When you think of musicians, your mind likely doesn't also go to fitness professional. But for Joe Kwon, cellist for the famed Avett Brothers, his music and fitness go hand in hand. Joe recently founded CARV Fitness, an online platform that provides on-demand workouts, yin yoga for recovery, and monthly like cook-alongs with some of the best chefs in the biz. We caught up with Joe to hear more about his fitness journey, CARV, and what he's cooking these days. Here's what he had to say.
Tell us a little bit about your fitness journey. Fitness wasn’t always a big part of your life. How did it become so?
My friend Ramin invited me to go on tour with him in Korea and Japan where we played broadway tunes. Ramin is super fit and inspired me to work out with him several days on that tour. That was six years ago, and I’ve been hooked ever since. At first, my workouts had no direction, and it wasn’t until I got personal training that I started to home in on realized fitness goals, especially in the realm of olympic lifting. Right before the pandemic, I started Crossfit and got really interested in workouts that promote functional everyday movements. At first, I was driven by vanity, which is ok, but now I’m more interested in how I can build my overall health.
You recently founded a new fitness app, CARV Fitness. Congrats! Tell us more about it. How did you first get involved with CARV and what sets it apart from other fitness apps?
I started CARV as a way of bringing together all of my interests under one umbrella. I have been building skills in cooking and fitness that I wanted to share and talk about with others. Those others now include the CARV family but also our special guests who generously offer their own unique perspectives and motivations behind wellness.
How often do new workouts drop on CARV and what types of workouts can we expect?
I host 2 live workouts a week that are then catalogued into our online data base. We also have pre-recorded produced videos that drop monthly. You can expect the workouts to be 10-20 minutes of body weight high intensity interval workouts. We also have a weekly yin yoga class to center our heads and monthly cook alongs with some of my favorite chefs across America.
As many know, you play the cello (remarkably, might we add) for the Avett Brothers. One unique thing about you is you play the cello standing up instead of sitting down, which probably requires a lot of energy. How has fitness impacted/benefited your life as a cellist?
We started working out on the road because Scott Avett was training for a movie role that he never ended up taking on. It turned out that having a mobile gym on the road was great for all of us. Being on the road in your 40s is much different than in your 20s. The aches and pains of playing a cello standing up definitely started to catch up to me, and working out consistently has helped me strengthen stabilizer muscles to be able to hold the cello upright safely, or as safe as a person can while doing such a weird movement. I feel better now than I ever have after shows, and I’m certain that it’s because of all the work we put into strength training on the road every day.
Food and cooking are a huge part of who you are. In 2020 you pivoted and started a plant-based diet. What prompted the change and how has it impacted you?
Food is quite possibly as important to my life as music is to me. My family showed our love for one another by cooking for each other. This sentiment has carried on into my adult life. When I started training more seriously, my wife Emily suggested I got get my blood panel done because of my family history with heart disease. I was in the gym seven days a week and yet my cholesterol came back at a dangerously high level. I didn’t want to be put on prescription medications if I didn’t have to be, so I tried out a plant based diet to get my cholesterol under control. One month on a plant based diet my cholesterol dropped to a healthy level. I miss my foods, and I decide to treat myself every once in a while, but eating plant based has opened up a new kind of creativity in my cooking that I have truly enjoyed.
What your favorite thing you recently cooked?
Recently I learned about a plant based queso dip that I have been addicted to. At first you don’t think it’s going to be good but then you realize it fills that void that is yearning for chips and dip. The thing that sets this recipe apart is the use of the Yukon gold potatoes to create a cheese like texture to the queso. I don’t know if you’ve ever whipped Yukon golds too long, but after a while they turn stringy like melted cheese. The addition of 2 Yukons in this dish accomplishes that texture.
Current favorite item of Rhone clothing?
I have a couple pieces of Rhone that I have been wishing I could just stay in all day. The Reign Long Sleeve Shirt is such a nice feel and fit. I love to wear it to sleep and then right to the gym. On top of that is my other favorite piece of gear, the Spar Hoodie. There is such a luxurious feel that hoodie has that makes me feel like I can beat it up and it will stay in beautiful shape. I often wear this hoodie while I’m working out doing heavy squat cleans or jogging. It’s my go to piece of gear when I’m leaving my house for a walk on a brisk morning.
What’s current your favorite quick workout?
100 burpees for time! I’m a fan of benchmark style workouts like this to give me an idea of how I’m progressing. It can be done anywhere and you get a great full body workout in minutes. What’s not to love.
Current favorite song to workout to?
Rage Against the Machine - Bombtrack for a heavy lifts.
Beyonce’s Homecoming album for a long grinder of a workout.
What are you looking forward to most in 2021?
Life back on the road. Performing for our fans all over the world as soon as we are allowed to congregate again. And of course hitting my fitness goals for the year, which include a body weight squat snatch and a 225 squat clean. I tend to set realistic goals for myself and keep myself accountable at meeting those goals.
WANT TO WORK OUT WITH JOE KWON?
Join us on Saturday, February 27 at 10am EST for a quick virtual AMRAP workout lead by Joe. To reserve your spot, CLICK HERE.
See you Saturday!