Everyone on the planet ages the same way: We all lose muscle mass as we age.
And muscle mass is actually one of the most crucial aspects to your overall health and wellbeing:
Muscle mass can prevent diseases (from minor ones to severe ones). It makes you happier. And it’s actually the #1 biggest predictor of quality of life as you age.
In fact, the science is clear:
People who exercise live happier, healthier, and longer lives. Period.
But while exercise is one of the things we’re engineered to do as humans, our emotions tend to cloud our judgment. Shame and fear stop us from strength training—and it comes with a steep cost: A lower quality and length of life.
That’s why I invited Eric Levitan, CEO of Vivo, onto today’s episode to discuss…
- Why strength training is the single most important exercise for aging without pain or disease
- Why you don’t need heavy weights or a barbell to strength train
- The easiest way to start strength training (even if you’ve never done it before)
- Why strength training is even more important for you if you’re over 50 than if you’re in your 30s
The Better Man Podcast is an exploration of our health and well-being outside of our physical fitness, exploring and redefining what it means to be better as a man; being the best version of ourselves we can be, while adopting a more comprehensive understanding of our total health and wellness. I hope it inspires you to be better!
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Watch a Clip From Episode 062
Show Highlights with Eric Levitan
- Everyone on the planet ages the same way: We all lose muscle mass as we age.
- And muscle mass is actually one of the most crucial aspects to your overall health and wellbeing:
- Muscle mass can prevent diseases (from minor ones to severe ones). It makes you happier. And it’s actually the #1 biggest predictor of quality of life as you age.
- In fact, the science is clear:
- People who exercise live happier, healthier, and longer lives. Period.
- But while exercise is one of the things we’re engineered to do as humans, our emotions tend to cloud our judgment. Shame and fear stop us from strength training—and it comes with a steep cost: A lower quality and length of life.
- That’s why I invited Eric Levitan, CEO of Vivo, onto today’s episode to discuss…
- Why strength training is the single most important exercise for aging without pain or disease
- Why you don’t need heavy weights or a barbell to strength train
- The easiest way to start strength training (even if you’ve never done it before)
- Why strength training is even more important for you if you’re over 50 than if you’re in your 30s
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Join Team Vivo: Save 50% on the first two months of your subscription to Vivo & discover how to strength train properly at any age to prevent diseases and injuries. Use this link to get this offer: https://teamvivo.com/manflowyoga/
- Birddogs: Need a new pair of the most comfortable shorts in the world? Try Birddogs shorts using our link, and get a free tumbler with your purchase: http://manflowyoga.com/birddogs
- Follow Eric on social media: Follow him on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/elevitan13/ or on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/eric.levitan.7/
Dean Pohlman: Hey, guys, it’s Dean. Welcome to the Better Man podcast. Today I am joined by Eric Levitan, who is the founder of VEVO, which is an online live and interactive strength training experience for adults and fifty’s and plus. So I first heard about this from a member of ours, from a member of the mental yoga community who is also using the Vivo program.
Dean Pohlman: And when I had a call with Eric and got to realize what they were doing on a deeper level and understanding, wow, this is going to be really helpful for so many people. And also how different it is and how unique their what they’re doing is. I said, okay, we got to get them you know, we got to get Eric on the podcast.
Dean Pohlman: We got to talk about strength training. So. Eric, thank you for joining me. And today’s episode.
Eric Levitan: I appreciate it. Dean Thanks for the opportunity.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah, So, you know, I’m someone who’s, you know, been strength training their entire life. We put a lot of strength training in to man for yoga as well. But for people who might not understand the importance of weight training, this is strength training is actually, if not the number one. It is one of the top things that you can do for your overall health and well-being.
Dean Pohlman: Having muscle as you age is one of the strongest indicator indicators of of remaining disease free of being able to to live the life that you want to live. So it’s it’s not just, you know, it’s not just esthetics. It’s not just like looking jacked. There are muscle is incredibly healthy. So I’m wondering if you could just tell us a little bit more about this.
Eric Levitan: Sure. And you’re absolutely right. The the literature is so clear and the science has been around for so long that shows that correlation between muscle mass and strength and quality of life and prevention of disease. And unfortunately, not enough people are aware of this. And there’s such a predominant narrative, especially as we age with cardiovascular health and the importance of walking, which, by the way, are incredibly important.
Eric Levitan: But that’s only a part of the picture. And are our musculoskeletal system and specifically our strength are such a vital role in our not only our health and our health span, but our quality of life. And so as we age, every single person on the planet ages the same way we all lose muscle mass as a natural part of the aging.
Eric Levitan: There’s actually a word that I’d love to introduce your listeners to that many people have never heard before, and that word is called Sarcopenia. It’s like an island off the coast of Italy. It is not. It is a disease of aging that loosely translates into the progressive loss of muscle mass as we age, leading to a lack of mobility.
Eric Levitan: And it begins in our thirties, unfortunately. And we it’s a progressive condition, so it accelerates as we get older. You lose about somewhere between 5 to 8% of your muscle mass per decade in your thirties, forties and fifties. And it really starts to accelerate in your sixties. And as we naturally lose muscle mass, this is what tends to happen.
Eric Levitan: We are we lose our balance, right? We become a fall risk. You lose your ability, muscle mass really helps in things like sopping up blood sugar and managing glucose. We become more susceptible to type two diabetes. We start losing bone density and becoming more susceptible to osteoporosis. It contributes to fat being replacing where you’re losing some of that muscle, which leads to cardiovascular disease.
Eric Levitan: All of these things begin to happen from a negative health consequence perspective because we are losing muscle mass as we age. And again, this happens to men, women, regardless of where you live, regardless of what your background is, this happens to all of us and it turns out that there’s something we can do about it and that something is strength training or resistance training or weight training.
Eric Levitan: And really, at the end of the day, we are in control of of the fact that we can prevent this loss of muscle mass and and really protect ourselves not only in terms of our independence and the ability to stand up out of a chair or get up off the floor. But we can ward off disease. We can prevent type two diabetes and cardiovascular disease and dementia.
Eric Levitan: And, you know, the list goes on and on. It’s a really profound thing that it’s important that we get this message out about the fact that, a, we lose muscle mass as we age and B, there’s something we can do about it. And that something is called strength training.
Dean Pohlman: Mm hmm. And so, you know, just to help us understand what strength training is, is strength to strength training mean you have to go to the gym and lift, you know, do you have to lift barbells? Do you have to have lift heavy weight? Do you have to wear, you know, a t shirt that has been cut into strips so that your nipples are showing while you exercise in order to strength training?
Eric Levitan: Oh, such a great question. So the answer is no, you don’t have to do any of those things. What you do have to do is challenge your muscles to a particular level to elicit the outcomes that you need to get stronger. And so it’s what’s wonderful about the human body is we have the capacity to do that all by ourselves.
Eric Levitan: We don’t need to wear tank tops, We don’t need to go into a gym, we don’t need to lift heavy weight either. But what we do need to do is get to a point of challenge and this is an important aspect for for everyone to be aware of is what does that mean? And there’s different kinds of strength.
Eric Levitan: It can be it can be complicated to make this really, really simple for everybody. You need to be able to do an exercise that’s challenging, that you can do roughly 8 to 12 times or you’re struggling towards the end of of of that set. And that’s a really good indication that you’re doing an appropriate level of intensity, inappropriate level of challenge that will build strength.
Eric Levitan: And so something that will often see is you’ll see an individual who’s exercising, who’s just crushing, you know, bicep curls. Maybe they’re doing a £101 weight. Now, that’s better than not doing anything, but it’s not really moving the needle in the way that it should. And so a part of the education kind of awareness around what does it mean to do strength training is what are the kinds of exercise is that are really important?
Eric Levitan: How do you do them so that you can engage in them safely? And then how do you do it so you can get that level of challenge such that you see the progress, you see yourself getting stronger and you protect your body from all of the ailments associated with aging.
Dean Pohlman: And so what’s and by the way, I had some feedback that sometimes I look like I’m doing something else while I’m listening to these, you know, listening to responses. And I am I’m taking notes as I go so that I can ask better questions later. So if you’re looking at me wondering, like, why is Dean like that? Because I’m I’m actually am like taking notes and planning out more questions as we go.
Dean Pohlman: So one, you know, so the question that comes up and, you know, strength training is awesome. It’s great for you. What is the resistance to resistance training like? Why are people why do people you know, why are people not doing it as much?
Eric Levitan: So there are a lot of objections and and some of them are fair and some of them are societal and kind of these preconceived notions that we’ve been drilling into people’s heads for decades, that as we get older and we get more frail, we have to we have to really be careful not to injure or hurt or worse.
Eric Levitan: And and so there’s a societal influence that I’ll talk about in just a second. But the other is more of a personal objection. And a lot of that part of what we did is we’re dealing with older adults. We’re dealing with individuals who we know have not necessarily incorporated into their lives and have reached a point where it’s hard to take that first step.
Eric Levitan: And what we found is the underlying predominant underlying objection and barrier to engaging in really any fitness program as you age is this core concept of shame. And it’s often manifests itself as fear, embarrassment, you know, worried that you’re going to get injured or worried that you’re going to look foolish doing an exercise that you’ve never done before.
Eric Levitan: But it really comes down to this common this common principle of shame. And that’s a hard thing for everyone to get over. That’s that’s a hard thing that we really need to educate people on and create this kind of accessible platform. Because knowing that that first step is there. I mean, look, if you’ve never done a program like this before, even if you’re younger and you’re fit, you’re always a little nervous that first time you engage in a program.
Eric Levitan: And so what we really try to do is make this a judgment free zone, right? Everybody comes and participates at their own level because the reality of the situation is you’re not going to get hurt if you do it by yourself. And if you’re doing it without kind of the oversight of a trainer, you’re more likely to either get injured or put yourself in a situation that you shouldn’t be in.
Eric Levitan: But part of what we do from Devo and part of what I would recommend, whether someone does video or not, is you engage with someone who’s watching you. You engage with a certified personal trainer, you engage with a program to get started that is giving you the guidance and the kind of safety net to allow you to figure stuff out so that you can then become empowered to do this on your own.
Eric Levitan: And so we try really hard that, you know, that big objection of I’m going to get injured is we’ll make sure you don’t get injured. Right. We can work with individuals, we can correct form, we can cure you. We can either progress or regress and exercise according to your specific fitness level. And those are really important things that help put people’s mind at ease.
Eric Levitan: But there is this concept that, look, I used to do all these things and now I can’t. And that’s shameful, right? That’s embarrassing. And it’s not even just embarrassing to other people. It’s the sense of shame that you feel about yourself is why I’m less than because I can’t do this anymore. And I think for men in particular, you know, so much of our about our value system is that we’re supposed to be strong, physically strong, mentally strong, emotionally strong.
Eric Levitan: And as we age and we lose some of that strength, that becomes a source of shame for a lot of men societally. I think it’s also important to recognize that we do we treat older adults with kid gloves and we need to understand that older adults need to be challenged and pushed just like younger individuals do, and that, again, done in a safe manner.
Eric Levitan: It’s a really, really effective tool. We’ve been running video classes for three years now. We launched in April of 2020 with the start of the pandemic. We’ve probably were on 15,000 over 15,000 classes. And I’m going to knock on wood here, Dave, do you know how many injuries we’ve seen and 15,000 classes of doing vocal programing? Probably zero zero will people be sore afterwards?
Eric Levitan: Absolutely. And that’s a part of this, and we can talk about that in a little bit about our injuries or worse happening. Absolutely not. And I think that’s a really important thing for for all of us to really walk away with, is you can do this and you can do this in a safe and engaging and challenging way and begin to really see differences in your strength and your confidence in your capabilities and your function without worrying about, you know, some significant health event that’s going to happen because you engage in fitness.
Eric Levitan: Now, there is the the caveat and you throw out, obviously, if you’re coming from a very unhealthy place or you’re dealing with a chronic condition, you should always consult with a physician before you start any fitness program. Absolutely. That being said, exercise is one of the things that we are engineered to do as human beings, and it’s something that people should not be fearful of.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah, like a couple of things that I was thinking about as you were giving your answer. You know, I think about what we used to do before we live such sedentary lives, you know, people who we used to be active, way more active in, you know, and I think I think we do kind of baby people as as they get older and they say, oh, and that is reinforced by conversations that I have.
Dean Pohlman: You know, I have conversations with people and feel like, oh, you know what, I’m in my fifties. I shouldn’t be lifting weights or like, I’m in my sixties, I shouldn’t be lifting weights. I’m like, oh, I mean, you can there’s there’s so many different ways to to to lift weights. You don’t have to have, like your body weight or like more than your body weight.
Dean Pohlman: You can use you can use £3, you can use £2, you can, you can. There’s so many different ways to strength train. And what are you talking about with, you know, with the way that Vivo runs their classes? I just wanted to say that there are so many resources to learning proper technique like a personal trainer is. In the long run, it’s it’s so much less expensive than you think it is to just go hire somebody to teach you how to do these exercises, like walk in, say like, I want to buy a five pack, I want somebody to teach me how to do these basic exercises.
Dean Pohlman: You know, I want to learn how to do what’s like a safe version of a bench press that I can do what is like a safe version of a squat that I can do. You know, what is like an easy version of a deadlift like you just there are such basic exercises and and if you just have, you know, someone who’s going to teach you proper technique and make that tiny investment in yourself so that you know how to do that over time, it’s it’s, it’s so worth it.
Dean Pohlman: But I wanted to ask you about, you know, specifically about Vivo, because I think a big resistance that people do have to this is they want to make sure that they’re doing something properly. And and, you know, not everybody wants to go into the gym and being able to work out from home with someone who’s like giving you instruction and feedback in real time, that’s really cool.
Dean Pohlman: You know, that’s something That’s why when I heard about this, I was like, Oh my God, you guys are just going to be so popular once this takes off. So I wonder if you could tell me about kind of the instruction style of Vivo and how you make sure people get a good workout, how they avoid injury, Like what are the things that, you know, people should be looking for in instruction?
Eric Levitan: Absolutely. And one final thought on on the prior kind of a question that you were asking, because I think not only is are we addressing this concept of shame and the societal kind of avoidance of of of worry of of injury, there is another component of that that feeds into all of this, that I’ll give him my next answer, which is there is an awareness, a lack of education and awareness that is also present.
Eric Levitan: And the real genesis of why I started Vivo and why we do Vivo as this live and interactive small group that I’ll talk about is there’s this really big push that we think walking is enough. Walking is enough to keep us healthy through our through our old age. And what I personally experience with my aging parents is I started they started having falls.
Eric Levitan: They started seeing a really precipitous decline in their quality of life as they age, which I found out to be very typical of mid to late seventies. You know, that age range where they’ve lost a significant amount of muscle mass and they’ve started having fall issues and their doctors told them to walk more and they were already walking two or three miles a day and I knew there was something else.
Eric Levitan: And so I think even in the health care ecosystem, as we’re as as patients are talking to physicians, there’s just a lack of emphasis on maintaining strength as we age and knowing that there’s all the other pressures that we talked about. And there’s an inherent, you know, fear and sense of shame. How we approach this is a we want to make this accessible to anyone, regardless of where you are, whether you’re rural, whether you have access to a brick and mortar facility or not.
Eric Levitan: We think everybody needs the proper guidance and education to make sure that they’re safe and can be effective. And then the second thing is, it’s got to be a small enough group because we’re dealing with a population that needs that feedback, that that mobility profile for any one individual over the age of really probably 40 begins to get ever increasingly complex.
Eric Levitan: So someone may have arthritis in their shoulder and not have a lot of, you know, range of motion above, above their shoulder. Someone else may have an artificial knee, someone else may have osteoporosis in their hip. Right. We begin to and often it’s multiple these things, it’s multiple comorbidities that someone’s dealing with. And so what we find is kind of that that foundational, you know, element is the ability to individualize for everybody.
Eric Levitan: And so that immediately means it’s got to be a small number of people because we need to be able to correct for we need to be able to modify an exercise if it’s causing you pain or discomfort or if you have a chronic condition. We need to make sure that you’re being challenged, because often what we also see is some people are very strong in some areas and really not very strong in others.
Eric Levitan: Right. So you’re not like in an advanced class because maybe you’ve got a really strong upper body, but you have some neuropathy in your feet and you don’t have good balance and you can’t do squats, right? So there’s often a blend of function and mobility and any one individual. So kind of the first foundational thing that we really try to address is being able to individualize his experience for someone, which automatically means we’re, we’re, you know, one on one or one on a small number of people.
Eric Levitan: Mm hmm. The other element that we really leaned into when we were building this program is understanding behavioral change. Because here’s what’s not a mystery. We all know exercise is good for you, right? There’s nothing new and innovative about that approach. But how do you get people to engage consistently and to a level of challenge that’s going to yield real health outcomes?
Eric Levitan: And it was we started looking into behavioral science. What we found is not for everyone, but for most of us, feeling a level of accountability to a community is what drives accountability and ultimately behavioral change. And so where we landed was small groups, groups of eight people or less, where it was small enough that you could provide that individualized attention, but big enough that we were making this a socially rich environment and we were building this sense of community that would drive adoption, that would drive behavioral change in people coming back.
Eric Levitan: And again, we’ve been running this program now for three years. And I think what I’m probably most proud of for what we are doing is we run 75 classes a week currently, so we’re doing quite a bit of volume. Our average monthly customer retention is 98%. Wow, that sounds like a fake number. It is not. What we have built is extremely sticky and it is all on that core fundamental thesis around community and behavioral change accountability.
Eric Levitan: And it’s the small group that is kind of the magic sauce that makes this thing work. So what we do in a vivo class is we’ve got five components. We always start with some ability and some dynamic movement. Get the blood flowing, get people loose. We we always do balance work. Balance actually starts to go pretty early also as we’re losing muscle mass.
Eric Levitan: So even in your forties and fifties, it’s important to always keep balance top of mind and we engage in something called dual test exercises. And I’ll maybe hold this for, for another question.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah, this was really cool and you explained it to me, so it makes total sense. So yeah, go on.
Eric Levitan: I’ll come back to it. But it’s basically a way of engaging not only the body, but the body and the mind at the same time. And there’s a lot of science behind. It’s really good for preventing dementia and other neurocognitive disorders, Parkinson’s, etc. And then we get into the meat of kind of a circuit of what we do.
Eric Levitan: And that’s really where we focus on strength. We change the theme of of what that looks like every single week. So some weeks are more high intensity interval training, other weeks are more like focused on power or you’re moving weight quickly. Other weeks are focused on maybe a paused wrap or you spend more time under tension. We’re constantly evolving every single week, the theme of what we do changes to create that, that variation and that challenge.
Eric Levitan: And then the fifth component is a cooldown on some mindfulness, some stretching, some more static stretching to get people to come down after this workout. And the classes are 45 minutes long and and because of the fact that it’s a small group and we’re constantly kind of moving the programing throughout, it goes by really quickly. And so that’s really what the the Vivo class looks like.
Eric Levitan: It’s a small group online. We do it over Zoom. It’s a live, an interactive experience where we’re we’re keeping people safe or cueing or we’re watching perform or correcting it. We’re answering questions. It’s a very interactive experience.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. And that’s that to me seems like that would be the most when you’re working out with somebody, right, When there’s like a live when when there’s a live component, when there is when there’s other people just making it makes just makes it more exciting. Like it just it’s it’s like, yes, the motivation is there. The you know, it’s nice to be with people.
Dean Pohlman: It’s nice to get feedback. But also it’s just it’s much more exciting when you’re doing it with somebody. So, you know, if you’re struggling with doing something on your own, like it does help to find, it does help to find a group to do it with. And I’m seeing this as somebody who’s product whose only training service is like, watch a video and follow along to it, you know?
Dean Pohlman: But if you are struggling with and there’s a lot of other things that you can do to help with increasing, you know, consistency, that’s literally most of what I do is coming up with strategies to help with that. It’s not with coming up with workouts. It’s like coming up with strategies to be more consistent with the work.
Eric Levitan: That’s right. Or not, the.
Dean Pohlman: But yeah, but.
Eric Levitan: That’s I think what’s wonderful about video and and on demand content that you’re creating today is it’s the ultimate in flexibility right so someone can engage wherever they are whenever they want they don’t need to adhere to a schedule and it provides this wonderful opportunity that if it’s two in the morning or two in the afternoon or 11 at night, they can engage in a really engaging workout that you’re creating today.
Eric Levitan: For some people, they don’t have that motivation and a really effective tool. And even this is something that if you’re just even doing, you know, a standard video program, my recommendation, based on what we’ve seen in the behavioral sciences, schedule it as an appointment and your calendar is amazing. Happens when we have an appointment in our calendar.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah.
Eric Levitan: We tend to go. And so if you had a doctor’s appointment scheduled for Tuesday morning at 10 a.m., you’d be there, right? You wouldn’t miss it. You have an appointment and exercise should really be looked at in the same way. Whether you’re doing it as you know by yourself or you’re doing it as a part of a broader program.
Eric Levitan: That’s a wonderful motivator because often what happens is you’ll wake up on a Tuesday morning, maybe you’re supposed to exercise that day. It’s very easy to talk yourself out of it. Sometimes you need that little bit of of a nudge because here’s what doesn’t happen is when you’re done with a workout, you always feel better, right? The brain releases endorphins.
Eric Levitan: That’s its way of of rewarding our reward center for doing something that it knows was good for us. So 100% of the time, those times I want to work out and I end up going, I feel great afterwards like, Oh my gosh, that was even if it’s not the best workout I’ve ever had, you feel great. But it’s so easy to not do that, that scheduling an appointment I think is a really effective tool that works for both of these platforms, these kind of different forms.
Eric Levitan: So I wanted to add that, you know, before yoga is this wonderful resource that gives the ultimate flexibility. Sometimes scheduling it is is a is a really great technique.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah, we actually do have features built into our website as well as our members area that allows people to schedule the workouts in advance. So the website you can you can use it to add to your smart calendar, which is pretty cool. And then in the app, there’s actually a calendar in the app that you can use. The only thing it doesn’t have is a mass add.
Dean Pohlman: All you know to calendar, so you can’t add an entire program to your calendar. You have to do it workout by workout, but hopefully that doesn’t make it to too difficult. So another question that I had that I wanted to ask you, a lot of people think that they’re doing resistance training wrong for certain reasons. And, you know, people say, I got sore, you know, I’m sure I am I doing something wrong.
Dean Pohlman: And, you know, my obvious answer here is no. Soreness is part of it. Soreness is actually part of the process of how you build strength. But I wanted to ask you about some of the other things that people experience from resistance training or from weight training that might make them think they’re doing it wrong when actually they’re not.
Eric Levitan: Yeah, so soreness is one of those funny things that it’s almost, you know, a blessing in disguise, right? I like it. It doesn’t feel great to be sore, but it’s also the body’s way of letting you know that you probably did something correctly. Yeah, as long as it’s not in acute pain. Right. That’s. And that’s helping part of.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. What’s the what do you how would you explain the difference between soreness and. Oh I overdid it. Something’s wrong.
Eric Levitan: Yeah. So we try to describe it in terms of being a sharp pain. So if you have a, you know, an acute injury somewhere, if you have a knee issue, if you have a shoulder issue and you’re feeling something like a sharp pain when you move in a specific way, then that’s that’s a bad thing. So we tend to or we try to educate people on the difference between what is healthy muscle soreness, which means that you’re doing a good job versus an injury or or inflammation that you need to be aware of.
Eric Levitan: And generally it’s that that sharp pain that I think is a good way for people to identify if something has a really big burst of of pain at one particular moment of movement, that’s that’s not good. You want to stop at that point. We try very hard at the beginning of every single class. We do a quick check in.
Eric Levitan: Has anything changed with people? You know, how are you feeling today? And if something hurts, stop and if you have a question, ask us. And those are really important things. Even as you’re doing this by yourself, be in tune with your body. There’s a great expression that I heard once that if you listen when your body whispers, it doesn’t have to scream.
Eric Levitan: And I think about that all the time. And I share that with people because every significant injury I’ve ever experienced in my life, I’ve had little warning signs before that happened. And I and I ignored those warning signs. And it never fails. I ruptured my Achilles tendon and 10 minutes before I did that, I felt a little twinge.
Eric Levitan: Right? My body gave, my body whispered, and then I didn’t listen. And then my body screamed. And I think those are important things that we help people understand is listen to your body. The other thing that we really try to do is there are really three that I call the holy trinity of exercise three exercises. And I probably out of fourth with deadlifts.
Eric Levitan: But pushups, planks and squats are really the most fundamental movement patterns that really engage the entire body. And again, I’d probably add deadlifts as a fourth. But what we try, when anyone, someone starts vivo is we try to nail those, the form of those because getting form correct matters, as you said, and that allows you to get a much more effective workout when your form is good.
Eric Levitan: If you’re doing a squat and you’re leaning forward, not only are you going to put yourself at risk, but you’re going to be probably not using the muscles that you really want to be working. And so we really try to create some education and a comfort level around those three exercises in particular, because again, that is if you did nothing else other than pushups, planks and squats for the rest of your life, you would maintain your mobility.
Eric Levitan: Those are really good things to do and educating people on how to do those well is is an important part of of what we do in all of our classes. And then we want to expand that. Right. We want to there’s another term that we talk about in the fitness world called periodization, which is the constant variation of how we exercise and what we target and what we do, because that also helps with making progress and getting stronger.
Eric Levitan: And so it’s very important that we don’t just do the three same three exercises every day. We create some variation with that. We create some challenge. Human beings respond well to challenge physically, mentally, emotionally. If we get really comfortable, we start making progress. And so that’s a really core kind of thesis for for us in vivo is we want to continue to bring this challenge into the program.
Eric Levitan: And that’s really we haven’t talked about this much, but part of the other thing that we do with Vivo is we do assessments for everybody. So we do when we join the program, we do a baseline assessment, we baseline your strength and balance and then we reassess every two months. And there’s a variety of reasons that we do that, not the least of which is when you begin to see that plateau, which inevitably you will.
Eric Levitan: That’s a wonderful opportunity to make sure that we all understand what’s required to get up, to continue to make that next level of progress.
Dean Pohlman: Mm hmm. Yeah. And so another thing that I wanted to add into you’re talking about is when you’re going through the exercises, you know, they should you shouldn’t be just doing them and getting through them. The goal shouldn’t be just like, okay, I’m going to do ten of these and I’m just going to push through it and I’m going to finish and then I’m done.
Dean Pohlman: You should actually be like, it should feel somewhat good in a way. You should feel like, Oh, this is a nice challenge. I can feel the right muscles working like I’m celebrating my body strength, my body’s capabilities. I’m getting to a point where I have to challenge myself, but it’s not ever hurting. And it’s not it’s it’s not hurting, right?
Dean Pohlman: Like there’s, I think, something that is so common with people in this age bracket, you know, guys, 50, 6070s is the no pain, no gain mentality. Right? There is probably, I think in every high school weight room in the eighties and nineties, there’s probably like a no pain. No And before then was probably like, you know even 6070s I guess there was the, you know, no pain, no gain mentality.
Dean Pohlman: It was all over gyms and and for somebody who doesn’t understand that the no pain no gain mentality more so refers to working through the discomfort of a challenge rather than like pushing through like physical sharp pain because that’s that’s that’s just going to leave you injured. And I think that’s something that I think that’s something that people need to understand.
Dean Pohlman: And the other part of that is if you’re doing an exercise, like if you’re doing a squat, like we talk about squats, for example, talking about squats, we talked about pushups. If you’re doing those exercises and they hurt, there’s probably there’s there’s a reason for that. You shouldn’t just keep doing it and expecting the pain to go away.
Dean Pohlman: And that’s where it helps to learn the appropriate exercises to help how you can how you can make those exercises feel better. Like so if you’re if you’re squats, hurts like a lot of people say, I don’t do squats because my knees hurt. I kind of look at that. I’m like, Well, no, that’s that’s that’s yes, your knees hurt when you squat, but it’s not because you have bad knee, is it because you have weak hips yet.
Dean Pohlman: Right. You have a lack of mobility in your ankles, your core is weak. So so learning through learning why you know, those exercises hurt and and trying to do those exercises that help to help to make those exercises not hurt, instead of just like doing them repeatedly and expecting them to the pain to go away.
Eric Levitan: Right.
Dean Pohlman: And I kind of just I kind of got away from like what you were talking about. I will completely admit that. But I think that’s something that’s really important to mention, because this you know, you’re talking about pain or soreness and ultimately strength training should feel good. Like it should help you feel you know, you should feel capable with your body.
Dean Pohlman: It should be help you feel proud of yourself. You know, it shouldn’t be like, oh, I just got to finish this. I just got to get through three more reps and then I’m done because then you’re going to be hurt. You’re going to be in pain for the next two or three days.
Eric Levitan: Yeah. And there’s actually two things I’ll add to that, Dean. One is often pain in a joint is a is a a reflection of something above or below in that in the chain of that of that body, right? So when you are experiencing knee pain, it’s typically a muscular imbalance that’s above or below the knee. And also, you know, creating awareness and education around that.
Eric Levitan: Because you’re right, when someone goes to do a squat or a chair stand, depending on what they can do and their knees hurt, their their inclination is, I’m going to stop doing this, which at least for the moment is a good idea. But in or.
Dean Pohlman: I’m going to go get knee surgery.
Eric Levitan: Or I’ll get knee surgery, right? Yes. And get an injection or a variety of different, you know, much more significant things to do and where the reality is, well, let’s regress you on that specific exercise, which is something I want to talk about. And let’s figure out where that imbalance is and where that focus can be so that your knee doesn’t hurt.
Eric Levitan: So the other the second part of this that I really wanted to introduce as we’ve built out this and this is not unique to fitness, right? This exists probably with every program, but we’ve built out this this sort of regimented four level system for every exercise that we do. And a pushup is probably the best example that I can give in terms of what we how we teach pushups.
Eric Levitan: So one of my favorite things to do and I’m I will frequently talk about and speak to a group about the importance strength training as you age. And I’ll ask especially if the audience is a little bit older, maybe more in their seventies and beyond is raise your hand if you can do a push up and you’ll see a smattering of hands go up.
Eric Levitan: Maybe, you know, a quarter of the room, a fifth of the room, not very many hands. And and the answer is actually everybody, this room can do a push up. You’re just doing a different variation of the push up that you have in your mind. And so when you say the term push up to somebody, they have a mental picture of getting down on the floor, on your hands and your toes and doing a traditional push up, but there’s actually a way to progress and regress that make it harder or make it easier.
Eric Levitan: So for people who can’t get to the ground, which is a healthy dose of older adults, are not comfortable getting to the ground and getting back off. There’s a way to introduce a push up against the back of a chair or a countertop where you don’t have to go to the ground. The further back you move your feet, the the more the angle and talk that you put your body on.
Eric Levitan: And you can do a push up that way. And even if you can’t do that, you can actually stand against the wall, take a step back and do a push up against the wall. Almost everybody can do that, right? You can stand perfectly upright and push yourself off the wall. That’s a variation of a push up. And then on the other side, traditional push up, obviously, maybe you can get down the floor, but you can’t during the strength yet to do that.
Eric Levitan: You can do a push up from your knees and it removes a lot of that weight. And you can still work your your pack, your chest muscles on your shoulders and your thighs. And then you can also elevate your toes, right, and make a push up harder. And so what we try to do is a level system where a level one push up against the wall level to push up is off the back of a chair or a counter.
Eric Levitan: A level three push up is off of your knees, and a level for push up is what we think of as a traditional push up. So we will demo or talk about all of these when it’s time to do a push up in a vivo class. And so what we’re trying to do is meet everybody where they are.
Eric Levitan: So you might not be able to get to the floor and do a push up, but we don’t want that and we don’t want you to put yourself in an uncomfortable situation. Where you will get injured is start with a lower level version of that exercise and get comfortable with it. And once you do that, you move up to the next level of of that exercise.
Eric Levitan: And so we do that with everything. You know, a squat is another good example. A lot of people, because of knee concerns or knee pain or hip mobility issues, they’re not comfortable doing squats. So how do we regress a squat? Or we can do a chair stand, right? You can literally stand up from a chair and sit back down on the chair, which a lot of people can do.
Eric Levitan: Some people may have difficulty with that. So you can put a pillow on a chair and elevate what that chair and minimize your range of motion. There’s ways to continue to to make something more approachable for someone to do safely, to ultimately get to what you’re talking about. Dean Which is it shouldn’t hurt, right? It should be something that you can do comfortably.
Eric Levitan: But again, you’re looking for that 8 to 12 rep range where it begins to get really challenging in that level. That’s where, you know, you’re you’re in a good range.
Dean Pohlman: So what are some realities that people who are are older guys 5060, 70 what are some realities that guys need to be aware of when it comes to safely doing resistance training? Like what? What are some differences that they need to be aware of training now versus when they were, you know, doing high school sports?
Eric Levitan: So there’s there’s probably three things that I would highlight and two of them are physical. One is really around nutrition. First and foremost is balance is a complicated thing and we often don’t associate balance problems and falls until we get and I’m going to make some generic statements around age. These are absolutely not hard, fast rules. That rules everybody ages differently.
Eric Levitan: We’ve got incredibly fit 90 year old customers that we deal with now and less fit 50 year old customers, right? So it’s more about the stager and rather than the age that being said, to generically talk, often we begin to see balance issues in the mid sixties and creeping into the seventies where it becomes more of an issue and understanding that and making sure that as you’re engaging in exercise, you’re being safe.
Eric Levitan: Because if you do fall and if you do have an injury, that that is a significant negative consequence, that it will be that much harder to continue to progress out of. And so first and foremost, we always try to make sure that people are exercising in a safe way, really focus on their balance. Maybe you need to have a chair nearby or a wall nearby.
Eric Levitan: If you’re doing something like on one leg, you want to make sure that you’ve got a sturdy support system. You want to look at the room around you and make sure there’s no carpet lids or edges or things on the floor balls, pets, others that can create a hazard for this exercise program. Pets are a big one. We don’t often see them come in the room right there.
Eric Levitan: They they can they can get in our way and really cause some issues. But the other aspect of balance is you have to actively train at it. And so there’s all kinds of ways that that you can train on balance, not the least of which is one legged exercises that really focus on proprioception and the strength of of that.
Eric Levitan: Again, that whole kind of kinetic chain from your core all the way down through your lower your lower extremities. So balance is really the first one is just to be aware of make sure you’re engaging safely. The second is start slowly. I see this all the time, especially with former athletes, people who used to be fit. They’ve gotten away from it and then they start back up with a program like Vivo, and there’s a lot of excitement and there’s a lot of enthusiasm.
Eric Levitan: And knowing that you actually have to progress, you don’t want this j curve of of of effort. You want to do something that’s pretty slow and steady, get comfortable with the form, get comfortable with the exercises, start adding moving up those levels of progression right in a more or a slower, steadier way to make sure that you don’t injury yourself.
Eric Levitan: And then the third and this is really an important part of this is focus on nutrition and specifically protein, our body’s ability to convert protein into muscle, which is by the way, the building block of muscle is protein and specifically the essential amino acids. As we age, we become less efficient at converting protein into muscle, which means that we need to eat more protein again, eat more protein.
Eric Levitan: And as for doing something like a strength training or resistance training program, you need to make sure that there’s the building blocks of that muscle are present in your system, which is that protein and again, not as well known as it should be, but we need to eat more protein as we get older. This becomes really, really important.
Eric Levitan: So if you’re strength training and and really engage in exercise and you’re not eating enough protein, you will not see the results that you’re ultimately looking for. And so this is kind of two sides of the same coin. Not only do you need to be exercising effectively, you need to make sure that you’re consuming enough protein to to create that muscle.
Eric Levitan: And and that’s an important part that we also try to preach.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. So I’m going to go through those three things just really quick and add in a little bit. So first off balance, I always say balance is part skill and part strength. And so, you know, to work on your balance, that means that you also need to train your glutes, you need to train your core, you train your ankles, and you also have.
Eric Levitan: Yep, Yeah.
Dean Pohlman: Your feet. Yeah, you have to have it’s not just a skill. It’s also like you need to have that actual strength to be able to do it. Otherwise you’ll try doing it and you’ll just, you know, you’ll just fall over the second thing you meant, said, easing into it something that is really different about, you know, your fitness, your strength as you age.
Dean Pohlman: It’s the question becomes not whether or not you can do it. It becomes, Yeah, but how are you going to feel tomorrow? Because a lot of us can like we can keep pushing and keep going. But like, how are you going to feel tomorrow? Because those injuries, they don’t they don’t often pop up. Like as you’re doing that, most injuries are going to happen after you’re going to you’re going to realize like the day after, Oh, you know, I pushed it.
Dean Pohlman: I know what happened. I know when I pushed it. It didn’t hurt then, but it hurts now. And now I’m out for like a week or two weeks or like, I’ve got to go get my hamstring looked at because I think I tore my hamstring. Sorry for not how much. Yeah, not just when you’re doing it, but how you feel afterwards.
Dean Pohlman: And so easing into it is a great way of realizing, okay, this is how much I’m pushing now let me see how I feel tomorrow and your body will adjust that soreness eventually, but like easing into it, I think that’s a great point. And then with the nutrition, I think that most most fitness, most wellness and fitness that I’m seen, people are doing a much better job of of putting out the message, hey, we do need protein.
Dean Pohlman: It doesn’t matter if you get that from plant protein or if you get that from other sources of protein. But I think the number is like point seven grams to one gram of protein per per pound or per pound of lean muscle. I can’t remember which one.
Eric Levitan: You it’s, it’s per pound or it’s actually per kilogram I think. Which is per.
Dean Pohlman: Kilogram.
Eric Levitan: Because it’s a good rule of thumb that we generally tell people and obviously it does, it 100% depends on your size, but if you strive to get 30 grams of protein at every meal, breakfast, lunch and dinner, that is a really, really good kind of benchmark tissues for and specifically just knowing how the American diet and what that looks like, We generally have very little protein at breakfast.
Dean Pohlman: And so many carbs and so many carbs.
Eric Levitan: And carbs and then a whole bunch of protein for dinner. And that same, you know, you may consume 100 grams of protein and that and that profile, but the body doesn’t work that way. The body needs a certain threshold of protein for for that for that for that protein synthesis to create that muscle. And so that really happens at that 30 gram mark.
Eric Levitan: So spacing that out evening, that hour, 30 grams of breakfast eggs, Greek yogurt, protein powder, whey powder in a smoothie. These are all really good things to incorporate into your breakfast. And then obviously lunch and dinner. It’s a little bit easier, I think, traditionally to find protein sources, these are really important things that also not all protein is the same.
Eric Levitan: We’re really looking for those amino acids, those essential amino acids, leucine being being a really important one for building muscle and strength. And so it gets a little bit more advanced as you kind of get into this space by just generally 30 grams of protein at every meal. Breakfast, lunch and dinner is hopefully a good guideline for for the listeners.
Dean Pohlman: And what’s a timing matters, right? I mean, is it so everyone hears like you got to eat within 30 minutes of your workout, but like, what’s the you know, what’s what does the science say?
Eric Levitan: Yeah, You know, the conventional wisdom for a long time was you have to eat your protein within 30 minutes of of working out. I think this is constantly evolving the latest the latest literature that I’ve seen is it doesn’t matter. I think that’s the the latest science. But there’s literally new studies coming out about this every day. I think probably that the net of it is nobody really knows for sure.
Eric Levitan: Nutrition is one of those kind of ever evolving sciences that the more we research, the more we study. There’s also a lot of a healthy dose of individualism, right? So the way that your body responds to something is not necessarily the way that everybody’s body will respond to that. We know enough about the microbiome and gut health to know that there’s a lot of individual nuance with with nutrition.
Eric Levitan: That said, the latest science says you don’t have to eat it within that first 30 minutes. I certainly know a ton of people that still do that.
Dean Pohlman: So I mean, yeah, for me it’s like it was drilled into me, like I’m like, I got to go, I got to go home, I got to get my protein shake. Right now, I don’t talk to me. I have to rush over. You see people like shaking up protein shakes at the end of their workout. But yeah, and that’s I’m glad you answer that question.
Dean Pohlman: I have a I have a couple of other questions. What are some things that make it difficult to realize The we talk about this a little bit, but with nutrition. But what are some other things that make it difficult for people to fully receive the benefits of strength training? What are some things that get in the way of So even if they are like working out, what are some things that would make it less effective?
Eric Levitan: So the two big ones, two big rocks out here, and that is consistency and level of challenge and that is along with with protein obviously, which we talked about that that is it. Those are the fundamental items. So consistency is is the the foundation. If you are not exercising consistently and what I mean consistently from a strength training perspective, that’s 2 to 3 times a week, you will not see the benefits.
Eric Levitan: And that’s probably, you know, the CDC has recommendations on exercise overall 150 of moderate to vigorous verus, you know, minutes of of aerobic exercise that’s equally as important from a consistency perspective is to really see the benefits. It’s got to be done it it’s got to be a part of your you know, your your your life. It’s going to be a part of what you do on a weekly basis.
Eric Levitan: It’s not to say you can’t miss a workout or you can’t miss a class, but it is to say you got to do it consistently, right? So once a month, twice one week or three times one week, and then you take two weeks off and you do it three more times, you’re just not going to see those benefits.
Eric Levitan: What you want to do is create a routine for yourself that gets you working out from a strength perspective 2 to 3 times a week. Once a week is fine. Once a week is more about maintenance. So if you are and one of the other really common objections we didn’t talk about earlier was I don’t have time. That’s right.
Eric Levitan: The objection I hear the most and that is the biggest fallacy of all right. Like we all have time for things that are priorities to us. And that’s just the psychology of it. If you’re going to the doctor or you have a chronic disease that you’re managing, you’re going to make time for that. And so you can make time for exercise and to tell yourself otherwise is not is not accurate.
Eric Levitan: Yeah, but assuming that you can get that out of the way of your of your psyche, then you know, 2 to 3 times a week is really what you want to focus on. That’s the biggest, most fundamental thing. That’s where most people fall down is creating that behavioral change that they’re doing this 2 to 3 times a week.
Eric Levitan: The second is that level of challenge. And this is hard because there’s more nuance here, because what we almost always see, look, we do these assessments, we capture data on everyone that’s participating in this program. So we have a lot of data that we’ve looked at. And in the first two months, we see a very predictable curve, right?
Eric Levitan: You start here and you make a ton of progress in those first two months. What we see with our customers is an average of about a 25% increase in strength in two months. That’s a pretty big jump. 25% stronger than you were in two months is is an impressive thing. Between two months and four months that begins to dip a little bit.
Eric Levitan: You still make progress, but you went from, you know, baseline to 25% and then maybe you add another 10% from 25% to 35% stronger than you were at baseline. But it’s slowed, right? It’s not another 25% stronger. It’s maybe 10% on top of that. And if you are just to follow up that curve, it eventually begins to flatten.
Eric Levitan: And there’s this concept about what’s called progressive overload, where you want to continue to challenge the body. That is what creates stress.
Dean Pohlman: This is one of my questions. I wrote this down. I’ll take this into my my question with with with the specific audience in a minute, but go on.
Eric Levitan: So what we want to do is identify those points right? Because at that, that’s an indication to us that that level of challenge is beginning to wane. And by the way, it’s not because of a lack of effort. Often you’re getting stronger and therefore you are doing those exercises more effectively with with greater ease and you need to change it.
Eric Levitan: And I had this wonderful anecdote that I love to share with with people. One of our customers was we we said everybody resistance bands. That’s a big part of our program. So we use a combination of bodyweight or resistance bands and it’s the the tubes with handles, not not the cheap bands that you get a physical therapy, but a more substantial thing.
Eric Levitan: Resistance bands are wonderful because they’re incredibly flexible in terms of the kinds of exercises you can do with them, but they also create a good level of challenge and you and you can cinch up on it, right, and hold it closer together and create more tension. You can step way further from an anchor point and create more tension.
Eric Levitan: You can double up resistance bands to create more challenge. It’s a really well and it’s also gentle on the body, right? So until you’re on those joints, then a machine or dumbbells or a big heavy barbell. So we had an older gentleman who was a customer. He was 80 years old, and after the first six weeks of the program, he reached out to us and said, Can you please send me new bands?
Eric Levitan: And we don’t get a lot of requests for for new bands. We buy really high quality, we ship really high quality bands. And we were like, Oh no. Did your bands break? You know, what’s going on? He is no, no, no. They’re they’ve lost their their attention. And again, it was one of those little moments is like lost their attention.
Eric Levitan: And literally our head trainer was like, do you think it’s maybe because you’re getting stronger and watch the interaction with his customer was hilarious because he had this lightbulb moment, this epiphany, that the bands weren’t broken. He was just getting stronger. And so but at some point that stops, right? And so we start to see the waning of that progression.
Eric Levitan: And we know you need to intervene. You need to move up a level and exercise. You need to do, you know, increase the way or increase the tension of that band or stand farther away from the anchor point. Or maybe you do need to get dumbbells and get heavier dumbbells, but there are ways that we want to continue to progress, and that’s an important element of any fitness program.
Eric Levitan: So consistency and level of challenge, those are the two really determining factors in terms of getting outcomes out of as a result of exercise.
Dean Pohlman: MM Yeah. So progressive overload is kind of like that is the I don’t know how to say it, It is, it is one of the, it’s just kind of like the essential concept behind effective strength training is you slowly increase the weight or the reps as you progress, I mean as the weeks go on. So like one week you’re doing, you know, let’s say you’re doing £100 one week and then the next week you’re doing £105.
Dean Pohlman: Something important to realize is that as you described and you know, looking at 0 to 2 months, the first 2 to 3 months is that progression is not linear. So you’re not going to add 50% every month or like 20% every month. Your body adapts to things and it becomes what’s actually happening is your body is getting better at doing more with less.
Dean Pohlman: So like you’re not getting more muscle because your body is figuring out how to how to have that strength by making it with less energy or with less muscle. So that’s where, you know, you need to start doing things to to change it up to keep your body guessing. So something that I am thinking about because, you know, I’m thinking of selfishly, I’m thinking to myself like, hey, what’s going to happen to me when I get into my fifties?
Dean Pohlman: Is does how does progress, how does the concept of progressive overload work for people as they get in their fifties, 6070s, when you’re not going to be able to expect, Oh, in my fifties I was doing I was I was repping squats at I’m just going to give a round number here at £100, like I was doing £100 in my fifties and now in my sixties and I’m doing £90 or like whatever that is.
Dean Pohlman: So like, how do you, how do you, you know, how do you think about progressive overload as you age versus like in your twenties and thirties?
Eric Levitan: And so the from a philosophical and principle based perspective, nothing changes. It’s exactly the same. And I think part of where you get into this conversation, what we talked about earlier with shame is you have to throw away those numbers and not care as much that you were doing £100 in your twenties and now you’re doing £90 because what you really want to do is create a level of challenge for yourself where you are that day.
Eric Levitan: Because even from day to day, week to week, month to month, this is changing and the older we get, the more variation we see on how we feel on a daily basis. Sleep is a huge impact and factor on that. So as stress and mental health and social isolation and there’s a number and whether you’re sick or not, there’s a number of factors.
Eric Levitan: And part of this is you need to throw away some of those benchmarks that I think we traditionally think about. You know, I remember as a 20 year old, I’m in my fifties now as a 20 year old or as a teenager. It was all about what your Max bench press was, right. As a as a guy, it was what what can you know, what can you bench What’s your.
Dean Pohlman: Max Yeah.
Eric Levitan: If to try to recreate that now is just not a good idea right. It’s what can you do during that day that gets you into that level of again that very basic kind of rule of thumb of 8 to 12 reps that you can do where you’re struggling with the last, that’s where you want to be and wherever that is for that day, that’s okay.
Eric Levitan: And so there’s at the end of the day, the rate of of which we will lose muscle mass will not be beaten. Right. So no matter how much you strain train as you continue to age, that that will outpace itself. So you’re never going to be able to maintain and bench press, you know, £300 when you’re 100 years old.
Eric Levitan: That’s just not going to happen. But can you really slow the decline of that loss of muscle mass and subsequently strike? Absolutely. But it’s going to have to be something that you experience for yourself every day and not to chase the number that you are doing your twenties and thirties because you want this or doing that. And so that’s another thing that we really try to guide people to is and that’s why these assessments are important, is look at how they’re trending.
Eric Levitan: And by the way, maintaining is a win, right? Because in the absence of maintaining your decreasing if you were doing nothing, we are all muscle mass. Probably everybody who’s listening to this podcast today is is older than 30. Let’s say we’re all losing muscle mass every year. It’s just a part of the aging process. Again, that sarcopenia condition.
Eric Levitan: And and knowing that even just staying flat means that you’re good, right? So that’s what we really want to get people talking about. And one of the thing, just to really clarify, there’s different kinds of strength. And without, you know, nerding out on this stuff with with your listeners, really, there’s what I’ll call hypertrophy, which is that or more muscular endurance, which is more of that traditional what we think of, you know, you’re lifting 8 to 12 reps, you know, in a given set and then there’s power.
Eric Levitan: And power is something that’s often not really talked about and differentiated. But power is an important thing to maintain as you age. So focusing our strength or what’s often referred to as hypertrophy will prevent you from falling. But if you do fall, power will make it so you can catch yourself and not smash your face against the ground.
Eric Levitan: And power is really tapping into. There’s something called slow twitch and fast twitch muscle fibers. Power is all about your fast twitch and moving weight quickly. So another way that when we think about progressive overload, we can think about bringing in things like power to mix things up. And so doing a push up where you really push yourself off the ground fast, right, And go slow, slow, slow to the ground and then push yourself off the ground.
Eric Levitan: You’re still doing the same movement as a regular pushup that you’re used to doing, but you’re changing how you’re executing that movement. So you’re focusing on using your muscles in a different way. And so we try to bring that into what we’re doing with Vivo as well, so that we’re really continuing to create that level of challenge. So again, that’s where I talked about earlier, kind of we changed the theme of what we do every week so that some weeks we really are challenging.
Eric Levitan: We may be doing the exact same exercises, but the way that you’re moving, the speed at which you’re moving through those exercises is a is a big differentiator for how you’re using your muscles.
Dean Pohlman: MM Yeah, I think that’s a really, really good point that that’s not, it’s not all the same type of strength there is. You can do slow controlled reps to build more muscle, but you also from a performance perspective, you want to do some fast reps too. It will feel different. Like if you’re doing, you know, if you haven’t done power training in a while, you know, if you’ve been doing like slow controlled squats and then you go and you like, okay, I want you to squat as hard as you can, like as quickly as you can.
Dean Pohlman: You’re like, Whoa, this feels weird. And I’m more sore the next day. And I think that having the foundation of being able to do those reps slow and controlled so that when you do do them quicker, you can do them properly. Because I think a lot of people they’ll, they’ll like, oh, I get to move fast fun and then you just completely forget about your technique.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. So anyway, so glad you are. I think that the initial point you made of like you can’t focus on the numbers. It’s about the relative challenge, about the day to day challenge. Not like looking at the month performance, but looking at this is how I felt today and this is how I push myself today. I think that’s a really important concept to embrace, not just for, you know, the to 60, 7080s demographic, but like everybody needs to need to be able to look at their fitness like that.
Eric Levitan: Yeah, just showing up often is a win. And it’s important for us all because no one’s ever is going to make an exercise. This is a 100% self-directed initiative for for you, for, you know, me for the rest of our lives. Right. A doctor can tell you all day long that you need to lose weight. You need to exercise or stop smoking or whatever the you behavioral change is.
Eric Levitan: But at the end of the day, you you are the one who’s going to make yourself do something. And so one of the things that also we see a lot is just showing up sometimes as the win and not worrying about, you know, I did 20 push ups last week and now I can only do ten today. That’s okay.
Eric Levitan: And so I love the point that you just kind of reinforce and I know I just want to share with people that sometimes just showing up is the win and yeah, do not beat yourself up over it. But but you know, recognize that this is a long game. This is not something you’re going to win or a month or six months.
Eric Levitan: This is something that you just want to have a part of your life because the science is so clear. People that exercise live healthier, happier, longer lives, period. There is no, you know, doubt about about those things, but how to build it into your lifestyle in a way that keeps you doing it consistently. That is what the challenge really is.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. And I that’s yeah, I mean, well-said. So I want to ask you, like, what’s your what was your motivation for wanting to create this? You know, you and I have had this conversation already, but I wanted to, you know, to ask you again to better understand, like this is something that isn’t just, you know, a business for you.
Dean Pohlman: This is something that allowed you to actually have a closer relationship with your dad.
Eric Levitan: Yeah, I love to talk about this because it is such a I think it’s something that pretty much everyone can relate to because, again, we all age the same way and, and really it was a couple of different things that that happened all at the same time. One is I happened to see a speaker. It wasn’t a TED talk, but it was something similar to a TED Talk.
Eric Levitan: Talk about the four cornerstones of healthy aging being exercise, nutrition, sleep and meditation slash mental health. And he really dove into exercise in this conversation. And specifically, he introduced me that word sarcopenia. I had never heard that before. I didn’t know how important strength training was as you age. This was really the first time that I heard that.
Eric Levitan: And I remember talking to my parents at the time who were in their seventies about, Have you ever heard this word sarcopenia before? Did You know, you’re supposed to be strength training. And and it was No, no, no, no. And even as I talk to other people who are in kind of my circle of friends, nobody really knew this.
Eric Levitan: And so just kind of filed that away is isn’t that interesting? Well, a number of years later where my parents, again, they really started to experience this decline in their quality of life. And in particular, my dad developed some some chronic issues where he was walking over like hunched over like a hunchback. My mom sort of having a series of falls.
Eric Levitan: I started more involved in their care, and this is really where I started to see this disconnect between the health care system and what they were telling my parents and what I had just kind of heard a few years back about some of these really important elements of aging that there was. It wasn’t connecting. And it really gave me this this strong desire to want to intervene for my own parents sake.
Eric Levitan: And the more I started researching this, and I was very fortunate, I’m a graduate of Duke University, and I had maintained a relationship with being a commercial advisor to some professors who were building a separate business at Duke. But because of that relationship, I found myself actually interviewing a gentleman who worked for the Duke Center for Aging. He ran the Duke Center for Aging and I started telling him about this idea around strength training for older adults, and his eyes lit up and they had been doing a bunch of work in research at the Duke Center for Aging, about specifically this.
Eric Levitan: And they had some really compelling data and got exposed to that, that program and that data. And again, the science is so, so clear. There is no mystery around the benefits of strength training and exercise in general for older adults. But seeing what was possible was was so inspiring and that really set me on this course. And then I will I will also let you know that my own fear of aging, I think, really was a big motivator as as I approached my fifties and now in my fifties and starting to experience the pains of aging, right, things are just a little bit harder and things hurt, maybe a little bit more and and understanding
Eric Levitan: that what I do now will impact what I can do ten years from now and 20 years from now. And look, barring some some tragic event, car accident, you know, whatever, or some chronic condition, cancer or heart attack, etc., people’s life expectancy is significantly growing and it’s very reasonable that we’re all going to live into our eighties, nineties and beyond, especially with the way that science is progressing and especially that next generation and it is incumbent upon us to really understand how to embrace those years because there’s two ways to experience those years, right?
Eric Levitan: Like in constant decline or in maintaining your quality of life and doing the things that you love. And it’s, you know, your physical wellness and capabilities and functional ability is really that flaw that drives everything else. Because if you lose your mobility, you’re everything else that you want to do is going to be a challenge. Yeah. And so that became a huge motivator for me.
Eric Levitan: I was watching it with my parents. I had a little bit of fear for myself and and I really dove into the research around what strength training can do for you as you age. And then I also got fortunate. I got connected with a few very, very smart people, a woman named Dr. Katie Starr at the Duke School of Medicine and the Division of Geriatrics, a gentleman named Chris Thompson, who is at the University of San Francisco, and another gentleman named Dr. Joe Nocera, who’s at the Emory University School of Medicine, randomly got connected with them, conveyed some of the passion around what I was doing.
Eric Levitan: And they were doing research in this field. And they were, you know, agreed to help me with this crazy idea. So, yeah, that’s really the genesis and watching with my parents. And then the flip side of that, which is so amazing to watch, is because this is a virtual program, an online program. My dad lives in Philadelphia, My mom was in South Florida.
Eric Levitan: I get to do this with them. So I participate in vivo with my dad twice a week and with my mom. And so we’re in this small group together and I can see my dad working hard and I can see the progression that he’s experiencing. My dad is 81 years old and he’s capable of doing planks and push ups on his toes and hands just like I do.
Eric Levitan: And he’s not an exerciser. It’s amazing. Yeah. And that’s, that’s the beauty of of this is you can actually watch someone get stronger and progress and get more and get more capable. And we haven’t even really talked about there’s a huge mental aspect of a benefit mental benefit both in terms of and there’s a ton of research around depression, anxiety, mood disorders.
Eric Levitan: Strength training is one of the most effective ways at counteracting those things. Improving mood, fear of falling tends to correlate with actual falls. And when you get stronger, that feel of falling, fear of falling declines, people get more confident. And so there’s wonderful benefits just beyond the physical aspects that we think about. When we think about strength training, there’s mental people tend to sleep better when they’re when they’re spring training.
Eric Levitan: There’s a ton of really ancillary benefit that’s associated, and it’s been wonderful to watch that with my own parents.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah, I mean, I think you said all of that really well, I actually before I, you know, got to this point with manual yoga where, you know, everything that I do now is prerecorded videos, right? I’ve got a member’s area. I have an app where you can follow programs and workouts. Before then, I was doing a lot of a decent amount of one one video training.
Dean Pohlman: And I actually my dad was like one of my first clients. He’s like, I want to do it. Am I okay? And, you know, so I got to my dad’s like 60, 63 now, I guess. So I guess we would have started when he was in his late fifties. But, you know, it was it was cool because I don’t you know, my dad was is a doctor, so he you know, he was gone 6 a.m. until 7:30 p.m., like every day.
Dean Pohlman: And so I didn’t see him that much. And When we do have conversations, we didn’t we just didn’t practice having conversations. So it’s like kind of it’s, there’s like almost like this barrier to like having like an open conversation. It just feels kind of weird. So for me to be able to do like, you know, training with him where I get to, you know, just hang out with him for 30 minutes and do some yoga with him and be able to exercise with him was a was a really cool experience.
Dean Pohlman: I’m glad you had a I’m glad you got to do that with your dad. And if you you’re listening and you’re like, hey, I want to hang out with my dad like I do work out with him, you know?
Eric Levitan: And you know what? That’s it’s I’m really glad you told that story, because it’s so true that not just feels great to watch my dad improve his his confidence and his strength and his function, etc.. It’s it’s not that relationship was bad beforehand, but it’s actually improved our relationship. Yeah. And I actually have a I have a theory around this.
Eric Levitan: So because exercise releases endorphins you feel good about yourself when you do that as a small group, you tend to feel good about everybody who’s in that group with you. And so we’re having this shared experience together where it’s not, you know, I still call my dad every week, you know, Dad, what did you do this week? I don’t know.
Eric Levitan: What did you do? Like, yeah, you know, we still had that conversation. But when you have a shared experience with someone, especially one that releases endorphins and makes you feel good afterwards, it tends to positively impact your perception of that of that individual. And so not only is my Dad physically getting healthier, our relationship has gotten stronger since we do Vevo twice a week together.
Eric Levitan: It’s really, really cool. And whether you do Vevo or not, finding a way to engage with your with your aging parents in a way that’s a shared experience, I would absolutely recommend it’s a it’s a wonderful thing to be able to do.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. No I there’s yeah there’s, there’s you can’t say enough good things about about that so we talked about this. So for people who are listening to this right now and you’re like I don’t do strength training right now I would like to do more strength training. We did prepare a special offer for you guys. Try out Vevo.
Dean Pohlman: Do you remember? I, I think we said I forgot what we said. Do you remember what we said? Okay, we don’t remember. We said, but it involves some sort of deal. It could be like 50% off their first month. Or like, was that I think it’s.
Eric Levitan: 50% off your first two.
Dean Pohlman: Months. Okay. Yeah. There you go. So 50% on their first two months to try out Vivo Fitness. So all you’re going to do is follow the link and the description of this podcast is they’re going to be a promo code.
Eric Levitan: You don’t there will is Yeah sorry is this we.
Dean Pohlman: Don’t know so just follow the follow this.
Eric Levitan: There’s a there’s a landing page that we can leverage and or a promo code. So Okay.
Dean Pohlman: Cool. So just, just follow the link in the description and the instructions there and you guys can try out Vevo for yourself. We actually do have at least one member for mental yoga who is who is currently using both natural yoga and vivo and combining them effectively. My general advice with strength training is to just alternate days. So three days, mental yoga, three days, strength training.
Dean Pohlman: It makes it very manageable. Makes it so like you’re still spending less than an hour or or less than that per day on your fitness. It makes it not not overwhelming. So if you guys do want to try it out, link in the description, follow that, follow the instructions and get your first two months at 50% savings. So Eric, thanks for that.
Eric Levitan: Absolutely.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. And and now I want to move on to par to do our rapid fire questions. So are you ready?
Eric Levitan: I’m ready.
Dean Pohlman: All right, cool. What do you think is the one habit mindset or belief that has helped you the most in terms of your overall happiness.
Eric Levitan: To absolutely appreciate everything that happens to me, both good and bad, because good and bad are always going to happen to you. But embracing what’s happening is a really wonderful skill to develop, and it took me a long time to develop that skill. By the way, mindfulness meditation is is a big part of learning how to do that.
Eric Levitan: But taking in everything that you feel is has been a wonderful thing that’s allowed me to know that sometimes good things happen, sometimes bad things happen. But the way that you take in is is important. And that’s my answer.
Dean Pohlman: That’s that’s a good answer. What’s one thing that you do for your health that you think is overlooked or undervalued by others?
Eric Levitan: I couldn’t not answer strength training after this conversation, and that is absolutely the case, by the way. So I have my exercises evolved since I started Vivo and Vivo is the predominant and we’re really focused on building strength. But It’s impossible not to get a cardiovascular workout when we’re doing these workouts as well.
Dean Pohlman: And so do you find that? Do you find that the people in your life, when they think about exercise, do they think about strength training as the main thing, or do they think about jogging or like walking or like, I don’t know.
Eric Levitan: Yeah, it is absolutely cardiovascular health and probably walking is the lowest common denominator form of that. And to this day, even though people know what I do in my friend group or family walking is absolutely the, you know, what people talk about and do the most and strength training. Again, we talked about it. There’s a little bit of inhibitor and people adopting into their life, but it has made such a huge difference in my life and I’ve watched it make such a huge difference in the lives of my parents and our customers.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. All right. What’s the most important activity you regularly do for your stress management? You can’t say exercise. You got to do something else.
Eric Levitan: Can I say tick tock?
Dean Pohlman: You can. That would be the worst answer. But like, hey, it’s valid. If that’s what you’re doing, your stress management, then it’s okay.
Eric Levitan: So I have I continue to work on this, but it’s it’s absolutely meditation.
Dean Pohlman: And so what does your meditation look like?
Eric Levitan: So it’s usually involves the app. Com I’m not an investor or anything, but time is what has worked for me and so I will spend they have really nice sustained ten minute you know audio on demand library and I will wake up, I will take my dog for a walk, I will come back and I will do a ten minute calm meditation session.
Eric Levitan: Perfect candidate. It is a work in progress to really adopt, but I think it’s made a significant difference in my and my mental health.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah, it’s great that you have it at a specific time. Built it into your schedule. Like that’s huge. Part of what I talk about is like how to build habits and you did right anyways. What is the most stressful part of your day to day life.
Eric Levitan: As an entrepreneur? It’s pretty much all waking hours of of work. So trying to grow a business is unbelievably challenging. Trying to do it at this stage of my life when I’m in my fifties all over again, starting from nothing, starting from scratch this business and trying to turn it into not just a lifestyle business, but a truly a global company where we are, we are a lifestyle brand.
Eric Levitan: We are promoting healthy aging. This is a significant challenge. It’s probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, and it’s incredibly stressful. Yeah, and entrepreneurship as a And for your listeners who have who are entrepreneurs, they will appreciate this. It’s a very lonely, which I think a lot of people don’t really understand and be that the highs and lows that you experience are not even necessarily on a daily basis, on an hourly basis.
Eric Levitan: And so it’s, you know, the challenges of starting a business are voluminous and it causes a lot of stress.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. And then what do you think is the biggest challenge facing men and their wellbeing right now? And you can’t say straight, you have to say something else.
Eric Levitan: Well, I will reflect back on that, that whole concept of shame, because I do see this much in men than than women, where there’s a much greater level of adoption and willingness to try and engage, even especially as a part of a group with with traditionally with what we see in our customer base with women than with men.
Eric Levitan: And I think part of that is this this this concept that we used to be so strong and now we’re strong and we’re embarrassed or ashamed or we don’t want to expose that. I think it’s really important that as we focus on our wellness and, our our independence and our quality of life, it’s its shedding that, it’s embracing that it’s okay to need help.
Eric Levitan: It’s okay to get gains. It’s okay to expose that part of ourselves to other people and not worry about the judgment that we’re all so fearful of. And I see this a lot and it’s not specific to Vevo, but I do think it’s specific to exercise and other areas where we all need help as we get older and embracing that and shedding that, that sense of shame and fear is an important growth area, I think, for all men as we age.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. So it’s it’s shame that we’re not measuring up to the standard of strength we believe we should be. That’s right. And that’s like and I think like that’s you know, I think that’s that translates into and it’s such a common it’s, it’s such a common thread of the answer that we received to that question. It’s like shame that I’m not standing up to that.
Dean Pohlman: I’m not measuring up to this standard of strength or shame that I’m not measuring up to this level of success or shame that I am not like that compared to what, you know, what I’ve been conditioned to think is the ideal man. That’s not who I am. So that’s why I think that shame is huge. And I’m glad you brought it up so cool.
Dean Pohlman: All right. Well, that concludes the interview, guys. I hope you really got a lot out of that. Eric, thank you for all the information on strengths training on on how that how is that impacted as we get older? Thanks for all the info on Vivo. I hope that at least a few a few hundred a few thousand or like a you know a few guys like go over and actually get started and keep me updated on how it’s going to be do sign up let me know.
Dean Pohlman: I’d love to hear how it’s going for you guys, but this is a really educational episode. So Eric, thanks again for for joining me.
Eric Levitan: I appreciate it. Thanks so much, Gene.
Dean Pohlman: Cool. All right. I’ll see you guys on the next episode. I hope this inspires you to be a better man.[END]
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