Friday Musings: Justin and My Version of Our Story

Hi everyone, welcome back to another Friday Musing. Its now my turn, Justin that is, to introduce myself and tell the story that leads me to IHD and my connection with Shane.

Rather than beginning at the very beginning, I’ll simply begin with my start as both a writer and coach. I have been an athlete all of my life but could never really focus on a single pursuit. I definitely embody the “Jack of all trades” axiom. At times I wish I could have committed to something long enough to achieve high-level performance. Who knows? Had I been given a different demeanor I might be a professional skateboarder right now or taking the ice tonight as an NHL star.

With maturity, I’ve come to love my wandering spirit. I absolutely love to travel and even when I’m rooted in one place for a bit, I tend to travel through an ever-growing list of passions. I’ve come to understand that my true passion is learning and exploring, especially learning new ways to move. The initial phases of the learning curve draw me more than any of the specific skills that it might apply to. 

When I graduated college, I traded the triathlon team and run coaching for CrossFit coaching and competition. I achieve moderate success (competing at SoCal Regionals in 2012) but soon felt the familiar pull toward the unexplored. I currently fill my non-gym training days with skateboarding, rock climbing, mountain biking, and trail running. This list will undoubted change with the seasons and my wandering passions.

My writing practice came about entirely by accident. I helped begin a new gym in 2013 and taught the month-long introductory class exclusively for the first year of operation. While we had several amazing coaches, I became the first familiar and trusted voice to most of the new members. I used to joke that I felt like everyone’s “gym father.” In this unofficial role, I received countless messages and emails with questions about every aspect of health, fitness, and nutrition. I came to love, not only my ability to teach, but the crafting of my undoubtedly verbose responses. Coincidentally, I had begun daily journaling around the same time. I was coming to love the writing craft for the first time in my life. I also realized that I was answering many of the same questions and that it made sense to publish these thoughts on a blog. I created a website in late 2013. It has been through many iterations but has finally landed on a form that I’m proud of. You can check it out at: (part of creating this final version was to split my coaching offerings into a separate site at:

This growing writing practice led me to publish regularly on Breaking Muscle and eventually to my joining with Shane here.

As an athlete, coach, and writer I have to come to embrace my wandering spirit. I know that I do not have the temperament for the hyper-specialization required for world-class performance. However, I feel that I am world-class (or at least pretty good…) at drawing value from many seemingly disparate philosophies and communities to craft a unique and meaningful approach to fitness and life. If I am special at all, it is in my ability to “speak” many different languages and walk between worlds.

It is with this ability that Shane and I connect deepest. Although we have never met in-person, I immediately knew that I found a brother. Though we were shaped from very different influences, our experiences have crystallized into similar and very symbiotic philosophies.

Over a year ago, Shane began a video interview series on Breaking Muscle called The Essentialists. I was fortunate enough to receive one of the first invitations to participate. Upon that first digital meeting we chatted more than 45 minutes before even starting the recording and for nearly as long after pressing stop. We found an instant connection for what we wished to accomplish in the world. 

Shane’s interview series (that would eventually grow into the Breaking Muscle podcast) was named for Greg McKeown’s book Essentialism. Shane’s affinity for this principle led me to download and begin reading it immediately after we spoke. 

I had the opportunity to reciprocate during our interview when I recommended Tribe by Sebastian Junger. Perhaps the most guiding book I have ever read, introducing Shane to Tribe could be considered my greatest contribution to IHD.

Thank you for the opportunity to tell my story. We have something special here with IHD and I feel honored and excited to be a part of its future.

I’ve refrained from reading Shane’s version of our story so that I could write a purely personal telling. I’m excited to publish this and finally read his version.