SGPT Interviews Kokoro Grad Michael Klein

michael-klein-kokoroSGPT: Tell us about yourself?

MK: I grew up in West Bloomfield, MI and attended MSU where I studied both Business and Communications.

I’m 47 year old and the father of an amazingly gifted 18 year old son and divorced from an 18 year marriage. Involved now with the most beautiful, kindest, smartest, hardest working and sexiest woman I can imagine.

I’ve been in the banking and mortgage field for over 23 years and for the past 18 months, I’ve been in the role of Mortgage Sales Performance Coach for a regional bank here in Chicago. I love this role because I find it provides me an avenue to where I make a positive impact on others. I’ve had many roles within banking however, the coaching role inspires me, while I have a chance to inspire others.

In January 2012 I made a decision to make life changes, one of which was to recommit to my fitness. I was working out routinely through my mid 20’s but marriage and life derailed that practice. After years of riding the couch, eating pizza and everything else; the toll had begun to show. I found myself 30 pounds overweight and my bad cholesterol was over 275. My fitness was awful…I remember joining the gym the first week of January 2012.

The first time I ran a mile on the treadmill I almost died and my time was 12min. I also struggled to push out 20 decent pushups. I would have miserably failed any PT test. I trained hard daily, corrected my diet and August 2012, I entered the Chicago sprint Triathlon proud to say I finished 495th. It was about that time I came across the SEALFIT website and became intrigued with the lifestyle.

In May of 2013 I attended the Fundamentals academy. In October 2014 I completed KOKORO 35 and In October 2015 I completed KOKORO 40. I’m training currently for KOKORO 45 scheduled for September 2016.

SGPT: Did you have an athletic background growing up?

MK: None other than neighborhood little league. I was not a high school athlete.

SGPT: How did you train for the Kokoro event?

MK: I categorize my training in 3 ways…I will try to explain this concisely. First, I spend time everyday training mentally and by that I primarily mean visualization. I see myself in the environment of the SEALFIT KOKORO camp, vividly performing each evolution. I draw this imagery from video either released by SEALFIT or other sources. I believe this visualization practice is critical. I also study the latest video closely looking for any patterns or sequences to evolutions. However, I only use that as loose guide, as the environment and sequence of evolutions are ever changing and dictated by the coaches. Secondly, as far as the physical training, I follow the Sealfit Operator WOD’s almost daily. The 120 days out from KOKORO I’ll incorporate the CrossFit WODs Murph and Cindy almost weekly. I’ll also begin testing my 5 mile and 10 mile run along with rucking of similar distances. However, most importantly is my third form of training, which I believe tests everything…mental, physical and it’s where I test my WHY. I coined this workout “Porterhouse” and nothing about it is unique other than for me, it has meaning and it defines my success at KOKORO. Porterhouse has 6 evolutions…. This gets performed at the Chicago lakefront.
EVO 1 – 1 mile run for time then immediately drop for 100 burpees
EVO 2 – 25 rounds of 20 push-ups, 20 squats, 20 4ct flutter kick
EVO 3- 3 mile run in sand with #24lbs of sand in ruck
EVO 4- 12 mile ruck W/35lbs. 5 miles is at the waters edge in sand and 7miles on grass or gravel road.
EVO 5 – MURPH W #22lbs sand bag in ruck. This MURPH is done outside and immediately upon completion of the ruck. I am wet from rucking at the waters’ edge and do not use chalk for grip on the pull-up bar.
EVO 6 – go to Morton’s steak house and eat an entire 48 oz porterhouse for two by myself.

SGPT: Tell us a little about the event? Where was it?

MK: KOKORO 35 was held primarily at Sealfit HQ, we traveled to Vail Lake for the overnight ruck. KOKORO 45 was launched at Sealfit HQ but was almost entirely held at Vail Lake

SGPT: What was hardest part of the event?

MK: KOKORO 35 – hardest part was contending with extreme diarrhea. I crapped myself at least 12 times starting on the ruck down the mountain Saturday night on into Sunday morning. I was decorated with the first and only Fire In The Hole award issued by SEALFIT. I’ll add that our team made it down the mountain in first place…I guess you can say it pays to be a winner.

KOKORO 40 – hardest part was being a good leader. I had trouble finding the right voice to lead with. Coach Divine fired me as leader I the first 20 minutes for being an “angry leader”. I was given more opportunities to lead but found myself tentative until the end. It was a valuable lesson learned.

SGPT: What is one thing you wish you would have done to get ready for Kokoro?

MK: I have no regrets over how I trained and prepared for each KOKORO. I guess one thing…on my first KOKORO, I would have like to have had the poem Invictus memorized better than I did.

SGPT: Any tips for up and coming athletes that want to do Kokoro?

MK: I don’t care who you are, how fit you are or what previous experiences you may have had. You must set your goals the right way for SEALFIT KOKORO. I have seen people fail, not because of their mistakes with achieving the goal…their mistakes were in setting the goal.

SGPT: What kind of boots did you use for the event?

MK: During KOKORO 35, I used the 5:11 urban tactical and NIKE FS. Neither performed well for me but I was glad I brought 2 pair of boots.

KOKORO 40 – LALO SHADOW AMPHIBIAN boots. Again I brought and wore two pair.

The LALO boots are amazing and they are what I will wear in KOKORO 45.

SGPT: Did you use double socks/compression socks or body glide on your feet to prevent blisters?

MK: Wool compression socks with a mid-weight merino wool over the compression sock. My feet were well conditioned to my boots. I did not use glide on KOKORO 45 and had absolutely no foot issues.

goruck ruckerSGPT: What kind of ruck did you use for training and the event?

MK: I train with a GORUCK GR1 pack.

However I also train the Porterhouse workout with that cheap piece of crap ruck that Sealfit issues at KOKORO.

Check out this article about the infamous ruck sack used at Kokoro.

SGPT: What book are you reading now?

MK: I’m on my third read of The Way of the SEAL: Think Like An Elite Warrior to Lead and Succeed by Commander Divine.

I’m also reading Extreme Ownership By Jocko Willink and Leif Babin and The 21 laws of leadership by John C. Maxwell.

SGPT: Many thanks for the interview!

MK: Thanks Brad…It’s a true honor to have been asked to do the interview.

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