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An Interview with Ian Deeth, PCC, Teacher, Athletics Analyst, Live Events Host

Ian Deeth PCC Muscle-Up
Photo: David Holbrook

Dragon Door: How did you first get involved with athletics?

Ian Deeth: At 18, I went to Brunel University in West London as a footballer. But basically, I wasn’t doing well on the team, and wasn’t shown a lot of love from the coach. So, I wanted to find a sport where I could take the performance into my own hands. I enjoyed athletics through my school years, but had always been involved in team sports. Since the University had a good track program, as soon as football wasn't working out, I started with track. We had a really good group and coach—I fell in love with the sport from there.

Dragon Door: I read in your bio that you are a former international sprinter, how did you get to that level?

Ian Deeth: The very first race I did was an indoor 60 meter open meet at Crystal Palace, the former national stadium. It was a series of 60 meter races. Each athlete started at a certain ranking and depending on their position in time, would move up and down in rank. This was my first taste of competition and at the end of that event, I found myself in the highest heat. I was racing against athletes who had competed in the Commonwealth Games.
 
I realized that I had a bit of natural talent, but more importantly, I also realized that racing was something I enjoyed. Within my first year of competing, I had an international title for students in Great Britain, and in subsequent years managed to gain international sport for Great Britain at Under 23 Level and Scotland at Senior Level.

I concentrated on track and field for about 7-8 years, but I think you have to be at the top of your game if you want to make a career out of it. Even if you are a household name, or the 1 or 2 ranked 400-meter runner in Britain, you still might be scraping to make ends meet. While I still have a passion for running and athletics, I chose a career in teaching. As time went on, having a full time job obviously made it difficult to sprint at the highest levels.

More recently I got involved in urban running races with obstacles. In my first Spartan race in Malaysia, I came in third without too much training. I’d entered it more for enjoyment and a challenge. I realized that I could possibly win the next one if I put more effort into training for the running and the actual obstacles. I ended up winning the next two Spartan Races in Singapore.

Dragon Door: Before the interview, you mentioned that you are healing an injury, was it difficult to work around it at the PCC?

Ian Deeth: The injury actually happened at the end of a Spartan Race. Ironically, it didn’t happen on any of the obstacles—I slipped on the timing mat and turned my ankle. Ten days later I realized that I had broken my fifth metatarsal and chipped a bone in my ankle. And I had quite a heavy program of events scheduled, including the PCC.

Obviously, I couldn’t compete in the world half-marathon or the next Spartan Race in Malaysia. But, because the PCC has so many upper body exercises, I didn’t want to skip it. Since bodyweight exercise is something I’m passionate about, I was desperate to do it. Squatting wasn’t easy along with anything else that involved standing, otherwise I was still able to access the whole course. And I still gained the knowledge and information about the exercises that I couldn't do, so it was all good.
 
Ian Deeth Assisted Cossack Squat
Photo: David Holbrook

Dragon Door: How did you first learn about the PCC?

Ian Deeth: A very good friend of mine, Tim Osborn, told me about it. He is a stunt man and personal trainer in Southampton. He completed the PCC about a year and half ago, and his sister, Helen Osborn, was at the PCC in Newcastle. She was one of the instructors who assisted Al and Danny Kavadlo this time around.

Tim introduced me to a few calisthenics exercises, but before that, my calisthenics knowledge was limited to pull-ups, the muscle-up and a few of the flags. I was not practicing them regularly, but I included some sort of calisthenics training each week. I thought the other moves I saw on YouTube and from Tim were cool and wanted to work towards them. When Helen told me she would be helping out at the London PCC, I saw that it fit into my schedule. I was very keen to get involved with it.

Dragon Door: What were some of your favorite things you learned at the PCC?

Ian Deeth: I think its important to say that the positive energy and great vibes from both Al and Danny were superb. Just having those two leading the course and share their knowledge and passion was awesome. Their team of instructors were excellent, and the Commando Temple was a really superb venue. So I was really happy with the setting and instructors.

With the actual exercises, I certainly got a lot out of the levers and the progressions for the levers. Interestingly, even though I am strong at press-ups, I learned some very good technical information and progressions that I hadn't thought about before. I was able to improve exercises that I had previously thought I had quite a good level of mastery. So, I was happy across the board. In every single module, I picked up something that I could use to progress, adapt, and refine my technique.

Ian Deeth Dragon Flag

Dragon Door: Can you tell us more about your job as a teacher, live events host, and an athletics analyst for ESPN?

Ian Deeth: I'm basically a teacher with a leadership position at an international school in Singapore. I'm in charge of the junior activities program, and also teach maths and literacy. We host and are involved with a lot of athletic events. So, sometimes fitting in training is a challenge, but I do make sure to train every day even if it is only for a short session.

I am very fortunate that most of the events I host or analyze are based around school holidays, so there are few conflicts when I need to take time off. In 2012, I was the athletics analyst for ESPN in London. That involved giving live updates, and interviewing athletes. Then I came back to Singapore and did in-studio analysis of the events.

For the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and the Baku 2015 European Games, I was a live host at the venues. At those events, I gave information on the athletes, interviewed members of the crowd and the athletes. Many times, the footage would also be shown on live TV. So, while I was a live venue host, the broadcasters had the rights to tap into whatever I was hosting at the time. These were amazing opportunities, and I will be working with FOX Sports for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, but I will be based in Singapore.

Dragon Door: I would imagine that teaching is related to your on-screen success. Do you notice crossover between teaching and hosting? How did you develop these skills?

Ian Deeth: I think it is really important to surround yourself with something you’re really passionate about—and then everything else seems to follow. In teaching, I am constantly in front of an audience, even though it’s not a TV or studio audience. My students ask lots of questions and hang on every word, so the classroom is almost the perfect platform to speak, listen to questions, and interact. I feel that these skills have been very much honed in the classroom, so when it comes to live events and live TV, I am just transferring that knowledge and passion on another platform.
 
Ian Deeth Headstand

Dragon Door: That makes a lot of sense.

Ian Deeth: And, it's an international school, so we have students from close to 100 different countries. The students are from 4 to 18 years old, so it’s quite a big span! I absolutely love the job, and am very blessed to be in a profession that I really enjoy.

Dragon Door: Earlier in the interview you mentioned choosing teaching after your athletic career, what drew you to it?

Ian Deeth: I had such awesome childhood memories of my teachers and my educational experience that it seemed natural to go into teaching. I had had part time jobs coaching and felt a real sense of purpose while teaching and coaching, so it was a natural progression.

Dragon Door: Even though you're still healing the injury, what’s the next goal you're looking towards?

Ian Deeth: It was seven weeks yesterday since I've had my injury. Now my cast is off and I'm moving fairly well.

The PCC exercise that I enjoy the most is the muscle-up, and certainly mastering a really slow and controlled muscle up with the false grip is something that I am aiming towards.
 
Ian Deeth PCC

In the short term, I hope to get back to running next weekend. My wife is competing in the next Spartan race, and she has a 10k coming up. So as I continue my rehab, one of my goals is to help her achieve personal best times for her running races. Hopefully I can build up my fitness too. This summer I am running in the Vancouver half marathon and hope to achieve a good time. Achieving a personal best time will depend on how well my injury heals—it's a step by step healing process.

Another short term goal is to complete my 200 hour yoga instructor certification in North Bali in mid-July. Hopefully, by the end of the summer I will be fully fit, have a new personal best time for the half marathon, and my yoga instructor certification. I am trying to jam anything and everything that I am passionate about into my life. We've got one life so we have got to cram it all in there!

Dragon Door: I definitely agree with that! So far, what have you been using from the PCC within your coaching and training?

Ian Deeth: I've been training pretty much every day, trying to progress the calisthenics exercises. Since the PCC, I have made really good progress in a number of areas. My muscle-up is a lot more—to quote the Kavadlos—technically tighter, there’s less of a kip, and it feels a lot more explosive. My flag is getting there, my clutch flag is pretty tight. My grip strength has dramatically improved, so I feel like I'm getting a lot closer to achieving the human flag.

Session by session, the progressions are coming along well. I can do pistol squats on my good leg, and I am looking forward to doing them on my other leg too. I can do a full bodyweight squat now on both feet, so I will be moving forwards to the pistol squat on the right leg soon.

I have been trying to hit every single module we covered at the PCC in some part. I have always had a strong upper body, and am quite dominant with pushing exercises, so I think really working on my bridge will help my posture. I think it will have a really good impact on my running as well, because when I start getting tired, my shoulders curl forward and my posture gets poorer—the bridge will really help!
 
Ian Deeth at the PCC
Photo: David Holbrook

I have used Olympic weights in the past, and obviously that hasn't been an option while I’ve been injured, but bodyweight exercise is a great way to keep my strength up. Training without risking further injury has been really helpful. Since the injury is healing, and after completing the PCC, I seem to be flying though my progressions. I am really excited and happy with how I am moving forward with my calisthenics.

The key thing about the PCC course is how it brings people with similar passions together. Al and Danny listen. It’s a really good platform to share ideas and I think as brilliant as Al and Danny were at the PCC, everyone chipping in with their ideas and experiences added so much value to the course and made it extra worthwhile.
 

Ian Deeth thumbnailFollow Ian Deeth, PCC on Instagram: idvibe and on his YouTube channel: Deethy. Watch Ian's video about his PCC experience.
 

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