When you see something unfamiliar, it’s natural to try to put a label on that thing, to try to put it into a context you understand.
We get this all the time when people first see what we do here at GMB.
If I had a nickel for every time someone commented on a video of ours saying, “That’s just yoga,” or “Isn’t this just a form of capoeira?” or simply, “I don’t understand what is happening in this video,” I’d be exorbitantly rich in nickels.
It’s not because we’re teaching anything “new” (there’s really no such thing), but because our approach to movement and exercise is quite a bit different from what most people have seen before.
So what exactly do we teach? In this article, I’ll explain:
- Our backgrounds (so you can understand how this all came together)
- What we don’t teach
- What we do teach
- The principles that guide what we teach (these principles can help inform any training you do!)
Let’s get into it!
How This Whole “GMB” Thing Came Together
Andy, Jarlo, and I started GMB in 2010. We all had different backgrounds, but we had a common goal: To teach people how to move better, without all the bullshit and false promises that are rampant in the fitness industry. So we started putting together programs that would help people improve their physical attributes for whatever goals they had.
We met through another fitness company we’d all been involved in, and before long, we started putting the pieces together.
All three of us had extensive backgrounds in martial arts, plus I had done competitive gymnastics throughout my childhood and teenage years. Jarlo was a physical therapist, Andy had mastered the art of teaching, and we’d all done quite a bit of coaching by this point.
It was this deep experience in a pretty wide array of disciplines that helped us learn, not just specific forms or modalities, but the principles that underlie the most effective training.
That’s how we’ve been able to help tens of thousands of clients. But that’s not why we started GMB in the first place.
When we first started talking about what would eventually become GMB, it was because each of us had realized something really simple, but really important. It was that when we applied the principles of really good training, it not only made us better at whatever martial art or sport we were training for, but also helped us move better with less pain in every other part of our lives.
And we realized through our past experiences that those connections–between training and movement in other areas–is lacking in most systems.
That’s why we started GMB. To help people experience the benefits of better movement throughout life.
What We Don’t Teach
As you can see, the three of us have experience in a wide array of disciplines, and there’s no question that you’ll see aspects of those disciplines throughout our programs.
But, here’s the thing: We don’t teach any of those disciplines.
Having been a competitive gymnast for many years, it would be not only wrong, but disrespectful, to say that we teach gymnastics–it’s a specific sport with specific rules set out for competitions, and that is not what we do.
Likewise for martial arts, or yoga, or any of the other disciplines with which we have experience.
We would never claim to teach those things because we don’t teach those things. And it’s important to understand that, in order to really understand what we do teach.
What We Do Teach
We teach you to get stronger, move better, and build total confidence in your body–plain and simple.
That way, whether you’re into martial arts, climbing, Crossfit, or other stuff, or if you’re looking to get back in shape and fix some aches and pains, you can use our training to make your body more capable and less injury-prone for everything you do.
How do we do that? By structuring our programs around skills and attributes that will help you get what you want and need from your body. We break these attributes down into the core components of Strength, Flexibility/Mobility, and Body Control.
Strength: The Force for Movement
Strength is vitally important.
It makes our lives so much easier when we are strong enough to do all the things we want, and have some extra in the bank when we aren’t feeling our best.
But strength should be viewed as a means to an end, and really that end is up to you.
Rather than forcing training for continued strength with no real endpoint, use it as a vehicle and take it as far as you need to, to get to the goals that you really want. Yes, being strong is great, but what do want to be strong for?
Figure that out and you’re on your way to more effective and personally useful training.
We train our clients and design our programs for full body strengthening to improve capability for particular goals and skills.
This provides appropriate training that’s meaningful for the specific client’s needs and desires. Some people are just fine working to add some more weight to the barbell or another rep in their bench press, but many people aren’t motivated by that, so we are showing them a different path.
Flexibility: The Freedom of Movement
Flexibility doesn’t mean being able to do the splits (though it can if that’s what you really want). It means being able to move the way you want and not feel restricted.
Some people will feel the need to attain the splits–perhaps they are in a kicking-oriented martial art, or practice acrobatics where that level of flexibility is very useful–whereas others have other flexibility needs. One of my favorite client comments is from a plumber who told us that stretching helped him to squeeze into the tight spaces in his job!
You don’t need to stretch as much as a contortionist to get benefits from stretching, and neither do you have to be fearful of it as some people seem to be in the last few years.
Flexibility training should be performed as needed to fit your particular wants. We’ve written a lot about stretching so no need to beat this poor horse any longer here–the main point is that if you don’t feel as loose as you’d like, then you should work on your flexibility.
Body Control: The Autonomy of Movement
Now we’ve come to my favorite part of our curriculum–learning how to move our bodies in a variety of functional, as well as seemingly impractical ways.
The love for the creativity of physical expression is deeply engrained in my psyche, and I think that’s true for the majority of human beings as well. Whether it’s watching athletes in specific sports, or enjoying dance performance, or simply watching people walk, run, and jump at the park, I love seeing people move and reveal themselves in their movement.
You can tell a lot by just watching someone move.
Most fitness programs lack an emphasis on body control, but without the ability to control our movements, our strength and flexibility can only take us so far.
When you see dancers or gymnasts moving with grace, you’re witnessing the amount of effort they’ve put in to their body control. But body control is not only relegated to professional athletes–it’s essential for getting the most out of your training at any stage.
And if you can control your body well in your training, you’ll be able to control it well in life too.
The Principles that Drive What We Teach
Andy is fond of saying that we’re not a fitness company; we’re an education company that teaches fitness.
We are educators, first and foremost, and our primary goal is to teach accessible methods to improve your physical abilities, whether you need more strength, flexibility, balance, coordination, or some combination thereof.
The specific movements and skills we teach are not unique–we obviously didn’t make any of these up.
But the principles that drive our company are essential to our methodology of teaching these skills. How we teach is a lot more important to us than the specifics of what we teach.
1. We Don’t Care About Your Abs
In case you haven’t noticed, there’s an obsession with abs in the fitness industry that’s seeped into every corner of modern society.
There’s nothing wrong with having visible abs–if you’ve got them, kudos to you for putting in the work it takes to make that happen. But the size of your stomach has very little to do with how you move and function in your daily life and training goals (unless, of course, you’re a professional fitness model).
So no, we don’t care about your abs, and we don’t focus on physique at all in our programs (I know, that’s almost unheard of for a fitness company–but like I said, we’re not really a fitness company).
Instead, we focus on helping you build the attributes you need to move better in whatever activities you care about.
2. Life Doesn’t Revolve Around Exercise
So many fitness companies try to shame you into worrying about “optimal” fitness choices even when you’re just trying to enjoy a burrito or hang out with your family. We’re told that we need to turn our lives upside down to make fitness a priority.
But your life doesn’t revolve around fitness, nor should it.
I do this for a living, and my life still doesn’t revolve around fitness. There’s no question, if I don’t put a sufficient amount of time into my training, I’d probably have to start looking for a new job. But, my life revolves around my family, teaching, and working toward personal goals. My training makes that all possible.
That’s one of our guiding principles–your training should fit (and enhance!) your life, not the other way around.
3. Train for What You Care About
There are lots of fitness gurus out there who will tell you why their way is the “right” way. And yeah, it probably worked great for them. But chances are you don’t want exactly the same things they want.
When you work toward someone else’s goals for you, more often than not, you’ll wind up doing workouts that you hate, over and over.
That’s only going to make you resent exercising, and will lead you nowhere good.
So be clear on what’s really important to you and work toward that. You want to be able to run a marathon in honor of your friend who beat cancer? Train for that. You want to have an easier time squatting down to play with your kids? Then work on your squat.
Train for what really means something to you, and you’ll get a lot more out of it.
4. Focus on What’s Holding You Back
We have a tendency to focus on doing the things we’re already pretty good at–because it feels good to be good at things!
But if you’ve been training hard and are still struggling with pains or limited range of motion, it’s a pretty safe bet that doing more of the same isn’t gonna change that.
We prioritize assessing what’s holding you back, so that you can address those weak points directly. It may be a bit more challenging initially, but you’ll be amazed at the progress you can make with this approach.
5. Have Some Fun, Dammit!
Fitness has turned into a masochistic ritual, where people force themselves to beat up their bodies as punishment for their indulgences. Why the hell would anyone want to do that?
It really doesn’t have to be that way.
Do things you enjoy! Have fun with the ways you make your body stronger and more mobile. And don’t be afraid to break out of the way you’ve always done things.
Play is an essential part of what we teach here at GMB. It’s not just because it’s fun (though that’s an important aspect!), but it’ll also help you make faster–and more enjoyable–progress in your training and life goals.
See What it’s All About
As I’ve said from the beginning, we are teachers. We’ve trained and studied and taught for many years to many different people in a variety of movement disciplines.
I’m happy to say that we’ve let a lot of unnecessary dogma and absolutes fall behind and have become better educators along the way.
Our varied, but at the same time, similar, backgrounds created a unique combination of expertise and finesse.
We not only understand the skills and movements we teach, we also know how to teach them in a way that everyone can learn. We teach strength and movement skills to people that want to enjoy their physical capabilities with a sense of freedom and play.
Strong, flexible, and coordinated doesn’t mean anything until it’s connected to your personal situation, and we provide the tools and guidance to take you there.
Learn to Create Your Physical Autonomy
With Elements, you’ll get the first steps of our curriculum to systematically build your strength, flexibility, and motor control, from the fundamentals up to complex movement patterns.