We recently had a chance to sit down and talk with Carl Paoli. If you’re not familiar with Carl, he’s an author, speaker, fitness coach, and movement specialist. His book Free+Style has formed the basis for his seminars that he currently holds all over the world. If you follow CrossFit then you probably have heard Carl’s name at some point. His gymnastic background has given him a unique outlook and training style. During our conversation with Carl, we spoke about fitness, sleep, recovery and travel.
Carl is no stranger to rigorous training. He had ambitions of making it to the Olympics while living in Spain as a teenager. This led to long days in the gym and often resulted in injuries due to overuse. After moving to San Francisco, Carl discovered Crossfit. While working out at a gym that focused on kettlebells, he noticed the shoes that most lifters were wearing. This is what got him into CrossFit. Yes, you read that right – he liked the shoes.
Shortly thereafter, he used his background in gymnastics and fitness to write his book and become a well-known coach and trainer.
We spoke about fitness at length and Carl brought up the word intensity. If this gives you any indication as to what Carl is like – he emphasized the “intent” in intensity – keeping a strong intent of what it is that you’re going to focus on when working out. He believes it leads to a more focused and meaningful experience when performing any kind of movement or workout.
While Carl is traveling the world delivering his seminars and workshops, he takes a very methodical approach when it comes to proper rest and recovery. We spoke about the effects that travel and time change has on the body’s internal clock, and how to go about compensating for them. Carl makes sure to allow enough time to let the mind relax and fall asleep. He also makes sure to workout while traveling to help aid in sleep. Carl believes in getting to the bedroom around 9pm is ideal so as to allow enough time to “wind down” at the end of the day.
One of the most interesting things about our conversation was that Carl said he takes a 15-20 minute nap every day. He takes a power nap around 2:00 p.m. – no alarm needed. He said it’s almost like his meditation and he wakes up refreshed and full of energy. This is fantastic advice for those of us that can fit it into their day. Most people with desk jobs find this is the time for an afternoon coffee. Our research into short naps and meditation has led us to find that either or both can easily replace the need for caffeine.
Carl’s outlook on proper recovery through sleep lies in his belief that you need deep, restful sleep – not just a lot of sleep. For example, taking medicine to help you sleep doesn’t always result in deep sleep but it can increase the number of hours slept. Total hours slept doesn’t always lead to a great night’s sleep. The actual quality of the sleep that you get is what matters most.
While talking about fitness and working out, Carl mentioned that it’s crucial to take care of your body – your body is the vessel in which your mind is held, therefore the better equipped your body, the better off your mind will be. The two go hand in hand. And proper fitness and movement can lead to better sleep.
Carl’s morning routine is one we all could take a page from. He likes to wake up slow and tries his best to avoid looking at social media and other distractions on his phone. He then enjoys some coffee (though not for the caffeine) while doing some writing or journaling. After that, he “starts” his day and gets to work. A lot of experts will tell you that doing something for yourself when you first wake up (being proactive vs. reactive) is better than succumbing to the reactive nature of something like responding to emails.