Fitness Spotlight with Logan Gelbrich
Meet Logan Gelbrich, a fast riser in the health, fitness, and Paleo community. Logan is a former professional athlete turned CrossFit box owner, supplement manufacturer, writer for The Box, and all-around stand-up guy. But just as importantly, Logan is a sound, logical, and progressive mind in health and fitness. Learn more about Logan Gelbrich in his interview below.
Logan, fitness seems to have played a large part in shaping you. Can you share your path of fitness and what you feel influenced that direction?
How much time do you have? – HA I just owe a great deal of my current perspective to a number of key people and experiences leading up to now. For me, everything comes from baseball. Since I can remember I wanted to be a professional baseball player. Any interest in physical capacity came from the audacious goal of wanting to be the best in the world when it came to baseball.
Fitness first came into my life on day one in the weightroom at the University of San Diego. As a freshman catcher, I distinctly remember being the only person in the room that hadn’t back squatted before. From that day until today, I’ve been lucky enough for some of the best coaches in the world to literally fall out of the sky into my life.
Shannon Turley, who now is the strength coach at Stanford University, made the first real impact. He is finally getting some of the notoriety that he deserves as Stanford continues to excel and stay shockingly injury free. The bulk of the credit, however, goes to Stephane Rochet. Coach Rochet came in my junior year and introduced us all to functional fitness.
Rochet is one of CrossFit HQ’s original flow masters. The guy is a (quiet) legend. At the time, us and Josh Everret’s program at UC Riverside were the first two Division I programs to implement CrossFit components to their strength and conditioning programs. Little did I know the names that Stephane attracted at USD as assistants are people whose work I worship today. Casey and Natalie Burgener, JP Bolwahn, and Keysha and Skip Benzing all assisted along the way. I could have never understood how big of a deal this cast of characters was. I paid attention, nonetheless.
In 2008, I was drafted by the San Diego Padres and for the first time I had scope when it came to strength and conditioning. I recognized that what was happening at USD was special.
My first professional offseason, I went back to Coach Rochet to connect nutrition to my performance. As a catcher that weighed 175 pounds coming in that left school at 221 pounds, I had to work hard to put on size and I did, but I never considered eating for performance. Coach Rochet sent me a meal plan that Coach Burgener put together and it changed my life. From age five, it seems that nearly every decision I made came with the caveat, “How will this affect my baseball career?” except when it came to nutrition. I didn’t eat terribly, but I wasn’t aware.
Natalie’s meal plan was a tradition Zone Diet plan, which had me weighing and measuring food. In many ways, it upped the quality of my food as well. The biggest change was the shift in my mind that I could eat with purpose. It was this realization that started the passionate perspective on food and how I coach.
After I was released from the Padres and stopped playing baseball, I knew I wanted to build businesses (I just assumed I would be nearly 40 before I had to worry about that). What ensued was probably the most impactful time in my life. I basically was focused directing the work ethic and volume of my specific athletic past to the most broad improvement of myself. I read hundreds of book, wrote about anything and everything, created business plans, I trained, and even found myself painting. What came out of it was at that point the most clear picture of what I believed in and what I wanted to do.
The next move was to get back to Los Angeles, where I’m from, and start building a gym. Coach Rochet told me to go to see Andy Petranek, and I basically told him I wanted to learn from him and had aspirations of opening my own fitness school and that I’d do anything, including cleaning his toilets, to do so. For the next three years that’s what I did and slowly earned more experience and responsibility. He taught me virtually everything I know about running a gym.
It was during my time at CFLA that I started ORIGINAL Nutritionals. It’s beginning was rooted in anger really. I was upset at what I saw in the supplement industry. I disliked supplements and ORIGINAL Nutritionals, in many was, was me flipping the bird to companies selling the idea of performance to people. ON is rooted in real food performance with a knack for lipids. We do high quality liquid Omega 3 for athletes and recently developed a real food fat based fuel source on the go with coconut butter and four other real food ingredients.
At the moment, I’m just continuing on the path that I started at the end of my playing career trying to put as much work into being a well rounded human being. Work and training are just the details
You involve yourself across a wide spectrum of roles in the areas of health and fitness. You’re a writer, coach, CrossFit box owner, and are a founder of a supplement line. Did I miss anything?
You missed a newer one, actually. I’m super honored to have joined Rob Orlando’s CrossFit Stongman Seminar staff. Strongman has made a huge impact on me as an athlete, my as a coach, and my business. If you told me I’d be working with Rob five years ago, I would have laughed.
So, I guess I’m pretty busy. But, if you aren’t I think maybe you’re screwing this thing up a bit, no? I think you nailed it all. I write daily for my companies’ blogs (ORIGINAL Nutritionals and
DEUCE Gym). The blog is a huge part of the gym, especially. I also advise and write for a wonderful publication called The Box Magazine, who’s absolutely brilliantly producing the best magazine in CrossFit.
My gym, DEUCE Gym, in Venice Beach is something that surprises me everyday. The people there and the impact that they have on people is amazing. We get notes and comments from the most obscure places about the gym and it’s a trip.
I really do like being a coach, too. It’s important. Before strength and conditioning, I got my feet wet coaching baseball and I don’t think there is a better responsibility than to teach others while always being a student yourself.
You’re obviously impacting health and fitness. Can you describe those efforts and their impacts?
Well, I’d like to think I’m impacting people between the ears. I’ve seen lots of people lose weight, get strong, get fast, and whatever else. That’s square one, though. That’s why we’re all getting together everyday. But, as long as we continue to have a perspective in this country as broken as the one we have today, we will have plenty of work to do.
For me the best moments are the one’s where people realize that maybe fitness and/or nutrition doesn’t have to be what they thought it was. The fitness industry, in general, is failing people largely because it’s unwilling to address the mind, in my opinion. Rather, it’s fueling current perceptions that make money but not better health and performance.
There’s a ton of information out there regarding health and fitness. But not all of it is credible. Is there any topic or topics you would like to speak to, clarify, or share your stance on?
I’m officially sitting on a powder keg – HA! I’d like to make a general, but important statement, about this, actually. You asked about “my stance.” I have a few “stances,” but I’m always asking questions. My real concern is health and performance. That’s it. If I can attempt to strip away the emotion and agenda of everything else, then I’ve got a reality that allows me to constantly improve, critique, and change.
However, I see people get attached to things like CrossFit, Paleo, intermittent fasting, carb backloading, Wendler, conjugate, bodybuilding, etc, in the same way that people get attached to a sports team. In my opinion, that’s simple minded thinking. We’ve got to be willing to ask better questions. The moment you have an agenda beyond basic ideas like performance, you’re often subjecting yourself to a reality that requires you to be right rather than a reality that simply encourages you to be better.
Everyday that we question the things that we think that we believe, one of two things happens.: We are either forced to change our beliefs because they’ve become faulty, or we strengthen our beliefs. Both are great results if you ask me.
CrossFit has been criticized for some of its practices and stances. I consider the scrutiny to be a stage in its cultural acceptance inevitably resulting from its popularity. How do you feel about the dialogue and criticisms addressing gender competition and safety in CrossFit?
Rarely, if ever, have I heard someone criticize CrossFit for what it is. Most often it’s criticized by what it’s not. I argue that event many “CrossFitters” can’t do the explanation of CrossFit justice. In my opinion, the concept is undefeated in all arguments and debate for what it is.
The other thing I see is people attacking CrossFit by commenting on specific practices of people doing CrossFit, which is a critical fault. It’s my view that CrossFit people can choose to do stupid things and not impede on the training program itself.
There’s a ton of terrible basketball being playing in parks all over the country right now, but basketball isn’t stupid, unsafe, or discredited at all, in my opinion, and I think most will agree. Furthermore, if you’ve been inside an NCAA or professional sports weightroom, it’s most definitely not a crowd of A+ movers. I think people are making comments out of fear and insecurity, and if I was a trainer for 20 years that wasn’t making an impact on people that we are seeing, then I’d be scared, too.
People need to understand that CrossFit coaching is not a commodity. I graduated from college with a lot of dumb people. I also graduated from college with a lot of people far more intelligent that I. It’d be a mistake for me to hire someone simply because we share the same degree. CrossFit is no different. I sat through the same L1 Seminar as everyone else, but I think everyone would agree that the essence of a coach isn’t defined by that weekend. Using the “all you need is a weekend course to be a CrossFit trainer” argument means nothing to me and it shouldn’t mean anything to you either. It’s my view that that seminar staff and the seminar itself are top notch. But, no one at CrossFit is claiming that attending it ordains you are exceptional. Furthermore, I’ve personally never met someone that got my respect simply with mention that they hold an NSCS.
CrossFit is an open source strength and conditioning program. As a result, it’s developed and attracted some of the best coaching minds in the country. Most CrossFit coaches are not, however. Like in anything, most people are not great at what they do. CrossFit, the general physical preparedness program, does exactly what it intendeds to do extremely well, however. Period.
The story of Kevin Ogar, the paralyzed CrossFit competitor, has been a lightning rod for the criticism of CrossFit’s safety. Do you feel the criticism is fair?
The response to Kevin’s injury was so telling of the CrossFit community. People were too busy caring for this man they had never met to realize that it was the perfect fuel for haters. And, that’s how it should have been. I was at the event when it happened and the accident was tragic but had nothing to do with CrossFit.
I have yet to hear a real sound argument as to how CrossFit contributed to this event. Knowing what Kevin’s capable of the idea of making a snatch triple attempt at that load is neither reckless nor extreme.
Kevin wouldn’t tell you it’s fair. I wouldn’t tell you it’s fair. The people that are making these claims, like I said earlier, have an agenda. Weightlifters from Germany, China, the United States, Japan, and countless other countries will do thousands snatch triples this year without a mention of its recklessness.
What response have you observed within the CrossFit community to Kevin Ogar’s accident?
It was the most immediate, no-questions-asked display of compassion I’ve ever seen. Events popped up all over the world. Strangers donated hundreds of thousands of dollars within hours to a guy they had never met before. It made me proud.
What are some of your core principles as a health and fitness professional?
For me, the core principles I have in my back pocket at all times are ideas that started forming in my mind on the baseball field. I believe that those that are busy students of the game are leaders by default. I think that our entire daily engine is fueled sustainably by the idea that we have a duty –a job–to reach for idealism, fail along the way, learn the lessons from those failures, and continue forward as if perfection is possible – rinse and repeat.
Beyond that, the details of high bar versus low bar back squats or whether CrossFit is legit are not seem a bit like small fish in a big pond, right?
In our personal efforts we learn a lot about diet and fitness through experience. What works, what doesn’t. Is there a unique, unorthodox fitness or diet tip you employ that you can share?
I read a ton. I listen to people talk. I’m always seeking information and sound logic to support the things I support, but at the end of the day, life doesn’t happen on paper. I think we ought to always tinker with nutrition and performance and our own experiments are most critical in arriving at any conclusions. That being said, my nutritional journey began with an introduction to Zone via Natalie Burgener and Stephane Rochet’s program, which morphed into a less quantitative, higher food quality Paleo approach.
I found a new series of performance gains when I realized how heavily I leaned on nuts, seeds, and fruit. I removed them all completely, took inventory, and was able to reintroduce them at more optimal levels for some fun new body composition and performance gains.
From there I did experiments with cyclical keto strategies, I documented my adventure in carb backloading on my blog, I did some tinkering with different dairy sources during strength cycles from regular chocolate milk, to whole milk to raw milk, pasteurized goats milk, and raw goat’s milk. I’ve also, like many athletes, found a return to higher carbohydrate loads an enlightening experience. For example, I strategically use white rice at times during strength sessions and to help keep weight on.
At the moment, I’m Paleo with the addition of raw goat’s milk and white rice as strategic additions. I also enjoy one or two 2oz pours of wine most nights.
Regarding your company and supplement line, can you educate our audience about what higher standards your products meet and exceed? And further, can you explain why quality matters with your supplements?
ORIGINAL Nutritionals is my pride and joy. In many ways it’s an experiment to see what can happen when you commit to an idea of performance and nutrition that is often left behind in big business. I really think this brand can change the world.
Remember, ORIGINAL Nutritionals is as much a statement to the supplement industry as it is a business. In that way, our biggest value beyond the quality of our products is the idea of what ORIGINAL Nutritionals stands for. The moment we are no longer standing tall as a leader in clean performance and we “sell out” we lose all of our value.
That being said our Omega 3 is manufactured by the very folks that pioneered Omega 3 for human consumption in Norway. It doesn’t get better, or cleaner. As a business owner, I view product features or options as forks in the road. For the most part, it’s clear. Turn left for performance and purity or turn right to make concessions in performance and purity. We turned left every time.
Our Omega 3 is liquid because it out performs capsules, for example. Simple as that. We don’t add sweeteners for the same reason. It’s natural triglyceride form and free of soy lecithin for the same reason. Most Omega 3 products, unfortunately, can’t say the same.
Many people worry about mercury, toxins, and other heavy metals in Omega 3. Our oils are third party tested to have less parts per billion than that of drinking water! If you’re drinking water, we’ve got fish oil cleaner than that!
Logan, thank you your time. It’s been great to share your journey and insight for our readers.
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