Greg Carver - Tips and Hacks for Amazing Physical Fitness and Vitality
Fitness For All Podcast: Episode 4
Welcome to another edition of Fitness for All with Greg Carver, and sponsored by Lebert Fitness. In this episode, Cam talks with Greg Carver, speaker, coach, active travel host, founder and head trainer of the StrengthBox gym in Toronto. Greg talks about how to combine practical, effective workouts with sound nutrition and lifestyle habits. He has used his system to overcome his own chronic health problems in the past and now helps others transform their own lives, regardless of age or physical condition.
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Show Notes - Episode 4
Could you talk about how Marc and you met?
If my memory serves me well, we first connected on social media because we had a few mutual friends in the fitness industry, and at that time probably 11 years ago, I was aware of the EQualizer bars and I had been using them. I reached out to him through social media saying that I was opening up a facility in East York, and that would be the Strength Box facility. I was interested in getting some EQualizer bars from his company and Marc, much to my surprise, messaged me back and said he would love to help me out and he would like to deliver the EQualizers in person.
I didn't expect the president of the company to come in to deliver them in person. But he drove out to my facility in East York and at that time was just newly opened and set me up with a EQualizer bars and offered to teach a class. I thought what an amazing guy. We stayed friends over the past 10 years or so, so it's been awesome.
Can you talk about your journey into fitness and why you got into fitness because your story is quite remarkable.
I was not a typical trainer in terms of my background i because I was always the underdog. In my younger years when I was growing up, no one would ever describe me as being athletic or strong.
I was usually the last one to be picked on a sports team. I always struggled with that kind of stuff because I was into other things. Then I dismissed it as something that was just for other people. It wasn't until my early adult years that I got hit with a whole lot of health problems and some of them were pretty serious and some of them were just out of the blue. I had three spontaneous lung collapses, not all at the same time, obviously, but it was like one year and then the next year and then two years later and after that, that's all been surgically corrected. I was hospitalized a number of times for different ailments. As I grew older, I started to have more problems that I couldn't even figure out what the root cause was like. I remember even as late as my 40s, I struggled with a lot of joint pain, feeling of extreme fatigue, to the point that it was really rough just managing day to day life. I had a corporate job at that time and I felt like an old man, I really did. I would wake up in the morning and I would feel like I was 90 years old, creaking around, how old people move really slowly and nothing just seems fluid. The joint pain became almost unbearable and just aches and pains all over my body. I felt like I had the flu-like symptoms where you ache everywhere except it never, ever, ever went away. I was taking a lot of Advil at the time, because it was the only thing that could manage the pain and get me through the day. Of course, I was seeking medical help for it.
It was a real tough one for doctors to solve, and the only real answers I got were to keep taking the Advil and come back in another month or so and we'll do some more tests. They were looking at everything from Lupus to Fibromyalgia. I finally just got frustrated and I was thinking, well, this is the way life is going to be, I guess. I became aware of Bryce Wilde, and he's an alternative holistic guy in terms of holistic health.
I reached out to him and I said, "look, here's my problem". He met with me and said, "Greg, you know, I'm not going to diagnose what your issue is, but let's just try and solve it". He said "the problem is in your gut". I said, "no, it's not". That's not what's aching. That's not what's giving me pain. That's not what causing fatigue a little bit". I fought it a bit, but what he was getting at is he needed to sort out inflammation. The inflammation that started in my gut and was going through all my body, I was chronically inflamed everywhere. We figured it's because of all the health challenges I had, which I only really touched on, and my body just went into this state of saying, okay, enough is enough. We're just going to break down because we can't take anymore. So we changed my diet. We went to a pretty anti-inflammatory diet at that time. It was, very low in terms of things like grains, certainly no sugar, a lot of organic stuff and a lot of supplementation, to be frank, including a lot of omega-three fatty acids, like good supplements and things and probiotics. I was skeptical at first, I'm going to tell you, but within 30 to 60 days, I was a believer because I just felt like a new person. I felt like a new man. All the pain went away. I couldn't believe it. And I thought to myself, you know, maybe part of this is psychosomatic. Maybe it's just not the diet. Maybe it's not the supplements. Maybe it's just my brain thinking that this is working, therefore, is.
I didn't care as long as it worked, so when you have an experience like that, you want to share it with others. Then, he said, "OK, Greg. Now you have got to get back into some kind of exercise program such as strength training." I said, "OK, I think I can" because well, all the time when I was sick, I literally had no energy. I couldn't do anything right. I started again and I discovered late in life I was actually pretty good at this stuff. Once I was able to do stuff, there was no stopping me. There was just no stopping me. And it's been like that ever since. Every year I just try and keep improving myself. So that's what ultimately led me to build my community here and to teach other people how to be resilient and how to be strong and how to be mobile and how to retain their youth.
For StrenghtBox, you teach and talk about the benefits of primal movement. Do you want to talk a little bit about that and what primal movement is?
Primal movements - you can call it a bunch of different things, natural movement.
I'm a big believer in keeping your body moving the way that nature intended it to move. This gets branded as different things, but ultimately, humans are designed to walk, we are designed to run, we are designed to jump, we are designed to throw things, we are designed to roll around in the ground. If you look at things that little kids do, they're jumping and they're tumbling.
That's what we need to do as adults. But adults don't do that. Adults sit down and adults stand, but a lot of adults even have a hard time connecting with the floor because for a lot of older people getting down on the floor and getting back up off the floor is a challenge. That's why we need to practice getting down and getting back up off of the floor if you want to retain some semblance of youth. Those are the kind of movements you need to practice and to train. I see so many adults and if I ask them to do it, jump like even a jump 10 inches onto this box, they're scared they can't do it because they haven't done it for years. We should be able to do that stuff. That was very much a key factor in building this facility. It is giving people a place to safely train those movements under coaching in a non-intimidating, kind of non-judgmental atmosphere where nobody really cares what level you're at, but they care that you come in and you practise this stuff. I'm still very much a believer in that stuff, especially the rolling in the ground engagement. I mean, I practice that stuff all the time, even hanging off a bar. It's just so good for you. But that doesn't mean I throw out the traditional strength and conditioning, I still do that. I still love my barbells. I still love my Kettle bells. I still love my EQualizer bars. I love my pull up bar.
What about the equipment that you use in your gym that other people don't necessarily use at theirs?
When you say gym, there are a lot of different styles of gyms, obviously. So some may have some of the stuff that we have. Some may not. In terms of something that might be very unique, I have a climbing structure that's built out of the red, western cedar, and maple.
I don't think there are other climbing gyms that have such a structure. It's pretty unique. It was all designed by myself and two artists and we reinforced it all with Kevlar insides. You can't see the Kevlar. It's actually a work of art. It's pretty neat. There's also a log that hangs from the ceiling from two chains. So that's kind of fun to play around on. Not just for pull-ups, but see if you can actually get yourself over the long crate. It's like trying to get over a tree branch. And this one moves, too, because it's hanging. Things like that, I guess, would be unique but then there's a lot of stuff that's similar too. We use a lot of kettle bells here.
I'm a big fan of Russian kettle bells. I still like my barbells and dumbbells, all that kind of stuff. Lately, I've been into a lot more bodyweight stuff and calisthenics because I enjoy that and I find it's very scalable for different people. So, yeah, I try not to be too dogmatic. I try and mix things up.
On your website, you have some great posts. I really enjoyed reading about consistency in everything.
Consistency! Yes, 100 percent, that's what people forget, like some people say, "oh, I just don't feel like training today". Sometimes you just gotta show up. The intensity matters. Obviously, diet matters like everything matters. But if there was one thing that's going to get your results showing up is half the battle. It's just making it consistent. That's why you think about a lot of people struggling with that, right? I don't struggle with that anymore because I look forward to training. I changed my thinking about how I approach training. That's what I call it - training. I don't even like the words fitness and workouts almost because sometimes they have a negative connotation. I think of it as practice time. I think of it as training time. I've said these words before, "It's my time to be creative. It's my time to figure out what is my body capable of today. How is it moving today? I just so look forward to that time because we're so distracted now. This world is crazy. If I can take a piece of my day and just dedicate it, it's a beautiful thing. So for me, consistency isn't a problem because I look forward to stuff, but for other people, they have to figure out how they can make that work for them. It shouldn't be like something you dread. It has to be something that you really enjoy, that you look forward to.
How do you make it fun for people that are trying to be consistent and what suggestions do you have for people to try?
In some cases, it's very individualized. It's hard to generalize because it depends on the reasons why somebody is inconsistent or why someone struggles. I think a lot depends on what level they are. Are they a raw beginner or have they been doing it for this long time and they just lost interest. For some people, it's just a matter of making it a priority. I know it's easy to say schedule it. Yes. We've all heard these words before, but sometimes you need it. You need a trigger. So you don't get to eat lunch until you've done your workout. So your lunch is your trigger? Cause that's your reward. I mean, that's just one example. There has to be a way of connecting it with something else that's going to actually make you show up and do the work. I think it's very highly individualized.
It depends on your goals, too. It depends on what it is you're doing. Not everyone's doing the same thing. A lot of people are working out at home right now.
So people might have EQualizer bars or they may have this new HIIT system or some people are doing bodyweight. Some people do have, a set of weights. Our circumstances now are different than what they were a couple of months ago for sure. People are facing different challenges now that they weren't facing before because we have other stresses in our lives. I think part of it is realizing that this can be a stress-reduction tool.
I think of it as almost another form of meditation, but it's not a calming, peaceful meditation. It gets your heart going and gets the blood pumping. In a way, it contributes to your overall health so it's kind of like moving meditation.
We are all dealing with Covid-19. How do you see your approach moving forward once this is over and getting back to some sort of normalcy?
It's a really difficult one because we don't have guidelines yet. I think we're fortunate as a facility in one regard because we are small and we are community-based so our classes here have never been busy. I mean, we've been here for 10 years, but it's always a fairly small number of people in here that tend to know one another. That's going to help, I think, make people feel more comfortable because we can certainly limit the number of people in here. We can certainly maintain social distancing. We can certainly do things like people aren't sharing equipment and stuff? But there are a lot of questions that remain unanswered.
I wish I had the answers, to be honest but I think it will take a while before things get normal and my stress is what is the new normal and what does it look like?
I'm not the only one facing this. A lot of us in the industry are going through this. Obviously a lot is moving online. I've been coaching online for quite a number of years now because I've had clients in Mexico, the United States, a few in Canada, most of them have been international. That works for some people. It doesn't work for all people. The problem is that space right now is very crowded because literally every trainer in the world right now is looking to do online training so it becomes a very crowded space. Then again, the way I look at it is while we all have our communities, we all have our connections. So that's where I will start if I decide to open my online business up further. Because I've been guiding people and that type of stuff works, I think better if you have specific goals. If somebody wants to learn a particular skill or they want to learn something that I'm particularly good at and they want to be able to do it, too, then I can help them on their journey.
How can people reach out to you if they do want to get involved with StrenghtBox?
Well, there are a number of ways. Obviously, our facility is still closed right now, but people can connect with me. First of all, I'm on Instagram, so you can follow me there at Instagram/greg.carver.
You can connect with me through my website at GregCarver.com. There's a place where you can send me a message and people can e-mail me to firstname.lastname@example.org
I do read my emails and I'm trying to put a little more content out. I also have a YouTube channel, which I is www.youtube.com/GregCarver. So you'll find me out there.
I'm putting a lot more content right now on YouTube so I put a number of follow along workouts, particularly I'm concentrating on things that can be done with bodyweight. I've done some beginner bodyweight exercises. I put up some intermediate calisthenics exercises, not just exercises, actually routines that people can follow along and some that also use the Lebert equipment, like the Lebert EQualizer bars, which I think are great, by the way, especially for people that don't have access to pull up bars. These are just perfect. I use them all the time in my training. They're just awesome.
Your videos on YouTube - I've watched them, especially the beginning, body workout. It's phenomenal how you have developed that just by having the words saying one, two, three begin, and the entire video. I love how you have done that.
I appreciate that. I'm going to do more of those. Especially for beginners. I think it's important. I'm not specifying reps, saying you have to do 10 reps of this. You have to do 30 reps. I don't know what someone's level is. So giving them a time period saying, you've got 60 seconds to do this. Do what you can do. Just follow along with me. I'm trying to get tips. I plan to put out more content like that but thank you. I appreciate the comment.
You're more than welcome and I'll definitely be doing the beginner workouts sometime today.
So you sent me an email and let me know how it goes.
Thank you for being on the podcast today, Fitness for All by Lebert Fitness and we certainly look forward to having you back on the podcast.
Great. Hopefully, we can delve into, a couple of specific topics and do a little bit of a deeper dive!
Key Takeaways From This Episode:
Contact Greg Carver at:
- Website: http://www.gregcarver.com/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/gregcarver
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/greg.carver/
- YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/gregcarver
- Lebert Fitness