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“LEARN CONTINUALLY”, With Matt Becher and Parveen Panwar, Mr. Activated

LEARN CONTINUALLY. Knowledge is one of the most precious resources out there. In most cases, the knowledge you possess will determine whether or not you are eligible for success. In light of this, it would seem wise to invest time and energy to acquire knowledge. In my case, the regular practice of learning led to […]

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LEARN CONTINUALLY. Knowledge is one of the most precious resources out there. In most cases, the knowledge you possess will determine whether or not you are eligible for success. In light of this, it would seem wise to invest time and energy to acquire knowledge.

In my case, the regular practice of learning led to the discovery of my current passion (ie: the creation of my strength & athletics business). Furthermore, it unlocked the possibility to adopt other valuable habits.


As a part of our series about “How Anyone Can Build Habits For Optimal Wellness, Performance, & Focus”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Matt Becher.

Matt Becher, the founder of Athletic Grit, is a weighted calisthenics and martial arts athlete. He spends much of his time creating and optimizing lifelong habits for success.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

Since the age of 15, I’ve had a keen interest in fitness. My own athletic journey began when I joined a local boxing gym in Canada. Since then, I’ve trained in many places and explored many avenues of fitness such as weight lifting, field sports, calisthenics, weighted calisthenics, and martial arts, namely Muay Thai. In 2020, Covid-19 caused a near worldwide shutdown which forced me to leave many of these athletic avenues behind.

During this pandemic, my newfound interest in business combined with the lack of an accessible fitness community motivated me to create a community of my own.

Athletic Grit was born.

Prior to the existence of this company, I began to learn the science of athletic development. I pondered how I would create my own training program and set up my own home gym. I realized that while there were a few trustworthy sources, none seemed to acknowledge the big picture: What’s valuable for one athlete, isn’t necessarily valuable for all athletes.

Now I continually work to make Athletic Grit a reliable source of information and education for athletes and aspiring athletes of all levels and training styles.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

People struggle to create athletic lifestyles for themselves. I believe the main reason for this is a lack of awareness of the various training methodologies that exist in the world and a lack of physical education. Athletes and aspiring athletes should be able to quickly acquire all the information they need to lead an athletic lifestyle. The problem: this still isn’t a possibility.

I chose this career path to fix this problem.

I hope to mold Athletic Grit into a source of education that is cheap, effective, and well-organized so that anyone from any athletic background can learn what’s needed to achieve their unique fitness goals.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

Gael Breton and Mark Webster, the co-founders of Authority Hacker, taught me the ins and outs of their online marketing strategy. I am so incredibly thankful for the service they offer.

Without them, Athletic Grit wouldn’t exist, nor would I be here with you today.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

I think the biggest mistake I ever made was waiting too long to take action. It’s really easy to get caught up in learning instead of doing. Learning is very valuable, but few things are more valuable than the lessons learned from failure.

In my opinion, success comes fastest when you spend as little time as possible creating plans and as much time as possible implementing those plans.

Don’t sweat the small stuff — especially at first.

The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?

In my opinion, success is a product of one’s education and endurance. If you lack either of these, you will only ever fail. My advice is this:

If you feel led, get educated then apply that education until you’ve achieved success. The only true failures are quitters.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

If you’re reading this as someone who’s worried about your current and/or future financial health, I strongly recommend that you read Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki.

Robert’s work made me aware of many of the important concepts that have to do with business and investment strategies that have resulted in my success.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

“Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better.” — Jim Rohn

I love this quote because it defines the simple distinction between a successful and unsuccessful person: 99% of unsuccessful people aren’t incapable of achieving success. They’re simply unwilling to do what’s necessary to achieve it.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

The most exciting project I’m working on at the moment is my company’s website, athleticgrit.com. My current plan is to grow this website until it contains all the information athletes and aspiring athletes need to lead successful athletic lifestyles.

I hope to mold Athletic Grit into a source of education that is cheap, effective, and well-organized so that anyone from any athletic background can learn what’s needed to achieve their unique fitness goals.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. This will be intuitive to you but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to create good habits? Can you share a story or give some examples?

Of course!

Here’s how I see it: if you have to do the same thing every day, week, month, or for the rest of your life, why not do that thing in the best way possible? These positive changes you make to your life will inevitably accumulate over time.

The creation and optimizing of your daily habits will not only improve the quality of everything you do, but it will also render your mind and body more efficient, allowing them to operate at elevated levels of sophistication.

One simple example is the habit of acquiring knowledge. Reading books, listening to podcasts, watching interviews, and doing the like on a daily or weekly basis gives the mind an opportunity to be challenged and to grow.

In my case, the daily practice of listening to audiobooks was the only reason I had the confidence to start a business:

I had no formal business education (and I still don’t), but with time I was able to acquire an informal financial education and, more importantly, an awareness of the various business and investment models. Simply put, this is an example of a habit that led to my decision to pursue online marketing — a business model that I wouldn’t have otherwise considered seriously.

How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?

The habit of acquiring knowledge led to the beginning and continuation of my journey as an entrepreneur. Other habits such as the gradual implementation of a healthy meal plan and the development of a personalized strength training program have greatly impacted my physical and mental well-being.

Speaking in general, what is the best way to develop good habits? Conversely, how can one stop bad habits?

A key process that still helps me to this day is the practice of implementing and perfecting personalized habits on a daily basis. This allows me to exchange bad behavioral patterns for better, and eventually good behavioral patterns.

I’m pretty passionate about fitness so I’ll use this as an example:

Strength training is something that I’ve genuinely always wanted to be consistent with. The first two dozen habits I implemented for my strength training were disasters. They got me nowhere closer to my personal strength goals and ultimately left me feeling frustrated and unmotivated.

I didn’t realize it at the time but the problem was that I was training in a manner that was contrary to my personality and my natural behavioral patterns. In my case, it didn’t make sense to follow a templated program created by someone who didn’t even remotely know me.

I decided to take matters into my own hands. I learned how to build my own exercise program so that I could tweak it to match my personality and my circumstances perfectly. After a few weeks of studying and experimenting, I was able to develop a habit of strength training.

This particular habit was a lot of work and required a few weeks of studying but it has been so worth it.

Let’s talk about creating good habits in three areas, Wellness, Performance, and Focus. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

Three habits that I’ve adopted that keep me physically and mentally well are adequate sleep, good nutrition, and lastly strength, mobility, and flexibility training.

ADEQUATE REST

I always advise people to make a habit of getting adequate rest before even trying to implement or improve any other habits.

In my high school years, I experimented with a number of sleep habits. Most of these involved some sort of sleep deprivation to get more work done or spend a few more hours at the gym. It felt good to accomplish so much in such small amounts of time. The problem was that while my performance was exceptional at first, it slowly dropped off over time. I noticed that it’s possible to push hard for about 4–5 days. By day 6–7 efficiency decreased.

Obviously, I believed myself to be a tough guy so I kept depriving myself for about a month — big mistake. Eventually, it literally hurt to wake up in the morning. After pulling myself out of bed my mind would only function for a few hours before it stopped working. In addition, this took a serious toll on my emotions: I was sitting in class one time and I felt like I was about to burst into tears — something that was very unusual for me (especially as a man). It turns out that the human body can only take so much stress.

Definitely make a habit of getting adequate rest to keep yourself well.

PROPER NUTRITION

Make a habit of eating then make a habit of eating well. Huh? Eat, then eat well? Yeah. The biggest mistake you can make while trying to improve your nutritional habits is to forget to eat or choose not to eat.

If you don’t eat you will not be well.

Under ordinary circumstances, there are no good reasons to starve yourself or leave yourself feeling hungry to lose weight. The body wants energy, in fact, it needs energy. It’s like sleep deprivation: if you deprive the body of sleep, it will eventually get you to fall asleep. Likewise, if you deprive the body of nutrients, sooner or later, it will eventually get you to eat.

The problem isn’t eating food, but what food you choose to eat. This is why I tell people: “eat, then eat well”.

So then how are we supposed to eat well?

Regardless of your end goal, good nutritional habits will take time to create, test, and optimize. My approach to nutrition is difficult but very simple: every time I sit down to eat, I eat until I’m satisfied. The catch: I cook one new healthy meal every weekend.

The goal of this approach is to test healthy recipes until you’ve built up a reservoir of recipes you love. Once you discover and cook a sufficient number of meals that you love, you’ll be able to cook them for the rest of your life. In addition, you’ll quickly learn how to tweak these recipes. Is it hard? Yes. Is it annoying at times? Very. Does it work? Like you wouldn’t believe.

In my opinion, short of hiring a coach to hold your hand, there’s no better way to create a lifelong habit of healthy eating.

One other thing worth mentioning is that I don’t only eat my healthy meals. I will not refuse a meal with a friend or family member regardless of what’s being served (provided it isn’t too weird). The point is, I stick to my meal plan because I enjoy it but every once and a while I take no shame in eating other things. Habits are a means to improve your life, not take away from it which brings me to my next point.

If you hate calorie counting, why are you counting calories? If you hate dieting, why are you on a diet? If you hate eating the food you currently eat, why are you eating it? It is possible to enjoy yourself every single time you sit down to eat and still have a great physique. But not if you aren’t willing to learn how nutrition works first and practice that knowledge second.

REAL STRENGTH TRAINING

You may have no interest in getting jacked or working towards incredible feats of strength. There’s no problem with this. That said, nothing will change the fact that a lack of physical activity will dramatically speed up the degradation of your anatomy.

In other words, if you don’t keep your body strong it will, quite literally, start to fall apart — especially as you age.

Just because your fine today doesn’t mean you’ll be fine tomorrow. Believe me, if you neglect your body now, you will suffer the consequences — probably sooner than you think.

There are ways to train for very short amounts of time to maintain low, but very healthy levels of strength and mobility. The goals you choose to set for yourself are up to you. These goals will differ largely from person to person but one thing always is the same: you must select goals such that you can enjoy your training.

How do you enjoy strength and mobility training if you hate strength and mobility training?

The best way to enjoy your training is to practice a style of training that intrigues you. Different training styles offer different advantages. Regardless of what your schedule looks like or your personality, I guarantee that there’s a way to enjoy it — but only if you’re willing to take the time to keep searching until you find it.

I for one, really enjoy calisthenics: a style of training that develops one’s ability to move their body through 3D space. Examples of some of my own goals are the planche push-up, the free handstand push-up, the iron cross, etc. I choose to train calisthenics roughly 5 hours per week across four different days because I enjoy it and that’s what works for my body and my schedule.

There’s a strength and mobility training style for everyone. It’s a lie that it’s impossible for some people to enjoy strength and mobility training.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

In my opinion, developing these habits is only possible by following a two-step process:

Learn first, apply the knowledge second.

Sleep, nutrition, and exercise will be very difficult habits to stick to forever if you don’t understand them. It’s for this reason, among others, that I believe that every human being has a responsibility to understand how the body works.

Most people choose to bypass the learning part. The following consequences are commonplace among these people: misery, demotivation, plateaus, retrogression, injury, pain, dissatisfaction, etc.

You cannot apply knowledge that you do not have.

Be smart, take the time to learn, then apply that knowledge through the creation and optimization of lifelong habits.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal performance at work or in sport? Please share a story or example for each.

Always learn, ask questions, and adapt.

LEARN CONTINUALLY

Knowledge is one of the most precious resources out there. In most cases, the knowledge you possess will determine whether or not you are eligible for success. In light of this, it would seem wise to invest time and energy to acquire knowledge.

In my case, the regular practice of learning led to the discovery of my current passion (ie: the creation of my strength & athletics business). Furthermore, it unlocked the possibility to adopt other valuable habits.

ASK QUESTIONS

Learning won’t always be enough. The advice of an expert or seasoned practitioner or even a fresh set of eyes can never hurt.

I’m continually shocked at how few people will ask questions when they need to.

The athletes I’ve trained alongside in the past are typically too proud or too afraid to ask questions. The fact of the matter is that the athletes who ask questions quickly surpass the skill level of those who do not — regardless of their prior experience. Why? Because leveraging the experience of other athletes makes it possible to apply decades, even centuries of experience much faster.

The regular practice of learning combined with a continual state of openness to constructive criticism is the ultimate recipe for making success possible.

NEVER STOP ADAPTING

The world is constantly changing. If you don’t continue to understand these changes it will become increasingly difficult to navigate.

The first step to success is learning, the second step is applying it. Some people who are eligible for success (because they’ve taken the time to learn) choose not to apply their knowledge.

This is a tragedy.

As silly as it may sound, this is commonplace in some people’s lives. They learn everything they need to know to be successful and then choose not to be.

In these cases, people usually go into a state of ‘analysis paralysis’. In other words, they get so caught up in the details that they overwhelm themselves and give up.

In my own business, there was a time when I focused all my effort on acquiring data. The problem: I got nothing done. In fact, after wasting two weeks analyzing things I made no progress. This is an example of analysis paralysis. It was only after asking another businessman if what I was doing was smart that I realized I was wasting my time.

My mistake: I forgot to ask questions.

To achieve optimal performance, you need to understand when you need to learn more, and when you need to apply that knowledge. Asking the people around you for their opinion on what you’re doing is the best way to avoid this.

By making a habit of learning through reading, listening, watching, asking questions, and adapting by applying this knowledge, you will certainly continue to operate at peak performance (provided you adopt habits for optimal wellness and focus as well).

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

There’s no shortcut to being exceptionally good at something and keeping it that way. What’s great about these habits is they’re quite easy to apply.

I don’t believe that anyone can hate learning, but I know for certain that they can hate what they’re learning.

If you hate everything that you’re learning you’ll probably give up.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal focus? Please share a story or example for each.

Plan your day, take breaks, enjoy what you do.

PLAN YOUR DAY

Take a minute at the end of each day to plan what you’re going to do the following day. This will help you focus by reminding you to avoid spreading yourself thin with too many tasks.

Every evening I like to set a reminder in my calendar to remind me what needs to get done the following day.

TAKE BREAKS

Don’t burn yourself out. Without a few breaks every day the mind will lose focus.

I like to take a lunch break and an evening break as well if I’m working later.

Choosing to not take breaks may not affect you that very day, but it’s probable that you’ll be affected later in the week. At least that’s how it is for me.

ENJOY WHAT YOU DO

Good luck getting yourself to focus if you don’t enjoy what you do.

I hated the majority of my classes at school. I’d sit down at home to study and wind up doing more pushups out of frustration than studying. I wasn’t good at what I did because I couldn’t stay focused long enough to practice it. I consistently spend 2–3 times longer than most of my peers doing school work because of my lack of focus.

If you can never focus at work or in school, chances are you’re not where you’re supposed to be. You’ll probably never be able to focus to the best of your ability on a bunch of tasks that you hate if these are all you ever do.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

Know yourself.

Analyze your behavioral patterns and how you react to planning your day and taking breaks. If you’re certain these aren’t the problem you probably need to make a plan to change what you’re doing.

As a leader, you likely experience times when you are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a state of Flow more often in our lives?

I don’t think there’s any complex strategy to achieve flow. In my experience flow is something I experience on a near-daily basis mainly at work and in the gym.

I was able to achieve my current lifestyle by making a habit of exploring as much as possible until I found a career, training style, learning style, etc, that I love. The challenges and meaningfulness came naturally after that.

To reiterate, learn to do what you love through continual exploration and study. The rest will come naturally.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Ultimately, the reason Athletic Grit exists is to make people aware that it’s possible to obtain a very good physical education without a university degree.

Many people have become accustomed to depending on their coaches and doctors for their physical well-being. There’s nothing wrong with relying on a good coach if they’re a good fit. That said, I know that there are many others like myself that would rather be their own coach. I want to show people that this is absolutely possible and eventually, teach people how to do it as efficiently as possible.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

Jeff Cavaliere from athleanx.com is one of the biggest fitness influencers I know. He’s helped out many people and also provides tons of great knowledge to fitness enthusiasts like me. Jeff, if you’re reading this, thank you for everything you’ve done. You inspire me with your heart which can be clearly perceived in all of your work.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

If you’re interested in checking us out you can head over to athleticgrit.com. We’re working on putting together gear guides right now so definitely keep your eyes out for those if you’re interested.

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.


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