👋 Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training
Hey I'm Rod Cooper, a 35-year-old living in Newcastle Australia.
I am the owner of The Movement Collective. It's my baby and first business that I have been running and growing now for the last five years. My girlfriend Jeni Steep is also co owner and is assisting as head teacher and CFO. Together we share many roles and wear multiple hats within the business to keep the vibe high, gains coming and business growing.
We have built up a solid team of movement teachers running classes for kids as young as two all the way to adults in their 60’s, we really wanted to create something that was inclusive and accessible to everyone at any ability and age. We have really created an environment that aids in the growth of not only our members but a really cool place for our staff to connect and grow too.
The business started all from an idea to bring some movement culture back to my home town Newcastle, I had learnt these skills and developed this passion to move while working on an overseas trip to Vancouver Canada.
I was training at a facility over there that introduced me to parkour, tricking, martial arts, breakdancing, hand balancing, gymnastics strength work, acrobatics, yoga and many other disciplines. It was a huge playground for kids and adults to explore their edge and discover what their bodies were capable of.
When it comes to personal achievements, I am constantly setting and achieving goals, I like the idea of playing the ‘long game’ setting up myself with a sustainable program that not only gets me the skills, strength, mobility goals i am chasing, but also understanding that we can't rush these things and the body always needs time to recover, heal and build back up to take things to the next level.
At the moment, I have one arm chin up and the one arm handstand in my sights. Some goals I have reached over the years would be 2:33 min handstand, stalder press, back flip, gainers, double leg flip, B-twist, 50 kg chest to bar chin, 11 slow strict muscle ups on the rings, 30 sec back lever, front splits, stomach to floor pancake, meat hook on the rings, human flag, Monkey Flip, freestanding handstand opus ups, back handsprings, juggling 3, 4 and 5 balls and the list goes on.
I have been at the movement game now for around seven years. During my teens and early 20’s, I got into body building with the hopes of one day looking like Arnie, haha I was also into the crossfit style of training.
It was my time in Canada at age 27 where I began to develop a curiosity around different sports and modalities of movement. This curiosity has only deepened over the years and is the reason why my movement practice is now so diverse.
I’m always looking for new and different ways to explore movement within my body. This exploration helps me to push through plateaus while enhancing my understanding of movement, the human body and the multidimensional aspects of health.
I have always been active. Growing up we had a bushland out the back of our family home, I would spend every afternoon after school running through the bush like a wild ape, climbing trees, building cubby houses, catching all types of lizards, snakes and creatures, swimming in the creek with my brother and my mates.
There was a new crazy adventure every day, you would never hear us complaining to our parents about being bored. As kids we created our own fun and i think this is where i learned the lesson that if you want to have a good time in this life, you can't sit back and wait for it to come, go get it.
These days I am consumed by my movement practice and hit sessions almost every day, I like to be active so my down time usually includes more movement or exploration of the human experience Spearfishing, archery are some new hobbies I have picked up to keep things interesting and to keep that constant learning pathway open.
I don't believe in the saying no pain no gain when it comes to movement or exercise. I’ve seen too many injuries from this all-or-nothing belief and that only sends us backward. In my practice and as a teacher I take and encourage a different approach.
I say take your time, work hard but also smart with longevity in mind. If you keep it playful you will always want to come back for more the next day. This approach will give you long lasting gains for years.
⏱ Describe a typical day of training
I don't believe there is a typical day of training for me, the movement practice is quite varied. But I will try and explain what that actually looks like week to week.
From my experience, the traditional way of training would look at a split that covers specific muscle groups eg. Back, Bis, Chest, Tris, Chest and Abs etc., with a focus on a combination or individual muscles.
The movement practice for me follows a gymnastics strength approach to training the whole body either looking at a split like Lower body, Upper body or Bent Arm Strength, Straight Arm Strength and Lower Body or Pushing, Pushing and Lower Body. With the added skill components for something like handstands.
Something that is not covered in my opinion in traditional training is the mobility/flexibility area which isn't required as much if the goal is just getting bigger muscles, but crazy important if you want to achieve any high level gymnastic skills and prevent injuries and live a long healthy life.
I typically train handstands five times per week coupled with mobility with two active rest days one on Thursday and one on Sunday. I have been working on handstands for the last six years or so and have recently switched my focus to the One Arm Handstand.
I realised playing with this skill wasn't going to be the best and most effective way of attaining it. So I have found an online coach who is programming my sessions for five days a week in eight week blocks.
I have learnt some really valuable lessons over the last few months and still have lots to learn and also experience in my body before I'm even close to nailing this skill.
It's funny because you would assume it's twice as hard as a two-handstand handstand haha I wish that was the case. It actually feels like a completely different skill altogether and requires some specific drills to fully understand the position and what is required of me to get it.
Check out my handstand coach here.
The rest of the week is split into 2 x leg sessions that would include a warm up with some acrobatics and flow movements followed by plyometrics and lower body strength, at the moment focusing on knee strengthening and overall health of the lower body. I am following a program from ATG Check them out!
Also, 2 x Pushing and Pulling Sessions working on Handstand push ups and One arm Chin progressions. Currently following a program from Devin Kelly.
I also take 1-2 dance classes every week along with surfing, trampoline sessions, rock climbing and play sessions in the park as often as I can fit them in.
I have a weekly schedule and use Google calendar to plan my week. This keeps me in check with my training and all of my other commitments. I use this as a guide but it's not set in stone, sometimes i'm just too sore from previous training so I take my own advice and never push it too hard, i will do something else or take an active rest day. Becoming more aware of what your body actually craving will see greater results and less injuries in your life.
I don't often keep a training log but for the exercises I am doing I find video records the most helpful to check my form and correct any imbalances. Also, share this footage to share on social to inspire others as well and with my coaches for training feedback and advice.
I like to mostly get stuck into sessions by myself especially now I have custom programming that is specific for me, I also love training with other movers around me.
I am very social so would choose a group session or play time over individual training sessions for sure. I own a gym so most of my time is spent in that environment, however I am one to mix things up, always looking for new people and new environments that will keep me excited and inspired.
👊 How do you keep going and push harder?
Consistency, Environment and Passion are three things I always talk about when we talk about pushing forward or keeping up the training over the long term.
My advice for keeping consistency would be make sure you're scheduling in sessions and not just leaving it up to chance whether you feel like it. Think of it like you are planning appointments that are non negotiable. Just like you book a trip to the dentist or to the drs, I do that in my training life, book it in and make it happen. I have some very specific goals and a solid plan that really keeps me on track and motivated.
It is really important to me to have people around that push me to take things to the next level, who call you up to the plate to make sure you are growing along with them. We have utilized this at The Movement Collective and have established a company that promotes people training together in a group environment, even though everyone has individual goals and different capabilities the environment is a key driver for our success as a company and as individuals.
The biggest tip I can give for this would be to find something you love to do. There are limitless opportunities for you to move and exercise. Explore what you love to do and do that, this way it's not about forcing it. This approach of practicing what you love will give you all the motivation you need, the added bonus of finding a community that shares your beliefs and values to assist in this motivation for your physical wellbeing.
I know that my wellbeing is the most important thing in my life, if my cup is full I can give everyone and everything in my life more energy. So for me it's just a massive part of my life and this becomes apparent when I miss a few days of movement practice, I don't feel right, My body feels stiff and locked up and I lack energy and passion for everything else. So it's more of a feeling I get that it's 100% needed to be happy and healthy.
The biggest challenge I have faced in the last few years is finding that balance between business and training. Being in the industry, it is easy to be consumed helping others and forgetting about the thing that matters most …. ME. I have fallen into traps in the past where my focus has shifted from myself to the business and also supporting everyone else. Not Anymore though I am number one, I make sure I take care of myself first, this way I show up for everyone else stronger and with way more energy.
🏆 How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
My training today is really dialed in, more so than anytime in my movement journey.
I am striking an amazing balance of strength work, skills training and mobility. Consistent programming and commitment means I am progressing each weekend also keeping things fun and exciting by adding in new variables.
I like that the Movement Scene is becoming more popular. This gives me more access to people to mentor and train and also more people to inspire and motivate me in my own practice.
I have a few goals that are mentioned above, but when we look out five years from now I would say it would be to still be hunting new things and playing with ideas and people that keep this curiosity alive. I know my actual goals will change over time but I want this excitement to remain and even increase over time. That would make me very happy.
Aside from that I would love to grow TMC into a multi location business and have gyms all around Australia, this will play into my other long term goal of owning my own homeland buying a Tesla. One day :)
My only advice would have been to start exploring and practicing sooner than I did, i went through some transitions and other disciplines before finding what I love. I would suggest to anyone younger and even my younger self to start practicing gymnastics, Brazilan Jiu Jitsu (BJJ), and Contemporary dance.
I believe these three separate disciplines will build the most solid foundation for anyone's movement capability. Unless of course you have access to a quality movement facility that is teaching a broad range of disciplines.
🤕 How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?
Injuries seem to be a fact of life, we are pushing our bodies to places they have never been so the fact is, they do happen. We have a prehabilitation practice that really allows us to prevent as much as possible.
The idea is to prepare the body and build overall capacity to reduce the likelihood of injuries occurring. Examples like loaded stretching and out alignment drills are a great way to strengthen the body and prepare it for the work you will be placing upon it in training and in life.
Building this capacity cup should be a goal of all trainers and practitioners, building it out to have more in reserve for any task or accumulated task and stress you will be placing your body under.
Also, understanding the overload we place on our bodies and nervous system is vital to reduce the risk of injury, sometimes taking away is the best way to allow the space for our bodies to heal and become more resilient.
We are really lucky to have a physio and Osteopath working out of our space at TMC. Damien Cooper and Chris Camerson are absolute weapon movers and share their knowledge on injury prevention and capacity building with us daily.
They are an asset to have in our space and are always sharing valuable information to myself and also sharing it with the broader community. Find yourself a Damo and Chris for sure.
Some advice here to reduce the amount of injuries you are getting would be to take things a bit slower, if you are constantly getting injured to any level, it's a sign from the body to say that your capacity is not equaling the outputs of your current training and lifestyle. I know you are excited to make gains but if you want to prevent having setbacks all the time you need to rethink your approach.
Let’s talk recovery protocols starting with sleep.
I keep things really simple and aim for approx eight hours of sleep per night, sometimes more sometimes less. If I am feeling tired during the day I try to take some down time or take a nap.
I have been taking a post workout protein shake, my favourite brand is TRUE protein. The pick for flavour is Rich Chocolate.
We have recently become a wholesaler for this brand and will soon be stocking it at TMC for our members.
With the recent addition of two Infrared saunas in our facility, I have been taking approx three per week and want to increase the frequency to aid in recovery, boost growth hormone and aid in detoxification.
My tip here is to make sure you are drinking water before, after and during with some added salt to replace the electrolytes that are lost through sweat.
Failure is necessary for our growth, we tend to look at it as lessons rather than something negative. This gives us the idea and motivation that it is required for our growth.
I fail/learn many times during my daily sessions, handstand and juggling have taught me a lot and showed me that failing at high frequency is the fastest way to adapt.
🍎 How is your diet and what supplements do you use?
I really try to keep things simple in this area and have always seen great results when following a lower carb higher fat diet. I was originally introduced to this idea by Mark Sision and his book the Primal Blueprint, I have stuck with this for the last 7 years or so.
I love the idea of the 80/20 rule. This keeps me strict most of the time but also allows for some cheat meals and splurges on special occasions, I am able to do this and feel no guilt for venturing off my plan.
I believe this is a very healthy way to be and it seems to work really well keeping me strong and lean all year round. I don’t go through phases or cycles for cutting for competition etc so I can keep some consistency throughout the year.
I buy good quality meat and veggies, I cook the majority of my meals at home (ex chef) with an omelette and coffee as a go to for breaky. I play with intermittent fasting on occasion too.
Recently, I have experimented with the carnivore diet with some great results and guidelines from Origins of Vitality Nutrition.
My goal with this was to rebuild my tissues from a shoulder injury and go through a hypertrophy phase in my training to gain a few kilos, general was sitting only around 68 with a goal of 73 kg. Currently 70 kg.
My weakness is chocolate for sure, I try to stick with 80% and higher but sometimes treat myself with something a little more sugary. I tend to have 1-2 coffees per day mainly for the taste and ritual element I have created in the morning.
👍 What has inspired and motivated you?
I take inspiration from a variety of areas. Let's start with online.
I originally started practicing movement after being super inspired by Ido Portal and his incredible philosophy around the body and what we can use it for. I read all his work and watched all the videos many times before taking workshops and online coaching with him and his teachers, along with a seven-day trip to Thailand for The Movement Camp.
His quote I really love is “Move because you can and if you won't probably you won't be able to, move it or you are going to lose it my friend and it's going to be a bad day when you lose it” Ido Portal
To me this quote means that we have so much capability but if we don't use it we will go backwards and also that this ability to move well will not last forever so use it now while you have the capability because you will bummed out the day it ceases. Damn that makes me want to utilize what I have and reach my potential. Gets me fired up.
You can find so many inspiring people on Facebook and Instagram now just type in movement and let the rabbit hole open up. Some other names worth mentioning would be Gymnastics bodies, Tom Weksler, Gold Medal Bodies, Fighting Monkey. The list goes on, have fun exploring.
I have received some sound advice over the years but i really like the fighting monkey approach of throwing yourself into chaos and allowing your body to adapt into it, it was a very different approach than i had practiced and i see the benefits of taking on more than you can chew and allowing the body to recalibrate to the new stimulus, eventually this chaos is no longer and you are comforatble in the chaos, soon after you are looking for something more difficult. I find this approach more in the dance world that I am recently getting tight into.
✏️ Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?
My suggestion to anyone starting out would be to first do some research online, find some cool inspiring videos and tutorials to get a head start with gaining some knowledge and understanding from home.
Next up find a community that offers movement training, If you can't find a dedicated movement facility, you might need to hit up a few different places to find what you want. Maybe BJJ, Contemporary dance, trampoline park, parkour center, gymnastics, circus gym. Like I said previously the environment and people will have a massive impact on your life and development so pick a place that is calling you and one that will aid in your growth.
One thing I will suggest you purchase is a set of gymnastic rings. Rings are an incredible tool that you can train your upper body on. Pushing, pulling and also mobility can be performed on these plus they compact and cheap. They are super versatile and can be taken with you where you go. I regularly take trips to Indonesia and always take my rings with me.
The strangest things I see in the gym now are very different to my answer 10 years ago, TMC wouldn't be considered very mainstream and we tend to experiment and play with more the artistic side of training. I guess we would be considered the weirdos haha
I believe people could become more attuned with their body, by taking on a softer approach at times to sit back and take the time to understand what's happening in and to our bodies. This would be insightful practice for most people to take on. There would be less injuries and more awareness of the body and how each movement and training session is making us feel.
The training I am currently doing gives me strength and mobility to basically step into any of life's challenges and also sports, I will miss the finer details and technique if I haven't spend the time to study that particular sport but I am confident in my preparedness of my physicality to step into most new situations and be able to hold my own or even do really well. So there is a massive transfer of skills and strength with what I do to other sports and other exercises.
My number one hack for a good life is do the things you love most of the time and stop doing the things you hate, seems simple right. But most don't do it.
Make a list of things you love and then a list of things you hate in your life, now see how many of those things are inserted into each day. If the majority is not what you love it's time to make some tweaks to your life asap. That doesn't mean it has to all change right now, just becoming aware is the first step, next we can make small changes to get that love/hate raito in order.
Best $100 I have spent would have to be my training shorts from Need Essentials that are stretchy and suitable for surfing and movement. Actually you can get 2 x pairs for $100.
🤝 Are you taking on clients right now?
The Movement Collective offers classes for everyone but if you are not in Newcastle we have a new online offering so no matter where you live you can have the TMC experience.
We teach a wide variety of movements including hand balancing, calisthenics, gymnastics, circus arts and mobility. I personally love to teach the higher level skills like handstands, gymnastics rings and acrobatics.
For classes in Newcastle.
For our Virtual offerings.
I am also developing an online mentoring offering called ‘Movement Life”
Email [email protected] to enquire about one on one coaching or getting involved in my new program.
📝 Where can we learn more about you?
💬 Rod Cooper quotes
Rod shares some great, motivating insights in this interview. Feel free to share these quotes on your Instagram, Pinterest and so on 😍