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Can Everyone Learn Seemingly SuperHuman Acrobatic Feats? Yuri Marmerstein Tells Us How

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In this episode of the SuperHuman Academy podcast, I host Mr. Yuri Marmerstein, an acrobat and gymnast who has made a name for himself as one of the authorities on hand balancing. Yuri’s feats, which you can see in the video below, are absolutely superhuman, but what’s more impressive is that despite spending some time training with greats like Kit Laughlin, Olympian Valentin Kirichenko, and Christopher Sommer, Yuri is largely self taught, and is teaching people all over the world to perform these seemingly superhuman feats by themselves.

What he offers, then, is a very unique perspective on learning incredible acrobatic and physical feats from someone who was not born into it, and who hasn’t trained since the age of 4, like most of the elite gymnasts you may have seen. This interview is very technical and nerdy, and we go very deep into some of the skills and the path to learning them. But, if you’ve ever dreamed of standing on one hand, doing double backflips, or any other seemingly superhuman gymnastic skills, you’ll find the interview to be really fascinating and encouraging. I hope you find it very interesting, and of course, I welcome your feedback in the comments section below if you'd like to see more of these types of interviews.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • Yuri's path to becoming an acrobat, gymnast, and performer
  • What brought Yuri to become one of the foremost authorities on hand balancing
  • The psychological requirements behind seemingly “superhuman” feats like tumbling or handstands
  • How Yuri went from an “not athletic” teenager to a performing gymnast and expert in such a short time
  • Insights into the world of circus and performing arts
  • What types of tools Yuri uses to train his students
  • The most important thing to learn before you start learning tumbling
  • How important raw strength is in acrobatics and tumbling
  • Some practical tips for starting to learn handstands
  • How Yuri prevents injury and the importance of good warmup habits
  • Some tips for strengthening your wrists and hands to prepare for tumbling
  • The role of ego and judgement in physical injury
  • Yuri's nutrition and supplementation regimen
  • The 3 biggest mistakes people make with regards to their physical health
  • The most impactful habits you can apply today to improve your health and mobility
  • Standing workstations
  • How to choose which exercise program(s) you should be engaging in
  • Deliberately creating muscle imbalances or deficits for one's sport of choice
  • What's Yuri working on right now
  • How much should one train, and knowing when to stop
  • What are the first steps for learning gymnastic skills?

Our Favorite Quotes:

“The more body awareness you have, the less strength you actually have to use.”
“Most injuries are not necessarily from being underprepared – it's more just awareness.”
“A big part of it is being able to shut down your ego and knowing when to quit.”
“If you're willing to sacrifice a little ankle health for $50M a year… go for it!”

Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

As promised, a video of Yuri demonstrating his amazing abilities

Transcript:

Introduction: Welcome to the Becoming SuperHuman Podcast. Where we interview extraordinary people to bring you the skills and strategies to overcome the impossible. And now here's your host, Jonathan Levi.

Jonathan Levi: Hey there SuperFriends and welcome to the Becoming SuperHuman Podcast. This is your host, Jonathan Levi. My guest today is Mr. Yuri Marmerstein. An acrobat and gymnast. Who's made a name for himself as one of the foremost authorities on hand balancing. Yuri's feats, which you can see on his YouTube channel are absolutely SuperHuman. But what's more impressive is that despite spending some time training with greats, like Keith Laughlin, Olympian Valentin, Cuter Chenko, and Christopher Sommer.

Yuri is largely self-taught and he's teaching people all over the world to perform these seemingly superhuman feats by themselves. What he offers then is a very unique perspective on learning incredible acrobatic and physical feats from someone who was not born into it. And who was not trained since the age of four, like most of the elite gymnasts you may have seen.

This interview is very technical and a little bit nerdy, and we go very deep into some of the skills and the path to learning them. But if you've ever dreamed of standing, on one hand, doing double back flips or any other seemingly superhuman gymnastic skill, you will find the interview to be really fascinating and encouraging.

So with that, it's my pleasure to welcome Mr. Yuri Marmerstein.

Yuri, welcome to the show. I'm so happy to have you today and thanks so much for making the time.

Yuri Marmerstein: Yeah, not problem.

Jonathan Levi: So for those who aren't familiar, can you tell us a little bit about what you do?

Yuri Marmerstein: So at this point, I work as a professional Acrobat in Las Vegas, and just as well, I travel and teach seminars, um, around the US around the world.

Originally I come from a self-taught background. So I just kind of was that kid who watched too many Jackie Chan movies and started throwing cakes in his backyard. And it grew from there. And I'm very happy now that I can actually do what I'm passionate about.

Jonathan Levi: Very very cool. So let's see if I read your bio correctly, you are trained in mixed martial arts, capoeira, gymnastics, tumbling, cheerleading, weightlifting, circus arts dance. Am I missing anything?

Yuri Marmerstein: Sounds about right. I try to do a little bit of everything. I wouldn't consider myself necessarily high level in any of those categories, but, but I've definitely had the perspective of being in them.

Jonathan Levi: Amazing. So what are some of the different things you've learned from each of those disciplines that you've brought into your work?

Yuri Marmerstein: Well, one thing you learn, you think that it's all connected and it is in some way, but each skill is individually its own. So thinking that you can apply capoeira principles into gymnastics, to some degree you can, but once you understand the difference between everything you'll learn that being good at one thing does not make you good in another. And especially, I think it helps me a lot more as a teacher to learn the different perspectives of where some of my students are coming from. So for me, Weightlifting may not be a massive part of my program right now, but having experience in that makes me understand better when I have students who want to learn hand bouncing one of them acrobatics, but they come from weightlifting background.

So I can understand a little bit more of where they're coming from.

Jonathan Levi: I see. Interesting. So you mentioned a bit about your program and you mentioned a bit about hand balancing. So your training, really a lot of acrobatic skills besides hand balancing, correct?

Yuri Marmerstein: Correct.

Jonathan Levi: But I think you're most known for kind of an expert on training hand balancing. Is that fair to say?

Yuri Marmerstein: I think it's fair to say. I mean, I wouldn't, I hate to put titles on myself because I still consider myself just a student, but as it turns out, I've, I've thought a lot about this stuff and, uh, I guess more than most people care to think about it. So I would say that's fair.

Jonathan Levi:  So what is it about hand balancing? I mean, of all the skills. I mean, I also saw you're a very accomplished tumbler. I think I saw you doing the iron cross on the rings. And what is it about hand balancing? That's kind of captivated your attention.

Yuri Marmerstein: The difference is that like hand balancing? There's no way to cheat it. I'm like, I'm a very slow learner.

So for me, you know, I have to look at something I have to apply it. I have to research it. I have to go back and hand balancing. It's one of those things that no matter how talented you are, you can't just learn it the first day, but you can learn a back flip on day one. If you're strong, you can do a body weight snatch on.

I don't want to say day one, but probably with sloppy form, you can learn it pretty quickly and you can't just kick into a handstand and expect to hold it. There's so many fine-tuned adjustments you have to make. It's a body control that you don't have unless you specifically worked on it and you have to put in a lot of time, but more so than that, it's a lot of psychological limitations compared to physical.

So like, physically there's really not anything that holds most people, you know, even the average desk monkey back from doing a handstand, right? No. Yeah. Maybe their shoulders are a little bit stiff. Maybe the wrists are stiff, but there are ways around that, but it's more so that there's a psychological block and it's, what's interesting about doing handstands and teaching handstands especially is that it's not just about, ”Okay, this is the perfect form that we're trying to get to” it's about. What can we do with this body type and the psychological profile to get them holding this position safely and constantly?

Jonathan Levi: You know, I've noticed that I'm a pretty avid CrossFitter enhanced stands come up. I think today I did something like 50 handstand pushups, and I noticed that it's the people who are training with the wall who are not advancing because of exactly what you said, that the psychological is not getting trained.

If you're not learning like it's okay to fall. It's okay to move your hands. They're training with physical comfort and I guess not the psychological comfort.

Yuri Marmerstein:  It's that. And then there's, I think people didn't understand the fine-tune precision that goes into actually holding it. So like I tell people, and I'm not joking.

I, you have to move an increment of one millimeter, right. And that's, you can be one millimeter off and not be on balance. And I think most people are just kind of too brutish about the way they go about it. And it's that precision that. Like there's no way around putting in the work to be able to achieve it.

Jonathan Levi: Interesting. So I noticed you said that you're a slow learner, which I think is interesting on a couple of levels. One, because as you know, I teach a course on accelerated learning. So we're going to have to chat about that. But the other thing is I was anxious to speak to you because I saw your bio and you actually come out right ahead and say that you weren't particularly athletic as a kid.

And if memory serves, you started getting involved in acrobatics and gymnastics towards the end of high school, right?

Yuri Marmerstein: Correct.

Jonathan Levi: So that puts you at a huge disadvantage compared with some of these kids who've trained since they could walk. And I guess I'm really interested to hear a bit about your learning methodology, especially because you described yourself as a slow learner and you've closed that gap.

I mean, you're a performing gymnast and Acrobat.

Yuri Marmerstein:  I wouldn't quite say I've closed that gap, but I have very high standards and it's hard, right? If you've done something since you were a little kid and the difference with learning it as a kid is that you will learn something whether you want to, or not.

Kids are hard-wired to just automatically learn anything. And then the difference as an adult is that you tend to resist learning. Once you pass that certain age and it's usually around 11 or 12, where you think, you know something about the world that the learning process completely changes with myself.

Unfortunately, I had no method. I had no program. I had maybe a couple of people who could like do a back flip and I could wash them and ask questions and they didn't really know what they were talking about that much either. So it was a lot of self-experimentation. So I basically spent the first like four or five years of my training, basically doing everything wrong and learning terrible habits. And then once I learned what those habits were, I had to spend another few years trying to fix them. Some of those habits, I haven't completely safe. So, but again, it's, there's different worlds and in the world of gymnastics, let's say, and I never competed, I don't plan on competing. I love gymnastics.

I love the control of the body you have to have, but as an athlete, especially at a high level, there's a huge price. So in gymnastics, it's about doing the biggest trick possible. When you enter the circus role, for example, you have to understand that most of the people watching can't count how many twists you did.

They have no idea. So in circus world, actually the tricks that looked the best are usually simpler ones. So it's not about necessarily. And again, there's different levels. Some people, it is about doing the biggest trick, but usually, it's not the biggest trick that looks the best. It's the simple ones that people can understand.

So it's about making those look good.

Jonathan Levi: Right. And kind of the extreme control. That you see, especially with a lot of the Chinese circus performers, you see this. Unbelievable level of control over the body.

Yuri Marmerstein: When it comes into as well. Like for example, I have done tons of auditions and a lot of hands-on competing with that, especially when I auditioned for a syrup a couple of years ago, I did both the martial arts and the gymnast audition and the gymnast audition was like, you know, kids in their early twenties who were literally fresh from competition.

Um, so I still got cut. I made it a lot farther actually than some of the higher level gymnasts, the differences that I through simple stuff, but I threw stuff that I knew I could do a hundred percent land clean, no question. And all of these guys were throwing big tricks that I wasn't necessarily comfortable doing, but they were crashing and they were getting frustrated.

So. There are different levels of that and different levels of refinement, but I don't want to say closing the gap, but there are things you can do that make you look better, even though you don't have the same skill level necessarily.

Jonathan Levi: So It's a bit of the kind of, I think Tim Ferriss calls it the minimal effective dose, figuring out what that 20% is.

He gives the example of when he was a salsa dancer or he was competing as a salsa dancer and he would take these very long leg strokes that are just, you know, 20% of the skill of leading as a salsa dancer. But it made 80% of the difference, essentially how the judges perceived him. Is it kind of that situation in gymnastics?

Yuri Marmerstein: Not as much in gymnastics, but more so in the performing arts world, again, gymnastics, especially competing at a high level, it's a completely different beast and the stuff that these guys are doing, so you can't match it. But as an audience watching it, it may not be as impressive looking because most people won't appreciate the actual difficulty of the skill.

Jonathan Levi: Right, right. That's true.

Yuri Marmerstein:  So for example, A friend of mine, you know, he posted, uh, just an act he did on, I don't even know how to call it. It's like an aerial hoop with a cane. So you look at the audience reactions. He did like a one-arm sequence where he y'all went to meet hook and switch back and forth.

And then he did one pass where he just hung from one arm and went up and down. And that got the biggest applause. When literally he's just hanging from one arm, but the audience, they can connect with that a lot better because it makes sense to them.

Jonathan Levi:  I see. You remind me, actually, I heard this great interview with Edo Portel and he talks about gymnast and he says, you know, you can't even play on the same playground as these kids, these kids aren't human, right.

It's a totally different level of strength that they're exhibiting. And most people can't even understand it much less match it. Which I just think is so incredible. So when you train people, what's in your toolkit, mean what are kind of some of the essential items or gear that you need to get people, you know, up on their hands doing flips stuff like that.

Yuri Marmerstein: Honestly, nothing. I'm very minimalist. As far as that goes. I mean, if I have a floor. It depends on what we're doing. Right. If we have handstands, literally just a floor in a wall, and then there's a lot we can do. If we have, let's say a bar or a pair of rings to hang from, I do a lot of stuff with rubber bands as well, as far as like prehab rehab, stuff like that.

Jonathan Levi: Yeah. Mobility type stuff.

Yuri Marmerstein: Yeah. With tumbling. And again, I'm a minimalist. So I learned on the grass. I don't think no big fluffy mats are necessary if you do the progressions. Right. And again, they can be very helpful. And it's not that I won't use them, but they're not necessary because if you want to do the movement on the floor, you have to learn what the floor feels like.

And again, it's not with everyone. Some people need that comfort, but if you get too used to the comfort, then it develops a different type of fear. And anytime you have a fear or a mental block, it's a very different kind of training than actually physically working the skill. So in one of the first things, I'll teach in handstands, tumbling, or anything it's how to bail, how to fall.

You have to learn that falling is part of the process and that falling is safe. And if you can fall on a surface that isn't flush, then you'll have no problem.

Jonathan Levi:  Yeah, definitely. That was a turning point in my own handstands, you know, one time you fall and you kind of don't save yourself or you do this kind of tuck and roll and you get up and everything's okay.

And nothing's broken and suddenly it kind of changes your outlook, I guess, on the whole thing.

Yuri Marmerstein: Well, right. There's eventually you learn, especially enhancing there's different levels of an in tumbling as well, right? There's different levels of falling that you can learn to save yourself from. So eventually you'll know, okay, I'm falling this much, but I have this much recovery ability and I can still recover from that.

So there's different levels of falling in different levels of failing. And the more control you end up having the farther, you can go into a fall and still be able to recover from that. But as far as I can, the question is about equipment. As far as the equipment. You'll see this in gymnastic students a lot in the adult class, it looks nice when you have all these fancy maps to fall off of.

And again, they can be useful, but ultimately if that's not the purpose and if it's just about, you know, controlling the body and the mind compared to having more equipment to use.

Jonathan Levi: Right, how much of it is just raw strength versus coordination and kind of, I dunno, mental determination. I'm trying to understand what the breakdown is because obviously, I mean, I've seen you standing on one hand.

Draw strength is a very, very large part of it. I imagine.

Yuri Marmerstein: It's actually not. It's very little. And once you understand the technique, one of the cues that give actually does is to try to be lazy. A lot of the people I get who come from, let's say across the background, people will always fall back on what they're good at.

So people are strong. They're used to using their strengths. They overpower every movement. And as soon as they get into a position where they feel unsafe, they go right back into their strength. But the goal is actually to find a position in hand bouncing, but in tumbling and everything as well. Whereas your own body can hold you up. In tumbling, there's not really a lot of strength involved, but there's a very quick timing. And if you don't master that timing and positioning, then you don't know how to transform that. So that's when you have to use positioning rather than strength. So we talk about one arm handstand and it looks like there's a lot of strength, but it's a lot of people do use strength in it. But if you're talking about complete refinement of technique yeah. It's about finding a position where your body can hold itself up. So, yeah, there's a certain amount of shoulder strength to be able to hold everything in place, a certain amount of body tension, but it's the more body awareness you have, the less strength you actually have to use.

And the technique I try to use is to be as completely relaxed as possible. So it's. It's not about using strength. It's about knowing where your body is and knowing where to make and when to make those adjustments, the more strength to use, the easier it's going to be a little bit to balance. So there's some techniques, whether it's one arm or two arms, where you can lean into your shoulders, you can bend, you can do a lot of techniques to make yourself lower.

And it's really similar. Like if you're standing on your feet, you're doing martial arts. For example, you'd be a little bit bent, a little bit grounded in your stance. This makes it more difficult for you to lose balance. What that actually does it dampens the balancing sensations you need to feel so it allows you to reach a little bit slower, which is not what we want. Ideally, you want to be able to lockout so you can use less energy, but that requires a much faster reaction time. So there's a lot of, and it's easy to talk about handstands, a strength moves, but it's not their strength moves that come in and out of it that come from it, but the handstand itself.

So the one arm handstand is its complete skill work. It's about knowing where to position yourself. And having a very good awareness of the body and space and being able to manipulate that.

Jonathan Levi:  I imagine that for you, your wrists are very, very important. Considering you spend, a large portion of your day on them.

Yuri Marmerstein: Yeah, absolutely.

Jonathan Levi:  So how do you go about protecting your wrists and I guess, protecting your joints as a whole, are you kind of doing these crazy Chinese risks, pushups that I've seen some martial artists?

Yuri Marmerstein: Um, I did them to show off, like I watched the, all the old drunk Endura, Jackie Chan movies, drunken masters, making me go shadow all of that.

So it's all of those. It's more of a party trick than I think, but I do have a very extensive wrist and finger sequence that I use. Because not only am I gripping the forum on my hands, but I'm an aerialist as well. So I do a lot of hanging, which is even more grip work. So I do a lot of soft tissue work on the wrist and forearms by again, my wrist and fingers sequence that I use when I teach it, it takes over half an hour just to explain all of the movements, but it hits every angle of the wrist.

It hits places that you didn't think could be stretched.

Jonathan Levi: Wow. So this is a warm-up routine, or it's a strengthening routine for the wrist.

Yuri Marmerstein: It's both, it's a warmup, but it improves both range of motion and strengthening in those ranges of motion. And again, it doesn't, it takes me maybe five minutes to do it because I have it down.

But if I'm teaching it, it takes half an hour or more just to explain all the different variations. And again, when you're teaching a group, you'll have different people who are less flexible or more flexible or who can demonstrate different ranges. And it's all that. One ancient particular. It's not something I noticed when I was coaching kids.

So I would love to go back and see what the numbers are. But in adults I noticed it's about 50 50, where there's two-finger flexibilities, right? There's one where it's the wrist in relation to the forearm. And then the fingers in relation to the hand. And I noticed that about 50% of adults are missing the flexibility of getting the fingers 90 degrees in relation to the meat of the hand.

Jonathan Levi: Uh, yep. Guilty. I'm doing it right now. And I'm getting about 80 degrees.

Yuri Marmerstein: And that actually makes a huge difference in the handstand dock because the hand position that you want requires that flexibility and people who are missing, that they can't put enough of their hands on the floor to make as powerful as the grip, which means they don't have as much surface area contacting the floor and then balances, they can still balance, but it's a little bit more difficult. It's like if you were to overpronate if you were to over supinate your ankles and be on the outside of the foot, it's kind of a similar sensation where you can still balance that you have less surface area. So you can't feel the floor as well.

Jonathan Levi: Interesting. It makes a lot of sense.

Yuri Marmerstein: But just as well, I'll use the gyroball is awesome. I thought, you know, it was a gimmick, it was a toy and I find it, I'm like, Oh, this is a great grip and risk form up

Jonathan Levi: The gyro. That's the one that kind of rotates in your hand. Interesting.

Yuri Marmerstein: So that's great. And that's easy to travel with. The rice bucket is not easy to travel with, but I think it's fantastic for wrist rehab for strengthening your hands and fingers from every angle.

The idea of the rice bucket is that you jammed your hands in and you're moving them around, but any direction you move in the rice acts of viscous fluid and it resists you. So you get resistance from every direction. And again, that's more of a Kung Fu thing on your hands into rice, but very effective, I think for a risk strengthened rehab.

Jonathan Levi: That's really cool. It actually makes me wonder because you've mentioned now bands and you've mentioned also soft tissue work. I recently wrote an article on art and foam rolling and voodoo flossing. And. All that stuff. And I'll put it in the show notes for people who have no idea what the hell we're talking about at this point, but it's definitely at the forefront of my mind, mobility that we've already kind of covered a little bit with the risks, but also injury prevention.

So I'm wondering a bit about kind of for the rest of your body. Obviously, wrists are a very sensitive point, but how are you keeping the rest of your body functioning? Optimally, are you spending a lot of time on foam rollers? Give me an idea of that.

Yuri Marmerstein: Oh, I spent time on foam rollers. So I was unlucky or lucky in the sense that I had a few, I was very lucky that I never had a serious injury I needed to have surgery for, but I was close a couple of times and it was like a good wake up call that.

Okay. You know, I'm in my early twenties, I want to be able to do this for a long time. I love what I do. So what can I do to not be injured again? And of course, that's relative, you still get injured. There's somethings you can't prevent. But just learning how every part of the body works and where it sits when it comes down to more, it's not so much protocol, but it's awareness.

Like I've noticed it's not something I really understood when I was younger, but I have very loose joints. You know, my knees, my ankle. My shoulders, they pop out of socket when I don't want them to. See my shoulders. Like I have to be very aware of it when they're in and out of the socket. And some days I have to set them before they feel like they can really take it a good load.  So there's, again, there's different protocols. I do a lot of joint rotations, a lot of type stuff as a warmup, or just even during the day when I'm standing just basic stretches. So that's kind of a consistent thing. And then just like falling, you know, that there's a certain injury or tweak and certain protocols that you have for them.

So if I were to tweak my shoulder, there's a protocol that immediately I'd use that involves against some bad work, some blood flow work, etc, etc. Like a couple of months ago I was in jujitsu class and I don't know how, but I sprained my ankle again right away. So, okay, well, what can I do around that?

How can I still train? And then how can I train while we having this injury as much as I can, but most injuries, I think they're not necessarily from being under-prepared it's more just awareness and anything you do, you have to know the risk involved and is it worth it? And again, looking back at most of the injuries that I've had in my time, it was like, should I have done that trick without warming up?

Probably not, maybe I should have taken some more time, but that's what it comes down to. And most of the injuries that I've had were just, they weren't from not being prepared, like yeah, could have done more ankle and more risks, work, more knee work, but more so they're just from being stupid.

Jonathan Levi: Yep, I knew that I was beyond the limit of what my wrist wanted to be doing when I injured it.

And, you know, I said, Oh, there's a 20% chance that I'm not going to get completely injured right now. You know? And low and behold, you know, a month later I'm still babying it.

Yuri Marmerstein:  And honestly, a big part of it is being able to shut down your ego and knowing when to quit, like when to stop for the day and you can stop for the day and still be able to train the next day.

Or you can do that a little bit more. And it's always right. Coming from a tricking back on, you know, where to go. Take a bunch of, pre-workouts go do a late-night gym session, you know, they're shutting off the lights. Well like ” no no no one more trick” and it's that one more trick is when people die.

Jonathan Levi: So another question we've covered the prehab, posthab, all that stuff.

I'm really curious about your nutrition because you know, obviously, your body mechanics are very important. And I imagine if you add weight or take off weight here and there. Throws things off quite a bit. So what diet are you following? What are you recommending to your students?

Yuri Marmerstein:  It's like anything.

There's no one thing that I've learned from trying a lot of different stuff is that. There's nothing universal, nothing will work for everyone. And that's some of the articles that I've seen as well about diet is like, what they found is that human beings can thrive on a variety of different diets.

There's nothing. So for a while, I was strict paleo and I followed all the different stuff right now. I wouldn't say I'm strict, anything I follow more or less paleo. And then, you know, a little bit of carbs thrown in there. White rice. Keene Wasson, you know, dark rye bread and what I've been told by some people as well as that as you get older and your immune system gets a little bit compromised.

There's certain foods that start to give you an allergic reaction. And in my late twenties, I'm just starting to take that out. It's just still a constant process, but I mean, In my recommendation. If you can cook the majority of your own food, you're much better off than you are 99% of the people out there.

You can actually buy ingredients and put your food together, then you know, what's going into it and you know, it's your own work and your own labor. One thing that I try to do is just avoid eating out as much as I can just try to cook for myself, almost every meal.

Jonathan Levi: Wow. It takes quite a bit of discipline.

Yuri Marmerstein: Once you get used to it, it's rather enjoyable.

Jonathan Levi: Yeah, no, I'm a big fan of cooking as well.

It's just, I tend to like to cook in bulk. So, uh, you know, I'll cook Indian food from scratch, which is a fairly decent amount of work. I'll try to cook enough for six or so meals and then I'll kind of freezer pack them for quick consumption.

Right. What about nutritional supplements? Do you take any, do you recommend any?

Yuri Marmerstein: I do some, but it's not, I wouldn't say I have a pharmacy that I'm always dipping into. Um, you, I did some multivitamins. I'll do some protein powders. I'll mix in some BCAs creatine here and there. . I wouldn't say there's anyone that really made a massive difference, but like anything I'm always, I'm constantly messing around.

I'm constantly experimenting with it, but I definitely don't. I don't rely too heavily on the supplements. You know, if they're there, they're there and I'll take them, but a part of it might just be psychological. But if the back of my head thinks they're working, they might be doing something.

Jonathan Levi:  Sure. One of the only ones, yeah, for me, that has really made a difference has been beta-alanine, which kind of essentially prevents you from getting sore and thereby allows you to train harder.

Sooner that one makes a really huge difference for me, but the rest of them, I mean, I can't say that I could isolate the performance difference from creatine or even protein powder. I mean, if you're eating a high protein diet, it's kind of superfluous, I've found. What do you think are the three biggest mistakes that people are making when it comes to their fitness and health?

Yuri Marmerstein: Three? Okay. So one is put, trying to put a timeframe on something. They said, okay, I want to learn the skill. I want to learn a handstand by the end of this month, the end of this year. That's the frame of thought that I think we'll get someone very far, because what happens in that timeframe is over, right.

Or what happens when you've achieved that skill? What do you think is achieving that skill? And it's something like a handstand it's like. You know, a few years ago, I said, I want to achieve the one arm handstand and I've learned a lot, but I don't think it's like, the more you learn, the more you find that there is to go.

So if you really committed about something, whatever goal that may be losing weight and running five miles, getting one arm handstand, that should be a part of your lifestyle. It shouldn't be something you just put aside into a timeframe.

Jonathan Levi:  Right although you called me out, I have a board here full of all these things that I want to be able to do within the next six months, you know, like 50 double unders, I want to get into half Lotus, then get into full Lotus and you know, the straddle press. But I can see the logic in what you're saying that like, you kind of have to be compassionate with your body.

Yuri Marmerstein: Yeah. It's about that. I mean, have the skills in mind, but I hate that idea of setting timeframes. You know, there's so many stuff out there where you.

Learn this and X amount of time. And it's like, realistically, to learn any skill properly, you have to give it a couple of years. I know like I take some dance classes, right. And some of the questions, you know, the ballet instructor gets, for example, they go, well, how long is it going to take me to hold my leg up as high as you maybe do ballet all your life and then find out.

But it's like, it's the same. Like I've gotten the question it's like, well, when can I expect to hold a handstand in the middle of the room? Like. I don't know when you put the work in.

Jonathan Levi: Right. I get that same question with the accelerated learning and the speed reading class. It's like, well, when, you know, when am I going to be able to remember a list of 30 items in two minutes?

Well, you know, I don't know. You start from a different place than everyone else starts. . You know, and I have no idea how much work you're actually putting in. I know for me to be able to do that, it's like a hell of a lot of work. So.

Yuri Marmerstein:  Yeah. And in my experience, like I knew if I wanted to do something, I knew I wanted to do that.

And how long it took me, didn't matter. Right. It took me to learn a backflip probably about six months. And, uh, you know, that involves a lot of jumping to the side. A lot of landing on my head, a lot of watching the couple videos that were out there at the time on it. And when I learned that I had all these bad habits, I would squat low, throw my head to the side still.

So what do you call learning that? You know, I learned it on, I could land it, but maybe it would be another couple of years before it was cleaned to what my standards are today. Right. So if I, and it's some people I've taught back with, again in one day who were athletic enough, we could get over that fear.

And write one day versus a couple of years, but if you're really serious about something that time doesn't matter, it becomes a part of your lifestyle. Right. And that goes into kind of number two, is they kind of separate what of their goal is separate, separated from their life to say, so, you know, I want to, whatever I want to lose weight, but I'm going to work and then I'm going to work on my cardio, but they're kind of interchangeable or this last, last point. And this point is that in my, I think the reason that I've seen, I don't want to say success because that's a very broad topic, but some of the reasons that I've seen some successes, that I've always had a very obsessive personality. So, if I wanted to do something, it wasn't just in the back of my head.

It was a part of my life actively. Like when I was learning what arm handstands and obsessed with them, I would lean against the wall, just standing and waiting for something and pretend that I was balancing, you know, on that one arm and moving my fingers between my hand around. So it was whatever I wanted to do was not just who I wasn't.

I was training, but it was a part of my everyday life. So you have to think 24\7, right? You're always training. You're always recovering. What can you be doing for that?

Jonathan Levi: Right. And it's a holistic approach.

Yuri Marmerstein: Yeah, absolutely. It's not something that necessarily has to take time out of your day, but you have to always be thinking about where you're trying to get to.

Jonathan Levi: That's so interesting. Well, and they say like physical performance gains, they don't happen in the gym. They happen, you know, when you're sleeping and they happen in the kitchen. Right. And so it's like all the other things that you're doing with your body are really going to make the bulk of the difference so that your training is effective, that, you know, 10% of your time you spend training or probably in your case significantly more than 10%.

But you know, it's about making that time effective and not reversing the progress that you're doing in the gym. Every time you sit at your desk for eight hours with your hips, completely deactivated, you know?

Yuri Marmerstein: Yeah, absolutely. I had one more, a lot of people don't know how to judge progress. Right. So there's, I wrote a couple of posts on this.

I don't know how clear they were, but there's many different ways to judge progress. And one of them is okay. I learned a new skill. Right. I learned a new trick, but what about the tricks you do have, you know, how much better can you do them? The entries, the approaches, a lot of people in their quest for whatever their goals are.

They're not really, they only see progress as a linear pattern and they only see, okay. If I can do a handstand press. And I have that goal. What about holding the bottom of the press? What about holding isometric? What about a negative press? What about just holding a handstand cleaner, less movement? So if you, there is a Louis West podcast.

So Louis West again, amazing Acrobat. If you've watched this video, he does some amazing, amazing stuff. He had a podcast a while ago where he talked about a kind of vertical versus horizontal development. And I really liked the way he explained it. So yeah, you can learn a new skill. Where you can take the skills you have and you can develop them in a different way.

Right? You can take a cartwheel and you can learn a new skill out of that. You can do a Cartwheel to a backflip, or you can do different cartwheel variations. And there are thousands of cartwheel variations that don't necessarily, so think a lot of people in their goals are really. Clear about how to judge progress.

And in my world, for example, I haven't necessarily learned a lot of new tricks in the last year trick wise. And some people might say, well, well, you haven't gotten better. Well, a lot of the things I'm learning are about performance art, about performance, quality presentation of the tricks, you know, cleanliness, transitions, getting in and out of that.

So even if I haven't learned any new tricks, I've learned how to make the tricks that I do have count. And that still progresses where even if you understand something better, Right. That's still progress. A lot of people think that you know, the only way I'll make progress is if I lose 20 pounds, if I hit that five-mile mark, if I hit a double bodyweight snatch.

And again, there's many different levels. So you can't get discouraged if you didn't hit that goal, because there's still progress that has probably been made, uh, just through the learning process of trying to get them.

Jonathan Levi: Definitely. Definitely. I think a lot of times people hit a plateau and decide I was actually reading a book yesterday about language, learning of all things.

And just, how do you, you know, once you're functional at a language or in this case, a skill, like I can go up on my hands, I can walk all that stuff. It's super hard to motivate yourself to go to that next level. You know, it's much more tempting to try something new, like the straddle press or the one-arm handstand when really.

I should definitely be focusing on stability in the handstand and stuff like that.

Yuri Marmerstein:  Yeah. There's always something to work on. And that's in this world in the world of bodyweight skills. There's never a point at which you can say that, okay, I'm done, I've stopped. So there's always a level further, or there's always a level of backward that you probably haven't been to yet, which is why, like, for my seminars, I love to have all different levels, and a lot of times I'll get that right.

I'll get a lot of people who like it. We literally haven't done a handstand in their life and I'll get a couple of people who are working towards one arm. And so for the basic people, they can learn from the beginning where they should be going and what process they should follow for the advanced people.

There's still refinement that they could be doing and that they need to be doing that often overlooked and just as well, it's just as useful for the beginner to see what can happen when you get advanced. And it's just useful for the advanced practitioner to see where the basics are and maybe, you know, where they lie, where their basis could be better.

Jonathan Levi: Right. If we imagine kind of the average listener sits at home, works out three to four hours a week, sit stationary for at least 12 hours a day as most of us do. What do you think are some of the first and most impactful steps that they can take to kind of turn around their physical health specifically?

Like, daily habits or stretches that stand out to you as really, really effective.

Yuri Marmerstein: Um, I think the worst thing you can do in this situation is just to be static. So I try to, I hate sitting at the computer and I had a job where I kind of had to for a while, but I hate being static, so I always have to move.

So if I'm sitting in one position for a few minutes, I changed positions and just that act of changing positions every so often will be enough of it. To keep the body guessing, but the hip flexors are a major issue. Most people, especially with sit at desks, can't fully extend their hips, causes a lot of other issues.

So it's really simple on if you look up kit Laughlin's work, he has some great stuff. You guys standing hip flexor stretch. So literally you can stand up at your desk, you know, every, whatever 20 minutes and you can get in a hip flexor stretch, and that's already enough to counteract some of the damage you're doing.

Jonathan Levi: Right. Is that kind of like a couch stretch type thing?

Yuri Marmerstein: Um, it's more just a standing lunch, but there's a sequence to it. So think standing lunch, you don't have to go that deep, but you square off your hips. You tuck the tail. So you're not arching lower back. Right. Uh, an extension of lower backs. One of the compensations the body makes for not being able to extend the hips.

So getting up, right. So it's about squaring, your hips flattening the back and then leaning back into that leg. And once you feel that you've lost either the squareness of the hips or the lower back, you do it again, you find the position again, and then you continue leaning back. So that's a very effective stretch you can do.

And it's not. Too high profile. So if people are watching you, you probably won't get that many dirty looks. Some other stretches you can do. Uh, the other one is you can do just the seated piriformis stretch X for me, performance, actually, probably one of my tightest, basically just crossing your leg in figure four and leaning over it back and forth to the side.

And that's when you can do it in your chair.

Jonathan Levi: Yeah. I love that one. I try to sit, like I said, I'm trying to get to Lotus heaven knows if it's ever going to happen, but that's exactly what I'm doing. On the occasions when I do sit, are you a standing desk guy? I know you probably don't spend much time in front of a computer at all, but when you do.

I try, I have the chair, but I go back and forth. So maybe I'll spend a few minutes sitting in the chair. I'll take it out. I spend a few minutes kneeling. I spent a few minutes in the lunch, so it's a sitting desk, but I would say I sit in, it may be 20% of the time that I'm on the desk.

That's awesome. And I imagine in your work, I mean, if you have a lazy day and you sit in front of the TV for eight hours, You know, running a Netflix marathon, you probably can feel the difference in the tightness and mobility of the joints the next day.

Oh yeah, absolutely.

It's something. And that's another thing, especially with handstands that you can feel better because the body changes from day to day balance changes from day today. And it could be even that you ate something, maybe you or you don't like, I don't really drink, but once in a while, I'll have a glass of wine.

If they'll have two glasses of wine, I can feel that the next day and like balance.

Wow. Yeah. And alcohol is one of those things. It kind of effects, I don't have the studies to back it up, but it kind of affects your inner ear and your balance and coordination and everything. We've all had that kind of like a wobbly feeling the morning after.

Yuri Marmerstein: Yeah. But, and that's another thing just being inside your body and knowing who you are. You can, once you have that awareness, you can understand, how the body changes from day to day. And it does, it can be completely different.

Jonathan Levi: Yeah. And that's an amazing skill to have is to spend that much time. I think that's really one of the appeals of yoga is when you spend so much time observing your body's function and performance, you really start to understand the changes over time.

So speaking of yoga actually, I'm curious, you know, we've talked a little bit about CrossFit, we've talked a little bit about yoga Kaptio. Wera what do you think are the better exercise programs for people to participate in? Is it a mix of things? Is there one kind of regimen that you really recommend?

Yuri Marmerstein:  Uh, there's not one regimen because like, when we get into is there's no one perfect swimmer boom movement.

Gymnastics is great, but it creates its own limitations, yoga, the same powerlifting the same couple out of the same. There's a lot of good things in all of them, but there are also if that's the only thing you do, you will have limitations in your body. The one thing that people can not to do is to do what they're weak at.

So for example, really common in the yoga community. You'll see people who already have very loose joints, right? They go to a yoga class, they get told, Oh, you're so amazing going to be such a good Yogi. And they continue going to that yoga class. When in fact they need to be hitting the weights to actually tighten up their joints for safety.

And it's the opposite. Right? You got the strong guys to go into the gym. They can put up numbers really fast, but they're, you know, Their movement is like aboard. They're the ones who need to be in the yoga class. Ultimately it's about finding what compliments your weaknesses. And it's the same thing with

For example, capoeira amazing from our movement, and there's nothing. I think there's nothing really quite like it. But if you do only, Wetta, there's still a lot of limitations and a body. There's no pooling. There's some of the movements you learn acrobatic literal, for example, like handstand or push-up, they're not necessarily taught properly.

I don't want to get too far into it, but part of it is having a teacher that knows what they're doing as well because any of these movements while they are amazing, there are a lot of misinformed teachers out there and it's sometimes the students aren't aware of that, so they can learn techniques that aren't ideal, but really to do as much as you can.

The ultimate thing is that you enjoy what you're doing. And that number one. And then number two, that you're doing something that works on your desk.

Jonathan Levi: Yeah. I think that's really important. And I love the story about the weightlifters, you know, because I know a lot of those, I think I'm probably guilty of that myself, but, you know, uh, I weight train six days a week.

Maybe once a month actually make it to a yoga class.

Yeah. And that's, it's just a body it's on the mind. It's the easiest thing to do is to feed your ego, to do what you can already do. And it takes a lot more to go into something that, you know, you'll struggle at. I love this story by Kelly Star and he talks about, you know, one time he goes into a yoga class just for giggles.

And, you know, Kelly started for those who don't know is mobility expert, I guess, is what you would call him. Kind of very known in the CrossFit community for helping people with joints and flexibility and movement and stuff like that. And the guy's huge and very, very strong. And he walks into this yoga class and kind of gets this look from the teacher and then goes.

Sits in the back of the class and is able to do all the positions. I mean, it is probably one of the more mobile people in the classes. And the woman comes to him and says, ”uh, you know, I had no idea you were a Yogi. And, um, I'm so sorry if I gave you any attitude.” And he goes, ”I'm not, you know, I just, I lift heavy all day, but I actually do my mobility work.”

I actually maintain my muscles. So actually, if that raises another question who are some people's work that really inspires you?

Yuri Marmerstein: There's so many. And at this point, I'll say more, who inspired me in the early days when there wasn't that much available, because now it's like, you can look at anybody and you can find inspiration on Dick Hartsville.

For me was a big one. So. I met him at the Arnold classic. And this is a guy who was, you know, 70 years old and who could drop down at the splits with no warmup. He looks like the average grandpa, but he's super flexible, super passionate about what he does. And this is the guy who was really the first person to bring the bands like the loop bands and the compression bands.

I think now with, you know, road calls and the voodoo floss bands, but those were originally Dick Hartsell stuff. You're kidding. So if you look here's the book as well, it's called don't ice, that ankle spring or something to that effect. And it's again, a fantastic method were for great sprains, are you at compression and then traction both directions.

And it's amazing for relieving and calendering.

Jonathan Levi: So moving around the fascia stuff like that interesting yeah.

Yuri Marmerstein:  But again, this is a guy who, he's not a dancer, he's not a gymnast. He was a football player and then a football coach. So, and again, this guy, like literally no worm just drops into the splits aggressively.

Jonathan Levi: That's super interesting because usually these guys, especially competitive athletes, they have intentionally trained.

And I was talking with one of my trainers about this recently they've intentionally trained in this deficit, like a lot of runners. Don't want hip mobility and they want very tight hamstrings. They want very tight calves. Cause that's, what's giving them their springiness.  You know, gymnast obviously want the all-around, but.

You know, a lot of basketball players don't want mobility in certain joints. What are your thoughts about that?

Yuri Marmerstein:  It's about knowing. I mean, if you're willing to make those sacrifices, then if it's worth it to you, absolutely go for it. Right. If you're willing to sacrifice a little bit of ankle health for 50 million a year and that's worth it to you, right.

It's the same in the world of like circus and handouts. And you'll see a lot of handouts, yours who specifically starved their legs and in hand balancing or a lot of, you know, straps and Ariel. Basically, any lag mass is balanced. You don't want it.

Jonathan Levi: Wow. So what does that look like?

Yuri Marmerstein: That was an audition with the guy who is probably one of the best hand balancers in the world, you know, amazing.

He can be like, he does some of the tricks, the high-level power tricks, and he never falls. I mean, I can go on all day, but its wind isn't that audition. We had to do a standing broad jump for distance. He was having trouble with it. So I asked him like, hey, do you ever train your life? What do I need to train my legs for?

Jonathan Levi: Wow. So basically like absolutely no leg workout ever.

Yuri Marmerstein: Yeah. None. And some even go to the point where like they don't take stairs because they're afraid it's just up to you. If it's worth it for the sacrifice for me, my legs grow very easily. I've always had pretty big legs. And even when I didn't really train lights, that heavy, there was still a good size for me.

It's not worth sacrificing leg strength and like power for other skills. Yeah, but for some people it is. And if it's worth that sacrifice for you, then you have to know what that sacrifice is and what it can do to you. As long as you're aware, then, you know, it's your body and it's your choice

Jonathan Levi: That's super interesting.

And it comes back to the kind of the yogis who, you know, can't squat half their body weight, but can do a full Lotus. So actually speaking of this kind of amazing guy who never trained his legs in all your years of working with gymnasts and athletes and all these kinds of really amazing people. What are some of the most superhuman feats you've seen?

I mean, probably things that I've never even heard of?

Yuri Marmerstein:  Um, seeing some crazy stuff and it's, it keeps like there's more and more crazy stuff. But again, so the same guys, we never trained his legs and movement that he could do that. Basically, you've only seen the Chinese handouts to do this. It's a completely different route and this guy is Cuban and he can do this now, very clean for reps.

So from one-arm elbow support, it's a pretty common move among high-level handle officers from a warm elbow support, which is we call it crocodile, uh, to use the legs and kick into one arm handstand. So that's like a superpower trick, but a lot of people do that. This guy presses from there into one on passing.

Jonathan Levi: Oh my God. Right. So it's just all deltoid.

Yuri Marmerstein: It's so much, it's about so much about balance. It's much about strength and arching the body by way and putting it in the right position. But again, this is the move that it looks amazing when he does it. And you still can't appreciate how difficult it is.

Jonathan Levi:  Oh, of course not.

Of course not. What's this guy's name? I'm dying to look up a YouTube video.

Yuri Marmerstein: Uh, Roilan  R O I L A N Hernandez, I don't think use his last name, but, uh, he performed here in there, but again, yeah, it's amazing handouts. And this is a guy who, for him walking on his hands by walking on our feet, right. Just need a warm-up.

He kicks up to one arm, whatever he wants, he can balance on anything. And he's also one of the guys who is, has been doing it, probably walking in his hands, as long as he's been walking on the seat.

Jonathan Levi: Oh, wow. So train does a child kind of situation.  Interesting.

Yuri Marmerstein:  And when it comes into, as well as your training, as an adult, there are some levels that you just can't get to unless you have been training as a child, but as long as you know, where you can get to and what those sacrifices are.

Jonathan Levi: Yeah, I get the sense that, you know, with the classes, you're teaching and the training you're doing, it's not about being the most elite athlete. It's about having a lot of fun and learning about your body. And really one of the main reasons I wanted to interview you is you're teaching people to do feats that seem superhuman and you're teaching, you know, every day just to do it, which is really cool.

I mean, if you can do a backflip and you can walk on your hands, that's a pretty awesome skill that a lot of people can't do.

Yuri Marmerstein:  Yeah, absolutely. And that's all it is, is that you don't have to be in a gymnast or a circus performer to know how to use your body. Yeah.

Jonathan Levi: Yeah, definitely. So, Yuri, what are you working on right now? And what's in store for the future.

Yuri Marmerstein: What I've been doing more recently is getting kind of backend too, I've been doing a couple of data a little bit more seriously as well, and getting back into Aeriel. So I've been working on some deals with straps the last couple of months. That's an area of gigs coming up.

I'm going to Australia for six weeks. Um, from the end of February, beginning of April doing a tour there with tons of seminars and workshops. Um, so that's what I'm mainly focusing on right now. And of course, when you travel, you can't really train properly. So I'll have to modify what I'm doing.

Jonathan Levi: Of course ideally. How much would you train every day? If uh, you know, if you got paid to train and nobody ever, you know, requested workshops, how many hours a day do you think you'd train?

Yuri Marmerstein: Well, it depends on the day, but probably about four or five hours a day. But again, it depends. Right. So if you're doing skill work, like, for example, for once you have a handstand where it doesn't take energy to do, and you're working towards one arm, you don't want to use energy in that one arm, because you need to be able to practice it for a few hours, if you want to get better at it.

Right. So a lot of it ends up being skill work it's a training on the body, but you've built the body up enough where that basic skill work is.

Jonathan Levi: I see. So you're not dealing with this kind of glycogen depletion, you know, of these long workouts.

Yuri Marmerstein: No, not as much. And just as all what I try to do, because I do train pretty much every day is I never go fill out all my, I don't want to say all my workouts, but for the most part, everything that I do is very submaximal because I know I'm going to have to do it again the next day.

So it's about leaving a little bit in the tank because you know, you have to do it again the next day. If you know I'm going on a 24-hour flight to Australia, I'll probably kill myself the day before, so I can just sleep it out on the plane for the most. Part I think, and again, it's that concept of knowing when to stop is that not every training session has to deplete you,

Jonathan Levi: Right sometimes it's about maintenance.

Yuri Marmerstein:  Yeah. And sometimes it's about if we're doing, you know, pure skill work, you don't want to teach for a while. So either with handstands or tumbling, for example, Like one of the stories I heard and I could be wrong about this. I could be paraphrasing completely wrong. So there's this guy Belew, who's a Finnish guy.

One of the best trickers in the world is doing crazy, crazy movements. Right. He was interviewed a couple of years ago about how he trains. And again, I could be very wrong about this, but this is what I heard. And he said, you know, every day I go hard for an hour. And then when the hour's up, I stop. I don't do anything more.

And that was his training method. That's really a good way because you can keep up your intensity without being fatigued into the mix. As soon as the tea comes in, it's a completely different game.

Jonathan Levi: Right. And that's where you're getting injured as well, as we said earlier,

Yuri Marmerstein: Getting injured or just building those habits for the future.

Jonathan Levi: Yeah. And I've noticed that a lot as well. Like when your muscles start eats the peripheral muscles, right. You start to get fatigued and suddenly you're not controlling. You're not supporting, you're not read. As Kelly started likes to say, you're not organizing your spine correctly.

Yuri Marmerstein:  And this is a time when you do want that, where you are working endurance and you're specifically pushing how long you can do something.

And in that point, your form will go. It's just about understanding what to put that in. If we're doing skill work, it's usually not for a while. It's usually not until you already have it. Base of good technique that you can fall back to.

Jonathan Levi:  Yeah. So I'm actually very interested in starting to get into gymnastics and stuff like that. What would you say are kind of the first steps? If I want to, you know, just as a hobby to be able to do cool stuff and enjoy my body a little bit more, what are the first steps? Is it's probably very much recommended to, uh, attend a class. Find the right teacher.

Yuri Marmerstein:  It's one of those things that you don't need it, you can learn about it.

I did, but in hands-on assistance is really important, but it's important to go to the right place and the right teacher because again, some gyms you'll go to that have adults, and that's this cost they're just going to have you fall on a mat for an hour and it's not I don't think that's the right learning process.

You have to go to the right place. But part of that, as well as being able to learn from different teachers, and if they have you fall on a mat, you can still learn something from that. Any basics that you can work on without having to go to a gym for like cartwheels handstands, handstand roll, all of those, I can do a whole seminar on cartwheels and their variations in mechanics there.

Again, when it comes into like tumbling and gymnastics and stuff like that, there's a lot of placement and timing issues that are important, but definitely getting some hands-on help. It's just the way to go. Especially if you're looking to do a skill where like a backup, where there is a bit of risk involved are getting a spotter for that, or at least someone who can explain it to you a little bit better is can make a huge difference.

Jonathan Levi: Yeah. I think I need to do that. So you're traveling around quite a bit. You also do I believe online training and stuff like that. Yeah.  So for people who are interested in getting in touch and learning some lessons from a self-taught pro, how do they get in touch with you? How can people learn more about what you're doing?

Yuri Marmerstein: Um, most of my stuff I've put on either on my website or on Facebook. Uh, so my Facebook, you would to search my name, I think, or if you go to facebook.com/yuri.marmer. Um, my website is YURI dash Mar. So Y U R I dash M A R.com

Jonathan Levi: We'll put it in the show notes just to make it easy for people. And that brings us back to the workshops.

And I assume you have a schedule up on your website. Awesome. Cool. So we'll make sure to post that in the show notes and you already thanks so much for taking the time today. It was a real pleasure chatting with you.

Yuri Marmerstein: That was fantastic.

Jonathan Levi:  All right. Take care.

Yuri Marmerstein:  Yep bye-bye.

Closing: For tuning in to the becoming superhuman podcast for more great skills and strategies, or for links to any of the resources mentioned in this episode, visit www.becomingsuperhuman.com/podcast. We'll see you next time.

Ep. 4 – Can Everyone Do SuperHuman Acrobatic Feats Yuri Marmerstein Tells Us How

Introduction: Welcome to the Becoming SuperHuman Podcast. Where we interview extraordinary people to bring you the skills and strategies to overcome the impossible. And now here's your host, Jonathan Levi.

Jonathan Levi: Hey there SuperFriends and welcome to the Becoming SuperHuman Podcast. This is your host, Jonathan Levi. My guest today is Mr. Yuri Marmerstein. An acrobat and gymnast. Who's made a name for himself as one of the foremost authorities on hand balancing. Yuri's feats, which you can see on his YouTube channel are absolutely SuperHuman. But what's more impressive is that despite spending some time training with greats, like Keith Laughlin, Olympian Valentin, Cuter Chenko, and Christopher Sommer.

Yuri is largely self-taught and he's teaching people all over the world to perform these seemingly superhuman feats by themselves. What he offers then is a very unique perspective on learning incredible acrobatic and physical feats from someone who was not born into it. And who was not trained since the age of four, like most of the elite gymnasts you may have seen.

This interview is very technical and a little bit nerdy, and we go very deep into some of the skills and the path to learning them. But if you've ever dreamed of standing on one hand doing double back flips or any other seemingly superhuman gymnastic skill, you will find the interview to be really fascinating and encouraging.

So with that, it's my pleasure to welcome Mr. Yuri Marmerstein.

Yuri, welcome to the show. I'm so happy to have you today and thanks so much for making the time.

Yuri Marmerstein: Yeah, not problem.

Jonathan Levi: So for those who aren't familiar, can you tell us a little bit about what you do?

Yuri Marmerstein: So at this point, I work as a professional Acrobat in Las Vegas and just as well, I travel and teach seminars, um, around the US around the world.

Originally I come from a self-taught background. So I just kind of was that kid who watched too many Jackie Chan movies and started throwing cakes in his backyard. And it grew from there. And I'm very happy now that I can actually do what I'm passionate about.

Jonathan Levi: Very very cool. So let's see if I read your bio correctly, you are trained in mixed martial arts, capoeira, gymnastics, tumbling, cheerleading, weightlifting, circus arts dance. Am I missing anything?

Yuri Marmerstein: Sounds about right. I try to do a little bit of everything. I wouldn't consider myself necessarily high level in any of those categories, but, but I've definitely had the perspective of being in them.

Jonathan Levi: Amazing. So what are some of the different things you've learned from each of those disciplines that you've brought into your work?

Yuri Marmerstein: Well, one thing you learn, you think that it's all connected and it is in some way, but each skill is individually its own. So thinking that you can apply capoeira principles into gymnastics, to some degree you can, but once you understand the difference between everything you'll learn that being good at one thing does not make you good in another. And especially, I think it helps me a lot more as a teacher to learn the different perspectives of where some of my students are coming from. So for me, Weightlifting may not be a massive part of my program right now, but having experience in that makes me understand better when I have students who want to learn hand bouncing one of them acrobatics, but they come from weightlifting background.

So I can understand a little bit more of where they're coming from.

Jonathan Levi: I see. Interesting. So you mentioned a bit about your program and you mentioned a bit about hand balancing. So your training, really a lot of acrobatic skills besides hand balancing, correct?

Yuri Marmerstein: Correct.

Jonathan Levi: But I think you're most known for kind of an expert on training hand balancing. Is that fair to say?

Yuri Marmerstein: I think it's fair to say. I mean, I wouldn't, I hate to put titles on myself because I still consider myself just a student, but as it turns out, I've, I've thought a lot about this stuff and, uh, I guess more than most people care to think about it. So I would say that's fair.

Jonathan Levi:  So what is it about hand balancing? I mean, of all the skills. I mean, I also saw you're a very accomplished tumbler. I think I saw you doing the iron cross on the rings. And what is it about hand balancing? That's kind of captivated your attention.

Yuri Marmerstein: The difference is that like hand balancing? There's no way to cheat it. I'm like, I'm a very slow learner.

So for me, you know, I have to look at something I have to apply it. I have to research it. I have to go back and hand balancing. It's one of those things that no matter how talented you are, you can't just learn it the first day, but you can learn a back flip on day one. If you're strong, you can do a body weight snatch on.

I don't want to say day one, but probably with sloppy form, you can learn it pretty quickly and you can't just kick into a handstand and expect to hold it. There's so many fine tuned adjustments you have to make. It's a body control that you don't have unless you specifically worked on it and you have to put in a lot of time, but more so than that, it's alot of phsycological  limitations compared to physical.

So like, physically there's really not anything that holds most people, you know, even the average desk monkey back from doing a handstand, right? No. Yeah. Maybe their shoulders are a little bit stiff. Maybe the wrists are stiff, but there are ways around that, but it's more so that there's a phsycological block and it's, what's interesting about doing handstands and teaching handstands  especially is that it's not just about, ”Okay, this is the perfect form that we're trying to get to” it's about. What can we do with this body type and the psychological profile to get them holding this position safely and constantly.

Jonathan Levi: You know, I've noticed that I'm a pretty avid CrossFitter enhanced stands come up. I think today I did something like 50 handstand pushups, and I noticed that it's the people who are training with the wall who are not advancing because of exactly what you said, that the psychological is not getting trained.

If you're not learning, like it's okay to fall. It's okay to move your hands. They're training with physical comfort and I guess not the psychological comfort.

Yuri Marmerstein:  It's that. And then there's, I think people didn't understand the fine-tune precision that goes into actually holding it. So like I tell people, and I'm not joking.

I, you have to move an increment of one millimeter, right. And that's, you can be one millimeter off and not be on balance. And I think most people are just kind of too brutish about the way they go about it. And it's that precision that. Like there's no way around putting in the work to be able to achieve it.

Jonathan Levi: Interesting. So I noticed you said that you're a slow learner, which I think is interesting on a couple of levels. One, because as you know, I teach a course on accelerated learning. So we're going to have to chat about that. But the other thing is I was anxious to speak to you because I saw your bio and you actually come out right ahead and say that you weren't particularly athletic as a kid.

And if memory serves, you started getting involved in acrobatics and gymnastics towards the end of high school, right?

Yuri Marmerstein: Correct.

Jonathan Levi: So that puts you at a huge disadvantage compared with some of these kids who've trained since they could walk. And I guess I'm really interested to hear a bit about your learning methodology, especially because you described yourself as a slow learner and you've closed that gap.

I mean, you're a performing gymnast and Acrobat.

Yuri Marmerstein:  I wouldn't quite say I've closed that gap, but I have very high standards and it's hard, right? If you've done something since you were a little kid and the difference with learning it as a kid is that you will learn something whether you want to, or not.

Kids are hard-wired to just automatically learn anything. And then the difference as an adult is that you tend to resist learning. Once you pass that certain age and it's usually around 11 or 12, where you think, you know something about the world that the learning process completely changes with myself.

Unfortunately, I had no method. I had no program. I had maybe a couple of people who could like do a backflip and I could wash them and ask questions and they didn't really know what they were talking about that much either. So it was a lot of self-experimentation. So I basically spent the first like four or five years of my training, basically doing everything wrong and learning terrible habits. And then once I learned what those habits were, I had to spend another few years trying to fix them. Some of those habits, I haven't completely safe. So, but again, it's, there's different worlds and in the world of gymnastics, let's say, and I never competed, I don't plan on competing. I love gymnastics.

I love the control of the body you have to have, but as an athlete, especially at a high level, there's a huge price. So in gymnastics, it's about doing the biggest trick possible. When you enter the circus role, for example, you have to understand that most of the people watching can't count how many twists you did.

They have no idea. So in circus world, actually the tricks that looked the best are usually simpler ones. So it's not about necessarily. And again, there's different levels. Some people, it is about doing the biggest trick, but usually, it's not the biggest trick that looks the best. It's the simple ones that people can understand.

So it's about making those look good.

Jonathan Levi: Right. And kind of the extreme control. That you see, especially with a lot of the Chinese circus performers, you see this. Unbelievable level of control over the body.

Yuri Marmerstein: When it comes into as well. Like for example, I have done tons of auditions and a lot of hands-on competing with that, especially when I auditioned for a syrup a couple of years ago, I did both the martial arts and the gymnast audition and the gymnast audition was like, you know, kids in their early twenties who were literally fresh from competition.

Um, so I still got cut. I made it a lot farther actually than some of the higher level gymnasts, the differences that I through simple stuff, but I threw stuff that I knew I could do a hundred percent land clean, no question. And all of these guys were throwing big tricks that I wasn't necessarily comfortable doing, but they were crashing and they were getting frustrated.

So. There are different levels of that and different levels of refinement, but I don't want to say closing the gap, but there are things you can do that make you look better, even though you don't have the same skill level necessarily.

Jonathan Levi: So It's a bit of the kind of, I think Tim Ferriss calls it the minimal effective dose, figuring out what that 20% is.

He gives the example of when he was a salsa dancer or he was competing as a salsa dancer and he would take these very long leg strokes that are just, you know, 20% of the skill of leading as a salsa dancer. But it made 80% of the difference, essentially how the judges perceived him. Is it kind of that situation in gymnastics?

Yuri Marmerstein: Not as much in gymnastics, but more so in the performing arts world, again, gymnastics, especially competing at a high level, it's completely different beast and the stuff that these guys are doing, so you can't match it. But as an audience watching it, it may not be as impressive looking because most people won't appreciate the actual difficulty of the skill.

Jonathan Levi: Right, right. That's true.

Yuri Marmerstein:  So for example, A friend of mine, you know, he posted, uh, just an act he did on, I don't even know how to call it. It's like an aerial hoop with a cane. So you look at the audience reactions. He did like a one-arm sequence where he y'all went to meet hook and switch back and forth.

And then he did one pass where he just hung from one arm and went up and down. And that got the biggest applause. When literally he's just hanging from one arm, but the audience, they can connect with that a lot better because it makes sense to them.

Jonathan Levi:  I see. You remind me, actually, I heard this great interview with Edo Portel and he talks about gymnast and he says, you know, you can't even play on the same playground as these kids, these kids aren't human, right.

It's a totally different level of strength that they're exhibiting. And most people can't even understand it much less match it. Which I just think is so incredible. So when you train people, what's in your toolkit, mean what are kind of some of the essential items or gear that you need to get people, you know, up on their hands doing flips stuff like that.

Yuri Marmerstein: Honestly, nothing. I'm very minimalist. As far as that goes. I mean, if I have a floor. It depends on what we're doing. Right. If we have handstands, literally just a floor in a wall, and then there's a lot we can do. If we have, let's say a bar or a pair of rings to hang from, I do a lot of stuff with rubber bands as well, as far as like prehab rehab, stuff like that.

Jonathan Levi: Yeah. Mobility type stuff.

Yuri Marmerstein: Yeah. With tumbling. And again, I'm a minimalist. So I learned on the grass. I don't think no big fluffy mats are necessary if you do the progressions. Right. And again, they can be very helpful. And it's not that I won't use them, but they're not necessary because if you want to do the movement on the floor, you have to learn what the floor feels like.

And again, it's not with everyone. Some people need that comfort, but if you get too used to the comfort, then it develops a different type of fear. And anytime you have a fear or a mental block, it's a very different kind of training than actually physically working the skill.. So in one of the first things I'll teach in handstands, tumbling or anything its how to bail, how to fall.

You have to learn that falling is part of the process and that falling is safe. And if you can fall on a surface that isn't flush, then you'll have no problem.

Jonathan Levi:  Yeah, definitely. That was a turning point in my own handstands, you know, one time you fall and you kind of don't save yourself or you do this kind of tuck and roll and you get up and everything's okay.

And nothing's broken and suddenly it kind of changes your outlook, I guess, on the whole thing.

Yuri Marmerstein: Well, right. There's eventually you learn, especially enhancing there's different levels of an in tumbling as well, right? There's different levels of falling that you can learn to save yourself from. So eventually you'll know, okay, I'm falling this much, but I have this much recovery ability and I can still recover from that.

So there's different levels of falling in different levels of failing. And the more control you end up having the farther, you can go into a fall and still be able to recover from that. But as far as I can, the question is about equipment. As far as the equipment. You'll see this in gymnastic students a lot in the adult class, it looks nice when you have all these fancy maps to fall off of.

And again, they can be useful, but ultimately if that's not the purpose and if it's just about, you know, controlling the body and the mind compared to having more equipment to use.

Jonathan Levi: Right, how much of it is just raw strength versus coordination and kind of, I dunno, mental determination. I'm trying to understand what the breakdown is because obviously, I mean, I've seen you standing on one hand.

Draw strength is a very, very large part of it. I imagine.

Yuri Marmerstein: It's actually not. It's very little. And once you understand the technique, one of the cues that give is actually did is to try to be lazy. A lot of the people I get who come from, let's say across the background, people will always fall back on what they're good at.

So people are strong. They're used to using their strengths. They overpower every movement. And as soon as they get into a position where they feel unsafe, they go right back into their strength. But the goal is actually to find a position in hand bouncing, but in tumbling and everything as well. Whereas your own body can hold you up. In tumbling, there's not really a lot of strength involved, but there's a very quick timing. And if you don't master that timing and positioning, then you don't know how to transform that. So that's when you have to use positioning rather than strength. So we talk about one arm handstand and it looks like there's a lot of strength, but it's a lot of people do use strength in it. But if you're talking about complete refinement of technique yeah. It's about finding a position where your body can hold itself up. So, yeah, there's a certain amount of shoulder strength to be able to hold everything in place, a certain amount of body tension, but it's the more body awareness you have, the less strength you actually have to use.

And the technique I try to use is to be as completely relaxed as possible. So it's. It's not about using strength. It's about knowing where your body is and knowing where to make and when to make those adjustments, the more strength to use, the easier it's going to be a little bit to balance. So there's some techniques, whether it's one arm or two arms, where you can lean into your shoulders, you can bend, you can do a lot of techniques to make yourself lower.

And it's really similar. Like if you're standing on your feet, you're doing martial arts. For example, you'd be a little bit bent, a little bit grounded in your stance. This makes it more difficult for you to lose balance. What that actually does it dampens the balancing sensations you need to feel so it allows you to react a little bit slower, which is not what we want. Ideally, you want to be able to lockout so you can use less energy, but that requires a much faster reaction time. So there's a lot of, and it's easy to talk about handstands, a strength move, but it's not their strength moves that come in and out of it that come from it, but the handstand itself.

So the one arm handstand is its complete skill work. It's about knowing where to position yourself. And having very good awareness of the body and space and being able to manipulate that.

Jonathan Levi:  I imagine that for you, your wrists are very, very important. Considering you spend a, a large portion of your day on them.

Yuri Marmerstein: Yeah, absolutely.

Jonathan Levi:  So how do you go about protecting your wrists and I guess, protecting your joints as a whole, are you kind of doing these crazy Chinese risks, pushups that I've seen some martial artists?

Yuri Marmerstein: Um, I did them to show off, like I watched the, all the old drunk Endura, Jackie Chan movies, drunken masters, making me go shadow all of that.

So it's all of those. It's more of a party trick than I think, but I do have a very extensive wrist and finger sequence that I use. Because not only am I gripping the forum on my hands, but I'm an aerialist as well. So I do a lot of hanging, which is even more grip work. So I do a lot of soft tissue work on the wrist and forearms by again, my wrist and fingers sequence that I use when I teach it, it takes over half an hour just to explain all of the movements, but it hits every angle of the wrist.

It hits places that you didn't think could be stretched.

Jonathan Levi: Wow. So this is a warm-up routine, or it's a strengthening routine for the wrist.

Yuri Marmerstein: It's both, it's a warmup, but it improves both range of motion and strengthening in those ranges of motion. And again, it doesn't, it takes me maybe five minutes to do it because I have it down.

But if I'm teaching it, it takes half hour or more just to explain all the different variations. And again, when you're teaching a group, you'll have different people who are less flexible or more flexible or who can demonstrate different ranges. And it's all that. One ancient particular. It's not something I noticed when I was coaching kids.

So I would love to go back and see what the numbers are. But in adults I noticed it's about 50 50, where there's two-finger flexibilities, right? There's one where it's the wrist in relation to the forearm. And then the fingers in relation to the hand. And I noticed that about 50% of adults are missing the flexibility of getting the fingers 90 degrees in relation to the meat of the hand.

Jonathan Levi: Uh, yep. Guilty. I'm doing it right now. And I'm getting about 80 degrees.

Yuri Marmerstein: And that actually makes a huge difference in the handstand dock because the hand position that you want requires that flexibility and people who are missing, that they can't put enough of their hands on the floor to make as powerful as the grip, which means they don't have as much surface area contacting the floor and then balances, they can still balance, but it's a little bit more difficult. It's like if you were to overpronate if you were to over supinate your ankles and be on the outside of the foot, it's kind of a similar sensation where you can still balance that you have less surface area. So you can't feel the floor as well.

Jonathan Levi: Interesting. It makes a lot of sense.

Yuri Marmerstein: But just as well, I'll use the gyroball is awesome. I thought, you know, it was a gimmick, it was a toy and I find it, I'm like, Oh, this is a great grip and risk form up

Jonathan Levi: The gyro. That's the one that kind of rotates in your hand. Interesting.

Yuri Marmerstein: So that's great. And that's easy to travel with. The rice bucket is not easy to travel with, but I think it's fantastic for wrist rehab for strengthening your hands and fingers from every angle.

The idea of the rice bucket is that you jammed your hands in and you're moving them around, but any direction you move in the rice acts of viscous fluid and it resists you. So you get resistance from every direction. And again, that's more of a Kung Fu thing on your hands into rice, but very effective, I think for a risk strengthened rehab.

Jonathan Levi: That's really cool. It actually makes me wonder because you've mentioned now bands and you've mentioned also soft tissue work. I recently wrote an article on art and foam rolling and voodoo flossing. And. All that stuff. And I'll put it in the show notes for people who have no idea what the hell we're talking about at this point, but it's definitely at the forefront of my mind, mobility that we've already kind of covered a little bit with the risks, but also injury prevention.

So I'm wondering a bit about kind of for the rest of your body. Obviously, wrists are a very sensitive point, but how are you keeping the rest of your body functioning? Optimally, are you spending a lot of time on foam rollers? Give me an idea of that.

Yuri Marmerstein: Oh, my son spended. Time on foam rollers. So I was. Unlucky or lucky in the sense that I had a few, I was very lucky that I never had a serious injury I needed to have surgery for, but I was close a couple of times and it was like a good wake-up call.

Okay. You know, I'm in my early twenties, I want to be able to do this for a long time. I love what I do. So what can I do to not be injured again? And of course, that's relative, you still get injured. There's somethings you can't prevent. But just learning how every part of the body works and where it sits when it comes down to more, it's not so much protocol, but it's awareness.

Like I've noticed it's not something I really understood when I was younger, but I have very loose joints. You know, my knees, my ankle. My shoulders, they pop out of socket when I don't want them to. See my shoulders. Like I have to be very aware of it when they're in and out of the socket. And some days I have to set them before they feel like they can really take it a good load.  So there's, again, there's different protocols. I do a lot of joint rotations, a lot of type stuff as a warmup, or just even during the day when I'm standing just basic stretches. So that's kind of a consistent thing. And then just like falling, you know, that there's a certain injury or tweak and certain protocols that you have for them.

So if I were to tweak my shoulder, there's a protocol that immediately I'd use that involves against some bad work, some blood flow work, etc, etc. Like a couple months ago I was in jujitsu class and I don't know how, but I sprained my ankle again right away. So, okay, well, what can I do around that?

How can I still train? And then how can I train while we having this injury as much as I can, but most injuries, I think they're not necessarily from being under-prepared it's more just awareness and anything you do, you have to know the risk involved and is it worth it? And again, looking back at most of the injuries that I've had in my time, it was like, should I have done that trick without warming up?

Probably not, maybe I should have taken some more time, but that's what it comes down to. And most of the injuries that I've had were just, they weren't from not being prepared, like yeah, could have done more ankle and more risks, work, more knee work, but more so they're just from being stupid.

Jonathan Levi: Yep, I knew that I was beyond the limit of what my wrist wanted to be doing when I injured it.

And, you know, I said, Oh, there's a 20% chance that I'm not going to get completely injured right now. You know? And low and behold, you know, a month later I'm still babying it.

Yuri Marmerstein:  And honestly, a big part of it is being able to shut down your ego and knowing when to quit, like when to stop for the day and you can stop for the day and still be able to train the next day.

Or you can do that a little bit more. And it's always right. Coming from a tricking back on, you know, where to go. Take a bunch of, pre-workouts go do a late-night gym session, you know, they're shutting off the lights. Well like ” no no no one more trick” and it's that one more trick is when people die.

Jonathan Levi: So another question we've covered the prehab, posthab, all that stuff.

I'm really curious about your nutrition because you know, obviously, your body mechanics are very important. And I imagine if you add weight or take off weight here and there. Throws things off quite a bit. So what diet are you following? What are you recommending to your students?

Yuri Marmerstein:  It's like anything.

There's no one thing that I've learned from trying a lot of different stuff is that. There's nothing universal, nothing will work for everyone. And that's some of the articles that I've seen as well about diet is like, what they found is that human beings can thrive on a variety of different diets.

There's nothing. So for a while, I was strict paleo and I followed all the different stuff right now. I wouldn't say I'm strict, anything I follow more or less paleo. And then, you know, a little bit of carbs thrown in there. White rice. Keene Wasson, you know, dark rye bread and what I've been told by some people as well as that as you get older and your immune system gets a little bit compromised.

There's certain foods that start to give you an allergic reaction. And in my late twenties, I'm just starting to take that out. It's just still a constant process, but I mean, In my recommendation. If you can cook the majority of your own food, you're much better off than you are 99% of the people out there.

You can actually buy ingredients and put your food together, then you know, what's going into it and you know, it's your own work and your own labor. One thing that I try to do is just avoid eating out as much as I can just try to cook for myself, almost every meal.

Jonathan Levi: Wow. It takes quite a bit of discipline.

Yuri Marmerstein: Once you get used to it, it's rather enjoyable.

Jonathan Levi: Yeah, no, I'm a big fan of cooking as well.

It's just, I tend to like to cook in bulk. So, uh, you know, I'll cook Indian food from scratch, which is a fairly decent amount of work. I'll try to cook enough for six or so meals and then I'll kind of freezer pack them for quick consumption.

Right. What about nutritional supplements? Do you take any, do you recommend any?

Yuri Marmerstein: I do some, but it's not, I wouldn't say I have a pharmacy that I'm always dipping into. Um, you, I did some multivitamins. I'll do some protein powders. I'll mix in some BCAs creatine here and there. . I wouldn't say there's anyone that really made a massive difference, but like anything I'm always, I'm constantly messing around.

I'm constantly experimenting with it, but I definitely don't. I don't rely too heavily on the supplements. You know, if they're there, they're there and I'll take them, but a part of it might just be psychological. But if the back of my head thinks they're working, they might be doing something.

Jonathan Levi:  Sure. One of the only ones, yeah, for me, that has really made a difference has been beta-alanine, which kind of essentially prevents you from getting sore and thereby allows you to train harder.

Sooner that one makes a really huge difference for me, but the rest of them, I mean, I can't say that I could isolate the the performance difference from creatine or even protein powder. I mean, if you're eating a high protein diet, it's kind of superfluous, I've found. What do you think are the three biggest mistakes that people are making when it comes to their fitness and health?

Yuri Marmerstein: Three? Okay. So one is put, trying to put a timeframe on something. They said, okay, I want to learn the skill. I want to learn a handstand by the end of this month, the end of this year. That's the frame of thought that I think we'll get someone very far, because what happens in that timeframe is over, right.

Or what happens when you've achieved that skill? What do you think is achieving that skill? And it's something like a handstand it's like. You know, a few years ago, I said, I want to achieve the one arm handstand and I've learned a lot, but I don't think it's like, the more you learn, the more you find that there is to go.

So if you really committed about something, whatever goal that may be losing weight and running five miles, getting one arm handstand, that should be a part of your lifestyle. It shouldn't be something you just put aside into a timeframe.

Jonathan Levi:  Right although you called me out, I have a board here full of all these things that I want to be able to do within the next six months, you know, like 50 double unders, I want to get into half Lotus, then get into full Lotus and you know, the straddle press. But I can see the logic in what you're saying that like, you kind of have to be compassionate with your body.

Yuri Marmerstein: Yeah. It's about that. I mean, have the skills in mind, but I hate that idea of setting timeframes. You know, there's so many stuff out there where you.

Learn this and X amount of time. And it's like, realistically, to learn any skill properly, you have to give it a couple of years. I know like I take some dance classes, right. And some of the questions, you know, the ballet instructor gets, for example, they go, well, how long is it going to take me to hold my leg up as high as you maybe do ballet all your life and then find out.

But it's like, it's the same. Like I've gotten the question it's like, well, when can I expect to hold a handstand in the middle of the room? Like. I don't know when you put the work in.

Jonathan Levi: Right. I get that same question with the accelerated learning and the speed reading class. It's like, well, when, you know, when am I going to be able to remember a list of 30 items in two minutes?

Well, you know, I don't know. You start from a different place than everyone else starts. . You know, and I have no idea how much work you're actually putting in. I know for me to be able to do that, it's like a hell of a lot of work. So.

Yuri Marmerstein:  Yeah. And in my experience, like I knew if I wanted to do something, I knew I wanted to do that.

And how long it took me, didn't matter. Right. It took me to learn a backflip probably about six months. And, uh, you know, that involves a lot of jumping to the side. A lot of landing on my head, a lot of watching the couple videos that were out there at the time on it. And when I learned that I had all these bad habits, I would squat low, throw my head to the side still.

So what do you call learning that? You know, I learned it on, I could land it, but maybe it would be another couple of years before it was cleaned to what my standards are today. Right. So if I, and it's some people I've taught back with, again in one day who were athletic enough, we could get over that fear.

And write one day versus a couple years, but if you're really serious about something that time doesn't matter, it becomes a part of your lifestyle. Right. And that goes into kind of number two, is they kind of separate what of their goal is separate, separated from their life to say, so, you know, I want to, whatever I want to lose weight, but I'm going to work and then I'm going to work on my cardio, but they're kind of interchangeable or this last, last point. And this point is that in my, I think the reason that I've seen, I don't want to say success because that's a very broad topic, but some of the reasons that I've seen some successes, that I've always had a very obsessive personality. So, if I wanted to do something, it wasn't just in the back of my head.

It was a part of my life actively. Like when I was learning what arm handstands and obsessed with them, I would lean against the wall, just standing and waiting for something and pretend that I was balancing, you know, on that one arm and moving my fingers between my hand around. So it was whatever I wanted to do was not just who I wasn't.

I was training, but it was a part of my everyday life. So you have to think 24\7, right? You're always training. You're always recovering. What can you be doing for that?

Jonathan Levi: Right. And it's a holistic approach.

Yuri Marmerstein: Yeah, absolutely. It's not something that necessarily has to take time out of your day, but you have to always be thinking about where you're trying to get to.

Jonathan Levi: That's so interesting. Well, and they say like physical performance gains, they don't happen in the gym. They happen, you know, when you're sleeping and they happen in the kitchen. Right. And so it's like all the other things that you're doing with your body are really going to make the bulk of the difference so that your training is effective, that, you know, 10% of your time you spend training or probably in your case significantly more than 10%.

But you know, it's about making that time effective and not reversing the progress that you're doing in the gym. Every time you sit at your desk for eight hours with your hips, completely deactivated, you know?

Yuri Marmerstein: Yeah, absolutely. I had one more, a lot of people don't know how to judge progress. Right. So there's, I wrote a couple of posts on this.

I don't know how clear they were, but there's many different ways to judge progress. And one of them is okay. I learned a new skill. Right. I learned a new trick, but what about the tricks you do have, you know, how much better can you do them? The entries, the approaches, a lot of people in their quest for whatever their goals are.

They're not really, they only see progress as a linear pattern and they only see, okay. If I can do a handstand press. And I have that goal. What about holding the bottom of the press? What about holding isometric? What about a negative press? What about just holding a handstand cleaner, less movement? So if you, there is a Louis West podcast.

So Louis West again, amazing Acrobat. If you've watched this video, he does some amazing, amazing stuff. He had a podcast a while ago where he talked about kind of vertical versus horizontal development. And I really liked the way he explained it. So yeah, you can learn a new skill. Where you can take the skills you have and you can develop them in a different way.

Right? You can take a cartwheel and you can learn a new skill out of that. You can do a Cartwheel to a backflip, or you can do different cartwheel variations. And there are thousands of cartwheel variations that don't necessarily, so think a lot of people in their goals are really. Clear about how to judge progress.

And in my world, for example, I haven't necessarily learned a lot of new tricks in the last year trick wise. And some people might say, well, well, you haven't gotten better. Well, a lot of the things I'm learning are about performance art, about performance, quality presentation of the tricks, you know, cleanliness, transitions, getting in and out of that.

So even if I haven't learned any new tricks, I've learned how to make the tricks that I do have count. And that still progresses where even if you understand something better, Right. That's still progress. A lot of people think that you know, the only way I'll make progress is if I lose 20 pounds, if I hit that five-mile mark, if I hit a double bodyweight snatch.

And again, there's many different levels. So you can't get discouraged if you didn't hit that goal, because there's still progress that has probably been made, uh, just through the learning process of trying to get them.

Jonathan Levi: Definitely. Definitely. I think a lot of times people hit a plateau and decide I was actually reading a book yesterday about language, learning of all things.

And just, how do you, you know, once you're functional at a language or in this case, a skill, like I can go up on my hands, I can walk all that stuff. It's super hard to motivate yourself to go to that next level. You know, it's much more tempting to try something new, like the straddle press or the one-arm handstand when really.

I should definitely be focusing on stability in the handstand and stuff like that.

Yuri Marmerstein:  Yeah. There's always something to work on. And that's in this world in the world of bodyweight skills. There's never a point at which you can say that, okay, I'm done, I've stopped. So there's always a level further, or there's always a level of backward that you probably haven't been to yet, which is why, like, for my seminars, I love to have all different levels, and a lot of times I'll get that right.

I'll get a lot of people who like it. We literally haven't done a handstand in their life and I'll get a couple of people who are working towards one arm. And so for the basic people, they can learn from the beginning where they should be going and what process they should follow for the advanced people.

There's still refinement that they could be doing and that they need to be doing that often overlooked and just as well, it's just as useful for the beginner to see what can happen when you get advanced. And it's just useful for the advanced practitioner to see where the basics are and maybe, you know, where they lie, where their basis could be better.

Jonathan Levi: Right. If we imagine kind of the average listener sits at home, works out three to four hours a week, sit stationary for at least 12 hours a day as most of us do. What do you think are some of the first and most impactful steps that they can take to kind of turn around their physical health specifically?

Like, daily habits or stretches that stand out to you as really, really effective.

Yuri Marmerstein: Um, I think the worst thing you can do in this situation is just to be static. So I try to, I hate sitting at the computer and I had a job where I kind of had to for a while, but I hate being static, so I always have to move.

So if I'm sitting in one position for a few minutes, I changed positions and just that act of changing positions every so often will be enough of it. To keep the body guessing, but the hip flexors are a major issue. Most people, especially with sit at desks, can't fully extend their hips, causes a lot of other issues.

So it's really simple on if you look up kit Laughlin's work, he has some great stuff. You guys standing hip flexor stretch. So literally you can stand up at your desk, you know, every, whatever 20 minutes and you can get in a hip flexor stretch, and that's already enough to counteract some of the damage you're doing.

Jonathan Levi: Right. Is that kind of like a couch stretch type thing?

Yuri Marmerstein: Um, it's more just a standing lunch, but there's a sequence to it. So think standing lunch, you don't have to go that deep, but you square off your hips. You tuck the tail. So you're not arching lower back. Right. Uh, extension of lower backs. One of the compensations the body makes for not being able to extend the hips.

So getting up, right. So it's about squaring, your hips flattening the back and then leaning back into that leg. And once you feel that you've lost either the squareness of the hips or the lower back, you do it again, you find the position again, and then you continue leaning back. So that's a very effective stretch you can do.

And it's not. Too high profile. So if people are watching you, you probably won't get that many dirty looks. Some other stretches you can do. Uh, the other one is you can do just the seated piriformis stretch X for me, performance, actually, probably one of my tightest, basically just crossing your leg in a figure four and leaning over it back and forth to the side.

And that's when you can do it in your chair.

Jonathan Levi: Yeah. I love that one. I try to sit, like I said, I'm trying to get to Lotus heaven knows if it's ever going to happen, but that's exactly what I'm doing. On the occasions when I do sit, are you a standing desk guy? I know you probably don't spend much time in front of a computer at all, but when you do.

I try, I have the chair, but I go back and forth. So maybe I'll spend a few minutes sitting in the chair. I'll take it out. I spend a few minutes kneeling. I spent a few minutes in the lunch, so it's a sitting desk, but I would say I sit in, it may be 20% of the time that I'm on the desk.

That's awesome. And I imagine in your work, I mean, if you have a lazy day and you sit in front of the TV for eight hours, You know, running a Netflix marathon, you probably can feel the difference in the tightness and mobility of the joints the next day.

Oh yeah, absolutely.

It's something. And that's another thing, especially with handstands that you can feel better because the body changes from day to day balance changes from day to day. And it could be even that you ate something, maybe you or you don't like, I don't really drink, but once in a while, I'll have a glass of wine.

If they'll have two glasses of wine, I can feel that the next day and like balance.

Wow. Yeah. And alcohol is one of those things. It kind of effects, I don't have the studies to back it up, but it kind of affects your inner ear and your balance and coordination and everything. We've all had that kind of like a wobbly feeling the morning after.

Yuri Marmerstein: Yeah. But, and that's another thing just being inside your body and knowing who you are. You can, once you have that awareness, you can understand, how the body changes from day today. And it does, it can be completely different.

Jonathan Levi: Yeah. And that's an amazing skill to have is to spend that much time. I think that's really one of the appeals of yoga is when you spend so much time observing your body's function and performance, you really start to understand the changes over time.

So speaking of yoga actually, I'm curious, you know, we've talked a little bit about CrossFit, we've talked a little bit about yoga Kaptio. Wera what do you think are the better exercise programs for people to participate in? Is it a mix of things? Is there one kind of regimen that you really recommend?

Yuri Marmerstein:  Uh, there's not one regimen because like, when we get into is there's no one perfect swimmer boom movement.

Gymnastics is great, but it creates its own limitations, yoga, the same powerlifting the same couple out of the same. There's a lot of good things in all of them, but there are also if that's the only thing you do, you will have limitations in your body. The one thing that people can not to do is to do what their weak at.

So for example, really common in the yoga community. You'll see people who already have very loose joints, right? They go to a yoga class, they get told, Oh, you're so amazing going to be such a good Yogi. And they continue going to that yoga class. When in fact they need to be hitting the weights to actually tighten up their joints for safety.

And it's the opposite. Right? You got the strong guys to go into the gym. They can put up numbers really fast, but they're, you know, Their movement is like aboard. They're the ones who need to be in the yoga class. Ultimately it's about finding what compliments your weaknesses. And it's the same thing with

For example, capoeira amazing from our movement, and there's nothing. I think there's nothing really quite like it. But if you do only, Wetta, there's still a lot of limitations and a body. There's no pooling. There's some of the movements you learn acrobatic literal, for example, like handstand or push-up, they're not necessarily taught properly.

I don't want to get too far into it, but part of it is having a teacher that knows what they're doing as well because any of these movements while they are amazing, there are a lot of misinformed teachers out there and it's sometimes the students aren't aware of that, so they can learn techniques that aren't ideal, but really to do as much as you can.

The ultimate thing is that you enjoy what you're doing. And that number one. And then number two, that you're doing something that works on your desk.

Jonathan Levi: Yeah. I think that's really important. And I love the story about the weightlifters, you know, because I know a lot of those, I think I'm probably guilty of that myself, but, you know, uh, I weight train six days a week.

Maybe once a month actually make it to a yoga class.

Yeah. And that's, it's just a body it's on the mind. It's the easiest thing to do is to feed your ego, to do what you can already do. And it takes a lot more to go into something that, you know, you'll struggle at. I love this story by Kelly Star and he talks about, you know, one time he goes into a yoga class just for giggles.

And, you know, Kelly started for those who don't know is mobility expert, I guess, is what you would call him. Kind of very known in the CrossFit community for helping people with joints and flexibility and movement and stuff like that. And the guy's huge and very, very strong. And he walks into this yoga class and kind of gets this look from the teacher and then goes.

Sits in the back of the class and is able to do all the positions. I mean, it is probably one of the more mobile people in the classes. And the woman comes to him and says, ”uh, you know, I had no idea you were a Yogi. And, um, I'm so sorry if I gave you any attitude.” And he goes, ”I'm not, you know, I just, I lift heavy all day, but I actually do my mobility work.”

I actually maintain my muscles. So actually, if that raises another question who are some people's work that really inspires you?

Yuri Marmerstein: There's so many. And at this point, I'll say more, who inspired me in the early days when there wasn't that much available, because now it's like, you can look at anybody and you can find inspiration on Dick Hartsville.

For me was a big one. So. I met him at the Arnold classic. And this is a guy who was, you know, 70 years old and who could drop down at the splits with no warmup. He looks like the average grandpa, but he's super flexible, super passionate about what he does. And this is the guy who was really the first person to bring the bands like the loop bands and the compression bands.

I think now with, you know, road calls and the voodoo floss bands, but those were originally Dick Hartsell stuff. You're kidding. So if you look here's the book as well, it's called don't ice, that ankle spring or something to that effect. And it's again, a fantastic method were for great sprains, are you at compression and then traction both directions.

And it's amazing for relieving and calendering.

Jonathan Levi: So moving around the fascia stuff like that interesting yeah.

Yuri Marmerstein:  But again, this is a guy who, he's not a dancer, he's not a gymnast. He was a football player and then a football coach. So, and again, this guy, like literally no worm just drops into the splits aggressively.

Jonathan Levi: That's super interesting because usually these guys, especially competitive athletes, they have intentionally trained.

And I was talking with one of my trainers about this recently they've intentionally trained in this deficit, like a lot of runners. Don't want hip mobility and they want very tight hamstrings. They want very tight calves. Cause that's, what's giving them their springiness.  You know, gymnast obviously want the all-around, but.

You know, a lot of basketball players don't want mobility in certain joints. What are your thoughts about that?

Yuri Marmerstein:  It's about knowing. I mean, if you're willing to make those sacrifices, then if it's worth it to you, absolutely go for it. Right. If you're willing to sacrifice a little bit of ankle health for 50 million a year and that's worth it to you, right.

It's the same in the world of like circus and handouts. And you'll see a lot of handouts, yours who specifically starved their legs and in hand balancing or a lot of, you know, straps and Ariel. Basically, any lag mass is balanced. You don't want it.

Jonathan Levi: Wow. So what does that look like?

Yuri Marmerstein: That was an audition with the guy who is probably one of the best hand balancers in the world, you know, amazing.

He can be like, he does some of the tricks, the high-level power tricks, and he never falls. I mean, I can go on all day, but its wind isn't that audition. We had to do a standing broad jump for distance. He was having trouble with it. So I asked him like, Hey, do you ever train your life? What do I need to train my legs for?

Jonathan Levi: Wow. So basically like absolutely no leg workout ever.

Yuri Marmerstein: Yeah. None. And some even go to the point where like they don't take stairs because they're afraid it's just up to you. If it's worth it for the sacrifice for me, my legs grow very easily. I've always had pretty big legs. And even when I didn't really train lights, that heavy, there was still a good size for me.

It's not worth sacrificing leg strength and like power for other skills. Yeah, but for some people it is. And if it's worth that sacrifice for you, then you have to know what that sacrifice is and what it can do to you. As long as you're aware, then, you know, it's your body and it's your choice

Jonathan Levi: That's super interesting.

And it comes back to the kind of the yogis who, you know, can't squat half their body weight, but can do a full Lotus. So actually speaking of this kind of amazing guy who never trained his legs in all your years of working with gymnasts and athletes and all these kinds of really amazing people. What are some of the most superhuman feats you've seen?

I mean, probably things that I've never even heard of?

Yuri Marmerstein:  Um, seeing some crazy stuff and it's, it keeps like there's more and more crazy stuff. But again, so the same guys, we never trained his legs and movement that he could do that. Basically, you've only seen the Chinese handouts to do this. It's a completely different route and this guy is Cuban and he can do this now, very clean for reps.

So from a one-arm elbow support, it's a pretty common move among high-level handle officers from a warm elbow support, which is we call it crocodile, uh, to use the legs and kick into one arm handstand. So that's like a superpower trick, but a lot of people do that. This guy presses from there into one on passing.

Jonathan Levi: Oh my God. Right. So it's just all deltoid.

Yuri Marmerstein: It's so much, it's about so much about balance. It's much about strength and arching the body by way and putting it in the right position. But again, this is the move that it looks amazing when he does it. And you still can't appreciate how difficult it is.

Jonathan Levi:  Oh, of course not.

Of course not. What's this guy's name? I'm dying to look up a YouTube video.

Yuri Marmerstein: Uh, Roilan  R O I L A N Hernandez, I don't think use his last name, but, uh, he performed here in there, but again, yeah, it's amazing handouts. And this is a guy who, for him walking on his hands by walking on our feet, right. Just need a warm-up.

He kicks up to one arm, whatever he wants, he can balance on anything. And he's also one of the guys who is, has been doing it, probably walking in his hands, as long as he's been walking on the seat.

Jonathan Levi: Oh, wow. So train does a child kind of situation.  Interesting.

Yuri Marmerstein:  And when it comes into, as well as your training, as an adult, there are some levels that you just can't get to unless you have been training as a child, but as long as you know, where you can get to and what those sacrifices are.

Jonathan Levi: Yeah, I get the sense that, you know, with the classes, you're teaching and the training you're doing, it's not about being the most elite athlete. It's about having a lot of fun and learning about your body. And really one of the main reasons I wanted to interview you is you're teaching people to do feats that seem superhuman and you're teaching, you know, every day just to do it, which is really cool.

I mean, if you can do a backflip and you can walk on your hands, that's a pretty awesome skill that a lot of people can't do.

Yuri Marmerstein:  Yeah, absolutely. And that's all it is, is that you don't have to be in a gymnast or a circus performer to know how to use your body. Yeah.

Jonathan Levi: Yeah, definitely. So, Yuri, what are you working on right now? And what's in store for the future.

Yuri Marmerstein: What I've been doing more recently is getting kind of backend too, I've been doing a couple of data a little bit more seriously as well, and getting back into Aeriel. So I've been working on some deals with straps the last couple of months. That's an area of gigs coming up.

I'm going to Australia for six weeks. Um, from the end of February, beginning of April doing a tour there with tons of seminars and workshops. Um, so that's what I'm mainly focusing on right now. And of course, when you travel, you can't really train properly. So I'll have to modify what I'm doing.

Jonathan Levi: Of course ideally. How much would you train every day? If uh, you know, if you got paid to train and nobody ever, you know, requested workshops, how many hours a day do you think you'd train?

Yuri Marmerstein: Well, it depends on the day, but probably about four or five hours a day. But again, it depends. Right. So if you're doing skill work, like, for example, for once you have a handstand where it doesn't take energy to do, and you're working towards one arm, you don't want to use energy in that one arm, because you need to be able to practice it for a few hours, if you want to get better at it.

Right. So a lot of it ends up being skill work it's a training on the body, but you've built the body up enough where that basic skill work is.

Jonathan Levi: I see. So you're not dealing with this kind of glycogen depletion, you know, of these long workouts.

Yuri Marmerstein: No, not as much. And just as all what I try to do, because I do train pretty much every day is I never go fill out all my, I don't want to say all my workouts, but for the most part, everything that I do is very submaximal because I know I'm going to have to do it again the next day.

So it's about leaving a little bit in the tank because you know, you have to do it again the next day. If you know I'm going on a 24-hour flight to Australia, I'll probably kill myself the day before, so I can just sleep it out on the plane for the most. Part I think, and again, it's that concept of knowing when to stop is that not every training session has to deplete you,

Jonathan Levi: Right sometimes it's about maintenance.

Yuri Marmerstein:  Yeah. And sometimes it's about if we're doing, you know, pure skill work, you don't want to teach for a while. So either with handstands or tumbling, for example, Like one of the stories I heard and I could be wrong about this. I could be paraphrasing completely wrong. So there's this guy Belew, who's a Finnish guy.

One of the best trickers in the world is doing crazy, crazy movements. Right. He was interviewed a couple of years ago about how he trains. And again, I could be very wrong about this, but this is what I heard. And he said, you know, every day I go hard for an hour. And then when the hour's up, I stop. I don't do anything more.

And that was his training method. That's really a good way because you can keep up your intensity without being fatigued into the mix. As soon as the tea comes in, it's a completely different game.

Jonathan Levi: Right. And that's where you're getting injured as well, as we said earlier,

Yuri Marmerstein: Getting injured or just building that habits for the future.

Jonathan Levi: Yeah. And I've noticed that a lot as well. Like when your muscles start eats the peripheral muscles, right. You start to get fatigued and suddenly you're not controlling. You're not supporting, you're not read. As Kelly started likes to say, you're not organizing your spine correctly.

Yuri Marmerstein:  And this is a time when you do want that, where you are working endurance and you're specifically pushing how long you can do something.

And in that point, your form will go. It's just about understanding what to put that in. If we're doing skill work, it's usually not for a while. It's usually not until you already have it. Base of good technique that you can fall back to.

Jonathan Levi:  Yeah. So I'm actually very interested in starting to get into gymnastics and stuff like that. What would you say are kind of the first steps? If I want to, you know, just as a hobby to be able to do cool stuff and enjoy my body a little bit more, what are the first steps? Is it's probably very much recommended to, uh, attend a class. Find the right teacher.

Yuri Marmerstein:  It's one of those things that you don't need it, you can learn about it.

I did, but in hands-on assistance is really important, but it's important to go to the right place and the right teacher because again, some gyms you'll go to that have adults, and that's this cost they're just going to have you fall on a mat for an hour and it's not I don't think that's the right learning process.

You have to go to the right place. But part of that, as well as being able to learn from different teachers, and if they have you fall on a mat, you can still learn something from that. Any basics that you can work on without having to go to a gym for like cartwheels handstands, handstand roll, all of those, I can do a whole seminar on cartwheels and their variations in mechanics there.

Again, when it comes into like tumbling and gymnastics and stuff like that, there's a lot of placement and timing issues that are important, but definitely getting some hands-on help. It's just the way to go. Especially if you're looking to do a skill where like a backup, where there is a bit of risk involved is getting a spotter for that or at least someone who can explain it to you a little bit better is can make a huge difference.

Jonathan Levi: Yeah. I think I need to do that. So you're traveling around quite a bit. You also do I believe online training and stuff like that. Yeah.  So for people who are interested in getting in touch and learning some lessons from a self-taught pro, how do they get in touch with you? How can people learn more about what you're doing?

Yuri Marmerstein: Um, most of my stuff I've put on either on my website or on Facebook. Uh, so on Facebook, you would to search my name, I think, or if you go to facebook.com/yuri.marmer. Um, my website is YURI dash Mar. So Y U R I dash M A R.com

Jonathan Levi: We'll put it in the show notes just to make it easy for people. And that brings us back to the workshops.

And I assume you have a schedule up on your website. Awesome. Cool. So we'll make sure to post that in the show notes and you already thanks so much for taking the time today. It was a real pleasure chatting with you.

Yuri Marmerstein: That was fantastic.

Jonathan Levi:  All right. Take care.

Yuri Marmerstein:  Yep bye-bye.

Closing: For tuning in to the becoming superhuman podcast for more great skills and strategies, or for links to any of the resources mentioned in this episode, visit www.becomingsuperhuman.com/podcast. We'll see you next time.

 

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4 Comments

  1. Luiz
    at — Reply

    Thanks, I learned a lot of interesting things in past episodes.

  2. Shivaditya Purohit
    at — Reply

    loved th heart and the depth of the conversation. The way that Dr. Metivier shared from his enormous experience and insights was just amazing. Thank you Jonathan for doing this podcast!! 🙂

  3. Rob
    at — Reply

    Great interview with Dr. Greg Wells! He mentioned a doctor from Colorado around the 42:30 point of the podcast, discussing turmeric and black pepper. I couldn’t make out the doctor’s name. Can you provide me with his full name and maybe his website or contact info. Interested in his products.

    Thanks,

    Rob

  4. Muhammed Sani Ibrahim
    at — Reply

    I am new here, and learning really fast.
    Thank you.

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