JON CALL is best known as Jujimufu, the anabolic acrobat. In 2000, he started teaching himself “tricking,” an aesthetic blend of flips, twists, and kicks. In 2002, Jon launched trickstutorials.com, which he ran for 12 years and became one of the largest communities of online tricksters. He became famous from viral videos involving weighted splits between chairs, with massive barbell weights held overhead, and has appeared on America’s Got Talent. Men’s Health wrote that he “looks like a strongman, moves like a ninja, and performs the most insane fitness stunts you’ll ever see.”
What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why? Or what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?
Thinking Body, Dancing Mind by Chungliang Al Huang. It is a sports psychology book based on Tao teachings. It’s a very unique adaptation of the Tao. I was fortunate enough to select it from a bookstore for reading when I was 15 years old. At the time, it greatly complemented my tae kwon do training. I still to this day pick that book up for random readings.
What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months (or in recent memory)?
An electric single burner. I use the Aroma Housewares AHP-303/CHP-303 Single Hot Plate. It costs less than $20 and is great for keeping a cup of coffee (or three) hot!
How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favorite failure” of yours?
I sprained my ankle practicing acrobatics in March 2012. It was a grade II sprain. I wasn’t able to practice my acrobatic moves correctly for seven months. It was a slow recovery, but here’s the fun part: during the time my ankle was sprained, I decided to train gymnastic rings like a madman. I was doing very hard ring workouts every other day for about half a year. Putting muscle mass on with rings isn’t as easy as putting it on with free weights, but I put on 15 pounds! The really high volume of gymnastic rings training inevitably had some crazy carryover to my acrobatic moves when my ankle was near full recovery. The ankle sprain triggered a huge transformation that has kept going to this day. Had I not sprained my ankle, I might never have diversified my skill set and become more than a skinny kid who did acrobatic moves in parks by himself.
If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it, what would it say and why?
“If you can’t laugh at it, you lose.”
I just made that one up this year—I choose to live by that quote more than any other. The great thing about the quote is that the exceptions to the quote suggest a powerful lesson. You wouldn’t laugh when people die, especially someone you love, but that’s because you can’t always win in life. Sometimes we do lose! But we better be able to distinguish between real loss and weakness of character. Getting a scratch on your car or forgetting to take the trash down to the curb before the weekly pickup are annoying things you should probably get to laughing about sooner rather than later. The sooner you can laugh about something, the sooner you can get on with your life. The sooner you can laugh at yourself, the sooner you will really be living life, truly.
What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?
Smelling salts! Smelling salts are what powerlifters smell before stepping up to the platform to move maximum weight. Smelling salts are chemically stuffed compounds (usually stuffed with ammonia) used to regain an alert state of mind and/or enhance performance.
Smelling salts come in many forms, but ampules store better and have consistent quality per use. One option is First Aid Only H5041-AMP Ammonia ‐ Inhalant Ampoules. I love watching someone smell them for the first time—it hurts! Most people just use them for heavy lifts, but I’ve taken them to another level. Have bad inertia from sitting too much? Sniff some smelling salts! Falling asleep while driving? Sniff some smelling salts! Can’t get your mind off sex and have no way to release? Sniff some smelling salts!
In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?
Trying to grow my social media. There’s a difference between consuming social media and creating for social media. Creating for social media instead of consuming will get you a lot of positive attention, but I created with the intention for growth in mind. Social media works best when you provide massive value. I paid attention to analytics (likes, dislikes, views, etc.) and curbed my postings to fit what was trending (what was most valuable). I’ll never post something I don’t want to do or don’t like to do, but I’ll always post something that is really “me” that maximally entertains or amuses others. Since focusing on growing my social media, I’ve been able to make a career out of doing the things I would be doing anyway. Essentially, I make a living “being me,” and it’s a magical experience. It’s all because I focused on growing my social media.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
For flexibility training, most people think holding a stretch for longer periods of time is the way to get flexible. I think that’s a bad recommendation. The real magic happens when you break that time stretching into sets with rest periods. Rest is very important for flexibility training. Even if you’re not out of breath or tired, your body needs time to adjust to the stretch response. You’ll get much better results performing a stretch for one minute with three minutes of rest, repeated three times, rather than doing the same stretch for three minutes all at once. If you’re going to do it, you might as well do it right. Otherwise, you’re wasting your time. To do it right, you need to do sets with rest.
In the last five years, what have you become better at saying no to?
I’ve gotten better at telling my brain “no” when it wants to relate to conversation with a “bigger” story. What I mean is, somebody might be telling me a story about an experience they had, while I have a related story that sounds even bigger or more dramatic than theirs. Rather than wait for a moment to jump in with mine, I’ll just let that desire go and ask them more questions about their experience. What I’ve discovered is incredible: the loss of the opportunity to possibly impress someone is far outweighed by what I learn when I ask more questions. There is always something else to their story that will amaze you. Don’t expect that what they start with is as exciting as it will get. Ask and encourage them to say more!
When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?
When I feel overwhelmed or unfocused, I call my mom or my dad. They’ve been married for over 40 years, and they’re the most grounded people I have in my life. They still live in the house I grew up in, too! When I call them, I get that feeling of being at ease as a young boy in the house. I may talk about what’s overwhelming me with my parents, but it makes me feel better to hear about the things my dad is building in the backyard, or how the family dog is doing, or whatever else has nothing to do with what I’m going through. I’m lucky I can still call home.