If you’ve ever researched how to manage tight hips, help a lower back tweak, improve ankle stability or shoulder mobility, then you’ve more than likely heard of Kelly Starrett.
Doctor of Physical Therapy, Starrett (or “K-Star” as he is affectionately called within the CrossFit community) is known as the mobility god in an otherwise tight community.
With the release of his recent book, Becoming a Supple Leopard: The Ultimate Guide to Resolving Pain, Preventing Injury and Optimizing Athletic Performance, along with his daily MobilityWOD.com video segments, Starrett continues to lead the way on a mission to help CrossFitters, athletes and common folk alike move better.
While Starrett helps us all become supple leopards, we wanted to know how he became the supple leopard.
How did you come up with the idea for MobilityWOD?
KS: MobilityWOD literally began as a self-imposed challenge to make one YouTube video a day for a year on tips for moving better. Only one other person knew about it. I was working with athletes, CrossFitters and non-CrossFitters, in my physical therapy practice at the time, and kept seeing the same set of problems: lack of range of motion, poor flexibility and poor body mechanics. These people needed help. MobilityWOD completely took off from there and grew over time to what it is today.
What excites you about what you do?
KS: I genuinely love helping people. I love teaching classes and coaching. We all move like crap. My mission is to help people move more efficiently—particularly CrossFitters. CrossFit is one of the only sports that asks you to be fully human—to develop the abilities to do all things physically a skilled human can do—techniques, skills, strength, range of motion. On this same topic, I love working with coaches and I want to do more of that. The coaches—both in CrossFit and sports—are the ones who spend the most time with their athletes. I want to empower coaches to become specialists in mobility so they can help their athletes.
So what advice do you have for coaches?
KS: When many coaches start coaching, they stop practicing. It should be the complete opposite. When you start coaching, you need to uphold your practice and continuously seek to improve. The best coaches are still athletes—whether it’s through their training or competing. They eat like athletes, they train like athletes—therefore they understand and are best able to coach their athletes.
What advice can you give athletes to improve performance?
KS: Athletes should strive to constantly fix their movement quality and the details. Whether you are a Games competitor or a 6pm box CrossFitter, constantly align your body with quality movement patterns. Strive to get better every rep. Your last rep should be your best rep, not your first. You would have had the workout, the time, to improve on your movement patterns through the WOD. Keep focused. On that note, arrive to the gym prepared for your WOD. Front squatting? Prepare the night before, hours before. Roll, stretch. Get mobile.
Describe a day in the life of Kelly Starrett.
KS: There is no typical day. But here’s an example of a Tuesday in my life:
4:30am: Wake up, drink bulletproof coffee and eat some kind of protein
6-8am: Teach CrossFit classes
9am: Write programming for San Francisco CrossFit
11:00am: Media interview
Noon: Email/social media
2:00pm: Plan and film MobilityWOD content
4:30pm: Try to get in a workout
5:30pm: Home for dinner with GStar & BearStar
7:30pm: Hot tub
8:00pm: More email and filming
It’s not super glamorous.
Kelly Starrett helps others work out and move to their fullest potential, but how does K-Star like to move?
KS: A lot of people don’t know this about me, but I love a good WOD. Straight up CrossFit. Sometimes when people see me work out, they are kind of taken aback. “You mean you don’t just roll around on a lacrosse ball all day?” Since I’m on the road a lot, I run when I travel-that’s always my go-to. I appreciate always being fit. In my gym, I am known as ‘the strong guy’—I’m one of the strongest guys in the gym, but I’m constantly working on improving my fitness, so my default is the MetCon. Also, pretty recently I was training for a big bike race, so I was mountain biking a ton. It reminded me how good it is to mix it up. I think people often forget that one of the goals of the sport of CrossFit is to constantly try new things, pick up new sports. I learned so much information about my body and fitness just through doing those two-hour uphill bike climbs. Oh man, my quads!
So you love to work out, but you must also love to mobilize. How much time do you spend a day doing mobility work?
KS: 15-20 minutes. That’s it. That’s really all you need. I do that almost every day, and I feel great. I love using my Super Nova—a ball with little spikes on it.
What are your current health and fitness goals?
KS: Well I turn 40 this year, so I really want to continue to get better every year. And cleaning 400-pounds, that is a goal of mine.
Do you have a favorite quote or motto you live by?
KS: “Be willing to get excited for nothing.” Andy Warhol said it. Find interest and seek to learn and grow continuously.
You wrote a book, you’ve updated your website, you travel all the time…what’s next for Kelly?
KS: I’m working on a couple projects I’m pretty excited about. The first one is writing a new book: Ready to Run. It’s a follow up to the popular book Born to Run. It’s basically about how people don’t necessarily naturally have the proper biomechanics to run. Aside from the book, I am also targeting a new topic. I talk about moving, squatting, mobilizing a lot, but what about sitting? Sitting properly. We sit a lot in a day, our kids sit a lot in school. I am exploring how to help people sit better.
Want more from the K-Star? Check out www.mobilitywod.com for a ton of resources on becoming a supple leopard. Here’s a great video from Kelly to get you started: