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Level 5 Expert
6,450 karma

Mike Torres

Madison Park • Seattle, WA
Dad. Vice President, Kindle at Amazon. StrongFirst Certified Team Leader. BJJ Blue Belt, 2 Black Belts, Lifelong Martial Artist.
Joined about 2 years ago

Mike Recommends

Products

Dual Ab Wheel
Exercise Equipment
For $25, this heinous tool of torture can be yours. Ab wheels have gone from “must be a fad” several decades ago, to “must have” equipment for anyone interested in building a rock-solid midsection. Start slowly though, ab wheel rollouts are much harder than they look—and if you progress too quickly, you won’t be able to laugh without pain for days. Start on your knees and make everything tight (abs, lats, glutes, grip) before rolling out & back, and only go as far as you’re comfortable. A few sets of 3-5 reps are all you need.
Fitness Tune Up Balls
Exercise Equipment
Made by Jill Miller’s Tune Up Fitness Worldwide, these balls are made of a special rubber that ‘grip’ the skin and relieves tension. They are great for short mobility sessions, reducing stress and helping you to relax. I use these on my neck, shoulders, and even my face/jaw to prevent tension headaches. Jill’s book, “The Roll Model”, is an incredibly comprehensive 430+ page instruction manual (and more) for this awesome method.
GoRuck Pack
Exercise Equipment
Rucking is basically walking or hiking with additional weight added, and GoRuck packs are the best for it. Not exactly for the home (though it can be used to add additional weight to ab wheel rollouts or pull-ups), this pack is a great addition to a fitness routine nonetheless… especially during warmer months. I prefer the plate carrier with a 20lb or 30lb plate for urban rucks.
IronMind Two-Way COC Grip Set
Exercise Equipment
The grip can tend to give out first, cutting your training short and limiting your gains. To get around this, IronMind has a best-in-class set of hand grippers with various levels. This set also include hand expanders, which help counteract all the gripping (and are great for elbow tendinitis). Note: the grippers can be very hard to close if you don’t have much grip strength to start—if you’re new to grip training, or you’re just not that strong yet, start with the IronMind Egg (Blue) first, and then move to their Zenith grippers which are easier to close.
Oura Ring
Sleep Tracker
Forget Fitbit, the Oura Ring is my choice for activity, sleep, and overall readiness tracking. Oura measures your pulse from the finger, not the wrist, and it’s been used in COVID-19 trials to detect the virus early based on an increase in nighttime body temperature. The Oura app integrates with Apple Health as well, so it will take into account all of your activity when determining your readiness. Knowledge is power, and I use this device to inform me of how recovered I am—and when I need a day off.
Perfect Fitness Pull Up Bar
Exercise Equipment
An inexpensive ($25-$50) way to start introducing both relaxed and active hanging from a bar, which will improve your grip strength and your midsection. Progress over time to flexed arm hangs, and then to pull-ups, chin-ups, “muscle ups”, hanging leg raises, and more. There are higher quality bars available (see: Rogue’s options) but this is a good starter bar for home use.
Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light
Alarm Clock
I use a Philips Wake Up bedside light - game changing for easy wake ups in the winter - there are some interesting new ones out now too, but I've had the same one forever. My phone is nowhere in sight, I keep it in a different room.
PowerBlock Adjustable Dumbells
Exercise Equipment
The original innovators are still the best adjustable dumbbells on the planet. While many have tried, no one has reached the level of convenience, build quality, or extensibility of PowerBlock. You can start with a less expensive PowerBlock set and add to it with expansion kits as you get stronger. (Side note: their adjustable kettlebell is cute, but I’d opt for the real thing).
Rogue Individual Mat
Exercise Equipment
Make it semi-official with a nice folding gym mat to move on top of. Most mats will do just fine to protect the carpet or hardwood floor, but it’s nice to have one that folds up into a corner or under a bed if space is tight.
RowErg Concept 2 Rower
Exercise Equipment
If you are going to do “cardio” at home, the Concept2 Rower is my method of choice (well, second only to kettlebell swings). The Peloton is an amazing invention, but it’s (very) expensive and nowhere near the full-body movement that rowing is. Rowing is very metabolically efficient thanks to the number of muscle groups used, so you can get more done in less time. It’s low-impact, safe, inexpensive, and is both a strength and an endurance exercise. This Rower is so durable, it might even last longer than you do.
Rumble Roller Gator
Exercise Equipment
Everyone knows about foam rolling, but very few people do it correctly. I have all sorts of rollers, everything from cut PVC pipes to fancy vibrating rollers, and I always come back to the Gator when I need to move better without restriction. The Gator is “one of the only massaging rollers on the market optimized for cross frictional massage—mimicking the way massage therapists use their thumbs or fingertips to apply short, firm strokes across the muscle fibers.”
StrongFirst Kettlebell
Exercise Equipment
My friend and mentor Pavel Tsatsouline, the person chiefly responsible for popularizing kettlebells in the West, says that the kettlebell is an “ancient Russian weapon against weakness… compact, inexpensive, virtually indestructible, and can be used anywhere.” A single kettlebell can replace an entire gym if you know what you’re doing. If you can only get one thing, opt for a kettlebell and take the time to learn how to do “ballistics” (swings, snatches, cleans) and grinds (presses, getups, squats) with single or double kettlebells. Find an instructor on StrongFirst.com to get started—strength is a skill!
Wodfitters Resistance Bands
Exercise Equipment
I think of band training as a “spice” and not the “main dish,” but when used correctly you can do a lot with bands. A good set of bands can be used for mobility, warm up, power production, and strength development. They can either be used standalone or with other tools like dumbbells or kettlebells. There are looped resistance bands (linked here), elastic band tubes with handles, and mini-bands.

Wellness

Arctic Glow Cryospa
Spa
Kimberly at Arctic Glow is the person I contact when I'm feeling sore, or not recovering well. 3 minutes of -130 degrees F and not only do I feel more alive and alert, but my achy muscles and joints rebound much faster. Much easier to do than an ice bath or a cold shower, and it's extremely effective for me.
Axe Kickers
Gym
Axe Kickers isn't exactly a gym or a fitness facility, but throwing is a core human skill - and I practice throwing axes here. They have various options for targets and a fun atmosphere to both learn how to throw, and to improving your skills.
Banya 5
Spa
Concrete and brick parilka that gets *far* hotter (240 degrees) than most dry heat saunas, a Turkish steam room, a salt water mineral bath, a 47 degree cold plunge pool, and a 104 degree hot tub. It doesn't take long to feel completely rejuvenated from a hard training session. I don't go all that often (a few times/month max) but when I do, I wonder why it's not part of my regular routine.
Framework BJJ
Jiu Jitsu
Drew and Christine Vogel have created an incredible culture at Framework BJJ. Drew is a 2nd Degree Black Belt under Rick and Phil Migliarese (2 of the highest ranking Gracie Jiu Jitsu Black Belts in the US) and Chrissie is a Purple Belt under Drew. While I've trained in martial arts for most of my life, I simply didn't know what I was missing until I started working with Drew. Drew is patient, incredibly knowledgeable, and an amazing coach of both the fundamentals and the more intricate game of jiu-jitsu in the gi, without the gi, and for self-defense.
Kettlebility
Gym
Andrea and Vic at Kettlebility are excellent coaches and my "go to" for advice on movement, kettlebell, barbell, and bodyweight training. Andrea is a Master Instructor with StrongFirst, a global "school of strength" with thousands of certified instructors. Vic is a Master Instructor with MovNat. Combined they are Wonder Woman and Superman with a studio designed to help everyone get stronger and move well.
Krav Maga Seattle
Martial Arts
I trained at KMS for about 2 1/2 years in the Krav Maga program, as well as their "Fight" program. The owners (Cat and Chau) are fantastic people and take what they do very seriously - yet every class has humor and is seriously *fun*. The instructors are all top-notch. They recently added Bang Muay Thai, Jiu-Jitsu, and other combat sports. I'd recommend it to anyone interested in exploring martial arts more deeply.
Leah Kangas LMT
Massage Therapist
I've been working with Leah for several years on an "as needed" basis. She is a runner and trains with kettlebells and does heavy Olympic lifts - so she gets the kind of minor strains and aches/pains that athletes can sometimes run into. If I'm feeling a little "out of whack", Leah can usually put me back together in just one or two 75m sessions.
Northwest Cryotherapy Institute
Spa
Bellevue-based clinic with a sweet electric cryo chamber, an infrared sauna, local cryo, compression sleeves/boots, and a massage table. I always feel great after doing whole-body cryo here as it's *actually* whole body (vs. just neck down) and once you have experience, they will have you go for an extra minute for a total of 4.

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