Jacob is also Co-Founder of Metric, an app that uses a unique computer vision system and rep-detection algorithm to analyse camera footage from a mobile device and measure barbell velocity.
Highlights from the episode:
- Importance of confidence in dealing with athletes
- Why you need experience to fast track your coaching career
- His role at Core Advantage
- How the Metric app they developed helps athletes
- Where to download the Metric app
- Durham Mclnnis
- Daniel Tober
- James Russell
To have Jack answer your questions send us a voice message via this link:
Jack: Welcome back to the ‘Prepare Like A Pro’ live chat show. I’m your host, Jack McLean. And tonight my guest is Jacob Tober. He is head of research and athletic development at Core Advantage and co-founder of Metric, an app that tracks barbell velocity.
Before we start tonight’s episode, our mission here at ‘Prepare Like A Pro’ is to empower aspiring athletes and staff with practical knowledge from some of the industry’s most inspiring individuals, and to strengthen the AFL community. If you liked the show, please show support by following us on Instagram and subscribing to the podcast. We’re on iTunes, Spotify, and YouTube.
Thanks for jumping on, Jacob.
Jacob: Thanks for having me, Jack. It’s good to be here.
Jack: Looking forward to it. Let’s dive right at the beginning of your journey as a strength & conditioning coach. At what age did you start? And when did you discover you had a passion for it?
Jacob: I think like most of your guests from the episodes I’ve listened to, I started as an athlete and then ended up being a failed athlete and then transitioned like, ‘Well, I love sports so much. I like performance. How do I stay involved in this, even though I can’t make the team.’
And so, I played basketball and footy as a junior. I had more of a skill set for basketball than footy. I wasn’t quite tough enough for Aussie rules, but I played a lot of basketball as a junior and was okay, but never amazing and always liked athleticism.
And so, I’d get in the gym and I was like, ‘How can I get my jump up, get my speed up and my quickness?’ And so I turned to weights and resistance training. And didn’t do it all great at the start. I didn’t have much help and supervision along the way, so I made a lot of mistakes. But really learned to enjoy the process and the process of getting stronger.
And it was very numbers-based. I’m very numbers grid kind of thinker, I think in matrixes. So, having things in numbers and grids like that really appealed to me. And then I was like, ‘Well, this might be a job.’ So, did Sport Science at Deakin, graduated in 2013, which is starting to show my age. Almost 10 years ago since I finished uni.
And then from there I fell into the job at Core Advantage. Did the internship, loved it, learnt so much from my mentor and the boss here, Durham Mclnnis. He taught me so much and still is to this day teaching me great thinking skills and how to apply that stuff. And I’ve been in the private sector ever since. I had a little small stint at Oakleigh Chargers with the Under 15s and the Under 18s program. Sort of intern and part-time work there.
But then loved the mission here, at Core Advantage, helping athletes of all sports, all ages get better and reach to that next level. And so, that’s where I’ve come from, where I’m at. Basketball, footy is my background, but we now work with all athletes of all kinds and all shapes and sizes, and rehab and performance stuff.
Jack: That’s awesome, mate. Thanks for sharing. And you mentioned going into the gym to improve your athleticism. Did someone at school reach out to you and say that it might be helpful? Was it a teammate or did you just literally do a bit of research on how can I get more powerful and saw that the gym might be helpful?
Jacob: Yeah. Self-discovery mostly, I think. I had a PE teacher who was big on these kettlebells and resistance training and circuits type stuff. And I was like, ‘Oh, that looks pretty cool.’ There’s like nine year, ten kind of thing. And our school backed onto the old YMCA at the time. And so, they had a teen membership thing, where you could go along. And initially the teen membership was you could do group classes, which was kind of a bit aerobic scene.
And I was like, ‘This, isn’t going to make me more powerful.’ I’d read a lot of men’s fitness magazines at the time. Google and Instagram wasn’t as much of a thing back when I was a teenager. So I started with men’s fitness magazines. It’s like, ‘Follow this program to get strong legs and to run fast,’ and things like that.
Most of the stuff I was doing, I’m pretty ashamed of now, knowing what I do now about performance. None of it was actually good for my vertical leap or my speed or anything like that. Going for 10K runs before school is not the best way to get more explosive as a basketballer or as a footballer. So, a lot of mistakes and a lot of bad training, but the process of doing the trainings I really became to love and enjoy.
And so, even though I wasn’t getting the results on the court or on the field with my footy when come winter, I really enjoyed the process of actually going to the gym. And so, my love for sport transitioned to love for performance. But mostly it was self-discovery. That PE teacher was pretty helpful, Mr. Jessop. Not sure where he is now.
That and I came from a small town. I lived in a town of 10,000 people, Portland, which is about five hours from Melbourne. And my friendship group anyway was sport-obsessed. Everything was about sport. Summer was basketball and cricket and then winter was footy. And that was all people talked about and did. And so, you just tried to be as good as you could, to make the highest team you possibly could, so you could get the most out of it and be part of those social circles. That was kind of what it was all built around.
Jack: And you mentioned the passion for wanting to work in performance and help athletes and going to Deakin. Did you have mentors that influenced you at that stage that you were looking up to that were doing that currently? Or did you just were aware of the industry and thought that would be a good fit for yourself?
Jacob: Coming out of high school, I knew Sport Science was a degree, and I knew I wanted to do that. And at the time I was still very obsessed with my basketball specifically, and I wanted to be a basketball coach. What I didn’t realize at that time was that all the paid basketball coaches were former paid basketball players. So, you had to be at a professional level as a player to become a professional coach.
So, I was doing coaching majors and coaching electives within my degree. And it wasn’t until probably year two, when I did a traineeship with the Sandringham Zebras, just running water and taping ankles in the VFL, that I realized there was a thing called a strength & conditioning coach that could get paid to work in the gym.
And so, I was like, ‘I liked the gym. I knew personal trainers were a thing.’ It’s like, ‘Oh, you could do personal training, but for athletes.’ I was like, ‘Ah, okay, that’s kind of what I want to do.’ So, I shifted my focus from sport coaching into gym stuff. It’s like I could do this personal training thing, which I’d already done my certificate three and four during my gap year. So yes, I could do that. And I could work with athletes, which was what I really enjoyed.
I liked my coaching and I was still coaching in basketball and playing a bit and being involved with the Oakleigh Chargers in the Under 15s program. I liked being around motivated enthusiastic young athletes who want to get better. It’s like, ‘How can I do more of that?’ And that’s how I went from sports coaching into strength coaching.
Jack: And then you mentioned Core Advantage. Talk us through the connection there. Was it something to do with Deakin or did you have a direct relationship already with Durham at that stage? How did it start there?
Jacob: One of my teammates was training with Durham and he said, ‘If you like basketball, and if you like weights, you should go check out this guy, Durham. He’s got works out in a gym in St. Kilda, at Balaclava.’ I was like, ‘All right, I’ll check that out.’ So I sent him an email, just called him, ‘Hi, my name’s Jacob. I’m studying at Deakin. I need to do an internship. I’d love to know if you had anything.’
This is November, I heard back, ‘No, sorry, nothing official. We’re not doing anything. But thanks for getting in touch. If anything changes, I’ll let you know.’ And then come January. I got an email back from them again: ‘Hey, Jacob. Things have changed. We’re doing a formal internship, just a small program this year. Would you like to be part of it?’ I was like, ‘Oh, okay.’ ‘Come down for an interview.’
Went down to the interview, botched it completely. Horrible interview. I went in with too much confidence and I’d read too many magazines. And I was too much of a pro scientist in the bottom of my Dunning-Kruger effect’s curve, where I just thought I knew everything. Because I was late-thirties uni student. I told them how I’d do everything better.
And Durham’s got more experience than anyone I know in strength & conditioning here in Melbourne and in Australia. And so, he’s like, ‘Jacob, you’ve stuffed this interview up a bit. But I think we can help you. I think we can teach you a little bit here, make you a bit of a better coach and be more humble.’ And I was like, ‘Thanks for the feedback. That’s great.’
And so, I was lucky enough to get a spot in the very first Core Advantage internship back in 2013. It was a class of four. Four people applied, four people got in. If I did that same interview now and tried it again when we have 50 applicants per semester, I would not be so lucky. That was an amazing experience.
And then in the first six months of that internship I learned more working with Durham and Rob at the time, who was doing the education side of things. I learnt more from those two than, I reckon, most of my degree in terms of practical stuff. So, having the degree knowledge was essential. If I didn’t have that anatomy base and that coaching fundamentals base, I wouldn’t be able to learn from those guys. But they then just took it to a whole another level.
It’s like, here’s how you spot a bench. Here’s how you set good loads. Here’s how to coach an athlete to lift with more intent. Here’s how to look for corrections on stretches. All that little stuff that you don’t think about during uni and that you learn when you start coaching 20 athletes a day. 10 athletes in the gym at the same time going through their programs and you’ve got to try and keep an eye on all of them.
That was such an awesome practical learning experience. And I loved it so much I haven’t left. I stayed, became the second or third hire at the company. And then we moved from the small personal training gym that we were in to just renting space to our own facility, which is out here in Oakleigh now, where we’ve got our own space and a bunch more athletes and a bunch more coaches and a whole program. So, it’s been really cool to be part of that.
Jack: What was the space called? Was this Bodyworld?
Jacob: That’s the one. ‘Bodyworld Balaclava’. It was on the third floor. If you’re an ACL rehabber, you’d have to hobble up the stairs on your crutches, do your workout and then hobble back down on your crutches.
Jack: Building resilience from the start.
Jack: Even before warmup. Yeah, that’s a great story. First induction was the internship and it’s been obviously a successful move for you. Timing is everything in our journey in this industry. So, obviously, damps something in you. And that confidence that you talked about, how important is it from a buying perspective to really have that confidence when you are working with the athletes and to be able to sell the program to them? If that’s a strength of yours, how often would you draw on that?
Jacob: It started as a weakness, though, because I had misplaced confidence. I thought I was ready to be a high-performance manager. I thought I could step into a VFL team, an AFL team and show them how it’s done. And what I hadn’t factored in was the interpersonal factors. You can’t always let perfect be the enemy of good.
Sometimes you might have a perfect plan and you’ve read it in a textbook, or you’ve seen it done or heard it on a podcast. And then COVID happens and you’re playing in Queensland and you’re a Melbourne based team. Things have gone sideways and you can’t really apply that same perfect plan. You’ve got to make it up on the go.
I would not have had those skills at the time. I think it’s confidence, but within your own skills. Now I feel a lot more confident in those things, the ability to be flexible and dynamic and think on my feet.
And then, I think, being a bit more honest with your athletes. Like if you don’t know a thing, just like, ‘I’m not sure. We’re working this out together.’ I think that’s okay from a coaching point of view and from an intern, a young coach point of view, if you’re just starting out. Athletes can smell bullshit. If you’re a bullshitter, they’ll know. And if you’re there for yourself, they’ll know.
So, from a coach intern point of view, being a little more humble, being a little more connected, slowing down, not rushing, it’s not all about you and about where you want to go. Just enjoying the process a bit and developing human connection, I think. That is where you can build a lot of confidence.
So, if you’re confident in your skills, but you also know your limits and your athlete knows that you’re going to be honest and trustworthy and that sort of stuff. I think that’s going to send you a lot further than trying to fumble your way through with fake confidence, which is what I had when I first started.
But I think Durham and the internship program and eating a bit of a humble pie in that horrible interview I had helped me. Like, ‘Okay. I’m okay. I’m a good coach. I know some stuff, but there’s still so much I don’t know. And I need to be a little more open to that, a little more willing to learn those things, as opposed to just thinking I’ve got it all covered, when maybe I don’t.’
And I’ve got more covered now, but there’s still spaces where I’m always learning: on social media and podcasts and from the team here at Core Advantage, for sure.
Jack: There has been over 10 gems there for a developing strength & conditioning coach listening in. Thanks for sharing that. And, obviously, you want to make sure to build that relationship with the athlete, that are open and honest, it’s such an important thing. And being vulnerable and open to areas that you’re not sure of, rather than faking it. Like you said, it goes a long way. Because athletes will pick it up. So, thanks for sharing that.
And in terms of the practical elements, you talked about some of those tips and tricks that an experienced coach has from years of working in the trenches, so to speak. Did you feel like that fast-tracked your ability to be able to develop athletes? Like those little things on how to spot with confidence when they’re lifting heavy? And those cues with stretching and mobility and activation and warmups and all the different chapters that would have been in the internship? If you put years on it, how much do you reckon you gained from that from a competitive point of view, for S&Cs listening?
Jacob: I think a good internship with plenty of practical time, where you’re actually getting to work with the athletes and make mistakes. So you get a chance to do the coaching, stuff it up and then have your mentor go, ‘Hey Jacob, we’ve found this works better. Try this if you do this,’ or ‘You were too heavy-handed with that athlete, you need to be a little softer. Because they’re a little nervous in the situation.’
I think the combination of good education stuff, but also the on-floor practical stuff. I think in that first 6 to 12 months, I reckon, I’ve got 10 years of experience. Because Durham was so good at sharing that stuff and giving me the right amount of space to make those mistakes, but do it safely. I think a decade of experience was added on there, for sure.
Which I hope has helped me not make 10 years worth of mistakes. Which I think a lot of coaches can sometimes do when they fumble through themselves. They don’t spend time around other coaches. They don’t get involved in footy programs at a NAB cup level is now, it was TAC cup when I was there. Working with good mentors, reaching out to people, asking good questions.
They scroll through social media and they go, ‘Ah, I’ve seen that. I could do that.’ There’s some nuance there. Like they might’ve done a 30 second video and a little caption, but there’s a lot of thought that’s gone into what that 30 seconds was or what that caption said. And the things they left out are important as well. And the context and all those kinds of factors need to be thought about as well.
And so, getting a good mentor, speaking to them, either in person or online, is really, really valuable to keep your steed on the right direction and get that feedback loop moving faster. So, if you make mistakes, you can learn, correct and then apply that correction the next time as soon as possible.
Well, that’s been my experience anyways. Durham was so good at that and incredible, incredible mentor. Not just for me, but all our interns get so much out of working side-by-side with him and all the coaches he’s built as well. The rest of our team has all gone through the internship too. So, for sure.
Jack: And you mentioned future work came from it. Talk us through the next step after the internship, what did life look like for you then?
Jacob: I got hired straight out of it. Durham was like, ‘We’re really impressed with your potential and your growth. And you’ve made really good strides. We’d like to keep you on casual for the next six months.’ So, I worked casually, that was still at Bodyworld. I was there casually coaching, mostly writing a little bit of programs, doing coaching, tidying up on the floor, that stuff was always going to happen as well.
And then went from casual to full-time. And then Rob, who was running our internship at the time, he left. And so, I took over the internship. I was now second most senior coach and Durham was busy planning this facility that I’m sitting in right now. So, he’s planning that and organizing equipment and getting a place and getting rubber flooring and all that kind of fun stuff that goes with starting a gym.
And so, I became a pseudo head coach in a way. I was running most of the gym floor sessions, coaching, just getting lots of hours in, working with our hundred plus athletes and then running the next random internship. I think the fourth internship was the first one that I helped co-lecture on. And then I think I was in charge of it from the fifth.
So, two years after my internship number one, I was writing the presentations, doing the research and then delivering lectures to the interns once a week, plus running the 20 week program on the floor, delivering the mentorship alongside Durham.
Jack: One thing I’ve noticed early on when I met you, Jacob, was your ability to communicate really clearly in front of the camera or when running a group. And communicate effectively in the sense that everyone will understand what they need to do, whether it’d be watching a YouTube episode or something else. Do you feel that early on in your career by working in that internship and leading it you were able to practice those skill sets, like communication?
Jacob: Massively. I think that was a huge early accelerator for that skill set. And I didn’t realize it was going to be such an important skill set with the world moving to more digital and the need to market and share stuff on social and do things like podcasts. But getting up in front of a class of 10 interns who weren’t that much younger than me, they were three or four years behind me.
And then I have to appear like this, and there was a bit of fake it till you make it. You have to appear like you are the smartest person in the room to a degree and then deliver with confidence and know your research and talk for 90 minutes about squat mechanics and low body anatomy. And then field questions and keep it engaging and keep it interesting with that.
Just waffling off into a monotone of, ‘Oh, this is such and such a study at all 2019,’ that can get a bit dry. And we wanted to make the internship grounded in science, but a little more practical. So, it’s like, ‘Here is an interesting study. Here’s what that means for what we do in the gym, when we have an actual teenager, an 18-year-old who wants to go to college or who wants to get drafted next year into the AFL. What are we actually going to apply from that study into their program.’
And then the other factors that we need to consider in that program as well, they all fold in together. And making those nuanced decisions and understanding that everything is related is really important there.
Jack: This is all in a Bodyworld, while public people are just training in the gym and doing their thing? Or did you have a private space where you were lecturing?
Jacob: It was a boxing classroom. It had foam pads on the ground set up for like a mini spiring type situation. So, people would go in there and do kickboxing classes. And there was some heavy bags on the side and they’d do boxing classes or even yoga in there. And so, we rolled the Swiss balls in, taking their clipboards and their pens, roll up the projector and do it there. Often I was presenting barefoot, cross-legged on the ground in front of the first group.
Jack: You’ve received some backs.
Jacob: A lot of people all of a sudden needed to do a lot of stretching during those classes. That was a good time to get your stretching in for the week.
Jack: And what about when you went into the gym floor? Did you have the whole space to yourself or were you navigating through other people lifting?
Jacob: We were just in the gym. Durham was a personal trainer, they were renting space. And so, he’d pay his weekly rent and I then worked for him within that space. And we’d be training next to power lifters, Olympic lifters…
Jack: So interns got to see those guys train.
Jacob: Yeah. And so, some of them were a bit hostile and it could be a bit of an interesting environment where you have to like, ‘No, we don’t use that bench because that’s the power lifters’ bench. We have to go over here.’
It was mostly adults in this gym, here in St. Kilda. But then we had 14-year-olds, 16-year-olds, 18-year-olds, these kids who didn’t have much gym etiquette or gym experience to kind of teach them like, ‘No, you pack your weights up. Don’t steal their equipment.’ These kids were stealing barbells and moving plates. And I was like, ‘No, someone’s on that. Leave that alone. That’s not our gear.’
Jack: Teaching them valuable things. Gym etiquette and ethics.
Jacob: Exactly. And like big, scary guys or girls in there too, proper power lifters and physique athletes and things like that. So, it was really good to listen. And some of them were lovely. Some of them would share their thoughts and their insights, and they would offer their opinion on coaching, which was really valuable.
They always want athletes to squat deeper or deadlift sumo instead of trap bar and things like that. And so, some things is like, ‘Oh, they’re athletes. They need to jump, not to lift heavy.’ But other things like the cues about how to build tension and grip strength and things that they would use, they were really valuable as well.
It was really good early experience for me and for the company to get lots of diverse ideas before we went into our own little bubble here. And so Durham was there for, I think, it was 12 years before we opened up Core Advantage, our own space. So, that’s a lot of time around, maybe more than 12, maybe 15, but a lot of time around other people with other ideas.
And often we can see through other people’s ideas, like, ‘Ah, they don’t know that, stupid whatevers.’ But there’s a little grain everywhere to be taken. We take a lot from bodybuilding. We take a lot from physio, a lot from Pilates and yoga. We’ve got little bits from everywhere. Our program isn’t just purely our thoughts. It’s the influences of all those people around. There’s all these other nuggets that you can take out of philosophies and methodologies.
Jack: I like that. For those interns to experience that environment. Because I never trained in Bodyworld, but I grew up in St. Kilda. So, I remember looking through it, maybe I wanted to rent a space or something. And it is a very raw gym with the plates and everything about it. So, I can imagine some of the things you’d be witnessing definitely would shape your experience and probably open your eyes onto what’s possible in terms of how heavy people can lift, guys and girls, and how big people can get.
And like you said, we can draw on all these different methodologies and filter it into our own philosophy in terms of athlete development. And I imagine the atmosphere for the athletes and coaches would have been something to draw on as well, just to get used to that performance element of a high performance environment.
Jacob: Yeah, it was great. So, they’d be watching these powerlifters who would come in and they’d do their deadlift day and they’d ramp up to 280–320 kilos on the bar, running out of room on the end of the bar to get their 20 kilo plates on. And our athletes are like, ‘What’s going on?’ And I was like, ‘Stay out of his way, watch this, focus.’ And they’d watch them get in the zone and lock in and do their routine and execute the lift.
When you lift, that’s how you would approach a basketball game or a warmup for footy. That’s how you would lock in. This is their sport, same kind of idea. You can take that same mentality to your lifting. It’s not throwing the kilos, but the same approach, that intent and that focus and being locked in and really focusing on trying to execute on the movement. There’s in-built motivation and prestige and impressiveness in the place. It was really cool.
Jack: Going back to your career journey. So, within Core Advantage. Up until this point, like you mentioned, Sandringham Zebras, Oakleigh Chargers. You had experienced at those levels while doing your degree, and then you did Core Advantage course, and then suddenly you’re offered a job.
And that’s progressing relatively quickly as well, by the sounds of it, in terms of being able to lead the program, because Durham was preparing the next space. At that point did you put all your energy focused on that space? Or did you have a few other hats that you were wearing at the time?
Jacob: No, that was pretty much it at this point. So, I started the Oakleigh internship before I actually got off at the Core Advantage one. So, I applied to Core Advantage in November. They said, ‘No, we don’t have anything.’ I then went to Oakleigh, got the Under 15s role, which was just running warmups and cooldowns, pretty simple stuff with the Under 15s, TAC cup program back then, it was pretty simple.
Ran that program, then got back into Core Advantage and started the Under 18s program after the internship. So, I did the Under 15s and the Core Advantage internship simultaneously. I did two internships at the same time, which was pretty hectic with my last year of uni.
And then before going full-time at Core Advantage, I got offered the Under 18s role at the Chargers. Which wasn’t because I did an amazing job with the Under 15s, it was because a friend of mine who was living on Deakin Rez was the Under 18s program guy and he was moving on. And so, I then took his role in there.
So, it was a bit of a networking. Who you know kind of situation, not so much that I was this wunderkind from the Under 15s program. It was just that I knew him, he knew I was pretty good and pretty switched on in this place. And it was like, ‘Could you put in a good word for me?’ He did. And I got the role.
Jack: Right. Very good. And then, how much did that help when you started working with teams at Core Advantage, drawing on those experiences?
Jacob: Really good, because Oakleigh — lots of players. You’ve got the 20 guys that play on the weekend, but then you’ve also got all the bottom-aged kids, the Under 16s were sometimes training with the seniors as well. And they’ve got a pretty small gym. It was a pretty small space and they kind of run in blocks.
So, you think, ‘Oh, we have to do speed work first, then your power work and then go into the gym, do your strength before you go do your endurance.’ But because of the way the blocks worked with their training, you’d sometimes have kids coming doing their endurance work first, then coming to the gym last. And so, it was like, ‘Well, it’s not perfect programming. What are we going to do?’ But you still had to make it work.
And so, you still had to work out a way to find a program that was safe and effective for all the athletes, but not dangerous for those kids who have already gone and done their really hard running, their big gas at the end of the night, it’s cold, middle of winter, giving them an effective training program, keeping everything healthy, making a little bit of progress. Balancing that risk-reward stuff was really interesting. So, applying that.
And then we’d bring that back to the private sector. You think, ‘Oh, well, private sector, they’re paying a membership. They’re going to show up fresh and ready to go every time.’ It’s like, ‘No.’ And particularly basketball here in Victoria. Kids will do 10 sessions a week on court. And there’s only seven days a week. That means there’s going to be some doubles.
You’ll get them on the back of a double coming into the gym. It’s like, ‘I had school training before school and then I had a state basketball thing in the middle of the day. And now I’m here in the gym showing up to work.’ ‘Oh, what have you had to eat today?’ ‘Two wheat sticks and a peanut butter sandwich.’ ‘That’s it?!’
And they’re dragging their knuckles and they’re exhausted. And you’ve got to put them through 90 minutes of strength work. And so, being able to adapt those sessions and be like, ‘All right. Well, today’s not a day we’re going to go super hard.’ Finding something to do to still make it effective, make it worthwhile was really challenging.
But the logistics stuff, you’re picking up those ideas all the way along, I think, through your career. I have anyway. Like that’s a clever way to organize groups. That’s a clever way to set your lines up for your warmup. Little things like that. That’s a clever way of grouping exercises to make your equipment go a little further, because we’ve only got so many kettlebells or whatever it might be.
Working in crappy situations gives you a good chance to solve problems with less stuff. And I think it’s like being a scrappy footballer or a scrappy player. They might not be the most talented or the most athletic, but they really want it. And they’re really dogging it and they find ways to keep progressing and keep making that next team. And they’re the ones that are resourceful and tactical.
And I think coaches in a lot of ways have to be like that at all times, even at the pro level. Like we idolize the Olympics and professionals, but sometimes they’re just doing the best they can with what they’ve got, given their context. So, I think those problem solving skills you earn along the way through your internships when you’re strapping ankles and running water and doing those kinds of jobs are really valuable.
Jack: Was that somethin that, when you started your degree you knew straight away that you’d want to get a lot of practical experience? Or was that someone recommended to you that you can do your degree, but that’s just the start of it, you actually need to build your skill set, build your coaching ability as well?
Jacob: That’s a really good question. I’m trying to think.
Jack: It’s just you were doing a lot education and development wise.
Jacob: Yeah. I don’t think it was strategic though. I don’t think I was specifically going, ‘Okay. I have to get practical. I have to go to footy clubs.’ I think I was just trying to do stuff because I really liked it. I really liked being around clubs and around teams and around athletes. So, it was like, ‘How can I get involved in more stuff?’ And so, it was just like we’d get emails from Deakin about traineeships and internship opportunities. And I was just like, ‘Oh, I’ll just start applying to things.’
I don’t think I was specifically like, ‘Okay, tick off the theory, get the degree, tick off the practical as a broader master plan.’ I think I was just fumbling my way through it. I think because I liked being busy and I liked being around teams, I happened to get good experiences. I think more so than anything.
Jack: That’s great advice. I mean, it’s put you in good stead, no doubt, in terms of that progression throughout your career. Talk us through your role with Core Advantage over the last couple of years and up until now, and then we’ll move over to your new and exciting app creation. But what does your role look like now at Core Advantage?
Jacob: The last two years have been a real transition for me. Even before COVID started, I was doing a lot more work on the business side of things and less on the actual coaching. So, probably the last three years have been a gradual step down in my actual coaching responsibilities from full-time (coaching every single shift, 35 plus hours a week, programming for 60 plus athletes, and my main goal was deliver great coaching, deliver great programming and onboard new members), into more building systems to help our team do that at a better scale and with more consistency and at a higher level. So, marketing setups, making sure we’re posting consistently to the social media, making sure when our new member joins they get a good series of emails to welcome them to the setup.
Jack: Do you have a marketing assistant that you work closely with, or are you leading the marketing?
Jacob: I was kind of just fumbling my way through it a bit. It’s changed a bit now that we’re doing the app. We’ve got a bit more of a team which is doing the marketing for the app and for the gym simultaneously. So, I’ve fallen back into more of a research and writing role. But at the time I was working at the best platform to send emails from and setting up the MailChimp account and making sure all those kinds of things work nicely.
But then we also started building our own apps in the gym. Not just the Metric app that we’ll talk about in a second, but we started building testing platforms as well. We have our own testing app suite and technology set that we use when we do test combines and things like that. We’ve been dabbling with that technology stuff for the last eighteen month, for the last two years.
I suppose, as that’s got more serious, I’ve gotten more involved in that. App design, UX design, the idea of making a good app that’s easy to use, bug fixing, troubleshooting, things like that. And then now that’s transitioned into a full role with the Metric app, which I’m basically working full-time on. Not much involved in the gym or the coaching at all. Which is a bit weird, because it’s my training, it’s where I’ve got most of my experience, but I’m not doing much of it at all at the moment.
Jack: You mentioned that this was unfolding not because of COVID where you couldn’t coach people, but it was just where you were heading towards anyways. And you had started to grow a bit of a passion in developing these skill sets, like learning marketing.
Because, obviously, there was a bit of a that in your life anyway. To be able to sell a product or hook someone, which is marketing, it’s very similar to explaining a new exercise or trying to get someone in an ice bath. So, there is transference to coaching in a sense.
But did you do it because you just felt like you wanted to grow in that area and be more well-rounded from a business perspective? Or was that just something that Core Advantage needed you to spend time and energy on?
Jacob: A bit of both, to be honest. I’d started doing more YouTube videos. I started making videos on my own YouTube channel. I did a daily vlog for a hundred days in a row, where I did a sports science video every day. I learned how to edit videos, shoot content. That was 2017–2018, I think that was over that time.
Jack: Was that the intention when you started every day? Were you like, ‘I’m going to do it for a hundred days from the day one’?
Jacob: We’ll backtrack a bit. 2016. My brother David went to Europe for a six month internship. He studies computer science and engineering, brilliant guy, super smart. He was over there. At Core Advantage things had gone really well. We started really great when we moved into the new facility, but we hit a bit of a plateau.
And the landscape was shifting. It was going from Facebook (easy access, you can just post a thing and you’ll get hundreds of views, straightaway clicks and likes, no dramas, really easy to make your content accessible) to you got to pay. You’re either going to be viral or you have to pay for ads and get your content in front of people.
And there was a shift towards Instagram. So, people were going off Facebook. It was getting a bit lame. Everyone’s mum was on there and their auntie, so they didn’t want to be on there anymore. They wanted to move to Instagram where all the cool kids were and Snapchat.
So, I realized there was this shift in marketing. You couldn’t just write good blogs on Facebook and reach people. You had to be a little more dynamic, editing videos, good lighting, presentation. Stuff that in 2022 we take for granted when we scroll through our feeds. But back in 2015–2016 it was the Wild West.
People were posting grainy photos on their iPhone 5s and it was yuck and it was none of this aesthetic stuff we’ve got. Kids under the age of 25 wouldn’t understand, maybe under 22 wouldn’t understand, but the early days of Instagram was hideous. People were posting stuff…
Jack: Yeah, it would be funny to look back at it. That’d be probably hard to look at.
Jacob: I’ve deleted mine. Mine’s all gone. I reset my when I started the VBT stuff. And so, there was this shift that was going on and at Core Advantage we had no one that was good at marketing. No one in our team had a knack for that.
Durham doesn’t really like the social media stuff too much. He’s more of an introvert, happy to keep things to himself. Doesn’t like bragging as well. I’m a bit the same. I’m just happy to be good at what I do, but do it in the background. That’s, I think, another reason why I like coaching. It’s not actually about you. It’s about helping the athlete achieve their goals and just being part of the team.
But we realized we needed to get on with this marketing. So, I started watching more YouTube and watching more Instagram and sort of seeing what good creators were doing. And so, I started a vlog. And while I was over visiting my brother for three weeks over Christmas, 2015 I think it was, maybe 2016, I did a video a day.
Family holiday, it wasn’t super exciting, not much going on. I was like, ‘I’m just going to get video of this. It will be a really cool memento for our family to have.’ And I made 21 videos in 21 days. They’re still on YouTube, but don’t go watch them. They’re horrible. I think two of them are okay. They’re all shot on an old GoPro.
Because it was so cold in Sweden, the battery in it only lasted me like 45 minutes. So, I had three batteries and a charger in my bag and I was charging and swapping batteries all day, trying to make these videos. And then we get back to our hotel room in the evening and we’d go for dinner at seven o’clock and then I’d edit the video on iMovie from 20:30 till midnight. And I’d upload it, go to bed, wake up the next morning at 8:30, press ‘Submit’ on YouTube and go about the day and make the next video.
Horrible way to have a holiday. We came back more exhausted than when we left. But I learnt, same as how I learned all those problem-solving skills, doing the internships in situations that aren’t perfect, I learned how to edit and make something out of nothing with the content.
I was like, ‘Well, now we’ve got time and I’m back at work and I’m getting back to a normal schedule, I can actually start crafting some good videos.’ And so, that’s where the YouTube vlog series came from. I was like, ‘I’ll make a three to five minute YouTube video every day about some topic in sports in high performance.’
I made a whole bunch of videos about footwear and how shoes affect our performance, and jumping and running technique and all that kind of stuff. And that really helped push the business back up to where it needed to be in terms of reaching people and popularity and things like that.
Jack: It was a noticeable difference, like getting into that world of marketing and not relying on referrals.
Jacob: Yeah. It just added to it. And it made the referral thing like, ‘Oh, I saw your stuff on YouTube!’, that sort of thing. And it really helped the internship as well. We got really good candidates coming through the internship. A lot of our coaches found out about us through those videos. Like, ‘Ah, I followed all your YouTube videos when you were making those sports science vlogs.’
And then we started the podcast and we started building a bit of media around what we do and sharing how we work here at Core Advantage. So, kind of accidental. And then I started to like it and I systemized how to do it and started to like making the content.
I think that really helped with my communication skills. Like you mentioned earlier, I think doing those videos and forcing myself to get comfortable in front of the camera was really helpful as well.
Jack: So, you believe it is a skill that you can develop through practice and measuring what works and what doesn’t. Were you looking at the data of views and what were some helpful things to work out what was a good video and engaging one to one that was not as effective?
Jacob: Yeah, I was doing a bit of that. And there’s definitely topics that were more popular on social media than weren’t. I was doing that on Instagram and on YouTube. But I also had Durham giving me really honest feedback. He’s quite comfortable telling me when something’s shit or when something just doesn’t make sense.
And so, he’d just watch the videos like a consumer and go, ‘You lost me. In the middle of this video it just gets all messy and you start introducing all these other concepts that you don’t need. What happened?’ I was like, ‘Yeah. Okay.’ And so, I think it helped with building narratives and building stories.
And I think a lot of people lack that. They go out and they make stuff and they’re not getting any good feedback. When you get good feedback, when someone sends you a message and goes, ‘Hey, that post didn’t make sense. You’ve got two typos, that word’s wrong, and then this sentence just doesn’t need to be there.’ You can see it through a less filtered lens.
Because when we make our own content and then you edit it and go, ‘Oh, this is beautiful.’ Or, ‘Oh, I don’t want to look at myself anymore. Just post it and it’ll be done with.’ But going through the process of actually going, ‘No.’ You have to watch yourself. You have to learn to enjoy your good content and hate your bad content. Not just hate everything. Because some people tend to just hate the sound of their own voice. And so, they’d never watch it. But I think getting that feedback is super valuable.
And same for athletes. We’re talking a lot about intern stuff today, but getting good, honest feedback as an athlete. Athletes, their parents are encouraging and supportive, their coaches are encouraging and supportive. Having a coach go, ‘Mate, you’re really not suited for that position. You need to start developing as a winger. You’re never going to be a center half-back.’
That sort of feedback at the right time can be so valuable. To be like, ‘Yeah, you’re right. I’m just not going to be tall enough. I’m not going to be big enough. I need to strike in faster. I need to work on my outside game or my inside game, and whatever it might be, to develop those skills.’
I think feedback is the most important gift that anyone can give to another person. And we all clam up. We get so defensive when people give us feedback. But we should do the opposite. We should be thankful.
Jack: And it’s something that yourself and Durham started from day one. Like your interview, he was open and honest with you from day one. So, it’s something that you guys have shared from the start and, obviously, had a lot of success. And it sounds like the relationship you guys have fostered throughout this successful business, being part of that is being able to give each other direct feedback.
And you mentioned being able to compliment each other. In that sense, how important that is to get better? And it’s no different with a coach. It’s almost a disservice, isn’t it? If you’ve got something to offer and you don’t give it, then you’re letting that athlete down or that coach or whatever it might be.
Did you receive feedback well from Durham from early on, when it was that honest, from that interview moment, and then almost because it was that honest at the very start it almost made it easier to have that relationship? Or was it something that you had to work on? You mentioned, how we can clam up. Or is it something that you’ve always had and because you’re an athlete you were used to getting feedback?
Jacob: Such a good question, such a good line of questions. So much there to unpack. We could do a whole podcast on that topic right there. I think I’d always been good at receiving feedback to a degree. I was a bit of a high achiever as a kid. So, most of my feedback was pretty positive, at school and in sport. I was a decent athlete, decent student, pretty good, didn’t get in trouble or anything like that. So, I was always getting positive stuff.
I think when Durham gave me that bit of feedback, it kind of hit me for six minutes. Like, ‘Oh, I’m not perfect. I’m not just going to roll into a high performance job at Collingwood whenever I want. I’ve got a lot to learn.’ And so, I think that really gave me a bit of an appropriate trim down and a little bit of a slap in the face. And I was like, ‘Okay, here’s a manager doing this for 12 years, 10 years. He’s just told me this, but he’s still going to give me a chance. All right, let’s shape up. Let’s make this worth it.’ And I think that probably set the tone for our entire working relationship.
And I’m not always perfect at it. I think there’s a lot of times where I disagree and I’m like, ‘No, I don’t need that feedback.’ And then it’s like, ‘No, that’s just your emotions getting in the way.’ And other times I need to give him feedback. Now we’re in a position where we’re both mature in our jobs and in our roles and what we need to do for the company, so it’s a lot more of a partnership. But in the early days it was him giving me feedback, telling me I sucked at the thing. ‘Jacob, you’re too heavy handed with that coaching. You need to dial back. It’s not just about commanding everyone. A bit of honey makes the medicine go down easier. You’ve got to be gentle with it sometimes.’ So, all that kind of stuff, those soft skills. I was as a bit too hard and fast, I think, in the early days.
But now it’s a lot more back and forth. We can have dialogues about stuff when we need to improve. And there’s still times where my skills aren’t good enough and Durham will put me in my place, which is appropriate. And there’s other times where I will give Durham some advice. It’s like, ‘You said you were going to do an Instagram post that you haven’t. Let’s go, let’s get on social. We’ve got to keep engaging, keep turning that wheel.’
Jack: Keeping each other accountable.
Jacob: Exactly. And I think an open feedback allows that to be okay. Because I’m not ripping you just because I want to rip you. I’m like, ‘Jacob, I’m giving you feedback. Because you stuffed up that podcast.’ You were listening to podcasts and like, ‘You stuffed that bit up,’ or ‘You weren’t warm enough,’ or ‘You were too something or other.’ There’s always a little bit of something. And the good stuff as well. Like other times you’ll nail it and it’s like, ‘That was great. Awesome work with such and such.’ It goes both ways.
Jack: And thinking from the athlete’s perspective for a second. You mentioned growing up going for a 10K run while you were trying to get faster and the mistakes you learned and the constraints of semi-pro situation, where you don’t have everything laid out due to time or other players schedules and things like that.
But let’s say in an ideal environment, and you had your time again, for athletes listening, what would be the appropriate amount of loading that you would think is important for your 16-year-old footballer that’s wanting to get faster and fitter and stronger?
Obviously, it’s loaded, it’s a big question, but in terms of, let’s say, they’re training two times a week, they’ve got their game, they don’t have any school commitments. So, they do have a bit of time, like I’m sure these athletes that come to Core Advantage. What would a week look like for them?
Jacob: We tend to focus mostly on the strength and power stuff. We tend not to get too much into the running work. Because you can get footy coaches a little bit angry if you step onto their territory, particularly as they’ve got a plan coming up. So, we’ll see what their plan is, what it looks like, but mostly we’ll focus on the strength and power. And most athletes, most junior athletes, they’re often undercooked in that space.
So, it’s just let’s get in the gym twice a week, progressive overload, kind of a linear plan, nothing too sexy or exciting. Let’s just nail the fundamentals for that first six months. Get you from useless, completely weak and never stepped foot in a gym to adequate at most lifts: squat, deadlift, single leg deadlift, push-up, bench press, chin-up, row, good plank, those kind of things. And then from there we suck in a little fancier.
In terms of running, though, I think the big mistake a lot of athletes make is they either do too much speed work, which is less, the other option is they just pound the pavement, and they do heaps and heaps of slow stuff. They think the off-season just consists of 5 to 10K runs four times a week, and then a kick at the footy at the end while they’re all sweaty.
A little more structured, a little more varied running program, and I probably shouldn’t say too much on this, Jack, because you’ve got a lot more experience than I do in this footy specific programming. But I’d do a combo of some fast leg work, like some high-intensity intervals, some repeat sprints, some short sharp sprints with lots of rest, so we’re actually working specifically on speed.
I think footballers often tend to not do enough agility and change their direction work in the off-season. Everything’s straight lines or gentle bends. But actually getting some cuts in there as well I think is particularly important, to get the abductors and the glutamates and everything like that working.
But to be honest, with the wrapping stuff up, we’d leave a lot of that alone a lot of the time. Not always, like there’s some times we’ll run a running program, but that’s very specific. But more often than not, it’s like, ‘All right, you’re doing your few games and stuff with training. We’ll kind of leave that alone and just focus on the strength and power, which is where we’re really good at.’
Jack: Thanks for sharing. And the athletes, when they come in, what does the membership look like? Can they train with a couple of buddies or are they in a group class? What’s the system for young athletes that want to train in the gym and maybe they can’t sign up to fitness first due to their age? What does it look like at Core Advantage?
Jacob: Even if they could join up to fitness first, even if they were old enough to join fitness, I’d still recommend to go see someone like Core Advantage or Prepare Like A Pro and actually get some professional advice and get some coaching in that space.
Jack: That can be dangerous.
Jacob: Yeah, much better choice. Because you’ll end up like Jacob and you’ll do long slow runs and bodybuilder programs and end up with more muscles, but you’ll end up slower and weaker than when you started and you’ll be less of an athlete.
So, we have a single membership level. It’s unlimited training sessions, all your programs included. You’ll join up, you’ll do an initial consult and then you come in and you train according to your schedule. We’ll write your program according to that schedule as well and according to your goals. We performance test along the way. We’ll do speed, power tests, things like that.
And then yeah, you can come along with your mates, come along with an entire team. Open gym kind of model, if you will. Athletes are responsible for coming in and doing their own prep and warmup. We’re not going to hold your hand through it. We want to treat our athletes like adults and see some responsibility. But the coaches are always on the floor, so everything is supervised, everything’s coached. We’re here to help you make good loading decisions.
Also, we try and focus on helping people make good decisions and learn how to make good decisions on their own. Because they’re not going to be with us forever. We realize that, people will move on. They’ll move into state. They’ll go to college, they’ll get drafted. But learning how to take care and risk and look after their body, either as an elite athlete or just when they fall back to civilian life, I think is a really important skill.
Jack: Let’s shift over to Metric. How did you come to create it? I know your brother’s involved. Talk us through for those that aren’t aware of the app. How did it come about and what does it do? How does it help athletes?
Jacob: My brother is a computer scientist and he came back from Sweden and we would lift together after a shift here at Core Advantage. So, I’d finish coaching, he’d come across and we’d do our lift. And I’d always been interested in the idea of velocity-based training, with the idea of using some sort of technology to track the speed of your lifts.
So, you lift 80 kilos for five reps, but you also do that for a given velocity and that velocity can tell you about your fatigue, your readiness, and stuff like that. When you compare that velocity to old data, say, when you lifted 80 kilos last week. And so, I’d always liked that idea. And I showed David and we started programming at each other with it. And I gave him a few constraints using velocity-based training science.
And he was like, ‘Why do we have to use these things with string all the time? What’s going on here? What’s with the strings?’ I was like, ‘That’s just the best it is.’ ‘I reckon we can do better. I reckon we can do this with a smartphone, with a camera.’ I was like, ‘This has been around for a while. Surely, someone thought of this.’ He was like, ‘No, no, no. They haven’t thought about it like me.’ And so, we just started.
He was already working with us. He was building the testing apps and the gym management systems that we were using. But he just started spending a day or two a week working on this computer vision system. The idea was that you’d set your phone up, press ‘Record’, and it would record you lifting and it would track the barbell as you moved and give you a velocity and range of motion data without any device, just using this app on the phone. Like computer vision in a car, for example, can now detect lane lines and things like that. It would just detect the barbell.
We started that two years ago and then about a year into that, so a year ago now, it started looking really good. We were like, ‘That’s really accurate.’ It was starting to match some of the string devices for accuracy and precision. And we’d like, ‘Let’s make this a thing.’ So, that’s when I really shifted to full-time on that role from the coaching and David went full-time on this as well. And we started really building this thing out.
We got a patent on it. So, it’s now a patent pending here in Australia. And what it does, it’s just an app on your phone. It’s February now 2022, we’re in beta. So, it’s not live on the App Store, but it will be very soon. So, depending on when you listen to this, you might be able to search Metric on the iPhone App Store and just download it for free.
Jack: We’ll add the link in the show notes.
Jacob: Awesome. You press ‘Record’ on your phone. It’s like your exercise. Select your weight, press ‘Record’, do your set and it will count your reps, tell you how fast they are, provide you video feedback, graph feedback, table of your results, all that kind of stuff. And you can use that data to then inform your training decisions.
Jack: And I know when we used it in an Edge Gym, I loved the fact that it won’t track the data if you’re in the wrong position. It almost does the work for you in the sense that you’re getting that direct feedback. Talk about feedback. You’re getting that feedback from the app that you know if it’s going to be reliable or not. Which is super helpful when you’re setting up, because then eventually you just get to your sweet spot that you know is the right angle, right height and the way you go.
Jacob: Exactly. I’ve always liked the idea of having some objective metric to go with your coaching. You know, we tell athletes to go faster, go slower, go deeper, don’t go as deep, all those kinds of cues. If you can provide a number to go with that and go, ‘Okay. At the moment you’re squatting 50 centimeters. Really, we probably need to be looking at more like 55 or 60 centimeters.’ Or, ‘Come on, you can hit one meter per second on that lift.’ A little bit of a motivational tool as well. I think it’s so valuable.
And training velocity, that’s always been a bit of a technological burden. You’ve got to get the device out, you’ve got to attach the string, you’ve got to connect the Bluetooth, you’ve got to find the thing, you’ve got to press ‘Play’. Whereas now it’s just like: grab your phone, open the camera, point and shoot. And then you can get your data right there. It’s less obtrusive. It’s less in the way of your training. It’s more just a companion. Like you get a little assistant coach on the side.
Jack: Exactly. Like rather than just having the weight of the bar, which is one way you can measure, but for an athlete to know that you’re actually moving through better range of motion. And you’ve got the film there and it looks prettier as well. So, the kinematics is good. And then you’re moving the bar. It may be the same speed, but through greater range of motion. Or maybe you’re moving the higher weight at a faster speed.
So, there’s so many other ways that you can measure how you’re going. And then also, like you said, use it as a measure of your freshness and how fatigued you are, going into the season, practice matches, which is not too far away for footballers at the moment. You can actually quantify that, which can be super helpful.
Because it would be hard for an athlete, especially young athletes when you’re building your body awareness, to know how am I feeling. And, like you said, basketballers are playing 10 sessions a week. Sometimes when you’re that cooked, you don’t even know how you’re feeling, because you’re that tired. It’s hard to actually register.
It’s also made it so exciting that you and your brother have created this. And you mentioned, it’s about to hit the market. How will it work? For athletes that listen to this and say, ‘This is exactly what I’m looking for. And I want to start practicing this with my training in the gym.’ What would be the process to get started?
Jacob: So, depending on when you’re listening to this, head to metric.coach. That’s the website for the app, it’s called Metric VBT. And that’ll tell you the status of where the app is at right now, whether you can download it, or you have to join the beta program.
The first version will be a free app that anyone can download and use. It will be free, always will be. And that’ll just be a basic single set analysis. So, you’ve set the camera up, you record and you get one sets worth of data. That’s just because we haven’t built the other features yet, but we are working pretty rapidly to build a feature where you can then save your data in the app, so you can record your entire training history within that app.
You can go in there and then review your back squats and look at all your squats over time. Maybe look at velocity on a hundred kilos. Just pick a number and you can see how that velocity is tracking over time. Or look at what weight did I lift for one meter per second and see if that weight’s going up. And so, like you talked about, it’s a new set of goalposts, which are really relevant for athletes.
Because sometimes more weight isn’t always a good idea. You want to lift a medium weight, but with really good power or really good velocity. And so, you can track that metric. Like we’re going to keep your trap bar deadlift at 80 kilos, and we’re going to do trap bar jumps and we’re going to keep trying to get more power every week instead of more weight. And so, you go and lift with that same weight, but with more intent and you can start tracking that with your velocity. So, you can use that as the measure.
And all that sort of data will be stored within Metric within your account. And that will be a paid version of the app. Once that’s ready to go, there’ll be a subscription. But all your video will be stored as well. So, you could then share that with your coach, share that with your teammates, post to social and brag. So you can show people that you’re lifting faster than they are, things like that.
But I think the coaching tools are really cool as well. So, if you coach online, or if you train online, you can then send the video with the data to your coach and go, ‘Hey coach, here’s my video from Metric. What do you think of these numbers?’ And they can go, ‘Yep. Kinematics look really good. The video is really smooth, but I think you could be lifting this faster. 0.7 is not very fast for that lot of weight.’
Or, ‘Last week you did 0.8. Let’s try and lift that a little bit quicker in terms of meters per second.’ Or, ‘You’re only getting about 800 watts. Normally an athlete of your size should be getting a thousand watts. Let’s try and up that. Let’s try and hit that 1,000 watt mark.’ And it gives you new goals outside just more weight or more reps.
Jack: That’s amazing. That’s helping the coaches and the athletes. And for the S&Cs listening, what process did you go through to make the app valid? How did you test it or measure it against other ways of measuring velocity?
Jacob: That process is still ongoing. We’re still working on the algorithm, making it better. We’ve just made some big jumps this week, actually, to move to a much higher definition video that we’re processing. It’s much crisper, because it was kind of having to compress the video to do it in real time, but we’ve now increased the speed of the app. So, it can now process high definition video in real time. And that means we can get more accurate numbers.
We did a day at a Mocaplab and collected a bunch of data. So, a motion capture lab with all the cameras and the perfectly calibrated to the millimeter room type settings. Took our barbell in there and did a heap of different lifts and filmed from a bunch of different positions with smartphones, so that we can get a heap of data and start comparing that to the Metric algorithm over time. So, we are about to start that process of doing that validation.
But in the early days we just got the device that we had in the gym. So, we had an accelerometer and we had a string nurse. We had one of each, we just ran those two on a barbell with Metric running at the same time and just compared them. It was like, if we had a set that was way off, we’d look at that footage to work out why. And we’d calibrate the algorithm and calibrate the app to be smarter and work out what problems it was having.
Ah, it was blurry at the bottom, so we need to get more frames. Or it wasn’t high enough resolution, so we need to increase the resolution in order to match those known and already validated technologies. But the big benefit for us is you don’t need a hardware. You just can download the app.
We’re still working on that and we’ll do some external studies over the next year or two as well. If anyone’s interested in doing a study, reach out. We’d love to do as many as possible. We want to be pushed. We want people to push it and find our limits, so we can improve it and make it as robust and user-friendly as possible.
Jack: That’s awesome, mate. It gives you a lot of confidence when you hear how far you and David have been throughout this process. And after using the app myself, I can definitely attest to it. So, for anyone listening, make sure to keep your eyes peeled, and watch the space. You can sign up onto the email list as well to receive updates. Is that right, on the Metric website?
Jacob: Yup, metric.coach. We’re currently in beta. You just join the newsletter and then we send you an invite to join the beta afterwards with the instructions. Because it’s not on the App Store. But you might go to metric.coach after this podcast and you might find that we’re live and you’ll be able to download the app straight from the iPhone App Store.
First version will only be on an iPhone, just because with one developer we can’t build two platforms at once. So, we have decided to focus on iPhone first, but we will do Android in the future. When in the future, I can’t give you an exact time, but Android users, we are working on that. It is in the pipeline. It’s coming. Or just switch to iPhone, get yourself an iPhone.
Jack: Who’s got an Android? We’ll now move into the lighter side of the podcast now, mate. Have a bit of fun with these. But the first one is which movie or TV series has impacted you the most and why?
Jacob: Getting ready for the podcast, I was going back through a few of your episodes I’ve listened to recently. I’ve got a caveat question. When you say impacted, do you mean impacted my career or just has impacted my life?
Jack: Just life. Moved the needle of your life.
Jacob: Okay. ‘Coach Carter’ is a big one.
Jack: That’s got to be the most popular.
Jacob: That was pretty big when I was young. I watched a movie when I was a late teenager, called ‘Crash’. I believe it won Oscar for best picture. And it was about all these intersecting stories that basically were built around racism. And it was in America and these different injustices based around racism, that really opened my eyes. Living in a country town, I hadn’t experienced much in the way of racism. I was like, ‘Oh, this is pretty heavy stuff.’
So, those two were pretty formative when I was a kid. And that was my favorite movie for a long time. But now I really like the Marvel movies. I know it’s cliché, but the Marvel movies are great. My partner and I, we’ve re-watched those, particularly ‘Thor: Ragnarok’. That’s my absolute favorite. We re-watch those movies more often than I care to admit as a fully grown adult.
Jack: I love that. Next one, favorite inspirational quote or life motto?
Jacob: Life motto. I’ve had a few. I’ve cycled through a few different ones. That used to be ‘No pain, no gain’. I was pretty hardcore back in my early uni days, doing lots of different internships.
Jack: Bodyworld days.
Jacob: Yeah. Burning the midnight oil and training hard and playing hard and all that kind of stuff. I think all mottoes are good symbols, but they’re not always accurate.
I think one of my favorites is ‘how you do anything is how you do everything’. More sort of a reflection on your attention to detail and meticulousness. If you’re going to put things away, put them away all right. If you’re going to clean, clean properly. Don’t half clean, don’t half do a job. Like you’re all in or you’re all out. So, I think that’s a good one.
And it’s a good one to keep, especially for young athletes, young interns. Like coaches notice that stuff, employers notice that stuff. So, if you’re a bit sloppy or a bit rushed or a bit lethargic or a bit lazy when you’re at work or when you’re at training, they’ll notice. If you’re the player who mopes into training a bit late, don’t think the coach, just because they haven’t seen anything, isn’t noticing, they notice.
So, I think ‘how you do anything is how you do everything’ is a really good one for anyone who wants to move up from where they are currently. Make the next team, make the next job. Pay a little more attention to the little things. They add up and they compound.
Jack: That’s a great way of putting it. They compound, pay dividends. And it’s good habits to get into early days, isn’t it? What about in your work life, what makes you angry? What are your pet peeves?
Jacob: People who don’t pay attention to the little things.
Jack: Like with the 15 kilos where the 20 kilos lifts.
Jacob: Oh yeah. Or in our gym, it’s bolts out. You’ve got to have the bolts of the plates facing out when you put them on the bar. The steel plates have bolts on one side, no bolts on the other. Bolts facing out all the time.
Strength Culture do that as well. They have the powerlifting gym near us as well. They have plates that have logo on the one side. So, the first plate on the bar has to go logo facing in. Then all the rest have to go logo facing out. So, you can see logos of the bar, there’s no smooth plates anywhere. You can see logos on every side of the plate, the whole thing.
And so, I think I appreciate that kind of thing. I suppose I don’t appreciate the opposite, people who don’t pay attention to those things. But I don’t think they peeve me. I don’t think they are pet peeves.
I dislike people who say they’re going to do a thing and then don’t. I prefer that you didn’t say anything, than promise a lot and then not deliver. I think I’ve been guilty of that, of promising the world and then failing. Now I try to be more realistic in what I promise, so that I match that. Because I think actions speak louder than words. There’s another motto for you too.
Jack: That’s a good one. Favorite way to spend your day off?
Jacob: My day off is pretty relaxed. Go get a coffee. I like my coffees. So, either I’ll make a coffee at home and sleep in and then just spend the morning, take the dog for a walk or a run, catch up with family. Not a hugely social person. I’m a bit more of an introvert. So I tend to use my days off to recharge.
Sometimes I’ll just be at home. I’ll do some gardening or something. Lame, an old person like that. I’m 30 now. So, it’s sounding a little more mature. I’ve got a house to look after and things like that. But usually it’s me and my partner will take the dog for a walk. We’ll go get brunch or we’ll go get some stuff and make brunch at home. And sit around, read the news on my phone, watch a movie, do workout in the afternoon. Pretty relaxed.
Jack: Recharge the batteries. Things that are pretty common for us coaches.
Jacob: Jack, sorry to drop. I’ve got a question for you. Are you more of an introvert guy? Because you’re quite a well-spoken bloke some of the time. Are you more introverted and so you recharge on your own?
Jack: Absolutely. Yeah. On the continuum I’m definitely on the strong side of introvert, for sure. But then, I guess you adapt. Like in the coaching world, you need to draw on both. But because our role is so social, I definitely need to recharge the batteries by having my own time.
Jacob: Yeah. I think there’s a big misconception that all coaches are right out there. It’s like, I love the coaching, it’s so fun when you’re doing it. But afterwards, I need to be quiet for 45 minutes on my own. And on my days off, it’s less people, less rah-rah, not more.
Jack: It’d be interesting to see the data on that, actually. Strength & conditioning coaches, where they see themselves. And then this is a COVID-free world, favorite holiday destination?
Jacob: I’ve just got back from a week off holiday, actually. I’ve just been down at Portsea, down on the beach, doing a whole bunch of nothing. So, I think that’s my favorite single destination. If I could only go to one place, go down there to the beach house. My partner’s whole extended family have a beach house that they all share. And so, we get there for a week every Christmas. And so, we headed there for Australia this year, which was pretty nice.
I think that’s my favorite single destination, but my favorite destination in a post COVID world where I can travel and I’ve got my passport activated again, lots of stuff. I think my favorite destination would be a new destination. Somewhere I haven’t been before. My partner really likes Vietnam. She really wants to take me to Vietnam. I’ve never been to Southeast Asia. So, we really want to do that. We really want to do Sri Lanka. I really want to do Europe again and do some different countries in Europe.
So, I don’t think I have a single place that is my favorite. I haven’t traveled a huge amount yet in my life. A couple of trips, but nothing major. But I think what I’d like to see is some different stuff. I’d really like to go to Spain and do the Outback. So, not an answer is my answer. Somewhere new each time.
Jack: I’m sure that resonates with us, with everyone listening. We just want to get out, mix it up a bit, don’t we? After the last couple of years, especially the Melbournians. Definitely resonates with me, mate. Something new and exciting and an adventure is on the cards. That’s awesome.
Well, thank you so much for sharing your time, your journey thus far in your career as a strength & conditioning coach, as well as an app creator, a YouTuber, a marketing assistant. You’ve done it all, mate. You’ve lived a full life in this industry that we’re in. So, thank you so much for sharing.
No doubt, S&C coaches that have tuned in, physios and all the athletes that have tuned in, have got a lot of takeaways. I really appreciate your time and jumping on, mate. Where can people find you? Where’s the easiest place for any questions or queries around the app and the work that you’re doing at Core Advantage?
Jacob: I’m pretty active on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. I’m trying to post pretty frequently on all those. I’ll answer almost any DM that comes my way. So, @vbtcoach on both Instagram and Twitter. And if you just search ‘Jacob Tober’ or ‘VBT coach’ on any of those platforms, I’ll show up. I’ve got a website as well that I’m blogging on.
So, I’m trying to talk, I’m trying to share as much about this velocity-based training idea as I can. Because I think it’s been poorly done so far. I think it’s too theoretical and too abstract. I’m trying to make it more practical, so that athletes can go, ‘Oh yeah, I get that. I’ll train for power.’
And then they can apply these ideas, either with our app or not with app, I’m not too fussed about that at this stage. Just start using it because I think it’s such a powerful tool that’s unused. And if you have any questions, hit me up on any of those platforms.
Jack: We’ll add them all in the show notes, guys. So, definitely for those athletes, probably one of the more popular ones, and that want to get more powerful, check out the app and check out Jacob’s work. You won’t regret it. Well, thanks again, mate.
Jacob: Awesome, Jack. Thanks so much.
Jack: Thanks for tuning in. Thanks for tuning in, guys. Well, see you on the next episode.
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