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Carl Paoli on Movement, Life Purpose, & Four Movements to Maximize Your Performance

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“At the end of the day, when I pass away… I want to be remembered for the work that I did, but I don't necessarily need it to be my name. I just need to leave a legacy where I made an impact on people's lives for the better. And in order to do that, I need to start with my life.
— Carl Paoli
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Greetings, super friends! My guest today is Carl Paoli, a movement expert, elite gymnast, a trainer, and an all around superhuman. In his home country of Spain, he competed for over 15 years, rising through the ranks as a gymnast, while exploring a range of other sports from snowboarding to water skiing and martial arts. In 2004, he left what he thought would be a career in Marine Biology to return to the world of movement and fitness, and his meteoric rise to prominence has been something to marvel at…

Today, he is one of the most respected CrossFit trainers in the world, working with greats like Kelly Starrett and our former guest, Diane Fu. However, whereas Diane brings a unique power-lifting aspect to the world of CrossFit, he brings a vast knowledge of gymnastics and kinesiology. In addition to training at SF CrossFit and running his own program called Naka Athletics, he has recently published a book with called FreeStyle, which teaches us how to maximize our Sport and Life performance with just four basic movements.

Guys, I have to say, I think this conversation is really going to blow you away. I went into the conversation expecting to geek out on kinesiology and physical performance, and honestly, Carl offered that and much, much more. We talk about family. We talk about the mindset of success. We talk about prioritizing the things that matter in life. Carl is an amazing guy who has so much wisdom to offer both in and out of the gym, and I know he’s going to inspire you to be as superhuman as he is.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • All of the incredible things Carl has done over the last 10 years
  • Carl's transition from gymnast to all-around fitness and movement expert
  • What are the skills that transfer over and deliver performance from sport to sport?
  • What are the four basic movements that can maximize your sport and life performance?
  • Why burpees are awesome
  • Why Carl gravitated towards freestyle and a broader study of movement, beyond CrossFit
  • What is body awareness? Why and how can we develop it?
  • How Carl practices meditation and mindfulness
  • What sports and activities does Carl balance alongside his family & work obligations?
  • Life balance, and how Carl does a superhuman job of achieving it
  • Carl Paoli's priorities in life, and how he wants to be remembered
  • Compassionate business, adding value, and chasing greatness
  • The metaphors and parallels between physical fitness and life balance
  • What are the 1 or 2 habits that Carl wishes everyone could adopt?
  • What is the one pivotal tool that you should choose carefully?
  • What types and brands of shoes does Carl Paoli recommend?
  • What direction will the fitness industry take in the next decade?

Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

Favorite Quotes from Carl Paoli:

“The burpee is one of those essential movements… It contains the meaning of life!”
“Any skill that you learn in life is transferrable to other aspects of your life. Understanding that bridge and that crossover became my mission.”
“Allow yourself to be who you are. That's the number one habit. Just be who you want to be!”
“People want the recipes. You can't just say ‘Oh, just go move,' people won't do it. People need structure…that's why these disciplines are so important…but I think it's the mentality that will continue to go full circle.”

Check out this great motivational video by Carl, too:



  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.



  4. Muhammed Sani Ibrahim
    at — Reply

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

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