Nate Mezmer is an accomplished event producer and high level trainer & coach with expertise in track & movement training.
His super power is bringing people together and creating community, which he’s combined with his passion for fitness.
In this podcast episode, I discuss with Nate how he thinks about building a free community workout, why it’s important, along with his training evolution from very heavy lifting to a movement focus.
What You’ll Learn
- The simplest way to start a free community workout
- How to enjoy great workouts with little to no equipment
- How Nate shifted his approach to movement training
- Why building ligaments & tendons is more important than muscle
- Why there’s no perfect fitness routine
Nate & Brands
- Hideshi Okamoto (@hideshisaisei)
- Marcus Martinez (@kettlebellexercises)
- Eric Leija (@primal.swoledier)
- Venus Lau (@venus2bfab)
- Vishal Kumar (@coach_vishalkumar)
- Hunter Cook (@hunterfitness)
- Tom Weksler (@tomweksler)
- Bret Contreras (@bretcontreras1)
About Nate Mezmer
Nate is the co-founder of EyeHeart SF, which produces music festivals and concerts & City Fit Fest, which is a fitness event also based in San Francisco, and ALLNESS that works with Fitness & Wellness talent in LA, the Bay, and beyond. Nate is also a high level trainer & coach with expertise in athletics/track & movement training. His super power is bringing people together and creating community.
Westside Fit Club Workout Example
I mentioned in the podcast I would include a feel for what the westside fit club workouts are like. For some innovative partner exercises, check out @westsidefitclub on instagram.
- Standing cat / cow stretch
- Squat exploration
(3 sets 1-minute on, 30-seconds off)
- 5 Push ups with crawling any way you want (5 cones, 2-meters between each)
- Crawling partner band resisted
- 1 arm plank with wooden dowel partner pulling resistance
(3 sets 1-minute on, 30-seconds off)
- One leg hopping with balance to cones
- Sprinting band resisted partner running
- Dowel biceps curl partner resisted
- Full body stretching
Marc Perry: Hey guys, welcome to the BuiltLean podcast. I’m Marc Perry the creator of BuiltLean, which helps men with demanding careers get lean, strong and functionally fit with exceptional vitality. And so today, I have Nate Mezmer with me, and Nate is the co-founder of Eye Heart SF, which produces music festivals and concerts, and City Fit Fest, which is a fitness event also based in San Francisco and Allness that works with fitness and wellness talent in LA, the Bay Area and beyond. And so Nate is also a high-level trainer and coach with expertise in athletics and track and movement training, and his superpower is bringing people together and creating community. And so I’ve seen Nate over the last two years at Gold’s Gym in Venice where I work out, and he’s seriously strong and fit. And more recently, I’ve done a few Westside Fit Club workouts, which is a free Santa Monica community workout every Saturday that Nate and a few other fitness professionals have created, and they’re awesome. It’s like really high-level instruction, for free. It’s hard to beat. So, with that said, thanks so much for joining me today, Nate. I appreciate it.
Nate Mezmer: Thank you. Thank you, Marc. I really appreciate being here. Thank you for those kind words, the super power of bringing people together. I have finally, over the last several years, accepted that that’s what my super power is. I won’t be going to the Olympics or setting any world records unless it is creating community through movement and health and wellness.
Marc Perry: Awesome, man. And so let’s dive in, kinda talk a little bit about your background. So, how did you get into coaching and training others, and then more specifically with movement training?
Nate Mezmer: So, I was a track and field athlete in college. In high school, rewind before that, I did basketball in high school in my junior and senior year in the Bay Area at Carlmont High School, and I also ran track. I thought I was pretty good at basketball, but I’m not very tall. I’m 5’10”-ish, maybe 5’11” with shoes on. And I played the same position in basketball as the coach’s son, and the coach’s son set the school record for the most shot attempts ever. So, that was challenging. I did really well in summer league and then didn’t get to play very much during the year, and that messed with my confidence. And around the same time I decided to run track. I knew that I could run, but I hadn’t ran track before. And so I did really well in track and field in high school, and just kept going from there. And I went to junior college first, and junior college track kept me on track, so to speak, in terms of being interested in school.
And I wasn’t very interested in general schooling in high school, the way that things were taught. I didn’t have very many teachers that were really interesting to me, and just the standardised education, test scores and all that kind of thing, didn’t really speak to me, but track kept me going. And so that ended up round about got me into UC Davis, University of California Davis, and I ran track there. Track got me into school, so that was awesome. And lucky for me, I had some really great coaching and some really not so great coaching, and that really has been foundational for me as a coach ever since. And I won’t get into too much of the not so great coaching right away here. But at the end of my track career in college, I ended up connecting with a coach, a Japanese man by the name of Hideshi Okamoto who he had coached the Japanese Olympic team at some level. He coached University of Colorado sprinters, and he had actually sort of coached/managed Maurice Greene, who was a world record holder in the 100 meters. And he had worked with all types of levels of people, not just Olympic athletes and college track athletes, but he had worked with elderly folks, cyclists, young children in teaching them how to move.
Long story short, I was able to start training with him, and I was able to run better with him than I did in college without training as much, without running as much. And then he sort of showed me new ways to move my body and balance and just new styles of training that… This was 20 years ago to date myself, so he had people balancing on stability balls in 2001. And he had people doing weird movement that is now starting to be a little bit more popular today. And changing theories of less volume, more plyometrics, different types of angles and stretches. So, it was really cool to learn from him really early on. This was, I guess this was more about 2003 or 2004 when I really started working with him. And then from there, I began coaching kids. I began coaching young athletes. I began coaching some older folks, and he kinda taught me about pain and different kinds of posture things, and so that was really formative.
And then I kinda stored that away, and then I was young, and then just went in another direction for a while with just lifting weights, heavyweights in the gym. And then that moved me along to all types of things, which went to calisthenics. I got really into calisthenics when I moved back to the Bay Area, the Bay Area is a big area for calisthenics. Some of the strongest calisthenics and most original creative calisthenics athletes have been or are in the Bay Area. And so, for better or worse, I started doing things like muscle ups, which is fun, but I’m 41 years old now, and I don’t know that they’re the best thing for me at this point although it is a great skill to learn if you can get that much strength. And then… I know this is a little bit all over the place, and I’ll get to the event side of things and how it led to a few other things. But basically like five years ago, I took… Maybe it was five or six years ago, I took a cert for Onnit kettlebells.
And I had done kettlebells before and I thought I was pretty good at it, but it wasn’t until I met Marcus Martinez, who was the head curriculum coach for Onnit at the time. And his assistant at the time was Eric Leija, @primal.swoledier on Instagram, who’s now really famous via Instagram. He was Marcus’s assistant, and I learned a lot from that experience and then became friends with Marcus. And I also met Venus Lau in that cert, and she’s a master coach essentially for animal flow.
Marc Perry: Cool.
Nate Mezmer: And so that just opened up a whole new can of worms for me, and I kinda went down a bunch of different rabbit holes at that point.
Marc Perry: Nice, man. I remember we talked about, we were both athletes in college, and how around that time that we were both in college, around the early 2000s, it’s like it was just volume and heavy weights and just crush. It was like, I remember at one point, our whole team just has low back issues and stuff. It’s like, “What’s going on here?” And we talked about how there has definitely been a very positive shift more towards movements, and now I think it’s even better. It’s just getting better and better. So, I definitely feel you with that kind of that transformation, that journey. I think I’ve had something not too dissimilar, going down that rabbit hole of high volume and then shifting more towards a little bit more movement. It sounds like that’s kind of what you’ve done.
Nate Mezmer: Absolutely. I mean, the head coach that I had during my track and field days at UC Davis was very experienced on the world level. However, I would say that she trained us like we were Olympic athletes that didn’t have to go to school or didn’t have to worry about where the food was coming from and also maybe people who were on illegal supplements, but we weren’t.[chuckle]
Marc Perry: I see what you’re saying. [chuckle]
Nate Mezmer: Maybe if I was on some of the stuff the Olympic athletes were on, like maybe I could have handled the workouts a little bit better, but that’s not what we were doing then. So, it was a little extreme. And then we had a strength coach come in one year, who was, I believe, fourth in the Olympics in the shot put, I think that’s what it was. He was very, very high level. Incredible, incredible athlete. This guy was like 6’1″ or so, like 280 pounds and he could dunk a basketball, just incredibly explosive. And that was really impressive, but he came in and took over the weight room program for the track athletes, for the sprinters. I was running the 400 meters for the most part, a little bit of 200. And he had us cleaning all kinds of weight and then we didn’t really… No one really taught us how to clean. They just kinda put weight on it and yelled at us, and then we did these incredibly heavy rack squats where you’re putting on double the amount of weight you can squat and just pushing it up a few inches. I think I remember telling you this when we briefly chatted is, I believe that was the heaviest I ever bench pressed when I was training for the 400 meters, which makes no sense at all. If you see the best guys in track and field, they have plenty of muscle, but very few of them look like bench pressers.
Marc Perry: Right, you’re not maxing out bench press. [chuckle] It’s like…
Nate Mezmer: Yeah, the world record holder in the 400 meters right now is still Wayde van Niekerk from South Africa, and from a distance, he looks skinny. You get closer to him, you can tell he’s got a lot of muscle, but he’s not benching 300 pounds. And there’s a new kid right now from LSU, named Terrance Laird. I believe he is a junior, not even a senior, maybe in college. Maybe he’s a senior in college, but either way he is a young kid from LSU. I’m not saying he’s gonna be Usain Bolt, but he is incredibly, incredibly talented. And he is so skinny, and he is running… He just ran a 9.8, 100 meters, slightly winded it. I believe he has the fastest or second-fastest 200 meters in the world right now out of LSU, and this kid is skinny. So…[chuckle]
Marc Perry: He’s not benching 350.
Nate Mezmer: No, he’s not benching 350. And when I say skinny, he’s pure muscle. He has plenty of muscle. He’s just not big. He’s not bulking on a bunch of weight, and he’s… This is what I wish I knew back then. It’s not really about how much muscle you have, it’s about how you can organise yourself, and if compartmentally, you look at a body builder and they might have really big biceps, really big legs, but put them in a 40-yard sprint and they might blow up. Or you take a football player who can run that 40 really, really fast, but then they make cuts in the game untouched and they tear something. And so organisationally, if we’re not able to move well, if we’re not able to be resilient, if our joints, our ligaments, our tendons are not able to keep up with where our muscles wanna go or where our brain is telling us to go, then things blow up, things tear, things rip, things strain. And I think in a way, I was so traumatised by my college sports career that I’ve been in recovery ever since. I think I finally started to come out on the other side, but my body is still kind of in this really tense like fight or flight often, and then I’m like, “Okay, I gotta breathe”.
Marc Perry: Dude, I had wrist surgery, and I’ve had lower back surgery. I basically broke myself in college with the lifting, so that’s been a part of the inspiration for me to do what I’m doing and create more functionally fit humans versus just load them up. And so I actually wanted to ask you about City Fit Fest and how it’s a fusion of fitness, wellness and mindfulness, those three things. And create a little bit more context so people understand this conversation like, what is fitness? What is wellness? What is mindfulness? And why are they important?
Nate Mezmer: Yeah. So, a little background on, before we started the City Fit Fest event. I had been producing large events for 10-plus years in San Francisco, and I live in Santa Monica now, and the events led me to Santa Monica. So, in college, I was a track team guy and a history major actually, but I also was throwing hip-hop shows. And it paid bills that I didn’t know that it could pay, and so I just kept doing it. And years later, when I started to get tired of the unwellness of festival and night life-related entertainment events, at the same time, I had always been doing some coaching and a lot of hardcore training on my own, but I was burning both ends. I was up and down. And I went to a fitness expo, and I got there and I looked around and I just told myself, I’m like, “This is not where I wanna be”. It was just a bunch of people selling supplements and kind of flexing for Instagram, and there was not really any education happening, there wasn’t really any movement happening, and the community didn’t really seem healthy. It was just like this sort of old school, like ’80s and ’90s, like fitness being projected on to us in today’s world. But I was like, “We’ve moved past this. No one here got the memo, but we’ve moved past this”, or we are at least moving past this, right?
Marc Perry: Right.
Nate Mezmer: And so I was like, “There needs to be another type of experience that can introduce people to like healthy fitness”. And what does that look like? And so I talked to a few partners in mind with the event industry, and I was like, “We need to do a fitness and wellness festival”. And so we came up with this concept of Allness, which was essentially taking fitness, wellness and mindfulness and compressing it together. And it’s all the ness, Allness, and we were like, “Wow, this is a great idea. We should call it Allness, and just do allness this, allness that”. And then we sort of were like, “I don’t know if people are ready for that, and maybe they don’t understand what we’re trying to do. So let’s just call it City Fit Fest”. And it was happening in San Francisco, which is called the City. People in the Bay Area call San Francisco, the City. So we were just like, “Well, it’s a fit fest. It’s the City, City Fit Fest”.
But then when people attended the event, there was allness things happening everywhere. So, you may have your various Boot Camp class over here, but you’d have your movement session over here, your breath work session over here. We had a yoga for men session, and at the same time we had a weight lifting for women session. And women could attend the yoga for men, and the men could attend the women’s weightlifting if they wanted to, but we were influencing people to try something maybe new. And it worked incredibly well. Unfortunately, we spent too much money on the first one, and that kind of put us into a tough situation on the second one. That was in 2017, then 2018. Then 2019, we did a really great one. I think our best one by far was our third year, and we had… Who do we have?
We had really great coaches, we had Bret Contreras, very notable, the glute guy. And Bret’s a great guy. I actually have some experiences training with Bret that I can expand upon. He’s not just the glute guy actually, he does do a lot more than that, or know a lot more than that. We had Massy Arias, who’s a very famous fitness influencer for women and moms. And then we had a lot of movement stuff. So, we had Venus Lau teaching animal flow. We had Michelle Kumar, and a good friend of mine, Amir, he goes by @beardthebestyoucanbe on Instagram. He’s really famous for crazy mobility and sissy squats and FRC mastery. And then, I don’t know, we had all types of things, we just wanted to have things people could experience and then go where they wanna go with it afterwards, and then see where it could take them.
The problem for me was, is that I wanted to do more of that, but organising a festival was really tough and a lot of work. And then it was all about raising money and scale, scale, scale, and what’s the exit strategy for the investors and all that, and I was like, “I don’t know if I wanna get into this”. And then while I was contemplating where is this gonna go, COVID happens. And COVID, being really terrible for a lot of unwell people unfortunately, it was good for me in that I was able to stop thinking about all this event stuff and sort of just go inward and focus on what I really wanted to do. And that led me to, alright, I wanna focus on smaller groups, more intimate settings, workshops, retreats, the outdoor fitness community that you’re a part of now as well. So yeah, hopefully, that makes sense.
Marc Perry: Cool. No, it’s great, and the Allness name is actually brilliant. I didn’t put that together, I’m like, fitness, wellness, mindfulness, putting it all together. And so one thing you’re really passionate about, Nate, is making fitness and wellness more accessible. So, what do you mean by that? And how do you think that can be accomplished?
Nate Mezmer: I think that what I do with Westside Fit Club now in Santa Monica, which is approaching about two… We’ve been doing it for two and a half years. We started it well before the pandemic occurred, and we were really well-suited to handle the pandemic because we had already been doing all these outdoor gatherings. But I had done a lot of outdoor fitness boot camp-type stuff in San Francisco, and often it was either free or very, very affordable. And I got a lot of joy out of bringing people together in that way, because when it was either free or very affordable, I can go in any direction with what I’m offering, and the expectation is completely different. Whereas if you’re charging $20, $30, $40, $50, or maybe $100-$200 on a personal training level, there’s expectations by the person that’s paying this high dollar amount, which is understandable.
But when you do something that’s very accessible or even free, you can kind of go in any direction and people are very happy to go with you on that journey. And when I was in San Francisco doing this, there were obstacles to my journey. One of the obstacles was the weather. San Francisco is a great, great place for many things, or at least was a great place for many things when it was more affordable, but the weather is schizophrenic. It’s an unhealthy, unstable relationship; one hour it’s sunny, the next it’s winter. And so you can never really count on what the weather’s gonna be like, and because of that I think it makes it tough to create community with outdoors experience, but it also lends itself to maybe more work hard play hard, a lot of drinking and stuff, and so sometimes people are not able to wake up to make the 9:00 or 10:00 AM session.
When I moved down to Santa Monica, the beauty was, the weather is always pretty good and you can do a lot of things outdoors. And at that point I also no longer really was involved with nightlife, I very rarely would I go out on Friday night at this point in my life and have several drinks. And so I realised that the most important thing to me was no longer Friday and Saturday night, it was Saturday and Sunday morning.
Marc Perry: Interesting.
Nate Mezmer: And once that shift occurred, and it occurred over several years, it wasn’t just like one day I was like, “Oh, I’m gonna quit drinking, and just be all this health guru or something”. It was a phase. Phase in, phase out. And I’ve never been happier looking forward to my Saturday and Sunday mornings. And so, organising outdoor community in an accessible way, often these free classes, I realised the importance of community, like, why are people going to the bar? Well, they wanna see people, they wanna be around bodies; people go into bars and restaurants, and if it’s crowded, they’re like, “Yeah, let’s go there. Let’s be close to people”. When the pandemic happened, everyone was super depressed because they weren’t around people anymore. And even though our culture tends to be like, isolate people in certain ways emotionally, ’cause everyone’s like, “Oh, I gotta pay rent and I gotta make money”, at the end of the day, people really wanna connect with other human beings, and fitness and wellness is the same thing.
Why do people slam themselves into a CrossFit class? Like they want the community of that even if they’re not being taught properly how to do Olympic lifting, depending on the box or the coach. So community is the most important thing other than taking care of ourselves first. We have to take care of ourselves first, so that we can then show up for others. And for me it’s like, “Wow, I can bring all these people together in an outdoor setting and expose them to healthy practices of movement and empowering themselves and getting stronger”, and you see the smiles on people’s faces, and there’s nothing quite like it. And then when the pandemic hit, it’s really important, like it really hit home how important community is.
Like if I didn’t have this outdoor fitness community, I mean, my experience during the pandemic would have been much more challenging. But for me, I’m lucky, I’m privileged, I have an apartment four blocks from the beach of Santa Monica, I have resources, and then I have this community. And so that just was game-changing, life-changing for me over the past year or so. And I firmly believe that what I do here can be duplicated everywhere. And really we should pressure our local city officials, our state officials, our federal government officials, to fund things like this. Because if people had access to healthy movement and wellness all over the place in every little city and town, we would have much different outcomes and approaches to other things like school and work and everything else.
Marc Perry: Interesting. I was just thinking how can, a guy who’s listening, it’s like how could he translate that into his own community? Maybe it’s like he can potentially partner with someone or create it. And I’m just kind of curious like, how would you go about that? Or any advice on that?
Nate Mezmer: Definitely, I would say if someone’s out there and they’re considering it, I would say do it. I would say, do it this weekend. Go out there by yourself if you have to, and if you see someone that’s interested, maybe invite them into what you’re doing. If you can get one other person to agree to meet up with you, then you’re already good to go. If you have two people, you and someone else, you’re already making moves. I think, you know, the first one I did in San Francisco many years ago, had three or four people. And then the first one I did in Santa Monica two and a half years ago, when I started Westside Fit Club, it was me, my mom and two other people. And my mom was visiting.
Marc Perry: [chuckle] Nice.
Nate Mezmer: Yeah, so it started small, and a lot of the people who now are members literally stumbled upon us at some point. There was a guy… Or, you know him, I think Mick, with the curly hair, a lot of high energy. He was looking for a Qi Gong class being hosted by Troy Casey, the health nut. And he was like, “Is this the Qi Gong class?” And I’m like, “No. But you can join us if you want”. And he just jumped into this session and has basically been there almost every week ever since, over a year and a half or two years ago.
Marc Perry: Interesting.
Nate Mezmer: And so it’s really just about getting and going. And what I also say is, let’s say you plan to do this session and you go out there, and a couple of people told you they were gonna come and then nobody shows up and you’re there by yourself. Now that’s just an opportunity for you to work on your own movement, like turn it into a movement practice, meditation or a workout or whatever skill that you wanna work on. Don’t take it personally that no one showed up. Just do it again next week. Someone’s gonna come and you’re gonna build it that way. There’s also a forgotten way to make things happen in real life as opposed to on social media, and that is literally just like hand people things, like business cards, put up posters and flyers around your town. People will see it, it doesn’t just have to be through Instagram.
Marc Perry: Cool. And so I’m just thinking… By the way I loved your idea of like, “Hey, if no one shows up, that’s great, because you can just do your own workout”. [chuckle] I love that. ‘Cause, yeah, there’s so many people create their obstacles, right, it’s like, “Oh, what happens if no one shows up?” Well then you get a great workout on your own. And so in terms of keeping that consistency, dude, you’ve been doing this for two and a half years, you have really high-level trainers who are also involved who were dedicating their time for free, which is wild. It’s like, how have you kept it so consistent? ‘Cause I imagine, if myself and people who are listening, they’re like, “Okay, well, I come up with this idea to do something, it’s like maybe I can do it for a season”, which is an idea, that’s possible. Maybe I just do it for a season like, “Oh, during the spring, we’re gonna do a spring thing”, but I guess what you’ve done is different in that you’ve kept it going every week. Like, how have you done that?
Nate Mezmer: So, it’s kind of interesting how… I’ve thought about this before, and one aspect, it’s interesting, actually comes from the less healthy part of my past, which was producing events. And I remember, this was many, many years ago, there would be a lot of weekly parties and stuff, like, oh, Wednesday nights you go here, Thursday nights you go here; and there was all these weekly parties and stuff. And the weekly events that were the most consistent were simply the ones that had been going on the longest. I remember there was these old-school promoters that were like in their late 40s and early 50s throwing parties with 20-year-olds, and they had been hosting these like parties for 10-plus years every single day, on the same night every week. I was like, Wow, that’s crazy. A, I was like, I don’t wanna do that forever in the party sense of things, but I respected that they showed up every week and created that community. And so I kind of had that experience. I also worked at a college radio station when I was in high school, and the radio station was this underground hip-hop radio, and the guy who had hosted it had hosted it every single Sunday for decades, and it was just really impressive to me as a young kid.
Anyhow, I would say this. When I started the Westside Fit Club in Santa Monica, my intention was not to grow a festival from it or grow a huge brand and sell it. It was literally, I wanna be around these people that are interested in similar things to me, like I wanna be around people that care about their health and wanna move and… Can I swear on this podcast? [chuckle]
Marc Perry: Dude, you can do whatever you want, man.
Nate Mezmer: It’s like, I wanna be…
Marc Perry: I’ll edit it out if you did. [chuckle]
Nate Mezmer: I wanna be around people that give a shit or give a fuck about things that matter, and so I think health and wellness and healthy community matters, and so I wanna be around those types of people, so I’m gonna create an opportunity for people to gather around that type of thing. And so I did it for myself. I didn’t do it to create a brand necessarily. Now as it was happening, I realised that like, “Oh, well, if I’m always gathering these people on Saturday, and I’m offering it to them for free, there will be people who are also going to be interested in more”. And people started to contact me, “Hey, will you train me one-on-one?” And then some people have started to, over the last year or so, “Can you teach more classes during the week?” And so I’ve started to add in paid group classes during the weekday. And I limited those things during the pandemic because I didn’t really wanna deal with permitting and all that stuff that was happening at the time. But my plan is now to expand more class opportunities, and not necessarily do more… I have one-on-one clients that have come from doing the free thing, and rather than maybe taking on more and more one-on-one clients, I just wanna create more and more experiences that are either group classes, workshops or retreats. We just hosted a retreat in Sayulita, Mexico, which was a movement fitness retreat, and we had about 20 people on the retreat during the… After a year of COVID.
We weren’t really promoting it online because some people might take it the wrong way, although we took a lot of precautions. All the gatherings and all the things were outdoors and open air. We even had a doctor on site who tested people before they left. We required people to get a test before they showed up, unless they had already been vaccinated or already had COVID and all that. So we were able to do a retreat in Mexico word-of-mouth because of the community that we’ve created, and it’s based around a free gathering. So you just really you never know where something’s gonna go if you show up. I learned that a long time ago. I remember there was like maybe like a concert or some sort of event I wanted to go to when I was in my late teens, early 20s, and none of my friends wanted to go, and so I showed up by myself. And I did that several times, and the connections that I made from it ended up being people that I stayed connected with for years and years after that, that if I wouldn’t have gone, I wouldn’t have made those connections. So I say, if you don’t go, you won’t know. If you don’t show up, you just don’t know what can happen. So anyways, a long story short again, if anyone is out there that’s considering this, yes, do it, go for it, you never know what could happen.
Marc Perry: Nice, and just so for people listening, Nate created and has other fitness professionals helping him with the Westside Fit Club, and it’s basically it’s an hour, just to give people an idea, it’s basically an hour session, right? You’ve got different types of equipment, sometimes people bring some equipment. And I think it would be cool, and I’m just thinking as we’re talking, it’d be cool to maybe even include a sample workout or something, or a sample flow on this, so we have… We publish this on the BuiltLean website, on a page where you can include just a sample workout, just to give people a sense of like, what is this. It makes it more tangible and be like, “Hey, you could do this too”. Right?
Nate Mezmer: Absolutely, absolutely. So, for example, and you’ve actually done this with us, during the pandemic a lot of people ran out of equipment, and I had been training for many years with and without equipment, and also utilising everyday objects for equipment. So when I see a bench or a curb or a chair or a table, I don’t see those things the way that maybe other people see them. I’m like, “What can I do with that object or item to make it somehow part of my movement practice or my workout?” And so during the pandemic, I was purchasing kettlebells when I could, and those types of things, but I also had experience in creating movement in different ways. So I just went out and bought a ton of wooden dowels, like long sticks that are like an inch or so thick, and we started using those for workouts. So we attached resistance bands to them, we would do partner exercises where someone holds the stick while the other person… So if someone does bicep curls with it, and the other person resists, and it can be really difficult. We used these parking spots where we put the stick on the ground or the parking spot bumper, and basically you’re doing push-ups with the stick. So there’s just so many ways you can create opportunities to do movement and strength work with and without equipment, and I think that’s one of the really cool things about what we can do with group exercise outdoors. And then I think if you do it in a genuine way…
Really good coaches will wanna be around that, if they get it. For example, there’s coaches that I know on social media that have hundreds of thousands of followers, if not millions of followers. Some of them will say, “Yeah, I’ll show up at that event if you pay me $5000 or $10,000”. And others will simply understand it’s good for me to get in front of other humans and do my thing, and if I’m not… If I’m personally not charging any money or charging a lot of money, then they understand what the relationship is with that experience. And so I think there’s some people that “have a big name online” that get it, like even though they’re doing really well with their online stuff, they still wanna be in front of other people. And maybe that’s not always for a free event, but it could be still an accessible one. And I think that maybe that’s more possible here in Southern California, of course, but there’s great coaches all over the place, and you reach out to them, and invite them out, and see what they think.
Marc Perry: Right, right. No, that’s really good. I think that’s good advice. And by the way, I just also wanna mention, maybe we can include it on this post as well, is, I think you literally have a 30-minute chair workout which you launched during COVID. We could include one of your favorite workouts that you’ve done from your YouTube channel, you can definitely check out Nate’s YouTube channel. Anything else you wanna talk about that?
Nate Mezmer: Yeah. Unfortunately, I didn’t really keep developing the YouTube channel. I need to go back to it and I have so… I really need to create a catalog of…
Marc Perry: But the exercises you guys are doing, seriously just the exercises, they’re awesome.
Nate Mezmer: Yeah. Thank you. Thank you.
Marc Perry: By the way, I like going ’cause I learn, but continue…
Nate Mezmer: I’m not saying I invented all the movements that I do, but I’ve been just creating movements for so long and then borrowing other movements from other coaches and adapting movements that… I have a pretty big catalogue of movements, and then you’d go online to find them or look more into them, and they don’t really exist in a way that makes sense. It’s pretty tough to search for movements on social media or even YouTube and know that it’s good. That’s the tough part. It’s like, you could find something on YouTube, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right thing or the best thing for you. And then obviously, on Instagram, it could be completely the wrong thing. I see some of the younger, very talented, very athletic Instagram influencers post things, and I’m like, “Oh, my God, I hope other people don’t try that”, or, “Man, that looks really cool, but two years, three years, four years down the road, that person is gonna have a lot of problems based on just entertaining people for their clicks or the likes”. ‘Cause at some point the body is gonna be like, “No, we don’t wanna do that”.
I continue to learn the hard way as well. Sometimes I do things that are fun, and just because I can do them doesn’t mean I should do them. And I’m constantly having to, like, “Okay, should I do this or should I not?” Just a simple thing, like a muscle-up, muscle-ups are great, but maybe for a 41-year-old who’s trained the way that I’ve trained is not necessarily the move for me. I’ve started to do more rope climbing again, which is very, very taxing as well, but I can do it in a way that’s healthier for my shoulders as opposed to the bar stuff, like the muscle-up stuff, but… Yeah, I don’t know. The YouTube thing, I just did a chair workout, ’cause people were confused during the pandemic when the gyms closed in the beginning and they were losing their mind, like, “What am I gonna do without a gym?” And I felt for them, but I also was laughing, too, ’cause I’m like, “You can do so much with just a chair”. I wanted to show people, “Hey, this workout can be really hard if you really use a lot of intention and intensity and breath. You can kick your butt on this chair or multiple chairs, or you can progress it, and somebody that’s older or not as strong can also get a lot out of it as well”.
That’s something that I hope has changed over the last year or so, that people understand… Gyms aren’t gonna go anywhere, people love gyms, but you don’t have to go to a gym or even a class. You can go out and use your own body, your body is a great, full body, a piece of equipment. You don’t need a $2000 thing on your wall that projects a bunch of holograms and stuff. You can do it just literally in your living room or outside, at the park.
Marc Perry: Right, cool. I really appreciate it, Nate, so far. And is there anything else we haven’t discussed that you’d like to mention?
Nate Mezmer: Yeah. I would say that just over the past… I’m 41. I turn 42 in September. And if you would have interviewed me five years ago about what I knew about fitness and wellness and movement, it probably would have sounded a lot different. And I was very experienced at the time, or so I thought. I had been training in some capacity and coaching in some capacity for 15 years at that point. I had done high-level explosive stuff, I’d worked with some pretty good coaches whom I’ve taken a lot from, but you continue to grow and you continue to evolve. So, what I would say is don’t… If you go down a rabbit hole, that’s fine. I’ve done the track and field rabbit hole, the body building rabbit hole, the calisthenics and muscle-ups rabbit hole, the kettlebell rabbit hole, the FRC rabbit hole, all kinds of different things, and there’s no one way to do anything.
So, if any coach or guru out there is telling you, “This is the way, and everything else is inferior”, or something, then they’re trying to probably sell you something or they have their own problems that they’re dealing with, to think that their way is the only way. So, just be open to taking what works for you from all different types of disciplines and avenues and building something around that, not falling on the trap of, “This is the only way we can do things”. We do that very often just with even our scheduling, and it makes sense because people have certain jobs with certain schedules, but we base our training oftentimes around this rigid five to seven-day schedule. And it’s like, “I do legs on Wednesday”, but then it’s like, well, what if you go in on Wednesday and you’re just not feeling it? And then you force yourself through this really intense leg workout that then has negative consequences for days or weeks or months or years afterwards, because you just didn’t have it that day. Whereas if you would have taken a day or two off or done something different, you would have continued to make progress and not strain or hurt yourself.
And so I think being open to adapting and changing… There was a really famous track and field coach named Charlie Francis, who isn’t around anymore, but he was… He also coached athletes that were on some particular substances. But he was a really high-level speed coach, and he used to basically survey the athletes that came in. I don’t know if he had them do some sort of test that showed what their energy level was or what their nervous system was at at the time, but he would determine whether they were at their best or close to their best. And if they seemed like they weren’t based on his metric, he would either completely change the workout for the day, or he would basically cut the workout and have them do recovery, which is not the norm. We grew up more with the remnants of football coaches telling their kids to double day and, “Water is weakness”, and spearheading kids with helmets and stuff. And so if we can grow into a more healthy version of fitness and wellness, and just be open to different ways and adapting and doing what works for us, then we’re gonna be much better off.
Marc Perry: That’s cool. It reminds me of the quote by Bruce Lee. It’s something like, “Discard what is useless, take what is useful, make it uniquely your own”, something along those lines, and it sounds like just being open.
Nate Mezmer: Absolutely, yeah. Bruce Lee is incredible. I didn’t know this until maybe several years ago, that he was actually using movement for his martial arts to express his philosophy, and there’s all these writings and journals that he had about life. And in his way, he used this movement and this martial arts to express what is… Almost like his religion was. His writings are really interesting. Obviously his life was ended much too early, but his style is interesting to me.
There’s a movement coach out there named Tom Weksler, and he is a… He’s more of a dancer, like he’s a dance movement expert. And I took a workshop with him like three years ago or more and… He’s like the Bizarro World version of Ido Portal. If Ido was like this hardcore, “My way or the highway”, like, “You gotta do it this way”. And his training, Ido’s training, and he has a lot of great stuff, but it’s very like, “This is the way”. Tom is on the flip side of that, where he has basically gone around the world and taken bits and pieces of all different types of movement. He might have even trained with Ido, they’re both originally Israeli, but Tom lives in Spain and just travels the world and teaches workshops. And he is taking all these bits and pieces from different movement and different dance and created this style called movement archery.
And I took that workshop with my friend Vishal, who’s one of the best coaches for movement, I believe, in the country, Vishal Kumar. And also in that class was Hunter Fitness, Hunter Cook, who’s one of the lead instructors for FRC. Hunter, Vishal and myself were the only non-dancers and non-movement gurus in this workshop. And it was so interesting because I was just there for the philosophy. And I learned more from Tom Weksler in a workshop where I couldn’t even do most of the stuff that well, because I’m not a dancer, I learned more from him than any coaching experience or certification experience than I had learned before or since. And it was super eye-opening. He approaches it sort of like Bruce Lee approaches it. He’s more water than maybe Bruce Lee was. Bruce Lee was getting down with some hardcore punches and kicks as well. Tom is a little bit more fluid, a fluid version of that.
That just blew my mind because it was like, “Wow”, you would ask this guy, “Why do we do this movement?” And he’d have this philosophy, “Well, why do you move your elbow like this instead of like this?” And he would be like, “Well, there’s these Japanese acrobats that do this, and there’s this cap weather guy that does this”, and he’d have this long explanation that was brilliant. I’m just like, “Holy crap”. Not for everybody, not for everybody. But for me, it was really formative to where I’m at now. And I’m not a dancer at all, unless I have maybe a couple of drinks, but I don’t do that very often anymore. So, maybe in my next life or maybe in the future, maybe I can evolve. I’m going to try to take a dance class or a breakdancing class this coming year, to see if I can free my hips a little bit.
Marc Perry: Nice, man. Nice man. How can people follow you or learn more about you, Nate?
Nate Mezmer: Instagram is always easy. Initially, @natemezmer, M-E-Z-M-E-R, at Instagram. I post 80% movement and fitness stuff, and I also share a lot of thoughts I have about life and the world and politics. And some people don’t want to know about those things, but I believe it’s all connected. And so I share about those things. Even fitness and wellness to me is very political in that, if people don’t have access to health and wellness, we can’t really thrive. We’re just gonna be in some sort of survival mode if we’re not well. And the pandemic, I think, has taught us that that we’re only as strong as our most vulnerable folks.
If a lot of people in America are obese and have heart disease and don’t have access to healthy food, and they definitely don’t have access to Westside Fit Club, they are going to struggle. And then if something does happen, like a pandemic or something, it’s going to be really bad because that was really the thing, was COVID is not really that big of a threat to somebody that’s healthy and well, but we have 100 million people that are immune risk or unwell in this country alone. And so I think the better that we can do in the future with getting more healthy movement, healthy eating, healthy lifestyle, to make it more accessible to more people, the stronger we’ll be as a community, society, etcetera. Anyways, I share stuff like that on my Instagram, but then there’s also Westside Fit Club and our Movement Makers Retreat group that we’re doing things as well. People can connect with me on there, send me a DM or comment or whatever, I’m very accessible. I’ll respond and go from there.
Marc Perry: Awesome. Again, Nate, man, I really, really appreciate it. Looking forward to more Westside Fit Club workouts, man. But again, I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts because, obviously, this is really important. It’s like helping people improve their health and fitness more on the community level. A lot of people were listening, they’re into their fitness, they’re into their health, it’s like, “Well, how can we spread that out?” So again, I really appreciate it, man. I’ll see you soon, and keep me posted.
Nate Mezmer: Absolutely. Hopefully, I’ll see you this weekend.
Marc Perry: Absolutely, man. Catch you later.
Nate Mezmer: Thanks, Marc. I appreciate it.
Marc Perry: All right, bye bye.