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Shelby Stanger: Today we're featuring Foundation Training founder, Dr. Eric Goodman.
Shelby: Welcome to Wild Ideas Worth Living, an adventure podcast presented by REI Corp, the brand who helps get you outside through gear, classes and adventures. We talk to experts who have taken a wild idea and made it a reality so you can too. From people who have climbed the tallest peaks, started thriving businesses and even broken records, some of the wildest ideas can lead to the most rewarding adventures. I'm your host, Shelby Stanger and I hope you enjoy the show.
In living wildly it's helpful to be able to move to the best of your ability. I sit in a chair, stand at my computer to create this podcast in, and sometimes I develop imbalances that make it tough to run, or surf, or adventure as much as I want. We all have our stuff. Today, I wanted to bring on a guest that's been recommended by many, Dr. Eric Goodman. He's the founder of Foundation Training, a movement-based training program. Surfers like Lakey Peterson and Brad Gerlach, the late climber Dean Potter, even actors like Chris Hemsworth, Rob Lowe, Jeff Bridges, and Matthew McConaughey, even Dr. Joseph Mercola, if you know who he is, all of these guys have done and benefited from Foundation Training.
I first learned about Eric and the program from The Inertia, a site I've written for for a while. My partner, Johnny, bought his video course and mitigated chronic lower back pain with some simple exercises. I tried it and was able to cure some nagging IT Band issues and have been running pain-free ever since. Whether or not this movement practice or another type of movement practice is right for you, I thought Eric had a really good story. His wild idea of becoming a health practitioner and creating a program to help others move better, the way nature intended without any equipment, I thought it was something a lot of you may relate to.
Eric's a former water polo player. During chiropractor school he developed back pain that doctor said he needed surgery for. Instead of surgery, he developed a series of exercises that really helped him and he started using it with others. In 2008, he was hired to help train the US men's Olympic water polo team. They ended up taking the silver medal, and the rest is pretty much history. Eric has written two books with more on the way. There's now Foundation Training trainers in over 30 countries.
On this episode we talk about general advice on how to start moving better today. How Eric got the wild idea to create a new type of movement and breath practice. What other methods might be helpful that are out there, and how to discover what might work best for you. Also, why healing emotional pain is as important as healing physical pain, and how they often go hand in hand. We even get into furniture-less houses, and how they might help you move better. With any podcasts, though, this is for information purposes only. Make sure you do your own research. This is a hearty intro. It's a hearty episode, enjoy.
Shelby: Let's just start. What are some things people can do right now to feel better, avoid injury, and to set goals to progress for the next year as we come upon the new year?
Eric: The first thing is you got to focus on posture, and not in a way that like your parents used to tell you, "Sit up straight." It's very different. Posture is more or less the way your body represents itself physically in any position that it's in, and it has a lot to do with very deep intuitive muscles that surround your spine and your hips. It has to do with how your feet are in contact with the ground, and how your hip joints propel your torso and your head position. All these things come into play with posture. If you sit down too much or if you take this maladaptive physical body into a sport, or into yoga, or into climbing, or into surfing or anything like that, without unwinding it and lengthening it, you might get injured.
Focusing on postural-type exercises and breathing-type exercises is a very important piece of the puzzle to not get injured. Another thing is, warm up, even if it's just three or four minutes. Don't do a workout before you go exercise. Don't do like a 20-minute warm up, but spend three, four, five minutes really focusing on hip movement, focusing on ankle movement, focusing on shoulder movements and neck movement. You might find that you have much better overall motion when you go into whatever you're doing.
Hydration is huge. Most people are chronically dehydrated to some degree, and it's a really good idea to hydrate more fully. Other than that, just keep it pretty simple. If you want to make goals for yourself, try to find goals that are not going to wear you out for the next year. If you've never run a marathon, maybe running a marathon is not the first running endeavor you should do. Maybe a sprint triathlon is a better thing for you. They have a shorter range and something that can teach your body to stay strong, instead of just suffering through 26 miles.
It's just, be smart about your goal setting. Be very realistic with who you are and what you want to do, and recognize that a goal should not be an end goal. It should be a goal that gets you to the next goals that you're going to set, that gets you further along the path towards an end goal. You got to look at a microcosmic scale when you're thinking of goal setting.
Shelby: That is such good advice. I just read this book, Living With a SEAL by Jesse Itzler. He lives with a Navy SEAL and they do six-mile runs in the morning, and then six miles at night. Then they run with weight vests, and then they run every four hours in a 48-hour period. I was like, "I'm going to do that." [chuckles] I got to today and I was like, "Okay, I'm done." I have a big November, and I just really wanted to have some physical goals. I was like, "Okay, more realistic is 30 miles a day max.
Eric: What do you do other than running?
Shelby: I do speed work, I surf, I go to yoga class, but I adapt my yoga class to Foundation Training the whole time. Lately, we already said it in the intro, but I do Foundation Training before I run. It's been great. I think what you said before about warming up, I use the Foundation Training run warm up as my warm up, and it's like five to seven minutes, and then when I get back home, I do it. That brings me to this really important question. We talk about training so much and setting these goals, but how do you know how much to train a day? It's always such a mystery to me.
Eric: I think that it changes throughout the lifetime, too. It changes with the individual and it changes throughout a lifetime. I think it's better, instead of knowing how to train or exactly what to do, I think sometimes knowing the symptoms of overtraining can be more undertraining, can be more valuable. If you're not sleeping well, you're either doing a little bit too much or you're not doing enough. You're not getting enough energy out or you're getting so much energy out that your body is in this high alert state, this somewhat adrenalized state, and it can't get out of it because of cortisol being pumped through your system, trying to calm down.
If you're not sleeping well, you have to change something in your training. Whether an increase or decrease is in demand, that's more up to you, knowing what your body is currently doing. If you're getting a lot of the same aches and pains, you have to change something in your training. It doesn't necessarily mean that you're overtraining, it just might mean that you're compensating for imbalances throughout the system, and that perhaps the training method that you're using, or the exercises that you're using, or the sports that you're playing could be lending itself towards imbalance instead of away from it.
You want to constantly be curious about what else is available out there that might potentially help you get better at feeling better. There's a lot of things, and there's always people putting new stuff out there. It's not so much, "Am I over or undertraining?" It's, "What other information is available to me? What other modalities are available to me?" Especially with the internet, you can see a thousand testimonials about a thousand different things in a day. There's so many things out there, there's so many different systems. You can go on YouTube and learn a thousand exercise systems, or little workouts.
If you're an endurance athlete or an intense aggressive athlete, go learn the five Tibetan rights. Go practice the five Tibetan rights on YouTube, because it's going to calm you down. It's going to calm down your nervous system, and it's going to help you feel mobile. If you're a person that meditates 24/7, and you're always in this mega zen place and you're just so good at blocking out stress that, "Oh my God, I'm so enlightened, it's amazing," maybe you should try weight lifting. Maybe you should try power lifting. Maybe you should try things like CrossFit, or things like a little bit of endurance high intensity training. Something to take you out of parasympathetic nervous system for a little while, and jump you right into adrenaline.
Shelby: Let's talk about rest too, because that's something-- One, you explained how I feel a lot of the time. Sometimes I've trained so hard, and it's hard because if the waves are good then I'm going to go surfing and I've already run. I'm buzzed the rest of the day. It's probably because I have that, as you explained it, adrenaline and cortisol pumping through my veins, which isn't good. Resting is a little challenging for me, and I'm sure a lot of the people listening, but I've figured out a way to rest now. What's your advice to other people on how to figure out how much we should rest, and how to do it well?
Eric: My only advice on rest is, if you feel like you've got to rest, rest. Prioritize it over everything else. I think if you feel tired all the time, you should start taking a 15-minute nap in the middle of the day, and you don't have to fall asleep, you just have to shut everything up, stare at the ceiling for 15 minutes. If you fall asleep, cool. If not, no worries. Just get up in 15, 20 minutes. Honestly, I wish I had a really creative answer what to do for rest, but I don't.
I just think that when your body is at its healthiest it rests easily, and that sometimes we might be eating certain things, particular grains, or sugars, or adding a probiotic or maybe a biotic spectrum that is lending itself towards excessive thoughts and ruminations, meaning it's exciting our glutamate pathway in our brain, so it's creating this cycle of anxious thoughts. Anxious thoughts don't necessarily need to be negative, they just need to be fast, repetitive.
Shelby: You've talked to me a little bit about there's physical pain, and then there's mental pain. Right now, there's a lot of mental pain in the world. We're just coming off the Pittsburgh shootings as we're doing this interview. You said it's really important to mitigate both, so the physical and mental go hand in hand. Can you talk about what you meant by that?
Eric: I'll try to do it in a quick story, and this is getting personal. This morning, for whatever reason, I just woke up in a bad mood. Bad mood, grumpy, pissed off. It happens on the regular for me. It's something that's happened to me since I was a little kid. I'm 50/50, I think a lot of people are that way. I woke up just hating everything, and just pissed for no reason. My life is very good. I have a good marriage, I have a great kid, good life, but I was depressed, straight up, just not feeling it. I got out of the house, took my dog to our closest beach, put my feet in the water, and I did about five or six rounds of something called Wim Hof breathing method, which is--
Shelby: All right. We've had him on the podcast, I think most people know who he is.
Eric: Yes, everybody knows Wim, he's super famous. He's awesome. I did it. You know what? I felt good. What was interesting is my hips were tight, my hamstrings were tight, and after I did the Wim Hof breathing, they weren't. I was able to playfully gallop along the beach for a moment before I came back in. I came back in and I felt better mentally and physically. Then I was able to go about the rest of my morning and then come over here and do a podcast with you very easily, very comfortably.
That leads me to mental and physical pain, because they are really one and the same. They are very different, they are very different, but they are one and the same. They're still energy transmitted to the spinal cord, translated by the brain into sensation, and they are both very painful. Anxiety is miserable, depression is miserable. Fear and all those things are miserable. Just as miserable as when your back hurts, or when your foot can't feel better and you can't walk accurately, you have to limp.
It's all the same. If you're limping physically, it's the same as being in a crummy mood and limping mentally, not being able to interact with people the way you wish you could. Well, damn it, you just can't have somebody come to you and make it better in either of those, really. Getting through a whole lifetime of being a human being with a human brain and the spectrum of imbalances that come with that, physical and mental, we really have to take our initiative to learn skills, to get ourselves out of pain and to get ourselves to feel better.
Nobody is going to come and do it for you, no relationship is going to save you, no success is going to save you, no mountain top is going to save you, but the journey to the mountain top might. The physical exertion and the overcoming of stressors and challenges seems to have a remarkable ability to get us out of both physical and mental pain. For physical challenges it's finding your weakness. In Foundation Training I found that my lower back was my weakest part of my body and I had spent the last decade training it to the absolute utmost of my ability, and now it's the strongest part of my body. My body is different and my life is different.
I've seen a lot of people have a similar response when it comes to mental training. You have many weak spots and we have to find them. For me, depression is a weak spot. If I don't live my life as I want to, I get depressed. If I don't do things in balance, I tend to get depressed, so I have to find ways to not be depressed, because I'm just not really of help to anybody when I'm that funk, especially myself, especially my kid, especially my wife and my friends or my business.
Luckily, there's people out there like Wim Hof, there's people out there like Brian MacKenzie , there's people out there like Laird and Gabby teaching XPT. There's people out there like the Buteyko method. A Russian, Konstantin Buteyko, that teaches people to breathe very playfully and minimally to reduce anxieties and other problems. There's things like Moshe Feldenkrais’ work, Joe Pilates’ work. There's things like yoga and meditation. There's things like Headspace, the app that helps you guide yourself through little 10-minute meditations. There's freediving breathing and simple steps you can take to learn how to control your respiration slowly, quickly, deeply, shallowly.
All these different things that seem to have a major component in governing how much pain we feel. That pain is both physical and mental, and it's just everybody is wired a little differently, some people feel a little more physical, some people feel a little more mental, and some people don't feel much of either, it's interesting. What you got is what you got, it's the hand that you have been dealt, and the more you understand how to play that hand physically and mentally, meaning knowing when you're in a bad mood, it's not that everybody around you is being a jerk. It's that you might be intolerable at that moment.
Recognizing like, "Oh." The only one that's going to make me tolerable is me, and it's not going to be because I say, "I can be better, I can feel better. I don't need to be like this. I can put this away, I can put this behind me." No. it's because you transfer the energy into something different, because energy is not created or destroyed, it's transferred. You can transfer negative energy into positive actions that make you feel better. That's all I want people to do. That's my idea, that people can actually get their stuff together and skillfully and willfully improve their lives on a day-to-day basis, and if they miss a day, they don't hate themselves and resent it and it depressed, they just work a little harder the next one to continue on that path.
Shelby: Eric, thank you so much for sharing that because I relate to feeling the same as well often, and I imagine other people listening to this podcast have felt the same way as well. I think you gave really good advice about dealing with feelings that aren't always fun that come up. I'd also like to talk about this thing you've created, Foundation Training. Can you explain in simple terms what Foundation Training is?
Eric: I'm going to give you a scientific answer, a really quick one, and that answer is it's a re-education of the axial skeleton towards expansion to ensure that the rest of the body is held together as well as possible. The axial skeleton is your rib cage and your spine, I want those to get bigger and broader, more powerful, wider, taller, longer. I want you to take up as much possible real estate at the center of your body as you can. Big outward expansion of the rib cage when you breathe in. I want you to take that inhalation and maximize the capable muscular contraction of the abdomen as you exhale from that large big rib cage.
I want to teach your body how to breathe like that. In doing that, I want to teach you how to activate muscles in the backside of your body. We're going to go into these isometric poses, like the founder, the wood pecker, the lunge decompression, the gorilla lift and all these different poses that we have in Foundation Training that are all 100% geared towards integrating the muscles along the backside of your body, teaching them to work together to support you better, move you better and absorb your weight as you move around and as many muscles as possible so that your joints are not doing it themselves.
Shelby: Okay. We're going to have links to explain what a gorilla or a woodpecker is.
Eric: It's so confusing to hear this stuff, that's one of the issues with podcast type situation and exercise. It's no matter how well I explain it, until you see it and go through it, it's going to be really hard, but I will absolutely provide you and your audience with links so that you can see these movements.
Shelby: How often should I be doing something like Foundation Training a day?
Eric: It really varies. It's hard to answer that question. My typical recommendation for people is 5 to 10 minutes a day is your minimum. I'd say five minutes a day is your minimum, because what you're doing is you're practicing a neurological pattern. You're not trying to beat your body up, you're not trying to train muscles to fatigue so they recover. You're practicing a very important neurological pattern, which is hinging at the hip joints and expanding and contracting the rib cage as you breathe. Once you learn those things very well, you start moving them into isometric poses, and those isometric poses become part of the 5 to 10 minutes a day little program you follow.
You spend that first month or so just learning, spending five, ten minutes a day learning the basics of whatever movement it is, whether it's Foundation Training or another one if you're learning. Get the movements down well, so that when you start using it as prehab or as rehab, when you start flowing things together, when you start giving yourself the 10, 15, 20-minute workout version, that you then start to do each day, you have it down. Your body is ready for it. It's ready to adapt and evolve with it. 'Cause that's how neurological patterns improve. They don't improve their intensity, they improve their intent and repetition. If you're working on patterns, intent and repetition, not intensity.
Shelby: Right now, for example, I do your run warm-up and your run cooldown. The run warm-up before the run, the run cooldown, which is like seven minutes, after. I'm good. [chuckles]
Eric: Yes, you're pretty solid. It should be that simple.
Shelby: We're going to take a quick break to hear from previous guest, Semi-Rad's Brendan Leonard, about some holiday tips, courtesy of REI.
Brendan Leonard: We all know how fun it can be trying to make the holidays perfect for everyone. Although your family probably loves the idea of you stressing out until you get sick or exhausted just as much as you do, maybe don't do that this year, and get yourself a little something special, some sanity. Instead of getting up at 5:00 AM to be first in line for a holiday sale, try getting up at 5:00 AM to get first chair, or instead of running yourself ragged trying to do everything, try going for a run and taking care of yourself. Maybe ditch last-minute shopping for your loved ones and go last-minute sledding or surfing with your loved ones instead. You know, outside. Wishing you simpler holidays, from me and from REI.
Shelby: I think there's so much information out there on how to train, what to eat. How do you know, as someone who's more of an expert in this field, how should we know what to listen to and what to follow?
Eric: Don't get all of your advice from podcasts, but use the podcasts to point you in the direction of the research you do, but do your research. Listen to people. I'm going to give you a couple names and research these people. Number one, if you are an athlete moving from your late 20s or 30s into your 40s, 50s, 60s, I want you to get to know Peter Park. You should read his book, Rebound. You should learn his nutrition advice, which he lives and breathes every single day.
You should look into nutrition advice from guys like Chris Kresser, Dan Kalish and Dr. Terry Wahls. Particularly you, Shelby. If you don't know about Terry Wahls already, you should really look into Dr. Wahls. Her autoimmune protocols are phenomenal as far as nutrition goes. If you have the opportunity to learn movement practices, if you're a climber, if you're a mountain biker, or a motocross racer, or a snowboarder, or a skateboarder, if you're somebody that takes awkward falls regularly, things like Ginastica Natural are going to be really good for you, and things like Foundation Training are going to really help you not get hurt as often as when you're falling.
Shelby: What was the first thing you say? Gymnastics what?
Eric: It's called Ginastica, G-I-N-ASTCA. It's a Brazilian form of movement that really mimics Jujitsu and is taught and developed by a really brilliant practitioner named Alvaro Romano and his son, Raphael Romano. If you're looking for longevity and basic, I go to work, I live my life, I like my weekend warrior sport, I like to go surf, or climb, or hike, or whatever. If you're looking for maintenance and the ability to keep doing that until you're 50, 60, 70 and beyond, look at Foundation Training and look at Peter Parks book, Rebound.
Shelby: Those are some interesting people. What was it like to train Chris Hemsworth? I really want to know what he looks like with his shirt off, but that's probably not-- [chuckles]
Eric: He is such a handsome man. I feel like an incredibly lucky guy.
Shelby: No. You've trained Chris Hemsworth, you've trained so many great people. I love the story of Barney Miller, though. Can you maybe just briefly tell us about working with Barney Miller, who's a quadriplegic surfer and just an awesome guy?
Eric: Yes. First, you mentioned the word "trained", and I trained with a lot of people, but I'm not really a trainer. I teach. I teach these people and I spend as much time with them as is necessary to teach them and send them on their way. Sometimes, as is the case with guys like Chris Hemsworth and his brother, Liam, I've taught-- They've put their trainers through my certification program. After we meet, do our initial stuff and we stay in touch, they'll have somebody with them teaching them Foundation Training that way. It's pretty cool.
Barney is one of my favorites. He's a great guy, he's good friend, like a lot of my friends who became friends through treatments and through patient-doctor relationship initially. Barney has a C7 burst fracture, which sucks. It sucks. It's a paralysis from C7 down, so he's in a wheelchair. He has pretty incredible use of his upper limbs, and that use has increased dramatically since we started doing decompression breathing with him, which is one of the major principles of our Foundation Training work. Barney started doing that a few years ago, almost four years ago now, and he has seen a pretty drastic improvement in his overall progress and recovery since implementing this.
A few of the exercises of our work that were applicable to him and to his body, and to his situation. Worked really hard on decompression breathing, and all of the trainers and physical therapists that work with Barney have literal hours of video recordings that Barney and I have done together, showing them different ways to work with him. He's got a guy named Josh down in Carlsbad that Barney works with, that is one of the most talented practitioners I've ever seen with paralysis type patients. Josh is somebody that I just want to watch what they're doing and just learn from him.
I do Foundation Training. I do things inside the body. He's taking them into resistance training and all of these different, really impressive movements. It was quite cool to watch Josh and Barney work together. I actually learned a lot that day. My role with Barney has been trying to get his body to accept all of the other treatments that he's doing better. That's a big thing that Foundation Training does, as an accessory, is it helps your body get more out of whatever else you're trying to do. That's been a big part of the recovery this past few years for Barney.
It has been, "All right, Barney, correct your posture in the chair. Learn how to move your arms in these very specific ways to start to strengthen them, start to create space all around the C7 vertebrae, everywhere we possibly can." Things called the sphere of tension and these different things that he's actually able to do. We have a couple of videos that show the difference of him moving with the decompressed torso versus without. It's pretty remarkable to see the difference.
Shelby: I just wanted to add that now he just won the ISA Adaptive World Championships.
Eric: Indeed, he did. He's the coolest guy you'll ever meet. Anytime I talk about Barney, I just get a big smile on my face. He's a really happy guy, he's a really inspiring guy. You mentioned that I was a pretty serious guy, and I am when it when it comes to medicine and helping people, I love it. That's a huge part of my life. But then I got around a guy like Barney, and you can't-- You're not serious, you're just laughing the whole time. Guy's infectiously positive and playful.
He takes his healing more seriously than anybody I've ever met. He's also extremely playful, extremely positive. If you haven't looked into Barney Miller as a listener, go check out his-- There's a movie on him called You and Me, about him and his wife, Kate, who's a beautiful singer and recording artist. There's a book about them as well, the story is extraordinary and very inspiring, and very cool to hear.
Shelby: Yes, we went to the premiere. It was a great movie, so thanks for sharing that. Who else is Foundation Training for? Runners, rock climbers, people sitting at a desk? Is it anybody?
Eric: All those people.
Shelby: Okay, everybody.
Eric: It really is for anybody, because anybody that tries to breathe better and tries to stand with better posture, and trains the muscles that are really deep to the muscles you see. The multifidi muscles, the stuff that's between the vertebrae, the stuff that's deep within the hip joints. If you train that well, if you find your weak points and instead of going into your strong stuff you try to strengthen your weak points, which is what Foundation Training is built on, you're going to notice a tremendous improvement in the way you feel, and then you're going to take those improvements to whatever you do.
It's not like a surfer should do it because they're a surfer. It's a human being should do this, because they're going to feel better as a human being. If that human being likes to surf, chances are they're going to feel better and perform better while they're surfing. Anybody with a back injury should be looking into this. If it doesn't work for you, there's lots of other things, but you should at least be looking into it and trying it.
Shelby: That's how you got into it, right? A back injury?
That's what started this whole journey for me. I have a very ugly low spine. I have major degeneration, L4, L5-S1. I have herniations all the way from my T12 down to my sacrum, every single level. I don't have any disc of any kind between L4 and L5, and my L5-S1 have fused together. Over time, the bones have actually invaginated and become one. My lower back is screwed up. So screwed up, in fact, that in order to get out of it, I had to come up with all these exercises and then I had to keep coming up with them because my back kept creeping up on me again, so I had to keep making them better and better and better and better.
That's been a decade's worth of evolution and practice now on a daily basis. My back's getting better, Foundation Training's getting better, and somehow a lot of people are getting better too, but it does come from my injury, 100%. This work is here and is strong, because my back was so bad at a young age that I was supposed to get a fusion surgery that I refused. Now here I am. I'll be 38 at the end of next month and I was told I needed surgery at 27. That's almost 11 years.
Shelby: That's great.
Eric: I've been getting better and better since then, and I surf substantially better now than I ever have. I can do a lot of other things. I can trail run really easily now. I can mountain bike. I can play. I can have a really good life.
Shelby: Will you just tell me a little bit about, I know it's a long story, but maybe the CliffsNotes version of your amazing story about how you founded this brand new fit movement system you call Foundation Training. From the back injury-- You obviously went to school--
Eric: Yes. I'll try to give you a timeline. 2007 is when I was told I needed fusion surgery, and I've been experiencing pain since 1999, when I was 19 years old. I was in my last year of chiropractic school in 2007, 2008, and I was told I needed fusion surgery, but I was also a pretty good chiropractor. Here I was, in 2007 I was told I needed fusion surgery. I started doing these exercises to get myself better. They started working by the end of 2007. I was offered this really remarkable internship/gig with Dr. Terry Schroeder, who was also the head coach of the U.S. Olympic team.
By the middle of 2008, I was successfully training an Olympic team towards their first metal in 20 years that they got on August 8th of 2008. I got these amazing testimonials, and I realized at that time that there was something to the exercises I was doing for myself because I had been teaching them to all of the Olympians for almost a year now. They were getting stronger. They were doing less weights, they weren't lifting many weights anymore. They were doing a lot of body weight work every day in addition to their pool training. I was doing a lot of body weight work every day in addition to my treatments on people, and all of us were getting better.
That was this really interesting year from the end of 2007 to the end of 2008. It was the biggest transition year of my life and it showed me how much harder I could work because I saw this group of 20 Olympians or so, 25 Olympians, working their butts off six days a week, 12, 13, 14 hours a day, because I was there with them six days a week, 12 13, 14 hours a day, training them or being there as a part of the medical staff, or being there just to lend an ear, whatever, train them along. Because of the success of the Olympic team at the end of the year, I got an Olympic medal. It's on my wall, I love it. I got a silver, it's rad. Such an incredible reminder of really powerful year in 2008.
I got testimonials from all those guys. Even a testimonial from Dr. Schroeder saying that a big part of the team's success was because of the training that I was doing with them. I took that and I made an email and I sent it to like 20 people in Santa Barbara because I really wanted to live in Santa Barbara. I sent them this email with a bunch of testimonials talking about what I do. Half of them were chiropractors and half of them were trainers. One of them got back to me. That one person was Peter Park and his wife Kelly Park. That was now early 2009 when they got back to me.
I went to Peter's gym, I showed him a little bit about Foundation Training, and Peter and I started working together a lot in early 2009, A lot in mid 2009. By the end of that year, we knew we had something. He saw a lot of value in the Foundation Training exercises, but they weren't even called Foundation Training or anything yet. We started training a lot of people together. We started working towards writing a book together. By mid 2011, that book came out. From 2009 to 2011, I taught classes several times a week, learning how to teach this work, learning how to help people understand it, learning how to find what wasn't working very well with it and improve it.
Those classes started out as donation-based classes. There was this infectious growth of our work, and it hasn't stopped. [chuckles] It's now 2018 and it's still going. Along the way, there's been a couple books now. There's been a whole teaching team that helped me build up our certification process. We have over a thousand instructors around the world now, teaching this work. I don't know how else to say it other than it just happened because I taught everybody I could how to do this, every single chance I got. I used to call myself Johnny Apple movement. I felt like I was just bouncing around the country planting these little seeds about mechanics. "Okay, why don't you try this? Maybe you should try that."
Shelby: That's awesome. I love that you basically had a donation box to--
Eric: I literary had a donation box.
Shelby: Yes, you were literally making money doing this. You had a couple of pretty influential clients. You had mentioned Luke Walton, an engineer from Google. I want to go back because you had this wild idea to start this movement, and I think there's a lot of people, like I said, who want to be yoga instructors or a different kind of health practitioner. Any advice to people starting out in this field of wanting to help other people? What should they do? What should they start? What should they remember that helped you?
Eric: I don't think they're going to like it-
Shelby: That's okay.
Eric: -but this is my genuine advice. Anybody with a college degree can become a doctor in four years, can become a physical therapist in two to four years, can become an acupuncturist in a couple years, can become a rolfer or a high-level massage therapist or some clinician. You can find a license to work with people on their health and gain a lot of knowledge along that pathway. The knowledge and competence you get from being a licensed practitioner in the health field will help you teach everything you teach with more knowledge, more understanding of what goes wrong in the body.
It's easy to make things go right. It's much more important that you understand how things can go wrong. Pathology is such an important part of being a practitioner of any kind. I suffered through grad school. I made it through, I got my license. I love what I learned, but the structure of school was just miserable. It really taught me that sometimes you just got to get through it to get to the other side. That's what's made me a really good instructor, too. That's what's made me a good teacher, because I see all those people trying to understand, and I see the challenges they've had.
Go through the struggles, get your degree, put yourself through it, get creative, get confident, teach everybody you can, and when you don't know something, don't know it. Go learn it, go get better at it. Don't pretend you know it. I know a lot of instructors out there that have very successful careers and I know a number of people that for no reason at all, other than working hard on themselves and then teaching other people, have made really wonderful careers helping people. I really believe that a license allows you to touch more people, teach more people and treat more people, plain and simple.
Ever since I was young, since college-- I went to college in Orlando and I grew up in South Florida, and I always wanted to get out of there. Not because it's a terrible place, it's wonderful, but it wasn't for me. I always said like, "I'm not going to go where I think I need to go. I'm going to go where I really want to go and then I'm going to become successful there instead of becoming successful somewhere and then trying to figure out where I want to go and trying to figure out where I want to be."
I moved to Santa Barbara in 2008, because I visited here before and I loved it, and I just wanted to live here. I said on many occasions to myself and to others, "Go where you want to be and then become successful. Do not put all of your effort into becoming successful right where you are if it's not where you want to be now and you already know it. That will be a huge mistake."
Shelby: You're a dad now and congrats, your little kid is so cute. Advice to raising super mobile kids? Eventually, she's going to go to school, sit in a chair. How do you do it? It must be really fun to also watch them move because they are so mobile.
Eric: Well, I successfully did it by marrying a pediatric physical therapist. We don't have much furniture in our house. There's a really intelligent woman named Katy Bowman that-- I don't know if she started this movement, but she speaks a lot about just not having much furniture. Having things to climb on and play on and sit in a home. Really like that idea. I think that's much closer to our nature.
Shelby: Wait, tell me about this, because we have no furniture in our house and it drives me crazy. In our bedroom, we just have a bed. There's no nightstands, there's no dressers, there's nothing.
Eric: What do you need that stuff for, really?
Shelby: I know. It's a yoga room in every room.
Eric: Well, I think furniture-less houses create moment to moment problem-solving for people wanting to sit on furniture. I think that that problem solving down the line leads to kids that understand how to squat better and kneel better, and get up and off the floor a little better, and parents also that know how to do those things. Kids mimic parents. If you want your kid to move a lot, move a lot. If you want your kid to sit down and look at phones a lot, sit down and look at phones a lot. That's it, that's what happens. They mimic what you do. If I go like this [noise], my kid is going to go like this [noise]. It's what it is. [laughs] It's awesome. It's hysterical. It really lets you see who you are and what you're doing.
Shelby: Before we go, we ask a lot of our guests this. You've had such an interesting path to doing what you do. You did take the road less traveled. Starting a whole different type of biomechanical exercise and calling it Foundation Training, having a business, it's a pretty different path to have taken. Any advice you'd give to your 15-year-old self? Because I think that's an age where we're in high school and we're a little awkward, and we're just trying to figure things out. Or just your younger self.
Eric: I would have gotten myself into swimming a little bit earlier. I got into swimming in high school. I would have gotten into it in elementary school. I would have gotten into martial arts younger. I'm not into martial arts, I just like to look at it, I like to learn about it a little bit. I'm planning on entering that territory in the near future just to learn myself. Just to learn how to grapple a little better, learn how to control my body in that aggressive way a little bit better.
That's the advice I would give myself as a young man is take something that focuses your energy and really focus it. If I could do anything different-- I had a lot of issues around when I was 10, 11, 12, 13, 14. I started to come out of those issues when I started swimming, and I started lifting weights, and I started just doing more, playing more. I wish that I had done that at a very young age. Surfing is another thing. I started surfing when I was 25, and I wish that I had started it when I was five.
Shelby: Yes, you were late. [chuckles] I do, too.
Eric: Yes, I was late but I've done it almost every day since. 12, 13 years now, and it's just the best.
Shelby: John and I joked that if we have a kid, the kid is going to be in gymnastics, swimming and surfing the minute it's out of the womb.
Eric: Ours, we have Sonny at the beach. Well, her name is Sonora, but we call her Sonny. We have Sonny at the beach every day. She comes in the water. I'm going to get a board made that she has a little handle to hold on to. A little longboard that she can hold on to while I do little belly waves with her and stuff. That's a little down the line. She's got to be a slight bit older. I think just having them in nature, you don't have to teach a kid how to be a gymnast, you just have to bring them out to an area that they have to climb up and down on. You have to bring them out to sand, and to rocks, and to water, and to hills. Let them be a part of this outside experience and you'll be blown away at how much a kid moves. They don't stop. It's awesome, very beautiful.
Shelby: It is awesome.
Eric: You've got to give them the opportunity to do it, though.
Shelby: Getting out in nature, we've had so many podcasts about getting kids in nature. It's a game changer for kids.
Eric: What's wrong with people staying inside all the time? It's terrible. What's wrong with you people? Get outside. Even if it's your job. As soon as you're not at your job, be outside, that second.
Shelby: Eric, where can we find more? Where can people get Foundation Training, try it, do it, learn more about you?
Eric: is our website. We are going to have a brand new website before the end of the year, but the one that we have now works perfectly fine. We'll still have everything you need on there. We have certified instructors all over the world, which is nuts. They're in 30 plus countries now. Some of them are really talented instructors too, that are helping a lot of people get out of pain. We have a couple of books that are on Amazon, and I think that's it. There's classes, there's trainers, there's free YouTube videos, there's all sorts of stuff. Just google Foundation Training and learn whatever you can. I hope it makes you feel better. From a deep down place, I hope it makes you feel better.
Shelby: Thanks to Eric for doing this podcast. Thank you to author and publisher Karen Rinaldi who suggested we do this interview. Thanks to you for listening and writing reviews on Itunes. TRXTim, AJNashville, Tearbear2015, CarolRoseKisch, there's been so many of you, I so appreciate it. Okay, you've got a week to write me a letter. Go to, tell me your wild idea. What are you doing in the next year or this past year that I should shout out on the final episode of the year? My goal is to read these out loud or at the very least post them, because I think we can all be inspired by each other.
So many of you have written to me that you are doing really wild things, moving to different places, going on big adventures. Someone just told me they're going to thru-hike a hundred miles over their break. That's awesome. I'd love to hear from you. Thank you for listening to this show. Thank you again for your reviews on Apple Podcasts and iTunes. If you haven't written one and you have something nice to say or a suggestion, we all read these, so does REI. This show is a labor of love, so this is how you can show your love for helping us keep this show free. Wherever you are, remember, the best adventures happen when you follow your wildest ideas. We'll see you next week or the week after that. Enjoy.
[00:45:52] [END OF AUDIO]

Here’s the Wild Idea

Eric’s Wild Idea: To create a program that helps people optimize performance and alleviate pain. 

As an athlete and human, it’s important to be able to move to the best of your ability. Injuries and pain that have kept me from running, surfing, or other adventuring have always been challenging. 

Today’s guest, Dr. Eric Goodman, has been recommended to me by many guests of this show. As the founder of the movement-based Foundation Training program, Dr. Goodman has helped thousands of athletes and every-day people alleviate pain and increase performance. Some of the people he’s worked with include athletes like surfers Lakey Peterson and Brad Gerlach, the late climber Dean Potter, as well as actors Rob Lowe, Chris Hemsworth, Jeff Bridges, and Matthew McConaughey. Both my partner Johnny and I have been using Foundation Training for the last six months to help us alleviate a nagging back injury and IT band pain, and both of us have experienced positive results. 

I wanted to have Dr. Goodman on the show because he has a great story. His wild idea to become a health practitioner and create a program to help people move and feel better is something I think a lot of people can relate to. 

A former water polo player, Dr. Goodman developed back pain that doctors told him he would need surgery to fix while he was in chiropractic school. Instead of going under the knife, he developed a series of exercises that helped him heal and became the origins of Foundation Training. Early in his career, he was also hired to train the U.S. Olympic Men’s Water Polo team, and used his methods to help them the year they took the silver medal. Today, Dr. Goodman has published two books, and there are Foundation Training trainers in over thirty countries around the world.

Since many of you are getting ready to make New Year’s Resolutions, I wanted to get Dr. Goodman’s  advice on how to avoid injuries and train the right amount. We also dive into why healing emotional pain is as important as healing physical pain, how he got the wild idea to create a new movement practice, and what other methods he uses and thinks you might want to check out.

Presented by REI

Listen to this Episode if

  • You struggle with injuries or chronic pain.
  • You want to strengthen your body.
  • You are interested in helping others heal.
  • You are curious about movement-based training programs.

Key Takeaways

  • 3:10 – What you can do right now to feel better and focus next year.
  • 6:40 – How much you should train every day.
  • 9:50 – Eric’s advice on rest.
  • 11:10 – Physical pain vs. mental pain.
  • 17:00 – What exactly is Foundation Training and how often you should do it.
  • 21:30 – How do we know what advice to follow and what to ignore?
  • 24:10 – Eric’s work with Barney Miller.
  • 28:25 – Who Foundation Training is for.
  • 31:10 – How he made a path for the creation of this movement.
  • 36:00 – Eric’s advice for anyone want to start their own movement to help people.
  • 39:00 – How to raise a mobile kid.
  • 40:50 – What advice he would give his younger self.
  • 43:10  – How to learn more about Foundation Training.

Episodes to listen to

Wim Hof
Gabby Reece


True to Form by Dr. Eric Goodman

Awesome book Dr. Goodman recommends

Rebound by Peter Park


Ginastica Naturale
Living with a Seal by Jesse Itzler
5 Tibetan Rights
Foundation Training movement resources
Peter Park
Dr. Terry Wahls
Chris Kresser
Dan Kalish
You and Me film
Katy Bowman

Connect with Dr. Goodman




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