XPT chats with MLB Star Pitcher Clay Hensley on competition, winning the World Series & taking chances
Clay Hensley came to the Experience not knowing anything about XPT or what he was about to get himself into. He was invited to blend in with regular people for three days, and check out our methods. He brought along his brother Mike and together they unplugged and focused, learning our ways to breathe, move, eat well and to recover. We sat down with Clay after the fact to catch up a bit on his career, what motivates him and what he thought about the whole thing.
CH: Playing baseball was a dream come true. Since I was a kid, all I really wanted to do was play ball. I was a really good center fielder coming out of high school but I was kind of a runt. I didn’t have any offers to play college baseball, so I ended up giving up on the game. Then my senior year in college, my roommate wanted to walk on to the team. It was one of those things he wanted to check off on his to-do list in life, and he was begging me to walk on with him and I was like, “That ship has sailed.” He ended up talking me into it and I ended up walking on my senior year of college, made the team and they gave me a full ride scholarship, and then I ended up getting drafted that year. So it was kind of nuts, it was very unexpected. I knew I loved the game and had a passion for it, but to have been out of the game for three years and to walk on my senior year and have never really been a pitcher, I’d always been an outfielder. But I made the team as a pitcher and ended up getting drafted that spring and then the rest is history with baseball. I ended up playing for twelve years.
XPT: Why XPT?
I think a lot of the workout stuff with XPT, with my kind of make up, coming out of school and being a little bit of a runt, I felt like I always had to work harder to keep up with everyone else to kind of catch up with them a bit. I’m 5’10” and traditionally in Major League Baseball pitchers are usually 6’3” or 6’4” so working out has always been a big part of my life just in general. And it’s been pretty cool because a lot of the techniques that they talk up at XPT, a lot of the breathing techniques and a lot of that stuff is the stuff that we use when we’re pitching. Being able to slow yourself down, gather yourself, focus on keeping yourself calm and being able to get through some of the exercises and workouts—playing baseball, being able to get through the stresses of the game and stay in peak condition at the same time. So, there’s a lot of similarities and it works together, which is kind of interesting for me.
XPT: What was the most exciting moment of your MLB career?
Winning the World Series, that was definitely a highlight of my career. It’s funny because you don’t really realize how special it is to win a World Series, much less do it. When you start seeing some of these guys play that have been playing for 15-20 years, All Stars, and they never get a shot at the dance. So career wise, that was a highlight.
Then, in 2006, being in the top 10 of Major Leagues for ERA (earned run average) was a personal highlight. But overall, just getting the opportunity to play was awesome to me, I always felt like I was playing on borrowed time as it was, somewhat being a midget out there compared to these other guys, but I took pride in that, too. It’s kind of an underdog mentality that I’ve had throughout my life and my career in sports. And I try and take that now into the business world. I own a software company and an oil and gas company. For me, I try and do things that are kind of special and kind of outside the box, and I guess it’s one of those things that if you tell me that it’s not able to get done then it’s Challenge Accepted. And to kind of relate some of that stuff to XPT, is that’s one of the things I like about the program is that it does push you to challenge yourself. When I was down in Malibu with the whole crew if you would have told me that I would be swimming in 20 feet of water with two 40 pound dumb bells, I would have asked you what I did wrong and who was trying to kill me.
It was pretty impressive some of the things that they were able to get me to do in such a short period of time, not having trained for it. I’ve never done a lot of the breathing exercises that they were doing. And you can tell that Laird has mastered that stuff, especially surfing the way that he surfs, you’ve got to be able to hold your breath for some period of time and also have the mind wherewithal not to panic in certain situations, especially when he’s surfing, I imagine. So being able to do that and do a lot of the underwater stuff that I was able to do in just a short period of time was very impressive to me. And that was more or less when I really bought in to the whole program.
XPT: Is there an element from the Experience that you’ve taken with you into your regular training regimen?
I really like the breathing. It’s funny, if you lose the ego and not worry about what you look or sound like while you’re doing this stuff and you really concentrate. The first time I was doing the performance breathing, I was like, what are we doing (making huffing sounds, laughing)? Ten minutes later I was able to walk forever under water with 40-pound dumb bells. I know I wouldn’t have been able to do that without those breathing exercises. So I like that a lot. I enjoy running and doing some endurance stuff. And the breathing part, to me, just opens you up so quickly and you’re able to do so much and able to take so much oxygen in. We don’t really think about being able to work out your lung capacity. But you can stretch it out and get prepared. If I would have known a lot of this prior to retiring from baseball, I just think, endurance wise, being able to go deeper in games and doing these breathing exercises between innings, would have been pretty beneficial and led to a little more success out there on the mound. Click here for our XPT Daily Trainings, including breathing demo videos.
XPT: What would you say to others who want to check out the XPT program?
Well, it’s really for everyone. It was pretty cool, there were several participants who were in their 50s or 60s and you could tell that they weren’t always working out. They were there to challenge themselves. And the things that they were able to accomplish was pretty exciting. It doesn’t take a professional athlete. An every day person can achieve immediate results with the breathing and with all that stuff. One of the guys that was with us had never been on a paddleboard and he was concerned about being able to paddle out as far as we did—we went out for a couple of miles. And when we got back to shore, he felt great. It was cool to share his excitement. So you can see this having an impact on not just the professional athletes of the world, but with youth and with older people.
And a lot of the breathing exercises and being able to get to know your body a bit more and its capabilities at any age can help a lot of the challenges that older people are experiencing when they’re fatigued. When you’re young a lot of this can happen pretty quickly and be pretty second nature because you’re still young and you’re still flexible and agile and still able to do these things. But I liked the fact that this was able to make an impact with people whose daily lives don’t consist of working out all day. So the impact on the overall well-being and health benefits for an older class as well as a younger class is pretty limitless, just depending on how hard they want to work and push themselves and that’s what XPT will allow people to do. And I think when you see the immediate results and seeing the satisfaction that they have just creates more drive, it makes you want to go a little bit harder and challenge yourself a little bit more.
XPT: What would you say to young aspiring athletes?
I know it’s a bit cliché and you hear all this stuff when you’re growing up about how if you put your mind to things that it can happen and if you put in the work that you can be anything you want to be. And it sounds so cliché but I feel like I’m living proof of that and I firmly believe in that. Whether it’s in sports or in education or in business as you’re moving on with life, be outside the box. The problem is that everyone says that you can’t do it it’s because they’re too scared to try…too scared to fail. And failure is a part of success, you don’t just get there winning the entire time. You’ve got to fail and learn from the failures. The biggest piece I see at the major league level and in business is that everybody’s afraid to fail and afraid of what people will think and letting their peers see them fail, but the fact is in order to achieve success in all walks of life you have to achieve failures and be able to pick yourself back up off the ground, learn from them and just keep striving forward. I really love the saying that if someone says you can’t do something then challenge accepted. And I live that motto throughout life. From a kids perspective you can do special things, you can do things that people say you can’t do if you really work at it and you stay focused on it.
XPT: Will you join us again for an Experience?
I can’t wait to go back. I’m going to train a little bit for it beforehand so I can kick some more ass.
XPT: Sounds like a challenge.
Gabby said, “Well you can’t tell that you’re competitive at all.” She would say, “Alright we need to do this or do this,” and I would practically drown myself trying to do it the first time, but that’s just part of being an athlete, I guess. Competitive, but in a friendly sort of way.
XPT: Challenge accepted.
Our goal is to reach anyone and everyone with XPT. Moving, breathing and eating well benefits all walks of life. To join us or learn more about the next XPT Experience click here.