When worlds collide, magic happens.
And that’s exactly what this interview between our own Ryan Hurst and Global Bodyweight Training’s Mike Fitch was – magical.
I’ll just cut right to the chase and give you the goods.
Here’s the audio version of the interview:
For the more visual learners in the audience, here’s a transcript of the interview:
Ryan Interviews Mike Fitch
Ryan: Hey, hey, hey! This is Ryan from GMB and today I’m with Mike Fitch of Global Bodyweight Training.
Mike is a movement artist. He has recently appeared on Live with Kelly and Michael showcasing his animal flow movements. He’s a good friend of mine and I love having him here today.
Mike, how the heck are you doing?
Mike: I’m doing great man.
Ryan: All right.
Mike: I’m excited to finally catch up with you and have a little GMB-GBT party.
Ryan: You bet you. You bet you. Yeah, this is going to be fun. Hey listen, let’s get right into it. Give us the basic intro, who you be, what you do.
Mike: I’m Mike Fitch. I’m a Cancer. I like long walks on the beach, journaling.
I’ve been in the fitness industry for about 13 years. I was really big into lifting weights with my dad when I was younger. I actually ended up hiring a trainer and he was so influential and just such a great dude. I was just like, “Man, I want to do what you do.”
So I spent the last 13 years just learning and being a student and it has been a really cool journey and especially the last couple of years and how I got into bodyweight training.
You want to jump into that now?
Ryan: Yeah, let’s do it man. Just go ahead and just keep talking. This is great! Go! Go!
Mike: All right. Cool, cool.
So I’m kind of a geek like that. I’ve always really been to the idea of just collecting as much knowledge about different training philosophies and styles. A couple of years back, about two and a half years ago, I was just really, really into lifting a lot of weights.
Just like every guy goes through that stage where they just want to be jacked, I just wanted to lift as many heavy objects as possible and put on as much muscle as possible.
I was literally 50 pounds heavier than I am now.
Ryan: That’s a crazy feeling.
Mike: Man, honestly, I felt horrible. I didn’t move well. I always had these kinds of injuries popping up. My joints didn’t feel well. I always had some sort of inflammation going on and I was just like man, this is not something that I want to stay in nor is it something I feel like I can sustain much longer.
I just knew that I needed to change and I completely went the opposite direction. So I just put down the weights and started only studying body weight discipline.
So starting with gymnastics, then getting into parkour, then doing some circus arts stuff with some hand balancing and then eventually got into break dancing, which is an interesting experience having no rhythm.
Ryan: Go white boy! Go white boy!
Mike: Exactly. So that’s always fun at weddings and things like that.
So it completely blew my mind, man. I mean it just opened up a complete new experience as far as how I saw fitness, how I saw my ability as an athlete and it just kind of – it brought back this feeling of like wow, this is what I got into this for is figuring out my own limits and I had no prior training as far as gymnastics or anything like that.
So being 30 years old and learning how to like run up at a wall and do a back flip was the coolest thing. I was like this is it, man.
So again it really got me into that head space of, “OK, every time that I train, it’s a practice.” So everyday that I go in and I work out, it’s about practice. It’s about learning and going in and just trying to create those skills and working on them every single day.
So I don’t even consider my workouts workouts anymore. They literally are – it’s a practice.
Ryan: Yeah, and that’s what I love about what you’re doing is you talk about how you’re not doing capoeira or parkour or anything like that. You’re just using interesting movements that you like to do and then you’ve taken those and put them into your own system.
So let’s talk about that. That’s why we’re here. So you were lifting weights and doing stuff and I’m assuming that you were training people in the weightlifting world as well, right?
Ryan: So then like one day you’re like, “OK, enough of this. I’m going to go bodyweight.” What happened there as far as like – of course obviously, you wanted to get away from it. But tell us a little bit about the change and then creating your own system. That’s what I would like to hear about.
Mike: Well, again that was kind of always my thing is again just figuring out all these different – just being a student all the time.
Mike: And really get into different philosophies and different styles. So I will go through these phases where I really try to learn more about Olympic lifts or kettlebells or whatever it was. But it’s just that idea of just always being a student. Once I get into something, just going 110 percent.
Ryan: Yeah. Sounds like somebody else I know. I don’t know who but yeah.
Mike: He sounds familiar.
Mike: So then the whole thing was like all right, so I understand programming and I understand how to put these programs together.
Now the coolest thing about it is as I was going through my own journey with bodyweight training and learning movement science, then I kind of took what I already knew about motion and about anatomy and biomechanics and just kind of put it together with all this new information and how I always experience these changes in my own body and understanding, OK – as you know with bodyweight training, it is 100 percent about progression.
Ryan: Yeah, yeah.
Mike: And that’s where people think that there – it’s limiting but it’s really not.
Mike: How far do you want to go and how much time are you willing to put into that practice?
So then it was like OK, let’s take on those things that I’ve been studying and teaching for the past 10 years and then put it together with all these new skills. Then how does that look in a program?
That’s kind of where Global Bodyweight Training was born because it was like wow, this is such a great experience. I feel like – I just want to share it with other people.
Mike: So that was the idea of putting together just instructional videos because we did – there’s so many videos out there of very, very cool calisthenics stuff and very cool kind of show-off videos and I love that. There’s just not a ton of good instructional videos.
Ryan: Well, I hear you there. Yeah.
Mike: So when I saw you guys and when I saw some other guys like Al Kavadlo and Logan and all of those guys, it was like, “All right. This is fantastic.” This is – because it really is relaying that information.
It’s just such a gift and to teach someone how to take a very basic movement like a push-up and then eventually being able to see that turn into like a planche or variations of that. It’s just such a cool thing and it’s very empowering to think like all right, I don’t need anything. I don’t need anything. A pull-up bar is like a luxury.
Ryan: Well, and that’s a good point, that empowerment to being able to control your body and feel comfortable in your body, what you’re doing, and be able to progress and do the things you want to do.
I mean I think obviously that’s why you and I get along together so well. We kind of have that same mindset about where we want to go and what we want to do.
So let’s look at your animal flow.
So you showcased this recently, some of the movements live which was awesome by the way. That was good. But you’re doing a lot of movements that are typical.
Let’s be honest. I mean people, they might go to the gym and they might think a bodyweight push-up or a bodyweight movement and they might think like just push-ups and squats and things. But you’re doing a lot of fun stuff out there with the animal flow. How do you make them accessible for a variety of people?
Mike: Yeah. Well, it’s very cool because you can – for every movement in the animal flow, there’s a regression and then there are obviously progressions that go – that I’m still figuring out.
Mike: That’s the cool thing about it. So I tell everyone in the workshops that it took me about three months to create the program and it has taken me everyday since to learn it. I’m still learning it and everyday I go and I do my animal flow practice and I just learn so much more about it.
So even the way I teach it and the way that I practice it in my own training, it’s always progressing and as I learn more about the movements themselves, it becomes that OK, so with each movement, there’s a specific goal or multiple goals. One may be power, mobility, flexibility, shoulder stability, whatever it is.
But for each movement, there are very specific goals.
So you can take – let’s say that you have someone where they need more shoulder stability. They need more rotary endurance or stability. So then you can say, “OK. Well with my programming, then I know that a jumping side kick through is going to be amazing for them.”
So it can be very specific and that’s why it has been kind of this – it has been very valuable for a lot of therapists to use because you can integrate the movement and get so much bang for your buck especially when we’re talking about full – using the body as a global unit, really integrating movement and stability, mobility, flexibility, power, strength, endurance, all of those things.
So in a very simple way, it’s just learning how to get inside your body and I always kind of talk about that.
It’s like just inviting people to get back inside of their body and it may be as simple as what we call static beast where it’s just hands and feet in contact with the ground and knees are an inch above the ground and you’re just holding that position. It’s just static beast and that can be really challenging and I think one of the biggest things when people first start with their animal flow practice is they’re just like, “Man, that is unbelievably challenging,” especially when you get guys that are really big and strong and I love those guys.
They’re my favorite because it’s like man, I’m going to challenge you with a very seemingly easy exercise that’s just going destroy you.
Ryan: Got to love it, yeah. Yeah, man. It’s so cool. Just coming back to yourself too, I mean I just love what you said about always going in there and exploring and wanting to take it up to the next level.
It just goes to show that no matter what level you’re at, whether it be a real beginner or even an advanced practitioner, you can always keep going.
So looking at you, do you have a specific movement goal that you’re working on? I mean you travel so much. Every time I like – we’re emailing each other and I’m like, “Where the hell are you now man? Where are you?” and I see pictures of you and you’re in your hotel doing crazy shit.
But anyway, what is something specific that you’re working on right now or are you just maintaining it? Are you just going through and keeping up?
Mike: Well, that’s the thing Ryan is I think one of the – the biggest lessons that I’ve learned and I’m still continuing to learn is how to progress and not just maintain while being on the road that much.
So it’s like my nutrition has to be on point. My sleep has to be on point, but then also going back to that whole idea of self-mastery.
It’s like every time I go in, there’s a goal and every time I go in, it’s very specific.
So that day I may be working on hand balances and human flags and that doesn’t mean that’s the only thing I’m going to do in that workout. But those are two skill-based movements that I’m going to focus on.
Ryan: Nice, nice.
Mike: And so what I’m practicing on now, I mean everything. But I think hand balancing – as you know, I’m kind of watching your progression and it’s so specific.
It’s that SAID principle. It’s like, “How are you going to get good at hand balancing? You’re going to do hand balancing. You’re going to do it all the time.”
So for me right now, it’s always progressing with hand balancing, always going back to those basics, the muscle-ups, the flags, the handstand push-ups.
Those movements I just feel like again it’s just – it’s a practice and it’s – every time I go in, I know that for that day, there’s going to be these key components that I’m going to focus on because I feel like – I mean unless you can bang out like 50 handstand push-ups, then you’re always going to be working on the handstand push-ups.
Ryan: That’s it.
Mike: In the end, you’re going to figure out a way to progress from there.
So yeah, I’m always trying to progress and not just maintain and that has been the goal with traveling that much and it took a while to figure out how to make that work.
But again, we don’t need anything. So give me a couple of square feet and I’m cool. I will be working out in the hallway at some hotel because my hotel room is not big enough or whatever. I get some strange looks and a lot of questions and sometimes people just turn and run the other direction.
Ryan: Yeah. I’m willing to bet that most people though just want to go up and say, “Hey, that’s the famous Mike Fitch!” I’m sure everywhere you go, you get that because you’re such an ugly individual and you don’t turn heads at all.
Of course you know I love joking with you about that.
But for those of you who don’t know, I will just go out and say it. Mike is a very attractive individual and not just movement-wise. The man – what? You model. Let’s just be honest. You’re a model. You were in what recently? Esquire magazine, is that correct?
Ryan: Details, there you go. I mean that’s why we can’t do an interview with video because you just make me look so bad. So that’s why we’re just doing an audio today by the way Mike.
Mike: That is absolutely 100 percent not true. So now you built it up like that Ryan and so someone is going to go to the site and just be completely like, “What the hell is he talking about?”
Ryan: No, I don’t think so man. I don’t think so.
Let’s get back on track here. Sorry, man.
But what are some things that you’re seeing happening with people when they start to focus on moving better instead of just doing more and more stuff?
So we talked about this earlier. So we’ve got the people who are out there and maybe they go to the gym and they just want to crank out the push-ups and the squats and look at doing reps and things like that. But what do you see when people start to realize that they can move better and feel better?
Mike: Man, it’s the coolest thing ever.
Movement is everything. I mean moment is everything and I think the problem is that so many people are disconnected from their body and they don’t have a lot of spatial awareness. They don’t really understand how their body or even what they’re capable of.
So when you even just show them just a little bit and they start to understand that and like, “Wow, I really can do that,” it’s an incredible experience.
Not only that but it’s also – if you improve someone’s ability to move, you’re already making them more functional in whatever capacity that looks like.
But if you give them that, that gift of movement, teach them how to use their own body, that one body that they have for the rest of their life, it’s just such a cool thing and to see – again see someone have that “aha” moment where they actually do experience movement and not just isolation. You actually are giving them opportunities to see what they’re capable of.
Kind of like what I was talking about earlier. At 30 years old, learning how to do flips, it was just the most amazing thing to me.
But again, it’s just getting people inside their body and obviously it’s kind of cheesy but it’s like invite people back inside of their body because so many times, they’re just disconnected.
So when they come to the gym, I always ask that in workshops. I’m like, let’s say Johnny comes into the gym and he doesn’t get the opportunity to work out with one of you great trainers. What’s he going to do when he gets in the gym? Everyone goes, “Bench press, curls for the girls, crunches.”
Let’s take those very popular postural distortions and just make them much worse.
So everyone is so used to that isolation training that when you actually do get them to move as again a global or integrated system, not only is it super beneficial in multiple ways like we know. But then at the same time, it’s also fun and it’s bringing that element of play and fun back into the equation of fitness and working out and health.
Ryan: Hell, yes! Hell, yeah! Can I get an amen? Amen!
Mike: Amen, brother. Amen.
Ryan: All right Mike. So what have you got coming up? What can we be looking forward to that you have on the horizon for all of us?
Mike: Well, we have the hand balancing video coming out.
Ryan: That’s what I wanted you to say.
Mike: Yeah! I am so excited about this thing. We shot it on this camera called the Red Camera.
Ryan: Yeah, you were talking about that. That’s crazy. Yeah, go ahead. I’m sorry. I will just shut up and listen. Yeah.
Mike: And I don’t know if you saw the Equinox Animal Flow home movie.
Ryan: Oh, yeah.
Mike: That’s what they shot it on and it’s just such an amazing quality. When you see it, it’s just like wow. I mean we had a really fantastic crew and we hired some great guys to come in and use this camera.
The cool thing about this video is it’s hand balancing but it’s kind of three different styles of balancing. So you have gymnastic style which one of my coaches Alan is just a bad ass and so this guy is my parkour coach. We also do some gymnastic stuff together.
So he does the majority or we kind of share that section of the hand balancing video. So that’s very cool. It’s a very classic gymnast style hand balancing.
Then we also have break dancing hand balancing. So another one of my prior coaches brought him in and so he does a lot of cool freezes and just kind of shows hand balancing in that whole world.
Then the last style is kind of more bar athlete style, so it’s parallettes, parallel bars, a little bit more of like an art style.
Mike: Rather than a hollow or straight back. It’s funny because in hand balancing, people get very opinionated on what’s considered “correct”.
Mike: It’s all good. Again it’s movement and/or lack of movement in hand balancing and so who’s to say what’s right or wrong.
It’s just all good. It’s all good and so that’s kind of a cool thing about this video is showing three very different styles but also kind of again bringing you from very basic this-is-your-beginning point before you can go and do all this other crazy shit.
Ryan: Good. And the clips that you’ve put out there so far, I just love them, that you’ve got out there. So where can we see those?
But that’s our goal especially now. It’s just to get or become more consistent with getting our instructional videos out.
It has just been so crazy with the travel but that’s my big goal is just to get more information out there. So you will see a lot more instructional videos. They’re just free. They’re on the site. They’re on YouTube and then the hand balancing videos are coming up and then we – another very cool thing that I’m really excited about is the Animal Flow will eventually open back up.
So right now, the workshops have been exclusive to Equinox. However soon, phase two, it will now go global again which I’m really looking forward to. Yeah, yeah.
Ryan: So once again, GlobalBodyweightTraining.com. Got to go and check out Mike. Any last words buddy?
Mike: Man, I’m just psyched to get to talk to you.
Ryan: Yeah, it has been a while.
Mike: I just think it’s really cool that – to all the support that guys like us that have very similar ideas of training. I just want to share it with other people how we can all kind of support each other and again just link up and do podcasts, do guest articles and just it’s a very cool community.
Ryan: Yeah, it’s a lot of fun. I’m loving it, loving it.
All right, man. I got to thank you again for chatting with me. Like I said, it has been a while because we haven’t talked in quite a while. So I’m just happy that we could actually get this recorded and let everybody hear more about you.
So once again, that’s Mike Fitch, GlobalBodyweightTraining.com. Go check it out. Thanks again Mike.
Mike: Hey, man. Thank you!
Mike: Just keep on moving man.
Ryan: Keep on moving.
Mike’s approach to movement mastery really speaks to the ideas we teach at GMB. His program Animal Flow is all about exploring your body’s movement abilities.
Mike also helped us out a few months ago by creating a bonus hand balancing flow included with Floor Two. It’s a great addition to our basic acrobatics program.