September 29, 2017
Podcast from: bengreenfieldfitness.com/sparta17
[08:10] Jasmina Aleksandrov & Manuel Di Geronimo
[09:22] About Jasmina Aleksandrov
[10:48] About Manuel Di Geronimo
[12:50] Jasmina – How She Trains
[16:36] Manuel – How He Trains
[26:02] End of Podcast
Ben: Hello! What’s up, it’s Ben Greenfield. Hey, I have a pretty special series. A doozy full series and I’m going to do this for you coming up today and a whole bunch of other days this week. I’m churning up the podcast this week because I just got back from Lake Tahoe. I got a chance to hang out with some of the world’s top athletes, and biohackers, and inventors, and physicians, and more down at the Spartan World Championships. Even if you’re not an obstacle course racer you’re going to dig today’s show. You can access the show notes where I have a special video for you over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/sparta17 yes, as in Sparta17 like the movie 300 where they all talk with Scottish accents even though they’re supposedly from Greece. Anyways though, we digress.
So in that video that I posted for you at bengreenfieldfitness.com/sparta17, I actually have a fascinating discussions at the top of the page where you see there about legal ways to dope your blood. Legal ways to get nitric oxide up like Viagra for your whole body without actually taking the little blue pill. At how to max your ATP and what are called your erythrocyte levels using some pretty fringe formulas that are out there. So when you visit that page over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/sparta17 you’re going to want to watch my interview there at the top of the page this guy named Craig Dinkel. Craig you may have heard on previous podcast episodes. He is like a total wiz when it comes to formulating very potent and unique supplements. I’ve got a bunch of discount codes for you over there too on some of the stuff that Craig and I talked about. So that is what is bringing you today’s show. That video and those supplements which I consider to be now as one of the best supplements for altitude but some of the best supplements for sex, and for nitric oxide, and for recovery from jet lag, and for enhanced blood flow, and for just about any situation where you want more blood. So check it out bengreenfieldfitness.com/sparta17. Alright, let’s move forward shall we?
Hey, what’s up? It’s Ben Greenfield and this is a bit out of the ordinary but I happen to be sitting here with my trusty podcast sidekick Brock Jason Skywalker Armstrong. Brock, how are you doin’?
Brock: I’m doing well. Hello, hello everyone.
Ben: And you could get sick of that lolling Canadian accent over the next few days. Because Brock and myself to a certain extent but Brock to a much greater extent, we’re going to be bringing you some amazing interviews over the next several days because we are at Spartan World Championships.
Brock: Spartan World Championships!
Ben: So here’s what to expect. First, if you’re not an obstacle course junkie or an athlete, don’t worry. We are right now here surrounded by some of the top fitness, health, biohacking, nutrition, and even personal productivity and lifestyle minds on the face of the planet who Spartan CEO Joe De Sena has flown in to be here and Brock and I have decided to get the microphone in front of them and take a deep dive with them into their top secrets that we can deliver to you. And we’re also of course, since we are surrounded by some of the fittest people on the face of the planet here, we’re going to be interviewing some of the most hardcore men and women that exist when it comes to their insider training tactics, their nutrition secrets, their recovery hacks, and a whole lot more.
So basically you are going to be getting lots of podcasts over the next few days. Don’t worry if you don’t have time to listen to them, you can save them and I believe there’s even a handy save function in Apple podcasts. Most podcasting apps. Save for later, next time you're bored on a drive or you have a few extra gym sessions or you're out on a long hike, you can basically listen in to a lot of these extra episodes we're going to be pushing out over the next few days.
Brock: You can bathe in them even.
Ben: You can bathe in them, literally. Like a float tank or epsom salts, yes. So we are, in addition to a bunch of podcasts, you're going to get right here on the podcast feed doing a bunch of short video and audio interviews over on the Facebook page, and if you don't know the facebook URL, it is… Brock, take it away.
Brock: On facebook.com/bgfitness.
Ben: So go to facebook.com/bgfitness if you want extra photos, amazing, entertaining and educational content for you in addition to what we’re giving you right here on the podcast.
Brock: I’d call it edutainment.
Ben: Edutainment, did you make that up?
Ben: Okay. Now we may not have our usual show notes, I’m going to warn you because…
Brock: Yeah, I’m illiterate.
Ben: Brock is illiterate and dyslexic.
Brock: And Canadian.
Ben: And frankly, we’re going to be so busy interviewing people. We’re probably not going to have a lot of to time to sit down and make for you show notes. But we will make for you plenty of extremely helpful content and we promise mad value if you just listen in the next few days. Again, we’re not going to bore you with the ho-hum I eat Red Bull and stinkers before the race and my top recovery tactic is compression socks.
Brock: Nor are we going to bore you with a longer intro than we’ve already done.
Ben: No, this is getting a little bit long in the tube. So I will be racing and I will be not only racing but likely out there leading other racers through the course after I’ve done the race myself. So you’re going to need to get used to Brock’s Canadian voice and his beautiful shaven ballerina legs.
Brock: You bet ‘yah.
Ben: Which you actually can’t see on an audio podcast but I can vouch that they are quite beautiful. He’ll be the voice you’re listening to and seeing if you’re on Facebook all weekend as we make you a part of what is widely considered to be the Super Bowl of obstacle course racing and is the crown race to discover who the fittest person on the face of the plant actually is.
Brock: Spartan World Championships!
Ben: Unless you’re a crossfitter in which case it would be the Crossfit Games. So get ready of plenty of action. Get ready for plenty of action over the next few days. And if you want to have the most fun with these stay, tuned on the live content and the conversations over at facebook.com/bgfitness. And keep a notepad for your own freakin’ nugget.
Brock: Make your own show notes, guys.
Ben: That’s right.
Brock: Come on we’ve been holding your hand for too long now. It’s your turn.
Ben: Take notes on everything that we bring your way. We promise we’re going to make this a lot of fun for you. So, that being said, listen in ‘cause here we go.
Brock: Welcome back to the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast, I’m Brock filling in for Ben because Ben is still sleeping probably because it’s 8:30 in the morning and he’s racing tomorrow. But two people who aren’t sleeping are sitting across from me at the table here at the Podfest at the Spartan World Championship Races and I’ll get them to introduce themselves in just a moment. But first I want to say, this is sounding a little bit weird, there’s some noise in the background and all that because we are recording live at Lake Tahoe at the Spartan Up Podfest which is part of the 2017 Spartan Race World Championships and we’re really happy to be here. It’s been a really fun weekend and we haven’t even been here for a full 24 hours yet. So it’s promising to be really fun but you’re stuck with me here on the microphone while Ben is up sleeping, but we’ve got some great guests here and they are some international competitors that have c0me from really far away, I mean, I came here from Canada but that’s nowhere near as far as these guys have come. So I’m going to get them to introduce themselves. We start on this side, ladies first.
Jasmina: Yes, hi. My name is Jasmina Aleksandrov and I’m from Serbia, Belgrade and I’m so happy to be here. And there’s so many international athletes so I’m happy to be your host and to cohost with you in this podcast and with my friend Manuel. So thanks for having me.
Brock: Alright. And…
Manuel: Hi guys, I’m Manuel Di Geronimo from Italy, Florence. I’m one guy from the Reebok Team Italy and after a few years I had the possibility to come here Lake Tahoe for this crazy amazing race and I’m so excited to join.
Brock: It is crazy. (chuckles) It is a crazy that I had a look at the course last night. Some of the obstacles are nutty. But so you guys both had to qualify to be in this race. Where did you do your qualifying race?
Jasmina: I think I got my coin in Tirol, Austria.
Brock: Oh wow!
Jasmina: A few weeks back, yes. I got it, right.
Brock: So you’re from Serbia but you went and raced in Austria and now you’re in Tahoe.
Jasmina: Yeah. There’s no races in Serbia. The Spartan races are still kind of far away from my home but I try and go to as many races as possible to meet awesome people first for hanging out with everybody with great energy. And all the crazies that step on the starting line and so I love Spartan racing. After I retired from professional basketball this is my new passion.
Brock: Oh, wow.
Jasmina: I’m really excited to be a part of the Spartan Global Team.
Brock: I have to ask before we get back to you but uh, professional basketball in Serbia is that a big thing?
Jasmina: I actually played here in Colorado, Boulder.
Brock: Oh, okay.
Jasmina: Before I went to school here for four years to college and then I went to play professional overseas. I played for Greek teams, French teams, German teams, Italian teams. So I’m accustomed to move around and meet new people so this is another level. So when I retired professionally I started playing new sports so participating also in running, so I’m excited to be here and represent my country although I’m the only one. But it’s a blast, yeah.
Brock: There you go.
Jasmina: I’ll bring some more people next year for sure.
Brock: If you’re the only one, you’re definitely representing your country.
Jasmina: Yeah, thank you. Thank you. I’ll do my best.
Brock: Okay. So where did you do your race that you qualified?
Manuel: Seriously, I did not get the coin this year but I will run the competitive. I’m here also because I’m the manager of the East [10:57] ______ Spartan Race Europe.
Brock: Oh, wow.
Manuel: So I’m here because I know almost everybody here are to help the people and to share to them because it’s not that popular to the European people in the US, and we have many amazing athletes. And I think tomorrow the American athletes will have to fight for winning the title. For the things that I’m here I will also run the best and I can’t wait.
Brock: Awesome. I think you’re right. Just looking across the street where all the international athletes are. Was that a breakfast that was going on over there?
Manuel: It’s a meeting with Joe De Sena.
Brock: Oh, okay.
Manuel: We will meet the founder of Spartan Race and then after we’ll have brunch with them, with all these great international athletes.
Brock: I looked across the street and generally, I feel like I’m a pretty fit person but I looked across the street and I was like, “Oh, damn, those are some bad ass athletes across the way.”
Jasmina: It’s world championships so all the best athletes, I think, that represent the sport are here. So I’m really honored to be a part of the entire squad. (laughs)
Brock: I would be too. There’s no way I could’ve qualified for this. I need to step up my game, obviously.
Jasmina: Yeah, it’s more of having fun and the results come, I think along the way.
Jasmina: I think hard work always pays off.
Brock: Well, okay so speaking of hard work, what we like to talk about on this podcast is interesting ways to train like unconventional different ways to train for any kind of event not necessarily just for Spartan. Is there something that you have done in your training that you think is different than other people or outside of the box?
Jasmina: Well, I live in a capital in Belgrade so there’s not a lot of nature and big close by in the city. I live close by some good terrains and I go run but there is no altitude. There is no like different terrains to practice on. So I actually take the streets of Belgrade as my gym. So I carry [0:13:12.5] volleyballs, buckets and stuff through the…
Brock: Through the city streets? (laughs)
Jasmina: Capital city, yes. So it’s pretty awesome to see a tall tattooed girl carrying a bucket.
Brock: With vey fancy pants on.
Jasmina: Yes, most of the time (laughs), yeah.
Brock: She’s wearing very fancy tights right now.
Jasmina: Yes, so I try and make my workouts fun. As fun so I carry my volleyball to work and then I work in my gym and I do some training, and then maybe some other day I go up by the lake and run in different terrains or swim and just switch up my routines. I hate the routines so I just pick a practice or call my friends and, “Give me a workout so I can do something different.” So I try and switch it up and change my routine so I escape the casual training.
Brock: So if you’re going through the streets, just to give people an idea, have you been to another city and maybe in America that is similar?
Jasmina: In America that is similar, maybe San Francisco or New York ‘cause it’s so congested. There’s a lot of people going to work and they don’t pay attention and there is like a tall chic carrying a bucket and they’re like, “What is going on?” I’m like, “Yeah, I’m a Spartaness,” so when people get involved in this and some media picked up so they recognize me when I run through the streets and was like, “That’s a crazy girl.” Yeah, so it’s fine.
Brock: How many people are in Belgrade? Is it a few million?
Brock: So it really is. This is a big city.
Jasmina: Yeah, it’s a big capital but it’s a nice communities and yeah, we ought to try to get people involved in those [0:14:39.0] _______ so. And I like to give a good example for kids not to be embarrassed to run with buckets and stuff. It’s fun.
Brock: It’s funny. Is that a problem in Serbia as well like in North America like a Canadian being here in America, it’s sometimes exercise is viewed as a punishment?
Jasmina: Exactly. I played professional basketball. So I was in training from when I was 10 years old then I had training camps, I went to college. I was at 6 AM running stairs, stadiums, powerlifting and everything. So when I stopped being professional I started enjoying my workouts and I see what workouts do to my body and I get so happy, and I transmit that energy to other people so I try to get people involved. Not to view training as punishment but something that helps you get better and makes your energy better. Positive energy. You feel better.
Brock: Yeah, in all aspects of life.
Jasmina: Nobody ever complained that they did a bad workout. Everybody’s smiling after workout. They’re like, “Oh, I don’t feel good that I did a hundred burpees. They’re awesome.” “I completed a hundred burpees so that’s an accomplishment.” So I try to push people just to make little accomplishments every day.
Brock: That’s a very good mind set. That’s a good way to look at it and especially if you’re going to workout in the mean streets of a big city (chuckles).
Jasmina: Yes. And I look at it as a video game. So I get in the zone and I like move across people. I see where the bus is. I try to avoid the cars. So it’s like a mini game. Like an OCR through the city (laughs).
Brock: Yeah. That’s funny, right?
Jasmina: It’s fun.
Brock: Ben Greenfield, this is his podcast and he actually uses those same words about his workouts. He says he likes to workout like it’s a video game.
Jasmina: Exactly. I really think I’m in a video game (laughs). So it’s fun.
Brock: Cool. Very cool. Alright, so your training, you’re from another part of the world in a different city altogether. What do you do that’s different than maybe the rest of the people you know that are training for Spartan?
Manuel: For sure that’s a damn convention. I was that just the experience of the race. A few weeks ago, we were in Andorra for European Championships and it was snowing.
Manuel: Andorra is close to the Spain between Spain and France.
Brock: Oh okay.
Manuel: Was the European Championships and it was snowing all the day before the race.
Brock: It was snowing.
Manuel: We did all day European Championship in the middle of the snow. So it was crazy tough. About me, I am from Florence and it’s a city that’s really rich. So the kind of people are really rich and there are people that don’t love fitness and they think more about the fashion than how to be fit. So work there and introduce people in this kind of work is like take out for a day of nature and bring in another mindset and another worth because if you think about the fashion and all these people can get dirty. Bring one model and put in her in the mud, it’s like the craziest thing that you can do. And what we have in the city, I live in the center is a bit hard but around Florence there is a lot of hills and this is great because we have a lot of hills and the rivers and small lakes where we can train. We can wake up in the early morning and get lost in the middle of nature.
Brock: So it’s really the opposite of Jasmina.
Manuel: Yes, and what the goal of me in my city because I’m a personal trainer is not to bring the people and let train in the city. It’s bring the people and train outside. Show the people that there’s something’s outside. In Italy the people are a bit close about their culture because their culture is really deep to stay in their city. Bring them out of this mindset is really a big deal. People are really close to starting different. Personally, for example and I’m from the center of Florence and I met people from everywhere in the world. My wife is from another country and still people doesn’t understand this.
Brock: So that’s very unusual.
Manuel & Jasmina: Yes.
Brock: Wow. Funny when I think of Italy, I think that they’re much more in touch with their roots and more earthy kind of people. I always think North Americans, we’re the ones who are so hung up on how we look and making money and stuff, but you’re really saying that’s what is happening in Florence?
Manuel: Yes, the point is about how to look like and thinks about the culture. It is one country where the fashion is really big. We talk about the big brands, and so they have to look like in one way. So being a Spartan become like being a hero. Like this because you are totally the opposite. The people are really, really curious and this part is growing really fast in my country.
Brock: So what we need to do is to make Spartan or some sort of sport really fashionable and then they’ll adapt it. If you are looking really good when you’re doing it? Would that be helpful? I’m joking a little bit.
Manuel: Yeah. Yeah. It is just bring the people out of how they think normally because the people obviously like everyone that thinks the right way to think is how we think but sometimes we have to go outside for when [0:19:55.3] _______.
Jasmina: Out of the comfort zones.
Brock: Yeah. That’s interesting we’ve sort of in both of your stories we’ve uncovered that there’s some obstacles for your societies or for your culture to be getting over in order to be not necessarily doing Spartan races but just being fit and being out there.
Jasmina: But it’s a great thing now because it’s modern to be fit. Which is awesome. So you can see there are lot of celebrities in States and in Europe being fit and trying to go to a gym. Maybe not for right reasons, right?
Brock: And taking the selfies of the gym.
Jasmina: I was about to say maybe it’s the selfie but it’s how you influence the young ones. So they already see they are in the gym so they’re going to ask about it and it’s just stepping out of the comfort zones.
I tried to coach because I own a gym in Serbia, I try to coach people that can represent me when they go outside and talk about their workouts and how do I switch up their routines. How do I make them step out of their comfort zone and push their limits? So we try to influence, I think both Mano and me in our own countries to change people’s opinions about either racing and sports, and doing all the little extra things that makes you grow as a person. Not just as an athlete but just pushing your limits is going to make you a better person in the daily life to exceed more to influence more people. So being a Spartan represents all the little changes you have to make in your daily life in your daily routine to bring something else in the community that you live in.
I think it is the same in Italy, because he’s representing Italy here. He’s different. We clicked three years ago we met. So we stay in touch and we have totally different cultures but we have the same passion for fitness, for sport, for influencing people, for making a global community. And to change each other is like a butterfly effect, you know, small changes make big changes maybe further away.
Brock: You said that very well (chuckles), I don’t even know what I can say if beyond that.
Manuel: This is what is really great about Europe, like I’m driving a lot around Europe for the race, now we are a lot of country, a lot of different people. Every time we are like 3, 4, 15 kind of culture in the same table. I’m here with one person from the other part of the culture really different than me, we split the same place, the room. I’m here with people from all the countries and every time it’s a real experience for myself for learning new things. For learning human things. How to think, how to be like go outside from the mindset. Be more open. Learn the things, can work close in different ways and this is the things in Europe that is happening. Being with people from different culture is really awesome. There’s really something that changed me a lot and I think will change a lot in the mindset of people. Also because it’s a little bit cheaper in Europe to travel than in USA. I’m an Italian and my wife is Spanish we are just really different and this make you think different way, and so another point that make you think different. I never thought to put in the middle of the mud of water, do crazy things, wake up at four in the morning for training, and now for me it’s totally normal.
Brock: Yeah, so I guess the Spartan has somehow opened our minds as much as it’s made us more fit.
Brock: And it’s brought cultures together. This is amazing.
Jasmine: This is an awesome thing, yeah. I don’t want to repeat myself but as a professional athlete I’m used to, I’m from a small city in Serbia. I grew up in a small city so playing with that ball bring me so many opportunities in my life. I studied school here. I travelled the world. I’ve been around the world so I learned so many things that I continue doing when I got older and retired, so I really appreciate all the opportunities that I get. So it’s really nice, like it’s nice. It’s a nice feeling when you come and meet all the people and feel the energy. I’m all about the energy.
Brock: Yeah, well the energy so far, I mean it’s not even 9 AM and the energy is through the roof (laughs).
Jasmina: Exactly. And you see all the people smiling. You never see like a… you know. Everybody’s happy to be here.
Brock: I actually got thanked earlier for being so cheerful (laughs).
Jasmina: Exactly. Exactly. I know.
Brock: I was like, what? How else am I going to be?
Jasmina: Exactly. You’re here.
Brock: Yeah, and it’s a beautiful day. The sun is rising over at the beautiful mountains and there’s all kinds of fit people around. This is amazing.
Jasmina: And we are all here for the same great reason.
Brock: Alright, well I’m going to be cheering for both of you tomorrow.
Manuel & Jasmina: Thank you (chuckles)
Brock: And thank you so much for coming on the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.
Jasmina: Thank you for having us.
Manuel: Thank you very much.
Brock: Yeah, no worries.
Manuel: So happy to be here.
Brock: And I just have to say, thanks again to our Spartan host Joe De Sena for having us all here and of course, the Spartan Up Podcast for setting up this great weekend here at the 2017 Spartan World Championships.
Jasmina: Perfect. Thank you.
“Buckets In The Streets”
Podcast sidekick Brock Armstrong chats about the challenges of being an international athlete with Spartan athletes Jasmina Aleksandrov (from Serbia) and Manuel Di Geronimo (from Italy).