91. Carl Paoli | Free + Style

91. Carl Paoli | Free + Style

In this episode Jason Ackerman sit down with Carl Paoli, have you heard of him? Probably is the reason you have or want to be able to do a back tuck right? Well, he’s the reason Jason can do one. He was featured on Crossfit Youtube channel back in 2011 teaching Jason Khalipa how to do one. Carl found Crossfit back 2006/2007. Very cool and down to earth guy who wants to help people not only move better but help people grow. 

Time Stamps:

(2:01) Finding Crossfit
(04:54) Shifting over to the mental side
(11:01) What you can do as a coach?
(19:06) Working on your strengths til your weaknesses are unveiled

Recommended Book:

Alexander the Great: His Life and His Mysterious Death

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike – Phil Knight

Carl’s Book: 

Free+Style: Maximize Sport and Life Performance with Four Basic Movements

Seminar:

Beyond Movement – https://freestyleconnection.com/freestyle-courses/

Social Media:

@carlpaoli 

Skrikes Movement Shoes – https://www.strike-mvmnt.com/pages/select-location

Backflip with Jason Khalipa:

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Jason Ackerman:
All right, I’m here with Carl Payola. I first learned about you, you were teaching Jason Khalipa how to do a backtuck.

Carl Paoli:
That’s crazy.

Jason Ackerman:
Well, funny story about that. I see that video and I’m like, I’m gonna learn. Carl, this guy says all I need to do is be able to basically power clean my body weight and do a knee to` elbow. I think those are the two movements you said.

Carl Paoli:
Yeah, I did. I remember that.

Jason Ackerman:
And I was like, well, I can do that. So I go gymnastics school that had, you know, all these kids. And I was like, hey, I want to learn BackTuck today. And they’re like, no, you can’t do that. And I was like, come on like, you know, I he’s like, teach me a little bit. Needless to say, within an hour I had a backtuck. So it’s really cool. And you were the motivation behind that. So thank you.

Carl Paoli:
That’s incredible. That’s incredible. I mean, I got I got a lot of crap for that video just because technically in gymnastics, you should be really worrying about having the proper progression. And this is a high level skill that takes time. But I wanted to show people that you can take cautious risks and actually have a great carryover and to showcase that we have more potential than we think right now. And the fact that you got to experience that to some degree makes my day.

Jason Ackerman:
Well, well, thanks. Yeah. For the record, I’m not recommending if you can power clean your body weight, you knee to elbow to go out on concrete and try to do that. I did it into a pit and then they had like these little ramp things that I was doing it off of. And then before I left, I did it. And then I got back to the gym that day and I was like showing everybody else, look at this. And it was really cool. You are like the gymnastics guy in the in the Crossfit, world. And, you know, for a lot of people, you’ve been a huge influence in their development. But how did you originally find Crossfit,?

Carl Paoli:
Yes, it’s interesting that you say that on the gymnastics guy. I consider myself to be one of the gymnastics guys. I guess you have Dave Duran, Jeff Tucker and his team. You have? Well, everyone that is around power monkeys, I guess I would say our gymnastics, quote unquote, gurus and yeah, every predecessor such as Roger Ver Harrell back in the days. So, yeah, that’s cool. It’s going to be be one of them. And I’m I’m happy to be that. And what got me into Crossfit, was I was a personal trainer. And I was exploring different ways of getting people more comfortable and ready to practice gymnastics specifically for action sports, meaning I was using gymnastics as a strength conditioning program, business as a skill development program to get people to snowboard, better to ski, better wake board water ski and really get into the action sports scene in a way that we were. We were taking their fitness and strength conditioning to the next level. So in and exploring that, I was looking into Olympic weightlifting and I I crossed paths with Crossfit, and that’s where it all started. And that was in two thousand six, seven. And then I got deep into it in 2008.

Jason Ackerman:
Funny you mentioned Roger Harrell. I did his gymnastics seminar probably like 2008. And I’ve never been more sore than that seminar. I was like the seminar was brutal back in the day. It was just non stop.

Carl Paoli:
Crazy.

Jason Ackerman:
You were well you were a stunt man. But prior to that, right.

Carl Paoli:
I have done some stunt work. But I it wasn’t my my craft. In fact, there’s another Carl Paoli, who is a professional stunt man, an artist who is in a bunch of movies. And a lot of people confuse me with them and people confuse him with me. We’ve we’ve spoken in and talk to each other. But, yeah, I didn’t do professional stunt work. I did some some commercial work and some action based photography, but never got into the stunt work field.

Jason Ackerman:
Well, it seems to me like the direction you’re going because with looking at your social media and your videos is one of helping people develop not just inside the walls of an affiliate or gym, but outside the walls as well.

Carl Paoli:
Yeah. Back in 2013. Around June or July, I made the conscious decision as I was leading up to the release of my my book Freestyle, and that I would create a full shifting years where I would go from the physical to the more mental emotional side of things. And ever since I’ve been working on making that transition, which has been relatively challenging as people don’t like change. And when you’ve been giving people something for a long time, they want you to continue to give them that. But that was simply not true to who I was and what I want to do with my life and my coaching. And this is where I am right now, having these conversations that are more around the self development side of things. So one can perform at a higher level, whether it be physically or in life and any aspect that one may want to go and pursue.

Jason Ackerman:
Was it a specific moment in your life that caused you to feel that way?

Carl Paoli:
Yeah, for sure, I mean, there’s been several instances, I think one of the reasons, the main reasons is I got into personal training and fitness simply because I was good at it and because it was a great opportunity for me to scratch the itch of business development. And as I got into it, I realized that I was pretty decent at growing a business and having financially lucrative opportunities. And at the same time, I Cross paths with Crossfit,, which was blowing up, and as I entered that world, it just multiplied everything that I was doing. Times one hundred and I got to a point where I had all these opportunities. Things were going really well on paper, but I I didn’t feel like I was aligned with what I was saying and how I was saying that at the time. So I just made the conscious decision to shift gears. And that’s where I decided to drop my relationship with my sponsors and really make a conscious effort to shift away from being the gymnastics guy to simply being the guy that was trying to figure it out alongside everyone else and using my abilities as a coach to try to help people describe what they were feeling, the thoughts that they were having and what belief systems existed behind there and how we could take those belief systems, reframe them if needed, and then project them in the direction that they had to be projected in order to overcome something difficult that they may be experiencing in their life or. Or simply going forward and performing at a higher level as athletes.

Jason Ackerman:
Mean ,What I learned as a personal trainer before Crossfit, is a lot of it is just connecting with other human beings and and and especially in the Crossfit, world as well. Obviously, I think, you know, our credentials speak for themselves. But at the end of the day, unless you can connect with other humans, it doesn’t matter how much you know about a backtuck or deadlift. So was that.

Carl Paoli:
Exactly.

Jason Ackerman:
Was that part of it as well? Just wanting to. I mean, in this day and age with social media and everything going on, how easy it is to be negative and down on yourself and other people was part of it just trying to spark a positive change in this world?

Carl Paoli:
Yeah, I always had the feeling that there were something that was not being said, which was what people were experiencing emotionally and why people were so attractive to attracted to Crossfit, and what it was that it was evoking. And some people like to describe it in the form of community, which I think is wonderful. And there’s a lot of different expressions in terms of pushing oneself and learning more about one’s self. But there was always something deeper there that wasn’t being said. And I just wanted to go a little bit deeper there and see if we could get people to try to express that. And I believe and I still believe now that if if we can get to a point where we can articulate what is behind our behaviors and our actions, we can now start to have a more conscious approach to what it is that we’re doing and crystallize what our purposes for training. And and I really believe that if we can do that for training, we can do it for every other aspect of our life. And that’s that’s the conversation that I wanted to have. And I believe that that was the the fire that existed within everyone. And I just wanted to pour some fuel on that.

Jason Ackerman:
What’s harder to coach movement or development?

Carl Paoli:
Well, I think it’s it’s probably the same movement is a little bit simpler for people to grasp because they can see it when it comes to personal development. A lot of it is mental and emotional. So you have to learn how to feel. And this is something that I’ve said from day one in my and my coaching is that true human performance is measured by feel when it feels right in your head and your heart, your gut, you’re trending in the right direction. Unfortunately, when it comes to measuring performance by field, there is no number. And that’s what people have struggled with. So what I am as a coach is simply a translator who is helping people translate the movement pattern, the technique, the number, the prescription into thoughts, emotions, belief systems and actions. And that’s the mission that I’m on.

Jason Ackerman:
So what can coaches. We have a lot of coaches that listen to this show. What are some of the things they can do? What are some tips you give them to help them work on this, not just with their clients from within themselves?

Carl Paoli:
Yeah, I think number one is to realize that what you think you’re in control of, you’re probably not what I mean by that and that a lot of us as coaches, when we walk through the door, we carry the sense that we are in control of our environment and the people that we’re coaching when in reality we are just people who are hosting an experience. And if you can allow for the people that you’re working with to fully express themselves and to simply become a mirror for what they are and what they’re doing, all of a sudden you start realizing that you don’t have to do much to get them to move the way that you think they should be moving and push the way that you think they should be pushing. You’re actually making them more autonomous. And where we come in as coaches is really on helping people find their path towards mastery. And this is always an individualized thing. And we can help people with that. What ends up happening is that they are our clients and us as coaches start to align and our purpose and mission. And and that is something that I encourage people to do, is to simply act as a mirror, as a reflection of who people are in this world and to allow for others to do the same for us.

Carl Paoli:
And if people want to get a little bit more practical about this, especially coaches, you can ask yourself, who are you? Which is maybe for me to be. I’m Carl. Very simple. You can ask yourself, what is it that you do? I could say right now. I coached gymnastics for Crossfitters. And you can ask yourself, who do you do it for? Well, you can say for those who want to move better within the space of gymnastics related to Crossfit,, you can ask yourself, what do these people need? Well, maybe they need some technical guidance. And then you can ask yourself, what impact does helping people get their needs met make? And maybe for some it they belong to the muscle up club. They just got the muscle up for the first time. They can do a workout as quote unquote prescribe whatever that means. They can now feel confident to participate in every class or help others learn new skills, or they realize that they can overcome something by using some simple mental and emotional and physical tools that may transfer into becoming a better parent or boss or business leader or whatever it is that you are in the field.

Jason Ackerman:
To me, a lot of that sounds like. Finding your own purpose in your own, why is it? Is that a lot of where this kind of came from?

Carl Paoli:
Yeah, very much so. And and it doesn’t even have to be so much about the why. But maybe something a little bit more simple. As for what? And to realize that when you ask yourself or what are the reasons that you’re doing things for yourself or for others or both. And how are you prioritizing? And I think that is almost greater in terms of being proactive than asking yourself why,.

Jason Ackerman:
You know, that’s such a great statement that you just made and something I think about. And when I’m helping, coaches did not remind them, is this for you or is this for them? Because there’s so many times where we’re talking and it’s not about them. It’s about us. Who are some of the people you’ve studied under or learned from that help you develop from what I’m hearing? You know, there’s a lot of kind of stoicism going on here in which in which I love. And I’m a you know, I study myself. Is that where this came from or was it just an epiphany you had? Where where did this really come from within you?

Carl Paoli:
Yeah. I think if I had to say where it comes from. Part of it is anchored in my parents. My my parents have always encouraged me to be critical in my thinking and to realize what my motives are. Also, my my wife is always checking me. So she’s she’s definitely one of my mentors. And just by being a coach and realizing that I’m in the business of developing people and I am the first person that needs to be developed. So in order for myself to develop. I need to see what is it that I’m projecting outward and what is it that is really true and what I’ve learned is that by being a full service and being of value without expecting anything in exchange actually allows you to create an amazing conversion. And I’m simply what one would call a student of the game. And that’s that’s all I’ve done. And that’s where this comes from.

Jason Ackerman:
You know, people listening need to understand this is the hard stuff working on yourself. It is, but it’s ultimately how you become such a. Well respected coach such as yourself. You it’s it’s no different that I’ve said you can teach anyone how to teach a squat, but how to teach you to be a good person is a lot harder. How to how to teach you to be that person that other people want to listen to. That’s the challenge. It starts. It starts within yourself. But this is a long time coming for you. This wasn’t an overnight endeavor.

Carl Paoli:
No, and that’s where being able to read biographies or you you read about different methodologies and you go to YouTube and you listen to how people are thinking and expressing themselves. Ultimately, what it comes down to is helping people have the ability to solve problems. And I think that’s what it really is all about. And. What is really interesting is that most people won’t act unless they feel limited or are hurt. And I think that’s where sometimes the space of self development from a coaching perspective, when when you’re looking for growth can be self-serving and can have a little bit of maybe fear mongering almost. But there’s also this other side, which is whatever you’re scared of, whatever it is that’s making you uncomfortable. That’s where the money is for yourself and for others. So why not spend some time there and ask yourself, what’s the worst case scenario here? I’m going to look like a fool or it’s gonna be a little uncomfortable. But the good news is that this, too, shall pass. And when it passes, if you exercise just a little bit of awareness, you’re going to come out on the other side with some new understanding, some new knowledge, some new information. And this is where it gets really exciting. Is that bad information when you share it with other people? You start to really get to know whether what you saw, what you experience really was true or not true. And and that is the ongoing process. So it’s it’s it’s cool. Self development is cool if you’re willing to participate.

Jason Ackerman:
Yeah. And you know, what that reminds me of is a lot of Crossfitters will listen. And it’s just working your weakness. We do it inside the box. You have to do it outside the box as well.

Carl Paoli:
Yeah. And I think this is this is kind of my take on this. And this is where I’ve all always received pushback is that I don’t believe in working on your weaknesses. I believe in working on your strengths and your weaknesses are unveiled. And that’s when you use your strengths to develop the weaknesses. And I think that’s that’s something that sometimes we’re we’re missing. And I am constantly trying to help people see how they can do it.

Jason Ackerman:
Can you dive into that a little more so we understand that better you say work on your strengths to your weaknesses or even more apparent.

Carl Paoli:
So give me an example of a weakness that you may see as a coach or someone who’s in the nutrition space. What is it? One weakness that you see that people have to work on?

Jason Ackerman:
I’d say let’s let’s go into nutrition. A big weakness people have is just. Dealing with stress and not letting them impact their eating.

Carl Paoli:
Exactly. So I think when one has stress, of course, that’s already something that is going to push us towards falling into our weakness. But when one is stressed that the number one thing you want to do is you want to make sure that you can focus on what you are in control of. Maybe that’s your breathing. Maybe that’s the setting an alarm clock to get up a little early to meal prep for the day. Maybe that whatever it may be. So focusing on the things that you are in control of that is leaning in to your strengths.

Jason Ackerman:
I like that. I like that a lot. You you mentioned. You know, reading biographies are watching other people. Are there any people you’d recommend that the listeners check out?

I mean, I I just finished a biography about Alexander the great and awful story. But it just comes to show how in his life, the circumstances that he was dealt with, which all of sudden he had an army and he decided to conquer all of southern Europe basically. At the ripe age of 20 is a pretty big deal, and the motives behind it don’t really matter at this point. But what he what he did really well was he organized people and he organized people by having a common goal. And that goal may have sounded like prosperity and a good life. And I think that’s something that through biography is you get to learn from different people. And now you can you can ask yourself, well, is that the best way to do it, to go and crush a bunch of cities, kill and rape people? Probably not the intention behind that, those positive and how one maybe organized large groups of people to work towards a common common goal that that is interesting. So if you believe in eating healthier and you want to help people make better choices, how can you use some of the things that maybe someone like Alexander the Great who? We don’t know if he was that great or not. But you did great things, of course, in the eyes of some how you could how can you use some of those those lessons to apply it into what you’re doing right now as a coach or as an individual who simply wants to get better?

Jason Ackerman:
Yeah. Probably not the greatest example. But point taken first for sure. I think I personally read a lot of biographies and there’s so much you can take from some of those, especially back then. I recently read one on Muhammad Ali, who another great example of someone who, you know, you can look at what they’ve done with their life and how they battled through adversity and and what they were able to achieve and why they were able to achieve it.

Carl Paoli:
Yeah, exactly. And I think you have to you have to read about people who are perceived to have done great things and people who are perceived to have done terrible things in history. And I think both have to be be read. And this is kind of what we we live on a daily basis and it all comes down to perspective. So I think I think it’s important to get both sides of the coin.

Jason Ackerman:
Do you don’t currently have a course on helping people develop like this, do you?

Carl Paoli:
I do, actually. It’s a workshop that I called Beyond Movement and it’s dedicated to to coaches. And I focus on on, of course, trying to extract what is the purpose and mission of each individual, but also how to communicate that purpose. And it’s it’s something that I’m very slowly rolling out and tinkering with on a daily basis. And it’s it’s been a fun little process.

Carl Paoli:
Well, I highly recommend coaches check that out because so much happens, you know, between the ears and outside of the box. That translates to what’s going on inside the box. And if we truly, truly care about other humans, I want to help them. This is the kind of stuff we need to focus on.

Carl Paoli:
Well, thank you. I mean, I believe it and I’m constantly trying to work on it and share it in ways that make sense to people.

Jason Ackerman:
So I always ask every guest, do you have a book that you recommend the listeners check out?

Carl Paoli:
That’s a hard one. It depends on what field you’re in, but I think one that’s a really good one. And it’s just one about overcoming struggles and to kind of stick with the process. And what you believe in is a Shoe Dog, which is the story of the founder of Nike.

Jason Ackerman:
Yeah, I’ve not read that, but a couple of people have recommended it and it’s been on my to do list, so I definitely check it out. Funny that you mention Shoe Dog because you’re involved with a shoe company herself, correct?

Carl Paoli:
That’s correct. And I read it a few years ago when the book came out because I’m in the footwear business and invested in it. So it was a great it was a great book to read as just a way of being like, OK, we’re in the game. This is not unusual. We just need to keep going.

Jason Ackerman:
It’s funny. I see strike shoes more and more. You know, I work on the seminars team for Crossfit,. And now five years ago, all you saw Nanos and then all of a sudden you saw a few met cons and a few no bulls. Now we see some of you guys as well. So it’s cool to see that. And the coach over at my box has them there. They’re really cool and I like them a lot and it’s cool to see that. You you know, people that have been around for a while are able to diversify and continue to grow, adapt and and challenge themselves, so it’s it’s impressive, to say the least.

Carl Paoli:
That’s very cool. That’s very cool. Well, we have to give credit to Mark Morris that he’s the original founder of Strike Movement and the designer of the shoes. And yeah, he’s done a phenomenal job at getting us to where we are now. And yet it’s an exciting time. And just seen No bull right now competing to get a bigger piece of the market share, especially in the functional fitness world and Crossfit, space. It’s cool and it’s exciting. And I love to compete and it’s fun. It’s a fun business to be involved with.

Jason Ackerman:
Yeah, I mean, they picked up Tia and Katrin maybe I know they picked up a couple of the top top females. Is that exciting for you to see that this opportunity, you know, them showing that they can do it? Is that show you guys that there’s room to grow as well?

Carl Paoli:
Yeah, it’s awesome. It’s awesome. I mean, they’re there. They’re ahead of us and in the functional fitness space. And we have a lot a lot of work to do. But to me, that’s cool. I like being the underdog and I like coming from from behind and out of left field and surprising people.

Jason Ackerman:
Well, you definitely did that about seven or eight years ago in Crossfit the world. And it’s cool to see you continuing to do that to this day. It’s been really great chatting with you all. I love chatting about development. And it’s awesome to see other high level coaches really preaching this stuff. And it’s always impressive when they’re leading by example, which you’re doing.

Carl Paoli:
Thank you. Thank you for giving me a chance to share. I mean, any any chance I get I like to have these conversations as well. And the fact that there are people like yourself who are open to it excites me and just encourages me to keep keep pushing forward. So it means a lot to me.

Jason Ackerman:
You’ve got it. Thank you so much. Hopefully we know we can direct people towards that course and you can check Carl out, obviously, on social media. That’s some great stuff out there. And check out the strike movement shoes. And next time around in California, hopefully we can link up.

Carl Paoli:
They’ll be awesome. Please keep me posted.

Jason Ackerman:
You got it. Thank you so much. Have a great rest of your day for Carl.

Sweet Dude you too. Thank you.

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