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Unleashing the inner athlete
Jon Pearlman: Mission Lean
BY PETER BOWES | LOS ANGELES | JUNE 9, 2021 | 0700 PT
Finding the most effective workout and diet regime, with the goal of getting fit and lean, is, for many, the ultimate challenge. Even elite athletes struggle as they strive to achieve their peak level of performance. Jon Pearlman, a former #1 singles player for the Harvard tennis team, learned through personal experience that athletic prowess does not come easy. The two time All-Ivy athlete and ATP-ranked touring professional, had performance setbacks as a young tennis player but he learned through his struggles and now advises others on the best way to build a healthy, lean body for life.
In this episode of the LLAMA podcast, the author of The Lean Body Manual and co-founder of the fitness app, Mission Lean, discusses his mission to help people transform their bodies and defy their age. In conversation with Peter Bowes, Jon discusses the pros and cons of a ‘strength and conditioning’ approach to fitness training; explains why he prefers to workout on an empty stomach; and why he believes there’s an “inner athlete” just waiting to be discovered in all of us.
Recorded: April 27, 2021 | Read a transcript
Topics covered in this interview include:
- Jon’s personal journey to peak physical fitness.
- Experimenting with different workout regimes.
- Overcoming fitness obstacles by focussing on lean fitness methods.
- Obsession and determination to achieve peak physical fitness and a performance edge.
- Questioning the value of weightlifting and a ‘strength and conditioning’ approach to fitness training.
- The importance of muscle strength for older people.
- Achieving optimum fitness and finding the best workout to make it happen.
- Takeaway lessons from Jon’s experience training with the world’s top tennis players
- The Lean Body Manual
- Defining the fitness goal – physically and mentally – before setting out to achieve it.
- Adapting to using an app as a fitness coach.
- Heart-rate zone training and a Mediterranean diet.
- Lifestyle hacks and how, what and when to eat.
- The age-old debate about the most important meal of the day.
- Figuring out an “ideal harmony” between working out and eating.
- Exercising with an app and developing the right mindset to achieve success.
- The impact of Covid on at-home workouts
- Personal longevity aspirations and latching on to the inner athlete.
- Prolonging healthspan through a commitment to a structured fitness program
- This LLAMA podcast episode is co-produced in association with Mission Lean, the fitness app that offers more than 150 on-demand workouts, specifically designed and curated to get you lean. Mission Lean routines can be done anywhere, anytime with no equipment necessary. It’s like having a personal trainer & fitness nutrition specialist in your pocket.
The Live Long and Master Aging podcast, a HealthSpan Media LLC production, shares ideas but does not offer medical advice. If you have health concerns of any kind, or you are considering adopting a new diet or exercise regime, you should consult your doctor.
Jon Pearlman: [00:00:00] I became the most jacked tennis player that anybody had ever seen, my biceps were bulging. But what I realized very quickly was that these large, bulky muscles weren’t actually enabling me to perform the best on the court.
Peter Bowes: [00:00:20] Hello again, and welcome to LLAMA, the Live Long and Master aging podcast. My name is Peter Bowes. This is where we explore the science and stories behind human longevity.
Jon Pearlman: [00:00:30] Everybody has an inner athlete inside of them and you need to latch on to that in the sense of never giving up your physical routines on a daily basis.
Peter Bowes: [00:00:42] This episode is produced in association with Mission Lean, the fitness platform and app, which is designed and curated to get you fit and lean. Being in the best possible physical shape is, of course, a key pillar to good health, and I would also argue hugely important to a long healthspan Covid has changed the way that we exercise in more ways than people could have imagined. And it is clear that on-demand workouts are going to play a huge role in the way that we all keep fit in the future. I’m joined by Jon Pearlman, the co-founder of Mission Lean. Jon is also the author of The Lean Body Manual and a former number one singles player for the Harvard University tennis team. Jon, welcome to the Live Long and Master Aging podcast.
Jon Pearlman: [00:01:27] Thanks for having me, Peter. It’s good to be here.
Peter Bowes: [00:01:29] Yeah, it’s really good to chat with you and to be doing this podcast. We’re going to dive into what the app is all about and talk about your book as well. A lot of what you write about is based on your own personal experience. So I think that’s probably a good place to start in terms of your own journey towards getting lean and in the best possible shape. How did it start for you?
Jon Pearlman: [00:01:50] Yeah, that’s a good question. So I grew up in New York City, which is a place that I don’t think you see many high level athletes come out of just because of the fact that there are limited facilities. You know, there are and I’m a tennis player. So to get a tennis court in, I grew up in Manhattan, is very difficult. And so I think that generally speaking, I was competing nationally in tennis tournaments from a young age. And I think that I was very much undertrained just because of, you know, where I was coming from and the lack of facilities and so forth and throughout my junior tennis career. And when I say junior career, I mean before I played in at Harvard from the ages of, let’s say, 10 to 18, I was undertrained and I always had big problems with fitness on court. I would oftentimes compete in matches. And when it would go to a third set or when I would be competing in the summer in hot conditions, I would have body cramps and oftentimes had to retire in matches because I my whole body would start to cramp. And a couple of times I had to go to the emergency room for intravenous fluid replacement. And so I would say that throughout my upbringing as a tennis player and an athlete, because of these episodes, I started to focus on fitness and I started to think about, you know, what what could I do to improve my fitness? What could I do to get an edge on the rest? And this journey took, you know, started at a young age. And I started to really latch on to some of the lean fitness methods that I, you know, talk about in the Lean Body Manual and that are very much a part of the Mission Lean app. And, you know, I started to latch on to these during college. And then after college, I ended up having a very successful career. I got to become the number one singles player for the Harvard team. I was in All Ivy athlete in the league and I ended up competing nationally. I was a top 75 national player in NCAA and for about one year after college, I gave a shot to compete on the pro circuit. And that’s, I think, when also these methods started to become more prevalent and what I was doing and also being exposed to other professional players on the circuit and seeing what they were doing and how they were preparing for matches and how they were training gave me further insight into how to perfect these these fitness routines and diet routines for peak performance.
Peter Bowes: [00:04:29] It’s interesting you laid out like that because I think a lot of people might have the image of a top flight athlete, whatever the sport, not realizing that you go through many of the same fitness challenges that everyday people that amateur sportsmen and women go through to.
Jon Pearlman: [00:04:45] Yeah, it’s true. I mean, obviously, in any in any sport, you know, whether you’re competing at the High Division One collegiate level or pro sport, pro sports, you always are looking to get an edge out there. And so. You know, I think that I think my upbringing was unique and my challenges because because of the situation of kind of coming from Manhattan, New York City, where sports facilities were limited, and I think I ended up suffering from these a fitness disadvantage and under training. And so I think that the journey forced me to really kind of delve into how to overcome these challenges, how to perfect these fitness routines. Whereas, you know, somebody coming from, let’s just say a more let’s just say somebody who from a young age attended a tennis academy or was it was a top athlete from a young age and trained in a national national training center with all of the facilities, all of the coaching, everything right there. You know, somebody like that might might have less friction, let’s put it that way, in terms of arriving at peak physical form. So I think that because I went through the wringer with all of these challenges, with fitness and and such, I was able to I became very focused and almost obsessed with figuring out how how to arrive there, how to arrive at peak performance and fine tune my body, my body to get the most out of it.
Peter Bowes: [00:06:16] And you essentially did that through self experimentation. You made yourself the the human guinea pig, trying a number of different regimes and interventions to achieve that optimum fitness.
Jon Pearlman: [00:06:28] Yeah, I think yeah, that’s exactly right, Peter. I think that, you know, if you go to a Barnes and Noble, you go to a bookstore. I mean, there are there are hundreds of books out there on, you know, every kind of diet, every kind of training program. I mean, there, you know, Mission Lean is just one of hundreds, maybe thousands of fitness apps out there. So I think that if it’s very hard to weed through all of this stuff that’s being offered to people out there and kind of arrive at the other end, unless you, you know, I guess in a way you have to be obsessed with it. You have to be, you know, very determined. You have to, you know, really pay close attention to what’s working, what’s not. And so I guess over the last you know, I mean, I’m 33 years old. I’m probably one of the younger, you know, interviewees that you have here on the podcast. But I think that I would say in the last 15 to 20 years, like from a young you know, since I was 13, I’m 33 now. Basically, I’ve become obsessed. I have become obsessed with how to organise this performance edge and how to how to overcome these fitness challenges that I was facing. And I think that, you know, through that obsession, I was able to kind of weed through all of the hundreds of books, all of the millions of, you know, advice bits that they offer you out there and kind of crystallize an approach that works not just for me, but for the many clients and subscribers of the Mission Lean app as well.
Peter Bowes: [00:07:59] Yeah. And I think it is really actually important to talk to people, younger people, people in your age group, because that’s from all of my experience of maybe talking to older people, it’s often people in middle age, a sort of realisation dawns on them that there’s something, there’s more that they can do, to optimize their fitness. But really, the time to to tackle these issues is, well, it’s as early as possible. So whether it’s in your 20s or 30s, but if you can achieve and and master the art of of achieving that level of fitness in early life, logic tells you hopefully it’s going to continue throughout the decade. So what kind of regimes did you look at? What did you experiment with?
Jon Pearlman: [00:08:38] I think that in America especially, there’s a huge focus on weight lifting. So, you know, if you look around kind of in the United States, you know, these huge warehouse style gyms with hundreds of different machines under a single roof, it doesn’t exist around the world, you know, especially, for example, in Europe. I know you’re from the U.K., you know, and and I think that especially kind of coming into the college athletic scene as well, these college facilities have what they call central strength and conditioning centers, where all of the teams of a particular sport train in this central what they call a strength and conditioning center. And the strength and conditioning centers, much like a large gym in the United States, are very much based around weightlifting and gym based exercises that are, I would say, very much based in football style training, because after all, on a college campus, football is the sport that’s bringing in the big bucks on campus. And it’s and it’s as a result of this that they’re bringing in the trainers and personnel to train the football team, but then inadvertently they end up training all of the other sports on campus. And so when you combine kind of this obsession in America with weightlifting, you take into effect that. You know, a lot of high level athletes coming into college are subjected to the strength and conditioning centers and ends up pursuing a football based gym style weightlifting workout that actually produces a non-functional, very stiff. It doesn’t translate into a functional sport, let’s say, for tennis or for field hockey or lacrosse or soccer, sports that require speed, agility, lean functional muscles so an athlete can sprint fast, can move in a in a way where they can move to the ball quickly and efficiently. And so what I realized and again, I myself very much, you know, in my efforts to overcome all of the fitness obstacles that I was trying to do, I bought into this gym, gym-based weightlifting approach to fitness, because I was so determined to to overcome all of the obstacles that I was facing that I said basically I was willing to do anything. And what ended up happening, I was so committed to the gym, so committed to the strength and conditioning center that I became the most jacked tennis player that anybody had ever seen. My my biceps were bulging. My quads were coming out of my pants. I mean, basically, I was I mean, look, maybe it intimidated the occasional opponent when I came out on court. But what I realized very quickly was that these large, bulky muscles weren’t actually enabling me to perform the best on the court.
Peter Bowes: [00:11:26] And of course, that’s the look that so many people are striving for, though, isn’t?
Jon Pearlman: [00:11:29] Yes, it’s great. You might look great in a bodybuilding competition and you might intimidate somebody, you know, in a bar fight with a big muscle. But the reality is, is that these large, bulky muscles are not optimal for peak performance. And that’s how I latched on to the lean body approach to fitness. I, I realized soon, very quickly, actually, you know, as I started to internalize, you know, the top D1 college players and then also my year and a half competing on the pro circuit, I was looking around and these players were lean, limber, light, agile. They weren’t bulky. They weren’t they didn’t have the the types of muscles that I had accumulated from the gym based workouts. I realized pretty quickly that I needed to change if I wanted to reach my physical peak.
Peter Bowes: [00:12:16] One little thought on that one caveat, maybe in defense muscle. I think as you get older though, muscle strength is crucially important. And maybe we’re talking about something different that you’re talking about optimizing your physicality in terms of an athlete and to some extent for endurance in sports that involve a lot of movement for everyday people as you get older and especially to ward off frailty as you get very old muscle strength, per se is pretty important.
Jon Pearlman: [00:12:46] Yes, you definitely need to incorporate strength based exercises into any fitness routine. And actually on the mission line app, we recently launched an age defying workout program specifically targeted to older adults and people over the ages of 60. And what we the way we structure the workouts for older adults is what it’s called HIIT training. And it’s a it’s a buzzword you might have heard of before, high intensity interval training. And what this is, is it’s it’s intervals of, let’s say, between six to eight exercises. And a lot of them are strength based exercises. They could be body weight squats, they could be lunges, they could be arm exercises that that do build muscle and strength like what you’re talking about. But when you combine this type of routine of, let’s say, six to eight different exercise moves, then you do them consistently. So you move. Let’s say you do. Thirty seconds of squat, of body weight squats, and then you do thirty seconds of tricep dips and then you move into thirty seconds of body weight lunges. These exercises do build incredible strength and muscle, but when you train in this way, you’re actually benefiting from anaerobic output as well, which I hope we can talk about in the in the coming minutes is incredibly important from an anti aging standpoint. Basically, if you’re looking to target fitness for anti aging, you have to train in such a way that you elevate your heart rate to a significant level in the sense that you will benefit from an anti aging cellular response. And and more or less when you train in a way where you’re taking little breaks, training in in a routine of acts of strength based exercises and doing so continuously as opposed to like, for example, a weight based bodybuilding workout where you’ll lift heavier weights and you might only do six reps, let’s say, of a of a given gym move, and then you’ll rest for two minutes before you go undertake the next set that will never enact an aerobic response, meaning a response that gets your heart rate elevated, which is crucial for antiaging fitness.
Peter Bowes: [00:14:56] Right, exactly. So let’s delve into that in a moment. Let’s just go back then to your own experimentation with different types of workouts when you reached what you would consider to be your optimum level of fitness, what kind of regime were you following at that point?
Jon Pearlman: [00:15:13] Yeah, that’s a good question. So when I reached my optimum level of fitness, I would say that that my I started to gravitate, as I we talked about earlier, away from the gym. I mean, I, always, you know, I would go to the gym and doing strength based training, like in the sense of lifting, you know, significant weight and training in a weight based way is fine, but only as a supplement to more cardio vascular based functional training. So, for example, I realized when I was in college competing on the Harvard tennis team, I was about 10 to 15 pounds heavier than I currently am, meaning the weight that I arrived at when I started to compete professionally and on on the pro circuit. So when I was able to get an ATP world ranking on the circuit and when I that was about six months after I had graduated from Harvard. And it was in this time that I started to notice what other pro players were doing and what needed to be done to arrive at that at that level of tennis and performance. And so I started to number one, I started to run run a lot. I mean, obviously for for an older adults, you know, it maybe you can’t run. But but the point is, is that you need to have a significant amount of of aerobic output in your training. So so I would say that, you know, if you can’t run or, you know, you want to start with something less a little bit more mild, like, for example, you can go on the bike for 15 to 20 minutes, you know, ideally before breakfast, because that’s when you can really when you do this type of cardio first thing in the morning before breakfast, it’s it gives you an incredible fat burning effect in your body and also a much better gauge on appetite, because when you when you start to have that first meal of the day, you’ve already had a workout in, you sweat it a little bit. And so your your gauge on appetite and portion control is going to be that much stronger. And so the first thing I did was I started to train on no breakfast or a light breakfast. I started to do a lot more running a lot more functional dynamic training with my own body weight as opposed to, you know, as opposed to heading straight to the gym for a heavy weightlifting session. And I started to also use different things to try to increase my my basal metabolic rate, meaning the rate at which I was burning calories. And one way, one incredible way that you can do this is by raising your body temperature in your workout. So I would I started to train with with a with a sweat suit, a sweat sweatshirt and sweatpants on in my workout, which I mean, not my my attempt, my basal metabolic rate would increase because my my core body temperature was elevated and so I was burning even more calories in the workout. And also, I mean, when you think about an athlete, that’s also going to translate into much better performance, because the minute you strip off those sweat garments and you head into a tennis match, you’re going to feel lighter. You’re not going to have that oppressive feeling of having, you know, your body heat elevated. And so I started to incorporate a lot of things, a lot more, you know, just a lot more cardio output and forcing stressing my body more and then doing so. In this way, I started to shed the weight. I became much lighter on court and my performance took off.
Peter Bowes: [00:18:38] So one thing occurs to me, just listening to what you’re saying, that clearly your regime at this time was with the goal of being the best athlete you could be. And I think a lot of people listening to this might think, well, some of that might sound a little bit extreme. I don’t necessarily want to be a top flight athlete. So what lessons from from what you’re saying now? I’m talking about, you know, wearing a few extra layers of clothing as you as you’re working out and then stripping them off and playing tennis. And you’re going to feel good, maybe just some people for everyday people just trying to improve their fitness and perhaps become a little cleaner. That level of attention isn’t necessary.
Jon Pearlman: [00:19:15] Yeah. So, Peter, you don’t need the sweatsuit to reach peak performance. I mean, if you can use it, you know, great. Throw it on. But I think that no, you don’t need to implement every single measure. But I think there are a few takeaways to my my overcoming the challenges that I did in arriving at the pro tennis level, that, for example, somebody listening to this who isn’t an athlete or competing in a sport can implement. I think the first take away is when you when you head into a workout. And this is a huge component of what enabled me to overcome a lot of my issues is that you basically need to focus on the intensity of the workout as opposed to the. quantity of it – the time, so, you know, a lot of people, you might go to the gym and you see somebody and, you know, they’re just walking on on the treadmill for an hour or, you know, you might have a discussion with a friend who says, oh, yeah, I was at the gym for three hours this morning. I feel great. The thing is, is that if you really want to enact physiological change within your body, you have to you have to basically when you show up to a workout, you you have to say, OK, I’m going to give it my all here and I’d rather go less I’d rather go for 10 or 15 minutes in my workout and really, really dig into it and start to sweat and start to push myself even further, even if it’s 10 minutes, as opposed to being there for an extended period of time. And why does this tie back to kind of what I was doing with tennis? And the reason is, is because like I used to as part of I had the opportunity as part of my training and I live in Florida and I was training down here and there were a lot of great tennis players down here. And I was hitting with top, top five ranked players in the world. Sometimes I had the opportunity to come out. They needed a sparring partner, for example, and they would call me up and they say, John, we need you to come out here and hit with, you know, hit with us and train with us to get, you know, this player ready for the U.S. Open, let’s say. So what I noticed very quickly when I would train with these top top athletes, these top tennis players, is that the the intensity of every minute in the workout is unlike anything that you can ever experience. So the amount of balls that you will hit in one minute with a top 10 ATP player compared to, let’s say, a top division one player is is much, much higher. The intensity of that minute you’re going to it’s going to feel like maybe five minutes or even 10 minutes with with a lower ranked player. And so I realized pretty quickly that I wanted to replicate this type of intensity. And so the same applies to you. There have been a lot of studies that have come out recently about altering your body at the physiological level. And what I mean by that is I’m saying at the biological level, where you actually change your metabolism to the to the point where your body starts to work differently and that type of physiological change within your body can only occur if you proceed in your workout with with this type of intensity that I’m talking about. And what I mean by that is, as we spoke about earlier, getting an aerobic based output, where you raise your heart rate to a certain level and ideally keep it there for an extended period of time. And that’s why, for example, on the age defying program, on the Mission Lean app or pretty much all of our training routines on the Mission Lean app, all of it is done in circuit based routines where you’re moving from one exercise to the next without rest. And that way you get the type of strength and tone that everybody wants to get. But at the same time, you have a push back with an incredible aerobic workout at the same time. And Peter, I just want to mention so specifically with respect to the metabolism, there was a study that came out recently in the last year showing that in terms of there’s a new field in science where they can measure your metabolism, the metabolic profile of a person. And when they examined two groups of people, they took the exam in the most aerobically fit people and they compared them to the least aerobically fit. And what they realized was that from a metabolic standpoint, the metabolism of the most aerobically fit people were substantially different than those who who were the least aerobically fit. So their metabolisms had all had were different. They had become altered. Whereas when they looked at just strength, the strongest people and they compared them to the weakest people. So people who were undertaking a weight based, gym based approach, you know, maybe they were, Jack, the most jacked person out there when you compared him to somebody who was had no muscle mass at all. Their metabolisms were exactly the same. And so that that indicates that in order to really kind of reap a significant effect in your body physiologically, you have to stress yourself aerobically and you have to proceed with a certain intensity in your workouts.
Peter Bowes: [00:24:16] John, you’ve clearly built up a vast wealth of knowledge through your own experience. And I guess this is the reason that you wrote the book. This you did before developing the App, the Lean Body Manual. And it is a huge manual.
Jon Pearlman: [00:24:28] Yeah, it is. It’s comprehensive. So, yeah, before I started the company, my company Mission Lean and before we even had the app, I wrote the book The Lean Body Manual, which I published in 2017. And that was a, you know, kind of a starting point to start to try to crystallize, you know, why, why are we, why am I prescribing that people train in this way. So what is the difference between lean fitness and your mainstream fitness. Kind of. We’ve touched on a lot of these themes, you know. Gyms, weightlifting versus functional performance-based training, and so I started to hone in on lean fitness and lean body routines that somebody can do to shed weight and basically maintain that weight for the rest of their lives, because think about a body builder for a minute and how bodybuilders think and train. And again, this goes back to the gym, the gym culture in the United States, bodybuilders, they they they are constantly trying to bulk up and then shed the weight for their competition, you know, for their bodybuilding show. And so a bodybuilder naturally will gain weight and lose weight consistently throughout. It could be a year. It could be, you know, within a several month period, they could shift weight. You know, they could go up and weight 10 pounds, 15 pounds, then drop it for their competition. And basically, you know, you asked before about how does somebody, you know, who’s not an athlete or not a bodybuilder, how do they kind of absorb all of this information and make it work for them? And that’s why a bodybuilding approach just it doesn’t work for the average person who’s looking to, you know, stay fit, stay in shape and from weight maintenance especially. So if you really want to maintain your weight, you have to. That’s that’s one of the pillars of how we’ve identified lean body fitness versus a fitness approach grounded in weightlifting. And the difference is that once you gain, once you lose weight and you formulate this lean body, you get the metabolic change as a result of consistent aerobic output inside your body. You’re not going to gain weight after that. And that’s the idea. I mean, the goal is for you to know that somebody would use our app or somebody would read the lean body manual and basically never need another workout or diet program again, because these routines that we’re giving people, they’re not like we’re not no one’s going to reinvent the wheel with fitness. I mean, there’s certain routines, certain a certain way of eating that when you do it, you’re able to stay fit and maintain your weight and not need all of the hundreds of books in Barnes and Noble. And the you know, the fitness industry is a multibillion dollar industry. I mean, how did it get to that point? I mean, if people were pursuing simple routines, logical nutritional strategies, there wouldn’t be a need for all of this.
Peter Bowes: [00:27:20] You say it’s the only fitness book that people will ever need. You’re very confident about that. What about someone might look on from outside and say, well, science and knowledge changes and evolves? Are you open to the possibility that some of your ideas could change with time?
Jon Pearlman: [00:27:37] Well, actually, on the back of the book, it says it’s the only fitness book you will ever need if you’re serious about leaning down, getting shredded and keeping the weight off forever.
Peter Bowes: [00:27:46] Right.
Jon Pearlman: [00:27:46] So, look, I’m not I’m not the only fitness book. If you want to if you want to get big, if you want to get bulky, if you want to, you know, have more weight and mass on you than any ancestor of the human race ever had before in any in any other time period of human history, by all means, go log on to, you know, the hundreds of supplement companies that are offering you, you know, artificial processed whey protein powder, you know, to put down your throat and, you know, start to intake, you know, the ten chicken breasts a day that they’re telling you to do, you know, fueling the meat industry. And the point is, is my book is the I’ve perfected a very niche approach to fitness, I would say. And it’s the lean body, lean fitness mentality that, you know, we’ve talked a lot about already. And we’ve delved into some of the details of. But, yeah, I think it is I think if you if somebody were to buy this book and they were really serious about lean down, they were really serious about maintaining a solid weight, you know, getting down to a lean body weight and keeping it there. I think that the routines, you know, in the book were the the workouts that we offer on the Mission app. I mean, if you do these workouts, you know, I don’t think you will need anything ever again. I mean, and we’ve seen it with many of the subscribers. And also I mean, I’m a personal trainer. I’m an ACE certified personal trainer and fitness nutrition specialist. And I’ve trained personal clients as well who have undertaken these strategies and who who have actually transformed their bodies for life. Like they they don’t need me anymore because they know the routines and they know the they’ve, you know, are using the nutritional strategies and approaches. And it’s working and it’s it’s you know, and that’s the hope is that someone doesn’t need anything ever again.
Peter Bowes: [00:29:28] And I get a sense that perhaps before people even start, let’s say they were planning to work with you as a personal trainer, they need to get straight in their own minds what they are doing it for. Is it for looking better? Is it for running the marathon? Is it athletic prowess in a certain direction? Is it to bulk up and look muscly. There has to be a certain psychological, I think, train of thought to get people in the right frame of mind to then embark on that journey.
Jon Pearlman: [00:29:58] Exactly, yeah, you I think if before you, you know, download the Mission Lean app or do Mission Lean or whether you do any other fitness program, I think that’s a great point, Peter. I think people need to sit down and say, what what am I really what is my goal with this? So, like like I said, if your goal is to get big and bulky and have huge muscles, Mission Lean isn’t for you, then you need to find another route. But no, I think that kind of tying this back into my own experience as as, you know, a top tennis player at Harvard and competing on the pro circuit, I think when you think about what is the point of Mission Lean and what is the point of the lean body manual, what what area of fitness am I focusing on? I think it’s one word. It’s performance. Basically, we’re trying to create a program where you you gain the most from from everything you input in the sense of translating to your performance, not just with fitness, but in life. I mean, when you train in this way with, you know, in an aerobics strenuous way and you get in a great sweat in your workout and you train in the high intensity interval method, in the types of workouts we have on Mission Lean, you gain an edge not just physically, but also mentally. I think that I’ve also experienced this as well. Once I started to have have an amazing aerobic output with my workouts transitioning away from the weight based training, I started to think a lot clearer. I started to have a mental edge when I was at Harvard. I started to perform better on exams. So it’s it’s I think you need to look for a program that’s going to give you an edge in performance, not just in fitness, but in life.
Peter Bowes: [00:31:36] Let’s talk a bit more about the app. You’ve mentioned it several times and I’m curious and I talked in the introduction about how times are changing and clearly Covid for a lot of people has changed the way in which we interact with a personal trainer or at least some sort of formalized regime that we are following and using an app, I think, to a lot of people is still an alien way to achieve ultimate fitness. It feels perhaps very impersonal. So maybe you take me through how it works and how people can benefit.
Jon Pearlman: [00:32:06] Yeah. So on the mission line app, we have a lot of offerings. So for example, like I mentioned to you, we have a special program that we formulated for ages 60 and over and older adults called the Age Defying Workout. So there aren’t many products out there. And we had to we recognize the demand in the market for this type of training for for older adults. And so we created a specialized program for older adults, you know, targeting low impact moves, but still structured in the high intensity interval method that we have on all of our workouts with Mission Lee. And I think that if somebody logs into the app so, for example, right away they have access to a three month workout and meal plan that they can access right away. So if somebody’s really committed to undertaking a structured program, they can log in there and and every day for three months, you have your workout, you have lean recipes and a meal plan that you can follow right there. But at the same time, we have hundreds of workouts on the app. So if somebody’s looking, for example, a no equipment, body weight work out that they can do from home, we have hundreds of On Demand workouts that somebody can just click right into and do right away.
Jon Pearlman: [00:33:22] And so that gives somebody a variety of, you know, options on a given day or a general strategy for how they want to use it. And then also, you know, in terms of eating, we also have many lean recipes. Again, are our diet is a well-rounded approach, I would say similar to to a Mediterranean style diet, because research has shown that when you work out in this aerobically intense way, 80, 85 percent of your calories used for energy come from carbohydrates. If you can get into this heart rate zone that I’m talking about. And so carbs, you know, I hope, you know, I hope nobody is falling for the keto diet because a lot of research has come out that the Keto Diet and high protein diets are really harmful to people, especially from a longevity standpoint. So, again, our diet gives you well-rounded recipes that you can follow and also a lot of nutrition coaching videos and also lifestyle hack’s videos giving you advice on because it’s not just what you eat Peter, it’s how you eat. In other words, how you can use different strategies to start to eat healthier and make improvements in your diet. And with the nutrition coaching component of the app. That’s what we hope to teach people.
Peter Bowes: [00:34:38] It’s not just what it’s it’s how and when you eat as well. At the time of day, as increasingly we’re learning, it is crucially important. And you talked earlier about perhaps doing your first workout on an empty stomach or very minimal small breakfast. And I know just from personal experience that is hugely helpful to me. I get up in the morning of a cup of coffee and then head off for an hour-long hike with my dog and actually feel much better at the end of that, if I get up, have the coffee and breakfast and then go for the hike. I don’t feel so great during the hike. Clearly, your blood is rushing to your stomach to help you digest the food. And these details are crucially important as we approach our daily regime and a regime that spends over, let’s say, 12 to 14 hours.
Jon Pearlman: [00:35:22] Yeah, Peter, that’s a great point. And I’m glad you brought up the breakfast thing, because that’s that’s a huge error that a lot of people are making, is you don’t really you should eat no breakfast or if you have to eat something, if you wake up in the morning and you have particular hunger, which I think most people getting up in the morning don’t have a pressing hunger, you know, the breakfast should be very light. I think that, you know, I think that a lot of these cereal companies have, you know, pushed onto the American consumer this notion that, you know, you got to start the day off strong with a big breakfast. And it’s actually from a peak performance standpoint in terms of getting the most out of your morning workout. And also from a weight, a weight management standpoint, you know, a lot of people talk about intermittent fasting, for example. That’s a big buzzword these days. You know, they’re talking about the benefits of intermittent fasting and why it’s great. And there’s a lot of research on it. But no one’s really talking about, well, how can you actually successfully implement intermittent fasting every day? And the only way to do it, Peter, and this is from personal experience and also working with many clients and feedback, getting feedback from people who are reading the Lean Body Manual and using the Mission Lean app that the only way to successfully implement intermittent fasting every day is to avoid eating breakfast, getting in a solid workout in the morning, and then more or less eating your first meal after waking up. You know, when you when you experience that pressing hunger around, let’s say, 1030, 11, you know, at that time, and then you more or less start to only eat if you do this successfully. Only two to three oh, sorry, only two meals a day instead of three.
Peter Bowes: [00:37:05] I think a lot of it’s psychological as well. You know, for me, my first meal of the day, which I still consider breakfast, is still breaking my fast. Is it about nine o’clock in the morning? But that’s having got up early and gone for a long hike can and come home. It’s still my first meal of the day and it looks like breakfast. It’s oats and fruits and good healthy stuff. So I think if you tried to suggest people that you’re not going to have a breakfast that almost puts up a psychological barrier that they have to get over, maybe it’s just a use of words that’s important here.
Jon Pearlman: [00:37:36] Yeah, I think that people love their breakfast foods, whether it’s eggs or yogurt or, you know, granola, whatever your breakfast food is. I’m not telling you, you know, you can still have, quote unquote breakfast. Just push it, push that meal later. So, you know, get in your workout ideally on an empty stomach first and eat eat all of your breakfast foods, eat an omelet and just eat it a little later. Push it later after you’ve gotten in a great workout in the morning.
Peter Bowes: [00:38:02] Yeah. And you mentioned intermittent fasting and I’d be interested in your view on this. Intermittent fasting, I think is quite a confusing term. It’s almost an umbrella term that can include lots and lots of different regimes, people that live on a on one meal a day, a 23-1 regime, 23 hours of fasting, and then 1 hour where they eat. That’s described as intermittent fasting. Those who have two meals a day like you suggest, or those on a time restricted eating regime, maybe a 16-8 regime, where you eat between certain hours. That’s termed intermittent fasting as well. And I think perhaps we need to be a little bit more focused in terms of what we’re talking about when we’re referring to fasting, which, as you imply, has become hugely popular.
Jon Pearlman: [00:38:45] My expertise and the reason we’ve had success with Mission Lean is because we’ve created a way where you can integrate your workouts with the way you’re eating. And what I mean, by the way, of eating, how you’re eating, what time you’re eating, all of that in a successful harmony between the workouts and and the nutrition. So if you’re just injured, you know, a lot of people are a lot of people out there don’t really take their workout seriously or they’re more focused on the diet component of health and wellbeing. And, you know, maybe they don’t work out consistently every day. I think that those types of intermittent fasting routines where, you know, they only eat for an hour, one hour a day or, you know, these more extreme approaches to intermittent fasting. Because, I mean, what I’m saying what I’m advising two meals a day. I mean, that’s not so extreme. You know, some of this stuff that you’re mentioning is a little bit more, I would say, extreme in terms of limiting food intake, limiting the hours. I think the idea with and if you, you know, in a sustainable approach to implementing intermittent fasting is to figure out an ideal harmony between working out and eating such that you minimize the amount that you eat and also are structured about the times of day when you eat, because when you, for example, when you work out, you know, a lot of times and this was a big realization that assisted me in transformed transforming my own body is that, you know, a lot of times you’ll be hungry. You know, you’ll start to feel the hunger in your belly a little bit. If you go right into a workout with a little bit of hunger, it’s a good thing because you’re the blood will come out of your stomach and start to circulate into the muscles and the hunger will go away. And so a lot of times I advise my clients, if, you know, if it’s if it’s the evening, let’s say and, you know, you start to feel hunger coming on, maybe you can jump into a workout for 15 minutes. You know, the hunger goes away and then it could just be a short workout. But then you you go for it. Let’s just say a 10 minute bike ride, 15 minute bike ride, then come back. And when you sit at the table, you know, you have a much better gauge of your appetite. You’ve also extended the lifespan of the calories from your prior meal because you’ve made them last an extra hour or two because you got that workout in. And again, hunger won’t come on right after the workout. It will probably take between 30 to 45 minutes to get hungry again. So you can find a great balance between exercise and eating to to gain the most from intermittent fasting. And that’s our expertise and what I talk about in the lean body manual and what we advise on Mission Lean. I mean, a more extreme approach, not integrating exercise. I’m not that familiar with that.
Peter Bowes: [00:41:32] But it’s so true what you say. And having personally experimented with a number of fasting regimes, it is interesting how and encouraging how the hunger waves do come and go. And you can ride out hunger for a short period of time and almost become distracted by exercise or indeed some sort of mental activity. And that wave of hunger just disappears. And it’s only what it tells me that I don’t need to be constantly eating. I don’t need to be constantly snacking to satisfy that need that hunger that I think I have but can be surpassed. The other thing I would say is and I think you hopefully you would agree with this, is that I would advise anyone considering changing the diet regime or indeed their exercise regime significantly, is that they should speak to their doctor, the professional health provider, first of all, and just get checked out because we’re all very different and we all responding in different ways to these interventions.
Jon Pearlman: [00:42:28] Yeah, no, that’s right. But it’s true, Peter. Sometimes you’ll be more inclined to snack or, you know, periodically snacking if you don’t if you don’t go into a workout because going into a workout, especially one that gets your heart rate elevated and starts to pump the blood throughout your muscles, is going to you’re going to find that if you if you do this, hunger will dissipate and you can really control your hunger by structuring when you workout and also how you workout.
Peter Bowes: [00:42:59] Jon, one thing I’m curious about, people using the app. One thing that you I think going through, going to a gym, perhaps going with your friends, is the motivation of having your peers alongside you, perhaps on those days when you’re not really feeling it, the encouragement to get to the gym or perhaps you set a target to run a 10K together, it’s that personal encouragement and that human contact that sometimes keeps you going with an exercise regime. Can you get that from an app?
Jon Pearlman: [00:43:28] I think that you have to have a certain level of motivation and discipline if you want to get the best results from an app. I mean, look, Peter, I mean, if there’s no replacement for an incredibly experienced, knowledgeable personal trainer, you know, meeting with you every day and taking you under their wing and pushing you and your workout. But at the end of the day, I think that if you can use, you know, the Mission Lean or another fitness app that you like to actually make big strides in your fitness and health, I think that’s going to make you mentally tougher even in the end, because I think that it takes at the end of the day, if you you know, people a lot of people out there, it’s like, you know, New Year’s comes around and there’s the New Year’s resolution to get fit. And there’s ebbs and flows to somebodies commitment and motivation to getting fit and getting healthy. But I think that if somebody is really serious about doing it, I think that, you know, an app is useful and can can help guide them towards achieving great results. I think that also, like from the standpoint of, you know, allowing my expertise in inline fitness to help as many people as possible out there, the app has been instrumental in allowing me to do that because again, with the Lean Body Manual, I published the book in 2017. And, you know, I’ve gotten some great sales on it. And we did some publicity in the beginning. But, you know, there’s only so many people that are going to read a book and also as we talked about, there’s so many different books about fitness out there that it’s it’s tough to really find the right one and, you know, sort through the mess. And so I think that from from the standpoint of the app, we realized myself and my wife, who’s who’s the co-founder of the company, that we could reach people and really transform people’s mindsets and get them to focus on this lean approach to fitness and get great results from it through an interactive style app like like that we have. And again, I mean, the video, you know, some apps out there have simulations. They have, you know, different things that might not be as user friendly. I mean, we we realized that we wanted to stick with videos, you know, that really show you exactly how to do it and provide instructional dialog, voiceovers, everything that would make the app user friendly, so to speak, so that someone actually could follow it and get good results from it.
Peter Bowes: [00:46:00] And have you found during Covid that there’s more interest in this this way of working out using an app?
Jon Pearlman: [00:46:07] Yeah, I think that obviously with gyms closing and, you know, people are looking for at home workouts, obviously Peloton is a huge, you know, player in the market. So to get somebody to, you know, consider another app is tough. It’s tough to compete with, you know, a company like Peloton who’s running millions of dollars in ads. The thing is, is that what we’re doing is is a unique approach to fitness because of the lean body angle that we’ve taken with it. So I think that there’s been a lot of of a lot of demand and a lot of interest in apps and digital fitness platforms because of covid. But again, it’s a very it’s a very competitive space. So we’re looking to differentiate ourselves and figure out a way where we can convince people and propel people onto a lean body transformation.
Peter Bowes: [00:46:58] And, Jon, I’m just curious about your own mindset. As you get older, as you move into midlife, you’ve got this age defying section in the app for people who are older, who want to try to maybe feel younger. Do you have a mindset in terms of yourself moving forward, perhaps using and utilizing some of the lessons you’ve learned about fitness and being lean as you grow older?
Jon Pearlman: [00:47:23] Yeah, that’s a good question. I think because of the fact that I play tennis, I think tennis is a sport where you can play throughout your whole life. So me, I’ve I there’s a phrase in the book of the Lean Body manual that I, I use and it says, latch on to your inner athlete, because I think that, you know, whether you’re whether you are a high level athlete or tennis player, basketball player, soccer player, whatever, or even if you weren’t an athlete, I think that everybody has an inner athlete inside of them and you need to latch on to that in the sense of never giving up your physical routines on a daily basis. So, you know, even to this day, I live in Florida. So, I mean, it’s easier for me, but I’m able to play tennis several times a week and I’m able to find high level hitting partners. And I’ve still competed regularly in local, you know, semi-pro tournaments. And I’ve kept my my fitness and tennis level up to to par. So I, quote unquote, latched on to my inner athlete. But I think that, generally speaking, you know, if you’re able to incorporate a structured physical program into your into your life, you know, and there’s that discussion about life span versus healthspan. I mean, the idea is that you have Healthspan and you have life span because who wants to live, you know, in a compromised state if you’re if you’re not doing the things that you want to do daily? I mean, the idea is that you want to prolong your healthspan as long as possible to. And I’ve found and again, I mean, as we mentioned, I’m probably one of the younger guests on the program. But in my own experience and my experience and training clients and seeing a lot of the feedback from Mission Lean is that when people commit to a structured program, you know, a fitness program, whether it’s Mission Lean or something else, and they’re doing it consistently and motivated to do it, that that’s an incredible benefit to extending both healthspan and lifespan.
Peter Bowes: [00:49:22] Yeah, you are, as you say, one of the younger guests. But, you know, if I had to goal for a target age group of people to be listening to this podcast, it would be exactly where you are right now. I think I mentioned it earlier. People in their 20s and 30s and 40s, listening to the advice of experts and just thinking about you mentioned healthspan and and lifespans, focusing on what healthspan means. And that is perhaps feeling as good as you do in your early 30s into your 60s and 70s and maybe 80s and 90s, because throughout your lifetime you have been doing the best things possible, according to the science, to optimize your current state of health, which hopefully is going to prolong those those healthy years that you have.
Jon Pearlman: [00:50:06] Exactly. I think you’re right on the on the target on the money there, because, you know, ideally, you start from a young age and you foster these types of routines right away, right at the start of life. But with and you continue to follow them well into your 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond. With that said, though, I mean, if you you know, if you want to undergo a serious program and there’s been a gap and, you know, you’re some years have gone by and you haven’t been able to, you know, get in the type of workouts that you would have liked to and you might have let your fitness lag a little bit. It’s not it’s not too late. I mean, you can people I’ve seen incredible lean body transformations also, even with people late in life. For example, I have a client who’s 63 years old and he I was training him privately for a while. And then he I you know, things started to pick up with the business and I couldn’t any longer. And he’s he he subscribed to the Mission Lean app up and he continued to do a lot of the workouts, you know, from there. And there were also based on a lot of the training we had done together, and he lost about 15 to 20 pounds, you know, and I would say about a six to nine month period. And and this was about a year ago. And he’s kept it off. And he’s he made the determination that he’s he never wants to, you know, go back to the way he was before. And he, you know, and he has a certain commitment and dedication to it. And that’s what it takes. And so the point is, you know, if you’re young and you have the the routines built into you, yeah, don’t ever stop them. But at the same time, it’s you can always take the initiative to to achieve some incredible results if you have the commitment.
Peter Bowes: [00:51:47] Yeah, I think that’s a great point you make. And the phrase used it’s never too late is crucially important for people of all ages. But as you say, if you’re getting older and you feel as if you’ve lost, you can start again and you can achieve great things. Jon, this has been a really fascinating, inspiring conversation. Thank you very much indeed.
Jon Pearlman: [00:52:05] Thanks for having me.
Peter Bowes: [00:52:07] And if you’d like to find out more about Jon’s book, The Lean Body Manual and Mission Lean and MissionLean.com, I’ll put the details into the show notes for this episode at the Live Long and Master Aging website. You’ll find it at LLAMApodcast.com LLAMApodcast.com – in social media you’ll find us @LLAMAPodcast. You can contact me at @PeterBowes. The LLAMA podcast is a Healthspan Media Production. A quick reminder, we’re available at all of the major podcasting platforms, including Apple Podcasts, where you can rate and reviews us – wherever you find us, take care and thanks so much for listening.