Today it is my privilege to bring you an interview with Eduard Checo, calisthenics athlete and founder of the world-renowned calisthenics movement ‘Barstarzz’.
Since forming the company in 2009 Ed has grown ‘Barstarzz’ to be the at the forefront of the Calisthenics movement. Barstarzz now has over 1 million Facebook likes, 120 million + YouTube views and over 500,000 Instagram followers.
Through this interview Ed gives us an insight into his training methods, mentality, and the strategies he has used to consistently grow his business and Calisthenics ability to the incredibly admirable level we can now all see.
Today we learn from this blueprint that Ed discusses with us…
When did you start training calisthenics and why?
I started training Calisthenics as a kid. My older brother would come to the house, after hitting the weight room and football practice and just hit a bunch of push-ups and his home workout. I was like, ‘yo I want to be big like my older brother’ so I would do push ups and try copy everything he did. I’d just try and pick up as much as I can from not only my brother but eventually his friends that would come over and train at the house. They would teach me about diamond push-ups and squats, and all this happened to me when I was like 10. I remember in elementary school people would be like to me ‘yo, you work out’ haha. That’s something that stuck with me.
At first it wasn’t just calisthenics, I did push ups, squats, crunches and then we had these dumbbells, so I would curl them. I remember watching a TV show, I saw this guy doing shoulder lifts, so I decided to do those. I was doing those 5 exercises for maybe like 5, if not more years, up until high school. From there someone showed me how to do a pull-up, another kid he was ripped, all he did was pull-ups and push-ups, and at that time I was doing a lot of push-ups. I was like ‘maybe the thing I’m missing is the pull-ups?’. Of course, at that time, I didn’t know about genetics. So, I started doing pull-ups, it was really hard for me at first, luckily, I was really small. I was smaller than the average kid growing up, so I was able to do pull-ups in my closet. I remember at one point I got so big that I broke it haha. Up to that point I was just doing pull ups on the closet hanger, where you put your clothes on.
I think Calisthenics is a great way to exercise and stay in shape, especially the freestyle movements it really gives you a sense of accomplishment from trying something new, and really nailing it. It keeps it fun instead of being a boring, same old routine. My workout are always fun. That’s how I look at it. Also, I love the outdoor aspect of it. I hate being indoors, even when I work out in the gym, I think the most I can ever do is two hours, just because it feels so smug and this is for most gyms. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a gym where I don’t feel like there’s a compression of the air, and that’s why I love Calisthenics.
How often do you train and how do you split your training plan? Do you incorporate weight training as well as Calisthenics into your training?
I train at the least 5 days a week. Anything less than that then there’s something wrong, I might be injured or I’m really busy, and at the most I train probably every day. I start with a warm-up, generally something cardio based and really focussing on my shoulder rehabilitation exercises with the bands. Then I practice some skills, like planche, front lever, handstand, or maybe like some freestyle movements. Then when I start getting tired I go into a really hard workout, like pull ups, push-ups, dips in some type of combination that’s popular for me for the week. I don’t have something that’s laid out month to month, but train more like out of instinct.
If we have a challenge among Barstarzz, then I’ll practice that right after the skill training, and then I’ll have some type of cool down. My routines are pretty random, it depends what I impulsively want to try. As far as weight training, I didn’t incorporate weight training for a long time. If you guys have been following me for a while you’ll know I have a shoulder injury, and I feel like one of the reasons I had my shoulder injury is because the lack of the overall shoulder integrity. I feel like you get a lot of work on your anterior deltoid, during Calisthenics but maybe the posterior and medial deltoid could’ve used more help, and I’ve neglected it a lot. So, with Calisthenics I’ve been adding Australian roles, whereas before I only suggested it as a progression to pull ups, but actually on its own as an independent exercise, I feel like that helps.
But now, I also incorporate a shoulder day. Once or twice a week, I’ll hit the gym and I’ll go over some shoulder exercises like the shoulder press, side lateral raises, and a kettle bell that you drag into an upright roll but with a single hand. I don’t agree with the barbell upright roll but the kettle bar still keeps the range of motion healthy, and this was all stuff that was showed to me by the guys over at Active Life RX, very good doctors, and they helped me a lot with my shoulder injury and they definitely suggested I should incorporate weight training for my shoulders, so that’s what I do. Sometimes when I’m in there I’ll hit the legs, like deadlifts, squats, and some of the leg machines there. But all the other muscles I’ll do pretty much through Calisthenics, unless its weighted dips or weighted pull ups.
How did you transform your passion for health and fitness into a successful business? What advice would you give to someone trying to do the same?
I did it by really being aggressive with it. I shared a link, when I first made my YouTube video, I was like here check this out, check this out. I was verbally marketing it, I was social media marketing it, reaching out to blogs everywhere and just really trying to get the exposure. I was working on building a fan base, before I had a proper business plan, but then once I realised the potential we released Barstarzz T-Shirts, from there it built up to a DVD. This is 10 years ago so DVD’s were still in! The DVD pretty much showed people what they needed to know. Your customers will tell you what’s the most important product for them. They said they wanted to know how to do what we do, so we put together a DVD and we tried to make it as in-depth as possible. From there over the years, we also got ad revenue over YouTube. It’s not something I would depend on though. Ad revenue varies so much. But online products after you have a good base of popularity built up, especially in a niche, is the way to go!
Advice for people who are trying to do the same… I think before you start, study the people that are successful in the field that you want to go into. See what they’re doing good, and what could be done better. Success leaves a blueprint. Grab that blueprint and then modify it until it’s the best it can possibly be, and you do that by sculping out the top five in your field already, and that’s great advice.
When you start a business, everyone is going to tell you, wait till you get a trademark, wait until you get a copyright, do this, do that. A lot of stuff people give me all types of different advice and really a lot of it is useless. Everyone is going to want to tell you something. You have to filter out what is good information but always go with the aggressive pushing forward route, don’t just sit there and think about things for weeks, months and years and next time you know, you have nothing going for you. So just start!
How has what Barstarzz does as a company developed and changed as the business has grown?
At first for a long time I tried to do everything myself. As a control freak I wanted to film the videos, I wanted to edit, everything in my head, I felt only I could put it out there! But you just can’t scale a business like that you’d become a slave to your own business. So, I hired a video editor, I hired a videographer, I hired someone to run the store, I hired a web developer. Learning how to scale… as one person you only have 16 hours, unless you sleep a little less, but even then, your still under 24 hours and you can only bear so much responsibility as the company grows. I feel like that’s the case for a lot of entrepreneur’s, if you’re not a serial entrepreneur, separating your passion and helping turn it into a business and that means scaling.
What do you think are the most important characteristics to develop to pursue your ambitions?
Not being scared of getting shut-down. You should be hearing the answer ‘no’ on a regular basis, that’s what shows your ambitious! If your just too uncomfortable to ask and your just always like ‘there probably going to say no’. Let them tell you no! They have to tell you no. You can’t guess no. They have to be the ones who tell you no!
You’ll always ask, always try, pushing forward, you know the worst thing that can happen is someone tells you no. No is not going to kill you. I’ve hear no thousands of times, and I’m going to hear it much more before I die. Most of us will, it’s not crushing, it’s empowering, it takes you one step closer to the better direction. Be resilient. That’s the characteristics you have to have.
Are there any people, books, or experiences that you would be willing to share with us, that have really shaped your mentality?
I’m a fan of Tim Ferriss and ‘The 4-Hour Workweek’. That was a book that really helped me think about life and encouraged me to go into business more. I had already started my business when I heard about the book, but it inspired me in a business sense. Also, Tim Ferriss in general. I feel like he does a lot of research into certain topics and then gives you a very human, everyday conversational, break-down of it. I feel like he really researches his things, his recommendations.
An experience? I, love travelling. Travelling has opened my eyes to the world. You realise how small and dumb some of the stuff is, that you’ve grown up with your whole life is, once you look at it from the outside perspective. I can’t give an example, but I just know for a fact that I’ve grown as a person just going as many places as I’ve been to.
I wouldn’t spend all your money travelling because it is expensive but even travel on your budget look for deals like on TravelPirates and theflightdeal.com or Groupon and go on those. When you go places, don’t just stay in a resort, don’t just stay in a hotel, go out, travel, live around the local people, do what the people who live there like to do. Don’t do the tourist things!
What advice would you give to someone who is demotivated or doesn’t know where to start with getting into sport and fitness?
Surrounding yourself with motivational stuff. Buy coffee mugs that have motivational sayings on it. Buy posters of stuff that motivates you and hang it up. Change your phone background, change your computer background, make it so your surrounded. There’s a quote on my phone that says, ‘Work every day as if someone is spending 24 hours trying to take everything away from you’. Then as the screen freezes I have another cover that says, ‘Everyone wants to be a beast, until it’s time to do what real beasts do!’, and you see like an image of a lion with a boar in his mouth. That’s the kind of stuff that motivates me. This can be different for anyone. Find those things and surround yourself with it. Really document the way things make you feel, keep that in mind. The things that motivate you more, keep going in that direction. Things that motivate you less, take that out, and throw it in the garbage.
If you could go back in time and give some advice to yourself as a teenager/young-adult what would you say?
I’d say invest in the stock market haha. I started investing late, if I could go back in time, I would tell myself to not be so scared of investing. Take some of the money and really invest in crypto-currencies and the stock-market much earlier than I did. I’m into it now but late is better than never, but it would have been better to have started that compound interest as a kid.
What are your future plans and goals for calisthenics and business?
We are currently working on the Barstarzz BTX App, if you guys aren’t familiar with the programme it’s a 12-Week, Calisthenics programme, that shows you the beginners movements of Calisthenics and skills that build you up to the more advanced movements, such as front lever, muscle up’s and planches. We’re making an app for that and it’s currently in development. It’s going to be gamified and you guys are going to be able to earn points, as you learn these awesome movements at the same time. I want to get back to creating content on a regular basis. I’ve kind of been on this huge hiatus, which has been mentally great for me, but not the best for the business.
As Ed has mentioned, success in any field leaves behind a pattern of habits that those who are at the top of any discipline practice daily.
We thank Ed for sharing with us so many of these practical insights that can help us improve our own fitness levels and transform whatever we are passionate about into a business.
Be sure to check out Ed’s personal social media account and all of the other Barstarzz social media listed below for a continuation of such practical insights:
Instagram: @barstarzz @edbarstarzz YouTube: OfficialBarstarzz Facebook: Barstarzz
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