced with the question: to stretch or not to stretch... often athletes pack up and head out, neglecting to facilitate proper decompensation.
Clubbell Yoga is a sport specific training system that allows athletes to train both strength and flexibility at the same time. My vision with Clubbell Yoga is to bridge the gap that exists between the strength training world and the yoga world, and to train movement patterns which help us actually decompensate and repair - not just isolate a stretch.
Scott Sonnon has endorsed Clubbell Yoga as being the ultimate way to garner ‘expressful power.’ The three principles driving a Clubbell Yoga practice are simple: awaken, condition, and practice. Here is a sample of a closed hip Clubbell Yoga sequence that can be done in under 7 minutes.
Awaken with joint mobility infused stretches. In the first two photos, Travis Janeway moves back and forth between kneeling lunge with thoracic extension and then straightens the front knee to come into Sonnon’s “gunslinger” mobility drill. Inhale upon extension of the spine, and exhale as you shoot your hands forward. Perform 6-10 total syncing movement with breath.
Condition with Clubbell exercises that focus on flexibility and balance, like Warrior 3 holding the Clubbell in two handed flag position (pictured on grid, the eighth and ninth photos). This recruits hip stabilizers and postural muscles, while creating dynamic flexibility in the base leg. The drill can be done for 8-12 reps, holding each extended position isometrically for a few moments before going to the next rep.
Practice short ‘sport specific’ loaded yoga sequences. For example, start in kneeling lunge with Clubbell in two handed torch above head, ensure elbow is locked (the fourth photo). Then transition to ‘Warrior one’ by lifting back knee and placing foot on the ground at a 45 degree angle (the fifth photo). Keeping hips facing forward will stretch the hip flexors. Transition to ‘Pyramid’ pose, hips still face forward, feeling a stretch in front hamstring (the sixth photo). Lastly, transition to ‘Warrior 3’ a balance pose that integrates everything in the closed hip sequence (the last two photos).
Typically in a Clubbell Yoga class, we then perform an unloaded sequence after the loaded sequence for maximum benefit. You will notice a huge difference in your ability to ‘nail’ these poses once you have done them with a Clubbell.
Clubbell Yoga allows the athlete to focus on moving from mobility, to conditioning, to yoga flow in a way that makes sense on a neuromuscular level. There is no ‘cocktailing’ of yoga poses, instead the sequences are geared toward improving sport specific skills like single leg balance, hip recruitment, maximizing power and much more. You can practice at home via Clubbell Yoga DVD set, or come to a seminar near you. The next seminars are offered in London this April, New York in June, and Budapest in late June.
Thank you to Travis Janeway, of Bellingham Strength & Conditioning for modeling and facilitating this photoshoot. Thank you also for your dedication to spreading Clubbell Yoga amonst athletes. You rock!
Being a parent is stressful. There. I said it.
Being a parent is the most difficult and challenging job I have ever had, but also the most gratifying. Everyone says my son is calm, and that he must get it from me... but most of the time I am anything but calm. My multi-tasking has reached an all time high with scheduling clients & meetings, writing emails, planning my lectures for teaching at University, writing manuals, cleaning house, running errands, creating & directing film projects, teaching yoga or clients, oh and opening a new fitness studio. Did I mention I am trying to coordinate international travel for this spring and summer to teach Clubbell Yoga seminars, all from a small sleepy town known as Bellingham. Somewhere in that tornado that is my life, I find time to come home and nurse my little one everyday between engagements and make him homemade organic baby food purees, play with him and take him to the baby's story time at the library a few times each month.
There is absolutely no room for mind states that are not serving me or my family. This is why my non-resolution for 2014 is to give up negative stress. And also to give up anything and everything that brings negative stress or contributes to a stressful environment. I simply don't have any extra energy to waste on it.
Some stress is actually good for you. Positive stress is referred to as Eustress: the positive cognitive response to stress that is healthy or gives one a feeling of fulfillment or other positive feelings. That is the stress of having a reasonable deadline, or being nervous to present in front of a large group. That stress can actually help you perform. The negative stress I am talking about comes from over booking, allowing negative self talk to creep in, self doubt and lack of balance.
I recently read a blog from a woman who committed to eating only Starbucks products for an entire year. Now that would take some serious discipline. I read the article, though brief, her main reason for doing it was simply because she enjoys being human and asking Why?
"So again, WHY? am I doing this challenge? Or WHY? will I do any challenge in the future? Because I LOVE being human and I LOVE the privilege of being able to ask the question WHY? in the first place! I love the question WHY? because sometimes I find that the answer leaves me with even more questions about life…"
If a woman can consume all Starbucks for an entire year, then why the hell shouldn't I be able to give up stress for a year. A daily regimen of meditation twice a day, yoga, hugs, less caffeine, more balance. I think that sounds like a really great way to bring in the New Year. Yes, it will be challenging, I may fail, but I will very likely grow in the process. Changing habits is the hardest thing to do. But it just takes commitment to changing your mind and your perspective.
I love teaching my TACFIT crew. Period. They are just awesome people. Every Wednesday at 7:30am, they pile into the studio and start to roll out on foam rollers. They are always eager for the next workout in TACFIT 26. These workouts are tough. Everyone sweats... a lot. Sometimes they are sore for a couple of days, sometimes it gets hard (mentally and physically). But they keep on coming back for more.
We are always open to new drop ins, now that we have a steady crew. If you are interested in joining the crew, contact me here.
Get a head start on New Years Resolution time, and build the healthy habit of working out hard, but with perfect form before the holidays hit. Try TACFIT, you will be glad you did.
Carolyn Watson (pictured left) is officially ready for her "Trial By Fire" and "Flow Fit" tests at the upcoming CST Cadre in Bellingham*. I met her in November 2012, when she called me up to help her with her 1lb Indian Clubs that she had been using to reprogram lost shoulder range of motion in her local pilates studio. After just one session, she could tell that CST was the missing piece to what her studio needed. By our second session, she was mentally committing to attending the CST Seminar (only 4 months away at the time!). I was pretty impressed with her go getter attitude, and agreed to coach her to prepare for the physical tests required of new CST Instructors.
One thing I love about Carolyn is her fascination with human movement. She has a passion for educating people about the body, which explains why she is working on her second Master's in Acupuncture (after a MS in Exercise Science). I often learn more from Carolyn in 5 minutes of chatting than I did from many professors in school, because she is truly a wealth of knowledge. She really gravitated toward CST immediately because of it's thorough biomechanical foundations, and because it just made sense to her as a movement specialist.
After 8 plus years of owning a successful pilates studio, she recently moved studio locations and changed the business name and model. The new studio is called "Biomechanix" and she refers to it a 'movement education center'... brilliant! The new business model offers three levels of service: red-light is the acupuncture and massage therapy for people in chronic pain or an acute stage of an injury, yellow-light is for pilates and foundational training, and green-light is for more advanced movement like CST/Flow Fit/Clubbell training. Now her clients will have somewhere to continue to sophisticate their movement after they have learned how to stabilize their core.
I want to wish her the best of luck at the CST Cadre. She is excited to join the CST Family and to meet and learn from Coach Scott Sonnon. Thank you Carolyn for sharing your awesome attitude about movement, life and most importantly for being open to EVOLVING as a business with CST. You rock!
*Trial By Fire is a physical test consisting of 100 reps of 3 very challenging exercises with a 10 lb Clubbell for women and 15 lb Clubbell for men. The Flow Fit test is completing 14 rounds of a dynamic body weight sequence called flow fit in 14 minutes. Google it!
develop - expand - unfold
When I started my business several years ago right after I got back from my 200 hour yoga teacher training in Baja Mexico, I had the goal to teach yoga classes. Only yoga classes... My teacher training was an intensive month living "off the grid" engrossed in the yoga lifestyle. We woke up at 6am daily to meditate, slept in tents on the beach, practiced yoga all day, and had community satsang with authentic yoga music every night. It was a little yoga bubble of paradise... then I came back to the real world in the states.
I had my little plan: I would find my own space to teach, then find the students, and teach what I loved to teach. And everyone would want to take yoga, or so I thought... However, once I launched Fit Body Wellness, there was a strong response from the public for private training sessions. So, I had to adapt my business to fit the needs of the community and train people to be stronger, and more functionally fit. What I discovered is that I love coaching people, and empowering them to be able to do the things they love (whether it is yoga or some other sport). More importantly, I used what I had learned at yoga training to help people connect their body and mind through movement. This developed gradually as I grew into my role as the owner of Fit Body Wellness.
At the time, I didn't think much of it. But now looking back I realize that I had to EVOLVE as a business to fulfill the needs of my clients. Now I specialize in getting people fit and healthy using the Circular Strength Training Method (CST) in the safest way possible, having a ton of fun doing it. Every time I get a new client or semi-private group of trainees, I watch them EVOLVE... their movement always becomes more fluid as they progress from simple to more complex movement.
Another example of an EVOLUTION taking place currently in my life is the "Clubbell Yoga" project. As a trainer, I spend a lot of time teaching clients to train with Clubbells for fitness and yoga for flexibility. Eventually this EVOLVED into Clubbell Yoga, combining strength & flexibility. I am super excited because this coming March I will be teaching the very first Clubbell Yoga teacher training, hosting trainers and yoga instructors from many different regions. Now I am EVOLVING into a teacher to the teachers, which feels like a huge responsibility, but also an opportunity for growth. Coach Scott Sonnon (CEO of RMAX International & inventor of the Clubbell) will be attending the seminar with Head Coach Alberto Galazzii from Italy (former bodyguard to the Italian prime minister's family & European director of CST Italy). I know that this first training will be another opportunity to EVOLVE and grow, and though it can feel scary at times, I am ready for it!
How have you been challenged to evolve in your life in the last 6 months? Or the past year? Sometimes we don't realize that we are EVOLVING until it has already happened. Please comment below with your story! You never know who you may be inspiring by sharing...
Entrepreneur, yogi, creator who seeks to inspire people everyday through movement.