Among the Stones with Ryan Polin

Last week we were honored to host a workout with local athlete and trainer, Ryan Polin.

Ryan Polin is a certified Personal Trainer and 8-year veteran of the US Coast Guard. He competed in the world obstacle racing championship in London 2018, and, he is the owner and operator of Proprioception Training and Fitness (

At Couch Potato Strong we strive to provide applicable health advice directly from people living the healthy lifestyle. During our workout we discussed training philosophy, practical tools for fitness improvement, and simple methods of rehabilitating injury. Instead of transcribing the entire interview, the following is a summary of the best advice from the segment. The entire interview is available for viewing at (Click Here).


            When asked what motivates him to compete, Ryan explained that sanctioned competitions give him a safe place to test the limits, and, determine of what he is truly capable. Throughout his career in fitness Ryan has climbed both Mt. Hood and Mt. Rainer. He considers himself an adventurer, and, admits in the past he has been a reckless person. By pushing himself to his limits, he has gained a better understanding of human performance, and, uses that understanding to help his clients reach their full potential.

“People are so much stronger than they give themselves credit for”

Staying Active:

            When asked what his current athletic goal is, Ryan, (much like previous athletes have said during this Covid-19 crisis), stated that his current goal is to simply keep fit and healthy.

“With everything going on, the routine has kind of fallen off”

            With gyms closed, and, fitness equipment suffering price gouging, it can be quite difficult to find a means of working out and staying active at home. We recommend performing bodyweight exercises. Both the Couch Potato Garage and Ryan Polin have burpess as a key component of our workout programs. There are many bodyweight workouts of various skill levels (simply google search bodyweight exercises). Additionally, on our resources page there is a link to an article on using household objects to keep fit.


            Often times when we think of working out we think in terms of speed, power, strength, explosiveness, etc… We do not typically think about internal reflection, sensation response, and structural awareness; however, these components are extremely important. Proprioception training is a means of gaining physical awareness. Specifically:

“Proprioception is your body’s ability to move in space, in all plains of motion”

            Therefore, the focus of proprioception training is to increase one’s awareness how their body moves through space. Thus, proprioception expands beyond athletic training, and, provides a means of body awareness that enhances one’s overall quality of life.

Life Training:

            When describing the mission of Proprioception Training and Fitness, Ryan explained that one of his goals with training clients is to help them improve their day to day physicality.

“A healthier mindset, a healthier body, but also be able to apply the same principles to how your living. That gives me a lot of pleasure, and, it makes me happy to be able to affect people in that way”.

            Furthermore, Ryan explained that without the thrill of the big pump from heavy lifting, stability and balance workouts are sometimes forgotten about. However, they are very important to improving our quality of movement in our daily life; and, that is the focus of proprioception.

“It’s how you handle life, the little things, the obstacles you overcome, your mindset, all of that is very important; and, gets overlooked a lot”

Baby Steps:

            When asked what advice Ryan had for the average person trying to get fit, he stated that not being intimidated is number one. It is easy to get discouraged watching athletes perform amazing feats. It is important to remember they have different goals. If you are simply trying to get in shape and live a healthy lifestyle, don’t get discouraged by comparing yourself to an athlete.

            Getting fit and healthy should be something that instills positivity in your life. If you feel way too sore after a workout, you have probably not scaled the workout to your skill level. Having a coach or personal trainer helps you realize your current fitness level, and, workout in a way that helps you personally become healthy and happier in life.

The [workout] modification is not because you can’t do it, it’s because we’re building you up to get to a higher spot”

            Couch Potato Strong is comprised of two brothers and their nephew. Friends and family make excellent workout partners. If you absolutely must workout alone, take time to pay attention to your body. If you have not worked out in a long time, become familiar with sensations in your body. Find the difference between bad and good pain.

Nearly every workout can be scaled to make it harder or easier. This is especially true of bodyweight workouts (the kind most easily performed at home during this pandemic). For example, pushups can be performed on the knees for beginners or, with feet off the ground for athletes (superman pushups). If you are finding an exercise too difficult, try searching for an “easy version” of the exercise.

The Workout:

            Ryan showed a lot of enthusiasm to try out several of our events. We started the workout with the natural stones. First Ryan attempted to carry the 241lb stone. He managed to lift the stone and carry it 75 feet (a garage record). He then moved onto the 180lb stone to attempt to claim in his name. To claim this stone one must hoist the stone to shoulder and carry the stone on the shoulder for 181 feet. On the first attempt Ryan managed to shoulder carry the 180lb stone 85 feet. On his second attempt he was determined. On that attempt he completed the entire course, carrying the stone 181ft in a single carry without a drop or rest. This stone is now known as the Polin Stone.

            After the stones, Ryan attempted to break the Golden Potato Pull-up record. The Golden Potatoes are challenging grip handles exclusive to the Couch Potato Garage.

   Ryan managed to tie the current record of 5 pull-ups; however, he did so at a higher bodyweight than the current record holder. Thus, Ryan became the garage record holder on golden potato pull-ups. He went on to smash another garage record by throwing our 32lb sandbag over a 14ft high-bar.

We all moved on to the Hercules hold (a new event for the garage). Addam set a massive time of two minutes with the D-handle grips. Ryan opted to use his new set of golden potato grips (all guests and record breakers receive a set of golden potatoes), and, managed a time just over one minute. This event was quite challenging, as it involved holding 105lb in each hand for as long as possible. I personally managed a time of just over a minute with the D-handles, and, Evan managed 50 seconds with the D-handles.

Ryan Polin performs the Hercules hold (each pillar weighs 105lb)

            We closed out the workout with our heaviest event, the giant tire flip. Prior to this workout Ryan had never flipped a tire over 400lb. We started out with everyone performing a couple of flips on our 460lb tire to warm up. This was fairly easy for each of us. Then we moved onto the 621lb tire. We each managed to flip the big tire, and, had a lot of fun doing so.

Lessons Learned:

There is an old adage that states it is smart to learn from one’s mistakes, but, wise to learn from the mistakes of others. Fortunately for Ryan’s client’s, they have the opportunity to learn from Ryan’s injury and rehabilitation experiences. When asked his greatest blunder or injury, Ryan stated that he has had quite a few injuries throughout his athletic career.

“I’ve had quite a few [injuries], I said I’m reckless, and sometimes it has bitten me in the ass”

Ryan then described a specific injury that was rather rough. Ryan described tearing the psoas major off the lesser trochanter. This is an injury that would be quite painful and involve a lengthy rehab process. A typical psoas injury will take 6 to 8 weeks of recovery. This experience gave Ryan a better understanding of sensations related to injury and rehabilitation. In a trainer, you want someone who can relate. Rather tending a sore muscle, rehabbing and injury, or dealing with an old flare up, a trainer who has experienced injury and rehab can impart first-hand knowledge to address client adversities.

Taking Initiative:

            Addam casually mentioned that he need be careful during the tire flip as an old rotator cuff injury was flaring up. Ryan overheard this, and, after we completed our tire flips, he took Addam aside and showed him how to rehabilitate his shoulder cuff with equipment we already had in the garage.

            This action impressed me as Addam never asked Ryan for guidance. Additionally, Addam only mentioned his injury once in passing. Any good trainer should exhibit observational awareness and take care to provide personalized guidance. Ryan did exactly that while outside of a training scenario; displaying a natural desire to help others.


            At the end of the workout, the four of us were exhausted; however, all of us had a great time. We were excited to see some garage records broken, and, Addam was very happy to learn methods for rehabbing his shoulder. We found out Ryan lives just a few miles from the garage, and, we planned a future workout.

            After working out with Ryan, we at Couch Potato Strong highly recommend Proprioception Training and Fitness ( During this workout Ryan was motivating, enthusiastic, demonstrated intelligent intensity, and took a caring interest in others. Anyone looking for a fitness coach will find an excellent one with Ryan Polin.

Take care, and, keep moving.

Couch Potato Strong


Polin, R. (2020). Among the stones. Couch Potato Strong.