Here at GBT we like to think of ourselves as a “Home of the Bodyweight Athlete,” bringing together multiple bodyweight disciplines, including hand balancing, progressive calisthenics, skills-based training, gymnastics, parkour, breakdancing, bar work, and other practices that use your body and gravity. In my travels for GBT I now get to meet so many awesome athletes that we decided to launch a new series on our website featuring interviews and tutorials with some of the best athletes from each discipline.
I’m psyched to kick off this series with Travis Brewer, best described as a Ninja Social Entrepreneur and professional athlete. When he’s not performing mind-blowing tricks on the bars at Venice Beach, competing on American Ninja Warrior, or winning the National Battle of the Bars, he’s on a mission to spread positive energy and improve the world through movement. We’re also proud to count him as one of our Animal Flow Coaches!
Travis recently took the time to talk with me about his training, his socially conscious business designing athletic wear, and what keeps him motivated. He also recorded two videos just for our GBT fans (which you’ll find at the bottom of this page. The first video demonstrates one of his typical training routines (The 300 Workout) and the second video shows how he uses Animal Flow moves with his progressive calisthenics training
MIKE: First of all let me give you a huge CONGRATULATIONS on your recent Battle of the Bars Championship! Some of the moves that you hit were truly next level. It’s insane to see the continuous progression in the sport of Street Workout. I personally see you as someone who’s leading the way in not only the physicality but also the philosophy of self-mastery and personal development.(Note: You can watch the video of Travis’ epic championship performance at the Battle of Bars at the bottom of this page.)
TRAVIS: First off, thank you for the kind words. It was such a pleasure being a part of the main event for the Battle Of The Bars. While it was a great feeling to win the competition, the true enjoyment for me was high level of energy, sportsmanship and camaraderie the event brought to everyone. The sport has progressed and grown exponentially and I’m excited to be a part of the growth and compete at the highest level with some of the world’s top athletes.
MIKE: Give us a little bit of background on how you got into bodyweight training and which bodyweight disciplines you trained in.
TRAVIS: From as early as I can recall, I’ve always enjoyed testing the limits of my body. In high school I played football, soccer, lacrosse, and ran track. I also participated in soccer and basketball outside of school. Growing up in Texas, football is the premier sport, which really caused me to place a high emphasis on weight training and getting bigger, faster, and stronger. Unfortunately, a knee injury kept me out of sports in college. Nonetheless, I chose to remain active and continue working out and strength training. Throughout my college tenure I became heavily involved in weight training and powerlifting, resulting in limited range of motion and flexibility.
Following college I moved to California and totally changed the way I trained. I began meeting groups of people training in calisthenics and the rest is history. I fell in love with the movement patterns and began searching for any type of body weight movement. Today, I specialize in calisthenic workouts on the bars, as well as parkour, gymnastics, yoga, rock climbing, and of course, Animal Flow.
MIKE: Do you still use external loads in your training or are you strictly Bodyweight?
TRAVIS: Very rarely do I ever use external loads in my training. If I do, it’s mostly for legs. I sometimes train at Paradiso Crossfit in Venice Beach. There are often squats and/or olympic lifts in the WOD (Workout of the day) and they are often weighted, but I don’t do it on a constant basis. I prefer to train with just functional body weight movements or with resistance bands. I would say I am 95% BW.
MIKE: When we first met you were explaining to me about the different charities you were involved in and how you were using proceeds from your clothing company Pi Lifestyle to give back. How do you see that evolving?
TRAVIS: Glad you asked. Giving back to charity or those in need is a big part of my life. I believe it’s one of the main reasons of why we have been gifted this life. Each and every day I try to incorporate servitude into my life. I feel that the more you give to the world, the more positive energy the world can return.
My mission in life is to make a positive impact through movement. Health and Wellness is a facet of life which I place a large emphasis on, through movement I believe our minds are sharpened, and our bodies are made aware of themselves. With a sharp mind and an aware body, we our equipped to produce the change we wish to see in this world. When I first started my clothing line, Pi Lifestyle, my inspiration was to provide people with the choice as to how they wished to give back. Through product sales we hoped to donate back to the world, a slice of the Pie; with a Pi percentage of each sale going toward the charity of your choice. You could choose from an affiliated food, water, or shelter charity, covering the basic necessities of life. While it was a valuable experience, I learned that I can be more effective and make more of an impact by focusing on one affiliated charity.
With the idea of movement and our new clothing line, Positive Inergy Movement, we will be placing a heavy emphasis on body weight and calisthenic movements. Movements that you can perform at the nearby park or playground, requiring only a set of monkey bars and a leveled ground. Moving forward, our goal is to be in a position to fund park and playground projects in all areas of the world, teaching our movement to children and adults alike. You can learn more at www.pimovement.com as it evolves as well.
MIKE: Give us an example of your training style each day or each week. How much time do you dedicate to skills practice and how much is basic conditioning or strength/hypertrophy training?
TRAVIS: By design my training schedule varies every day and/or each week. I enjoy exercising my body through a variety of training disciplines and learning about the different styles of body movement. Muscle confusion and learning is a great way to exercise the mind and body. I focus on a different strength, conditioning or stretch session everyday as well as practicing new bar progressions and tricks once or twice a week.
For example, here’s what I did last week, which is pretty typical for me: Every day I wake up with a stretch, mediation and set my intention and goals for the day. Monday to Friday I help lead a calisthenic workout group in the morning with my good friend and former football player Jacy Cunningham. We focus on perfecting natural movement patterns and controlled strength through a variety of calisthenics movements, always allowing time for an Animal Flow warm-up and/or cool-down. Following that I typically train at some period of time during the day, always allowing time for proper fueling (nutrient timing, meal, supplementation).
Travis’ Typical/Ideal Week:
Monday- Yoga class
Tuesday- Calisthenic training with friends at SouthBay Cross-fit
Wed- Gymnastic gym
Thursday- Parkour gym
Friday – Rock climbing
Saturday- Wildcard or relaxation day (never forget to always allow time for proper rest and recovery, it’s the key to unlocking those gains)
Sunday- Lake Shrine Temple followed by a Venice Muscle Beach meet-up with my Calisthenic crew Raw Movement or the AcroYoga community that shows up to the beach.
MIKE: Are you currently associated with any particular Street Workout or Bar Group or are you more of a solo Bodyweight Athlete?
TRAVIS: Yes to both. I am associated with street workout bar group, and I operate my own thing as well.
I originally met the bar group, The Barholics, the day I graduated from the MBA program at Pepperdine in 2011. After graduation my parents said I could do whatever I wanted that day. My answer was working out on the beach and hanging out. The very first day I can recall a calisthenic group on the bars, I jumped in on the training, and the rest is history. A month later I was performing at the Convention Center, participating in the Fitness Expo with them and learning the calisthenic ways. Unfortunately the group split apart because people had different visions and plans for where the group was heading.
Another friend of mine wanted to start a separate Bar group that was based on positivity, motivation, and movement (not just limited to the bars). We ended up creating a group called Raw Movement. We meet every second Sunday at Venice Muscle Beach and encourage each other to be positive and progress our level of fitness and movement. There are some very talented and motivated individuals apart of the crew and every day inquiries are made as to how to become involved. Check out http://instagram.com/raw_movement to see the inspiration grow.
Apart from my involvement in the various groups I also have created my own personal brand, which involves a sheer determination to infuse Positive Energy into the world. Since I enjoy all kinds of movement, not just strictly Calisthenics, my style goes outside the realm of the typical bar crew. You can see more about that at my website www.TravisJBrewer.com.
MIKE: What advice would you give someone who is just starting to get into calisthenics or making the switch from weights to using their own bodies?
TRAVIS: Great question! I get asked for advice on this subject often and enjoy getting people to switch to bodyweight training completely. So glad that you asked.
- My first advice is stay positive and realize it’s a progression! Similar to weight training, Progressive Overload is also a principle used in Calisthenics. Many body weight movements require a lot of balance and/or significant strength in your stabilizer muscles.
- Secondly, always remember that you can definitely gain significant strength doing strictly body weight training. I work currently with a friend who performed at an extremely high fitness level, being a collegiate and professional athlete. With only weight lifting and explosive movements involved in his regimen, he has since switched to body weight training and is in the best shape of his life.
- Thirdly, body weight training is not only better for you but incurs a less chance of injury and is more functional for your body. Overall, it’s a better way to work out and is natural for your body.
MIKE: It’s rare to see someone at your skill level be so humble and not let ego get in the way. It seems a lot of that stems from your passion of movement and sharing that with others. Do you have any projects coming up that encompass both your philosophies on life as well as the movement education?
TRAVIS: Thank you so much for the kind words! I feel there is no need for ego in the sport of Calisthenics. Body weight training should be used to better your body, not your social status and/or bank account. Your body is your temple and you should honor it through your everyday interactions. I don’t compete to say that I am better than anyone. I simply enjoy the creative freestyle nature of it and helping progress the sport. The camaraderie of the movement and connection you can achieve with nature is what motivates me. I seek out to train with the best people I can, so that I can in turn hopefully inspire and teach others how to master movement. Again my goal is to help make a positive impact through movement and teach anyone along the way who is willing to punch fear in the face and plunge into the world of Movement.
In the future, I am looking forward to many different things. I am now training out of Venice Beach and hope to open a gym and retail store one day. The new version of the clothing line is coming soon as well. I am also looking to get certified possibly in a couple more movement disciplines to continue bettering myself and becoming more of a well-rounded athlete. I ultimately want to create my own version of movement training, operating my own workshops and retreats. I envision myself helping to create obstacle courses and movement camps where we can teach people to move efficiently. All this will return to helping raise money for my ultimate motivation: Improving parks and playgrounds with fitness equipment and inspiring the next generation to move with a positive impact.
I’ll leave you with a quote which I believe captures the need for movement in life:
“It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.” – Alan Cohen
TRAVIS BREWER VIDEOS
Special Workouts for GBT Fans
Want to train like a superstar bodyweight athlete? Check out these two videos Travis shot demonstrating some of his typical workouts, including one he calls “The 300 Workout” and one that uses Animal Flow moves!
Battle of the Bars
I am still amazed every time I watch this video of Travis’ winning performance at the national Battle of Bars 3. You’ll want to watch the whole thing since it is non-stop awesomeness from both competitors, but if you really want your mind blown, check out the moves he pulls off at 3:54 and then again at 4:53! If that isn’t inspiration to get outside and start working on your bar skills, I don’t know what is!