Journal Talks: The Art of Holistic Health
As we all find ourselves getting older, we've realized that we're not the young bucks we always thought we were. Injuries seem to occur more frequently and last longer. Time spent at a desk increases...surfing decreases. Excuses, like those stated, tend to grow in number.
Looking to change our daily routines here at Banks Journal HQ, we began inviting our good friend Nick Voroshine of Home Holistic LA to guide us through his Foundation Training weekly workouts. In an effort to not keep his wealth of health knowledge all to ourselves, we decided to sit him down for a chat and get some insight into daily things that all of us can do to improve ourselves.
BANKS JOURNAL: Hey Nick! So first off, where’d you grow up?
NICK VOROSHINE: I grew up on the northern beaches of Sydney. I was there until I was about 25. I decided to leave and come to the states, back then I was fresh out of university with a marketing degree, before that I studied health and exercise science, but I dunno, at the time I just didn't have the attention span haha. I was young and surfing and partying and those things didn’t really add up to good health. I didn't have anything to really apply the studies to.
I found myself working at a digital ad agency for a phone company. After about two years of sitting behind a computer all day I up and quit, bought a one way ticket to the states, met a girl who I'm still with now and yeah, here living in Venice.
BANKS: What was it that initially got you into the whole holistic health thing?
When I first got here, and for a while thereafter, I had no idea what I was doing. After spending some time in the states, my guts went bad; probably from all the food processing and additives over here and my body just wasn't used to them. I started to do some self studying to fix my stomach, like trying to just find out what was going on. That was kind of the spark to bring me full circle back to those younger days of studying health and exercise. Now I had something that I could apply the knowledge to.
I really wanted to learn more and it was super motivating to want to keep bettering my situation and health and self. I had some friends that studied with the C.H.E.K. Institute (Corrective Holistic Exercise Kinesiology). It's put together by a San Diego guy, Paul Chek, who's just a really amazing dude. A great synthesizer of a lot of information and creator of many programs, one being the Holistic Lifestyle Coaching Program, which is where I started. After getting some formal nutrition training, I realized you kinda need to hook people into the wellness coaching, through exercise. So I stepped up my studies and classes and went through the whole exercise coach program and yeah, that's sort of where it all started. That’s where it all clicked and I was like alright this is what I'm going to do.
BANKS: One thing I noticed that I was pretty surprised about after starting your classes was the amount of effort it takes to do some of this stuff, concentrated breathing for instance can get you super tired and worn out. The connection between what we've been doing with tai chi and yoga inspired stuff, it seems to be all pretty central to the root of your exercise plans...
Yeah, the breath is massive, you can use it in so many different ways. You’re talking about Foundation Training where we use this cool technique, called decompression breathing which helps you decompress your spine and alleviate back pain. It’s crazy how it works. The system was conceived by Eric Goodman who was a chiropractor. He was from the East Coast, a heavy weightlifter. As he got a bit older he realized that he hadn't been lifting weights the right way and really fucked himself up, disc herniations all up and down his spine. In school, with all the sitting, his back got so bad the doctors wanted to do this gnarly surgery; and he was only like 20 something at the time. He was just like, 'I'm a chiropractor, I surf, I’ve learned all these things and I'm supposed to know how to help people avoid this kind of surgery.' So instead of surgery he decided to go out on his own and figure out how to heal himself. That's how Foundation Training was developed. He looked at yoga and applied what he knew from chiropractics and just went on this full mission to heal himself. It's kind of like yoga, but for a modern human. One who sits more, moves less and is more chronically stressed out.
So Foundation Training is maybe yoga for the twenty first century man. It’s a great answer to all that sitting we do and all the forward head carriage and shoulder slumping. It makes your really strong too. Each teacher I learn from adds a new angle to how I teach. You know, I surf, all my friends surf, and so I see some common complaints amongst surfers; lower back pain, frozen shoulders, tweaked hips. It has all impacted how and what I want to learn so, that I can help those around me. A lot of them are my mates too and so I need them to keep surfing with me! I'm lucky I guess, to be able to learn this stuff and not be someone who's in chronic pain. I think the stuff I'm learning will last a long time. That's what I'm about, longevity, always studying, always learning and there's so many weird little things that you can do to help you live well as you age. I don’t think we should assume that our health should decline as we age. So, yeah haha.
BANKS: Alright then, can you walk us through some solutions to the common man's health issues like back pain, posture and the like?
NICK: For sure!
When you look at what humans have done as a society, we have worked really hard at making life as easy as possible. And that’s a good thing! Technology has given us all so much, but on the other hand, in making things so easy, our bodies have adapted in dysfunctional ways.
We already have gravity to work against, but with all the iPhones and computer screens, lazy boys and car seats, all of our attention is being drawn down and inward. I don’t want to yap on about how sitting is the new smoking because everyone’s already heard it before, but to combat this thing that Dr. Eric Goodman termed “complacent adaptation” there’s a couple things that I think everyone should be doing.
The first thing to be aware of is posture. Where is your rib cage sitting and what about your head? Compression affects not only your joints, but all of your organs too, and if you are sitting down reading this right now with you ribcage resting on your stomach, you should lift it up and help your guts do their job without the added weight of your torso bearing down on it. The words, “chest up, chin back” are related a lot in my classes. You want to lift your sternum up and away from your pelvis and you want to pull your chin back and away from your sternum, lengthening the back of your neck and spine. This lift, creates space for your organs, blood vessels and nerves to allow efficient communication of information, blood, lymph and all of that good stuff that keeps your body running smoothly. The most effective way to put this into practice is to find someone in your area who teaches Foundation Training and learn the moves.
You should also spend time each day with some kind of breathing practice. Foundation Training teaches a method of diaphragmatic breathing that helps to lengthen and decompress your spine. This is massive for anyone who spends a lot of their time at a desk, in a car, reading books, and so on. But there are other ways to breathe too, yogi belly breathing practices are great for calming down and bringing stillness to the mind. Breaths that give you endurance, which I teach in my Ginastica Natural classes. The breathing stuff in Ginastica is an epic way to tap in and control our nervous system.
Lastly, we need to be moving more. Not just doing more classes or lifting more weights. Finding ways that we can move more parts of our body more frequently. Even at work, you could keep a ball around to sit on instead of chair, making you balance, bounce and roll around while you do your work. If you’re on your laptop, put it on the ground, move it to the coffee table or take it outside. If you’re wearing shoes all day, take them off under your desk, get your toes moving and keep those muscles in your feet alive. And most importantly, if you do most of what you do by getting around in your car, try walking more. Go to the grocery store on foot and bring your own bags. You’ll get moving with your walking and you’ll get a little strength training in by carrying your haul home with you. Go for walks for no reason at all. It will get you outside, it will get you moving and it will give you time to mediate and reflect.
[BANKS NOTE: For more information, we'd recommend checking out the Home Holistic LA website that Nick runs out of Venice. His weekly emails are super informative and entertaining, we're all hooked.]
BANKS: Right on Nick! Thanks for all this, while we've got ya, can you recommend some podcasts or blogs to check out?
NICK: Yew! My current obsessions are:
Paul Chek’s Blog: Updates weekly and full of great insights on all things health and personal development.
Barbell Shrugged Podcast: Funny dudes who are into weight lifting but also have a lot to say on many things health and interview a lot of cool people in the industry.
Found My Fitness Podcast: I you want to get nerdy and look at health on a genetic and cellular level, this is full of information.
Lewis Howes: School of Greatness Podcast: Just another guy, trying to help people succeed in the world. Full of inspiring and motivating information.