Taking the wildly active Colorado lifestyle to Michigan + his love for battle ropes with Cody Tustin of Unorthodox Fitness

Good Morning Fringe-fam. This is Peter Keller from Fringe, and I'm here today with Cody Tustin from Unorthodox Fitness. Cody is located in Brighton, Michigan, which, as we were chatting about in pre-interview, is near Ann Arbor and also about 45 minutes from Detroit. Cody, how you doing this morning?

Cody Tustin: Doing great. How about yourself?

Fantastic. Everyday upright is a beautiful day and a wonderful gift.

Cody Tustin: Good stuff.

Yeah, exactly. Tell us a little bit about yourself, Cody. Who are you, and what brings you to Michigan and opening up Unorthodox Fitness?

Cody Tustin: Well, I guess it all started ... I met my wife here quite a few years ago, about 15 years ago. I'm originally born and raised near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and, a long story short, my best friend as a childhood got a job up here and I came up to visit him quite a few times over one summer and ended up meeting this tall, beautiful blonde lady who is now my wife. Get through that without going into too much detail.

We fell in love, I moved up here from Pennsylvania, and then I said, "Well, I don't want to live in Michigan for the rest of my life, because there's no hills here and I hate that." We had a lifelong goal of always living in Colorado. I've always loved the mountains and the wilderness, and I'm a nature guy. We packed up our lives and moved out there with full intention of being there for the long haul.

We got out there, got very active, all the hiking, skiing, everything we could do. Along my fitness journey, I was always like the regular globo-gym, just going and stand in front of a mirror, do some curls type of a workout. I always liked being active, but then Colorado has a wildly more active lifestyle than anywhere I've ever lived in my life.

We went to this workout at Red Rocks Amphitheater, and it was this 3-hour long circuit training led by this maniac who, his name's Joe Hendricks, and he does this for free 3 days a week out there. It killed us. It was right before Valentine's Day, I remember it vividly. We had a ski trip planned, and we did zero skiing for the four days that we were up in the mountains because we were nearly paralysis from soreness because 3 hours of doing like, I think it was well over 500 squats throughout the whole workout, and running and bear crawling backwards up steps in the bleachers.

That's what got me hooked on a different outlook on fitness, I guess. I just went nuts with it, and then I was driving 45 minutes each direction just to do these workouts 3 days a week. Then I started spawning off and collecting fitness gear in my garage. I guess you could say that was the very first spark towards the path that I'm on currently, creating my own gym atmosphere and working on developing a following.


Cody Tustin: That gets me to that point.

There you go. You had mentioned going to this 3 hour long workout, and then that sparking your brain and getting you on this path. I'm curious, how would you describe your fitness methodology or your programming methodology?

Cody Tustin: It's got traces of CrossFit, because I've been a member of a box for probably collectively a total of a year throughout my fitness journey here. Working out with people that have done MMA, because it seems like everybody you run into in Colorado has done MMA or does fight. Mixing in implements of that, that's where I first discovered the battle ropes and fell in love with them, was I was watching somebody from the UFC training and I was like, "Oh, that looks fun." That's what everyone always says when they see battle ropes, and they say, "That's the cool, the Instagram, really cool looking thing until you do it and you realize how challenging it really is."

I'm getting further down that road with the flipping tires and sledge hammer, and all those different, like the unconventional route versus powerlifting. I still mix some of that stuff in, like deadlift's a staple. I think no matter what type of training you're doing, lifting this really heavy shit is a good thing too, because that transfers into real life and just good for your body also.

I love it. Let me interrupt here for a minute. On a personal level, we sell battle ropes, but I personally have never been into battle ropes. Every time I've touched them and used them I've kind of been like, "Eh, I feel like I could do something else." Now, keep in mind this is just my personal feeling. Sell me on power ropes. Why should I be excited to walk out in the gym and hammer battle ropes? Maybe I'm just doing the wrong thing with them.

Cody Tustin: That was one of the things recently. I'm certified through the Onnit Academy as a foundations trainer, and in two weeks I'm going to Chicago to get my battle ropes specialist certification. Their master coach, Aaron Guyett, is a phenomenal coach. Watching his videos online and on his website, it was unreal how versatile they really are. It was pretty much just slams and rope waves, and that's what most people do with them, but you can do a lot of static strength.

Even just doing something as simple as a shoulder press with the battle ropes. If you're facing your anchor point, you're gripping it, and you're pretty much mimicking what you would do with a push press or a regular overhead press with a barbell, only you're using battle ropes, but it's so much different resistance, you're just not used to it is part of it. I've had some of the people come through my gym freakishly strong, and they're like shaking and quivering doing this, just because it's a whole new movement. The rope is pulling you more forward as well, so you have so much extra force going in that opposite direction. That's another little thing.

Then there's all kinds, like you can do a plank. This is one of my favorite things, and it's great for all levels of fitness. You do a plank where you have the rope, maybe wrap it around once or even twice if you have somebody that's freakishly strong, around a rig or a pipe or something that's solid where it's not going to move. Then pulling the rope underneath your body, across, almost as if you're ... It's hard to explain without visual aides on something like this. Do you get the idea, what I'm talking about?

I do.

Cody Tustin: Okay. That's another great one. That's another thing that I've found that there's in lots of other types of fitness. I'm a huge fan of CrossFit, but there's not a whole lot of rotational strength that goes on. It's very linear, so that's another thing with the battle ropes. You can really do explosive movements, left to right versus just up and down and forwards and backwards. Doing that, and then if you can mix in jumping lunges while doing any of these other motions, it's just that much more of an energy system boost.

Okay, well I'll have to give battle ropes another chance in my fitness. Tell us a little bit about what you've got going on with Unorthodox. Are you training out of your garage? Is that correct?

Cody Tustin: Yes. It's not the typical garage gym by any means. We bought a place out in the country with this intention in mind. We were either going to get enough land to build another small garage. Not necessarily small, it's 1,300 square feet and it's a 3-1/2 car garage/pole barn they call them here in Michigan. We have a regular garage attached to our house, but this was a whole separate building.

Most people, they're living in Michigan, you get the classic car lovers and it's usually a workshop for most people. We gutted this thing completely, redid some of the walls, because it was beat up, and turned it into, if you closed your eyes and walked into this, you would never know you were out in the country inside of a gym. That was one of the coolest things, was being able to design it from scratch by myself and just be as effective as I can with the space that I have. I can comfortably workout with 8 to 10 people at the same time in this building, and it's a blast.

I love it. That brings to mind a few other questions for me. Help me understand a little bit more Brighton. What's the population look like, and who are your clients? Who's deciding to drive a little bit out to the country and train with you?

Cody Tustin: As far as that goes, Brighton, within their city limits I think they're somewhere in the ballpark of like 8,000 population. If you're including all the countryside and out where I'm at, I'm assuming it's somewhere around 14,000 people. Then as far as my client base, it started off ... I don't know if it's the website or whatever, but I'm attracting people that are already in shape and just looking for something different mainly. I started just a few months ago here actually, officially opened my doors, so to speak, had my grand opening. I'm up to eight clients now.

My first intention was doing personal training out of this. I have one personal training client, and all the rest are now part of the classes that I put on. It's obviously a best bang for your buck situation, and it's creating the culture and the community that CrossFit offers, which I love so much. That's been a goal as well, and people are making friendships, and by doing that you have the accountability boosting and it's really a good atmosphere we got going here.

I love it. What are your goals? Where are you looking to get in the next year or two years, five years with Unorthodox Fitness?

Cody Tustin: Short term goals, I'm looking to just grow until I can't physically squeeze the people into the building. Then from there, that'll be a crossroads that my wife and I have talked about it quite a bit. My wife is a physical therapist, and she likes working with high level athletes and people that are just athletic, instead of just this, people that hurt their knee doing sedentary lifestyle type stuff. As far as that goes, we're looking to possibly join forces and create a facility where we can take advantage of both of our expertise and offer up a much larger scale of what I'm currently doing. Then, way further down the road we're looking to maybe just create some sort of a franchise type of a ... We're not sure about that yet, to be honest.

I love it.

Cody Tustin: I don't want to stir things up.

No worries, the sky's the limits. Well, I think that's about what we've got time for. Cody, this has been awesome. Is there anything else that you'd like to tell our audience?

Cody Tustin: Nothing really, other than you can check me out on Facebook, Unorthodox Fitness, and give me a like or anything like that is awesome. I hope to connect with people. I just love what I do and talking with people in the fitness industry. It's a blast for me, and I'm finally later in my life here doing what I want to do.

Man, that's freaking awesome. I love it. We'll make sure to link all that up in the show notes. Cody, you have a wonderful day. To all those listeners out there in Fringe-land, go lift something heavy. I think both Cody and I, regardless of our opinion on battle ropes, we completely agree that when you lift something heavy off the ground, you're going to make your day better.

Cody Tustin That's right.

Cheers. We're out, Cody.

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