In this episode, we got Brooks Meadows, host of Barbell Buddha Rediscovered where he shines light on Chris Moore who, before his passing, left a treasure trove of knowledge and wisdom about strength, family, philosophy, science, vice, and how to live an exuberant, self-realized existence.
Why Start a Podcast About Chris Moore
Ben: What made you want to start a podcast about Chris Moore?
Brooks: For the sake of context, I'll give the short condensed version. I'm a Memphian, which is where Barbell Shrugged was founded. And so all of the Barbell Shrugged guys met at the University of Memphis. And although I was into the CrossFit community, I was introduced to CrossFit in California, in Santa Cruz by one of the original fire brothers. And I was the head coach for a Reebok affiliated Jim in South Korea while their rocket ship was just like full on blast.
And so Rich Froning is the champion. He is from Cookeville, Tennessee barbell. Shrugged is like the cultural epicenter of the CrossFit community. And me being a very proud Memphian as you've learned very much on this weekend, I was like, these guys just gave me permission to attempt at doing something that most people would think is not possible, especially in a city like Memphis, because we weren't Austin, we're not San Diego or LA or New York. They are kind of like the leading edge people, what you think in the fitness community. These guys from my home town, we are doing something that never been done before, not just on podcasts, but the YouTube show was like unbelievable. And so I was always a big fan and I moved back to Memphis when the guys were leaving to go to California.
There was a brief time where we've got to interchange. I met a few of them just in passing and in-person and you know, when Chris passed away, you know, we had had 15 minutes of personal conversation. I didn't know him, but I knew all a lot of his friends cause they built the CrossFit community in Memphis with a few handful of other gyms and a I because I was home, I went to the memorial and when I was there and I saw who came, Chris is like icons guys, like Travis mash guys, like Jianwen I saw them standing in reverence of him, it was like really, really powerful stuff.
And so I was in between Worlds. I still owned a CrossFit gym, but I started a PE program at a charter school. And there's a big difference between being a coach and being an educator. And I didn't know that going in. I really changed careers and I was struggling like really, it was the hardest thing at the time that I had ever done and I almost quit. And I had a principal walked in the, off the ledge and he said, and I'm the health guy. He said, you know, maybe you should take time before you come to work, do a centering practice. And I was like that lands. I know exactly what that means. I just decided, okay, I'm going to make myself a coffee and I'm going to sit down. And I decided I'm going to listen to a podcast.
From Barbell Buddha to his own podcast
Brooks: My mantra is like, what is my coffee tastes? Like, what does my coffee smell like? And what is being fed into my ears? And the first episode, a day that I chose to listen to was the first episode of Barbell Buddha. It just calls me, it was like, Oh, this is what you need to listen to today was like, cool. And have a great day. And I was like, yeah, OK, cool. You got an early win. And so I would do it again and do it again and do it again. And a hundred days later I had sat through Chris's entire catalog and I have listened to three and a half years of his life compressed in 90 days. And for people unfamiliar with Chris's story, he was a medical writer while Barbell Shrugged was going on. he had a full-time job, you know, made a lot of money, had another child on the way and left all of it before anybody knew how big Barbell Shrugged was going to be.
And you get to listen to him, talk about the intimate transition in a way that if you were listening to it while he was alive, he would've been like, yeah, he's a funny, he's smart. You get a lot of, how would you say enlightenment from guys like Chris, but something about knowing that he passes away, everything hit so much harder because it was so clear. Like you don't, there is no term, like you don't know what's going to happen. And if you're not willing to take bold action, you could not have a chance to leave your mark on the world. And if you haven't read Chris's books and you haven't listened to his podcasts, like it's just a living testament to the power of taking action even if you don't know if anybody's listening, that's what Barbell Shrugged is about. That's what Barbell Buddha was about.
And I guess it was just because Chris was so personal, you know, you, you felt like you're in the room with him. And it's a really powerful experience. And I can't, I can't thank him enough, you know? And I can't think is friends and his family and stuff. And it's just like, well, you know, we talked about the rocket ship, oftentimes in Strong Coach that was the first like, I mean, hit the jet boosters from that point, it was like, Oh, and I, I know that I'm not living my fullest expression. I know that I'm not there. what can I do to start making that happen? And Chris was the fuel. He has a beautiful way of telling you a very deep things in a way that is very simple for us meat heads at the time.
And he talks about learning how to do stuff. And the first phase is the beginning of face and the novice face. And all of the art is like, getting better is so easy. You don't, when you pick up some of the first time, you're like, Oh, I got so good. quick. And then you hit the intermediate phase, which is the toil phase. And if you don't, if you're not willing to toil, like that's what the journey is write. And most people hear the toil face and they go, Oh, that was fun. Let's go to the next thing. But if you stay with it long enough, you'll hit the mastery phase. And then the mastery phase, especially in a sport, like say powerlifting, like Chris used, he said, it's about the time you start hitting the mastery phase or your body starts to go on the other direction and you can bring it to a brief window.
The power of rediscovery
Books: It's a very brief window. And you go, okay, well, like I wish I had known all this stuff when I had started. And then you realize that the way to continue mastering in a way to pay it forward is to teach. And then you go, Hey, you're this new person you have to know, like, these are the five things that you have to know. And then you realize, Oh shit, I'm not doing any of that stuff in my practice. And then he says, you loop back in to like you rediscover, you hit the discovery phase again. And the rediscovery and that set the, I guess that was the framework for the, the title barbell Buddha rediscovered was that, Hey, some people probably discovered is work, but if you go back and you re you rediscover the work with the new context, that he's no longer on this plane with us, you go, Oh my gosh, like, there is something that I'm not doing.
And you know what it is for, for me, it was like I had, I had the idea For for the gym and for others, it might be, you know, not asking that girl out or not going to the job interview because you're just afraid you might not get it. It can be something small for other people. But the point is is that he, it was all about action and an, a strong coach. We call it speed of implementation. How quickly are you willing to put something into practice that you now, no, to be true. If you've had to shift how quickly you are willing to put it in a practice, and for me, it was like immediate.
The Birth Of His Gym RECESS
Ben: What was it about this research we were doing into Chris Moore that gave you the idea for Recess?
Brooks: I have him as the voice inside my head while I'm trying to figure it out, my work, which was school. And so we talk about language a lot, also in the strong coach. And if you are in the CrossFit game, usually when you're talking about exercise, you're using the language of work, work capacity. Rep's, you know, it's math, right. We're going to do more work. And so that's the language that I had as a, as a middle school teacher. Okay. Kids it's time to do the work. And so I'd spent in a 50 minute class, I'd spent 40 minutes grinding to get kids to do the work. And if I was lucky at packaged together five or 10 minutes of play time, and these kids would run themselves into the dirt effortlessly.
And I'd just had this moment where it was like, Oh work is not what these kids need. We need to play more. And then Chris is talking about recreation, vice Friday, the balance. And I was like, Oh my God, nobody is talking to adults about how to be recreational, how to play. We're just constantly, constantly hammering people with work. You get up, you go check in at work and then you get out of work and you'll go to the gym and you'd do some more damn work. And then you've got to count on the macros and you got to account all your sleep. And it just like, it starts to beat another full-time job. And there just has to be another way.
And watching these kids drop into that space effortlessly and seeing how challenging it was for adults to get there, I was like, there is something that has been lost and forgotten. And those two things lined up perfectly to this jam session that I had with my two friends.
And we, you know, start pulling the whole industry apart and just saying, what's missing, you know, what can we offer that isn't already been offered? What can we do that contributes to the hole that expands the hole? Doesn't try to go in and take somebody else's piece of the pie. And I had this moment where I'd just like frustratingly said, I just want it to feel like recess in the hole.
And they, they looked at me and I looked at them and we were like, we're creating recess. Like that's what were doing. And those two things were happening at the same time. it was like, I have the idea for a recess as I'm listening to Kris. And he's like, Oh, you got to go for it. And I'm like, Oh man, I got gotta go for it. You know? And the, the classroom, wasn't where I was supposed to be. And the next to the next best thing as Chris will say, the next best thing that I need to do was to step towards recess