Kathryn (she/her) has been teaching yoga and movement since the age of 17. Growing up in her mother’s (Diane Bruni) yoga studio she has been learning about mindful movement her entire life. In 2012 Kathryn started exploring other modalities including powerlifting, gymnastics, and various forms of strength based exercise. She has competed in powerlifting, and has been coaching her own style of strength building to people of all ages. She has completed a professional pain science mentorship with physiotherapist Neil Pearson, has interviewed some of the worlds top researchers and teachers for her podcast, and has taught workshops in over 10 countries.
What’s covered in this episode?
- Strength adaptation for durability and independence, especially as it relates to aging
- Confidence gained through strength training
- Specific strategies for helping folks with a history bodyweight practice (like yoga asana) feel comfortable lifting weights
- Applying strength capacity to life activities
- Seeing the body as robust and adaptable, rather than fragile
Caitlin: Welcome back to the podcast everybody. I am your host, Caitlin Casella, and I wanted to start this episode with a little story about me as a full-time yoga teacher, which is what I did for about 15 years before becoming a physical therapist. I shared this story recently in my email newsletter and also on social media.
And it seemed to strike a chord with a lot of people, fellow teachers, and also people who’ve practiced yoga for a very long time. And the topic that I decided to share on was, um, just kind of an interesting way that I, I always found that I was bridging a gap, um, between. Beginner and gentle yoga classes and the more vigorous type of power or vinyasa flow type of yoga classes.
I found that while most of my classes on the schedule were labeled as beginner yoga classes, and I was teaching beginner classes, the majority of the people in the room. Had been practicing yoga for about 10 to 20 years, some even more than 30 years. So I noticed this fairly early in my teaching career that my so-called beginner yoga classes were full of some of the most experienced yoga practitioners that one would come across in a big market like New York City and.
As I investigated this a little deeper and I built enough of a relationship with students that they were explaining to me what, what, what it was that drew them to my classes. They were telling me that, um, they were in a place in their lives or in their practice, where some of the more. Uh, kind of advanced or labeled on paper, on yoga class schedules.
Advanced level classes didn’t feel appropriate for a number of reasons, for whatever reasons, personal reasons. Um, uh, and then they said that often studio staff would direct them towards classes that were called beginner or gentle yoga classes on the, on the class schedule. And I think. Gentle classes, restorative classes, beginner classes, they’re all wonderful and all serve a purpose.
However, this group of practitioners wasn’t really looking for a gentle experience. Um, what I found was they wanted to be challenged and challenged at a very high level. They wanted to be in an environment where they felt safe to test boundaries. Um, where they felt like they were given them enough choices and options that they could discern and choose from them for themselves, right?
With their kind of high level of experience and embodiment, discern for themselves what things felt appropriate for them on any given day. And I think this is super key. I think, as teachers it’s really important to. Empower our students with enough tools and education that they can self-assess and they can determine what might feel more appropriate for them on one day versus another day, or wherever they’re at with a certain skill development or new learning in their, in their practice or in their bodies.
So this is something interesting still a through line for me now that I’m a physical therapist, I think all of the work that I do in physical therapy is on a spectrum from. Protection on one end to exposure on the other. And for people to stretch themselves, and I don’t mean stretch themselves, like stretching their muscles and um, connective tissues, but to stretch themselves and step outside what they’re used to or step a little bit outside of their comfort zones.
It requires, um, an environment where, It feels like there’s, there’s choice and there’s options, and this is really, truly autonomy in a practice and very [00:04:00] important to me. And so this through line from when I taught yoga that continues now into my physical therapy practice is really to push up against those boundaries of, um, what feels comfortable or what feels familiar so that people can really step up, feel challenged, build new skills, stretch themselves into areas that they hadn’t experienced, and do it in an environment that feels like they’re welcome.
And that they belong because people need to feel belonging. So I bring this up because starting in, uh, may this year, I brought back my online class membership and it is full of people who have, or who are very experienced movement practitioners who’ve been practicing yoga and others. Uh, Kind of modalities of, uh, mind, body practice and embodiment for, for many years, many decades actually.
And, um, it, it has been my work to help them step into, uh, a little bit more robust exercise with heavier strength training and with some of the jumping or impact loading programs that I’ve introduced over the last few months. So, um, I just wanted to share. This story cuz I think it resonates with a lot of people.
Uh, if you’re interested in joining me for a bit of practice, either online or in person, I’ve now opened up my class membership to, uh, to people attending in person here at my studio in New York City. So if you wanna learn a little bit more about that, you can check it out on the practice. Human webs.
Site, practice human.com. If you go under the services tab, click on class membership and you can read more. Um, I would love to invite you to explore your boundaries in a very welcoming and safe space. I wanted to also tell this story today because I think it’s a good topic to introduce my guest on the podcast.
Um, Katherine Bruney Young. Katherine Bruney Young has been a major inspiration for me in making strengths training. Feel comfortable and safe and welcoming and accessible to folks who might, um, have, uh, kind of in the beginning felt intimidated by stepping into, uh, a little bit of a, like, like a gym environment or a little bit of a more, um, Intense, heavier strength training type of practice.
So, uh, Kathryn, uh, I, I was a member of her membership for a couple of years early on. Um, Kathryn was one of the people who kinda led the way for me and a number of other, like really many, many other yoga practitioners to, um, to begin work with strength training and strength training by the, the. True definition of the word strength training, giving ourselves enough resistance to work against that.
We’re actually promoting strength adaptation. So one of the things Katherine and I discuss in this episode are strategies for ushering someone into strength training who might be a little bit more hesitant, um, and also. What does it mean to actually be training for strength adaptation? Um, I’m so grateful to Kathryn for, um, coming on as my guest.
She’s somebody I’ve looked up love, looked up to for a long period of time as a, as a podcast host, and definitely check out Kathryn’s podcast, the mindful strength. Mindful Strength podcast. Um, and uh, just before I get into the interview, I wanna thank you all for being here and for listening. And if you have any questions or comments or anything to share with me, you can always reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Um, Juniper and I read all of the emails that come through and we respond to everything. So, um, please do reach out to us there, or if texting is more your style. We just set up a sideline so that we can respond to text messaging. So you could also text us at 6 4 6 3 7 4 0 2 7 6. I’ll give that number again at the, at the end of the episode cuz we really do welcome all of your valuable feedback and questions and observations.
So if there’s anything you wish to share with us, um, please do reach out. And thank you again for listening. I hope you enjoy my conversation with Kathryn.
On the podcast today, I’m talking with Kathryn Bruney Young. She has been teaching yoga and movement since the age of 17, uh, growing up in her mother’s yoga studio. That’s Diane Bruney. She has been learning about mindful movement her entire life. In 2012, Kathryn started exploring other modalities, including power lifting, gymnastics, and various forms of strength-based exercise.
She has competed in power lifting and has been coaching her own style of strength building to people of all ages. She has completed a professional pain science, a mentorship with physiotherapist Neil Pearson, and has interviewed some of the worlds. Top researchers and teachers on her podcast. That’s the Mindful Strength Podcast and has taught workshops in over 10 countries.
I am really excited to talk to Kathryn today because I have been following her, her work for a very long time. Um, definitely we share a background in transitioning from yoga into forms of strength training and other modalities. I was a part of your membership online for a little while, and I just so appreciate the mix of like, kind of very mindful movement, almost like a, a i, to me it feels more like a kind of robust version of a somatics type of practice that just kind of encompasses like mind body connection along with strength and, and then, and then a kind of very real, I think education for folks on what, what it means to be training strength.
Really training, strength adaptation, which I think is a little bit more robust than some people realize. Um, coming from. A yoga background or body weight, uh, based practice, and then kind of finding out what it means to, to really work at a level that promotes strength adaptation. So Kathryn, thank you so much for being here.
I’m really excited to have you on the
Kathryn: podcast. Yeah, thanks for having me. It’s great to be here.
Caitlin: Yeah. I, I thought we would just jump right in kind of with, with some discussion of this topic of. When people are coming from a background like yoga, right? Cuz we, we both kind of share, share that in our own personal experience, but also the folks that we, we teach on a regular basis.
Um, coming into strength based practice, uh, what are some of the ways that you help? Kind of bridge the gaps in understanding or help usher people in a kind of friendly and accessible way into a strength-based practice?
Kathryn: Yeah. You know, I think one of the first things that I do, and I think I do this without even really thinking about it, is.
I want to try to really stay true and honor all the things that I learned about being a yoga teacher. You know, like I loved so much of that practice, you know, the like warm feeling some people may feel when they walk into that space, as opposed to like a mainstream fitness space, which has like a really different kind of feeling.
And, you know, the pace of my class, I would say in a lot of ways. Kind of resembles a yoga class more than it would like a CrossFit workout or, or something like that. And I’ve just found that like so many of the people who end up in my class, They’ve been to the gym. They’ve been to the gym by themselves.
Often they’ve gone through like personal training that didn’t quite meet them where they were, didn’t quite work for them. They hate the idea of going to like a mainstream fitness class. And so they end up in my class because they’re, they don’t really quite know where else to go. And I think the environment that I sat.[00:12:00]
The very friendly environment. Hopefully the very, what I would hope, accessible environment this like, you know, this is not about perfection. This is also not about like pushing yourself as hard as you possibly can. Mm-hmm. We’re in this for the long run. We’re trying to learn a little bit of something like there’s definitely an educational component to it.
I think all of these things put together has helped me really connect with the types of people who you and I both tend to connect with. You know, folks who have done yoga or Pilates. And nowadays a lot of my students are also, they’re not necessarily people who have done yoga or Pilates, but they’re people who it like the idea of having a contemplative practice.
You know, maybe their hiker or their parents, but they understand that this like mind mindfulness approach really suits them more so than like, A really fast paced approach or like an approach in a class where like there’s loud music on and people are yelling and everyone’s kind of doing their own thing at their own pace.
Mm-hmm. Um, and so many of those people end up in my class, and I think that the first thing that I think about is like, how can I welcome everybody in and really help them figure out where they are? Because when you’re starting from a body weight exercise background, You know where you are with certain kinds of movements.
You know, maybe you knew how many hip bridges you could do, or clamshells you could do, or how long you could hold the downward dog pose, or how many upward dogs you could do or something like that. But when it comes to lifting weights or doing more structured strength programs, I find people have no idea where to start and then no idea how to really progress forwards and like we’re gonna talk about today, have no idea.
Uh, how much potential is truly within them.
Caitlin: Yeah. Yeah. And that’s, and that’s really one of the things, this is kind of background for listeners. One of the reasons that I, I reached out to Kathryn was, uh, you had posted something or just like a, like a breakthrough that you had had with a student where they, at the end of a session, were able to lift a significantly heavier weight than they ever thought they could lift and.
And I was like, yes. I love when that happens. It’s exciting for everybody when that happens, and I think it’s really meaningful in terms of their ability to carry over that capability into life skills or confidence with just functional activities in their day-to-day life. But also starts them off at a level where it’s Really key to find a level that is challenging enough as a starting point.
Mm-hmm. So you’re not just kind of like, I, I don’t like to use the term wasting time, cuz I don’t think any kind of movement or mindfulness based practice is a waste of time, even if it’s low grade enough that it’s not creating adaptation. But if we are trying to build strength, we need a high enough intensity to create that adaptation.
And so if that’s the goal, You’re not working towards that goal if you don’t ever achieve a baseline of something that’s even close to hard enough, right. That was a little bit rambly, but you get what I mean.
Kathryn: This is exactly the thing, and this is such a challenge for people. All kinds of people, you know, like I had a conversation with a family member on the weekend and they were telling me that they’re going for this hip replacement.
And I was like, that’s awesome. And then when you’re done your hip replacement, you know you can work on. Some strength training if you want to like build the capacity in the hip after that surgery. And she was like, yeah, well, you know, I do strength with like my Pilates and with my yoga. And I was like, I don’t like what we’re talking about as strength is like not the same thing.
Caitlin: Right? Right. Yeah. Yeah. And, and, and things have specific scientific definitions in the world of like strength, physiology and exercise science and. And I think it’s important to be clear with those terms for people if they have specific goals, like certain things are gonna get you moving in the direction of those goals and certain things just are not, yeah.
You might feel like they are, but I don’t wanna fool anybody into believing Yeah. That a low level stimulus is really gonna do that.
Kathryn: Yeah. Especially over the long term. So I love so many styles of movement to get people started and to get people like going in that direction, you know, like that’s how I got started.
That’s how so many of my students got started. I started teaching with using a red resistance band, and back then that seemed like such a big deal. I was like, whoa, we have resistance in my class now. Oh my goodness, this is such a big deal and this is gonna help people so much. And it absolutely did. And then I just kept progressing from there to the point where now we use heavier weight, so we do more challenging body weight.
Exercises and stuff like that, but I think a lot of people just never get the coaching to keep progressing from that, you know, initial starting place. And like, it’s scary and I don’t even recommend that people go out and try to do it on their own because there’s so much. Like math that goes into strength progressions, like mm-hmm.
There’s percentages and rep ranges, and there’s like so many technical things that people who are into strength study and have come to understand. And so it’s like, it’s hard to do that for yourself, especially if you’re new, especially if you’re like, Yeah. If you’re like, oh, is this safe? What should I do?
What’s normal? What, what might this feel like? You know, there’s just so many of those questions that come up. You have a coach or a teacher who can help guide you along makes the world of
Caitlin: difference. Yeah, I agree. And I think also people these days where it’s like information overload can start to go down the rabbit hole of like, Trying to make things totally optimal to the point that they feel frozen and don’t know what to do and don’t do anything.
So having a coach to walk you through that and be like, yeah, in the background, if you pull back the curtain, I’m like, my education, understanding, there’s a lot of math and percentages of things that go into that, but in terms of, I think our job as like myself as a teacher and clinician, and you as as a teacher in the work that you do.
Is to like, translate that in a way that makes it simple for people. Yeah. So that they can feel like they have agency over it or ownership of it, or they can go and re recreate it on their own and do something that is at, at a level where it’s actually gonna be creating some significant changes. Yeah.
Yeah. What, what kind of tools do you have? For introducing heavier weight loads to people who haven’t picked up heavy weights before?
Kathryn: Yeah, so the first question I always ask people when they tell me they’re going to the gym or maybe they have some equipment at home and they’re doing their thing, is like I ask them what they’re doing and then how many reps they’re doing, and then I ask ’em how it feels for them.
So like one of my clients that I’ve been working with lately, privately, he has kind of like a home gym set up and I say, okay, tell me the exercises. He shows me. Then he says he’s doing 15 wraps for all of those exercises. And then I say, do you do a warmup set or do you just go right into the weight?
I just get to know, what are you doing? And what is your routine, right? Because yeah. Much of a person’s routine will be great. Like I think a lot of people already know some basics, like they know kind of like the muscles they wanna target. They kind of know the right exercises to do.
For me, it’s all about how do you teach someone to progressively load something over time, and I think mm-hmm. The easiest way I can start to explain that to people is like, rather than always doing 15 to 20 reps, Why don’t you use a weight that’s so heavy that you can only do 10 reps? Like maybe that’s a great, you know, I would say very reasonable place to start.
So you do your squat or your pushup or whatever it is, do it with a weight or a resistance or a variation that is so challenging to you that you could only do 10, you can’t do 11. At the end of the 10th rep, you’re like, I’m done. You gotta stop and have a little break. And I would say do that for like a couple weeks and then once you get comfortable with that, Use a weight or a resistance or a variation.
Again, that is so challenging that you can only do it for eight reps, right? Not nine, not 10 after eight, you’re feeling all right, I’m done. That’s great. And. I find this to be more useful because obviously everybody’s weights are gonna be different. You know, it depends on who you are. Your genetics, your size, your everything about you basically is to determine how much weight you are gonna [00:21:00] lift.
So you can’t say, okay, well just start with 25 pounds. Cuz some people 25 pounds are gonna weigh too much. And for a lot of people it’s gonna be not even close to enough. And so if people can start to figure out, okay, this is the exercise I’m doing. This is how hard I’m working while I’m doing the exercise.
Then we can start to say, okay, well if I use just a little bit more resistance, I’d be working just a little bit harder. That is the progression that often it takes. We’re not going from like zero to everything. I’m not saying, okay, everybody start lifting heavy weights so that you can only do it for one repetition.
Caitlin: Right. Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And nobody wants to, nobody, nobody can learn with lift your one rep max or lift the weight that’s so heavy you can only lift at once. Yeah. That’s not gonna instill a lot of confidence for anyone and, and could lead to some problems, but, um, yeah. Yeah, [00:22:00] yeah. And, and I think too, just getting that realization of how much it is actually challenging to lift eight times mm-hmm. Is, can be shocking to people. It is. Yeah. But like how, how high they can go up and weight for it actually to be challenging to lift it. Yes. Eight times. Yes.
Kathryn: Yes. Yeah. Either how high they can go up and weight and if you don’t have a ton of different weights available to you, you know, sometimes it’s not always optimal, but sometimes you need to change the way you’re doing it.
So like, yeah. Going to a single leg variation or going through a deeper range than you’re used to, or just changing something. You know, I know a lot of people are gonna listen to this and they’re gonna be like, that’s not real strength training, but it has to work for the person. Like it’s, it’s gotta work for the person in front of you if they cannot find a way to participate and not gonna help them at all.
Caitlin: Right, right. Well, and also just changing where you put the forces. To a place that’s unfamiliar for someone can make it really challenging. So like, yeah. An example coming to mind is if someone’s gonna do a squat, I kind of see squat on a spectrum between more squat like and more deadlift. Like, is it a squatty deadlift?
Is it a hinge squat, whatever. There’s like, Space in between. And if someone has, you know, learned that they’re supposed to squat by sitting way back and not letting their knees go very far over their ankles and they’re doing kind of more of a bent knee hinge, like a kind of sit back target type of squat, and then you ask them to like, Elevate their heels and keep their trunk more upright and go up and down and their knees are going over their toes.
For someone who hasn’t been exposed to force in that way, that can all of a sudden be super challenging when you start to bias different muscle groups. So I think there’s a lot of opportunity there too, to do it a different way so that someone gets exposed to forces. In a way that their body’s not used to.
And then that’s gonna be challenging enough, even with a lighter weight and give you more mobility options and, and you know, different ways to move against load as you progress along.
Kathryn: Yeah, yeah, absolutely.
Caitlin: And, and then also I think it’s something I wanted to talk to you about is just the way that this work can build confidence out in the real world.
I think. You, uh, one of the things that struck me about your work early on when I started listening to your podcast and just kind of learning from you on social media was the way that you connected strength training to confidence and maybe even beyond confidence in physical capacity, but building confidence in other ways.
And I didn’t know if that’s something that’s, that’s come from your personal experience with strength training, kind of what you’ve seen in people that you’ve taught and coached. Maybe you could speak a little bit more about that aspect.
Kathryn: Yeah, I mean, I think. You know, my own lived experience with strength training was like strength training was kind of like my rehab when I was, you know, over a decade ago.
I was having all these different aches and pains and. It seemed like none of the teachers I was working with really knew what to tell me. So they were all just like, don’t try so hard, be more gentle. Use more props. Take it easy. You’re pushing yourself too hard. This kind of thing, modify more. And you know, I did that for a while and then I just wasn’t getting better.
And then somebody was like, you should go to this class at the gym. And so I went to this class at the gym, and then within the first couple hours of being in the gym, I just. Realize how weak so many parts of my body had become from just so many years of not really exercising those parts like we’re saying with any type of external resistance at all.
Mm-hmm. Yeah. So some parts of me were really strong, but many parts of me were really weak, and then it started to all make sense. I was like, no wonder I’m not feeling great. No wonder I’m nervous about movement. No wonder I feel like I always have to pull back and modify everything. It’s like there is so much of a disconnect happening here.
There’s like not a lot of holistic strength and capacity that I’m really experiencing. And so initially, you know, I didn’t have all of this wisdom initially. I was like, well, my hamstrings are weak, so that means this, and that means this is gonna hurt and it means that that’s gonna do this. And now I can see the body more as a holistic, you know, adaptive structure than anything else.
But the first, I would say the first two years that I practiced heavy lifting was just an ongoing discovery of how weak certain parts of me had become. But then how quickly they would regain capacity with the right type of training. And that just blew me away. I had no idea. I had no idea that somebody with back pain and knee pain could do a progressive strength program and get better, first of all.
Yeah. But then not just get better, but like, Get way better than they had ever been
Caitlin: before. Yes.
Kathryn: Yeah. I thought those aches and pains I was having in my early twenties were only gonna get worse as I aged. I never thought that, you know, by the age of 34 you would be feeling the strongest that you’ve ever felt in your entire life.
And I know that’s not very old. I know. Yeah. But like, you know, having gone through that process and really started to see how adaptive. We are with strategic training, it really opened my mind to what strength training could be used [00:28:00] for, you know, so it’s not just about like, like yes, it is about gaining muscle and bone, and for some people it’s about sports, and for some people it might even be about aesthetics, like whatever it is for you.
But on top of all of that, when you have more strength, my experience and the experience I have with basically all of my students is it’s like you just feel like you can do more things. Mm-hmm. And when you feel like you could do more things, you do more things, and then you realize, oh wow, I didn’t know I could do this before.
Like every week when I teach in person, somebody comes to class and they tell me. I did this and I haven’t done this in 20 years, or I lift those boxes and I didn’t have to ask my son for help or I got up off of the dock and I realized I just did a pushup and I realized, Doing push ups is actually useful for my daily life.
It seems like every single time I go to teach a class in person where I see the people in front of me and we have time to have a little interaction, someone is telling me how the training we’re doing is positively impacting them in their lives. And that is so huge because often we’re told to exercise or we’re told to train to lose weight or gain muscle mass or you know, something that’s not very exciting or it doesn’t feel like it’s gonna really add a lot of, you know, social value to our lives. Like nobody’s doctor is saying, do strength training because it’s gonna make you feel like you can go out in the world and like do anything you want to
Caitlin: Yeah. Right, right, right. Yeah. Or just be, see more people, be more social, go to more events, go out dancing with your friends. Yeah. And that’s, I mean, that’s just, I think, such an enormous component in what I do too as a clinician, like with physical therapy it’s like when you have that holistic lens of how exercise affects the whole person.
Yeah. And then, It’s just like, it’s just compounding like benefits. It’s like the exercise lets you do more in your life. Yeah. So doing more in your life lets you feel better. You’re more active overall. Yeah. So you’re getting all the benefits of that, letting you just connect socially, which is huge. I mean, just all of it, all of the layers just start to increase exponentially.
I think the benefits of doing this work,
Kathryn: Yeah. And you know, doing more things with less fear, is so huge. Like, I’ve got people in my classes who are now deadlifting heavy weights with me once a week, and when they started they had back pain and I would show them the deadlift and they would say, oh no, I don’t know if I should do that.
I don’t know. And I’d say, okay, just start with some lightweights. It’s okay. You just start with a 10 pound dumbbell. That’s fine. You can just see how you feel next week. Maybe you go up, whatever. And gradually over the weeks now they’re all deadlifting over a hundred pounds and. They never even thought that they would ever be able to do that.
Yeah, and just the fact that like people can go from having this experience of pain or injury thinking that like that’s it for them. Like, this will never get better. I’m only getting older. Whatever the, like, you know, story, internalized story might be, And then to, you know, be kind of proving themselves wrong, like week after week.
Mm-hmm. Like one of my students is able to go out and cut wood, like he’s never cut wood in the past, and he’s so surprised. He shows up and he’s like, you know what? I would’ve never believed you if you had told me this, but now that I’m [00:32:00] doing it and I’m having the experience, like I’ve learned so much about the human body.
In general, it’s like we’re, we’re just not taught the adaptive model. We’re taught the mechanical model. We’re taught that like your knees only have so many bends in them and your back only has so many bends in it. And, and you know, we’re not taught that we can still get stronger. Pretty much at any age within reason, as long as we’re training in a really strategic way and we’re just mm-hmm.
We’re not taught that like over and over and over again. So we’ve all internalized this incredibly mechanical model, which is just so, so limiting and produces so much fear. And it’s just been really, you know, it’s been really wild over the last year in particular. The more I teach with heavy resistance and the more I teach with heavy weights, the more even I realize, like I’ll just, just how many people can benefit and get stronger.
Caitlin: Yeah. Yeah. And it’s like all kinds of, I mean, the way I see it is kind of on this spectrum of like, if someone feels like they’re. Activities are doing damage, they’re doing harm. There’s progressive degeneration or something taking place. Like kind of more these ideas of like mechanically what’s going on in the body.
People tend towards the side of protection, right? Yeah. They’re like, I’m gonna rest it, do less, protect it, Nurse it. When in fact it’s moving more toward that side of exposure. Yes. Doing more that’s gonna allow them, give them the capacity to do more and ultimately make them have better function and less pain.
So it’s, yeah. And it’s, it’s kind of a hard, kind of a steep hill for some people to get over. I think in the beginning. To, it’s almost like they have to like start small, go gradual, feel some of those results and start to notice how it’s positively impacting their function and the way they feel and decreasing their pain levels to believe it, because they don’t, they haven’t studied it like we have, you know?
Kathryn: Yeah. And based on our culture, it’s just so counterintuitive.
Caitlin: It is. Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. I, you, you mentioned this like, I wanted to go back to something you said about when you, when you came from yoga and you started strength training, how you noticed that you were kind of weak or deficient or in, in some areas of your body or some areas where you had not been exposed to certain forces. Yep. You talked a little bit about, um, a few months ago, going back to the gym for the first time after, uh, time away from the gym in the pandemic where you mm-hmm. Basically didn’t have access to. I know you have access to a lot in your home studio Yeah. In terms of heavy weight, but, I would love to hear your, just, your experience and thoughts on returning to a gym where you have access to everything and things your body hasn’t been exposed to in a long time after a break like that, and what that was like for you with all your background of, of understanding.
Kathryn: It’s like I had such a strong background in training. Like I was a competitive strength athlete for a few years, and then after that I wasn’t competing anymore, but like I was still lifting at a competitive level I would say. Then the lockdown started and that was just so long. And yeah, like I have some barbells at my house, but I don’t have like 300 pounds of weight at my house.
Yeah. Or anything. I don’t have a leg press machine at my house. Right. That I can put 400 pounds on if
Kathryn: So my training had to change, and so for a couple years my training changed. That was fine. But then I got interested in going back into the gym. And that was about like nine or 10 months ago now.
Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. And. I just went in with, I was just like, you know what? I’m just gonna start from the beginning because I didn’t wanna feel like I was comparing myself to who I used to be at. That, like, competitive level, that’s never healthy, I don’t think. Hmm. And I just, I just figured, you know what, it’s a clean slate.
I’m gonna start with the exercises that I know. I like the exercises that I know I need a little bit more of. So I was gonna back squat, deadlift, leg, curl, and leg press. Pull down basic stuff, like I’m not doing anything too, too fancy. And, for the first couple months I went in and I just did 10 reps of everything.
I was like, I’ll just do 10 reps of everything. Keeping it pretty light. I’m still getting back into the zone. I’m feeling what it feels like to be strength training. Now I’m feeling what it feels like to be in a public space now, all of that. And then after a couple months I decided, okay, I’m gonna up my weight.
So now I’m gonna go to eight reps for a little while and. Gradually I got kind of bored, which usually happens. Mm-hmm. In January, I wrote myself a program for the first time. I had never really written myself a structured strength program and I wrote myself a program and I started doing it and I wrote down all my workouts and all my weights and all my numbers.
I wrote down everything. I’ve been doing this since January, which I highly recommend people do cuz then you have all this amazing data on yourself. Yeah. And I’ve been doing that program and I’ve been, I change it up here and there like it has to work for me. That’s the most important thing. So if I can only go twice a week, then it has to be a twice a week program.
And if I wanna climb on the weekend, then it has to be a program that doesn’t exhaust me so I can climb on the weekend, like mm-hmm. That’s always the most important. I’m definitely not the type of coach who’s like, Trying to make things perfectly balanced and perfectly optimal all the time. I really want it to work for the person.
Yeah, and it is working. It’s working really well. Like my back squat has built back up. I’m like, well over 250 pounds on my back squat again, which is not even close to what it. It feels hard, like it feels heavy, and I know that if I stick with it, I will continue to get stronger. I. And I just really enjoy the process too.
So, you know, I’m not in a competitive mode. I’m in no rush to get there. I would like to be back squatting 300 pounds again, but I’m totally content if it takes me another year to get there, because I like the process. I enjoy it. And I think that’s such an important piece of it. Like if your program is written in a way where, It doesn’t work for you, or you’re not loving it, you’re not enjoying it anymore.
You know, like how much is it really gonna help you to like force
Caitlin: your way through it? Yeah, yeah. And I’m a big believer that people like anybody can find something active to do that they enjoy, and sometimes it takes a lot of searching around. But I think everybody can find a way that works for them.
And if going into the gym and doing like a kind of set program in the gym, isn’t it? There are other things and, but yeah, it’s, yeah, it’s, it’s interesting that it was the first time you’ve ever written yourself out, like progressive
Kathryn: program. Well, I’ve done programs in the past. I had a coach for a couple of years and he did all my programming.
Then I just kind of did whatever I felt like for quite a while because I had such a strong, um, routine and. Lifting protocol. Um, and I do look at programs from other coaches. I like to look at all different kinds of programs, not just the programs that I would do, but I like to look at bodybuilding programs.
I like to look at Olympic lifting programs just to kind of see what people are doing and see what’s out there. And then I just take what I like from all of them and I find a way to, to make it work for me. So I’m not doing a powerlifters program, it’s, it’s. It’s a real combination and I add my own mobility and I do timed hangs and I, I add the things that are meaningful for me.
But keeping track of what you’ve been doing is really useful because then. You can look back and you can say, oh my goodness, like four months ago I was only deadlifting 10 pounds and now I’m doing 80 pounds, or whatever it is for the person. Yeah. And you can really see the improvement. And if there’s no improvement happening, that’s also good because you can look back and see what you’ve been doing and then you can say, okay, well why don’t I change
Yeah. Yeah. Well, and I think also to your point about sometimes getting bored with something and wanting to switch it up and do something else, I think it could be really helpful too, for someone who’s keeping track of that to move through periods where they’re working on one skill. Yeah. For a few months or half of a year.
And then when you cycle back to what you had been doing, Four months or six months prior, kind of, you know, take it down a notch and then ramp it back up to where you were and know where that baseline is of where you were so that you can do different things through different periods of the year. And, um, I think I was listening to something on your podcast recently where you said that you get questions from students in your membership about how to like, do all the things.
Yeah. And that you can’t like, do all the things all at once and expect to really like, Move, move through them or see benefits with them in a really progressive way that you might have to kind of periodize things throughout the year. You were giving some, some tips on that, I think on your, yeah. On your podcast recently.
Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I, just personally, I’ve realized that something that feels great at my age. Again, I’m, I’m 41. I’m young. I’m very, I consider that quite young, but to me it’s like a big deal that I am. I’m focusing on speed right now and I’m doing a lot of sprint training and that feels awesome for me right now, but I do have to like, Limit my harder strength workouts, kind of just in the picture of my week.
Mm-hmm. You know, and so getting sufficient rest and, and training that is like, like, It’s so different in terms of intensity level. If I’m gonna do sprints at the, like here where I go and just run some sprint repeats and some accelerations and stuff and like, and it’s eye opening for me how everything else has to shift when I’m doing more of that work.
Kathryn: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. You know, sprinting and heavy lifting are like utilizing the same energy system and it’s, you can only do so much of that. Yeah. Heavy anaerobic training in one week. Mm-hmm. And I find when you’re working at a higher level of intensity, whether you’re lifting heavy or you’re doing heavy body weight, or you like heavy body weight, fast body weight mm-hmm.
Sprinting. Mm-hmm. You know, you definitely can’t do that every day. You need to have actual recovery. In between your reps, in between your sets and in between the sessions. Yeah. Which is such a different culture than probably you and I both used to practice in where we’d go get on our yoga mat every single morning and do our practice and do the routine.
And when you’re working at a low level of intensity, you can do it more often and you can do it for an hour and a half or two hours at a time. Right? Yeah. But as soon as you up your intensity, it’s like, It requires so many more resources and people, mm-hmm. Don’t often keep that in mind. Like often my private clients will text me the next day and they’re like, I’m fatigued, or My muscles are fatigued, my muscles are sore.
I’m like, Yes. Now is the time for you to rest. Now is not the time to go out and play a whole game of golf or like play tennis in the afternoon or, or something like that. Uh, the recovery is huge. Mm-hmm. And maybe for some people that’s also like good news. Like in a lot of ways. For me, that was the good news.
When I started heavy lifting, I was like, oh man, I’m just, Relax today and do my work on my computer and sit down on my couch and not feel like I have to be up and moving and doing stuff all day
Caitlin: long. Yeah, yeah, I agree. I kinda love, like I, I had a pretty heavy, um, speed training workout on Saturday and then on Sunday I was like, I.
I just go for a mellow one to two mile walk through Central Park. Yeah. And it felt so good to just walk slowly and enjoy the park and not feel like I should be doing some extra stuff that day. Like, it is nice. It’s like, it’s a nice way to like, uh, give ourselves either. Permission or kind of a forced, forced break to take it easy.
And that’s, and I, so I live in New York City. I’ve lived in New York City since 1999, like most all of my adult life and my clients are here in New York. And it is so hard to get some of them to slow down and do less. I mean, this is like the culture of people who work long hours at high stress jobs and probably aren’t getting very sufficient sleep at night or not good quality sleep, and then are going and taking like, Pretty intense group fitness classes, like spin classes, hiit workouts, orange theory, things like that, four or five days a week.
And then just so often I have to have this conversation with somebody that’s like, if you’re working out at like 70, 80% effort and you’re doing that many days in a row, like that can catch up to you in terms of dosing in some rest or, or finding ways to work at kinda higher intensity only twice a week and then have like true recovery type of days.
So there’s a little bit more of a much bigger span of ups and downs and instead of always being at kinda moderate to high level intensity. And something that’s hard to, I think, hard to get some people to do, especially like, Here. I don’t know what it’s like with the folks that you work with where you live, but mm-hmm.
It’s hard to get people to slow down sometimes. I know for me, it’s hard for me to slow down sometimes. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Yeah. So, Kathryn, I know you’re having, uh, a retreat. I think I just saw an email go out that it’s happening really soon. So you’re starting to do a little bit more. I don’t know if you, you’ve done any of that really, or is that kind of a new thing?
Since the things have opened up from the pandemic to, to get folks together in person on a retreat. So
Kathryn: I’ve done, I’ve done retreats at my house five times. Most of them were before the pandemic. Um, okay. Then we took a couple years off. And now last year we did the retreat and this July we’re doing the retreat, and I don’t know if we’re gonna do it again because my husband, Kyle, who’s been working with me these last few years, he’s starting a new job in September.
And so he’s gonna be off doing his own thing. And I’m not sure what will happen with it. But I always like to get people together for in-person events. I think all of this teaching online is so wonderful. Um, but one thing I’ve really learned about myself is that being together with people in person is really special.
So even if people don’t make it to their retreat this year, I’m sure we’ll do something. In person again. And of course there’s just so many online resources that people can, people can get as well.
Caitlin: Yeah. So your membership is amazing and you keep building out more and more components to it and like I love that it has progressive series within it to keep people Yes.
Focused. And just the variety of types of movement that’s in there I think is like, it’s just a wonderful mix and, and I think very inviting, like, like we’ve been talking about it for folks who have come from like yoga or body weight type of practice and then going, going into adding a little bit more strength.
There’s just a lot of avenues I think that people can head into through that. And, and I totally get what you’re saying about the importance of getting people together in person. Cause especially teaching online, teaching a lot of people online and then having groups of people who maybe travel a little bit of distance to come and be there in person for something like a retreat, it’s like so special.
I mean, you definitely build a lot of, in my experience, build a lot of community teaching online, but then kind of bringing that all together for in-person gatherings is really important and really interesting.
Kathryn: Yeah, and you know, it’s so funny when you teach online. Yeah. Sometimes I teach live, sometimes I record classes.
But it’s like you teach your class and then it goes out into the world, and then people are having all these different kinds of experiences with the material. And it could be like totally changing their life, but unless they’re actually sending you an email saying that, like you have no idea. You have no idea.
Often how it lands with people and how it settles with them, and if they’re getting it, if they’re enjoying it, if they’re doing it. And so it’s, what’s so funny about teaching online is like these classes will go out and then like sometimes I’ll get these random emails of like, I’ve been doing this class and I’ve been doing it for eight months, and it’s completely changed everything.
And anyways, what I’m saying is, as a teacher, it’s great to teach in person because you get the immediate feedback. Yeah. And it’s always my in-person teaching that fuels my enthusiasm and that fuels, uh, everything that I put into my online classes because, you know, the questions you get in an in-person class, it shows you, you know, what you’re being clear about or what you’re not being clear about.
Yeah. Or what you need to say more of, or what you need to say less of. And anyways, I just love having those interactions with, with people because it really just keeps. Keeps me present in my teaching and also really, yeah. Keeps me curious about what are people feeling? Are they getting this or what are they still nervous about?
Or all of those things.
Caitlin: Yeah. Yeah, I agree. I. Well, thank you so much Kathryn. So just for the listeners, you can find Kathryn@mindfulstrength.ca, and that’s also your Instagram, Instagram handle mindful strength.ca, and check out Kathryn’s membership. It’s called a Mindful Strength membership, right?
Yeah. And. Yeah, and get on the email list because you give people a lot of great resources through email. And also I think it’s great that anytime you bring a new progressive program into the membership, you usually highlight it there. So if people who are interested in things like handstands or pull-ups or pistol squats or like all the different things that you focus on for periods of time, you can kind of see when new things are coming into the membership.
I, I think you do a great job of giving people focus in that online space for how to work on things progressively. And, um, I think that’s just so, so important for people kind of realizing value and benefit from it in a more appreciable way. And, So I really appreciate that you do that.
Kathryn: Awesome. Thank you so much, Kailyn.
Caitlin: Kathryn. Thank you so much everyone, for your time and for listening to this talk with Kathryn Bruney Young. Again, if you wanna reach Kathryn, you can reach out at email@example.com. Uh, her website is mindful strength.ca, and she goes by the same name on Instagram, mindful Strength dot.
Ca definitely check out what she’s up to with the Mindful Strength membership. And, um, as, as I said originally, if you have any questions for us here at the Practice Human Podcast, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can text us directly at 6 4 6. 3 7 4 0 2 7 6. And as always, if you learn something from this episode, uh, I would really appreciate you leaving us a rating and a review.
It will help the conversations grow.