Bring Your Squat Face

Life lessons from a strength and fitness guru.

The Kabuki Strength Lab where inventions and attitudes are tested

Chris Duffin grew up in a 16’ trailer, and his early memories are without electricity or running water. His family of five moved frequently, and it was difficult for him to make friends. He found sanctuary in books, and maintained straight A’s throughout school. As a teen he started weightlifting and participating in sports.

Little did he know at the time, he’d become the lightest man in history to squat over 900 lbs and deadlift over 1000 lbs.

“When I was younger I was doing it to impress the girls,” Duffin recalls his original motivation for his involvement in weight training.

What he found, instead, was an activity that yielded results for his hard work. Fitness didn’t care about his troubled past. It became a cornerstone of life lessons for him, and a way to propel himself into a career in leadership, the farthest thing from his introverted younger self.

Duffin, with an engineering background, gained leadership experience as a director and manager at multiple manufacturing and aerospace companies. His interest in how machines moved paralleled his obsession with human body movement.

Duffin with his one of his inventions — the SHOULDERÖK™

He founded Kabuki Strength, a company devoted to optimizing human performance via innovative methods, tools, and education. Duffin invents the equipment they test at the Strength Lab, trains high performance athletes, and podcasts with clinical rehab and strength experts.

I sat down with Duffin, aka “The Mad Scientist of Strength,” to discuss how fitness created opportunities for his personal growth. His passion to change the world of strength and fitness is a guide for his life lessons, which anyone can learn from.

Humans need stress to adapt

Stress produces changes in body systems. Caused by our primitive “fight or flight” response to avoid danger, many people react negatively to stress — ranging from temporary increase in heart rate to prolonged chronic illness. Duffin’s stressful childhood didn’t define him. He adapted and channeled the stress and put it towards his body, and the way he lead others.

He has managed thousands of people in his lifetime during 18 years in diverse operations management running aerospace, automotive, and hi-tech companies, as well as Kabuki. He empowers employees by assigning them more than they think they can handle. He thinks managers should have more faith in their people turning stress into results.

“There’s not a better feeling than witnessing someone do something they didn’t think they could,” Duffin says.

Attitude is everything

Studies show, attitude is a better predictor of your success than IQ. Duffin created the “Squat Face” logo that dons tank tops and walls at Kabuki Strength Lab. The symbol represents the attitude that he perpetuates.

“We can make all the fancy equipment in the world, and have the best trainers, but unless you have the right attitude — there won’t be much to show for it. We supply the tools and methods, you bring the attitude,” says Duffin.
Kabuki’s signature squat face logo

Duffin wants to be the person others expect to see everyday. He has an even temperament, and describes managing with his squat face — an attitude that is authentic and grounded. In a world where 44% of employees reported they do not feel free to speak their minds to their bosses, Duffin believes managing with the right attitude cultivates an environment where his employees feel supported and open. Environments that create safety yield process improvements.

Build your life around your passion

Duffin’s passions have always been about how things move — whether machines, organizations, or humans.

He’s built his life innovating in the strength and fitness field. After our interview, he went to perform “market research,” which consists of working out with new inventions that he designed. His education around a methodology and belief system in Kabuki Strength, allows him to align his time to things he loves to do.

Duffin embodies the keys to living your passion: he commits to being himself, trains constantly, and surrounds himself with the right team at Kabuki. Living with passion and purpose, like Duffin, makes you happier.

What can you take from Duffin’s life lessons? If you want to create change, apply stress. Stay authentic and encourage feedback from others. Double-down on your passions, and remember to bring your squat face.

Jordan is VP of Customer Engagement at Kindred Marketing and Founder of Dinner Dialogues. His purpose in life is to connect people, stories, & ideas for success & positive change in the world.

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