0:01:40 – Richie comes from a rugby background, but his trajectory changed after an injury
0:05:31 – He went to some dark places before he was lucky to get a lifeline
0:10:52 – We all deal with stress; we just need to work on the tools we have available
0:15:19 – How does breath work make a difference?
0:19:25 – You are amazing, you’ve already been through a lot, and you’re resilient
0:22:24 – Richie’s thoughts on diet and nutrition
0:28:47 – Affordability and accessibility of healthy foods
0:32:31 – What are some top “Richie Tips” for a daily routine?
0:36:27 – The AXA project
0:40:51 – FIIT has been a game-changer
0:45:00 – Five key actions to improve your overall health and well being
0:49:08 – We all have the ability to help others and to do something great with our lives
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Welcome to the Fitter Healthier Dad podcast where you can learn how to improve your diet, lose fat and get fitter in a sustainable and fun way, without spending hours in the gym. Here is your host, Darren Kirby.
Darren: Welcome back to the podcast, guys. This is the #1 podcast for dads in their 40s who want to improve their health. This is Episode 36 and in today’s show, we are joined by the legend Richie Norton, also known as The Strength Temple. The Strength Temple was born out of the lessons learnt and the teachings Richie has had in his training and nutrition journey, sharing the knowledge, facts and motivation that allowed Richie to turn his life around, giving him the power to help others maximize their potential. Hi, Richie, thanks very much for joining me on the podcast today.
Richie: It’s good to be here, mate. Thanks very much for pursuing me and hunting me down.
Darren: I think like we just said before we started recording, we’ve been very persistent but there’s a specific reason why I stayed persistent. Because I think you’ve got a very cool message that you’re putting out into the world and I think everybody needs a bit of The Strength Temple in their life. Before we crack on, it would be great if you can give us a bit of background on you, a little bit of your journey up until now, you’ve had quite a varied kind of career and you’re on a really cool mission at the moment. So it’d be kind of good to get some background on Richie.
Richie: Okay. Wow, Richie! The short version, if there is a short version: I come from a rugby background from a sporting perspective. I played rugby most of my life and then injury, ended up earlier than I thought it was going to last. My journey into where I am now as a yoga teacher and, I guess, performance coach/ breath work practitioner/ lifestyle coach, whatever you want to title me as, I really owe it to the journey I went on through recovery and healing and repair and learning about my body and my mind and how everything’s aligned. Because I’m one of those rugby boys that didn’t really connect with any of that when I was playing rugby. It wasn’t really even on the table and I see where I am now being still a journey but something where I feel a little bit more enlightened about how powerful we actually are and how capable we are of dealing with a lot more than we think we are. Which I think is quite important at a time like now when the world seems completely mad.
But before I digress, to speak to the listeners that I feel will come across this podcast: We all face battles and we all face challenges and I think if you don’t go into those challenges and face fears and step up when you’re faced with adversity, you never really become who you’re really capable of being. I’ve really embraced that because I’m very honest and open about the challenges I’ve had with my own mental health and I think the honesty and the vulnerability and, I guess, honesty that’s come with that has allowed me to empower other people but also see it as a strength.
Because when life throws you a curve ball, you can feel pretty lonely, you can feel pretty isolated. As a man you don’t often talk about your feelings, so we bottle it up and it’s suppressed somewhere and then it starts to break us down. I’ve been lucky to have come out the other side of it and now be able to teach it as a coach but also as a human being trying to get us all through the challenges that we’re facing today.
Darren: Yeah, and I think it’s interesting that we tend to… Like you say, the world is in a mad position at the moment and we are facing forever bigger challenges, but there’s kind of daily challenges that you face on a daily basis as you go throughout your day and I just think it’s interesting. Obviously, you come from a professional rugby background: I’ve spoken to a couple of people that we’ve had on the podcast as well who have also come from a rugby background.
The reason I find this so interesting is because rugby is such a macho, masculine kind of sport, isn’t it? It’s almost like caveman type activity, behaviour and all the rest of it. And then for then to flip completely… To me, at least, anyway, it seems you kind of completely flipped from the other side to really taking care of yourself, taking care of your mind, becoming way more conscious about you as a person and how you deal with things. What do you think it is that kind of makes that shift? Or what was that kind of shift for you? Because for me, it feels like it is such a big shift.
Richie: Yeah, I often try and analyse my own life and see where the big shifts and changes came. I guess the highlight where the change of mindset came about, I had to go to some pretty dark places and some pretty lonely places before I was lucky to get a lifeline. And they came in the form of someone just reaching out and asking how I was and actually being able to relate to where I was, so it kind of felt less lonely all of a sudden. But then it was also things like surfing and going to a yoga class which were never on my radar–I had not even entertained it. I was 30 years old, I should have been in the prime health of my life and I was struggling physically when I should have been fit and healthy running around all over the place and my head was not in a good place.
But it took me finding some space, getting out, learning how to surf, going to some yoga classes, meeting some like-minded people that kind of shone a little bit of light of hope on what was looking like a pretty lonely road. I’d lost a couple of mates to suicide–my age, both rugby boys–and it threatened and sort of put me in a bit of a headspace where I could relate to probably where the pain had come and I was one of the lucky ones that found a new way of life. And that was through everything I promote now and everything I talk about, everything I live and breathe right now, which is that balance.
I guess if I’m talking to the listeners here, and obviously a lot of dads and a lot of men, rugby is one sport, it is one discipline. We’re all dealing with stuff and if we generalise by saying a mental health awareness matter, men struggle and the stats don’t lie that we don’t always show our feelings. Like I said, macho, masculine. I do feel like there’s a lot of change; I do think we are talking a lot more but I think if you’re going to bring hope to someone that is not in the best place, to give them a little bit of a lifeline and to know that it’s okay.
It is part of the journey and knowing that you’re not on your own and there’s some lads out there you think have got it all sorted and have got their head together, but they really don’t. But we’re in this together. I think that was the biggest thing I realised, was it was okay to reach out to another mate and just say I’m not having a good day today, my head is not in a good place, can I just share a little bit with you? Just that can be a massive weight off your shoulders and I think you’ve just got to find your tools to do that.
My tools became my coaching. My tools became my activities, my adventures, my time in nature, my yoga classes, even though when I first started yoga, I had horrendous flexibility and mobility. As much as they call me that kind of a guy now, it was shocking. 10 years ago, I couldn’t touch my toes; I had all this muscle, looked athletically impressive, but completely dysfunctional. As soon as I started to sort of get that vanity out of my head and just the importance of trying to just get to the gym and look big and buff and look good, you realise there’s a lot more depth to where the power really comes from, and the confidence really comes from. Yeah, I owe a lot to my yoga practice for that.
Darren: I’ve only recently started doing yoga a couple of years ago but it’s like you say, right, it is this whole kind of masculine thing and I wouldn’t have ever stepped into yoga two years ago, but I do now and there are huge benefits from it. But I just want to come back to another point that you raised around reaching out to people and just saying, “I’m not okay.” For me, there’s this kind of stigma around a little bit of weakness, particularly if you’re a male reaching out to another mate and just openly admitting that you’re struggling. It’s almost like you feel in some ways that you can’t do that because that’s just not how men are supposed to be.
I completely agree with what you’re saying, there does seem a shift, but I still believe there are those who are perhaps not followers of you or in this space or doing the yoga and stuff like that, who are still struggling. And they still think that they have to kind of put on this persona, this macho persona, and just deal with the sh*t that is thrown at them. What I’m trying to get out through this podcast and through other means is: No, it’s probably detrimental and actually worse for you putting up this kind of big shield and you’re kind of hurting yourself. And actually, mentally, you’re probably putting yourself in a worse position.
Richie: Yeah. I think now more than ever, we’re very aware of the influence the mind has on our physical body and stress being something in small doses manageable, but in long, consistent doses, really damaging and harmful. I think to simplify that, we all deal with stress. We just need to really work on our tools, on the tools that we have available to us, and everyone has them, to help manage how we deal with what the world throws at us. And again, as much as I sound sometimes like a traditional yoga teacher that’s super Zen all the time and has it all figured out, I really don’t. It’s a constant work in progress. This is why breathwork and meditation is picking up momentum.
Before, it was kind of just brushed off by a lot of people and not really taken that seriously but the science, the research now backs up the importance of something as simple as how you breathe, being potentially something that might just save your life. Now, more than ever. If you can tie that in with some movement practices that help keep your joints healthy, that keep your tissue strong and supportive, your heart, your lungs, all aligning with how you mentally approach each day. So this is why yoga gets such positive momentum, because it ties all of those things into one.
And I think what a lot of people get put off by is it is something for women or people in the fitness industry or people wearing leggings and the best fitness kit. Whereas what I’m trying to do, I guess my mission at the moment, is to try and simplify these practices and then give everyone a chance to sort of understand how powerful these tools are. If anything, just to keep you calm and to help tackle whatever the day throws at you. You know, we’re all going to get tested now more than ever, given the current situation we’re all facing while we record this podcast. And the more we face every kind of issue or challenge with fear and more stress, the more intense any physical outcome will be.
So there’s never been a more important time to look at physical and mental health seriously and I think however we relate to stress, whatever that is to the individual, really just looking at what simple things we all have access to, especially if we’re being quarantined in our own homes. Roll out a mat, sit there, close things out, listen to some good music, have a little stretch, have a little breathe, spend time with the people you care about or communicate with the people that you care about. I’m looking at every single positive in all of these situations and it’s all about uniting together with good energy and supporting each other and looking at what’s important. And I think this is more profound than ever, but I feel that this is the way it should always be.
Darren: Yeah, it is. And I think we have taken for granted all of the tools that we have available to us and I think we love to make things more complicated than they are and perhaps think that it’s not as valuable unless it’s complicated. I spoke to Tony Riddle a few months ago and we were talking about children and we were talking about breathwork and stress, and one of the things that I found very profound is the art of breathwork.
When you talk to other people about this, particularly men and you talk about I’m doing breathwork, the looks and the reactions you get, it’s obviously they think you’re mad. But actually once you try this and once you implement it daily into your life, you find that (and I think this is the key) you find that you’re able to respond to life and not react, which I think is a huge differentiator and a huge way to just deal with stuff that’s thrown at us in life. What’s your view on that?
Richie: I think there’s two points to mention there. The first one being in line with what Tony brings up as why he’s doing what he’s doing, because he really believes that he’s on a mission and he’s been someone who’s been through his own stuff and has come out of it enlightened and awake, let’s say. His mission is very similar to mine: how can we simplify the tools that we all have access to and breathwork just needs to be simplified even more. It needs to be spread regularly. We need to keep working to connect with everybody that might write it off or, like you said, look a bit funny at you when you brought up the subject of breathwork.
Bit by bit, the message is going to get out there. So this is why these podcasts carry so much weight because there’ll be one person that listens to this and go, “What’s this breathwork stuff? Okay, I’ve heard it enough times now, I’d better give it a go.” And you might just save that person’s life or at least improve the quality of it. So as much as people are still maybe going, what’s it all about? Not too sure, they’ve had a bad experience maybe that didn’t quite work for them, they didn’t connect with it. There’s so much on breathwork out there at the moment; it can be a minefield and super confusing. Let’s simplify everything by saying, “How are you breathing? How does it make you feel? Can you pay a bit more attention?” That is a huge step in the right direction and we haven’t mentioned one thing about tempo, cadence, or breath practice specifics.
If that takes someone down the rabbit hole of going, “Wow, I just took 10 conscious breaths and I feel so much more present or aware or connected or just even a little bit more calm,” and that might just give them enough to pursue it on a more serious daily practice. And, if this is going to inspire anybody else, there’s so much breathwork out there at the moment but I think prioritising the focus of something that’s going to help keep you calm, steady your nerves, and then you don’t need to be so specific about where you’re going to use it. Whether that’s dealing with a stressful world pandemic or whether that’s a meeting or whether that’s a relationship issue, whether it’s a health issue, whether it’s a mental health issue, whether it’s dealing with a certain scenario that’s caused you to feel a little bit anxious or a little bit worried. That is when a simple practice might just allow you to snap out of that initial decision to feed fear or even more worry and then make a bad decision in that moment. And that can happen in just a few breaths.
So that’s the power of it and we’re still only just scratching the surface of how powerful it actually is. If anything, these podcasts, hopefully get people to think, actually, I have neglected that. I did used to do it or I tried it once, whereas it needs to be a daily practice. The more we practise these things, just like anything, any muscle we train, the more efficient we become, the more optimal we live, the healthier our body becomes, the quicker we respond to the practice. Doing anything half-hearted is always going to end up as a half-hearted outcome. So let’s get people doing the basics more regularly and let them connect with it their way and build from that point.
Darren: I agree and I think it’s coming back to what you said just a while ago there. It’s almost like this is just a constant practice that you just integrate into your life. It’s not something that you do for six weeks, it’s not something you do for a couple of times a week and then you leave it. It’s something you integrate to enhance the kind of daily challenges as you go through life. To use your analogy of a toolbox, you have a toolbox, you’ve got all these little things you can just reach into and use just to make life that little bit more… I wouldn’t say simple, but you can deal with everything that’s thrown at you. And I think, like you say, don’t overcomplicate it and just try it, really.
Richie: Yeah. I think if we’re going to make this even simpler for the dads and whoever’s coming across this podcast, the way you should look at any kind of challenge is that you have the ability because you’re an amazing human being that has already been through quite a lot, that you really don’t know how powerful you actually are and how resilient you actually are. And to have some confidence in you training your body and your mind to be even more resilient and to really unlock what your potential actually is.
To simplify that even more, the foundation of all of those practices, physical or mental, is your breath. And when we tie it into mental health and how vital good mental health actually is, but how precious it is, the best way for you to tap into managing whatever comes up, whatever battle you’re facing, one mindful breath or one act of mindfulness (let’s call it) in whatever form that comes, can literally give you a moment of clarity to make a better decision and to respond differently before it feeds into something negative and then spirals out of control. There’ll be a lot of people out there that would have taken that breath and gone […] and just been able to pull themselves out of it, but there also will be someone completely unconscious that is spiralling out of control that you can pull them back into a safe space and a calmer state if they had this toolbox dialled in.
It keeps coming back to the same thing. And no matter how hectic things get, when your health is maybe bad and you’ve got a bit of an uphill battle, the way we’re able to tackle whatever that issue is, is dialling back into a practice that helps us just calm everything down. With what we’re dealing with now, there’s nothing that seems more clear to me than simplifying a practice that allows you to maintain some focus and some control, otherwise you’re feeding something deeper that will manifest eventually if you don’t take control.
Darren: Definitely. Yeah. I think it’s the manifestation, isn’t it? The snowball analogy that if you don’t kind of deal with it, it will just get bigger and bigger and bigger to the point where it would just be out of control.
What part of our diets do you believe, the kind of Western diet as I call it, has a part in our overall mental health? Because obviously you’re big into diet, nutrition, everything else; what part of that do you think plays into what we’re talking about as well?
Richie: Nutrition is such a minefield, isn’t it? There are so many people out there willing to have an argument with you about the diet. But again, to simplify it, nothing’s really changed for a long, long time in terms of the simplicity of what is a good balanced diet. Take away all the titles of pescatarian, vegan, blah, blah, blah, you know, all the titles you can come up with. Health, physically and mentally, is affected by the way you treat your body. And that’s not just how you breathe and how you move, but what you put in it.
The gut health side of things, we now have so much really fascinating and interesting info about gut health and the microbiome and all these other words. And it’s simplified by getting something natural into your body, something plant-based, something that carries lots of nutrient density, something that carries really, like, wide varieties of natural ingredients. And to simplify that even more, hydration. Obviously, we need to make sure hydration is up. Most people are super dehydrated, they don’t drink enough water and then they don’t consume enough protein, fats and carbohydrates in the right balance.
I get off on a bit of a tangent when I talk about nutrition because it’s quite hard to navigate the right words but a time like now when our health is being threatened, how do we keep our heart… sorry, I was about to get to heart and lungs and everything! But let’s say in terms of keeping our body fuelled up correctly, and that’s mentally and physically capable of dealing with what’s going on. Getting a nice balance of fruits and vegetables and natural products is all it takes.
Let’s talk about the things that will help not get me in trouble but will simplify things a little bit. If you’re eating junk food that’s processed and full of sugar and full of artificial ingredients, you’re not getting a nice balanced, nutrient-dense meal. You’ve got a high consumption of sugars: we all know that now, again. You’re not getting a high nutrient-dense intake of fuel. If you’re eating too much fat, if you’re eating too much carbohydrates, if you’re overeating in general, you’re just storing stuff and your body’s having to work really hard. If you’re eating non-stop all day, every day, your digestive system’s never getting a rest.
It’s really not that hard, there’s no magic pill and our bodies are all so different. I mean, this subject could be discussed for hours. Going back to the point there, if that’s not got someone a little bit more awake to maybe taking it a little bit more seriously; what you eat fuels how you feel. What you eat fuels your emotions, what you eat fuels how you feel in terms of energy, what you eat fuels how much clarity you have day to day, how much energy you can expel, how well you sleep, how well you feel, how well you look, your skin, your hair, your eyes. It’s no secret that you need to pay attention.
And if I hadn’t fixed my diet, I was spiralling out of control. I mean, I got super overweight Most people see the pictures now that I have, you look back far enough; I wasn’t always fit and healthy and in shape. I might have been when I was younger, but I was just basically winging it because I was still quite young. But when I stopped paying it attention, I got overweight, I got really sick, I started to get ill, I was in hospital, I was just worn down and my mental health was a mess. And as soon as I started to learn about what my body actually needed, what my particular body needed, it all started to turn around.
Darren: Yeah. And it’s like we were was saying earlier, it’s keeping things simple. I don’t like the phrase but it’s almost like ‘going back to basics.’ I believe we’ve become a society, particularly in the Western world, where we have so much access to food and the convenience is such that we could eat 24 hours a day, seven days a week if we wanted to, but we don’t need to. Our bodies are fantastic things that store nutrients or store energy; you don’t need to be eating every four hours. You do need to be making sure you’ve got water. I always use a car analogy: if you put crap fuel into a car, that car’s not going to perform how you want it to, it’s not going to get you from A to B. It’s no different than your body: If you put crap fuel in your body, you’re going to get a crap outcome. That might sound a little bit harsh or a bit simplified, but it is relevant.
I heard a really harrowing statistic yesterday from another podcast, and that is we’re all talking about this challenge that we have in the world at the moment with this virus and 11 million people… I just can’t get over this statistic. 11 million people a year in the world die from eating hyper processed food, which to me it just feels insane. It kind of comes back to what we’re talking about, about how important your diet is. But the other thing that I want to point out as well, Richie, because there’ll be some people listening to this, who automatically think that to eat healthily is going to cost you a fortune. No, it doesn’t. If you go to farmers markets and you put a little bit more time and effort into preparing your food, you can have a hugely nutrient-dense diet for a relatively limited budget.
Richie: Yeah, big time. There are so many different things that I was saying under my breath- 100%, yeah, 100%. It’s often an excuse, and I hear it all the time and we all make them. We all take the easy option sometimes because of convenience. I’ve been there, my diet’s not 100% clean. Again, that comes back down to the balance thing. I’m a pizza fiend, I love a big pile of pasta, I’d love a burger, all these different things that would be seen as fast food or binge food or unhealthy, however you look at it. Without getting into the calories thing where most people consume more calories than they actually burn, so hence why they’re overweight, because they’re not leaving a calorie deficit, all that kind of stuff.
But without going down that rabbit hole, food is so easily accessible, it’s just our choices and our habits and our addictions have taken over and we don’t take it seriously enough until we get sick and we have to pay attention. Even then, people don’t. We go back to basics like you said and I think people will go too far down one path of being super boring with eating salad leaves all day and then they lack other nutrients, they don’t enjoy it, it’s not fun. And even if you don’t have a local farmers market, most shops, most places will have a nice balance of colourful rainbow foods that will pack a huge punch of nutrient density and then simplifying what kind of protein works for you, and that’s going to vary as well.
Doesn’t need to be fancy. I think people get a bit bored and they’re a bit lazy or maybe just uneducated and they don’t know how to bring these foods together. But I mean, again, it doesn’t take much now with all the amazing chefs out there that are getting creative with minimal food for minimal cost. I think it’s just boring for some people that aren’t interested in it or just never maybe learnt how to put food together and it’s down to taking responsibility. I think we’ve just got to step up and, again, if there’s ever been a time to get your health on point, it’s right now. If we have a big enough kick up the ass to actually go out and start… maybe not go out, but find a way of getting food on your table that is colourful and nutritious and tasty, something that’s going to allow your immune system to get as healthy as it possibly can be, it is right now.
Darren: Yeah, definitely, 100%. And it’s experimenting as well, right? Like you just said there, some people take it too far and they have bland food and they have specific food because it will get them in the shape that they want to be aesthetically and physically and all the rest of it. But it is trying foods and eating stuff that you enjoy. It doesn’t have to be horrible because it’s healthy. That’s the other misnomer, I think, that gets bandied around out there sometimes.
Obviously, you put out some really cool Instagram stories about movement, about your daily routine. What would you recommend that some of us could put into our morning routine, five or 10 minutes in the morning, before we get ready to start the day? What would be some of your kind of ‘Richie Tips?’
Richie: I’ve got plenty of ‘Richie tips,’ as you know, you might have come across the odd rituals. I think to simplify and give everyone a bit of hope that they have access to something that will work for them because I’m so aware there are still a lot of people out there that don’t know where to start. They maybe feel unhealthy or they’re overweight or they’re just not motivated. Whatever that reason is, we all have the ability to move in some way, shape or form. We all have the choice to be able to get outside when we can. We all have the ability: if we’re a physically active person, it always helps to get outside and go for a walk in nature. I’ll always choose nature and vitamin D.
But if you happen to be house bound and you don’t have much time, which is another excuse, a little flow on the floor, or a yoga mat, or whatever you have access to that highlights or prioritises mobilising the body. I do these things like the 5 Minute Flows, which I like to think everyone has five minutes. We do. It’s just an excuse if you don’t, so start to get creative and be a bit playful. If you don’t even know where you’re starting from, I’ve got millions of videos everywhere. FIIT, for example, the FIIT platform has thousands and thousands of sessions for all different abilities that you can do at home, that open up your hips, that helps with your posture, that help with spine health, that help to get your brain in the right place because it all ties in breathing.
Going back to your point to be more specific about whether you’ve got five minutes or 10 minutes, that could just be 10 minutes of breathing. Just try and figure out a practice that works for you, try a few practices, experiment. Not every practice works for everybody. I use loads of different forms of practice, which is why I try and diversify the content. But I think the message is ‘nobody has the excuse not to do something that improves the quality of their health.’ And if that is starting with five minutes of some breathwork sat in your couch or that is going through a little flow that allows you to take your time and learn how to move your body into positions that help you find some flexibility, some mobility, improve your heart rate a little bit, help you release tension, help you unravel some stress, help you improve your sleep.
There’s so much content out there. You just need to go and prioritise, put it into your morning, your afternoon and your evening, and make it a daily practice. Five minutes will eventually become more, but you’ll realise how much better you feel once you’ve got into your own little rhythm.
Darren: Yeah, definitely. And the comparison I like to use is that, I bet you’ve got half an hour to spend on social media, so don’t tell me you haven’t got five to 10 minutes that you can just breathe do some movement, do a little bit of meditation. I literally spend 15 minutes in the morning now, doing a bit of movement, breathwork and meditation. It sounds a bit cliché, but it has really transformed the way that I deal with everyday life. It just makes you so much more calmer, you have such a clearer mind. I think that’s the biggest thing that I’ve got, is a clearer, calmer mind from all of this. So yeah, I completely agree. My feathers get ruffled if somebody tells me, “I just haven’t got the time.” Nonsense. You’ve got the time to be on social media, so don’t tell me you haven’t got the time to do the good stuff.
You’ve got a bit of a partnership with AXA at the moment and you’re doing some initiatives around stuff that people can do when they’ve got desk jobs. Can you give us a little bit more insight as to what that is and how people can use that?
Richie: That was a project I did last year to help trying to create awareness around the importance of daily practices and the different forms of practices that you have access to, just aligning with what we’ve just been talking about.
The often-faced battle is people are time poor or they don’t get to be outside all day, they’re stuck behind a desk in an office or they’re festering at home and maybe the weather’s bad. So the initiative was really just about creating awareness around the tools that we all have access to and setting intentions at the beginning of your day, the beginning of the week, the weekend, that you are putting these practices into play whenever you have access to a little bit of space, and using the environment that you have.
That could be a desk stretch, sat in your chair rather than just being hunched and fused in one position. How can you move just to help improve your posture if you’ve been sat in a car for a while? Have you been hunched over your laptop at home, have you been sat on the floor? What is your daily practice or what does your daily routine involve? And how can you reverse and correct the damage that you’re doing–sat still, doing nothing, decomposing slowly?
And then tying into things like the power of nature, looking outside, looking up at the sky, getting off your phone for a few minutes, going for a swim in the ocean, going for a walk, listening to a podcast that inspires you to breathe better. It’s just looking at all the different walks of life and then finding a way to connect with that individual to give them a bit of a push in the right direction and show them what they have available to them, and then making it impossible for them to make any excuses not to be able to do something that’s going to improve their health.
But that really is why FIIT has been so powerful, now more than ever. The FIIT platform is by far the most useful tool I’ve ever had to train my clients privately. Everyone has access to it on their phone, on their laptop, on their TV and you can train at home, you can get access to lots of different trainers. There’s breathwork, there’s movement, there’s mobility, there’s yoga, there’s Pilates. These kinds of platforms are a game changer and it really is the future because you have no excuse. You’ve got someone guiding you, you’ve got someone coaching you, you’ve got someone breaking down all the simple tools.
So no matter who you are, no matter what walk of life you have, you have access to education that will help improve your health. And I think we just need to start using these tools more effectively when we feel we don’t have any access or don’t have time or don’t have the money. We can’t make any of those excuses anymore because the tools are there for us to access.
Darren: Yeah, and I think you’re right. I think we are living in times where accessibility for all this kind of stuff that we’ve been talking about has never been more so than we’ve ever had it before. Gone are the days that you needed to kind of come in in the evening, put your gym gear on and go back out again. You have everything in the palm of your hand in terms of your phone or a laptop like you said, and the FIIT platform is a great platform. We’ve got Sammy coming on in a couple of weeks to talk about that in more depth as well.
But just for the people that are listening that perhaps don’t know what it is, it’s F-I-I-T, isn’t it Richie? That they can go to, to have a look at the platform? And like Richie said, it’s got loads of different variations of breathwork, movement and other types of workouts that you can do from the comfort of your own home. I think they even have a 30 day trial on there that you can use as well.
Richie: Sorry to interrupt, but I didn’t want to miss that opportunity there. You mentioned how it brings a lot of different energies, training qualities, training styles together, but it’s really the community that it creates. And with it being a bit gamified, you can compete with friends, you can connect with friends, you can connect with people you’ve never met before and challenge them. That’s something that we’ve never really been able to do with these online platforms. It’s fully interactive. So when we look at community and we look at connecting with other people and how it’s important to know you’re not alone: people that are a bit isolated, don’t get to go to gyms, they can’t afford a gym membership, or that’s not their thing. This allows you to have a supportive network, not just from FIIT, but the people that actually are doing the classes.
What I love about FIIT is the tribe that it’s created. There’s guys and gals that regularly catch up on the platform via the app and do classes together, all virtually. They support each other when lacking motivation, they support each other when they need a little bit of a push in the right direction or they want to step it up a little bit more, the programmes, the classes. For me, that is why FIIT was such a powerful tool and why I give it to every single client I have. Because I work remotely, all my clients get programmed and coached through the app. So for me, that’s so resourceful and has been a game changer for me and my business.
Darren: Yeah, absolutely. Like you say, I find as well with the people that I coach, community is hugely important. Whilst this whole thing of ‘we’re forever connected,’ we’re actually not. From a human aspect, we’ve become hugely disconnected and I think that by using something like this where, like you say, you can gamify it, you can encourage people, you can support them and all the rest of it, only has to be for the benefit of all of us.
Richie: Yeah. I think without going into this too much more, if we’re talking about the people we’re trying to communicate with in this podcast, if there’s ever a time to start to find ways for you to stay active every day and whatever that might be… Not everyone wants to sit indoors and do a session on their TV or on their phone. But if there’s ever a time to try and find ways for you to get outside more, to move a little bit more regularly, to keep the body healthy, to keep the body active, to keep your mood high… There’s resources available to lots of different people and if this podcast was ever going to be a nudge in that direction, it’s now.
Not just from a physical point of view, but mentally, breathwork and movement lifts your mood, lifts your energy. It strengthens your immune system if you don’t over train and that’s what has been so powerful with the studios that really compliment restorative practices, regenerative practices. Things that help you sleep, things that help you stay calm, things that help manage stress. This is why we should be prioritising health. Not to get buff, not to get strong and powerful and all these other things, even though those things play a part. Get the basics right and that can be starting with just a five-minute practice.
Darren: Yeah, definitely. And it is the basics, it is the simple stuff which has big impact. Like I said earlier on, I believe that we overcomplicate things as humans and we’re always looking for this something, this next new big thing. Well, actually, let’s go back to where it all started and just kind of doing the basics and I think you’ll get a huge amount of benefit from that. Before we finish then, Richie, to sum up today, what are the five key actions you would say that some of the listeners could take away from the podcast today just to improve their overall health and wellbeing?
Richie: That’s interesting; let me pick five. Try and keep it simple. We touched on it before. Hydration: making sure your body is hydrated is often overlooked and neglected. You’ve got to keep the water intake coming in, you’ve got to stay hydrated, the body really needs to be hydrated.
Getting time out in nature, getting some fresh air, looking at the trees, looking at the sky, going for a walk in the hills, the mountains, swim in the ocean, go for a walk in the park. Again, it’s something that is neglected but the science really backs up how calming it is to be outside and to get some space and to be in some fresh air, as fresh and clean as the air can be these days.
Moving every day, finding whatever that is to you. Lift your heart rate, feel like your body is alive, connect with the movement and the breath and to look at a breath practice. For example, I do a breath practice to help me meditate because I’m not one to sit still. I’m a fidget. Breath practice can help me just dial into my ventilation, my breathing, my spiritual system, to be able to be calmer and more still to be able to do the meditation practice. We all need to find a way every day to practise something that allows us to tap into the power of our breathing so we can maintain control. So when stress does come, we can manage it in a way that either allows it to be controlled and manipulated or shut down and moved on from.
Food wise, we’ve touched on that. Dial in your nutrition. By that I mean simplify it. Start getting more creative with making things or if you’re not a ‘cooker,’ if you’re not an inspired chef, start to source foods that cover a spectrum of healthy nutritious ingredients and start to boost that intake. Drop out crappy food, drop out sugary crap that has no nutrient density, and start to feed your gut with the nutrients that it needs to help keep you healthy. Again, now more than ever, really wake up to the importance and the value of what that is.
And community. If you’re in a good place and you’ve got some energy to spare for others, reach out. You never know who you might save and pull out of a heavy, dark space. If you’re needing someone to talk to or you’re just feeling like you’re in a bit of a funk, then reach out. There are so many people out there that would love to just catch up and chat and know they can be there as a resource for you. You know, the sense of community that we can create now with people that understand, it really can just help you realign yourself. You never know when you might just save someone’s life if you’re just there looking out for those around you. I always think that those random acts of kindness and support can be a super powerful tool.
Darren: Yeah, absolutely. I completely agree. I think they are really simple actions that people can do but hugely, hugely, valuable, beneficial, and all the rest of it. Before we wrap up, Richie, is there anything that I didn’t ask you that you feel I should have asked you which would benefit the listeners?
Richie: Yes, good question. I think using these opportunities to voice how important it is to stick together. If I was to think about the most valuable tools that I have, it’s the ability to help others. I really do believe that we all have this ability to do something great with the lives that we have and I think if you end up being so self-consumed and… I don’t want to say narrow minded, but someone who is maybe a little bit isolated in their own little bubble, you will miss the benefit of actually how influential you can be to others.
I really do believe that everyone has this ability to do something great with the time that they have here, even if that is just being kind and supportive and caring and thoughtful. And all these things that in theory are selfless, but in return when you’re out there doing something that will maybe bring some value into someone else’s life, it can feel really, really awesome. Even when you’re not maybe feeling your best, being there for someone else can just give you that sense of purpose and meaning.
If there was one underlying driving force behind what I do, it is because I realise I have the ability to help others. When I’m in a bit of a head funk or I’m a little bit lost or overwhelmed with something, I know I can just reach out to someone else who maybe I’ve been there for in the past or my tribe that I have on social media, for example. They’re all there to help each other and that’s what’s so powerful and so inspiring. It’s that we all have this ability to be there for each other and support each other. As a human race, there’s no better time than now to regroup and look at what’s really important, what really matters, and that is being kind and being thoughtful and doing whatever you can to keep rebuilding and become resilient.
I don’t know if that really answers the question but, you know, I think some people feel they haven’t got purpose, some people feel they haven’t got meaning or they don’t know where they’re going or what they should be doing. It doesn’t take much to look around and go, “Actually, I’m fortunate to be here.” Gratitude is a really good place to be: practise gratitude, practise all the things that you have to be grateful for and look out for each other.
Darren: Yeah, I agree. I think the gratitude side of things and the random acts of kindness, if you want to call them that, or just being kind, is massively powerful and I highly recommend that people just implement that. Because, it’s not just the kindness; to put a smile on somebody’s face is, I feel, amazing. And you did something, I think it was last year, where you said, “Just say good morning to people.” And it’s amazing the feeling you get and the responses you get when you say good morning to somebody randomly walking down the road. And that kind of lifts your spirits and it’s all those simple basic things which we’ve forgotten about which do have a huge impact from a community aspect, from a health and wellbeing aspect. And so, yeah, I think that was very well said. Richie, how can people connect with you? Where can they go and find you if they want a little bit more of Richie their lives?
Richie: Well, it’s interesting that now social media and the internet is going to become quite a popular place because we’re not going to have as much contact with each other. The website is probably the best place to connect with the stuff that I’m doing and the things I’m working on. That’s TheStrengthTemple.co.uk. And then social media wise, @RichieNorton_ for Instagram and then if you just search The Strength Temple, you’ll pull up the YouTube videos and the sessions. I would highly recommend, I don’t know if you can put it in the show notes with the FIIT link. I really do feel that’s going to be a game changer now for people to still feel connected and get access to my classes. But yeah, just reach out, I love chatting about this stuff. If anyone needs help or direction or some more insight, I love to have these conversations with people that genuinely want to make a change. So connect; reach out.
Darren: Thanks very much. I appreciate that. Yes, we’ll put the link for FIIT in the show notes. Check out Richie’s channel, but also follow him on Instagram and look at his stories because if you ever want a prompt or a guide as to what you should do throughout the day and his little nature-watch exploits that he puts on his Insta stories, and his morning surfs and stuff… Yeah, it keeps me going throughout the day, so definitely check him out. Thanks so much for coming on. I really sincerely appreciate it and I look forward to catching up with you again, hopefully, in the future.
Richie: Thanks for the time; I appreciate it.
Darren: Thanks for listening to the Fitter Healthier Dad podcast. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please hit subscribe and I would really appreciate it if you could leave a review on iTunes. All the links mentioned in the episode will be in the show notes and a full transcription is over at FitterHealthierDad.com.