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An Interview with Adrian Harrington, PCC Instructor

PCC Instructor, Adrian Harrington performs a 1 Arm Elbow Lever

Dragon Door: What inspired you to start with bodyweight training?

Adrian Harrington: When I was about 17, I met some guys from Eastern Europe who moved to my town. They started teaching me how to breakdance and that’s kind of where it all started! After learning some of the steps, I wanted to start going to the gym to get stronger for breakdancing—and I wanted a six-pack too.

Then I saw videos of people walking on their hands, hand-walking competitions, and other things that were actually calisthenics, but we just called it all training. I’ve always done pull-ups and push-ups, and we have a pull-up bar in our house. But, after seeing muscle-ups on YouTube I started doing those too.

Soon I found videos of Al and Danny Kavadlo and was blown away! I was not into doing regular exercises like bicep curls at the gym because I like to get the biggest bang for my buck. I think doing "bro-reps" and looking in the mirror is boring.

So, I started doing pull-ups, muscle-ups, and dips at the gym to get strong. And I got some very good advice from some of the stronger guys there who introduced me to powerlifting. I started to work on squats, deadlifts, and bench press even though I don’t really bench press very much anymore.

Sometimes I do powerlifting, but I like to do everything—kettlebells, climbing, bouldering, parkour, free-running… but it all really started because of dancing and breakdancing. I just love movement and love to move!

I'm not a huge guy and never really wanted to get big in the gym, I'm just having fun. If it wasn't fun, I wouldn't do it! I feel like bodyweight training really brings you in tune with yourself and think that people who just go to the gym and go through the motions don't get the same mind to muscle connection. For me, I’m getting in tune with my inner animal and being free.

Freedom is the main thing. If the gym is closed, it doesn’t bother me, I can workout outside or anywhere. It's always been this way, when people talk about kids who just can't sit still, they were probably talking about me! But I also feel quite in tune with myself and am always trying to discover new things to learn, and new ways to push myself every day. I like to do something that scares me just a little bit every day. 
Adrian Harrington Street Workout

Dragon Door: Even though you don't need a gym, I heard from the Kavadlo brothers that you have a very cool gym. How did you decide to open your own gym?

Adrian Harrington: I was teaching breakdancing and since I got into going to the gym, I thought I could help more people on my own. I saw personal trainers out there giving people one-size-fits-all programs even though everyone is different. The mainstream gyms were always running these programs about "getting ripped" but then I'd see the trainers who were usually overweight or juiced out of their minds and trying to sell supplements. I just hated that kind of atmosphere.

Dragon Door: How are you doing things differently at your gym?

Adrian Harrington: When someone new starts at our gym, we do a great assessment for them. And our gym has something for everyone, we even have some machines. We understand that not everyone wants to do powerlifting, calisthenics, MMA, dancing, or yoga. But, everyone who comes to our gym gets an assessment and we them know what they need to do to get better.

We also educate our gym members on important things like myofascial release, foam rolling, stretching, and good forms of cardio. We even have a running track and treadmills too. We encourage people to try everything, and since we are also a CrossFit affiliated gym, we encourage people to try that too. We have a great encouraging community in our MMA classes, judo, karate for kids, and Brazilian jiu jitsu. We offer a whole range of classes. It's really more of a movement center than a gym, which is what we had in mind when we put it together. We even have a giant peg wall!

Steven Wood, Darren and myself work to keep improving and constantly evolving. We want people to come here and move!

Dragon Door: How did you decide to host a PCC Workshop?

Adrian Harrington: I decided that I just wanted to do it. Along with Steven, I am the bodyweight guy at the Strong Room. I was looking for a certification workshop that would help us learn how to introduce the basics to clients and generate more interest in bodyweight training. I found the video about the first PCC Workshop with the instructor interviews with Al and John. I had been following Al Kavadlo on YouTube and love how he’s never negative about anything!
Danny Kavadlo and Adrian Harrington

I thought it would be great to have a PCC workshop here at the Strong Room. I also work in another gym in Ashbourne called Stinger Fitness and some of their trainers had met Al in NY. They said he was really nice and approachable, so I just messaged him on Facebook and asked if he was interested in coming to Ireland. I let him know about our big facility that I thought would be perfect for hosting a PCC. Al said to message John Du Cane and so I did! We talked and I told him more about the facility. By the time Al and Danny arrived, we had even more equipment for the PCC!

We'd also really like to host an RKC one day. We've organized and hosted other workshops with top powerlifters in Ireland, and knew that our facility would be perfect for a PCC and wanted to get it on the map! We put our heart and soul into this place.

Dragon Door: What are your favorite moves from the PCC?

Adrian Harrington: The pistol squats! And the shrimp squat which was amazing and brand new to me. Of course the muscle-ups and one arm chin-ups. It’s really hard to pick just a few things. I really enjoyed the whole course and thought it was really well put together, and very accessible for everybody.

It was such a great group—people with a full range of athletic abilities and from all training backgrounds, bodybuilding, TRX, kettlebells, martial arts—a real mixed bag. It was encouraging because no one was trying to one up each other—everyone was there to learn and have fun.

I like the way Al and Danny explained everything—those guys are really humble and have done so much for the bodyweight community. They’ll admit that they’re not the best in the whole world, but I think they are the best at what they do—which is to break it all down. Just because someone is good at a move doesn't mean that they can teach it to others. Sure, there are some high level gymnasts out there, but can they really break it down for everybody? It’s a big difference when someone is a good teacher.

I'd reckon I am a good teacher too, so of course I wanted to get some more tips on how to teach the moves. The lads gave us so much information and explanations on how to break things down for our clients. That was probably the best thing about the PCC.

Not every client we have wants to do muscle-ups, but we do have clients who wanted to work towards them and other advanced moves. Now we have the smaller steps the tips and ways to train them by taking smaller steps. I liked how Al and Danny said that you don't have a weak arm, you have a strong arm and a stronger arm. I loved the way they explained everything.

The insight they shared with us was just world class, great things to add to our fitness arsenals.

Dragon Door: What are your post-PCC goals?

Adrian Harrington: The one arm muscle-up is my main goal, I can already do it assisted. I want to keep working on my human flag, because of cues from Al and Danny, I really was able to get the "stepping" variation of it down—by turning my hips a little bit more. I’m also working on a couple of parkour moves and a backflip. I also want to do the muscle-up to backflip, it just needs a little more work—it looks so easy, but it isn't!

I want to work on heavier weighted muscle-ups, I've done them with 30kg, and I weigh about 63kg so that's pretty nice, but I’d like to up that! I’d like to hold a one arm handstand for longer than 10 seconds and be able to stay in a free standing handstand for longer—they’re kind of my addiction. I’m working on quite a few things because I like to do everything!

The one goal is to just get stronger in general, and keep moving. I wish there were more hours in the day. I wish Al and Danny could have stayed for a few more days, because I would have liked to have had a few beast mode sessions with them!

Dragon Door: Are you still competing in powerlifting?

Adrian Harrington: I am hoping to do a powerlifting meet before the end of the year. My last powerlifting meet, I weighed in at 63kg and lifted 185kg, and since then I've lifted 205-210kg. Hopefully in July I will be going to the UK to study hand balancing and parkour. There’s always so much to do, and I like to keep on learning and keeping it beast mode—how else can we keep on upping it and upping it!?

I also want to keep making friends, meeting cool new people who can teach me something and hopefully I can teach them something too. A few weeks ago, I went to Portugal with my girlfriend who likes to sunbathe—and I can’t stand to sit still, so I was practicing backflips on the beach when I saw some Brazilians doing flips off of the pier. They didn’t speak any English but it was ok because movement was our language. When I saw them twisting off the pier, I had to do it too!

What I love about calisthenics is that it isn’t about being a big or small guy, it’s for everyone. It isn’t even about being the most ripped—it doesn’t matter as long as you can really use your body and think outside the box. We live in a sphere, there’s too many edges and corners in a box!

It's important to get good at the basics of everything—even falling, being able to do it without getting hurt. We have to realize we are animals. I could choose to be a closed-off, scared, and anxious little animal, or I could be a wild beast and explore myself and the world!

I'm really looking forward to working more with Dragon Door and looking forward to continuing to push the limits.

AdrianHarrington1ArmElbowLever thumbnailAdrian Harrington, PCC Instructor and current NIFMA Mr. World Sportswear Fitness Model is part owner of the Strong Room Fitness and Wellness Center (with Steven Wood—Ultimate Coach and Darren Aergue) in Dundalk, Ireland. He can be contacted on his Facebook page: or his fan page: Follow him on Instagram: @adrianharrington1