We had the good fortune of connecting with Andrew Johnston and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Andrew, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I’m not sure I actually believe in risk. See, there are really only three choices: the optimal one, the sub-optimal one, and doing nothing. The optimal one is the one which we all hope to choose. But oftentimes that takes a bit of trial and error. So even if the choice made ends up being the sub-optimal one, at least that’s movement. And moving in the wrong direction is better than not moving at all. It’s a chance to meet the Pain Teacher. And she’s quite the motivator. Her lessons are rarely subtle and often will, as Osho puts it, punch you in the face! Those blows have been critical in my evolution. My third concussion ended my cycling career at the age of 26, forcing me to figure out what I was going to do for the rest of my life. That’s how I became a Corrective Holistic Exercise Kinesiologist–a career I love more than professional cycling (and is a heck of a lot safer…). Indeed, most of the hurdles we face are simply opportunities–chances to fill in holes in our development. And though distance or time may preclude us from seeing the blessing in the moment, each one of these challenges is usually exactly what we needed to realize our full potential. That’s been my experience with a large portion of my clientele. They’ve typically been referred to me after seeing a host of other practitioners and have been unable to overcome their pain or specific dysfunction. Many of them feel hopeless–at rock bottom. But that’s not a bad place to be as there’s really only one direction to go then! You simply have to risk taking that next step. Ultimately, I guess I would say Life is a risk. Yet without risk, there is no growth, and that’s what makes Life worth living.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
A former professional cyclist in both the United States and abroad, I am currently a CHEK Master Practitioner and Holistic Lifestyle Coach Level 3 as well as one of fewer than 100 Certified ELDOA Trainers in the world. Additionally, I’m a Leukemia Survivor since 2004 and the first (and only) Leukemia Survivor to compete at the Hawaii Ironman World Championships, win the Overall of an Iron Distance Triathlon, and complete the Race Across America (RAAM). I have authored two books (Holistic Strength Training for Triathlon and Spot On: Nutrition) as well as been the subject of the award winning documentary Living is Winning. I say all this not to toot my own horn but to show that none of these accomplishments would have been possible if I hadn’t delved extremely deep into what makes the body work. My desire to compete motivated me. But my desire to simply live was even stronger. The body is an integrated system of systems, bio-accumulating all the experiences you’ve ever had: your thoughts, your breath, your hydration, your nutrition, your movement, and your sleep. These are the six Foundational Principles upon which health is built. They’re not sexy, perhaps, but they determine how a person looks, feels, and functions. My ability to consider the whole is a skill I’ve developed under the tutelage of some of the greatest minds in the field of health and performance–as well as during my own battles in the competitive arena or otherwise. I tell people all the time: you don’t have a knee problem or a back problem–you have a body problem. And even though an MRI may show a mechanical pathology, it doesn’t reveal anything about how you slept last night, what you’ve eaten this past week, or any mental and emotional stressors you’ve dealt with during your life. Yet it all adds up to You. And I coach my clients with those unique considerations in mind. One of the most important aspects of my business I want my clients to realize is none of my knowledge comes solely from formal education. You can only truly know something if you have the experience of doing it. Everything you learn is theory until you practice it. You may know how to pedal a bike. But until you’ve actually worked at staying upright on two wheels, that Schwinn’s better off in the garage. Thus, everything I teach my clientele has been tested on myself numerous times before I’ll recommend it to my clients. Indeed, I believe every health challenge I’ve faced is what helps me empathize more deeply with the people I train–an offering I can give them so they don’t have to make the same mistakes I’ve made along the way. By consolidating a lifetime of study with a generous portion of missteps in my own evolution allows me to expedite the learning and development of anyone who works with me.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
It really depends on who’s visiting me and what they’ve already experienced of Atlanta. But I’d probably take them mountain biking or hiking in North Georgia as there are some fantastic routes that are pretty close by. Either way, I’m sure we’d have some epic organic dining, either home-cooked by my wife or at one of the many epic restaurants in the city. I lean toward the latter, simply so I don’t have to wash dishes (again)…!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
No, she’s not making me say this, but I definitely wouldn’t be where I am without my wife. We’ve been married 25 years this December, and she’s supported my dreams since the day we met. When professional cycling ended for me and I told her I was going to pursue personal training, she told me she wanted me to get a “real” job. But the idea of sitting behind a desk after spending years of my life flying down mountain roads on two wheels was something I just didn’t want to imagine. I asked her to give me a year–that I’d make it work. And she took the risk of believing in me. I’m pretty confident we can both look back now and agree we made the right decision. Just like I did when I chose her to share this lifetime with me.
Brent Rivers Photography