Episode 25 – The Road to Kona 2020 pt 4. Kellie Davis- Leveling up your Training & Fitness

Kellie Davis

Kellie Davis is the co-author of the book Strong Curves, one of the very first books on Glute Training, as well as contributor to courses like Glutes, Core, & Pelvic Floor,  along with The Complete Trainers Toolbox, and many more.

Having gone from Figure competitor, to powerlifting, to training to be strong & fit to tackle whatever life throws at her, Kellie is an excellent trainer who tells it like it is. In todays episode Kellie shares with a some real gems: From running her own business, progression of workouts and exercise in your life, and being a mom, to Recognizing a great physician when you have one that assesses you first,  and then looks at the films, to getting a basic understanding of your body & the importance of working with a TRUE professional for your fitness & athletic goals, Kellie offers a lot of deep, powerful insights into getting the most out of your training & body- now and for the long term.

Connect with Kellie, or purchase one of her awesome programs:





Or pick up her & Bret Contreras’s book:



Kellie Davis:

Human Vortex Training and Menachem Brodie present, The Strong Savvy Cyclist & Triathlete Podcast, where we talk strength training, physiology, psychology, check, and much more, to help you get fitter, faster, and stronger in and out of your sport, giving you expert insights, talking with other leading experts. And now, your host, world-leading strength coach for cyclists and triathletes, Menachem Brodie.

Menachem Brodie:

Hi everyone, and welcome to today’s episode of The Strong Savvy Cyclists & Triathlete Podcast. Today is part four of our Road to Kona, 2020 series. But this episode is extremely applicable if you do anything that’s considered to be athletic or sporty in your life. We are sitting down and talking with Kellie Davis of Kellie Davis Fitness.

Now, Kellie has been in the health and fitness industry for some time and she is the author or co-author of Strong Curves. She and Brett Contreras sat down and wrote this book about eight years ago. She’s also a contributor to a number of absolutely fantastic programs if you are a coach or someone who’s looking to get more out of your training. These programs include, but are not limited to, Glutes, Core, and Pelvic Floor, the Complete Trainers Toolbox, and a number of other fantastic courses.

But Kellie isn’t just a coach or a trainer in health and fitness. She has been through the health and fitness gamut, so to speak. She went from figure competitions to powerlifting, and a mom who is staying fit and running her own business.

In today’s episode, we are going to talk about the progression of your workouts and exercise in your life. We’re also going to talk about gaining the, or the importance, rather, of gaining a basic understanding of your body and working with a true professional if you are doing anything that is trying to push your limits or to become better as an athlete.

Now, Kellie does not come with a lot of crap. She’s going to tell it how it is. She’s going to call it how she sees it. This is real talk, and this is something that I very highly value from a fitness professional, and she tells it like it is. Having been working in the fitness industry or being involved in the health and fitness industry for almost 25 years myself, and working in the health and fitness industry for the last 15-plus years, I can tell you, what Kellie and I talk about here, what Kellie tells you, these are diamonds. These are massive, massive diamonds. These are hope diamonds of health and fitness that you could and should take home, write down, come back and visit regardless of what you are doing.

It doesn’t matter if you consider yourself a recreational rider, if you are serious about your health and wellbeing, what we’re going to talk about here today is absolutely paramount to come back and listen to over and over again.

This episode, Kellie and I actually recorded back March of 2019. I wanted to find a time where it was going to be really powerful, and this is it. So if we reference stuff from a couple of weeks ago or a short time ago, that’s going to be to her Instagram feed back in February and March of 2019. Just keep that in mind.

Now, before we jump into this absolutely powerful interview with Kellie, I just want to mention to those of you who have been emailing me, I’m getting more and more each week, which is very exciting on my side, because it just gets me even more amped up to get this out there. The strength training for cycling success certification course, we are going to do a closed launch. What a closed launch is, is that you’re only going to get this offer if you’re on the Human Vortex Training email list. It’s not going to be out in public. You’re not going to see the page. You’re not even going to be able to sign up for it, unless you have the link to it from our email. This is to reward those who have been following me at Human Vortex Training here, and you, the listeners of The Strong Savvy Cyclists and Triathlete podcast.

If you want to get onto it, the launch is probably going to be this week. Hopefully, Halloween, but I am, as I mentioned last week, rerecording a couple of different segments to make them even more powerful. So it might happen the first week of November, but it is literally right around the corner, and it is going to be at a price point that is never going to be seen ever, ever again. Because I would like to reward you for being at the cutting edge of sports training for yourself or for your athletes. It’s a small token of my gratitude for you being here listening and for sharing the good information, quality information, from the best coaches and trainers from around the world that we’re putting out.

If you haven’t already, and most of you have already based on a number of emails we’re getting here signed up for the newsletter, if you know somebody, or you have a coach or you know a coach or you know another rider who’s been doing strength training or wants to learn about strength training for cycling, this certification is for them also.

We’re going to have some science-y stuff. You got to understand some of the science, but it is put together in a way that anybody can get what they need out of it. So if you’re a beginner rider, who’s just learning about the body, you’re going to learn a lot. You’re also going to learn about the exercises and techniques that you need to progress.

If you’re a coach, you are going to be at the leading edge of coaching strength training, specifically for cyclists, and also for triathletes. So if you’re interested, make sure you sign up for the newsletter and check your inbox because it’s going to be coming soon. But that’s it for the intro today. Let’s get into the interview with Kellie Davis.

Very excited to be here today, sitting with Kellie Davis. Kellie, thank you so much for joining us on the podcast here today.

Kellie Davis:

Yeah. Thanks so much for having me and sharing me with your audience. I’m excited to chat with you.

Menachem Brodie:

Absolutely. Your book, we mentioned here in the beginning before we started recording, is still selling well. It does not surprise me because Strong Curves is just, I feel like it’s a foundational good strength training book.

Kellie Davis:

Yeah, it’s definitely a passion project that Brett and I did together. I think it turned out beautifully. Of course, as riders and as people who have grown tremendously in the industry and we’ve educated ourselves. We look at the book and we’re kind of like, “Oh, there’s some stuff we might want to change.” But overall, it’s timeless. It’s evergreen. It’s the perfect place for anyone getting into strength training to pick up and start off. It’s a great tool for coaches, so it’s definitely something six years later we’re still very, very proud of and still get tons of great feedback on.

Menachem Brodie:

That’s not all. I mean, we were talking and also you said Get Strong is another program. You have Epic Ass. Glutes and Core Strands, Glute, Core, and Pelvic Floor. You have all these different products out there and it’s just, like you were saying before, it’s about helping people and getting them make a decision and go with it. Right?

Kellie Davis:

Yeah, absolutely. I think one of my greatest gifts is that I’m very intuitive and I’m also very observant, so I can take lessons that I’ve learned from my own life as being a mom and running my own business, and trying to maintain my own health as I age. Also, just looking at the clientele that I work with, the interactions that I have with members of my own community, and really absorbing and listening to their needs, their struggles, and trying to figure out ways that I can incorporate those needs and values into the programs that I offer online and in my personal coaching.

Menachem Brodie:

That’s a large part of the reason to have you on. Meghan Kelly, a previous guest, also recommended you. The thing that I find really unique about you is that you’ve maintained your voice and sound logic, even as Instagram and Facebook blew up, and you didn’t jump on those bandwagons. One of the recent posts, I think it was maybe as we heard in the previous … My memory serves me ill. The last couple of months, you did mention how your workouts have evolved drastically in the last 10 years. At the post time, you had not picked up or done heavy sets of two or three in quite some time, and you had never thought you’d be there. Can you share with us a little bit about how you’ve evolved in your workouts the last five or 10 years?

Kellie Davis:

I think as I grow up, I really reevaluate the purpose of exercise and how it relates to my body. I’ve sort of taken a step back and realized that the term exercise or workout is something luxurious that we’ve built into our vocabulary. As industries change, as technology booms, exercise workouts have kind of become more of a chore or something excess that we do in our lives. I really liked to step back and think about the importance of movement. Exercise is a luxury, movement is essential.

I’ve experienced some injuries. I was always very bullheaded and stubborn as a young athlete. And then, even as an adult doing recreational sports, I would push my body beyond limits. I trained for five years with a pretty significant knee injury, training around it, training through pain. And then, I’ve really started focusing on movement holistically and what I want my life to look like in 10, 20, 30, 40 years from now. Because that’s what this is really about. When we get involved in extreme forms of activity, whether it’s sports, endurance races, whatever it is that we’re involved in, we have to look at the fact that, at the end of the day, we are paying a lot into these things, both financially and physically.

So we have to step back and think, “What am I getting out? Am I getting out everything that I’m paying into this? The abuse that I’m putting on my body, the financial strain that it’s putting on my family.” And just really stepping back and saying, “Where is this leading me to? Is this the path that I want to be going down or do I need to change the course?” That was very eye-opening to me. In fact, I was sitting in my orthopedic surgeon’s office. I had avoided a pretty significant knee injury for years, and I went in and I finally had an MRI. And he’s like, “I’m going to evaluate you first. I’m not even going to look at your MRI because I don’t want opposing views coming in. I want to evaluate your knee.”

Soon, he discovered that I completely just blew out my ACL. The tissue was disintegrated. It was nowhere to be seen on the MRI. I had a really bad tear straight through my medial meniscus with a flap. It was from my inner knee, all the way to the center of my patella. Just completely destroyed. He’s like, “I don’t even want to know what the hell you did. I don’t even know how you’re still walking, let alone playing sports.” But he looked me dead in the face and he’s … Because I was actually going to do a Spartan Race that weekend. He looked me dead in the face and he said, “Is this going to pay your mortgage for the next three years?” And that was so eye-opening to me because I realized I was just completely trashing my body, pushing myself to all these limits. And then, I could potentially ruin my career and have no income if I was crippled. That changed me more than anything and made me look at my body in a completely different way.

Menachem Brodie:

That’s a conversation, in my opinion, in my experiences over the last 15 years working with athletes and cyclists that, a lot of people have, and they don’t have that good grounding to understand like, “I am a professional at something else and I’m serious about my sport.” Where they just [inaudible 00:12:15] themselves day after day, week after week. Cyclists and triathletes have this problem of this, it’s an endurance sport. You’re doing these movements literally tens of thousands of times in each practice. Then they go in the weight room, they’re like, “I’m doing weight training. I’m doing squats. I’m pressing hamstring curls.” It’s like, dude, you’re doing the exact same movements your sport does. And that’s not the point of strength training, is to balance the body. But we’ll get into that in a second. I think it’s important though, to mention, you are special.

Everybody’s special. But as an athlete, DeJuan Blair for University of Pittsburgh, basketball player, played for the Dallas Mavericks and the San Antonio Spurs, professional NBA. Hines Ward was a wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers and is a Hall of Famer. Neither of them had ACLs. Now, DeJuan was an interesting story because he tore his in middle school and high school, if I’m not mistaken. And he lost. He would have been a top five pick if he didn’t have that, because the teams were like, “Oh, that’s a risk.” But you can still perform, and it sounds like that was your experience as well, is you can still perform. It’s just a matter of, how far do you want to take it before it really wears out? I think that’s a really interesting conversation to get into with yourself. Can you share us what that process was like? What brought you to like, “Oh, well, I should really go and get this checked out,” and how that affected your mentality of how you’re training and how you’re treating yourself?

Kellie Davis:

Yeah. It was an interesting story because, during the initial injury, I went to my GP and she did an x-ray, which I didn’t think anything was broken. I’m like, “Well, it’s going to show up on an x-ray.” Of course, they saw there was some fluid buildup behind the patella. “Oh, you probably have a sprain.” Wrapped me in a [inaudible 00:14:06], sent me on my way. But then later on as I was training to powerlift, I just started getting a lot of nagging hip pain, like intense, deep throbbing hip pain on the same side. So I completely wrote off the knee injury. “Oh yeah, it was a sprain.” I rehabbed it and I started going to see some specialists about my hip. I had an MRI on my hip that was inconclusive. I had an MRI on my knee that was inconclusive.

And so, I just wrote it off like, “All right, I’m getting older and I’m just complaining too much, whatever it is.” And then I reinjured my knee about three years ago in Muay Thai to the point where I couldn’t bear weight on it. And then I “rehabbed” it myself, and then I kept playing. I played softball. I was playing second base and I went to tug out a runner, and I could just feel my femur glide across in a very unnatural way. And I was like, “Okay, this isn’t good.” So I just kept pushing myself and pushing myself until the … Actually, one night I went dancing with my girlfriends and it took me a good month to recover. I was in pain for a month after dancing for an hour at a nightclub. I was in pain for a month, just excruciating pain.

I finally went into a different doctor, had a second opinion. That’s when he told me my knee was totally trashed. But yeah, that’s interesting. There are several known athletes. Obviously, the ACL is something that you can live without. It’s when the cartilage starts going, that’s the risk. And that’s the risk of not having a ACL, is then you don’t have that protection for the meniscus. But yeah. I mean, for those guys, that was their salary and that was their income. That was their whole life. For me, it wasn’t. It’s like, I just had to evaluate what I wanted my life to look like because my profession is a physical profession. And I could put myself at risk of not being able to do the things I love if I kept pushing and pushing, and pushing.

So yeah, I scaled back and I asked myself, “Is this stubborn, bull-headed competitive side of you, what is the purpose here?” Was it because they truly enjoy these things or because I felt like I had to prove something to the world? That was a pretty intense conversation that I had with myself. And I just learned, there are other ways to be active and fulfill that competitive side of me and not trash my body. I didn’t have to go as hard. I didn’t have to push myself. I also learned, because I was a powerlifter, I learned I had a lot of strength discrepancies. In any sport that you have, I don’t work with a ton of cyclists and triathletes, I do have some ultra runners that came to me and they had chronic sciatica.

They had hip issues. They had posterior chain issues. So it’s a matter of, am I training hard but not smart? I see that in the women that I train and I realized I was doing it myself. How can I say that I’m strong if I deadlift 340 pounds but I can’t do a hanging raise? It’s like, what is true strength? What is my body trying to tell me? I had so many compensatory patterns in my movements that made up for strength deficits that I was completely ignoring. So that was pretty eyeopening to me to realize I wasn’t as strong and athletic as I thought I was, simply because I developed so many compensations for my discrepancies.

Menachem Brodie:

There’s so much in there that is shared, not just with cyclists and triathletes, but every amateur athlete who’s been doing any sport that they love. Basketball players, I remember looking at the guys who are how old I am now and being like, “Man, they can barely stand up. Their knees are shot.” We all love to do the sport we love, but we are not doing the thing … The ounce of cure is worth a pound of prevention. You look at guys that have been active for life and there’s a … The human body is not bionic. It doesn’t last forever. Now we’re learning all this different stuff. Like, we have stem cells, which we kind of went over beforehand. Pelotherapy, red blood cells. There’s all these different things that we’re learning that the body can do, but if we just take a step back and realize like, yeah.

In triathlon, I couldn’t stand it. HTFU, harden the fuck up. I’m like, “Yeah, here’s my business card. Call me about three years when you need it.” And people were like, “Oh, I’ll just get surgery when I need to have it fixed.” I’m like, “Dude, that’s …” We’re also learning that surgery is not always the right thing. Because once you cut those tissues, even laparoscopically, they don’t repair themselves as well. The fascial system is disrupted and that’s so important. How did it affect you though, having done all these different sports where you’re like, “But yeah, okay. I’m a powerlifter, but I also did all these other sports back in high school. I did figure competition so I’m well-rounded.” How did that affect you? Was that kind of like a rude awakening? Like, “Oh, you think you are. But really, I don’t think so”?

Kellie Davis:

Yeah. I mean, it was a shock to my ego, but it really made me look at all the excuses that I made for myself over the years. Like, “Oh, well, I just genetically blah, blah, blah.” We just always blame it on our genetics. But it made me really look at my own training regimen and my own goals and ideals about what I wanted my life and my body to look like and feel like. Honestly, I think it was one of the best things that’s ever happened to me because it’s changed how I train for the better. I’m more focused on balance, on stability, on all the little crucial elements that we tend to ignore, especially when we’re in activities that are repetitive. We don’t think about the things.

If you’ve run track, going around the turns over and over, and over again, just that repetitive turning in the same direction multiple times, how that wears on your hips and how you just develop all these different discrepancies in your body. It really made me take a long, hard look at what I had done to my body over the years in more of a fascinating way. Because we don’t ever truly think about the repetitive nature of our movements until perhaps there is a loss within the body, whatever that might look like. Whether we lose mobility, whether there’s wear and tear, whether there’s an injury, a break. So I was absolutely fascinated. I didn’t look at it as anything detrimental. It definitely put my ego in check, which I think I needed, but it just made me more curious. I got really, really curious about different mechanisms of training and just the benefits and deficits in each one of those.

Menachem Brodie:

Would you be willing to talk a little bit about that shift of, “Well, huh. Well, if I was doing powerlifting before, then maybe X is going to be better”? How was that? Were you one of those people that were, “I’m a powerlifter. I can’t do that. Sets of 10 I never do more than sets of five”? I had a powerlifter like that, where I was like, “Okay, we’re going to do a set.” And he’s like, “Oh, the bar’s really light.” I’m like, “It’s okay. It’s a set of one. You’ve got one and two.” He got the 10. He didn’t think it was funny.

Kellie Davis:

No, I was never like that. I was always really exploratory in the gym. I didn’t even really consider myself a powerlifter. I was not great at it. I just did it just for something to do. I’m the type of person where I’m always looking, like I’ll try anything once. I trained with a eight-man road team over the summer. I didn’t do any of the regattas because they just overlapped with my kids’ schedules. But I’m just always looking to try something just to see, am I going to like it? I’ve always been curious about this. So I never really looked at myself as fitting into any specific form of athleticism as an adult. Of course, as a kid, that was different.

So I didn’t have this innate fear that I’m never going to do a powerlifting meet again, or I’m never going to test my one rep max squat or whatever. But it really made me look at my body, especially my trunk. I had so many compensation patterns and weaknesses in my trunk’s stability. That’s what I got super curious about. And then I started reading so much about, just a trickle-down effect, when you have a lot of instability within the trunk, within the spine, the pelvis, the shoulders. How that just trickles down to everything else in the body, I found that super fascinating. So just working on all the little minutia that people hate.

PART 1 OF 4 ENDS [00:24:04]

Kellie Davis:

So just working on all the little minutia that people hate in training. All the scap pull-ups and scap pushups, and just doing long levered planks and all the really boring nitty-gritty things. Those are the things that I’ve just really grown to adopt and love in my programming, because it’s actually made me genuinely strong.

I’m not lifting as much, but the other day I pulled 265 in the gym having not lifted heavy in a really long time. And my form was spot on and it felt easy. Whereas, before I would’ve been like a grind session. So just really being in tune and knowing all those little muscles that you see in the anatomy book that you’re like, “Oh, I got to memorize those.”

Those are the muscles that are important because they’re the ones that are our protective mechanisms around the joints that we tend to ignore. We like to focus on the big muscles that … the power muscles, when, it’s all the little refinements in the smaller muscles that make the biggest difference I feel.

Menachem Brodie:

And that is such an important thing for cyclists and triathletes to hear, because they all want to do the deadlifts and the squats and the leg press, and I think if anybody says they don’t love the leg press, they’re lying because let’s not kid ourselves, aside from loading all those plates on, it’s a good feeling to put 400 on there and be like, “Oh yeah, I did 400.” Well, minus the 33% for the angle and then you minus … Let’s get into that a little bit, because there’s a lot there.

I twisted my knee, just something small. We know that dehydration and not mentally being present for a session, increased risk of injury. I did that on Friday. I was just warming up with my last set of slam balls, very light, like five kilos, two sets of three aside, no big deal.

I just kind of cut my knee and that feeling of that femur is going somewhere doesn’t belong in the knee and you’re like, no pops, no cracks, but you’re suffering with it. My sister’s a physical therapist so, she’s like, “You have to get [evaled 00:26:17] in person.” And I’m like, “Oh, I’m just.”

So we all have that and especially cyclists and triathletes, I mean, we’re so guilty of, we want to do something that makes us feel good. And as we heard with Dr. McGill, that’s where most cyclists get hurt is they go into the gym and they’re lifting weights that they shouldn’t.

Kellie Davis:


Menachem Brodie:

What are your thoughts on how do we come or how do we wrap our heads around, “Hey, the [inaudible 00:26:41] smaller, the pop Lydia’s is pretty important. Your rotator cuff, the serratus anterior pretty important. Shoulders for a cyclist, pretty important. What was that process like? How did you make that connection to now lifting up 265 and be like, “All right, let’s put 300 on the bar.”

Kellie Davis:

Yeah. And I didn’t associate it. Everyone’s like, “Oh, to get better at squatting, you need to squat, to get better at deadlifting you need a deadlift.” Same as cycling, running, whatever it is, swimming. Obviously, that is part of the process but you have to look at your body as a whole and not as some of its parts.

And I think for me, and for many, the little things that are super hard and humiliating are the things that we need to be doing. Everyone hates planks, because if you do a plank right, you’re shaking and you’re panting and you want to pass out. Just all the things that people hate. The single leg balance work, just learning how to get your shoulders unglued from your ribs, so that you have movement in the thoracic spine.

All those little things, the serratus and the supportive tissue inside the rotator cuff so that, everything is sitting in the right spot and moving the right way. They’re not sexy. They’re not things that you brag about. So it’s like we’re constantly in this competition with ourselves to best ourselves, but we don’t realize in this process of competition, we’re actually having some breakdown in the body.

So I realized, if I didn’t start working on these things, breathing is huge, getting your breath to move in that 360 degree canister, so that your ribs are moving in and out. All those things that I never really thought about because all I focused was on the big rocks.

Once I started just honing in and really focusing on all the finer details that went into my training, I felt better. The little nagging, aches and pains that I live with every day and I just attributed it to, “Oh yeah, this is just life.” they went away.

All the trigger points in my scapula, the tension in my neck, the constant my pair of spinals in my lower spine, just used to feel like rocks and I thought they weren’t supposed to. Just hip positioning. I remember, for years I couldn’t sleep on my side because my legs literally would not close.

My hips were so jacked up that they were stuck. And so I’d lay on my side, and I could have a gap between my knees and I have to shove a pillow in there. All these things I just thought were normal. “Oh yeah, that’s just how my body works.”

They started going away and it’s like, as I’m getting older, my aches and pains are actually lessening, which made me think there is lot of validity to all of this stuff that I ignored. Simply because it wasn’t sexy honestly. I think that’s why people don’t do it.

Menachem Brodie:

Yeah. Especially with Instagram. Peter Sagan squatted 120 kilos. Dude, he’s a professional cycle … And LeBron. I work with developmental basketball players as well. “Show me the workouts that’s Lebron’s doing.” I’m like, “What was he doing when he was your age?” They’re like, “Oh, he’s doing the same thing.” “No dude, definitely not.”

But let’s get into this a bit more, because you just hit on a really, really big thing. And that is, as you get older, having these aches and pains isn’t normal. We all think, “Oh yeah, you hit 30, you hit 40, oh wait until you hit 50.” There is a certain point in life where certainly the body’s going to break down, because that’s what it does, right?

Oxygen technically kills you. Too much water can kill you. What about making … You’re talking about doing planks correctly. A lot of endurance athletes love, “Oh, I can hold a five minute plank.” And you see them, their butts up in the air or one knee’s out to the side. What was the process like and how did you come to the realization that that technique really matters, it’s not just lifting the weight or performing a movement. Was that something you learned at a young age or it was a hard knock kind of a process?

Kellie Davis:

It was definitely a hard knock process. I had been convinced by trainers that I had worked with in the past that I had some genetic anormalies. I was genetically an anterior pelvic tilt. I was genetically weak in my upper body. My arms used to be able to fit your full, a man could fit his index finger and thumb around my arms. That’s how tiny my arms were when I was young adult.

So I just always thought, “Oh yeah, I’m just going to have a skinny, upper body. I’m naturally an anterior tilt.” Just all these things I had convinced myself of. I had leg length discrepancies. You got chiropractors, they all tell you that. Just random issues with my body that I’m like, “Oh yeah, that’s just my body.”

So I was pretty stubborn and hotheaded about it for a long time, but I didn’t want to live in chronic pain anymore. And it wasn’t anything debilitating, but it was there. Little nagging, aches and pains that I would wake up with every single day. And, I’d spend gobs of money going to manual therapist, spas, chiropractors, just trying to mask the symptoms.

And I just didn’t want to live like that anymore. So I really looked back and evaluated this belief system that I had created around my body. And I started questioning, whether or not it was true. And I realized I was the only one that could fix these things. But I also think there’s … Obviously with us we’re professionals, but just with your general, whether you’re a weekend warrior or a more competitive athlete, that knowledge base isn’t there.

So understanding truly what your deep core muscles are. Everyone focuses on that six pack, understanding what pelvic alignment and stability is. When should my spine be rigid? When should I have more flexion, extension and rotation in my spine? A lot of people in everyday life don’t know these things exist.

They don’t think about what is upward rotation in my shoulders. So that’s why I always think it’s important if you are on any type of athletic endeavor and it fits into your budget, that you should work with a true professional. Not just the kid at the gym, who’s coming out of college and making 25 bucks an hour. Sure yeah, he deserves to work as well.

But if you’re really trying to level up, whatever it is that you’re doing, it’s so important to get the hands of a true professional on your body to tell you exactly what you need to work on rather than just guessing or assuming this is just how I am.

Menachem Brodie:

And there’s so much in this. And you’re hitting on some really great topics here. That not just cyclists and triathletes, but anybody who’s chasing fitness or being in better shape, whatever your definition is, need to hear. I’m going to say something.

If you hear two people laughing, a previous intern and good friend of mine now, Usher just walked in, so if you hear to two people laughing I think that’s why. I posted an exercise. I can’t remember if it was, “How to properly do the McGill crunch video I put up or the chin tuck head lift exercise if you’re familiar with that. So somebody commented, “This exercise makes me shake like a constipated dog.”

Kellie Davis:

Oh my God. Yeah.

Menachem Brodie:

Think about that, this is serious. I lost it, I almost cried. But in my head I’m like, “Holy cow, this is really bad.” These are basic muscles that as an adult should be firing, and if you’re struggling that much, that’s a really big red flag.” And yet, so many individuals think, “How much do you bench bro or how much do you squat?”

And it’s just so far from the truth and what actually is happening inside. And you said two things. One is masking the symptoms by doing the release and the massage and the spas. I think this is a rampant problem we have not just with endurance athletes, especially triathletes, but as a whole for the general fitness is they’re like, “Oh, well I’ll just trigger point the crap out of myself and I feel better.”

Well, what are you doing? You’re overriding the fact that, that muscle is trying to do its job of protecting the joint because it’s being overpowered or something’s out of whack in that joint. And then you feel better for an hour and a half. And I’m totally guilty of it.

When I had my FAI start-up, that’s what I did and then my therapist, thankfully Laura, gave me a good, hard whack. She’s like, “What are you doing? You have so much mobility.” I’m like, “Yeah, it’s great. Isn’t it?” She’s like, “No, this is bad, what you’re doing.”

She’s like, “How did you feel last night after you foam roll?” I was like, “Great.” She’s like, “How did you feel this morning?” I was like, “Awful, the worst I ever had.” She’s like, “How long did you foam roll?” “Hour and a half.”

And she slapped me again. She’s like, “You’ve got to be kidding me, you know better than that.” And people just look for the mask. “If I get these compression boots, then I’m going to recover faster.” Well, how about you turn off Netflix and sleep for another hour? Sorry that’s my soapbox.

Kellie Davis:

Yeah. Just small little … It’s fascinating to me and I can honestly say that I’ve been guilty of this. At time, I’ve developed so much more awareness as I get older, but it’s fascinating to me how people choose to spend their time, energy and money. So it’s like, am I going to spend my time, energy and money on all these little gadgets and gizmos that are just band-aiding the issue, or am I going to invest more in my overall health like you said?

Am I getting enough sleep? Am I meditating? Am I in the parasympathetic state enough throughout my day? How am I managing my stress? Am I using caffeine to mask the fact that I’m not sleeping enough? What is that doing to my body? Do I calm down at the end of the day with a few glasses of wine because I’m so wound up?

Just really evaluating your overall state of wellbeing and realizing that these are the things that are crucial and essential to our performance, not just our athletic performance, but our everyday life performance. How we show up for our careers, how we show up for our families, our friends. how we are as romantic partners?

So it’s almost like we’re just throwing money at the problem rather than searching for that real solution that is typically right inside of us. It’s not the latest gadget or gizmo or quick fix, like cryotherapy or, infrared saunas or whatever it is. And it’s like, “No, it’s something in my life. It’s a habit that I need to reform and change in order to level up my performance in everyday life.”

Menachem Brodie:

And that’s really interesting. I mean, you just listed about 18 different things that a lot of athletes say. “Well, red wine is good for me. It has polyphenols, which help me recover.” Well, actually, if you drink wine before bed, alcohol is a stimulant, so you’re not going to get as good recovery talking about the saunas.

And the thing with recovery methods also is, it sounds like you’ve gone through this. I believe you used the terminology throwing gobs of money at it. Everybody thinks “Well, if I just recover better.” But it really comes down to simple things. I saw, I guess it would be a meme technically on Facebook a couple years ago. And it’s [inaudible 00:39:13] three, fitness, social, work, sleep, and I can’t remember what the fifth one was. Family, that’s what it was.

So, I mean, and it really does come down to, there’s only so many hours in the day and only so much focus, and throwing on tons of recovery things, creams and boots and alcohol or whatever it may be, isn’t going to do it. It really is the basics. What was your-

Kellie Davis:

Yeah, absolutely.

Menachem Brodie:

What was your process like? Because it sounds like, and I’m throwing pickles with mayonnaise at the glass here and see what sticks and races down. But what was it? It sounds like you went through that as well with all the recovery methods. When did that light bulb go off? Was it the doctor? Was it something you read? When did you realize “Oh, I just should go back to basics and better round my training.”

Kellie Davis:

Yeah. I would love to say that it was a light bulb. It was more like a slow rising of the dimmer. You have the dimmer on the dining room lights. Very slowly, over many, many years, the light finally shone brighter. It’s just constant reevaluating my habits, my life. Everyone believes, “Oh, I’m stuck in my ways.” Which isn’t true, you have the power to change anything about yourself.

You just have to have changed the thoughts in your head about whatever that you’re doing. And it has to be something that you really want. You can’t will yourself to do anything. So we all have our own internal drivers. What drives me might not drive you or might not drive an audience member.

So it’s just a matter of figuring out what drives you, what compels you? What will be easy in your life to reform without feeling like you’re completely overhauling everything you’re doing. And I’m a huge believer in education. Like you mentioned, I’m a lifelong student, I’m a voracious reader. I read and listen to so much stuff. In fact, I had a conversation with my friend the other day. She’s like, “Kelly, stop consuming so much information because you’re going to drive yourself crazy.” But I just feel like we have to have this element of curiosity about ourselves as human beings.

So I’ll question everything. You mentioned red wine. We’ve been taught as a society because it’s sexy and it sells that alcohol on certain levels is good for us, as long as we moderate it, right? And I’m not like a prohibitionist or anything. But get curious about that. Alcohol is a poison, it’s toxic. It’s been known and related to so many different forms of cancer.

Alcohol kills more people in our country than the top five combined things like heart disease, cancer, whatever. So we really have to start getting curious about our beliefs about certain things. I enjoy a good glass of wine at any given moment, but there’s no way that I’m convincing myself it’s a healthy habit.

It’s like, it intoxicates you, how can that be good for you? So there’s just certain things in our life that we really have to ask, “Is this providing value to me?” If it’s not, “Why am I holding onto this thing?” What within me tells me that I need this? Whether like for you, “Oh yeah, I foam roll for an hour and a half.” Reflectively now you’re like, “Man, that’s kind of nuts.” But back then, for some reason you held onto that belief about that thing until somebody intervened and said, “Hey, I want you to reframe this and look at it in a different way.”

I am a huge advocate. If everything’s working for you, if you feel on top of the world, if you’re athletic pursuits, be it for fun or for competition, if they’re going great. If you wake up jumping out of your bed feeling, like you’re on top of the world, your relationships are perfect, your work is going well, then don’t change a thing, keep going until it starts breaking down.

But if you’re questioning a lot about your lifestyle choices, about your athletic endeavors, about the way your life is going, start taking inventory, and start really breaking down and looking at your daily habits.

Be it behavioral, be it’s food or movement associated and start breaking it down and really piecing it out and saying, “Is this thing serving me? Is my belief about this thing true? Do I need to get curious about it? Should I hold onto it? Should I reform it?”

And it’s an ever evolving process. This is something that I wake up and think about every single day. I know I sound like a nut job when I say that. But every effort that we make is a conscious choice and our life is just that we wake up every day and make a series of choices.

So at any point in your day, you can evaluate a choice that you’re making and decide, “Do I want to choose differently at this point?” And that’s really how I approach my own fitness and nutrition. And I don’t try to convince myself that anything is good or bad for me.

It’s like, yeah, I’m making this choice, I’m going to eat this thing and I don’t … I’m going to eat this cheeseburger, I’m not looking at it as a reward. I’m not looking at it as something I earned. I’m not looking at it as a treat or a cheat. It’s something I’m going to enjoy in the moment and not think about again, other than that it was delicious and that it didn’t do any damage.

It’s like everyday we wake up and just make conscious choices about our body. And we have to be brutally honest with ourselves because the only person we’re lying to is us. And it’s damaging to our own well-being if we’re lying about our choices.

Menachem Brodie:

I think that’s the hard part. You mentioned if it’s working for you, keep going. I’m a big fan of, if what’s working for you, or you’re not sure, do it for two weeks and see how you feel. Sometimes the end of the first week, you’re like, “Yep, nope that’s not going to happen.” And that’s part of the challenge as a triathlete and a cyclist. And my mantra here at Human Vortex Training since day one, well since day one, it technically was, live it. Love it. Be it. Train smarter, not harder. And we’ve kind of transitioned over to train smarter, not harder, which apparently has caught on.

But it’s one of those things where it just sneaks up on you because it’s those small habits that have rounding of the shoulders a little bit that sneaks up on you over time. And it’s so hard for us to be objective about things because we’re like, “Oh no, this hasn’t been bothering me that long. it’s just a little something.”

But if you go back and you’re keeping a good training log, you’re like, “Wow, this has been three months that it’s not gone away, I should probably have that looked out.”

And it seems like two things happen. One is a lot of athletes don’t go back every month or two and mind their training logs to see for what good and bad trends they have, or if they do keep a training log, they don’t write any notes. They’re just like, “Oh, for cycling and triathlon, it’s like riding down your weights.” They write down the power numbers, and their heart rate and that’s it.

It’s like, well, how did you feel on that day? Where were you mentally? What was going on? What bothered you during or after? And it’s that small little one, questioning of things and two, keeping track. And it sounds like that’s something that you’ve actually done quite a bit of, whether it’s day by day or week by week.

Have you found with technology that you’re able to more easily stay in touch with how you’re feeling and what things are going or what you’re doing in your lifting, or are you still the classic notebook and pen kind of girl?

Kellie Davis:

So my biggest thing that I’ve learned, is that the less physically demanding our lives become, and our lives are so luxurious. I mean, how many of us will spend 20 minutes digging through the sofa looking for the remote rather than walking up to the TV and changing?.

So the more luxury we have in our lives, the less physically demanding our lives become, the less body awareness we have. And it’s almost like we’re so detached from our bodies from a day-to-day perspective that we don’t notice until something goes wrong, until our body sends out the signal, the screenings …

PART 2 OF 4 ENDS [00:48:04]

Kellie Davis:

… sent until something goes wrong until our body sends out this signal, this screening signal of like, “Hey, pay attention to me,” whether it’s our clothes don’t fit anymore, or we’re noticing hair loss, or our skin is sagging, or we do have some type of ache or pain or discomfort in our body that our body is sending these messages, so for me, I’m not a huge logger. I’m not a tracker. I buck the system all the time, but I’ve just worked really, really hard on those little touchpoints throughout the day, doing check-ins with myself: “Hey, how am I feeling right now? How is my posture?” I don’t have a timer. I’m very self-disciplined. I mastered the art of control and so that’s how my brain works. But I do believe as you noted, it is vitally important that we stay in tune with our entire body and not just the systems and processes we’ve developed around our body.

I don’t work with athletes. I do have some athletes that I train, but I don’t consider myself an athletic trainer. Women that come to me, they just want to look and feel better, and one of the first things that I do is I have them send me photos. Most of my clientele is online. Obviously, at first, they’re self-conscious and I’m like, “Look, I’m looking at your structure. I’m looking at the way you breathe. I’m looking at your posture, your alignment, your positioning.”

Some women will come to me and say, “Hey, I’d love to lose 10 pounds,” and I said, “I guarantee if you correct your posture and alignment, that 10 pounds won’t matter because we don’t realize how when our bodies are out of whack and we’re lacking that body awareness, how it affects the way we look.” I have a client right now, Katie, she’s been working really, really hard on her posture, and she’s like, “It’s changed my life.” She looks different. She feels better. She stands taller. She’s in a very male-dominated industry, so people take her more seriously in her office. People maintain eye contact, they’re having different conversations with her. These are the types of things that I like to work on with people.

The numbers, we can chase numbers all day long. Great, wonderful. You’ve built up your squat, you’ve bested your race, whatever good, but that’s not the only data you need to be collecting on your body. It’s so much bigger than that. Sure, you can use notebooks, you can use apps, whatever mechanisms work for you, but it’s about having those little check-ins with yourself. If you’re in a seated desk all day long, every 15, 20 minutes, do a posture check. Measure your water. That’s something that I tell people all the time, bring an actual pre-measured half gallon of water to work. You can tell yourself, “Oh, I refilled my cup five times,” but maybe you’ve only done it twice and you don’t know, so it’s just a matter of developing those mechanisms of self-awareness, and they look different to everyone, so it’s a matter of finding what works for you, I guess.

Menachem Brodie:

That’s something that in your Instagram, I really noticed, and we’re going to use this to shift a little bit, but that’s one of the things I really… There are a few professionals, not a lot, that I really enjoy the stories and what they’re doing on Instagram. It’s not the cool stuff or the flashy stuff, but it’s stuff that’s fundamentally sound. Can you share with our audience your Instagram? I think you also did some of this a little bit on YouTube as well, is that correct?

Kellie Davis:

What are we referencing?

Menachem Brodie:

Sharing the stories, like talking about real life and balancing things and…

Kellie Davis:

Oh, yeah. Not so much on YouTube. Definitely Facebook, but I would say Instagram is the best place to follow me, it’s Kellie Davis Fit. That’s where a majority of my content ends up. But yeah, I just like to relate the components of what we’re doing in the gym, on the track, on the road, whatever, wherever our space is that we like to perform relating that to our everyday life, because it really is symbiotic and I don’t think that we have these hard delineations. We’re not compartmentalizing our lives and, “Oh, this is my gym life. This is my training life. This is my work life. This is my family life.” It’s like a symbiotic relationship that we have to create in order to see success in all those areas.

Speaker 1:

Okay. Fasten your seat belts. You’re listening to The Strong, Savvy Cyclist and Triathlete Podcast with Coach Menachem Brodie. Don’t forget to subscribe.

Menachem Brodie:

Let’s use that for a little bit of a pivot here because you know, the Instagram, by the way, K-E-L-L-I-E Davis Fit, correct?

Kellie Davis:

Yes, yes.

Menachem Brodie:

Okay, just want to make sure because that could be the wrong person, like, “This isn’t the person I was looking for,” but you mentioned about-

Kellie Davis:

These are all cat videos. What are they talking about?

Menachem Brodie:

… Puppy videos? What’s that? But you’re talking about interweaving and recognizing that just because you’re doing strength training or bodybuilding or cycling or whatever it may be, your life is very much intertwined, and that’s something that you’ve really done and shared on Instagram in particular was there was a post a couple of weeks ago that you had, or maybe months at this point, about teaching your kids it’s okay to mess up. How do you balance parenting and balance working out while you’re teaching your kids a truly healthy lifestyle?

Kellie Davis:

Yeah, it’s interesting. I’ve never really pushed my kids in any one direction when it comes to sports or exercise or activities. If they show an interest in something, I definitely support it. My daughter, who’s now 16, she just started working out last year. It’s on her own terms. She doesn’t want to work out in front of me. Sometimes she’ll work out with me, which I love, but it’s like her own little sacred space that she creates for herself. My son is 13. He’s been in and out of the gym with me for years ever since he was little, but for him, it was always just that sort of instant gratification: “Oh, Mom got a new toy. I want to play with it,” type thing, and then he’d get bored and go do something else, but he’s always been an athlete.

But yeah, I just let them see what I’m doing and see how it benefits me and then it’s an open invitation into that space whenever it feels right to them, and if it feels right to them, but I feel like the things that I learned about my own body and the way I challenge myself in the gym, and I see this with my clients. I mostly work with women. I’m not anti-men, that’s just where I’ve gravitated. I do have some couples that I train. Typically, it starts with the wife and then the husband’s like, “Hey, you’re looking pretty damn good. I want that, too.”

Sorry, I lost my train of thought, but I just see when I challenge myself in the gym to get better, how that carries over into different challenges that I face in life and I see this with the women I work with as well. There’s just something so empowering when you master that thing that you once thought was impossible, and that shows up so much in our training, whether it’s in the gym, whether it’s in our sports. When we start mastering and facing and defeating these challenges, these physical challenges. It helps us show up differently in the world, so I think by having that sacred space, that time in the gym where I can just really focus on bettering my physical and mental health, it makes me a better parent. I’m calmer. I’m more rational. I think before I act, I’m able to have really genuine conversations with my kids. I’m a better listener because I’ve defied the odds of what I thought my body was possible of doing. I just think it shapes and transforms who you are in such a unique way.

Now, my son likes going to the gym with me. He likes to learn things. He likes to be pushed and challenged. Sometimes he’ll just show up and hang out with me if I’m filming and that’s like our bonding time. As a parent, I really think it’s not only valuable to take care of your body and let your kids participate and see you doing that, but it also just grounds you. It’s that sacred space, that time in your day where you can just unleash and let go any stress intention, so you’re not carrying that home with you. It allows you to stay in that parasympathetic state. Post-workout, we’re all kind of in that bliss after our workouts. There’s just so many benefits that I believe strength training can bring into other areas of your life. I certainly don’t think I would be the person I am today, the parent I am today, had I not fallen in love with strength training. I really don’t.

Menachem Brodie:

Well, I think that’s something that a lot of cyclist and triathlete parents feel as well. I’m really curious to hear, how did you change your presentation or how you spoke about training once you started to have that recognition? As you said a little bit earlier, instead of just having these big stones, I’m looking at the smaller exercises and movements and deficiencies where exercise is a luxury, but movement is necessary. How did getting “genuinely strong,” as you called it, how did that affect how you interacted and spoke with your kids about fitness and what fitness was and staying well-balanced?

Kellie Davis:

Yeah. It’s different for both of them. For my daughter, we really hone in on the mental health aspects. She’s 16 going through just the typical life changes that 16-year-olds go through. She’s coming up on that time in her life where she’s going to have to make some pretty big decisions, and just having that mental health component mixed into, “Why are we doing this?” Obviously, for young girls, young women, there’s such that pressure to look a certain way, to have that specific body, and I feel like there’s even more pressure now because they’re exposed to so much social media, what they see in movies, and on television. The pressure’s tenfold to what I experienced and I felt it was pretty darn… There was a lot of pressure when I was her age, so with her, I try to shift the conversation. Obviously, it’s okay to want your body to look a certain way. That’s perfectly fine, but we’re going to shift the conversation to how this will help you manage stress in your life, how this will help you show up differently in your classwork, and in your relationships with your peers.

Then with my son, it’s more focused on his athletic pursuits, but we also have those conversations about the full health benefits that exercise can bring into your life. We talk about longevity and they see it with their grandparents and great-grandparents and how their health is changing as they get older, so we talk about we’re in this for the long haul. It’s not about this six weeks until bikini season or getting ready for football season or whatever it is. It’s like, this is like a lifelong investment that you’re making into your body and what do you want your life to look like when you’re older, so we do have those conversations as well.

Menachem Brodie:

It sounds like you really are teaching a holistic approach. I think, in my opinion, a lot of parents are missing that, where it’s all about performance. I know Eric Cressey has gone on record a number of times saying, “We have a problem here in the States where a kid can throw 90 miles an hour. He can hit opposite field, center field, right field. He can throw on a rope from outfield to the cutoff, but they can’t play a simple game of catch,” and there’s other professionals talking about how kids nowadays are missing the mental tools that they need to deal with adversity and failures, essentially. How do you interweave these things into your interactions? Is it using small things or big things that come up and trying to teach them different skills and tools that you had, or do you try and prepare them for those bigger events ahead of time by, “This is a tool that was useful for me, so it must be a useful for my daughter at this point”?

Kellie Davis:

I guess it would be a mixed bag. You’re so right, how structured our kids’ lives have become. I live in the suburbs of Sacramento and I was absolutely shocked when we moved here, how quiet our streets are. Kids are always in something structured. I’ve always been the one that like, “All right, guys, go out and play, just be home for dinner.” I want my kids outside all day long. As they get older, that changes. My daughter’s different. My son still plays outside all the time.

But it’s like, everything is just hyper-structured and kids are in constant activities. I just feel emotionally that they’re not prepared for challenges in life because everything is structured and plans and they’re constantly having somebody mentoring them through something, which on some level, it’s good to have mentorship, but you also have to figure life out on its own, like, “If I climb up this tree, do I know how to get back down?” versus, “Well, my coach is going to talk me through it,” type thing, so there’s definitely the social and emotional aspect of play, the art of play that we’ve lost, and just the constant pressure as a kid to perform is tremendous.

You hear time and again, by middle school, early high school kids are just burned out on a sport that they’ve invested into their entire lives because there’s such a huge pressure to perform. Kids are getting pitching coaches when they’re seven years old and that’s fascinating to me, but also just the wear and tear on the body. We’re seeing injuries in kids that they shouldn’t be getting simply because of the repetitiveness of their training that’s going on.

Just a loss of imagination as well. One of the best things about being a kid is just using your imagination and exploring, figuring out how the world works. I feel like because their lives have become so structured that they lose that really, really early on, which I think is sad, so yeah, these are definitely conversations that I have. As my son, he’s in seventh grade now. He is getting more into structure, like he’s in alignment camp right now, which is every Sunday, and then he does footwork camp as well, which I look at it as the comradery. I don’t take these things seriously. I’m like, “You know what? Go out and have fun.” I don’t sit there and watch. I don’t ask them for play-by-plays on what they did. I don’t talk to the coaches to see what he’s working on. I’m like, “Go out there, have some fun. Work on your social skills, be with your friends, I’ll see you in two hours, whatever.”

Yeah, I think that we’ve definitely robbed our kids of the art of play, of the art of creativity and exploration by putting them in these little structured boxes all the time, so those are definitely conversations that I like to have with my kids, like, “Why are we doing this? Are you having fun? Are you learning from it?” Those are the biggest things: “Are you having fun? Are you learning? If that stops happening, then let’s reevaluate why we’re doing this.”

Menachem Brodie:

That’s so prevalent. The basketball kids, there’s a kid that I have. He’s going through a growth spurt. He’s about 6’4″, big kid. I mean, he’s going to probably be 6’8″, 6’10”. If not, he’s going to have abnormally large hands and feet, but he’s going through a growth spurt and his coordination’s off, his shot’s off, he’s not able to run as well. His dad’s got a good head on his shoulders, he understands the process, but the program, the coaches are already telling him, “Oh, you’re not going play for the team next year.”

What’s happened? This is just off the cuff. This is just me thinking out loud. How do we as fitness professionals combat this? Because when I talked to some parents, I’m like, “Look.” I had a parent come up to me and ask me, “Can you work on my kid for this strength stuff? Because I see that you’re the coach here for the team and I really like how you do stuff,” and I started talking to him because I realized the kid is really talented, but he’s way behind on the growth scale, both size and height, and he’s doing things that adult men can’t do. I’m just like, “That means his on-court time for structure is so high, the body doesn’t have process to grow,” so he’s like, “Oh, he’s playing basketball six days a week, about two to four hours, five, if he has team practice. But it’s okay. He’s also doing Brazilian jujitsu one day a week.”

I’m like, “Dude, he needs a day off. Let him go play…” What’s it called? I used to play Davy Crockett, although they don’t know what that is here. Go out and play, let him do other stuff, and he’s like, “No, no, no, no. It’s okay. I’d like for him to work with you two or three days a week.” I turned him down because I’m like, “It’s not the right thing to do by the kid,” but I know a lot of coaches, unfortunately, a large amount would be like, “Oh, yeah. This dad is motivated. He’s going to pay it’s a regular client.” How do we as an industry and as professionals help get this message across that kids need to be kids? Their schedule should not be more busy than yours.

Kellie Davis:

Yeah, absolutely. It’s tough. I mean, we live in such a competitive environment and everyone’s on social media now, so everyone’s seeing what everyone else’s kid’s doing. There’s just this pressure, there’s such a tremendous amount of pressure from a young age that kids lives are supposed to be mapped out, where you’re going to go to this… When I first moved here, the biggest question that people asked me was what high school my kids were going to go to. My son was in first grade. I’m like, “What are you talking about?”

Menachem Brodie:

You’re kidding.

Kellie Davis:

“Well, where you live determines what high school they want to go to and it depends on what football or baseball program he wants to be fed into.” I’m like, “He’s seven. I don’t care.” Then as you get into the upper elementary, everyone’s talking about, “Well, have they talked about what university they want to go to?” I’m like, “I don’t even know if my kids want to go to university. Let them figure it out as they get older.” It’s just this constant pressure to what’s the next step, what’s the next step, what’s the next step? I think the best training that kids can get is going to the park and building bike ramps with their friends. I love when my son does that, or tromping through the woods, or fishing in the lake, or building swing trees. There’s no better training for any type of sport than just the freedom to play how they want to play.

I don’t know if there’s a way to convince people otherwise until we start seeing, like I said, that sort of body awareness thing happened where, like the news around concussions stemmed this whole exodus from the football industry, as there’s a lot of young kids that aren’t playing football anymore, but nobody talks about the risk of concussion in girls soccer or lacrosse or any other sport that they’re… There’s risk of concussion and everything and the more you stick your kids into these structured play, the more risk they’re going to be at. There’s so much risk for knee and shoulder injuries in basketball. If they’re playing six days a week like it’s a part-time job, your kid’s more likely to be at risk of injury. He’s way more likely to get hurt playing basketball six days a week than he is jumping his bike off a ramp.

It’s just, I don’t know. I don’t know when we stopped letting kids be kids and when we became this ultra-competitive society, but I don’t know if there’s a clear-cut solution for it, but the risk of burnout is huge. I mean, kids have mental health issues that they didn’t use to have to deal with, like stress and anxiety and depression. Kids are getting depression in middle school and it’s just, I don’t know, I find it all fascinating and sad at the same time.

Menachem Brodie:

Same. I think we should have a separate conversation on kids’ development because I have so many questions we can go down, but we’re going to take a hard pivot back on track, but it’s such an important topic that people don’t talk about, especially for cyclists at a junior level, they’re 15, 16, 17 years old out there on the road or on the track for many hours, and granted, cycling is a low-impact sport, but I think you hit my big concern is the mental health. They’re developing. These are developing brains. What are they going through? What are the stresses they’re going through? Do they know what regular life is? Can they put down and go play video games for a little bit? I find myself awkwardly saying, “Can they go play video games?” because I remember I used to grow up. Eighth grade, I spent the summer conquering Nintendo 64 007 and I was really out of shape, but that’s also the year I made the decision to never be like that again.

Kellie Davis:

Well, yeah, and you turned out okay.

Menachem Brodie:


Kellie Davis:

You turned out okay. It’s like, I don’t know, I just feel like we shouldn’t have to micromanage our children. We should trust that they’re going to… Kids are way smarter than we give them credit for. Absolutely. Yeah, it’s like there’s going to school is a full-time job, and then we’re tacking on training and sports on top of that, it’s like our kids have two full-time jobs, and then it becomes a second full-time job as parents to manage their schedules. The thing that’s lacking is that dinner conversation that you get to have at the end of the day.

PART 3 OF 4 ENDS [01:12:04]

Kellie Davis:

Thing is that dinner conversation that you get to have at the end of the day, that Saturday afternoon that you sit out on the lake with a couple of fishing poles having that heart-to-heart conversation, because your kid’s in 12 basketball, tournament’s. Those are the defining moments in their lives that truly have an impact. And I feel like kids are missing out on that because their schedules are so jam packed and all their parents are worrying about is the next step, when you should be living in the moment with your kids, because you don’t get that time back.

Menachem Brodie:

Love it. And it’s all overlooked. I mean, yeah. We’re going to do a hard pivot. I’m going to do a really hard pivot. So I apologize for shifting too much. Let’s talk about the shift that you had in working out during and post-pregnancy, the changes and things that you wish you’d had to help or know. And you mentioned earlier about 360 breathing and being able to understand what real training was. What were some surprises you had as you went through pregnancy and working out and post-pregnancy?

Kellie Davis:

Yeah, so I’m a lot different than most people. I had my kids young, and I didn’t know anything about exercise. I grew up playing sports. I liked going to the gym. I had no idea what I was doing. And so, when I got pregnant with my daughter, I actually knew that I was pregnant because I was running on the treadmill and I got really lightheaded. And it kept happening to me over and over again. I’m like, what is wrong with me? And then I had that light bulb go off. So I actually stopped exercising because I associated not feeling well with exercise.

And then, I had my son three years later, and I gained a substantial amount of weight. I had a high-risk pregnancy. I was on bed rest, which I don’t know what that means when you have a toddler, but it happens. And then, I just felt this deep sense of shame about how I had let my body go. So after I had my son, I didn’t go back to the gym. I would try little things, like I would have the DVDs that I would play at home and try that when they were napping. I got the jogging stroller and I tried many different mechanisms, but I just had such a deep sense of shame about my body, because my body was my pride and joy. I was always thin and athletic. And then all of a sudden, I was overweight and I just felt uncomfortable in my own skin.

So I didn’t do anything right as a pregnant person, pre and postnatal for years. I think my son was two and a half when I finally went back to the gym. So I had a very, very long hiatus. Obviously, now we have a lot more awareness about the body. I mean, content on the internet is very generous. There’s some tremendous resources out there for women. Rules have changed around strength training, so it’s a lot different now. But I feel like the most important thing for women, whether you’re planning to get pregnant, whether you don’t plan to get pregnant, and it just happens. Either way, is understanding that pregnancy is not the right time to start a new exercise regimen. So if you weren’t working out before you got pregnant, totally fine. It’s okay. But don’t start weightlifting when you’re pregnant. That’s not the best time to learn.

And it’s also really important, I see a lot of women pressure themselves. And I see this all over Instagram all the time, these women that are like, I just had a baby six weeks ago, and now I have abs. The body doesn’t work that way. There’s a lot of trauma that happens to the body during pregnancy and childbirth, whether you have a vaginal or C-section, your body goes through a tremendous amount of trauma. And just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. You always have that window of like, Oh six weeks, doctor release. Great, your doctor tells you you can go back to the gym. It doesn’t mean you throw 135 pounds on your back and start squatting again.

Your body has to heal, just the expansion and separation of the abdominal wall is huge, what your pelvic organs have gone through, what the pelvis itself looks like post-pregnancy. The joint laxity is still there. Your hormones are still just in a different place, especially if you breastfeed. So you really just have to honor your body where it’s at. And the truth of the matter is, if you go full force back into a strength training program and you don’t nurture your postpartum needs, you can end up worse off. So we have to think about healing the abdominal wall, healing the pelvic floor, allowing the pelvis to relax and go back to a normal state.

You can’t trick your body into doing these things. These are processes that you have to work through over time. And you have to be patient with yourself. You have to be patient with your body. You have to understand that your body’s going to be different forever. It doesn’t mean that it’s broken, it’s just different. Me, now that my kids are older, I think I’m in better shape, and I love my body even more. I’m stronger. I have more muscle than I was before I had kids. So I’m not one to believe that having babies ruins your body. I don’t believe that at all.

I was fortunate enough where I didn’t go through some of the skin changes that some women go through, whether it’s stretch marks or excess loose skin, I didn’t deal with that. Some things they might be permanently changed, which is totally fine. That’s what life is about. But you really just have to honor your body where it’s at and realize the tremendous amount of trauma that it just went through. You’re not going to go through major surgery and then two weeks later decide, Oh, I’m fine. I’m going to jump back into the gym. I know I just had part of my liver removed, but it’s totally fine. You have to really think about it that way. Your body went through a tremendous amount of trauma and you have to really honor the space that it’s in.

Menachem Brodie:

And that’s so important. I mean, this comes back to what we spoke about with the kids and the social pressure that they have. It’s also, I’ve had a number of postpartum moms. Unfortunately, I send them two or three emails after and they just kind of fall off like, Well, I saw on Instagram, literally, the sentences I saw on Instagram, so-and-so healed themselves with their diastasis. Or so-and-so returned to running half marathons eight weeks after giving birth. I’m like, that’s not how it works. There are exceptions out there, but you have to think long-term. And a lot of moms, I think there’s a lot of pressure, especially with Instagram. I think the saying is something the amount of advertising we used to be exposed to in a year, is now in a day. The same thing with Instagram, and there’s that story behind it.

And people don’t ask. They just see these pictures and see someone running. But it’s the same as with a lot of women. And I’d like to bring it back, and we’ll wrap up with this for today. But the number of glute programs on Instagram and YouTube and Facebook, that just as a professional, I look at and I’m like, You’re destroying your knees and your back. And people follow because they have the look. Cyclists fall for that all the time. But they look like a cyclist. “Dude, it doesn’t matter. This is your body. You only get one.”

And so many people, and I think women are much more… What’s the word I’m looking for? Vulnerable because of the pressure. And whether it’s stated or unstated, there’s a lot of pressure for women to come back and to look and do what they did before. And it’s just not like that. And people aren’t patient. Well, why can’t you come back? How was that process like for you, especially someone working in fitness? Did you feel a lot of that pressure? If so, how did you deal with it?

Kellie Davis:

[inaudible 01:20:37] to me introspectively, I feel like so much of the shame and guilt and pressure was something I put on myself. And I wrote a blog post about this, I don’t know, a couple of months ago, about how when I did try to [inaudible 01:20:56] 50 pounds overweight, I thought everyone was looking at me and I was unrecognizable and people were questioning, how did she let herself go? But those were really internal pressures I was putting on myself.

So I always ask, what’s the point? What’s the point? Let’s say, you give birth. Eight weeks later, you’re running a half marathon or you have your abs back, or whatever. What purpose does that serve? What problem are you solving? And are you really in a position, do you really feel better? Does anybody ask these women how good do you feel? And how much are you manipulating my psyche to make it look like your life is perfect?

There’s so much that goes on in our lives when we give birth. Our lives completely change. Our bodies are different. Our relationships with our partner is different. Everything is different, right? We’re now focusing on this tiny human being that literally hijacked our body for nine months. God knows I love my kids, but that’s what happens. Your body is [inaudible 00:01:22:11] and all of your nutrition and energy and everything pours into growing this other human being. And then for women that choose to breastfeed, your body is hijacked in a different way. For women that choose to bottle feed, your is hijacked in a different way. It’s like so much goes on in our lives.

And we can’t just suddenly decide that, well, I’m going to be a hero and bounce back because this is what society expects of me. We couple that with women that have to return to careers after giving birth, on top of the relationship pressure that changes, that the partner or spouse that now has to interact differently in this world. There’s just so many things that go on when we become a mother, whether it’s the first time or whether it’s our fifth baby, it doesn’t matter. Our lives are different. And we have to really honor that space, because it’s not serving anyone to force ourselves to fit into this [inaudible 01:23:09] simply because we saw an image or a story out there that somebody else did it, so now I have to do it. Because we don’t know that whole story.

We don’t know. We don’t know what that woman’s life looks like. We don’t know how she’s genuinely happy. We don’t know if she’s masking pain. We don’t know if, as she’s running her half marathon, she’s wearing adult diapers because she’s peeing her pants. We don’t know any of this. So it’s just a matter… I am a huge advocate. If you see something online that makes you feel a sense of shame or guilt or question your own well-being, then you need to unfollow that. You need to eliminate that thing from your life.

I believe social media has such a positive impact on us. We stay connected with our families in a different way. We meet people, like you and I met on social media. We make brand new connections. We learn, we discover. But there also is that element of impulsivity, that element of shame that goes along with it. Question how am I using this mechanism? Am I using it to better myself? Is it becoming self-deprecating? Am I feeling worthless when I’m exposed to this? Really question your motives behind what you’re exposing yourself to.

Menachem Brodie:

And that is incredibly wise. I mean, that’s pretty unique. A lot of people it’s just looking at social media and, Oh social media is bad. I’m getting off Facebook, I’m leaving Facebook. And it’s like, whatever you put out there and expect, it tends to be what you get kind of deal. Good luck in the race today. Oh, I’m not feeling that well. And then, how do you do? Well, that happened.

Well, we talked on so many different topics here today. I mean, there’s so much to go back and mine. I know I’m going to go back and listen to this probably four or five times. Really, I’m serious. You brought up a lot of excellent points that, one, either people are afraid to talk about. Or they’re not sure because they feel like they’re alone. So from the fact that the doctor said to you, he’s not going to look at the MRI before he examined you because he doesn’t want to have things tainted. That’s a huge point. So many times radiographics lie. Back pain. Well, they’re putting you into a prone position or a supine position and you’re laying on your back, and your pain is when you stand in reach, so it’s not replicating.

There’s all these different things, but let’s kind of wrap things up and ask, what would be two important lessons that you’d like to share with the audience about coming back, or recognizing an injury and dealing with it and returning to performance again?

Kellie Davis:

The biggest perspective that I like to offer people is that there’s only two certain things. You are born and you die. And what you choose to do with your body in between that time is going to impact everything within those two timeframes. We don’t know when we’re going to die, but we only get one body to live with our entire lives. So how we choose to treat our body will impact those days that we live throughout however long it’s going to be. So that was tremendous for me.

And I know you said some people are like, “Oh, I can just get surgery. I can get this fixed.” That’s a little bit sarcastic. That’s a little bit self-deprecating saying to yourself, my body isn’t worthy of being treated with respect and being treated well. If I break it, I’m going to mend it, which isn’t true.

I had STEM cell therapy in my knee, in my meniscus, and I don’t know if that’s going to work or not. You don’t know if surgery is going to work. So it’s honoring your body in the space that it’s in, and that was huge for me. So I’m a huge advocate of just honoring your body, being attentive and aware and focused on your body’s needs at all times, because you only get one. And so for me, my biggest thing is I want to be on as little medication and need as little assistance as possible as I age. So returning to play, returning to performance, I always keep that into perspective. I don’t want to have to go through pain management, be rendered immobile, because of how I chose to treat my body. That was tremendous for me. Huge, huge, huge for me.

Menachem Brodie:

And what would you say about helping, and this is I think a big obstacle that you shared, and many cyclists and triathletes struggle with this. The term, and I think you named the podcast episode, Genuinely Strong. How can we get this message across to the listener that genuinely strong does not mean that your watts per kilo are high? What should they be looking at when they’re thinking am I strong? What would you say is genuinely strong?

Kellie Davis:

Yeah, for me, it was getting out of bed every day and feeling really good. It was being able to push myself just enough, but leaving some in the tank so that I could do the same thing the next day. It was looking at the excuses that I made about specific movements or activities [inaudible 01:29:05] do and challenging myself to be able to complete those. If you’re benching two times your body weight, but you can’t do a proper solid, good set of 20 push-ups that actually look like a good push-up, where your core is engaged and your shoulder blades are moving around the ribs, just start evaluating all these different things.

Things that you suck at, to be genuinely strong, get good at those things. Don’t just write them off and say, “Well, I’m not good at that.” People that are like, “Oh, well I fall over every time I do a single leg deadlift, so I just don’t do them.” No, you should be doing them. You should be getting good at those things. And just building in that, having that resilience. To me, resilience isn’t bullheadedness and stubbornness, which I used to think it was, but resilience is being able to back off when you need to back off and being able to go full force when you need to go full force. So listen to your body, be in tune [inaudible 01:30:15] is telling you, and being able to show up every day to perform at a good capacity is what I consider genuinely strong.

There’s always this like, Oh, well… What did I say? There’s so many different terms, percentages that people use. Well, X percentage of your workouts are going to suck. X percentage of your workouts are going to be awesome. X percentage are going to be mediocre. No, I think you should be able to perform at a pretty consistent basis at any given moment, unless you’re sick or you’re not feeling well. So that’s genuinely strong to me.

Menachem Brodie:

Kelly, I could sit here and talk with you for hours. There’s just so much here, but unfortunately, we’ll have to wrap it up. I think we’re going to do two parts here, because there’s a lot that we covered.

Kellie Davis:

Yeah, we did.

Menachem Brodie:

So much and there’s so much more. Hopefully, we’ll have you back again soon, because I have one, two, three, four, five pages of notes here, so. And that’s the first time-

Kellie Davis:

[crosstalk 01:31:17] Wow, awesome. Yeah. I’d love to come back any time. I enjoy these conversations where we just kind of let them go and see where they end up. I think we end up with a lot more golden nuggets that way.

Menachem Brodie:

Yeah, a hundred percent. And your online presence is well noted and I think is a fantastic resource for the listeners. So where can they find you online?

Kellie Davis:

Yeah. My main website is fitthriveworkouts.com. I have a blog with great information if you’re just looking for a good free resource. I also have my programs on there so if you are looking for a strength program or you want one-to-one personal coaching, I do that through my business. I think for your audience, my Get Strong program would definitely be most beneficial. And then I would say Instagram is the best place to follow me. As we mentioned earlier, it’s Kelly Davis Fits. I’m also on Facebook, but I’m basically resharing the same content that’s on Instagram. So, those are my spots.

Menachem Brodie:

Awesome. And just a reminder for the audience here. K-E-L-L-I-E D-A-V-I-S F-I-T that is how you spell her name and fit. It’s not Davis fit. That’s not your last name.

Kellie Davis:

There’s actually a famous Hollywood makeup artist with my name. And she out before me, so she got all the cool Kelly Davis stuff. I just had to tack on fit.

Menachem Brodie:

Well, I think your stuff is more pertinent. I mean, makeup’s cool and all, but I think there’s a lot more to learn here.

Kellie Davis:

Well, thank you. I appreciate it.

Menachem Brodie:

Absolutely. We’re looking forward to talking again, Kelly.

Kellie Davis:

Absolutely. Thanks again for sharing and for listening.

Speaker 1:

That’s it for this episode of this episode of The Strong Savvy Cyclist and Triathlete Podcast with world-leading strength coach for cyclists and triathletes, Menachem Brodie. Don’t miss an episode. Hit that subscribe button and give us a reveal.

For more exclusive content, visit humanvortextraining.com or get the latest expert videos from Coach Brodie on the HVT YouTube channel at HB Training. Until next time, remember to train smarter, not harder because it is all about you.

PART 4 OF 4 ENDS [01:33:48]


Picture of Menachem Brodie

Menachem Brodie

Coaching since 2000, Menachem Brodie has been working with athletes in a number of settings, and a broad variety of sports.


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