Strong Dads: Interview With Yusuf Clack

by Kilo on July 14, 2010

kettlebell rackThis is an interview I did with Yusuf Clack. You can visit Yusuf at his blog, which I highly recommend. Also, respect the beard!

Me: Yusuf, your blog is titled A Better World Through Strong Dads. Is this a response to a lack of strong fathers in the world, or just something that you’re passionate about? Or both?

Yusuf: I had a bit of a wake up call not too long ago realizing that I was sacrificing everything trying to and stay afloat in my career. But as my health faded, my energy levels zapped, and I really couldn’t be there for my family anymore like they needed me to be.

I was physically there but checked out mentally. I might as well have been physically absent. When I was home I was worthless, just resting up getting ready for the next day. I think we’ve all heard how important it is for the development of kids to have a strong father figure. One day I realized I had better make a change or my kids were at risk of going through their developmental years without much of a father.

The blog is dedicated to fathers faced with a daily struggle between:

a) getting sucked into a souless, bottomless rat race or

b) making bold choices the best you can, pushing back to impose boundaries in your life for the sake of your loved ones who depend on you.

To get to your question finally, both. Through the work that I do I’ve been able to prove my assumption at least here in the Valley, that there are many others where I was just 18 months back, feeling trapped, overextended and barely meeting the minimum requirements as a Dad.

There are tons of critical challenges in the world, important causes we can champion. This was one that I felt I could make a tangible impact in so I went for it. It’s been an incredibly satisfying and humbling ride seeing many men change their lives through my training program and hearing about that residual impact in their families.

Me: If you could change one thing you see about modern day fathers, what would it be?

Yusuf: Hmm. One thing…that’s a tough one: I guess I see a lack of playfulness and spontaneity. Kids offer us a lot that we miss. Of course we need to never lose track of the fact that we are their leader and guide which is a serious role, but we should still be able to step into their world of imagination, play make believe, and just be wild and crazy, fun and silly.

Try to step into their perspective. Try to look at yourself through their eyes. Playing a boring adult all the time as I see it is the fast track to zero influence in their life. If we would lower ourselves down when they talk to us, let them lead us by the hand as they guide us into their world of make believe, and be open to discover their reality, the table will be set for when we need to convey the seriousness of “our reality” and the life lessons we desperately need them to internalize.

Many of us are in such a hurry to help them understand the “real world” that we slowly stamp out one of the critical skill sets for thriving in the modern “real world” which is imagination.

Me: If you could change one thing about the fitness industry, what would it be?

Yusuf: Ban treadmills. Why would a person of his own volition get on a hamster wheel? Are we not hamster enough already in the rest of our lives that we need to then take the little free time we have and willfully go right back into our rat-like behaviors?

Get outside under the sunlight or put on a jacket and brave the elements. Go for a walk with an audio book or do bodyweight routines in your home. Why travel to a smelly gym and act like a hamster under fluorescent lights? I share your believe that movement is an opportunity to get better. You should feel more alive, more in control, more accomplished after a workout.

Not cheapened or dishonored. Let movement be a chance to stimulate your mind and be present, not go numb and tune out like a zombie.

Me: In your opinion, how come so many men don’t make the progress they want in their physical training?

Yusuf: Hmm…well the inner game is 80% of it and trainers aren’t often equipped to help in that or just don’t have enough time with a client to do the workouts AND cover the internal aspects. So that is a big piece. The other part is a lack of a long term and thorough plan.

We overestimate what we can achieve in a year and under estimate what we can achieve in ten years. When a person makes a decision to get fit, he should make a comprehensive plan that accounts for his daily realities, maps out interdependencies like his wife’s sweet tooth, donuts in the break room on Fridays etc. For a Dad especially, it’s a bit of project, very doable but there are many moving pieces that need to be accounted for so that your fitness and wellness plan get executed.

I’ve failed many times trying to get fit and looking back I had tunnel vision on only one or two pieces of the puzzle, believing it was all about will power. But when that wears off in a couple weeks, you look up and find all of these external factors railroading your momentum.

It’s like trying to stick to a budget without accounting for any extra car repairs, hospital visits, fines, or misc fees that you know will pop up. You’ve got to try and anticipate variables or your fitness effort will be very difficult to sustain as a busy Dad.

I think the “Biggest Loser” hurts this process a lot because it perpetuates the fantasy that one day whenever we really “need to” we’ll get “serious” and lose ALL the weight in one hard core month. But in reality, restoring health is a graceful process.

What good is dehydrating yourself, killing your energy level and losing your hair just get some extra pounds off? This is just setting a person up for another failure and making the next time even harder.

I’m all for massive action and being aggressive. But be aggressive in executing a smart, sustainable plan, not a stupid short sited plan that will give you more health problems than you started with.

Me: What’s the carryover from the gym back out into “real” life? Is there any?

Yusuf: You actually had the best answer to this Josh, when I asked you about the connection between your training and the raising of your son Max. I totally agree with your sentiments on this and can’t really say it any better than you did right here.

Me: Yusuf, thanks for dropping by and classing the place up. Always great to talk to you.

Yusuf: Thanks for the interview sir. It was great fun. Give Max a big high five from Uncle Yusuf!

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Ryan J Pitts July 14, 2010 at 8:00 am

Nice interview. Super view Yusuf. As a father of 5 and ex-rat race runner, the day to day grind wears you down, if you let it. And the family gets what’s left after the day. So wrong, but how can we change it? By making bold decisions, finding what really matters in your life. I gave up my “good job” to pursue my passion, and my quality of life went through the roof! I see my kids all the time and they get the best of what I have now instead of what’s left over. Knowing that life can and will get better and going after what matters to you is the way out.


Kilo July 14, 2010 at 8:48 am

Glad to hear business is booming, Ryan, but not surprised. Well deserved.


Yusuf Clack July 15, 2010 at 11:12 am

Thanks for the kind words Ryan. Glad to meet you! Congrats on making a killer business that you’re passionate about.


John Sifferman July 15, 2010 at 5:30 am

Good interview, Yusuf. I was on that career track, coming home from work exhausted and useless for anything other than food and a couch. My decision to become self-employed eventually led to a goal of working from home 90% of the time, and not having to work more than 40 hours a week – even though most entrepreneurs work much more than that. My first son is on the way, and I’m starting a good habit early by being available for him as he grows up.


Yusuf Clack July 15, 2010 at 11:16 am

Thanks John. Nice work on getting ahead of the curve. Wish you and your wife well with the coming of your son. Sounds like he is a lucky guy… BTW I am on your email list and like your site. Take care.


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