Today I’m with Ryan Peterson. He’s one of our members here at Shark Bite Cape Coral. He’s by far the most committed member of our 6:30 pm class, by far. He’s a Navy vet, and he once actually brought the entire gym to his knees by performing a muscle-up. So we’re going to dive into this, Ryan, thank you. Thank you for taking the time after a long Monday of work. So let’s start off with who are you? What got you interested in fitness? How did you end up at Shark Bite.
Ryan Peterson 00:48
I’ve been kind of in fitness for a while. I used to do a lot of long-distance stuff like running and adventure races and stuff like that, but I’ve never been into weightlifting. Till I got here. Before I moved down here in like 2012-2013. I was running about 25 miles a week trying to do half marathons. So when I moved down here, I was taking over a failing branch for a company and it took all my time. So I didn’t do anything from 2013 to when I got here. So I went from being in really good shape to losing all my cardio grabbing a dad’s body. During that time, I actually walked into a CrossFit box somewhere in like 2015-2016 and people were doing handstands walking around the gym. So it probably wasn’t a really good intro, but then I saw you guys on Facebook. And I’m like, I got time now so I came in here and did the no sweat walkthrough. I did my intro and all that stuff with Brad. I think it’s a combination of the high intensity of CrossFit with the community that you guys built here and it is just clicked and I love it.
We asked all the coaches who like one of their favorite people here is, and you’re on top of pretty much everybody. What was it like at the beginning? You did your no-sweat intro with Brad. You decided to sign up what happened next? What was that like?
Ryan Peterson 02:53
You get into it, you get people on all ends you know, I’m sitting here in my first couple of classes, and being the new guy in the class everybody was just super excited. You’re part of it. And you just want to continue to push and do better. It was just constantly feeling like you’re getting better feel like you get better. Then you start to get to a point where you’re doing the same workouts and you get long enough along where you’re comparing workouts to where you were before and weights that you lifted and where you are now and that’s super fulfilling for me to go in there and know that I’ve done this work out three times and get better, you get faster, you get stronger and stuff like that and then to see the actual quantifiable medical results when I go get a blood test or something like that and my blood tests now are perfect.
That feeling of accomplishment of goals. That’s a cool feeling, right? You know the workout we do with all the rowing and burpees because it alternates? I hate that workout so much. Man do I love doing it to see if I got better than last time. I’ll add one burpee each round you know or one calorie each round and see if I can maintain that the whole time. So I’m actually a little jealous of you right because my first couple of yours doing CrossFit functional fitness stuff I didn’t have any of that tracking. I remember I think what I looked like and felt like, but I really wish I had something to compare it to now, because even I just compared it to like three or four years ago and how different it is, I can imagine nine years ago what that would have been like,
Ryan Peterson 05:20
To compare day one to now.
Do you remember doing the baseline workout? We’re going to do that again real soon. So you were in the military? The Navy? Yeah. So talk to me about what you did with that was like.
Ryan Peterson 05:54
I jumped into it to say I wanted to serve my country. It’s not all that. But my parents were going through a crazy nasty divorce and all that stuff and grew up in a little town up in Minnesota. One day when I was a senior, I was like, “Damn, I’m at a tipping point. I can stay here and go to 13th grade, the local community college, or just get the hell out of here” get away from my friends that are bad influences because I was more of a partier than a book kid in high school. My parents kind of dragged me down. I just went into the Navy recruiter and said, “When are you gotta go?” At the time I was a fairly smart kid, it was just underapplied. So I went in and took on the testing and all that stuff. And I was actually going for the nuclear program and didn’t quite hit the mark. But getting accepted into working on gas service. Which you can go airframe or, or massive name propulsion working on the key gas turbine. So I’ve joined the Navy did well, did really well in Bootcamp and all that stuff. We get to pick orders based on where we’re at in our class. A couple of us are like, “Oh, man. Let’s go to Japan.” So came time to pick orders and I chickened out. So I picked a ship out of Mayport Mississippi that’s a brand new ship I’m a plank owner which means when they decamp that ship I get a piece of it. In the Navy, it’s a big deal. I got this big plaque, some honor stuff for it, and all that. They shipped me all over the country doing stuff waiting for the ship to be built. So I got to go to shipboard security school and get shot with paintballs and they gas me as many times as they could I went to a ton of firefighting school and all that stuff. So I was like one of the most educated E3 coming out of– so you know, I did my two years over Bosnia, did a lot of anti-drug stuff down in the Caribbean. It was really fun because you get to work with Coast Guard, and you get to blow up people that nobody cares about. Drug runners. Then I met my wife and figured and I could see from the people around me that being married and being gone about 280 days a year, is probably not so good for the married life thing.
Any military number can confirm that.
Ryan Peterson 09:04
So I made a conscious decision and got out. Went in shorts, a t-shirt, and flip-flops and got my first job in the fire protection industry.
So now you work for Wing automatic sprinklers. What is your position there?
Ryan Peterson 09:36
I’m the branch manager for Fort Myers where I’ve got 80 employees and manage the day-to-day operations for fire sprinklers. Fire alarms, service underground monitoring, firefighting or fire systems, fire alarm, monitoring all that stuff. I also hold the fire alarm license for our whole company in Florida. I’ve got my sprinkler license class one license here in Florida, Mississippi and LM.
That’s a clear example of like sticking with something you’re good at and just continually getting better at it.
Ryan Peterson 10:23
I’ve built six or seven different positions with them, starting in Jacksonville. Then I spent some time in the corporate office and then moved down here in 2013. The branch here, which I said earlier was a family branch from $1 or $2 million a year branch to $16 million a year.
When people ask me, “What did you learn in the military?” I was in the infantry. It’s the ability to be resilient and try tactics that maybe didn’t seem normal to everybody else. Your willingness to apply your rigorous training to something totally different now.
Ryan Peterson 11:05
Really, what I do is I get rid of people’s roadblocks so the other 79 people that are on my team are able to do what they do well. I just get rid of all the excuses. I’m a glorified snowplow.
You and I have talked about this a bunch in private, leadership and management, and, taking care of the people who work for you. I know that I’ve always appreciated the way it seems that you take care of your employees. I don’t know that that’s super common nowadays. The idea that leadership is a forceful direction, that’s kind of the prevailing thought at the moment, I really appreciate that I got another kindred spirit who thinks, if I take care of my people, they’re going to take care of their people.
Ryan Peterson 12:09
I always wasn’t always that way. It’s something I’ve realized over maturing. I ran off the first people I managed because I tried to manage them like I was in the Navy. They’re on a ship that couldn’t get off of. Turns out, they’re not a captive audience. They can quit, and find other jobs.
I had the exact same experience, getting out of the Army, and just assuming it was completely okay to scream at everybody. That was not okay.
Ryan Peterson 12:37
I got into the right company and realized how I was being treated, and how that made me feel, that if I turn around and use that mentality in the way that takes care of those people, in customer employee, it’s a close for a second. I kind of put the employee first because a byproduct of really happy employees is happy customers. Which is what everybody’s looking for.
That’s exactly what we talked about. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the customers.
Ryan Peterson 13:14
And they take care of you.
So that just shows that you had a pretty good mentorship and leadership to be able to kind of mimic those habits and learn from them. I think they say that you learned just as much from a poor leader up from a good one. About how you want to be a leader. I can confirm that from the army.
Ryan Peterson 13:36
Some of those lessons are stronger than the ones you even get from good leaders. So I don’t want to be like that.
So you got a pretty in-depth injury history. From before you came here. Let’s hear about it. Let’s talk about what it’s like working out with that.
Ryan Peterson 14:00
I’m a little clumsy but I’m not real careful. I will go in headfirst and that’s how I ended up with one of my fingers turned sideways and pushed past one of the knuckles when I slid into second base underneath some guy’s foot and my ring finger got dislocated and pushed down past the knuckle, that’s a perfect example of going in headfirst. Since I’m sort of clumsy and not real careful I decided to take up amateur motorcycle racing.
Oh, that makes sense.
Ryan Peterson 14:43
It’s kind of like if you’re gonna use fireworks you might as well drink.
Disclaimer we’re not saying that!
Ryan Peterson 14:51
As I said, I jump on both feet. Instead of easing into like six hundred and smaller bikes, I went right into unlimited horsepower bikes, 1000 cc 180 horsepower, dragging your knee to Daytona, or Atlanta, and stuff like that. A perfect example, I raced three races every weekend that I raced. The one weekend, I crashed the first race, I was able to get the bike back together enough to raise it again. So I won the second race. The bike was still holding itself together with zip ties and then I went ahead and crashed it on the third race. Then from that, I got a broken collarbone on this side, which they didn’t at the time, they didn’t play it. It feels funny, like overlapping. On this side, I separated my AC joint bad enough that they drilled a hole through three bones and ran a cable through it did what they call a tight rope, which could have played on both sides of the cable and then pull them together. So that cable is still in there, and all that. Then I smashed my foot. So I had to have surgery in two spots on my foot to push the bones back together in there and rearrange some tendons and then I got a torn meniscus in my right knee. I think that’s it. So what’s it like been trying to work out with that? I know a lot of people will tell us like, I hurt my shoulder say I can’t work out. At first, I was super tentative about it. Just because like with the gymnastic stuff, which is, by the way, is one of my favorite thing to do here. Hanging off that bar and doing the stuff we do, swinging around a lot putting a lot of strain on that. I was really worried about that. So I took it pretty easy. And listened to the coaches, build up your strength, a little bit first, before you really start going crazy with it. I did that following the recommendations. And now, it doesn’t bother me at all. When they do start to feel a little bit, I don’t know that I’m feeling that as much as maybe just the strain of some of the new movements. Tight now I’m working on ring muscle ups and like I said on there, I get like 90% of one with Chris Hill. But I can feel like so now I backed off of just kind of swinging into it, and working on some of the ring dips and some of the auxiliary movements to help build that up. As far as the food and eating stuff, I feel it, but I don’t work around it. I really haven’t had to have any big injury issues. I think when you’re teaching class, and my hip flexor, remember unhappy. But other than that, the injuries really slowed me down.
You’ll hear pretty frequently that somebody has an injury at some point. And they’ll kind of carry that like a significant burden that stops them from doing so many other things. I broke my foot when I in was Iraq. I remember being told, like, you shouldn’t walk upstairs anymore. At t the time, I was like, 23 I’m just never gonna walk upstairs for the rest of my life? That’s completely unrealistic. And then now, we’re jumping on 40-inch boxes.
Ryan Peterson 18:54
I mean, everybody’s got different injuries, but I don’t want it to come across as saying I think people use it as an excuse, but I think sometimes it might be. I would say to anybody that has an injury, just go into it, being aware that it’s there, and maybe use it as a goal to I’m gonna work on this. Our bodies are amazing things. They heal their way around stuff so that focus is working the way that they did before the injury.
I heard somebody say one time, that 70-year-olds don’t forget how to jump. They can’t jump anymore because they haven’t jumped in four years. If you have an injury that’s holding you back. Who’s to say that, we couldn’t work around that. We couldn’t help you build up the necessary strength and mobility to do the thing you think you can’t do anymore or to do at least some version of it that makes you happy. Josh was on the show we talked about the idea of just quality of life improvement that comes from being able to do things. In my previous career in the medical field, we would talk to people. And they would say, I hurt my shoulder when I was 12. And because of that, I haven’t put my arm above my head in 30 years, and you think about the number of things that persons missed out on because they didn’t understand what they’re being told or they were told something that’s maybe was thought to be correct at the time and is not corrected anymore. Just how much higher their quality of life would have been and how many things they could participate in if they could have found some people that could have helped them do things like that.
Ryan Peterson 20:50
A year ago, or a year and a half ago, I would never even thought that I would be able to get back into or even been interested in it because I’ve tried to go to the gym and stuff before and I’ve just never been interested in weightlifting but now, when we have a workout, we got a lot of cardio and stuff like that and that’s kind of my background. I enjoy the weightlifting part of it now because it’s brand new. The other stuff is still fun, but it’s stuff I have more experience with.
That’s one of the things I like about it because there are so many things, you can try to work on. You don’t ever master it. And if you do, you’re lying to yourself because you can always find a way to turn the intensity up. I like going through waves of like, “Okay, I’m gonna work on gymnastics for a little bit,” I’m not gonna worry about the other stuff so much. I’m gonna lose that fight. You can kind of like, continually stay engaged, you know, because you’re changing what you’re working on. You guys do goal reviews with coaches. I’ll do an overview with the coaches where they’re asking me what you want. And then I’ll have Crystal, Chris, and Jim, tell me, “Okay, we’ll stop worrying about the weights on the barbell.” Yeah. I’ll focus on more burpees now. Thanks a lot.
Ryan Peterson 22:26
Your body after working out four or five days a week, usually at the end of the week your body’s telling you that I don’t want to work on this today. So you pick a different part of the workout to focus on. Your legs might be squatted out by the end of the week. And you might have like the back squat or something that’s using your legs at the end of the week. But you have another part of the workout. You can scale on one part but then go hard on something else. And that’s a cool thing that when I talk to people about CrossFit, there’s nothing that says you to go into this and do two or five squats on your first day.
And if you do I’m crazy impressed and I’m a little afraid of you. It’s not supposed to be possible.
Ryan Peterson 23:34
A lot of guys will look at it like I did a few years ago, “I can’t do that. Well, no shit. You can’t do that you’re walking into the first day.”
That’s a really common one here is like, “I need to get in shape before I come in.”
Ryan Peterson 23:52
I have so many of my friends who are like that.
That’s the point. You don’t go eat dinner before you go out to dinner. That’s what we’re here for.
Ryan Peterson 24:02
I just send somebody today that I’m trying to get them going. And I send them two links today because they’re just dead set. They’re not gonna do something like this until they’re in shape. So I gave him something like cash to buy a game. And I gave him 25 Different Bodyweight Workouts. It’s safe to say that maybe I can push start them into doing something more than what they’re doing, then maybe get into CrossFit.
It’s kind of scary, right? But the reality is, it’s like super fun. And once you start doing a fun thing, you’re like, I’d like to keep doing that fun thing. You just have to get to the point where you realize, Okay, this is fun.
Ryan Peterson 24:41
Yeah. And it’s such a controlled environment. Because you go in there and you start to arch around your back doing deadlifts. The coach is going to be on you before you hurt yourself.
We had a staff meeting the other night and Coach Chris was teaching overhead squats. I now see why he chose that. And we’re using the PVC pipe and I’m at the bottom of a squat, and he’s trying to get me to fix my shoulders. I’m like, “Dude, I’m trying.” And rather than like leave me at a crap position, he’s like, “No, no,” he put me out in front of all the other coaches. He’s like, “We’re gonna fix this right now. No, Nick, come on back. We’re gonna dive through this so we can all see what it looks like when you see a big dude who’s super immobile, and what it looks like he messes things up.”
Ryan Peterson 25:29
If you don’t have mobility, a PVC pipe is the most frustrating thing, right? Because it’s like, you need a little bit of weight to help with the mobility.
Whenever you see something half your size, just fine. Yeah. Like, I should be able to do that. Why can’t I do that?
Ryan Peterson 25:45
Some of the people here are made out of rubber too.
Alright, so you’ve been working with Katie, our nutrition director for a little over a year now. What’s it like working with a nutrition coach. So now not a fitness coach, but a nutrition coach? And what’s it like having her kind of like, in your corner and taking part in that?
Ryan Peterson 26:21
When I first got into it, I was super skeptical, because I eat pretty decent, anyway or so I thought until you start putting it in the tracker. And then you find out that, maybe you’re eating the right foods– I’m not a picky eater, you know, but I eat all the vegetables, I eat all the proteins, the grains, and there’s very little I don’t want. But when you start to try to eat for performance, and then also temporarily and I’m not going to be eating two, three times a day, and still enjoy the food, you can do that. But at first, it was super challenging, because I’m like, Man, I’m just like, way off, macros all over the place, they’re different every day. So there’s a lot of focus on just figuring out where we needed to be with this, we meet every month, but we talk all the time. I didn’t have to wait to meet to make some small changes here and there. So at first, it’s pretty intense, a lot of hard focus on building that base. That took six months, at least, to get it where I felt like we had the base. And then we started making some small adjustments based on performance. I know exactly where I’m at, as far as, my macros and all that stuff, Katie checked in with me yesterday morning, and I’ve been a little bit off my consistency lately, just because of the whole work at home and food prep. She got me into doing food prep, my wife and I get together on Sundays, and we do food prep for the entire week, working from home and working from the office has kind of changed a little bit. But it’s so cool to have somebody that has the knowledge of, if you’re eating for performance, you have to eat. I was trying to work out at first when I first met Katie I was probably eating 12-1300 calories a day but I’m going from a diet of pretty sedentary of getting up, going to work, going home, rinse and repeat. Go fishing on the weekend. Now it’s 2700 calories a day. I’m over 200 grams of carbs and over 200 grams of protein, whatever is left is in fat.
People would find that crazy if they didn’t know any better. So when you guys started dialing in your nutritional habits after you got to what you thought on a comparable basis, right? And you started dialing in. You started changing things. I know the plans we follow. I’m sure the protein went up. What did you start to notice in your performance when that happened?
Ryan Peterson 29:50
When I came to the gym, I was probably 182 pounds. I gained 10 pounds, and my body fat is really close to what it was when I started that’s the only thing that can be as muscle. That’s a lot of the protein. And then I would notice on some of that’s longer high-intensity stuff, if my carbs are low, I can feel it. So we started dialing that in. I think we went back then we went from like, 2400, up to like, 2600. And now I’m at 2700. And I think I’m really close to where I need to be. So then we started working on somewhat point of the day– I would eat breakfast. My breakfast is 1000 calories. I eat lunch. My lunch is like 700 calories, but then what are you eating in the window that’s going to metabolize for your workout? What are you playing? What are you doing there?
So literally like prepping to perform, right?
Ryan Peterson 31:23
So we figured out that it’s better with mostly carbs, stuff that was easily digestible, not a banana, but an apple, and then I got me into some of the stuff from Driven with glycol, drive, and amino in doing it through that in my water bottle, and then an apple before my workout. That made a huge difference. And felt like I had 100% of my energy needed for that workout I’d then take some vitamin supplements and stuff like that. And we worked in timing those out. I started to notice that if I take those about an hour before I do the fueling for my workout every day, that made a huge difference. You had the stuff from your vitamin supplements and all that stuff in you too.
You’re over a year into this now. And the results are drastic, right? We’ve all been kind of tricked into believing that this stuff happens in like three weeks from now. On Instagram, we believe that massive change will happen overnight, as long as you work really hard and never eat again. That’s just not true. You talked about tracking your food and how important that was right? When we were creating our nutrition program. And I was the test dummy for most of it behind the scenes. The first and by far the most important thing was just writing down what I was eating. And was aware that on some days, I ate 900 calories, and on some days, I had 5000 calories. I was not aware of that. Then now you’re layered, layered, layered, layered, and layered. And you’re talking about literally timing out supplements to get your best result from it.
Ryan Peterson 33:14
Then the recovery because you’re recovering, you’re prepping for the next workout starts with what you eat after your workout. Because my schedule is usually 6:30 class, which means I get home, by eight. So, the first thing I normally do is whatever for dinner, but I always have one scoop of protein. Whether I started here when I go, and then the aminos before with the muscle soreness. Honestly, I almost quit because of one of the things Katie and I had to work through as I had crazy muscle soreness. To the point where my forearms and stuff were hurting so bad that I couldn’t pick up my five-pound protein supplement with one hand. They were like on fire. We worked specifically on that and it turned out using curcumin extract and we knocked it out in about three weeks. And I wouldn’t be able to do that without Katie.
Supplements and nutrition are intentionally confusing. The entire industry is meaning to confusion so that you just buy a lot. That’s one of the benefits of having an expert they’d be like, “No, stop, stop. Just get this.”
Ryan Peterson 34:57
Because you can walk in and get a ton of advice from the guy at GNC, he’s the used car dealer. He’s trying to sell you everything he’s got in there. And he did. He probably goes to the gym and works out, but he’s not trained in it probably. I don’t know. But my experience in those places is I’ve spent a lot of money, and I don’t continue to go back there.
I think that’s the model.
Ryan Peterson 35:27
When you have somebody that’s a professional that’s on your side that is truly vested in your performance. Because if it didn’t work. I wouldn’t do it. As you said, I’ve been doing it for over a year, you could think that maybe I’m at a point, and I have enough self-knowledge, that maybe I could do my own. Track my foods and all that stuff. But, I think it’d be naive to think that, all of a sudden, it’s as good as it’s gonna get. It’s probably not. I’m not getting any younger things to continue to change. For the little bit of cost. Accountability is a big deal.
For me, we’ll change up how I eat depending on are we in Shark season or not? In other shark season, I eat a lot more pizza. And maybe I can do that on my own. But I way rather somebody else will do that.
Ryan Peterson 36:31
I do the same thing. I train and eat differently when there’s comp on the calendar.
We’re doing the Shark Bite Intramural open. That’s our 14 things. And you were recently chosen as one of the captains. I put out a talk to the coaches that we need to pick some good captains over. I needed nominations. And you were literally unanimous. What’s your team name?
Ryan Peterson 37:16
On certain days sore legs
What would you tell someone if you wanted them to be on your team? Or what are you looking for in players? We have our draft in a couple of days.
Ryan Peterson 37:30
I’m gonna take it at a super high level. Because looking at the rest of our team captains, they’re probably gonna be looking towards me for direction. And I really don’t want to give them too much information. Super nice people. But they’re gonna have to figure some of this stuff out on their own We’re gonna have a fun time. Yeah, you know, I’m gonna try to keep the energy. I’m not gonna try. I’m gonna keep the energy high. We have a lot of fun with it. We’re going to talk a lot of trash. We’re gonna keep the energy level high. Have a lot of fun. It’s gonna be an awesome time no matter what just because of the people we have here.
This is the thing I look forward to most all year long.
Ryan Peterson 38:41
I was really excited to participate this year. And then super surprised when they asked me to be a captain.
Just watching people do stuff that they honestly thought they could never do but on Friday Night Lights all of a sudden they’ll get their first muscle-up or something and the gym doesn’t close down. So if you were talking to somebody, and they were scared to come to try working out what would you tell them? What would be your recommendation towards them?
Ryan Peterson 40:14
I would say, do the walkthrough, right? Do the walkthrough. And then when you’re doing the walkthrough, ask to talk to some of the people that are there, ask them about what their experience was, where did they come from, 90% of those weren’t college athletes. You’re not going to come in and not have a good experience at least out here. I would imagine that as awesome is this place is, maybe not every place is like this. If it’s not go to a different one to get the right vibe. When you add the workouts and the sense of community, you get that feeling of camaraderie, some of them, you get to where you’re pushing yourself, and they’re tough. You start off, in, you’re all fresh, clean, and ready to go in at the end of the workout. No matter who you are, you had a great time, and most of us are laying on the floor, catching our wind before you go on a 100-meter walk and we love it. There’s nothing to be scared of. Like I said earlier, you don’t have to come in here and lift heavy weights until you’re ready to. There are some ways I can lift heavy now, doesn’t mean I come in here and actually do that during the workout. There are some days you come in and I’m not lifting heavy today even if I could, we have the ability to do that. There’s no reason not to. Do something.
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