Get to the bottom of what's truly healthy in this crazy complex world so you can take back what is rightfully yours. Welcome to the health sovereign podcast. This is your host Logan Christopher.
(00:19): Hello and welcome Logan Christopher here. And I'm pleased to have with me on the call strong man, coach, speaker and author Dave Whitley. Dave Widleen. I go back, I think 2005 was it? Yeah. So wow. 15 years, crazy journeys. So welcome to the true Dave. Thank you. Thank you. Thanks for having me on. You weren't even old enough to drive then worry you drive. Yes. Drink. Maybe not.
(00:48): I do think that's true. Now is that an RKC event in st Paul, if I remember right?
(00:53): Yes, correct. You were an assistant instructor and me and my friend Tyler were there. We've been using kettlebells for a year or so. Yeah. Went through the instructor course and that's kind of interesting that as I was reflecting on this, you and I have not same paths but somewhat parallel paths in the fitness realm. And actually even beyond that, like you used to be a musician and I never was a musician, but I wrote it for my friend's band. And then from that it's like that's a hard life. That traveling life then. Yeah, the kettlebells, the strong man, biofeedback training, Wim Hoff. Some of the stuff we'll be talking about today, like we've definitely touched on a lot of the same things through our, yes, most definitely. So one of the main topics, and I definitely want to focus on the strong man thing. So many people are not familiar with the old time strongman concept or what goes into that. It's really, although there's people doing it like you and I, it's for the most part, a lot lost art. Yeah. I feel an important thing. This being the health sovereign podcast is talking about strength as a route and one of the best routes in my opinion of building vitality. Oh, definitely. So yeah. What led you to doing the old time strongman thing in the first place?
(02:03): Well, when I was a kid, I wanted to be the Hulk. Basically. I was a chubby, overweight kid and I had a bad stutter and the teacher would call me and I would start stuttering. The kids would make fun of me and that would make me mad. And, but I was also very extroverted and my personality. So I figured out that if I caused the trouble and control the laughter, then I can control the attention that I got. And so I think that bled over into various aspects of my adult life and making me be comfortable in front of groups of people. Like as you know, teaching at workshops or as a musician or they're the very brief stint that I was a pro wrestler or now as a speaker, former but fascinated with strengths and had done the same stuff that everybody did, reading bodybuilding magazines and all of that up until I was probably 31 or 32 years old and got turned on to kettlebell training back then on a VHS, just stand for a minute and did the kettlebell certification thing and met a mutual acquaintance of ours.
(03:07): But Jeffery's at a kettlebell competition I believe in 2004 and I think back in that period of time had a website going that this predates podcasts. This is probably a few years before YouTube and podcasts and all that sort of stuff. Started taking over the internet. But I met bud and interviewed him for a website that I have where I was recording interviews like you could do on a podcast, but then I was actually mailing out physical CDs every month. It was like a monthly subscription based thing and when I interviewed bud at that thank you actually were part of the part of the list back then I was a customer and secrets revealed something like that, straight cigarettes or bills.com is what it would have figured out pretty quickly that that was not a viable thing to do because there was a whole lot of work involved in not a lot of margin there to work with, so it wasn't very profitable.
(04:03): But I met bud and interviewed him for that and whenever I would interview someone, I would always ask them, Hey, do you have anybody that you think would be a good fit for what we're doing here? And he recommended that I get Dennis Rogers. So email Dennis Rogers talked to him on the phone. He sent me some DVDs of him, both teaching feeds and also performing. And I saw this little dude, this little bald dude that looked like some regular guy that you would see anywhere bend a 10 inch Chris and ranch. And I had to stop and back up and like my mind couldn't process what I was seeing. And so I'm like, okay, this guy, I've just been a wrench. And it tied in perfectly with all the old school lifting stuff that I had been exploring. And I was like, Arthur Saxon and Thompson and Herman garner, all of those guys.
(04:49): And so Dennis started teaching me some feats of strength back the second ever old time strongman university in, I believe it's 2008 and if I'm not mistaken, you were at the first one. So you predated me on that. If you go back and look at the photo from that first and then who's who of performing strongmen now you're on there. Tim Fox was there, Chris rider was there, Mike Gillette, Aaron McKinsey, Mike Bruce, a lot of the guys that are doing something today. And so I got involved in doing feats of strength. Then I'm through, have started using it in my trend primarily for many, many years. And then in 2013 at my gym in Nashville, I brought business in to do the old time strongman university, like 10 Panama or 50 year anniversary or whatever it was. And I got to talking to him and I'm like, I should just pursue this seriously.
(05:41): And so I actually started studying public speaking at that point, that combined with the feats of strength combined with the thing that was very very much on my mind at the time and still is. And that's the expansion of the mind and how the mind controls the body and our imagination creates the reality around us. And I started seeing all these common patterns between those two disciplines. Punch strong man in what I call a mind man, rather than look for the differences. I started really, really hone in on the similarities and that wound up becoming the topic of the talks that I give to corporate events and schools and colleges and stuff. And it's also the central theme of a book that I wrote called superhuman Newt.
(06:29): Yeah, definitely want to dive deeper into that concept. But it's interesting you're just bringing back some old connections, like talking about getting into public speaking. I remember Dennis talking about going to Toastmasters where he could like bend things, but he was scared to speak in front of people. And I think the first time I ever went to a Toastmasters, I bent a nail up there as well because that was, yeah, a skill that needed to be learned in addition to the strengths though.
(06:54): Yeah. And, and I actually somehow managed to become a professional speaker without ever attending the Toastmasters. Yeah.
(07:00): There's other routes, but that is a tried and proven one that I certainly went through. And Dennis did as well. Then another important piece to that where in that story, cause I know the book about the mighty Adam, Joseph Greenstein was hugely influential on you as it was for me, like I was doing body weight exercises. I think I'd gotten into kettlebells by that point. I'd probably played around with some grip stuff but not really much on the feats, but then I read this book about the mighty Adam and for whatever reason I was like strong men. That's something I want to do, like I want to learn how to do this stuff and I do think it had more to do with that mind over matter type of concept more so than the physical strength. Although that of course was important as well.
(07:43): I don't remember that I got exposed to that book specifically, but it was definitely around the same time that I met Dennis and blood had told me to check it out, I think, and another book called super athletes, which is a perennial favorite among strength performers. And I think I got a copy of the [inaudible] book from Dennis, but I'm not 100% sure, but I got it and read it and read it. I'll probably read it, not exaggerating. Over the past 12 or 13 years, I've probably read it cover to cover at least two dozen times. You read it and you see things that you've noticed before, which is an indication to me that something in me has changed and at the time I read it before, I wasn't ready to receive the information in the same way as I am now. So I keep going back to that wellspring.
(08:31): You know, there's other books like that too, like think and grow rich is one like that that I read almost perpetually as a man. Think of, you know, a bunch of those kinds of personal development books, but that mighty Adam book is definitely the one that bridges the gap between the physical and the mental spiritual aspect of those things for the exact same reasons that you just said. There's, it's an amazing story but it's also everyone's story that whatever thing is going on that you pass through and it is definitely central to the human experience.
(09:06): Yeah, you got me beat. I think I've only read it five times so I'll have to, but I did just finish going through to get it. It's really interesting going through that cause I read it the first time. I think I had borrowed it from a friend's, I didn't actually own a copy. Unfortunately. It's out of print. You can usually find it on Amazon, but it's a little bit more expensive than most books. Sure. Yes. 50 bucks snatch it up. Yeah. Yeah. How going through that books like it leaves seats that I didn't remember. And as when reviewing it, like his whole thing about healthy living and herbs and whatnot. Like, I definitely read through that part but didn't realize how much it impacted me when starting herbal supplement company and then seeing the picture of him pulling a fire truck by his hair. Like I knew he had pulled vehicles, stopped the planes from taking off, but then it's like, Oh I went to that event and ended up pulling the antique fire truck by my hair. Like I didn't even know that connection was not there until I got the material once again. Right, right. So with that, let's dial in on this. These strengths work like this strong men work. Most people, the average person out there has no desire to bend a wrench or even like lift a heavy weight. And I get that people are different, but the benefits of doing this stuff as we've been talking about, they go way beyond the physical. Why this kind of route for really tapping into the mental power for you.
(10:27): For me it's a very I don't want to use the word holistic cause that's not exactly the right word, but it's a very complete circle of how to look at things, right? If the body is performing well, then the mind tends to perform well and if the mind performs, the body tends to follow suit. So there's a balance there that wants, understood, can be trained from both aspects of it or from multiple aspects of both of those areas that can create sort of an upward spa rule to where you get better at one aspect of it or one piece of it and everything else improves along with it. And so it just, it just picks up steam and this upward spiral, I like to call it one of the mind masters, I call it one of the people whose philosophical teachings I've studies getting Neville Goddard and I don't know if you're in, if you're familiar with him or not.
(11:23): He's one of the kind of little bit, yeah, seems like he's a little lesser known than like, you know, James Allen, Napoleon Hill and those guys probably because he didn't speak at, and I think that people get drawn to Napoleon Hill and Wallace Wattles and stuff because of the wealth aspect of it. They speak on. But Neville said that imagination creates reality and like you were talking about with pulling the fire truck with the hair earlier, there's a section in the mighty Adam book where he's gone through this and he's decided that he's going to bend this piece of steel and he's like looking at it and he realizes that he, because he is filled with life, it's actually stronger than steel. The steel is just an inanimate object and it has no will have its own and it was at that moment when he made that connection that he was able to finally bend that steel spike after years of not being able to bend it and that that whole aspect really spoke to me.
(12:21): Like you were saying with the firetruck thing earlier. I didn't really put it together as fully at the moment that I was absorbing that information until I had set a goal for myself in 2013 that I wanted to certify on the R red nail, which I'm assuming that most people listening to this will know what that is, but if you don't, it's a piece of five 16th inch diameter cold rolled steel that's seven inches long that has to be bent under certain conditions and then you get your name put on this roster that you've officially done it. It's a steel bender thing and it's a brick sport thing and it's, you know, you're on a list of people who are respected at that point. So I decided to start training for that and a huge part of the training that I did was visualization and mental rehearsal.
(13:04): And I had this scene that I had constructed in my mind where I was bending this piece of steel and there was a group of people sitting in chairs and they were very nondescript as well, almost like silhouettes of people who were watching me. And I've been this this red nail and pulled it out and held it in my referees, said it's a good band and the people started clapping and I got so involved in repeating that scene over and over again to practice without actually putting my hands on it. That a couple of times, not once, but actually twice during this like really deep meditative bordering on sleep state, a way of kind of state I was going over the rehearsal is, and I snapped myself out of my relaxation state because I sneezed from inhaling chalk dust that existed only in my imagination.
(14:03): And I didn't realize that at the time, but I I looking back on it now, knowing what I know about how the mind works, I believe that that exact moment I can pinpoint the success of the physical bending of the nail was absolutely guaranteed and there was no way to get out of it at that point. Like there's imagining and the n*****s kind of rehearsing and hoping that you do well and then it plays out okay. But if you get to a certain depth of understanding or depth of experience in your imagination, I believe it becomes absolutely irreversible. So probably what happened with you, I'm speculating on this, is you were reading about the Adam pulling that fire truck and you looked like kind of let your mind drift off for a moment and you know more about hypnosis and NLP stuff than I do.
(14:50): You probably let your mind drift off into the same where you were doing it and planted that seed and then just you dropped it and walked away from it and then it wound up happening. There's that point that it becomes guaranteed and I think that that particular thing is a theme that runs through the mighty Adam book. It runs through tons and tons of older development texts and books and lectures and all that, but I believe that that thing is something that a lot of us will experience accidentally or incidentally, but the real power in it is that if, if you can incidentally an accidentally experienced something like that, then you can replicate it purposefully and directed it. Any objective to accomplish any goal you want to achieve or any experience that you want to have. And so for me, that is the true magic of all of this stuff.
(15:46): Absolutely. I have a question about that experience. When you actually did go to certify on the red nail, I'm curious, did you have a strong sense of deja VU in doing that based on the visualization?
(15:59): Yes. Yes I did. It was, it was like people started clapping and yes, I was excited about it and I was happy about it. But it was, it was almost like if you have a favorite movie and you're flipping through TV channels and Oh my favorite movies on, you know, I'm just going to sit here and watch it. And you just get to go through it again and you know what's coming, but you still enjoy it. But it's not the same like you star Wars for example, right? If you didn't know the big pivotal scene in empire strikes back where there's the revelation of Darth Vader being Luke's father. If you didn't know that,
(16:32): Hey, you didn't give a spoiler alert. Just kidding.
(16:36): Well, 40 years ago, but if you didn't know that was coming, certain emotional impact on you. If you do know what's coming and you're watching again for the Panther hundredth time, there's still an entertaining emotional response that happened, but it doesn't carry that same gravity. And that's how it was after being in that red. And I'm like, yep, this is exactly the way it was last time.
(16:59): Yeah, yeah, yeah. Was, I haven't talked to a lot of people about that, which is why I was asking you, Oh, this was years ago, but I repeat it in a strongman competition and this was the modern strong man zone moving competitive farmers walked in all that and I'd done a lot of visualization leading up to that for winning it and there was a really strong sense of deja when that had actually happened because I had imagined it quite a few times in my mind. I do think that's a clue for you and there's many different ways to visualize, but a clue on doing it right is that if you get a sense of data off of that it has happened before, after you've physically done the thing, then that is a key that you have been visualizing properly. Yes, absolutely. Again, to go back and paraphrase phrase
(17:47): Neville a little bit, he talks about how the fulfillment of the desire is directly related to the feeling of naturalness of the imaginal act and self. It feels very natural, almost commonplace like tying your shoes right or brushing your teeth. It's just something you do. Then at that point it's almost, it's guaranteed and irreversible that you'll be able to experience whatever the thing is you're imagining
(18:14): Absolutely. Yeah. If one of the metaphors I'd like to use with the gym is kind of like the crucible of not only obviously like forging the body and that's how most people think of fitness, but it was the place to really test out things like visualization, like goal setting, like figuring out a plan and then applying it. So and in the gym it's a place where you get quick feedback. I mean you bend the nail or you don't bend it, you're able to do more reps or less reps lift a heavier weight in a way. It gives faster feedback. Then many other areas of life like let's say compared to starting a business like get going on that, but the Jim's a little bit faster in that. So for me, I think part of my draw in to fitness and strength training and even the strong men's stuff was that it was this crucible was this testing ground for all these other techniques and methods out there. Definitely, definitely. There's an interplay there that cannot be understated or overstated for sure. Yeah. Let me ask you recently, or I guess probably years ago now, you went pretty deep with the Wim Hoff material as well, and for people not familiar with that. Wim Hoff Iceman has done some pretty insane feats, a little bit different than the ones we've been talking about. But running through that, the Antarctic or Arctic a hundred kilometers
(19:40): North of the Arctic circle, somewhere in Europe, I think, I'm not even gonna try to guess, but somewhere in Northern Europe, North of the Arctic circle, a hundred kilometers in January, he ran a marathon in nothing but sure.
(19:54): Yeah. So that, once again, this is that superhero ability. And you were mentioning earlier wanting to be the Hulk. For me, I like superheroes too. And my name being Logan when the ones I identified with was Wolverine from theX men. And now you're on it. You run a company that has to do with health. Yup. Regeneration. Regeneration. That's it. Yeah. So the Wim Hoff, the main things he teaches is around breathing and cold exposure. And definitely how the mindset plays into all of that. Yeah. What was your experience? What kind of drew you deeper into that work? Like you had already been doing the strong men's stuff and everything else, but what specifically got you deeper there?
(20:35): Yeah. Like I said, I had been doing the strongman thing for a while. I had been training with Dennis Rogers, I believe at the, by the time I found out about Wim, Dennis and I had already gotten to the point, we'd done a few old times jobs together and he decided that I would be the vice president. So like I had, I understood the strong man thing pretty well at that point and through people that I met during the RKC years, specifically Steve Maxwell, and to a lesser degree, there was a thing that I used to do whenever I thought about it, when it would get a little bit cold because I'm in Tennessee, it doesn't ever get cold here like it does in say, Chicago or Minneapolis. Right. But it'll get single digit cold for a few days in the wintertime and I would do what's known as Dallas.
(21:26): And cold water dowsing and so we could call a couple of five gallon buckets of water, let them sit out in the cold until they started to freeze up a little bit and then go out and swim trunks or if it was at night, go out in my backyard naked because I still lived around other humans at that time and dumped as this water over my head and do some qigong breathing from, you know, I had been, I mentioned this but I've been studying and practicing qigong since about 95 as part of martial art adjunct type stuff, so some breathing exercises along with that, some and some yoga, pranayama breath of fire or some of that kind of stuff specifically designed to help generate more body heat. I would do that and I would do it for two or three days while it was while it was chilly or if I was really, really into it.
(22:10): I might do it for a couple of weeks and then I would just kind of move on to whatever the next interesting thing was mostly because it was difficult to get cold enough that way. And then in 2013 a couple of interesting things or significant things happened. My mother passed away in December, early December of 2013 and at Christmas my wife and I were visiting her family for Christmas. And so I was in my late forties. And just going through the grieving and trying to go through that process and understanding, processing what it was like, that this is the first Christmas in my life that my mom isn't here and dealing with grief aspect of that and the strangeness of it all. And I was up watching television, maybe everyone else was in bed. I was just flipping channels and there was a television show that was on about superhumans.
(23:07): And so that caught my attention immediately and I clicked on it and they've done this entire episode on Wim Hoff and this predates the vice documentary that everyone's familiar with. I want to say it was like national geographic or maybe Stanley, superhuman sounds, something like that. One of those shows. And I watched him and it was the same big holes in the ice on the frozen Lake that was like over a meter thick and he swam from one hole to another hole underwater for like 80 or a hundred meters. And it really put my little dump in a bucket of water over my head into a completely different perspective. It's like the first time I saw somebody been to wrench, you know, it's like I didn't even, I didn't entertain the thought that this was something that a human could do. And so in the interview process and biographical information about women talked about how part of his story is that his wife was paranoid and gets phrenic or maybe she's bipolar, I don't know.
(24:08): She had a mental illness. I don't want to attach the wrong label to it, but she has some form of mental illness that led her to just wake up one day and kill herself or no without warning and left him alone with like four children. And you know, it was just this horrific, horrific thing and breathing and the cold got him through that and I'm like, okay, you have my attention now. You have my interest now. So by the time that that episode was over, I had gone on Amazon and ordered the book becoming the ice man. And then when we got back home from our trip to visit my wife's parents, I had looked up on the internet that he had a website and the online course. And so I dove full on into that in 2013 and practiced it and practiced it and practiced it and was completely enamored of the results that I would get from the breathing exercises and the, as much as I could do the cold exposure here in the South, I did it and continue to up until 2016 and then wound up, because I'm on is, you know, on the membership site and the internet being what it is, he was doing a workshop in Los Angeles.
(25:17): So I went out and did a couple of days workshop with, there's probably two people at this thing. It was very small compared to what is going on with him now because this is right around the time he really blew up. And so the two days of that in, I want to say it was like April or may, and then went back to train with him again in November of 2016 we did a week in Colorado and it was at the time of the last presidential election. And so we're told up in this cabin, there was probably, I think there were 27 or 28 of us and that was the instructor certification stuff. So we got to hang out with whim and people that had been training with him for years in the mountains in Colorado, we would go out every morning and do some cold exposure stuff, go out and get in these lakes.
(26:02): We climbed a mountain and I got to the top of the mountain and climb the mountain in hiking boots and it killed. Got to the top of it up in a horseshoe. So that kind of just summed up everything there for bringing all those worlds together, you know? And it was a profound experience to be immersed into that and to just, I've never hugged so many nearly naked men in my life, but it was just like everybody was there. It was just, it was the whole event just radiated love and I kept part of that with me and brought it home and, and you know, F first glance, it looks like this and endure the elements. Push yourself past your limitations, which I am not a fan of that whole idea, but it looks like that. But really what it comes down to is love and compassion and getting yourself in harmony with nature.
(26:56): Thank you for listening. We'll be back in the next episode to conclude this conversation with David Whitley, where we'll be discussing how toughness is overrated, how you can listen to your body's whispers and much, much more at lost empire herbs. We guarantee our herbs will change your life or your money back, more energy, mental focus, better sleep, sex hormones, workouts, and more. Unlike the vast majority of supplements out there with us, you can notice a fillable difference to perform at your peak or you don't have to pay for it. That's what performance herbalism is all about. Get started by going to lost empire herbs.com and take our new quiz to find the right herbs for you.
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