Remember when you could play all day and not even think about it as a workout? You’d meet friends at the park and run, jump, swing, climb, laugh, and give your body exactly what it needs to thrive.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could have recess again?
Roy Maynor and Kenny Stanford are two fathers and best friends who found a way to bring the play back into fitness. At their gym right here in Texas, Grit Fitness, they created recess for grownups—an obstacle course training program that brings people together for health, fun, and dessert!
On this show with Kenny and Roy, you’ll learn:
- Why “Abel James” is a dirty word at Roy’s house
- How Roy’s wife lost 22 pounds in 40 days
- Why you should consider throwing a Wild dessert party
- How to bring back recess for grown-ups
- And much more!
KENNY AND ROY: RECESS FOR GROWN-UPS
Abel: We’re here today with Kenny Stanford & Roy Maynor of GRIT Fitness. They’re coaches, fathers, and obstacle course heroes.
Back in 2013, you guys said The Spartan Beast in Glen Rose Texas, “pretty much messed up” your lives. Tell us about that.
Kenny: Ha, yes – we trained together for about 2 ½ months… which is not enough training for what we were about to encounter.
Before that, the longest I had run was about 4 miles. I think he did a Tough Mudder, which is about 10 miles, but at a much slower pace. Then we started training for The Spartan Beast, which is about 15 miles.
When I look back at the reviews, most people say this was the most difficult race they had ever completed.
We didn’t know what we were doing. There wasn’t much information we could find about how to train for an obstacle course race.
We show up for this race, snow on the ground, and that alone was enough to terrify us. We’re from south of Houston, where it never snows. We knew they were going to put us in the water several times. All that was going through my mind was, “I don’t want to get in the water.”
Four and a half hours later, I was running. This much older guy passes me. I said to myself, “Is this really happening?” The last 2 miles or so, if there had been a place on the course to tap out, I would have done it.
Abel: But now you train hundreds of people for obstacle course racing. But why would anyone in their right mind would want to do this?
Roy: In 2013, a guy came into work and said, “Hey, there’s a Tough Mudder, want to put together a team?”
I went home and looked it up, and it was appealing because there are guys on ropes and obstacles, and it was exciting. Even today before a race, you experience the jitters and excitement of what’s coming. That’s what gets people off the couch and makes them push their bodies.
Even through pain, there are the war stories afterwards. We talk about the Glen Oaks race even today if people will listen, including all the things we went through. It was a rite of passage for us as fitness goes.
HOW TO START A SUCCESSFUL GYM
Abel: Once you run a marathon, everything else seems a lot easier.
But when you’re expecting 12 miles and it’s 15, and you were dead 10 miles ago, it brings you to a place mentally that can really do exceptional things in your personal life. Now you’re helping other people transform their bodies and lives. How’s that going for you?
Kenny: We started our own business in January. I had the dream for a while to do something like this. We would get up and train at 4:30 in the morning. We have kids and full-time jobs. We weren’t going to let that be an excuse. We had both made up our minds we were going to do this. 4:30am is what worked for us.
We live right down the road from each other. We would train every day at 4:30am for 2 ½ years. I had the dream to start something where we could bring people into what we had experienced. This changed our lives. We showed up at these races and there were 5,000 people and we were like, “Where did they come from? How did they hear about this?” We wanted to take our friends and family and let them experience that. This is where it all started.
We realized that dream and started the gym in January. We’re kind of in awe of what’s happened. It’s taken on its own course. It’s a living thing now. It’s crazy.
Abel: Many listeners are coaches and gym-owners. Why do you think your gym is succeeding so quickly?
Kenny: I think for us it’s been the community side of things; helping people and making that the focus. Yes, we want to be the strongest and healthiest people we can. But we just want to be your friend and help you get started, and once you get started, to stay the course.
We want the workouts to be challenging for everyone, but we want to be able to bring on the newest person that’s 200 pounds overweight and help them on their level. We have people that are 200 pounds overweight, in addition to the elite athlete in another corner doing the same workout.
Everyone’s encouraging each other. It’s the same experience we had on the Spartan Race courses. We have people from different backgrounds and different fitness levels.
What’s also helped us is the popularity of American Ninja Warrior. People see that and realize the average Joe is doing this and they think maybe they can, too. It’s giving people hope, maybe even those who feel hopeless.
Abel: It’s giving adults a place (and an excuse) to PLAY.
I haven’t seen a jungle gym designed for someone my size since recess in fifth grade. It’s not a boring workout.
When you realize your body is working so fast you don’t notice it, all of a sudden something clicks and you’re in the zone.
You must love to see people who have been sedentary for a long time get off the couch and have tons of fun doing something they never thought they could do.
Roy: We have 30 women who have walked into the gym and said they will never climb the rope.
Now they’re climbing to the top of the rope and ringing the bell.
This is something you would do in high school and kids struggle to do. Here we are, middle-aged men and women, up the rope ringing the bell.
Abel: What is the thing that brings people from that place of “I can’t do it,” to doing it?
Kenny: It’s a slow process. Some are faster than others, but some people have the “I’ll try anything” personality.
The “I’ll never do that” people will see the “gung-ho” people and realize they’re not that different.
I think seeing other people accomplish things has a lot to do with it. That’s what we experienced at the Spartan Race, and it carries over.
Abel: If you’re in a group where friends are ribbing you for eating vegetables, that can rub off on you.
But I read a study today that shows if your friends are eating veggies, that will rub off on you too. Same goes for the challenges—if you see some other bloke getting to the top of the rope, that motivates you.
When I get up in the morning and see Alyson working out with kettlebells, I’ll want to do that.
You guys wake up at 4:30 in the morning to exercise.
You don’t want to let the other people down, and that helps you both make progress.
Kenny: People connect with each other at the gym and they know others are counting on them to be there. It makes them show up every day.
What we did not want to do is be a gym where we are collecting membership fees and don’t see you. If we don’t see you for about a week, we’re going to contact you. We want to find out if we can do something different, or if you need something different. We want people to have an active role in the gym.
WHY “ABEL JAMES” IS A DIRTY WORD IN ROY’S HOUSE
Abel: You nailed it.
You don’t have the gym membership model where 90% of the people sign up and pay the fee but don’t come. People in that position feel like losers and often get jaded about it.
You are both fathers (with 2 and 5 kids each). Kids are so often the excuse NOT to exercise. That’s the excuse to stay on the couch and not be active.
But you guys are rocking it. What’s your advice to parents who think they can’t do it?
Roy: Well, it’s not perfect.
I started using The Wild Diet in February. I said, “Maynor household, we are going to clean out our pantries and use this model.”
My daughter is 14 and son is 12, and we still fight on a daily basis. They hate the word organic. They may hate you if we meet in person. You’ve destroyed McDonald’s and commercial pizza. But we still have our treats on the weekend and we have our cheat meals.
If I had to give advice to a parent or parents, it’s just try to be consistent.
It’s a process. Just like coming off the couch to where we are now, you want to plant the seed and cultivate it. Every time I have the opportunity to teach about sugar, or why we don’t eat certain foods, so that when they go into adulthood they can make the best decisions. It’s night and day the way our bodies can feel when we get off of processed junk.
Once you understand what you’ve been putting into your body, you really start to see the difference.
Abel: What did you experience when you started eating Wild?
Roy: My sleep changed substantially. I was trying to get rid of pesky wing fat that would never go away. Prior to The Wild Diet I would eat breakfast, a good lunch, and dinner was 3:30 or 4:00pm. I would go to bed starving and wake up famished.
You don’t sleep well when you go to bed starving.
It was revolutionary how in the book you discuss, when you go to sleep you’re breaking down the food you ate and getting ready for the next day. You can’t put a bunch of processed junk in your body and go to sleep and expect that to be the next day’s fuel.
The huge thing was my sleep changed because you do sleep so much better when you’re body’s working on that and getting ready for the next day. And I shaved off an extra 5 pounds in a month.
Abel: You guys did a Wild Diet challenge at your gym. What did you see there?
Kenny: Huge success. Before the challenge, we had about 30 to 40 members, and 30 or so accepted the challenge.
We took the time to go over The Wild Diet book. We laid it out, and we had a question and answer session. We each read the book several times and a couple other books related to the topics which were covered. People accepted the challenge and did the 40 days and took it seriously. They were accountable to each other and had social media online accountability.
We had coffee on Fridays where we would have Wild Diet desserts. Our class would meet at 4:30am and then we’d head to the coffee shop and all show up with homemade Wild Diet desserts. It was the highlight of our week.
We had 30 people do the challenge, and almost unanimously everyone had great results. Roy’s wife was actually one of the biggest benefactors.
Roy: My wife actually lost 22 pounds in 40 days with The Wild Diet. The biggest thing I tell people is, she likes to work out, but there were crazy months where things slid by, and she didn’t get to work out that much. It was more about the eating. Only working out a handful of times and losing so much weight shows that the Wild Diet diet is a huge, important part of the process.
Kenny: That’s part of the reason we wanted to bring nutrition into the picture. At the beginning we were just going off the cuff from the research we had, but then I stumbled on to The Wild Diet.
I love audiobooks and The Wild Diet just popped up as a suggested book. I listened to the first chapter of The Wild Diet and I texted Roy and I said, “Roy, everything is about to change.” We brought your book to the gym and the rest is history.
We have The Wild Diet books at the gym. We endorse it. This is what blows my mind—we have people that aren’t part of the gym who come to us and say, “Hey, thanks for suggesting The Wild Diet. I’ve lost 10 pounds.”
Abel: Strangely enough, I actually don’t get “paid” when someone buys my book, but I really want it to be in people’s hands. It’s this wacky publishing industry thing.
But I really wrote The Wild Diet to be given away. It teaches us how to eat clean in a dirty world, but most people who try it get great results. There are certain people with various health conditions and such who might need to make some tweaks, but everyone learns how to eat a little bit cleaner.
I’m so thrilled you guys are helping spread the message about all that, it’s why I do what I do.
Kenny: The biggest thing is that instead of making my kids an excuse, as a reason I couldn’t do things, I use them as a reason to do it.
Saying you can’t work out or prioritize health because of kids, that’s a lie. It’s ridiculous. It’s absurd.
I’m a grown man. There’s always time to take care of yourself. Completely erasing that excuse was one of the biggest thing for me, and that helped me eliminate all the other excuses.
If my kids are why I’m doing this. If my wife is why I’m doing this. I can be there to take care of them and be the man I’m supposed to be for them. I HAVE to take care of my body.
Roy: It’s contagious. You have to continue every day. There are struggles, but you continue moving forward and eventually they’re going to follow suit.
When I started implementing The Wild Diet, “Abel James” was a bad word. My wife would say, “Who cares what Abel says?” You were put in the cultish realm because I was constantly making references to your books.
She’s a fan now though. Big time. Her name is Rachel.
Abel: Hi Rachel. Welcome to the dark side.
Roy: We always keep the compass pointing north. Sometimes you have bad days. Sometimes you have bad meals. Pick yourself up and keep moving forward. That’s all we can do.
Abel: It’s not always easy. Are there any little things people might be able to do from home, tiny exercises, to get them off the couch?
Kenny: BURPEES FOR DAYS! Burpees are something we owe a great debt to. It’s the exercise we love to hate.
Roy: Like you said, it’s just being active and sweating every day. We try to walk, and I run as well. Walking is important, as is getting outside and getting sunlight. We are all short on vitamin D.
Just being active is where it’s at. Everybody has a job and sometimes you can’t get to the gym, but we post the WODS on Facebook so you can do it at home and then post your time. You get hooked in.
Kenny: Social media is another part of it. It holds you accountable when you put your goals out there. Some people get annoyed by the fitness posts, but I never do. It makes me happy when I see that stuff.
We promote the social media aspect of fitness. People like to cheer each other on. It helps to have that encouragement and know people care.
Abel: The good thing about social media is that people can unfollow whenever they want.
We’ve spent years building our membership community, Fat-Burning Tribe, and it’s incredible. You can have someone in Australia answering questions for someone who’s up in the middle of the night doing shift work in Mexico.
Everyone is so connected with each other and living Wild, and no one has to do it alone.
My dad played basketball, but he did struggle with his weight growing up. We played sports together. Being active, for me, is forever linked to that—going for a hike, going for a run, your kids are growing up seeing that. You guys are doing such great work, I’m proud of you and thankful for you.
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WHERE TO FIND ROY AND KENNY
WANT A WORKOUT PARTNER?
One of the biggest factors in Grit Fitness’ awesome success is that it’s not just a gym membership, it’s a community. The support network, making friends, and having fun while getting fit can mean all the difference in the world.
That’s why we created our online community, The Fat-Burning Tribe. We not only have a ton of resources including cooking and workout videos, we also have incredible monthly meal plans with full recipes and the most supportive Facebook group we’ve ever known.
Join now for a low intro rate and you’ll get a new set of 30-Day Meal Plans every month (a $47 value). I’m talking Persian Beef Kebabs, Chicken Tikka Masala, Wild Pumpkin Bread, Beef Stew, Fat-Burning Chocolate Chip Cookies and more!
Come join us in the Tribe and start your fitness journey right. We can’t wait to meet you.
Do you miss recess? Leave a comment below to let us know what you thought of this interview!