November 28, 2016

“Most Influential Barefoot Educator” & The Swiss Ball Lunge

Happy Monday!

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving weekend!

If you are in a country that doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you took a moment each day to give thanks for the beauty of being alive at such an interesting time in human evolution.

I had a great weekend with my family, and have lots to share from our time together in my blog today. Today I will share:

1. Who is the “Most Influential Barefoot Educator?”
2. The Swiss Ball Lunge (8-minute video blog)
3. Show-N-Tell With Paul

Who is the “Most Influential Barefoot Educator?”

Matthew Wallden, C.H.E.K Institute Instructor and co-owner of Primal Lifestyle, the UK’s distributor for Vibram FiveFinger shoes is currently conducting a survey to determine who is the most influential barefoot educator.

As you can see looking at the graph above, so far, I’m in the lead

I would LOVE IT if each of you reading this could take a moment to fill out the short questionnaire being used to determine whom the winner of the “Most Influential Barefoot Educator.”

You can do that quickly and easily here:

To give those of you who may be interested in a little background on my work in this arena, I’d like to offer you this summary of my work in the “minimalist” field of health and performance.

In 1984, I became the Trainer of the U.S. Army Boxing Team, located at Ft. Bragg, N.C. There I worked directly with our team physician, Charles Pitluck, DO for two years managing acute and chronic sports injuries.

Our gym was the training headquarters for all elite army athletes stationed at Ft. Bragg and I worked regularly with athletes from many sports there.

During my work as trainer of the boxing team, we had many problems with foot (Achilles tendon, plantar fascia and shin splints) and ankle injuries from extensive time skipping rope and running.

In addition to using massage therapy and taping techniques, I encouraged boxers and athletes to do their rope work on wrestling mats to reduce kinetic shock and injury, which helped tremendously.

I also worked to get athletes not to do weight training in running shoes because I could easily see it disrupted their proprioception (spatial awareness) and encouraged injury.

In 1988, I began working at Sports and Orthopedic Physical Therapy, the largest physical therapy clinic in San Diego at the time. We had 22 physical therapists and athletic trainers, and shared the facility and surgical center with 13 orthopedic surgeons.

During this time, I saw a LOT of lower extremity injuries, and knew that many of them were related to poorly designed footwear, or using the wrong footwear for the task (such as weightlifting in running shoes, or wearing running shoes (designed for saggital plane–straight forward–movement) during work activities, such as being a UPS truck driver, construction worker or nurse.

It just happened that Dr. Bronson, one of the resident orthopedic surgeons was a foot expert who had done a six-year fellowship on the foot. His philosophy was the application of foot/ankle exercises in orthopedic rehabilitation. He and I shared many patients and concepts over the four years I worked there.

The best weightlifting shoes I could find (long before Vibram FiveFingers ever existed) were Birkenstocks. Also, I encouraged athletes to go barefoot whenever they could, and often gave specific foot and ankle conditioning programs that had to be done barefoot, preferably on grass.

I left Sports and Orthopedic Physical Therapy after four years, and started my own physical therapy clinic with my partner, Steve Clark, PT, OCS, SCS, an expert at shoulder and knee injuries; I was well known for my work with spinal injuries, particularly those that had been tagged as “medical failures.”

By this time, I had been lecturing professionally for many years on functional training, including how the foot affects our training and how footwear can be very damaging if incorrectly selected, and how the foot related to the entire kinetic chain.

I spent many years researching the biomechanical, kinetic and neurological control mechanisms, which ultimately led to the creation of what is known of today as the CHEK Totem Pole.

To learn more about my rehabilitation methods and why the CHEK Totem pole, feel free to view this video blog.

Around 2000, I went to the Czech Republic to complete an advanced training program in orthopedic and neurological rehabilitation with Vladimir Janda and Karel Lewit.

There, I was introduced to the Vojta method of infant development therapy. This triggered a deep interest in infant development methods and concepts, and I studied the field quite extensively.

The fruits of my studies and practices were implemented in the C.H.E.K Institute training programs.

When I was lecturing on functional or “minimalist” training methods around the world as well as functional exercise, I was, to say the least, a lone wolf.

Many, if not most “well educated” professionals thought I was nuts, but soon learned that this “nut case” was a dangerous guy with whom to enter into a public debate!

Unlike the 99 percent of “educated” professionals who challenged me on stage, I was a living, breathing example of my teachings, and often challenged them on stage to “show us the goods, the results.” I had developed a variety of functional testing methods that were “obvious means of demonstrating the evidence, or lack thereof.”

By the time Vibram came out with their FiveFinger shoes, I was a well seasoned, well traveled professional who had taught thousands and thousands of people how to understand, and use the human body the way it was designed to be used.

In fact, what many of you know as my “Primal Pattern” approach to exercise selection and program design came out of my many years of research into primal human movement patterns.

My wife Penny was very helpful to discuss my concepts with because she has a Masters degree in Biological Anthropology from Cambridge University in England.

I began teaching my Primal Pattern movement system in 1988, before I suspect some of the contenders for this contest were even born!

If you are familiar with my work in the fields of minimalist, infant development and barefoot training concepts, and would like to help by voting for me, you can take the short survey here:

The Swiss Ball Lunge (8-minute video blog)

Today, I share an exercise I developed in the late 1980s, the Swiss Ball lunge.

This exercise is very helpful for developing balance, coordination and strength. It should be practiced with body weight alone until one’s balance and form are mastered, and should only be used by those who:

1. Have good upright posture.

2. Have good enough balance to do the exercise correctly without any added load.

Take it slow with this exercise, even if you think you are a tough guy or strong man because:

a) It activates the stabilizer systems in the body very strongly, and can leave you very sore in unusual places.

b). If done at full range of motion, the Swiss ball lunge works the thigh and butt muscles very deeply; making it a fantastic exercise for anyone that wants a “butt lift!”

In other words, you can get very sore if you start too aggressively.

It is also very wise to mobilize your body, stretch carefully and warm up effectively before trying this exercise.

I hope you enjoy learning how to use the Swiss ball lunge today.

Show-N-Tell With Paul

My buddy Jason was kind and loving enough to give me this beautiful, limited edition print of the Psychic Energy System by world famous (and my favorite!) artist Alex Grey.


Thank You Jason! I’m framing it and putting it up in my treatment room where it can support me in educating my clients about what is happening in their body-mind when I’m doing therapy with them.

Mana, My Energetic Son

Our little Mana started standing on his own right at the time he turned nine months of age. This guy is a real handful! He’s VERY strong, persistent and LOVES to get into everything!!

We’ve had to practically lift everything off the floors or within his reach for his own protection and our sanity, but we love supporting him to explore safely.

Our journey with Mana is amazing. We are so proud of him too. He’s a real athlete. He amazes us constantly! Often, he’s scaring the shit out of us because he can pick up things, and move them around. We never dreamed he’d be strong enough to do that!

For sure, we never have a dull moment with Mana!

Thanksgiving Outing

We had a lovely day Thanksgiving day.

We took Mana and Maggie to a beautiful local park with lots of great riding trails and put Angie’s new bicycle trailer to the test.


Maggie and Mana love it. Mana doesn’t like wearing a helmet at all though, so we are working on finding him a more comfortable option.


We had a fun time with Mana and Maggie on the swings. Yes, Maggie loves the swings and gets upset if she doesn’t get to do all the things Mana gets to do, particularly if food is involved! mana-and-maggie-on-swings

We let Mana slide down the “big kids slide” several times. Already, he’s an adrenaline junkie. He really likes “BIG Swings” on the swings, and wild slide rides.

Oh boy, I never thought I’d have to experience what my mother must have experienced raising me!

Angie was a wild one too, always climbing trees and everything else in the house… 1 + 1 = MORE than 2!

Thanksgiving Dinner
Angie dressed Mana up as a turkey for Thanksgiving. He seemed to love his costume.


He wore it to dinner too, so he had a lot of fun with us. Later, we all had a lovely dinner that Angie and Penny created together.

Mana’s First Fire Experience
It just so happened that since Mana was born, we haven’t had a fire in the fireplace. We had a lot of cold, windy and rainy weather this weekend, and being a fire goddess, Angie asked me if I’d light a fire, since it is safe to do so now with the rain. (We’ve been on high fire alert here up to a few days ago!).


Once the fire was going well, we brought Mana into the living room. He was very enamored by the fire.

It was so cute because once Angie let him go, he started crawling toward it, but in a way I’ve never seen him move before. He looked “very cautious,” as though he somehow knew he was looking at something dangerous.

We laughed as Mana looked like a tiger stalking its prey. It was very interesting to watch him.

He kept a posture of reverence, and never got as persistent to “touch” as he usually is. He really loved just staring at the fire, and was very intrigued by the sound of the fire and wood popping.

I took him close to the fire so he could feel the heat, and he instantly knew “this is dangerous.”

It was quite a study to see how deep inside this little boy, there is a primal instinct that says, “be careful around fire!”

We had a lot of fun sharing a fire with him for the first time, and were excited to share more “fire time” him now that it’s safe to have fires in the house and area.

A Fish In The Rain!

As I shared above, we had A LOT of heavy rain over the weekend.

We normally take Mana on a couple walks a day between us, sometimes three or four. He LOVES being outside and is much calmer when he is.

With the rain, we decided that we didn’t want our kid to be a “weather wimp,” so we got him suited up for a walk. It was pissing down, so we knew we’d get wet, but what the hell – we are soaking wet on the inside anyhow!


Mana is a Pisces, and he loves, loves, loves the water. In fact, we have to constantly watch him or he’ll pour Maggie’s dog water all over himself and the house and play in it. Mana loves to get into any water fountain he can find. He even loves climbing into the dishwasher!

He absolutely LOVED having the rain and wind on him. He was just giggling the whole way.

It was so cute because after he started getting colder, he reached behind him, grabbed my sweater, and looked right into my eyes while he held my sweater in his left hand, as if to say, “Daddy, can you cover me with your sweater please!”

I wrapped my sweater around him and he started giggling and laughing, and bouncing around and loved raising his arms up inside my sweater.

We all got soaked, but we loved it, and we know for sure, “Mana walks in any weather!!”

Recent Art

Penny and Angie asked me to create some new black and white drawings for a coloring book we are developing.

Last weekend, I was working with a client who is experiencing a strong psychic opening. These can be challenging times for everyone, including the shaman, coach, therapists and family members working with clients in such experiences.

After I came home from working with my client, I felt inspired to draw this one for the coloring book, since this is really something that we all have to deal with on a day-to-day basis.


During a psychic opening (or Kundalini rising event), what we keep hidden in the ego’s shadows won’t submit itself to repression, so “out it comes in full force!”

My drawing is an invitation to remember that a little “conscious work” each day makes enlightenment events much less dramatic for all involved!

I hope you’ve all enjoyed my blog today.

I look forward to sharing the highlights of HLC 3, which start tomorrow in Carlsbad, Calif. Angie will be teaching HLC 2 at the same time in the same location, the Carlsbad Inn.

Love and chi,
Paul Chek