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Meet Brian MacKenzie, XPT Co-Founder


What does Brian MacKenzie, co-founder of XPT, want to be remembered for?

He could care less.

“That’s not why I’m here,” he said. “My ego would love to give you a whole list of things, but that’s not relevant.”

MacKenzie, best-selling author and founder of CrossFit Endurance (now Power Speed Endurance), started XPT with Laird Hamilton and Gabby Reece after meeting the couple through a mutual friend. That mutual friend is Kai “Borg” Garcia, a 250-pound, 6’2” third-degree black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and one of the veteran enforcers on the toughest stretch of surfing real estate, the North Shore of Oahu.

“Kai saw Laird in Fiji a few years ago when it went Code Red,” Brian said. “Laird was the one of very few people in the water that day that wanted no water help (a jet ski to pull you out of the inside). Borg needed to know what he was doing.”

That night, Kai texted Brian.

“He said, ‘I don’t know what this guy was doing but we have to figure it out,’” Brian said. “He’s 50 years old and a lot of the 25-year-old professional surfers weren't passing up a trip out of the inside.”

From there, introductions were made and Laird invited Brian and Kai to his home for pool training workouts. The relationship materialized and continued to grow into what has become XPT.

Lifestyle choices: destruction versus attraction

MacKenzie is a world-renowned human performance coach and the innovator of the endurance strength and conditioning paradigm. He has studied altitude and hypoxic training for more than 10 years, and has run numerous ultra marathons including Western States 100 and the Angeles Crest 100-mile endurance run. He authored the books Power Speed Endurance and Unbreakable Runner, and created CrossFit Endurance – now Power Speed Endurance – which specializes in movement with an emphasis on running, cycling, and swimming mechanics.

His work has been featured in Competitor Magazine, Runners World, Triathlete Magazine, Men’s Journal, ESPN Rise, The Economist, Tim Ferriss’ New York Times bestseller The 4-Hour Body, and others. Brian has worked with many top-level professional athletes including iconic surfers and watermen such as Laird Hamilton, Jamie Mitchell, Mark Healy, and Kai “Borg” Garcia; CrossFit Games athletes including Rich Froning Jr (4x CrossFit Games Champion) and Annie Thorisdottir (2x CrossFit Games Champion); and also Olympic Gold Medalists such as Erin Cafaro (2x Olympic Gold Medalist in Rowing – W8+, and Brian’s wife) and Taylor Ritzel (2012 Olympic Gold Medalist – W8+).  Brian continues to work with several other professional and elite level athletes in sports spanning from triathlons, running, MMA, swimming, cycling, rowing, surfing and base jumping to U.S. Navy SEALS, Army Rangers and many other military and specialty units, helping them optimize their movement and lifestyle practices.

For Brian, a career centered around making people become better humans is very personal.

“It’s about making myself a better person, constantly evolving and not being satisfied with ego,” he said. “That inevitably transcends to people finding something more attractive. And by ‘attractive’ I don’t mean looks.”

See, Brian hasn’t always been what he calls an “attractive” human.

“I was destructive, I was confused,” he said. “I couldn’t figure out how to be passionate about anything. Once I started to understand that passion has always been the constant in my life, change started to happen. This is part of that process: allowing people to create their own awareness through the tools that we have figured out.”

Beyond his athletic and coaching credentials, Brian, Laird and Gabby felt a shared connection around health, simplicity and approach to life.

“We trained together,” Brian said. “When we started to work on XPT we started with conceptualizing lifestyle habits and coaching styles. We looked at human movement and attention toward recovery. And how lifestyle choices can change everything.”

Sport versus nature

For most people, nature and the natural world are an extreme, and Brian sees XPT as helping people return to that natural state – taking what seems extreme and making it common. Along with that, sport and sport-specific training was developed out of boredom, he said. Humans became comfortable and bored with lifestyle, and started to watch and participate in games.

“It’s not like sport shouldn’t exist, but to adapt one’s body to one thing and train for one thing – nature doesn’t play by those rules,” he said. “Nature is patient and always gets the job done. There are seasons, disruptions, heat and cold extremes, all without rules. Sports are finite with rules. There are no real rules in nature. There are principles but there are no real rules.”

So XPT then is about giving people other ideas about training. That training isn’t always about a barbell or what’s happening in the gym. Training happens when we are exposed to the natural world.

“A lot of people work for 8 or 10 hours a day and then train really hard in the gym,” Brian said. “That means you were under stress for 8 to 10 hours, and then under stress again during your workout. You’re not sleeping well, you’re not recovering well.”

What XPT aims to do is provide an alternative, and beneficial options for professional athletes and weekend warriors alike, Brian said.

“We want to show people that there’s more than just training hard to blow off steam,” he said. “Go out and surf or paddle or hike or do some breathing or use heat and ice. These are all applicable to training and development.”

And what about intensity?

Intensity, as Brian sees it, is a tool that provides greater understanding. But not everything in life needs full intensity.

“Movement expressed as intensity always starts off well,” he said. “It's when fatigue kicks in that things start to fall apart. That said, psychology and relationships and fall into that as well. The ability to communicate correctly and have an intense quality of life — the way you drive to work, the food you eat every day – that intensity exposes weaknesses. It allows us to see where we can make changes. It’s a variable.”

Live the life you love

For Brian – who said his mom is his role model and that marrying his wife, Erin, has been his greatest accomplishment to date – his biggest passion comes from seeing people make changes in their lives and find happiness.

“People get confused about how life should be lived,” Brian said. “We get caught up in the system and the rat race. We plan vacations around work, we work so we can have weekends off. I want people to live the lives they want to live. The world would be a much better place.”

He said XPT is about helping people understand that some days we work and go hard, and some days we don’t.

“If I want to wake up and surf for four hours, why do I need to ‘train’ too? This mentality of more is better, and the gym is going to be a better option than nature is absurd,” he said. “Companies who have stringent 9-5 work hours are wasting time and resources. You don’t have the best people working for you if that’s the case. The best people don’t want to work in confined spaces like that. People who are happiest are doing exactly what they want.”

2 Responses to “Meet Brian MacKenzie, XPT Co-Founder

  • Zach Even - Esh
    2 years ago

    Great stuff, from the heart, from my boy, BMack.

  • Great word. Comes back to being balanced, enjoying life and making time work for you

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