EE052 – Gray Caws

Gray Caws is an instructor in a number of techniques that improve sports performance, but that also help people function better in everyday life that are mostly centred around better breathing.

Some of the topics discussed include:

  • Replicating high altitude training without leaving your house!
  • How you can lose weight by changing your breathing
  • A method to retain cardiovascular fitness even when unable to train for a long period of time
  • How to eradicate the use of inhalers for asthma sufferers
  • Ways to improve times for triathletes
  • How Gray has helped students achieve far more than they expected

Master Instructor and Director ChiRunning UK & Ireland
Buteyko Practitioner
Oxygen Advantage Instructor

Specialist Personal Trainer
+44 (0) 20 3657 9097 | +44 (0) 7515 385593

Exceeding Expectations links:

Facebook Group
How to leave a podcast review:


(All transcriptions are done using through a system of artificial intelligence and so on EVERY episode there are quite a few mistakes as AI is far from perfect when it comes to transcribing the human voice. However, it is a very time-consuming process to go through each transcript and correct all the errors. For quite a while I had the transcribed docs sitting on my hard drive in the belief that one day I would eventually get around to correcting all the errors and could then upload each transcript to the show notes for each episode. The reality is that isn’t gonna happen for quite a while as I simply do not have sufficient time to be able to do that. So please accept my apologies for the number of errors but I hope that these transcripts are in some way useful to you.)

Episode 52 – Gray Caws – 17-09-2019.mp3

[00:00:00] Exceeding expectations. Episode 52.

[00:00:09] It is the one year anniversary time has flown And in this week’s episode it is with a guy called Gray Caws who trains people in different high-performance techniques such as the Oxygen Advantage and Chi-Running and also Buteyko breathing which helps people with asthma and many other breathing and respiratory problems. Why not share this episode with people who you think may get benefit from it especially people who are in to high performance, maybe running, cycling, triathlons and so on because they’ll get a lot of benefit from some of the information that you hear about on this episode. Leave a review for us on iTunes, join the Facebook group Exceeding Expectations and talk about some of the stuff you’ve heard in this episode or any of the previous episodes. Do tell us if there’s any particular guest that you would like to hear interviewed on this show and right now it is time to hear this week’s episode with Gray Caws.

[00:01:16] So this week’s edition of exceeding expectations I have a man called Gray Caws. How are you doing Gray?

[00:01:21] I’m very well thank you Tony.

[00:01:24] You do a number of things in the world of fitness, do you wanna tell us what it is that you do?

[00:01:28] Certainly I am a personal trainer, Chi-Running coach, an Oxygen Advantage coach and also a Buteyko breathing coach.

[00:01:43] There are quite a few different things going on there but they actually; when we go into a little bit more detail do combine together. But those are the elements that I decided to focus on in terms of my health and fitness training.

[00:01:43] And I imagine that 95% of people listening won’t know anything about what’s Chi running. Have never heard of the Oxygen Advantage. Never heard of the Buteyko. So which one do you want to tackle first?

[00:02:08] Well the first one to tackle, the easy one is personal training because everybody will have heard of personal training. So the reason I trained as a personal trainer was to give me personally some confidence to be able to teach the other techniques so the first thing I wanted to teach was running technique. So this is where the chi running came into it. So I got into running pretty late on in life in my early 40s and I got to the point where I thought I want to keep fit by the time I’m 50, what’s the best way to do that. So I joined the gym. And never run before I mean I’ve done a little bit of running at school a bit of cross country but as you did you were thrown out and chased around the field and come back. So I didn’t really think about it and the trainer then at the gym put me on the treadmill as a warm up. He said “right, yeah run as fast as you can for a mile”. And it was killing me. My legs were hurting and I was really struggling with it. But for some reason I got into it. I just found something quite fascinating and quite something quite invigorating and also quite challenging about it running for whatever reason. So to cut a long story short I got into my running and I’m quite a logical person so I was like there must be a technique. How do you run. Everybody teaches like golfing technique or tennis technique. Everybody has golfing lessons, tennis lessons various techniques for sport.

[00:03:45] But what’s wrong what’s good running technique. So this was back what 2004. So I was googling then if there was Google, I can’t remember whether Google was around then? I’m sure it was or some form of Google and there wasn’t actually much out there and what I was discovering or what I was reading a lot of it was contradictory it was saying you have to land on your heel. You have to land on the front of your foot, you run upright, you lean forward. So there was all of this contradictory stuff out there.

[00:04:17] And so I just started experimenting and playing around with reading stuff and I came across a book called Chi-running. Like you say there, what’s chi-running what does that mean. And I ordered the books, an American book and I read it through. I think it has quite an American approach to it obviously because it’s written by an American guy. An American ultra runner called Danny Dryer. But a lot of what it said resonated with me and a lot of what it said to me was just straight forward. Common sense about how we should move. I started following the book following the exercises in the book practicing the technique and it seemed to work for me.

[00:05:09] So that’s a long way around the scene how I then got into personal training is I realized that it was helping me and I was watching other runners as I was out there now thinking there are some very very simple things that they could become aware of that would help them improve their efficiency so that they’d be running more efficient.

[00:05:32] They wouldn’t be struggling as much.

[00:05:34] So in 2006 2007 was when there was sort of like the credit crunch and everything and I was working for myself anyway so I didn’t have to make this major decision to swap careers or anything, but I decided right, going to do personal training because I wanted you to have the background in anatomy and physiology and understand exercise and understand movement and understand how to teach exercise and understand how to teach movement because it’s all well and good knowing doing something yourself but how to teach is a completely different matter. So did the personal training course and then did the Chi-Running instructor training course.

[00:06:18] And so this would have been around 2006 07…

[00:06:23] So this is a little later on so it’s about 2011 right. Okay.

[00:06:28] And then so how did that lead into the Oxygen Advantage or Buteyko, which came first?

[00:06:33] So the Oxygen Advantage came first. So the Oxygen Advantage is exactly what it says is giving you’re giving yourself the advantage of using oxygen efficiently and it’s about breathing. The way I approach anything I want to learn myself and the only one thing I want it delivered to my clients is is to keep it as simple as possible and. The idea of the chi-running is its simplicity is based on principles. It’s not over complicated. And when I was practicing the chi-running. I’m developing my chi-running career and developing my chi-running with clients and with the UK, I was then given the role of director of UK & Ireland. So the chi-running is based in the States but we have various regions. So we have regions like Australia, India and they… god knows why.

[00:07:34] Gave me the role of looking after chi-running in the UK and Ireland. So for that reason a guy called Patrick McKeown who is the creator of the Oxygen Advantage had been in contact with Danny Dryer the creator of chi-running in the states and Danny said well the best person to talk to because Patrick is in Ireland, he said the best person to talk to is Grey. Get involved with Grey and see how it works over there. So Patrick contacted me and said look I’ve been speaking to Danny there’s a lot of synergy in what we’re teaching in the Oxygen Advantage to what you’re teaching in chi-running and one of the main things is is that actually you don’t want to be breathing too much air when you’re running you don’t want to be over breathing and one of the easiest ways to ensure that you’re not breathing too much air is to quite simply shut your mouth and breathe through the nose. So again it’s something really easy but when you say that to runners Oh my God I can’t possibly do that. So that’s how Patrick got in contact with me and I realized and Danny realised that what Patrick is doing with the oxygen advantage about breathing efficiently about breathing just the right amount of air for what we need for what we’re doing at that moment in time makes our movement more efficient and how the connection between functional breathing and functional movement is just there. You cannot have functional movement if you’re breathing inefficiently so that whole connection of putting the two together meant that if we’re teaching a running technique you cannot not think of breathing. You have to get that functional breathing working first. So it just all came together. So I met with Patrick. He came over and we started doing some oxygen advantage workshops in the UK. Then Patrick started to develop the instructor training for the oxygen advantage because it was going so well and we were getting such a good response from our clients and from the book. Patrick’s book that he’d written was doing so well and getting great response from people saying this is changing not only the way I exercise but also my whole life in general because I’m breathing more efficiently in everyday life. And that was just you cannot then not bring that into an exercise training. So into the running technique.

[00:10:02] And so what is Buteyko?

[00:10:04] Buteyko is a breathing technique which was developed by a Ukrainian guy and he realized that a lot of people were over breathing. So when people were struggling with their breath they started to try and breathe more air into the body thinking that that would be a better way of oxygenating the body and that hyperventilation became a major part of dysfunctional breathing. And the obvious sign of hyperventilation is somebody is having a panic attack.

[00:10:42] But what Buteyko found is that actually there’s a level below that where it’s not obvious that people are over breathing but there are certain signs that suggests that people are over-breathing. So say for example you’re sighing a lot or you are taking big gasps there before you talk or you’re yawning a lot when you’re not particularly tyred or sniffing a lot or breathing through the mouth a lot or you can really hear big intakes of breath before you speak which is what I used to do a lot.

[00:11:16] I used to sigh quite a lot. Those are sort of like little signals that the breathing was dysfunctional and actually there was again coming back to the simplicity of some really simple ways of actually. You don’t need to take medication you don’t need to have amazing products to sell to actually help to bring the breathing back to a normal volume of breath. So whilst quite often when we’re thinking of breathing we’re always looking at the biomechanics of breathing; or we should be diaphragmatic breathing and we should be horizontally breathing and all of these breathing muscles do this which is all great and obviously correct. But what is often not considered is the biochemistry of breathing. So again looking at science. So this is all science based it’s all science backing up this it’s not just people having ideas or anything. Looking at the science if you look at the basic science of the Bohr effect where it’s the presence of CO2 carbon dioxide that builds up in the body that actually helps to release the oxygen from the blood into every cell in the body. If we’re over breathing if we’re hyperventilating then we’re getting rid of too much CO2 so the blood doesn’t deliver oxygen as efficiently to every cell in the body. So you only have to try this yourself if you sit there and take massive big breaths for a few minutes you’ll start to feel light-headed and that’s because you’re depriving your body of oxygen. Whereas if you sit calm slow the breath. Take true deep breaths. So a true deep breath doesn’t mean to say it’s a big breath. You’re taking it slow, soft, easy, rhythmical deep breath you immediately bring that sense of calm to the body.

[00:13:18] And when you say deep and big. what’s the difference between deep and big?

[00:13:21] A really good point because a lot of people don’t realize or don’t think there is a difference between deep and big. What I will do at the beginning of usually at the beginning of one of my oxygen advantage workshops is say to people right I have a screen here that says “Keep calm and take deep breaths” and you see that everywhere you go to analysts and things or yoga classes and talk about breathing deeply.

[00:13:46] So I say to my clients Okay take take take a few deep breaths.

[00:13:51] And the majority of the time. You’ll see the volume increase. And then you say take a few big breaths and then go oh exactly as you said there what’s the difference. So it’s very important what cues you are giving a client when you’re teaching but also you as a coach are aware of the difference.

[00:14:16] So deep literally just means lower down. So you can take a lower smaller volume less a volume of air deeply into the body.

[00:14:28] So normal breath rate. If you’re talking normal is in a resting posture.

[00:14:34] Between 10 and 14 breaths per minute. That might be a little high. There’s a lot of research out there to show that six breaths per minute may be optimal, but say for example your breathing 10 breaths per minute.

[00:14:48] It’s not about the number of breaths you take it’s also about the volume of air you take so you can breathe too much air and if you breathe too much air you hyperventilate and therefore you get rid of too much CO2 so that you’re not delivering the oxygen sufficiently to every cell in the body.

[00:15:10] So Buteyko from what I understand is used a lot by people who have asthma for example? So how does it help asthma?

[00:15:19] Well also you’ve got the biomechanics you’ve got the biochemistry you’ve also got the psycho physiological aspect of breathing. So if someone with asthma starts to struggle with their breath what then will happen is their body goes into what is called Fight or Flight. So it’s like a panic mode. So the minute you start to struggle with your breath you’ll start to then breathe heavier which just creates that vicious circle. So what we’re aiming to do is to by reducing the breath. And calming the breath is to help in improve the response to asthma. Also what we focus on is breathing all the time nasally and what is happening when you are breathing in and out through the nose not just in through the nose is within the nasal cavities.

[00:16:18] So around the nose above the cheekbones and everything in those deep nasal cavities there’s a gas called Nasal Nitric Oxide which is produced and Nasal Nitric Oxide is what is called a Vasodilator so that actually opens up the airways. And if you open up the airways it means you’re going to get more oxygen uptake so you’re going to improve the oxygen uptake and the calming and relaxing effect. So with an asthma we’re not saying get rid of medication. This is not prescriptive. We’re not saying breathing is curing everything we’re just saying this is one element it is often overlooked. And you can try it if it doesn’t work it doesn’t work but you’re most probably guaranteed you are going to make your breathing more efficient just by closing your mouth and breathing through your nose if you do nothing else because we’re naturally designed to use the nose for breathing.

[00:17:10] I know many asthmatics don’t have to take any medication any more simply by doing this Buteyko breathing.

[00:17:18] Well I’m lucky in the fact that I didn’t come at it from an asthmatic background so I have no personal understanding…Personal experience of this, but Patrick McKeown developed the oxygen advantage trained as a Buteyko teacher with Dr Buteyko because he was a severe asthmatic and he was in hospital. He was on inhalers and now he doesn’t use inhalers. He just completely changed and he said he remembers when he was doing all of his exams. He was reading stuff like “OK so before you go and do this exam, to help you concentrate, go out walk, take some deep breaths” and of course he was going out walking taking massive big gulps of air then going in and then just going I can’t concentrate on my exam I’m feeling asthmatic. And then the minute he just even just the realization that actually you don’t have to take big breaths that you can over breathe and that you’re not going to run out of oxygen if you reduce your breathing.

[00:18:21] How does snoring come into this. And so what is it about snoring that is involved in all of this?

[00:18:28] With snoring a lot of it can be because you’re just your mouth is just open so you’re breathing through your mouth if you’re lying on the back then obviously sometimes the tongue can drop in the back of the throat so it can affect.

[00:18:42] It can block the throat. Also if you’re overweight then the neck can get quite restricted. But one of the easiest ways to address snoring, to try and address snoring is just breathing through the mouth at night and people say well how do I know I can say to people well how do you breathe a night.

[00:19:05] Do you sleep at night based on our breathe through the nose. How do you know.

[00:19:08] I don’t know how I know. Do you wake up with a dry mouth. Well yeah I wake up with a dry mouth. You can have a little bit of a dry mouth anyway when you wake up. But there’s one way that you can really make sure that you are not breathing through the nose at night. And that is just to put a little bit of tape on the lips.

[00:19:27] Now I’ve seen in the press recently there was a piece in some newspaper that was going “Buteyko’s terrible, because they tape their mouth”! And they had this picture and it was a stock picture they got they’ve got on Getty or stock and they had this guy with a big piece of gaffer tape across his mouth. So of course straight away everybody is going oh that’s horrendous how can that be improving your breathing and this is terrible this Buteyko stuff is all a load of rubbish because everybody’s just got gaffer tape stuck on the mouth. But it’s nothing like that. What I would suggest you do is you get some of the microporous tape so it’s just the stuff that you use, the medical microporous tape and with my clients.

[00:20:04] What I will do is I will get them to practice that during the day. So they’ve just got the lips just lightly together with a bit of tape. So you really get used to it. So it’s not you know you’re not going to feel suffocated so you’re comfortable in wearing the tape at night. And then when you’re comfortable with that during the day when you’ve really got used to it that’s when you start to just try taping your lips at night because then you’re guaranteed that you’re not going to be laid there with a mouth wide open.

[00:20:35] And because snoring can lead to many other things, can’t it?

[00:20:38] Yeah well then you’ve got that there’s a lot of sleep disorders and again I’m not an expert in sleep disorders but what I would say is that some of the basic stuff will help with that obviously down the line there may be other things that people need in terms of sleep apnea. But sleep apnea is literally stopping breathing and then starting breathing again. And there’s a lot of issues loads of health issues that we can that will be as a result of poor sleep. Sleep is as we all know is essential if you’re going back to the idea of training. The most important part of any exercise program you ask that to the people and they go, no it’s this run, it’s that run, it’s my weights, it’s my strength but the most important part of any training program is the rest and recovery because if you don’t get good quality rest and recovery then your training is never going to be optimal or you’re just going to be pushing yourself too much.

[00:21:36] And the best way to get good quality rest and recovery is not a night watching Netflix, it’s good quality sleep. So if you’ve got any sleep disturbance or breathing issues that are causing sleep disturbance then you’re never going to feel fully energized and fully recharged for your next day’s training or your next week’s training.

[00:21:59] When people come to you for the workshops you do on the oxygen advantage is it they come in for all sorts of different reasons, is it because of snoring, is it because of asthma or is it because they want to improve their performance, or is it a mixture of all of them?

[00:22:12] The oxygen advantage is geared towards improving sport performance because what Patrick found is that with the Buteyko he was improving people’s physical and mental health. But what he also discovered that is actually you could bring that those principles and those exercises in actually improving your aerobic performance and your VO2max and your aerobic threshold. So he found that actually it didn’t need much adaptation or much development to actually bring the whole area of Buteyko into sport performance. So the oxygen advantage is based, the foundation of the oxygen advantage is based on Buteyko. So I initially did the oxygen advantage training so I was working predominantly with healthy fit people.

[00:23:10] But what was a real benefit was for me then to go back and do the Buteyko training and see the difference. Some of the stuff we take for granted in the oxygen advantage of how just some really small changes made a difference to people’s lives. People with COPD, people with anxiety, people with asthma who were struggling to walk up stairs and then could improve that just by seeing them a week later because they were breathing more through the nose whereas with the oxygen advantage you would say just breathe through the nose! A lot of people could do that. So you’re not realizing the true benefits of what just one simple exercise can do.

[00:23:55] So would I be right in thinking that people have come to do, whether it be one to one coaching or workshops or whatever simply with the idea of improving one thing; maybe I can get better performance in my athletics or whatever it might be. And they’ve realized “wow, this has helped me in so many other things”?

[00:24:12] Yeah I think I found that again with the chi-running.

[00:24:16] And even before I started teaching the oxygen advantage is it’s going back to first of all I said I’m going to help improve your running technique because this is what it did for me is like I went into it it’s improving my running technique but the benefits you get from improving your running technique were immense for me because suddenly I was exploring places I was running outside, I’d lived in this area for 20 30 years and never been down this beautiful trail.

[00:24:50] And I’m exploring all of these areas and running in parks and running in trails and stuff. So that adds a whole different element to your life and to your approach to life. And then when you add onto that the fact that you’re starting you’re moving and you’re moving efficiently then you are feeling better. You are looking better you are feeling healthier.

[00:25:14] So I came with the beginning of my wanting to get fitter but it wasn’t just about fitness it changed there’s a difference between health and fitness because you can be fit but you can still be quite unhealthy and you can be fit but you can be depressed. You know what I mean. So it’s not just about getting fit. It’s about actually giving yourself. And it sounds a bit woolly. But it is giving yourself is making yourself more content. Now I’ve found running making me feel very content which then translated into relationships into the way I was working which is why I changed my career which is why I wanted to change into that because I thought if I can make this my career how fulfilling that will be for me and if I’m fulfilled learning this and being able to deliver this that can only hopefully help to fulfil the clients if I’m doing something I don’t want to do then I’m not giving the clients 100%.

[00:26:16] So I’ve had many clients who’ve come and said Right I want to get fit because you have to go on what they want.

[00:26:22] So you say Yeah I can help you get fit and then I’m not saying but I’m also going to change your life because then they just go “Well no” but you let them. You’re giving them you’re facilitating them doing that and then you get them saying Oh my God I just noticed that. I just feel so much more relaxed in work situations. I’m more relaxed in a social situation. So if you’re happier you’re enjoying it.

[00:26:49] And that’s one of the keys again to why I teach those particular techniques because they’re easy. They have an effect. They have an effect on people in how they move and the way you breathe can make a massive effect in how you feel. So you only have to sit there and start breathing quickly you start to feel anxious, all you need to do is just calm the breath a little bit and you feel more grounded and stable. So yeah it does. It does change their lives. And if it to a certain extent and this is like if you’re talking about exceeding expectations that was something that happened accidentally to me because I didn’t think right now I need to exceed the expectation of this client. It was something that I saw happening it’s like well they’re coming for me for a running technique. I’m teaching them this running technique. I’m bringing in this breathing technique when all of this is actually giving them more than they expected, and it’s not right, here’s a gift for you or here’s a £20 M&S voucher, they were getting more out of it. But I didn’t deliberately do that. It was just something that was happening as a consequence of these techniques coming together. So that’s why I’m teaching them.

[00:28:11] That’s why I feel those techniques… So those methods or principles is not necessarily a technique.

[00:28:17] It’s not a doing of something it’s just being easy and moving easy and breathing easy to start off with.

[00:28:26] And I know that Patrick has helped a number of Olympic athletes with oxygen advantage and help them improve their times and so they can win medals and all sorts of stuff. So how does it help people improve athletic performance?

[00:28:40] It is a very very good point. What I found that I know Patrick has worked with Olympics and what he has found is that it’s often not addressed. Breathing is not addressed. And I was shocked when he said this because you would think they would have the top levels of everything, which they do, top physios top Osteos. But I’ve worked we have not worked with Olympic athletes but I’ve worked with like rugby clubs and things and they don’t address the breathing.

[00:29:10] So what they are focussing on is all the time is the performance which is important of course you want to be challenging and you want to be focussing on performance but what they are finding now is that things like the oxygen advantage are stuff that are coming on board that is sort of like a bit new is giving them the edge to performance because what we have to do to start off with is to work on the functional stuff first on the functional breathing. And when people are athletic level or top elite level is the word I’m looking for there is quite often the easy stuff is when we’ve done that and quite often it’s the easy stuff you need to come back to just to have a little bit of refocus so to really focus on the foundations on what you’re building.

[00:30:08] Because people who are elite have got the drive and the energy and the competitiveness and the willpower to do that and they will push anything to get to that level.

[00:30:21] But what they don’t want to be doing is pushing to the point where things break. So what in theory we are doing with the oxygen advantage is just giving them that extra edge. So if they can understand the functional element of it and just check in with how you’re breathing in everyday life how are you sleeping how are you feeling in everyday life, practice all the funtional… Don’t neglect the functional stuff because this is quite easy to do oh they’re an elite athlete. Let’s just go for all the powerful stuff. Play with the functional stuff making sure that that is all working and then with the oxygen advantage there’s a simple really simple exercises which incorporate pausing the breath or holding the breath because what you’re actually doing there is you’re creating a similar effect to training at high altitude because if you’re training high altitude your oxygen saturation levels are lower. So if we were to check your blood oxygen saturation level in an easy resting posture and you’re healthy you would have about 95 to 99% blood oxygen saturation. If you go to high altitude that percentage would be lower. So that’s one of the reasons why the elites who go and train high and then practice low. So if you’ve been training at high altitude it’s going to feel a lot easier when you run at sea level and come and run a marathon. So what we can do with the oxygen advantage, it’s not the same effect. We’re not claiming we can do exactly the same. But what we can do with the oxygen advantage with simple breath holds or pausing the breath is that we can drop your oxygen saturation and it’s logical if you think about it if you breathe in and then breathe out a normal breath in and a normal breath out. If you then pause your breath for say 10 seconds the oxygen saturation in your blood is going to be drawn from the blood into the tissues because you’re not breathing in, you’re not re oxygenating that blood so you’re going to see a drop in oxygen saturation. So just by doing some simple breath holds you’re getting that similar effect.

[00:32:40] What that is also doing is it is in exercise something that slows us down is the build-up of CO2. So we get to aerobic state, the build-up of lactic acid the build-up of CO2 and we can’t go much further.

[00:33:02] So what we are doing also with some of that simple breath holds is getting our body used to the build-up of CO2 so beginning to get our body tolerant to the build-up of CO2 which helps to improve your aerobic function and then the other element of the breath-hold, it increases your oxygen carrying capacity of the blood. So if you hold the breath the spleen contracts so that injects or pumps more red blood cells from the spleen into the body.

[00:33:35] And that means it’s almost like putting more carriages on the train so you have a better oxygen-carrying capacity better circulation of the blood and that will again improve your aerobic performance. So the breath-hold exercises are doing similar things to high-intensity training.

[00:33:55] But the other thing they’re doing similar things too is high altitude training. But we’re also doing similar to high-intensity training because high-intensity training if I ask you to go up and down a hill is putting you into that anaerobic state where you are pushing and you’re getting to the point where you’re getting out of breath. So you have to get rid of the CO2 we can do that quite simply by pausing the breath by maybe walking up a hill pausing the breath so you feel out of breath and then you’re getting a similar effect so you’re not getting the same effect from the structural point of view because you’re not activating the fast-twitch muscles but it’s giving you a similar effect to high-intensity training.

[00:34:42] And most people are at less than elite shouldn’t be doing a lot of high-intensity training and this is for me this is one of the things about exercise at the minute is how we look at what we think exercise is, so you’ll say right I’m going to go out and I’m gonna do my cardio so running is good for cardio so let’s go and let’s get out of breath.

[00:35:07] Now that is not; that’s good if you do it for a little bit of time but if you haven’t done the majority of your training easy breathing then you’re actually going to end up overtraining your body is not going to be usually not structurally conditioned sufficiently to sprint or run up hills. So we get injured and then we get disheartened and then exercise doesn’t work for us.

[00:35:31] So we just go back to our can’t be bothered to exercise and that just feeds into that whole chain of being feeling not good with exercise.

[00:35:43] Whereas if you enjoy your exercise and if you have that awareness that you don’t have to be out of breath all of the time and then you just challenge yourself with some breath-holds and some high-intensity training as well. So that’s how you can help the elite athletes is by coming back to functional stuff making sure that they’ve got a good strong foundation and just basic movements good quality sleep good quality rest and recovery but then really challenge with some really strong breath holds but that you would do with people who are fit you wouldn’t do it with pregnant women you wouldn’t do it if people had cardiovascular issues if people had high blood pressure.

[00:36:21] So you really are aware of the group you’re working with on what level you can take them to.

[00:36:28] One of the things I love about the Oxygen Advantage as you just mentioned cardiovascular and it amazed me when I found out that, you know a lot of people get injured, and when you’re injured you might be sitting around for weeks, months if you’ve broken a leg or whatever and then what tends to happen is you lose your whole level of fitness. But the oxygen advantage can address this can’t it?

[00:36:50] Well it can address it because you’re increasing your cardiovascular fitness by holding your breath. You can do it sitting right there if you think what happens when you think logically what happens when you hold your breath is your oxygen saturation is going to drop the CO2 levels are going to go up. So you’re stressing in a good sense of the word. So a good stress, you’re stressing your cardiovascular system with a breath-hold just the same as if you were going to go and sprint. You are stressing your cardiovascular system with a sprint but I’d rather sit and do this…not all the time. But if you’ve got an injury and you want to maintain a certain level of fitness then you just pop some breath holds into sitting or walking or rocking or maybe stretching any sort of functional movement you can add easy breathing too and then you can add if it’s comfortable a breath-hold movement to. People say breath-hold! It’s natural.

[00:37:59] You look back about how we would develop through diving into the sea to get fish to eat to hunt fish and everything. You go swimming you would naturally hold your breath. So it’s not an unnatural thing for us to do. As humans it’s a natural thing for us to do. And there is a something called a dive response that you get if you put your face in cold water or again to a certain extent if you pause the breath is that the body responds by dropping the heart rate so it protects it keeps you alive.

[00:38:31] So whereas a lot of people feel stressed because they feel breath holds are stressful they are they can be stressful in the true sense of the word. But if you realize one you’re not going to run out of oxygen, two you just let go of your nose if you need to.

[00:38:48] There’s nothing stopping you. You’re not strapped or you’re not underwater or anything so you’re in control all of the time. So if you do feel dizzy you do feel faint, if you don’t like it you just stop. There’s nothing difficult about that.

[00:39:01] I think something else that will amaze listeners; it certainly did for me, is that it can even help people lose weight!

[00:39:08] I. Again if you think about it, one if you can start to move efficiently you will be moving.

[00:39:22] The other thing I’ve just done recently was a workshop a joint workshop with a nutritional therapist. And we got the idea from a podcast that she’d listened to a Buteyko coach in Australia and they were talking about IBS and digestive systems and everything in terms of how that can help through breathing.

[00:39:45] And again you just sit there and you go yeah this is logical because the other benefit of getting tolerant to CO2 is that CO2 relaxes the smooth muscle so the smooth muscle if it contracts think of like vessels that blood pressure can be high because you’re hyperventilating if you’ve got the right level of CO2 balance then the smooth muscles relax. Now all the intestine and all the gut is is smooth muscle. So if people are having IBS issues and I’m not again we’re not saying this is a cure-all and this is the magic bullet there’s loads of other stuff going on. What you see everything like that but it can only help it can’t hinder you can’t do any damage from practicing some really really simple stuff. Shut your mouth basically. So if you can relax the breathing is going to help with digestion and it’s going to help with the smooth muscle. It’s also going to help with the diaphragm if the diaphragm is working more efficiently. That’s going to help with the movement of the gut so it can actually help with that as well and help with digestion. So anything that helps with digestion and getting the nutrients out of the food is going to be beneficial.

[00:41:00] And when for someone who is say particularly overweight and just finds it a struggle to move, even just getting off the chair because they are out of breath, by doing something like this it allows them… And they’re in that catch 22 situation where they want to do some training but they can’t because they’re always out of breath. So this would help them in that?

[00:41:19] Well what I’ve found and I’ve not worked with anybody who’s been obsessively  obese or anyone who’s really struggled to move but what I have found is that firstly the biggest thing is the psychological aspect because it’s like if they start to try and breathe and get oxygen in the blood to move then it just is doing the opposite of that. So actually just getting people to be a bit calmer about the breath and actually take your time, so you could do from a seat into a standing.

[00:42:01] So if I was to say to someone right you’ve got to go to the gym and start exercising. That’s too much. You’ve got to do it gradually really really gradually gradually gradually. So I would start if someone was really obese or really heavy or really struggling to get off the chair.

[00:42:17] The first thing you do is practice movement on a chair with easy breathing. So the movement is following the breath and that will give them much more confidence in moving and then just ways of helping to come up to standing. Not just throw people in a gym and say exercise because again it’s that. What is your perception of exercise. Breathe Heavy lift weights, it’s not about that, to start off with it’s breathing easy and moving easy.

[00:42:46] And then that would allow them to start walking for example.

[00:42:49] Well exactly so walking, everybody says it quite rightly walking is one of the best exercises, everybody can do it and it’s free. You don’t even need a pair of shoes if you go barefoot but walking is free and it is one of the best forms of exercise.

[00:43:03] But the issue is sometimes I have is, then you see people right “I’m walking and I’m doing my cardio” so they haven’t got very good technique and the legs are all over the place and they’re overloading the structure and they’re breathing heavy because they’re thinking they’re getting fit so you can actually walking can be the best form of exercise but actually walking can be unhealthy if it’s not done with a certain awareness of what you want to be achieving from that walk.

[00:43:33] So just an easy walk to start off with with fluid efficient breathing. If you get fluid soft efficient breathing and you feel that in the breath allow the movement to follow the breath rather than just thinking I need to push a walk and then not realize what the breath is doing. So that’s the way I look at functional movement is first focus on the breath. Notice how easy and soft and rhythmical that breath is and then bring the movement into that. So if you’re getting up out of a chair and that affects that breathing so you start to hold and unintentionally hold the breath or it’s gasping or you’re getting out of breath, then for what you’re doing there then we just do something a little bit easier. So the same thing if you’re walking through a forest and it’s hard work and your breath is chaotic and your mind is all over the place and you keep holding your breath it’s not good but if you’re walking and breathing is rhythmical and the movement is following the breath that would be good at that point and then what you can do is once you’ve got that level once you’ve got that foundation then you can start to add breath holds which will help. Then you can start to add more challenging get the heart rate up a bit but don’t just go from right let’s get the heart rate up and do anything to get the heart rate up because that’s where you miss out on that on the true foundation of everything and we all know that if you don’t have a strong foundation for something then whatever you build on top eventually is going to crumble.

[00:45:08] So we really are creating that stable foundation from functional breathing that stable foundation from functional movement and then and only then do you add the stress in a good way you stress the body in a good way you stress the cardiovascular system in a good way.

[00:45:27] What are your general thoughts on exceeding expectations?

[00:45:31] This is something that I’ve known and you read all the stuff about right, as a trainer or as a business person you want to make sure that you’re exceeding expectations to your clients and it’s something I know I have to work on because I know there’s certain things I think I could have done that or I should have done that. So it’s something that I really appreciate that we need to do. But what I also appreciate is that it shouldn’t be forced. So it’s not just like like I said at the beginning. What was great for me is I found I was to a certain extent I was doing that without thinking I’m going to exceed it I’m going to give them more than they’re expecting that just happened naturally which was very, not intuitive is the wrong word but that would that was a great organic way of that happening for me. So it wasn’t just me going; I did actually once do a marketing course and it was like right you’ve got to give them this and you’ve got to give them… Which is all great but for the time when I was doing that it didn’t work for me it felt a little bit false. So what, my ideas now is that I want to be giving clients more to take away within themselves rather than. Rather than things to take away I want to exceed their expectations in that way. But at the same time it’s nice and I’m planning retreats at the minute. And this is something it’s not new. Because I’ve done a retreat in Spain for the past seven years. But this is something I found exceeds client expectations because they come for four days or three days or whatever and they take away so much more that than they expect just because they’ve been in a different environment because they’re doing different things they’re with a different group of people. But at the same time now I want to make sure that I make those retreats really special. So the exceeding expectations are things like let’s get them a nice welcome pack and let’s all of these little things I’m now thinking of that will just be that age of exceeding expectations things like the studio I know the minute it needs a little bit of a tidy up so it’s like making sure that the walls are painted properly the plants a little bit better. To me those little things a lot little details are what I think of the finishing touches which somebody is not necessarily going to come in the studio and go Oh my God this is exceeded my expectations but it’s making them feel comfortable and making them feel cared for not in a patronizing way and making them feel listened to.

[00:48:15] That was a point you made to me actually is making them feel listened to but again not in a patronizing way because I genuinely need to find out about my clients because I genuinely want to help them as much as I can in the right way in what is right for them. What is right for one person is not right for another so it’s the nuances of how do I exceed that particular person’s expectations if they’re in a one to one or if I’m doing a group.

[00:48:45] How do I exceed that group’s expectations? So, for example, I did an oxygen advantage workshop and it was a three-hour workshop. And to be honest the way I wanted to sell spaces on that. So I offered. All right here you go. Online Course. Value of x amount if you come to the workshop.

[00:49:12] I thought that’s a great way to get people involved. But again it happened the other way around. Because what I realized on doing that is that’s exceeding their expectations. But also it’s helping me because I have then got the ability to deliver more material to that group. And I don’t have to feel I have to cram everything into that three hours and that they can come back to me and there is a structure for them to be able to come back to me rather than me just saying at the end of a workshop oh any problems drop me an e-mail and I follow up an e-mail in two weeks time. But there’s no real structure.

[00:49:48] There’s just maybe oh yeah this has happened whereas if they then get this access to this online course I’m giving them much more value in terms of a three-hour workshop.

[00:50:01] So it’s exceeding expectations but it’s also helping me as a coach deliver what I want to those clients.

[00:50:07] So if people want to find out more about your workshops your course, your retreats where would they go to?

[00:50:12] My web site is

[00:50:17] And are you active in social media. Can they find you.

[00:50:20] So social media the page is “adventures in movements” on Facebook.

[00:50:26] If you just look for adventures in movement. On Twitter I’m GrayCaws. Just Gray Caws and the same on Instagram. So the Twitter and Instagram are just on under my name but I post a lot of the adventure stuff there.

[00:50:42] And just before we finish I believe you’ve got a quotation that you quite like?

[00:50:47] Yeah. This was an interesting one because I’m not really good on sort of like thinking of quotes and or profound statements and everything but what I did like is I was looking for a quote. Again when I was focussing on my retreats I was thinking what would be or what would be a good way to sell a retreat and what do I want a retreat to do for my clients. What will make it different rather than just saying we’re going on holiday for four days are you going to come and do a workshop in Bali or a workshop in Spain.

[00:51:18] So this is a quote by Leonardo da Vinci not Leonardo DiCaprio. And he says “Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer, go some distance away because then the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance and a lack of harmony and proportion is more readily seen”.

[00:51:43] And what I think is nice about that. It’s a really subtle way and a nicer way of saying put yourself out of your comfort zone a little bit and go and challenge yourself. Try something different and.

[00:51:59] I used to hate travelling. I used to hate flying I didn’t want to go anywhere particularly it didn’t really interest me.

[00:52:06] And I’ve really found by doing the retreat I really discovered a lot about different cultures. So I was never really learning different cultures and I think that’s important but also different environments is good for the body is good for the health to be eating local food and different food and challenging your body in that way and seeing different cultures.

[00:52:31] The retreat next year in Bali is amazing because it’s in the middle of nowhere and I was watching the guys in the rice; how they work in the rice fields and there’s no machinery. They’re just… That’s true functional movement and the Balinese the squat, we’re all struggling to do an exercise as a squat and they literally just sat there building buildings doing the squat.

[00:52:55] So it’s challenging yourself is putting yourself in a situation where it might not be totally comfortable but at the same time it’s not competitive because I personally would hate anything where you go oh this is a really competitive situation. And it’s a false put yourself out of the box think out of the box put yourself out of your comfort zone that’s not for me and that again I don’t think is what my clients want.

[00:53:24] They want to be challenged but in a very… Sounds counterintuitively you want to be challenged in a comfortable way and in a way that you are confident is going to be challenging in the right way.

[00:53:41] Well Gray, time has absolutely flown so thank you very much for giving us your time. Good luck with all that you’re doing and all of the people you’re helping.

[00:53:49] Thank you. Thanks for asking me to do it. It’s really appreciated Tony.

[00:53:55] Episode 53 next week is with Alexander Lowry. Alexander revolutionized the MBA industry by doing a few things that hadn’t been tried before. We’re going to hear about that next week. And he’s got a podcast called “Boardroom Bound podcast” that’s next week with Alexander Lowry. Hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s show. Please do share it with people who you think may get benefit from it. if there’s anyone who’s having problems fitness-wise, maybe they need to lose weight. They’ll probably be astounded to hear they could lose weight by listening about a breathing technique! Do leave a review for us on iTunes and maybe join the Facebook group called Exceeding Expectations. Hope you have a fantastic week. See you next week.

Related Posts

360 Degrees to Healthspan: A Proactive Perspective-episode 250

Tony Winyard

In this grand finale episode, host Tony Winyard is interviewed by talented Helena Holrick as they nostalgically reflect on the podcast’s 6-year journey and give an exclusive sneak peek into Tony’s health-focused rebrand and upcoming podcast. This heartwarming celebration overflows with captivating conversations guaranteed to leave you feeling informed, inspired, and eager for what’s next.

Mapping Your Wellness Journey: Navigating Health from the Inside Out with Izabella Natrins episode 249

Izabella Natrins

Get motivated by a trailblazing leader as the CEO of the UK and International Health Coaching Association, Izabella Natrins shares the visionary white paper “Towards a Healthier, Happier Britain” – revealing how integrating health coaching into public health can empower lifestyle changes that prevent chronic disease on a society-wide scale. You’ll be inspired as she draws on her personal journey from high-powered business consultant to her current mission of passionately working to enable health creation through coaching.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *