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Regain Strength, Move Effortlessly, Live without Limits -- At Any Age
By Peter Park
By Jesse Lopez Low
By Jussi Lomakka
With Jeff King
Formats and Prices
- Trade Paperback $24.99 $32.49 CAD
- ebook $15.99 $4.99 CAD
This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around January 9, 2018. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
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Peter Park is a go-to trainer who has worked with pro athletes (Justin Verlander, Giancarlo Stanton) and celebrities (Matthew McConaughey, Maria Shriver, Rob Lowe). Park himself is a three-time World’s Toughest Triathlon Winner. As one of his clients says, “Having Peter as your trainer is kind of like having Bill Gates as your computer science teacher.” Now Park and his team bring their expertise to anyone who spends long hours at work, has lost strength, mobility, and freedom of movement, and who wants to get it all back. Park’s proven program will help readers reclaim fitness by learning functional movements designed to retrain poor patterns. With a series of workouts that build upon one another, readers will learn to get the whole body working together, restoring the core and regaining pain-free movement to truly live a life without limits.
INTRODUCTION > BY PETER PARK
A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE TOLD ME THAT I’m the most driven person they’ve ever met. That may sound like a compliment to you, but the reasons why I’m that way aren’t exactly flattering.
I grew up in one of those huge families like you see in the movies, but ours was hardly a Hollywood fairy tale. I was the tenth of twelve kids, and my brothers, sisters, and I used to compete for everything—our parents’ attention, food, sports, and even who’d ride shotgun in the old man’s Buick. And if a poll had been taken among all us kids, I would’ve been voted “most competitive.” I liked winning, sure, but I hated to lose a thousand times more.
But it wasn’t just sibling rivalry that drove me to be so competitive. Genetics no doubt played a role. My dad had an obsessive nature too. He was a very successful engineer who built his own company from scratch, sold it, and retired at fifty—and then filled the void with drinking. Growing up watching him booze himself toward an early grave was hard on all of us. But my dad and I were so much alike, I was terrified I’d become an alcoholic too. For as long as I can remember, rather than deal with my fears and anxieties, I’ve run away from them, mainly by escaping through sports.
In junior high, when the other kids were hanging out at the beach or the mall, I was lifting weights at Santa Barbara Gym and Fitness, where I learned advanced strength-training techniques from some of the biggest, baddest power lifters in the country. If I wasn’t weight training, I was probably on the volleyball courts at East Beach going against high school volleyball players like my then-mentor and idol, three-time Olympic gold medalist Karch Kiraly. Even though I was short in stature—or perhaps because of it—I outworked everybody, and in high school I made first-team, all-league volleyball all four years and earned a scholarship to play at the University of Hawaii.
After two years of playing collegiate volleyball I was itching for a new challenge, so I moved back home to Santa Barbara, where my dad was hitting the bottle even harder. So I hit the gym harder too, and in one year I added twenty-five pounds of muscle to my small frame. I was big, strong, and ripped, and I felt like I was in the greatest shape of my life. Then my younger sister, Jamie, who was attracting attention as a runner, challenged me to a 10k race. I don’t remember why I accepted—she was fourteen, I was nineteen, in my prime, so maybe I figured there was no way she could beat me. Well, my baby sister crushed me. (Jamie later became the NCAA 10k champion.)
The loss cut right to the heart of my self-doubts. I had to find some way to prove I wasn’t a failure, and the way my mind worked back then, the more punishing, the better. So on a whim I signed up for another race. But this race was different: instead of running a 10k (6.2 miles), I’d swim 2.4 miles, ride a bike 112 miles, and then finish by running 26.2 miles. My punishment for losing to my little sister was training for and competing in an Ironman triathlon.
There were problems right out of the gate. First, I didn’t know anything about triathlons (is it bike first, then swim?) Also, I was a bad cyclist, an even worse swimmer, and you’ve already learned I wasn’t a strong runner. But the biggest obstacle was time. The race was in just ten months, and I couldn’t afford to hire someone to train me, so I was on my own. That’s how I became a trainer: I took myself on as my first client.
I reached out to some triathletes I knew for training advice. Looking at my big muscles, they all said the same thing: “Stop lifting weights.” I heard what they said, but I didn’t listen. Sure, I hit the pool, road, and trails every day. But I also had this kind of crazy theory (“crazy” because no one I knew back then was doing it) that doing an Ironman—swimming, cycling, and running for nine-plus hours—certainly required cardio endurance but also endurance strength. If I was stronger than my competitors, that could give me a competitive edge. I sure as hell needed something! So I kept pumping iron. But I did make changes to my routine.
I had to slim down, so I switched from doing slow, isolating exercises (leg extensions, bench press, and bicep curls) that had made me big and bulky to circuits of compound, full-body movements (squats, lunges, and dead lifts), moving from one exercise to another at a quick tempo to build cardio and muscle endurance and strength all at once. Back at my old haunt, Santa Barbara Gym and Fitness, I got plenty of strange looks because no one was doing fast-tempo circuit training back then. I remember marveling that I could do a complete workout in the hour it took some guys to get through their six sets of bench presses. Then I’d fly out the door for a swim at Los Banos pool, cycle up Highway 154, and do a run up to the top of Gibraltar. My training days typically lasted six to eight hours. Pain, punishment, and escape became my life for the next ten months.
I arrived in Auckland, New Zealand, home of my first Ironman, weighing in at a lean and fit 150 pounds on race day—35 pounds lighter than when I started Ironman training. Nine hours and eight minutes later, I finished the race. It wasn’t pretty, but I gutted it out and placed tenth overall. I turned some heads in the close-knit triathlon community: Who is this kid? Even so, I knew I could do better. I’d made a lot of mistakes in my training, and even before the race was over I was already planning what I’d do differently for the next one. And there would definitely be a next Ironman. I’d found my calling and the best way for me to escape.
But my racing career ran into another problem before it really got started. Ironman races don’t pay much, even if you win (and I wasn’t winning, not yet), and racing is not cheap: travel, doctor bills, equipment, millions of calories of food. Because I spent a lot of time in the gym anyway, I decided to hang up my own shingle and train other people. But how would I train folks who weren’t looking to compete, who just wanted to get fit again? I’d learned from losing that 10k race to my sister that big muscles didn’t translate to real fitness and had designed my new routine to give me a complete strength and cardio workout in about sixty minutes, easily done in a lunch hour. So I designed a program for those first clients based on my own fast-tempo circuit routine. And in so doing, I created a paradigm I’d use throughout my career: I became my clients’ guinea pig. I’d write a workout for them, put myself through it first to hone and perfect it, and then it was their turn. Where I went they followed, over weeks, months, years. (Some of my first clients are still following me today.)
A few years into my racing career, my father crossed his own finish line. I was twenty-three. Even though his passing wasn’t a complete surprise, I was so angry at the man. He’d given up, and that fractured our family. Unable to cope, I escaped deeper into my sport so I could deflect dealing with it, doing fifteen Ironman races over the next ten years. That’s a lot of miles, and it’s no coincidence I suffered every overuse injury in the book: tendonitis, chronic fatigue, torn calf, you name it. And on a training ride in Solvang I was hit by a car and suffered a broken wrist, leg, pelvis, separated shoulder, and a concussion. I suffered other injuries later on, which I’ll talk about later.
But as physically painful and as deleterious to my career as those injuries were, I learned how to quickly recover from injury, and most of the time I came back stronger than before—and not to mention a little smarter. I finished my degree in kinesiology at UCLA, but to be honest, I learned more about the body’s capabilities from recovering from my injuries than I did in school. And teaching myself how to get strong, flexible, and mobile again to speed up recovery made me more valuable to my clients trying to come back from their own injuries.
I used myself as a guinea pig when it came to nutrition too. When I started competing I was still existing on the junk food diet I grew up eating. But I learned pretty fast (dammit!) that Pop Tarts, burritos, and sugary chocolate milk don’t power you very well through eight hours of swimming, running, and cycling. Once again I experimented on myself to find the best ways to refuel the human body. I tried every diet out there, from carbo-loading to strict veganism and vegetarianism, Atkins, Paleo, and even fasting. I put my body through the ringer, and although it took many years to get it right, I learned the best way to fuel my body for competition—and my clients’ bodies for life. I’ll talk about nutrition more specifically later on, but here’s a hint: you’ve got to get back to eating real foods again, and that means a diet rich in good fats and tons of vegetables.
At the peak of my Ironman career I won the World’s Toughest Triathlon three years in a row, and although my racing was going great, I’d developed a high-class problem: I had taken on a lot of clients, but I was running all over Santa Barbara to train them in different gyms. So finally I opened my own shop, Platinum Fitness, a gym hidden away in Montecito. I put together a team of trainers who, like me, were competitive athletes who needed to make cash to pay for their sport. Pretty soon my little gym turned into a performance-driven think tank and laboratory. Nobody outside of Santa Barbara—and for a while, even inside Santa Barbara—knew about us. We weren’t rebels. We were BMX riders, beach volleyball players, and ultra marathon runners, experimenting and figuring things out together. Collaborating with these elite athletes helped advance my own training and my clients’ workouts to a new level.
Starting my own business also meant I had new responsibilities. So did getting married and having two sons! I couldn’t just take off to Hawaii, Tokyo, Sweden, or Germany to compete in Ironman races anymore. I had to grow up. (Just ask my wife, Kelly.) But I wasn’t ready to retire, and having my own sons created new anxieties and new needs to escape. The compromise: I switched to doing mostly local ultra-marathons but started training even more. The result: for three years straight I won the Catalina fifty-miler and the Santa Barbara Nine Trails Ultra marathon.
I still mirrored my clients’ gym workouts with my own—where I went they followed—and they moaned and groaned about our new levels of intensity. And my wife, Kelly, was doing some groaning herself. A former endurance athlete in her own right, a trainer, full-time recovery room nurse, mother of two, and, to be honest, the real force behind Platinum Fitness, Kelly understood what drove me and had always been sympathetic, but I was nearing forty, and she worried about the toll this level of training was taking on my body.
As usual, Kelly was right. I woke up one morning speaking gibberish, with the right side of my body numb. Kelly tried to get me to go to the ER. Instead, I went to train my first clients that morning, a group of doctors. They tried to get me to go to the ER. Instead, in complete denial, I cycled up and down one of the steepest hills in Santa Barbara ten times, trying to prove there was nothing really wrong with me. It didn’t work. So, tail between my legs, I got myself to the ER for a proper diagnosis. After a battery of tests the doctors found a small hole in my heart called a PFO (patent foramen ovale) that was allowing small blood clots to enter my brain. I had suffered what they call a transient ischemic attack (TIA) and was in danger of having a more debilitating full-blown stroke. Two weeks later I had open heart surgery to repair the hole in my heart. After the surgery the doctor said I would heal completely, but instinctively I knew if I didn’t back off, something else was going to give. For the sake of my family, maybe it was time to retire from competition.
Instead, as usual, I put off deciding about my racing future and spent my hiatus investing in my future as a trainer by learning more about the fitness industry. The first thing I did was make a pilgrimage to meet Russian kettlebell master Pavel Tsatsouline who embodied the qualities of a trainer that I respect most. Pavel is a terrific teacher and he practices what he preaches: the man’s powerful and fit. He taught me the theory and discipline of kettlebell training, one of the most efficient ways to build strength. He liked my circuit training but advised me to simplify my workouts and focus on building strength. Pavel has become a good friend, we talk shop often, and he continues to be a big influence in my strength training, and by extension, he will be on yours too.
Over time I could feel myself getting stronger. I started testing myself doing weights and light cardio at Platinum Fitness. And then a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity came knocking that would change my life. A pro cyclist who himself had just retired from competition asked me to train him. I’d made a name for myself as an athlete in the small Ironman and ultra-marathon circles, but as a trainer I thought no one outside Santa Barbara had even heard of me. He wasn’t looking for someone to just tell him what to do; he wanted a training partner to run and cycle up mountains with, do hardcore strength training alongside, someone who could push him every step of the way. That’s why he chose me, because I was one of the few trainers who might be able to keep up with him. In fact, at the time this guy—Lance Armstrong—was the best endurance athlete in the world.
Okay, I know, and say what you will about Lance, but I’ve trained and trained with the best athletes in the world, and I can tell you unequivocally that Lance outworks them all. I’ve never seen anyone with his work ethic, his everyday persistence, and his willingness to push himself past his own limits. Over the coming months he would challenge me in ways I’d never faced before. So for me personally, to go up against Lance on the bike, on the trails, and in the gym—forget the money and what training him might do to further my career—as I said, this was the opportunity of a lifetime. The doctor gave me clearance (though not his blessing), and I went for it.
I didn’t tell Lance that I was recovering from open heart surgery. I didn’t want him to slack off, and I sure as hell didn’t want his pity. Turned out Lance and I are kindred spirits, we’re driven by many of the same demons, and our families became close friends.
Lance’s training went so well that he decided to make a comeback and ride the Tour de France again. We trained together on the bike in Santa Barbara, Aspen, and Texas for several months before he left for Europe. And my own training was going so well that I was inspired to make a comeback too. But it never happened. Because when Lance took off he left behind a parting gift that would change my future.
Lance told some guys in LA about how I trained him (and by “guys” I mean heavy hitters in the entertainment and sports management businesses). They liked that I focused on getting fit and healthy, not absurdly ripped like those airbrushed, half-starved guys on magazine covers. Next thing I knew, I was training A-list actors, musicians, and other celebrities and making more money than I ever thought I would. I was getting asked to write for fitness magazines, sitting courtside at Laker games, and meeting a lot of connected people who knew more connected people. It was totally surreal!
Around that time I met Dr. Eric Goodman, a young surfer-chiropractor whose field of study focused on people suffering from lower back pain. The chief cause of back pain these days is our sedentary lifestyles—sitting on our asses all day—which takes a toll on our posture. It can also destroy our natural movement patterns: how we walk, run, bend over to pick up our keys. And as I’d seen with so many of my clients over the years, these faulty patterns cause pain and sometimes injury.
Eric wanted me to help him develop a program with the specific goal of helping people get out of pain without surgery or prescription drugs. We focused on retraining the posterior chain of muscles that run from the back of the legs up through the glutes and into the lower back, our true core and power center. We developed a handful of specific movements and were surprised how quickly and effectively they helped people who’d been living with back pain for years, or even decades. We gave it a name: Foundation Training, and published a book, Foundation: Redefine Your Core, Conquer Back Pain, and Move with Confidence. Eric is a medicine man, and his focus is helping people heal. I’m a performance guy, and I saw the potential Foundation Training could have to improve my clients’ fitness level.
Back in LA I started training Casey Wasserman, one of the top sports agents anywhere, and his training went so well that he asked me to work with a few of his clients, many of them the best, highest paid athletes in the world. Most had worked with team trainers in college and the pros, so they could move pretty well, right? No. Most couldn’t even do basic movements like squats or hinges. Why? A lot of them were never taught how to. But also, these pitchers, hitters, point guards, quarterbacks, and boxers had been doing sports-specific exercises that mimicked the same movements they did a hundred or a thousand times every day while practicing or playing their sport. It was all about performance narrowed down to a few, sports-specific exercises. To me that made no sense. They were digging grooves while playing their sport—faulty grooves a lot of the time—then going to the gym and digging them even deeper. I started all these top athletes the same way we’ll get started in this book: unweighted Foundation movements until you’re moving right. Only then do we add weight to the movement. It works for the pros, and it will work for you.
So what about my own racing career? I knew it was time to hang up my running shoes, but of all the challenges I’ve faced, from Ironman competitions to coping with my inner demons, retiring from competition was the hardest. Athletes are defined by our sport, but if we’re not competing anymore, then who are we? My dad went through something similar. After he retired from running his company he had no answer for the question, “Who am I now?” And he fell into an alcohol-fueled depression. But when I retired that didn’t happen to me.
I am still fueled by the complexities of growing up in a family with addiction. And I still may be the most driven guy you’ve ever met. But I’ve found ways to deal with my obsessive nature besides killing myself on the bike, in the water, and on the trails. Helping people heal helps me heal—and I’m eager to get you started. I hope you trust me now.
Are you still unsure if this program is for you? Do you have more questions before you jump in? That’s okay—I anticipate lots of questions as we go and will answer them all throughout the book. Let’s tackle a few basic issues upfront so you can get moving.
QUESTION: What does the Rebound program look like?
ANSWER: There are five elements to the Rebound program: nutrition, cardio, movement, strength, and recovery (flexibility-tissue). In the coming chapters I go over each of them in detail so you’ll know what to expect as you start training. When you actually start working out, you’ll begin with four weeks of retraining your movement patterns in a chapter called Movement Practice. During those four weeks you’ll get your body moving right again; begin low-level, base-building cardio exercise; and begin tweaking your eating habits. After those first four weeks you’ll begin strength training and high-intensity interval training. The fifth element is recovery: stretching and deep myofascial massage designed to improve your mobility and suppleness of your tissue.
QUESTION: How often should I work out?
ANSWER: I expect that you’ll dedicate yourself to training three times a week. Day One and Day Three are the same workout except for a tweak to cardio. Day Two is movement practice and low-intensity cardio to keep you on track. (Note: never strength train two days in a row.) I also recommend you take a weekend day and go on a long bike ride or hike to help further develop your base-building cardio fitness level.
QUESTION: You talk about spending a lot of time learning cues and how to move again. But I’m in decent shape and used to lift weights, so can I skip ahead and go straight to the workouts?
ANSWER: No, but thanks for asking. Trust me: first, you need to learn all the techniques to do the Rebound workouts correctly and safely. My method of training truly is different from what you’re used to. And then you need to learn how to move well again and build a good cardio base, just like the pro athletes I train. That lays the foundation for the strength training. To use the old architect’s metaphor, you wouldn’t build a house on a shaky foundation. So don’t build your fitness on unsteady ground.
QUESTION: I’ve never used kettlebells. Will that be a problem?
ANSWER: No problem at all. Most gyms have kettlebells now, and if you plan to work out at home, kettlebells are readily available, not too expensive, and you only need a few. As for the mechanics of using kettlebells, I spend a great deal of time teaching you the techniques and cues. It does take work, but I think you’re going to love using kettlebells as much as I do—they are super-intuitive and the best and most efficient way to get strong again.
QUESTION: My shoulder, my knee, or my lower back hurts. Should I even do these workouts?
"Peter Park isn't just a trainer. He teaches me about nutrition and fitness, so that anywhere I go in the world I can keep fit, strong, and healthy on my own, and perform at the highest level."
—Harry Styles, musician
- "Peter's been my trainer, workout partner, and friend since I was 12. No matter where I am in the world we talk almost every day. I would not be where I am now if it wasn't for Peter, no doubt."—Lakey Peterson, professional surfer
"I have a tremendous amount of respect for Peter as a trainer, and I'm proud to call him my friend. He's developed incredible coaching wisdom through years of experience training clients and putting himself through rigorous workouts, and that wisdom generates results, plain and simple."
—Ben Bruno, strength and fitness trainer
- "For me Peter has been all things: fitness trainer, rehab coach, mentor, and trusted friend. He comes to many of my races, to the hospital after crashes, and is on the phone with me when I have questions or doubts. Except for me, no one is more committed to my success than Peter."—Ken Roczen, Motocross and Supercross champion
- "I'm in the best shape of my life thanks to Peter."—Chris Silbermann, President, International Creative Management
- "After a year of recovering from injuries, I had to figure out how to get my fitness back. I started working with Peter Park. He not only got me strong and mobile again, but also he got my fitness up to a new level. Being healthy and strong allowed me to play at my peak potential again."—Justin Verlander, six-time MLB All-Star, Houston Astros
- "When a TV series I'm working on goes on hiatus or a movie I do finishes shooting, I always head back to Peter to get me back in shape."—Rob Lowe, actor
"I never liked lifting weights, but after I worked with Peter for two weeks, his training opened my eyes. No doubt Peter's had an impact on my game."
—Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury
- "I've been training with Peter my whole career, and every winter I look forward to Peter getting me ready for the next season."—Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins
- "Rebound is one of those [fitness] bibles, an exceptional book full of sensible advice and clear explanations of why and how."—Santa Barbara Independent
- On Sale
- Jan 9, 2018
- Page Count
- 304 pages
- Da Capo Lifelong Books