From Zdorovye to Zhealth

May 18, 2011 – 5:00 am


Releasing Tactical Gymnastics represents more than just a release of one of my privately systems I teach my teams and agencies. It also represents a new “4.0” milestone in the evolution of my movement coaching. TACGYM didn’t spring out of the ether into existence. It’s the culmination of an ongoing research and development mindset toward human power and grace.

You may already be familiar with my more recent evolutions: Prasara Yoga, and Body-Flow before that. But some of you may not be familiar with what preceded those evolutions… with Z-Health and its mother Zdorovye: The Slavic Natural Health System.

(Read history on the two systems below from 2003.)

When I created Z-Health in 2003 with one of my students, Eric Cobb, I used my prior approach, Zdorovye, as the toolbox from which to draw tools and techniques. Eric had been studying with me since the 90s, attending my remote camps over 5 years to work with me on Zdorovye. (Eric invested a great deal of effort and time, even spending long sessions in the backyard of my home while our children played together, and being a groomsman at my wedding to my wife - his daughter our flower-girl.)

We took Zdorovye out of its Russian language and format, and applied it to the Western mindset. Teaching Z-Health around the country together, we refined our method, but discovered that we had divergent approaches: his from a therapeutic background as a chiropractor and mine from an athletic performance route as the USA national martial arts team coach. Eric continued on with Z-Health, and I set about the next evolution in my coaching career: Body-Flow.

But with the increased interest in the evolutionary design of Tactical Gymnastics, I was surprised to learn how many people were also interested in the archived predecessors of TACGYM… Zdorovye being my “1.0” coaching approach, which I took what I had learned in Russia, from their native martial art, folk dance and indigenous health practices, and formulated it into a consolidated system.

Zdorovye stands as a symbol to one of the primary principles in my work. Concepts come and go, but principles endure. And that principle? Movement, Alignment (or Structure) and Breathing coalesce into this elusive phenomenon called “flow” (also called, the Zone, Optimal Performance, Peak Performance, the Groove, the Sweet Spot, etc…). The Russians called it “Svoboda” - or “freedom.”

Flow as Freedom. As a principle this latched all of my university study in coaching psychology, and all of my years as a US National Team Coach in different martial art styles demonstrated to me, that fighting was a specific process of increasing your own freedom while decreasing your opponents.

From a fitness perspective, “increasing your own freedom” meant more than merely freedom from an opponent, but freedom of movement potential, freedom of carriage and gait, and freedom of the abundant energy locked in cold storage throughout the body.

In Russia, exercises and drills assigned to each department:

  • Dvizheniye: Russian for “Movement” - or natural grace, and relates to the movement methods I’ve studied such as Chinese Tai Chi, Persian Zhurkhane, and Indian Vyayam.
  • Polozheniye: Russian for “Position” - or natural poise, and relates to postural methods I’ve studied such as Alexander Technique, Pilates, and Feldenkrais.
  • Dykhaniye: Russian for “Breath” - or natural energy management, and relates to breathing methods I’ve studied such as Indian Pranayama, Sufi Zikr and Chinese Qigong.

In Zdorovye, I created a library of the techniques I had learned. Movement techniques, Structural techniques, Breathing techniques, and drills which integrated all three.

When my partner, originally from Russia, Nikolay Travkin, and I looked back on our history together these past 15 years, we thought to ourselves that we needed to pay homage to our common heritage. We needed to share with people not only the cultural acumen which brought us together as business partners in the 90s, but also the original health system which first established our company, RMAX, as a pioneer in the art of movement and the science of flow.

Tactical Gymnastics is simply the best work that I’ve ever assembled, and I stand on very broad shoulders. Zdorovye is the eldest sibling. And now, as we reflect upon how far we’ve come as a company, as an organization and as a community, it’s important for us to make Zdorovye available to all of you, to give us unbroken continuity from our rich past, to our robust present, to our exciting future.

Scott Sonnon

  1. 11 Responses to “From Zdorovye to Zhealth”

  2. As someone with the original Zdorovye tapes, plus the handouts, and having attended the instructor training with Ben Brackbill and Scott Fabel just after you moved to Washington, I’m glad to see this is being re-released. Will the updated manual be available separately, as I still have good quality videotapes on hand?

    By Glenn Sunshine on May 18, 2011

  3. Glenn, it’s the original manual, digitized.

    By Scott Sonnon on May 18, 2011

  4. Excellent. Thanks!

    By Glenn Sunshine on May 18, 2011

  5. Hi Coach,

    Extremely excited that TacGym is here in full force! To be offered Zdorovye is just icing on the cake. I have two quick questions.

    How will I be notified of the discounted offer on Zdorovye? Will I get an email to that effect after I purchase TacGym.

    WIll Zdorovye be available if I click through a referral site?

    Thanks for everything you have done, and continue to do.



    By James on May 20, 2011

  6. James, yes, there’s a special Zdorovye order offer which appears after your order your edition of TACGYM.

    By Scott Sonnon on May 20, 2011

  7. Thanks again!!!

    By James on May 20, 2011

  8. Hi Coach, I’m very Interested in the Zdorovye system but am wondering if it would be redundant if one is also doing Intuflow, Prasara, and now Tacgym. Or, would Zdorovye provide any unique benefits that the other programs don’t? BTW, thank you so much for making these materials available and for making them understandable and double for the average Joe. As I hit middle age and beyond I hope to keep moving with some semblance of grace with these tools.

    Austin, Texas

    By Neish Carroll on May 22, 2011

  9. Neish, Z is not required. You have everything you need. Keep up the good work.

    By Scott Sonnon on May 22, 2011

  10. Hi Coach, thanks for the response. One additional question. Will Tacgym be doable in a small space? I went through the free Tacgym downloads you graciously made available and it looks like a great system as I am definitely in need of more flow to my movement but I am wondering if I will be able to practice Tacgym in my small third floor apartment? The diving rolls for example would be out but I could probably do rolls from knees or squatting safely without disturbing the downstairs neighbors. Will the progressions for the other Tacgym exercises provide less “acrobatic” alternatives or would I be better served finding a facility with mat space? Maybe a park? I do have a gym I can go to but I rarely do anymore because it’s hard to get to and I would have to go late at night when the aerobics/yoga room isn’t being used. I usually just prefer doing CST bodyweight routines at home. Thanks for your guidance.

    By Neish Carroll on May 22, 2011

  11. Neish, there are regressions which are less space intensive, but TACGYM is a locomotive course. Some movement will be required.

    By Scott Sonnon on May 22, 2011

  12. Tacgym has given me a whole new perspective on my own capabilities and has definitely elicited Q&A from strangers and friends alike who observe me partaking. Love this program!

    By Kevin Dougherty on Mar 8, 2012

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