What I Do for Exercise

Click the picture to view the video on Instagram!


For the better part of the last decade, I committed so much to work (often working in an ineffective manner) that I neglected fitness. Learning to work more effectively has allowed me to develop a sustainable fitness program, but a large part of what has gotten me here has been making a firm commitment to put it at the top of my priority list.

My top priority is to reverse the mobility restrictions and chronic muscular tension I've developed over the last decade. After that, I also want to get stronger, fitter, and look better. My fitness regimen is continuously evolving, but this is what it looks like at the present time.

I walk a lot. I don't think of it as “exercise” but a lot of people would look at it that way and it's a major part of my total movement and probably a significant part of my energy expenditure. Most days, I go for a half hour walk in the morning to support my circadian rhythm. I often go for a half hour walk in the evening to de-stress. Walking is my main form of transportation, followed by subway. It is a rare occasion that I use a car, Uber, or bus. Altogether, I typically spend a half hour to an hour walking in a day, sometimes more.

Afraid of heights all my life, here I am at the top of a 20-foot rope. Click the picture to view on Instagram!


I am a member of CrossFit South Brooklyn, where I have access to high-quality programming that includes both CrossFit-style WODs (workouts of the day) and rational, progressive strength training provided in eight-week cycles. But that’s only half of what I do there. I also take their active recovery (mobility), pilates, and yoga classes.

Currently, I take three CrossFit classes per week: one focuses on pushing and pulling in the strength component (for example, at the time of writing we bench and do bent-over barbell rows on Mondays), one on squatting (I alternate between a front squat and a low-bar back squat each cycle), and one on Olympic lifting (I alternate between the snatch and the clean and jerk each cycle).

My gear is simple: I wear the CrossFit Nano 5.0 for all my workouts (an upgrade from my torn-up All Stars). During anything that involves transitions between front rack and overhead position (e.g. thrusters or jerks), I wear 12” Rogue wrist wraps.

I take pilates once a week, yoga once a week (sometimes twice), and active recovery one or two times a week.

At home, I have a set of mobility tools for self-myofacial release and related mobility work. These include a long black foamroller, the Roll Recover R8, an orb, a Trigger Point massage ball, a Yoga Tuneup Alpha Ball, the MobilityWod gemini, and a superband.

Most of the exercises I do with these are from Kelly Starrett’s MobilityWOD videos (these pretty much never use the foamroller or R8; my Trigger Point massage ball doubles for what he’d use a lacrosse ball for in these videos).

If I didn’t have specific goals in mind, I would use the Daily M|WOD. But in general I spend a couple of months working on a specific goal. For example, when I first started front squatting I couldn’t get the bar to touch my shoulders with more than two fingers touching the bar. I spent a few months doing all the MWod videos each day related to the front rack. Now I can get the bar all the way to the back of my shoulders while grasping it with four fingers.

Currently, I am seeing a rolfer (this one) and we have been working on my hips a lot. So I have been focusing mostly on rolling out the tissues around my hips so that my self-work and rolfing can work together. And for that, the foamroller and R8 are in my rotation.

To supplement all this, I do a random collection of static stretches and dynamic range of motion exercises, usually in between bouts of computer work.

To help my poor computer-damaged wrists tolerate Olympic lifting, I also “voodoo floss” them using this voodoo floss (there are similar products on Amazon) and this protocol, with a slight modification I describe in episode 8 of The Daily Lipid Podcast.

The video below shows how I track my CrossFit workouts in Evernote. I have Evernote premium, so I can take a picture of my handwritten notes and in seconds it is added to my workout notes, turning into keyword-searchable text soon after. The free version gives you all of the other time-saving benefits I describe. In short, this is turning what otherwise would take minutes — figuring out what I did the last time I performed a particular exercise, or otherwise digging into my workout notes — into seconds. And many such minutes-to-seconds transformations over time add up to a lot of time saved. Time is the one non-renewable resource we have, and I consider Evernote a great way to treat it as precious as it should be treated.

If you use my referral link, you can get a one-month free trial of Evernote premium.

Checking out any of my workouts will quickly reveal that I'm nowhere in the list of heaviest squatters, fastest runners, or most mobile yogis. I have nothing to brag about. But hey, I'm putting myself out there as a health and nutrition expert worth listening to, so I'm offering you the ability to transparently see what I do for fitness and judge for yourself whether I practice what I preach and whether my approach is working.

So, follow me on Snapchat (my username is chrismasterjohn) if you want to see my progress stream into your feed and disappear after a day for you to catch whenever you feel like staying on top of it.

Or, if you want a searchable archive, I've publicly shared my Evernote notebook. This only goes back 9 days from the time of writing, but I plan to keep my workout notes here for the future. In each case, there is a blog post containing the workout prescription plus an attached photo of my handwritten notes.

These are exercises that I have picked based on what I like, how my body responds, and what I believe my body needs, so take what you like, leave what you don’t, and add your own thing. Get lots of help from a personal trainer, physical therapist, or bodywork specialist to make sure you are treating your body right!