A few months ago I had this idea for a type of workout I’d never seen.
At first the idea seemed a bit out there, but as I’ve introduced it to more people the feedback has been tremendously positive.
The workout is called Peak State and you can read about it here. I now teach it regularly where I live in New York City and you can get a feel for the mindfulness portion of the workouts by requesting access to a sample guided meditation I created here.
Anyways, this post is not a workout prescription but rather the story behind Peak State and why it exists…
I think people interested in starting things and enhancing personal performance will find this a fun read : )
It all started when I went to this 4 day Tony Robbins event called Unleash the Power Within.
I learned a lot of cool stuff at the event which you can hear about on this podcast, but by far and away the best part of the event was the way it made me feel:
Alive. Unstoppable. Unrestrained. Inspired. Excited.
Tony and the environment he created put me into a peak emotional state that I wanted to play in everyday…and I wasn’t alone.
The 6 friends I went to the event with were flooded with similar emotions. We all left the event eager to chase down our dreams feeling free from the self-created emotional obstacles that hold us back.
Granted we were being total hams for this photo, but between me pretending to throw a chair and Dilan dancing on the chair you can get the gist of how amazing we felt.
One week out, I felt the unspoken fear amongst the group begin to transpire. My motivation, courage, and optimism began to dissipate. I was no longer operating from a place of unflappable confidence. NOOO!
To be clear, this is not Tony’s fault. The guy is a wizard and over-delivered 10X what I was expecting.
The real issue is that spending majority of your time in a peak emotional state requires regular practice.
If you want to stay emotionally fit, you need to train and condition your thought patterns or else your performance will atrophy much like the body does when you miss workouts. When you miss workouts your strength and endurance gains begin to deplete quickly.
In the same way, failing to consistently direct and regulate your mind with empowering thoughts usually results in similar drawbacks. You end up with emotional highs and lows instead of reliably increasing your baseline inner strength, confidence and conviction…especially if you’re trying to do anything hard like entrepreneurship.
This happens because most people let their state be dictated by whatever experiences the world throws at them instead of cultivating the capability to manage it at all times.
The group I went with to the event are all pretty consistent guys with our own little rituals and routines. Despite our existing dispositions, life got in the way of us performing the new habits we learned with the regularity required to really be as strong as we all wanted to become.
I remember thinking that it’d be way easier to play at my best if I could just show up somewhere that thrust me into that state consistently vs. relying upon hero-like discipline to execute my routines. Tony Robbins events every weekend anyone?
Unfortunately, going to events like this every weekend wasn’t a realistic solution….
I desperately wanted increase state control because I genuinely believe superior levels of emotional control are the key to living the most prosperous life possible. I think this reigns true whether you aspire to be a badass business tycoon or monk free of possessions.
I started to think about what went on there and how certain elements could be inserted into recurring activities in my life.
The obvious answer is creating better habits and routines. I had integrated some of these, but incanting in the shower just doesn’t provide the same emotional charge as unrestrained positivity with other people…not to mention the massive challenge of being consistent each day that even the most disciplined people struggle with.
I thought some more…
A big part of what I’ve learned about state management is how important moving our bodies is in order to change the way we feel. So to replicate the feelings from that event, I needed movement, other people, and someone directing my focus within an environment that made it easy to get into a Peak State…
What if you could accomplish all these things during group fitness!?
I told my roommate Justin about the idea and hatched a game plan to test it.
I started by creating high intensity bodyweight workouts that integrated the techniques I learned about to get into a Peak State. These included breathing exercises, visualizations, affirmations, and periods of guided focus.
You can check out an example exercise by clicking the button below:
I didn’t want to get tossed from 24 hour fitness for strange behavior so we started to do these workouts in a nearby park. At first it definitely felt a little crazy…
Forcefully declaring “I Can’t Be Denied” mid-burpee 8 feet from people walking their dogs seemed a bit odd even to me! But after each workout we’d look at each other with a grin expressing the mutual feeling of “that was fricken awesome“…so we kept doing them.
As my interest in the workouts progressed, I became a certified crossfit trainer to learn more about functional fitness. I also started to read up on the connection between the brain and exercise. I powered through a few books on the topic and even got in touch with a professor at UCLA whose been researching how exercise changes the brain. Here is a pic from the Brain and Exercise symposium I later attended at UCLA.
I learned a ton in my research, but the one thing that excited me the most were some recent studies suggesting that our brains become more plastic during and immediately after exercise. In short, this means that during these windows it’s easier to create new neural pathways which makes learning and creating new memories easier. In the context of generating positive thoughts and emotions, the notion that workouts could help achieve heightened levels of continuity was exciting…
The “Scott and Justin doing weird stuff in the park” workouts continued and my conviction that there was something here grew.
Eventually I realized that I needed to test this concept amongst a bunch of people who weren’t some of my best friends to validate it and make sure I wasn’t totally wacked.
Right around this time, my super talented friend Carl Mattiola invited me to a mastermind he was hosting with 20 entrepreneurs in Austin. Maybe I could use this as a testing ground for the workouts?
Before I could talk myself out of doing it, I decided to get some leverage on myself and booked a ticket to ATX letting Carl know that I wanted to lead group workouts. He was aware of the Peak State workouts and was game.
The 2nd day there I led 20 people through the first group Peak State workout in a dingy garage of the Airbnb we rented. I remember being incredibly nervous before we started.
Would people really be into this!?!?
To my delight the group got after it and their feedback after was phenomenal. Everyone was excited about it and kept telling me I had to continue hosting these. It was one of the scenarios where people kept going out of their way to share their own ideas on how it could be enhanced or implemented which usually means you’re on to something.
Here’s a pic of me and Carl after the first workout. There’s no question I wouldn’t have moved as quickly once I got to NYC if it wasn’t for this trip or Carl’s encouragement. Thanks bud!
Anyways great as this feedback felt…it was also a bit scary.
The closest thing I’d ever done to leading group workouts was when I played college football and I certainly wasn’t leading my teammates through future projections. Nevertheless, I couldn’t ignore the momentum and basically promised everyone in Austin that I’d stop BS’ing myself why this wouldn’t work and committed to trying them in New York where I was moving in less than a week.
Upon in arrival in NYC, I started looking into renting out studios to continue to test the concept.
Before I spent any money on renting a studio, I created a website to pre-sell a block pack of workouts. I wanted the site to seem legit so I even had a fancy video made!
The goal was to sell 15 spots for 3 separate workouts. This would allow me to test multiple workout concepts as well as see if people kept coming back for more. I made the price point $15 which I thought was low enough that people would give it a shot. It wasn’t so costly that people would fail bad bailing Day 2 or 3 if they weren’t into it.
To market the bootcamp, I sent an email to my list and shared my site featuring the initial block offering on Facebook and twitter.
I ended up having about 35 people indicate they were willing to do it so I expanded the initial run to 25 spots. Immediately after I collected payments via a paypal link, I booked a studio on 14th and 6th to run the first 3 classes.
The crazy little experiment ended up going very well.
I sent a survey out and 100% of the 18 people that filled it out said they’d come back anywhere from 2-3x a week to 2-4x a month. Probably more telling is that I’ve hosted a class since then and they did come back!
The class format and content has been continuing to change and improve as I collect feedback which is pretty cool. My biggest goal right now is figure out what people really love and keep iterating on that within the constraints of bouncing around to different venues. “Find the crack” as my friend Dane puts it…I think?
If there’s one thing I know, it’s that more than anything else we all want to feel good. Sometimes our strategy for getting there can be roundabout (I.E. success, consumption, achieving a perfect physique etc). Creating an experience that not only makes people feel phenomenal, but also teaches and conditions habits they can use for the rest of your life…well I think that’s pretty damn cool!
If you want to come and check out a Peak State workout, you can sign up for a class here.
If you’re not in NYC, I will be creating videos and workout guides soon which you can get by joining the Peak State mailing list. You can get the first guide which tells you how to put yourself into a Peak State at any time by submitting your email after clicking the box below.
Big thanks to everyone who has been encouraging. Sorry in advance if I forgot to mention you specifically below:
Everyone whose attended the classes, Ben, Dilan, and all the other Knights of Peak State (yes we have a google group called this from the Tony event), Justin, Carl, Josh, Chris, everyone from Sterling Assembly, Nick, Kristin, Dane, Ted, Reed, Alex, Meaghan, Brandon, Adam, Benji, Charlie, Hankus, Dylan, Dan, Jeff, Greg, and John…and everyone else!
If you have any questions about Peak State or thoughts, please let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear them..