Bodyweight master Nikki Masterman shares tricks on how to become strong, flexible and supple

Paul

Hey guys welcome back to My Wellness Wishlist.  This is your host Pauly.  Today’s Wellness titbit is surrounding hormones with direct attention to testosterone.  According to a study done by a Neurobiologist at the Wise Man Institute of Science in Israel, they found that the smell of a woman’s tears will reduce men’s sexual arousal and testosterone levels.  Can I give it to science or Nature?  I have on my show today a young lady by the name of Nikki Mastermann.  Well, there’s no other way to describe her but an absolute beast and a force to be recon with.  She is probably in terms of athletic capabilities in the gymnastics body weight department.  The most impressive little unit I have ever encountered in my life.  The first time I encountered her bendiness, I believe that’s a technical term, I was just aw struck by her capabilities as an athlete and a teacher.  Since then she’ll just walk up to the gym and nonchalantly drop from a pike into a hand stand press without a stress in the world, really.  Have a listen to Nikki and I chew the fat on all things, movement, lifestyle, choices, nutrition and strength and everything in between.  She’s a great girl with a lot to say and I can’t speak highly enough of the, so here we go, Nikki Mastermann, chewing the fat.  Hey, Nikki what’s going on?     

 

Nikki

Hey Pauly, not much man, talking to you, how are you?  

 

Paul

Yes I’m awesome.  I had a very, very relaxing weekend, enjoyed myself, enjoyed the sunshine.  How’s the weather there?

 

Nikki

Amazing, I’m a different person

 

Paul

Aren’t we all?  Well, you’re a Queensland girl, you can take the girl out of queensland

 

Nikki

Yes, that’s exactly right, need the sunshine.  

 

Paul

Yes, absolutely.  I brought you on the show, I’m actually being thinking about bringing you on the show for quite some time now and I just was hoping for the exact right time and I feel like this is it.  You to me represent an empowerment for females, you train women in the strength modality and I just think it’s such a beautiful thing to do to watch you engage with women and facilitate them becoming stronger people and becoming more powerful people.  How did you find your way in this field and what has allowed you to kind of become the specimen that you are today?  

 

Nikki

I wouldn’t go that far but, I feel like kind of just came to me.  I had a number of women who were my students and they kind of simultaneously brought up the topic of training together as a group and they said “oh we should get together and start having weekly sessions” and I was like at least I got the ball rolling and it just turned into this kind of community based around women’s strength training.  So, yes I think people just, those women that just wanted it just kind of came up and it turn them to what it is.  So, I find, it’s a little bit confronting for some women, so to have that kind of community in that I just call it a safe place.

 

Paul

Absolutely

 

Nikki

And then to start their journey is, yeah

 

Paul

In a world where I feel the female sub section of people out there in this fitness and wellness world that we live in seem to be a little bit preoccupied with getting skinny and you know, comparing themselves to what is out there in magazines and on the internet now and on TV and on in the movies.  Where do you think your niche has a place?  

 

Nikki

Yes I think that’s a fair statement, I think there is a lot of pressure in the fitness and wellness industry based on image but at the end of the day it’s not what I’m about and that’s not what my students and myself train for.  So, (inaudible) I think that maybe initially when a student comes to me they might have some kind of aesthetic idea.  What they want their body to be but then it kind of transforms in terms into more of a, I don’t know, movement focus.  So, they want to be able to move better and be a better human and it kind of shifts as they go along and as we train more together.  So, in that sense I think these pressure and these images that people have placed on them it’s fact like it’s everywhere, it’s everywhere you go but yeah, that’s not.  Not what I’m about, as you know.  

 

Paul

Yes I know that, you know that but now everyone else knows that, which a wonderful thing is.  I wanted to discuss what movement actually means to you and why you’ve actually found movement as your passion and how you train, let’s break it down for the people listening to this podcast because you have a very, it’s a stunningly poetic way of moving when you do train and not only that there’s a, there’s a rawness to it as well and I just like to be able to breakdown for the people back home how it is you train because a lot of people wouldn’t have been able to compass this I would imagine.

 

Nikki

Yes for sure.  How I train?  I practice and I tinker and I learn from every session, I think I incorporate and combine, as you know quite a lot of principles and quite a lot of practices.  So, a typical week of training would embody things like gymnastics, so upper body strength training, weight lifting, parkour, acrobatics or capoeira inspired, dance, I’ve been training BJJ quite frequently, multiple times a week for the past couple of months.

 

Paul

That’s Brazilian jiu-jitsu for those that are not familiar.

 

Nikki

And that’s really exposed quite a lot of stuff for me so I guess at the end of the day I’m always looking to learn new session and that means doing new things.  So, I’m always trying to incorporate something new and I’m always trying to learn from just practicing.  So, yes be the, I always try to feel like I’m a beginner.

 

Paul

Yes that’s awesome, that curiosity really shines through in your teaching as well like to have that curious nature to you.  It gives that wondrous passion and it keeps that kind of, yes that passion alive when you teach and you can see that, you know, you teach females and males alike.  What I’d like to ask you is what if you found in your female teachings the main deficits when it comes to or the imbalances rather when it comes to female strength prowess and what females, yes the most common things that females can do to be able to have that balance?

 

Nikki

Sure I think that specifically related to females I feel like one of the biggest missing links is pulling your strength.  So I think more so within the females and the males that you know, (big) yoga, yogi’s, so they, you know, there’s things like yoga they practice all these flow practices or a lot of pushing.  When it comes to being able to manipulate their body weight and their own body from something like instead of rings or a pull up or even something as simple as climbing a tree.  They lack scapular strength or stability to be able to move their bodies.  So, that’s a big one, pulling strength is probably, yes, one of the biggest.

 

Paul

And I suppose if somebody is being able to or wants to be able to achieve handstand for example, pulling strength is going to be a big ingredient to that as well being able to hang from a bar is going to have that kind of antagonist approach.

 

Nikki

Yes for sure this definitely carry over the, there’s something like a handstand that’s not too much strength involved unless you’re talking more dynamic or just quite skill in balancing or at least just use a free standing handstand for example, not too much strength involved.  

 

Paul

Can we continue along with the and something simple that everybody knows, which is the handstand.  Ok, so this is going to be probably a little bit of a difficult question for you to answer but let’s go for it.  Somebody walks in to your gym and says I’d like to learn how to do a handstand, let’s assume for example they have a base level of strength, where will you go from there?  

 

Nikki

As teacher the first thing that I’d like to do with my students is instil an understanding of the essence and the principle.  So, rather than just trying to train them they need to have an awareness and understanding of what a handstand actually is.  So, yes, coming back from the basic freestanding handstand again not too much strength but there’s a huge amount of awareness and balance.  Awareness of where your body is in space, awareness of how to use your hand to adjust your balance, all these smaller details and the actual underline principles of hand balancing, I think need to be understood as a pre requisite post.  So, they’re actually applied into the practical, practical training.

 

Paul

I can definitely attest to that because myself and Nathalie, my fiancé we will just recently away in far north queensland and our training essentially consisted of us laying on the beach going for long walks and doing hand stands and the difference from the beginning of the 9 day period of experimenting with handstands to the end, I tell you right now there was a tremendous amount of strength being built there but my goodness our handstands at the end were so much stable and so much more synced and confident.  So, like I’m a tried and tested example of that, that’s for sure.  

 

Nikki

Exactly and then that also comes down to theoretical knowledge and actual practical application, so it’s very important to have these underlying understandings of you know the essence and the principles but at the end of the day there’s nothing more important than practice.  So, yes in terms of hand balancing specifically I would start with having an understanding practice this then nice job.  

 

Paul

Practice, practice

 

Nikki

Practice, practice, practice, yes, hand balancing needs to be practiced again, everyday

 

Paul

Yes

 

Nikki

It’s really important

 

Paul

I know this is a tremendous, tremendous acceleration in my progress when it was everyday and I’ve continued on as you’ve seen in the gym and it’s been, it’s been a great journey for me.  In terms of bang for your buck exercises, we’re all busy people you know, it’s difficult to get out there and train from multiple hours a day for a lot of us.  I know yourself and your partner Oscar, you live to train and it’s a beautiful thing to watch, it really is but there are a lot of us out there that do struggle to find that time.  What exercises and what movements would you suggest would be the most economic in terms of time saving and getting the greatest leverage.  

 

Nikki

It depends on who you are and what you want to someone who is completely new to moving and exercising, right back to basics strictly right back.  So, things like squatting and things like hanging and either put all in this huge advocate of all of this, so just basic human positions, right back to basics, start with that, so, you know, spending time climbing trees hanging off things and spending time at the bottom of your squat, moving around in this position, good place to start if you’ve got, you only got 10 minutes throughout the day and you’re sitting at your desk for the other 9 hours of your day, that’s a good place to start.

 

Paul

Yes, absolutely.  I mean their basic movements of the body is designed to do sitting for longer periods of time at your desk is not a movement or non movement, that the body is designed today.

 

Nikki

Worst

 

Paul

It is the worst and you know, like, we can touch on that as well when you’re, I see you constantly when you’re programming for your students, you’re in a squat position, looking, you know, looking at your computer screen.  You are, when you’re eating, you’re often in a squat position.  

 

Nikki

I don’t know, I don’t kow if I can take you on a tour of my house right now but I don’t have any furniture in here, none, literally no chairs, no tables, no couches, nothing.

 

Paul  

That’s amazing.  So, eating a meal at your place is a squatting or reclining on the floor and eating?

 

Nikki

Yes, yes.  So, we have a little low set kind of bench that we put on the floor and we prepare our meals on that and yes we’re on that squat.

 

Paul

That’s wonderful, I’m going to venture into a potentially taboo territory, which I don’t believe it should be and I know it’s not with you but pooping.

 

Nikki

Pooping

 

Paul

Something we all do, there’s actually

 

Nikki

Are we talking about pooping?

 

Paul

Sorry?  I know you, I’ve talked to you many times about pooping.  You know I’ve been looking into the name of the product, actually escapes me for now but I think it’s called poo, poo pow lo, poo potty, it’s a, it’s an actual

 

Nikki

Squatty Potty

 

Paul

Sorry? The Squatty Potty, that’s the one.  I don’t suppose you’ve got one of those bad boys do you?  

 

Nikki

I don’t, I don’t have a squatty potty but I don’t sit on the toilet, put it that way.

 

Paul

Gotcha!  Of course why would you?  

 

Nikki

I’m only smaller legs, you can get away with squatting on the toilet

 

Paul

I love that, I love that but that the design of this is obviously to mimic the way the human body has been going to the toilet for millennia.  From what I understand the modern toilet is only a relatively modern invention and the squat does allow for your internal organs to relax but when you are sitting down, you know there’s a great big deal of stress being placed on these organs isn’t it?  

 

Nikki

Yes there’s a, not only a great big deal of stress but lockage so if you’re in a sitting position all day your digestive system and all of your organs are compacted and squashed and blocked especially with everything comes out so, yes, can be quite detrimental to the flow of things inside of your body.  

 

Paul

Without a doubt and like yes when it comes to the digestive system but not only that other systems, the respiratory systems, the amount of pressure that’s being placed on your lungs and in your chest when you’re in this hunch over motion that we have just been conditioning ourselves to do, which is.  

 

Nikki

Wait, structurally as well

 

Paul

Say that again I’m sorry

 

Nikki

Structurally as well, everything your spine

 

Paul

Absolutely

 

Nikki

Hips yes the whole should hang

 

Paul

And the thing that I suppose I struggle with a little bit is people saying it’s unrealistic for us to squat as oppose to being in chairs but you know things are only run unrealistic until you try them, you know.  

 

Nikki

Yes that’s right

 

Paul

If you would apply the logic to it, I mean there’s nothing more realistic than being in a squat position and being in the chair because our bodies are designed to do that but it is difficult to change these things

 

Nikki

It is, it is and you know on a large scale, you know in corporate companies in particular it’s difficult to make these applications but it’s changing

 

Paul

It is or significantly

 

Nikki

Seeing more and more things like stand up desk, which is amazing and all these kind of things really changes happening in those industries, which is good.

 

Paul

And what I’ve seen a little bit of it as well is people actually getting up every half an hour or every hour to do a set of 10 squats, you know I am really, really trying to open my personal students and clients up to that culture when they’re at work and it’s becoming less and less taboo, you know  being able to get up and say alright I’m going to do some squats who wants to join me?  It’s happening, it’s pretty cool, it’s really cool to say, you know.

 

Nikki

It’s just shifting, people’s awareness and their exposure to this stuff is really becoming open

 

Paul

It is, which leads me to training for longevity I’d love to discuss what your philosophy is with that and what some common training drills you have used in your philosophy simply around training for longevity and being able to I suppose live your practice.

 

Nikki

Yeah I think in that sense I try to apply what I create in the gym so let’s say the strength, that change in my body, the mobility, the adaptation that I have in the gym, it needs to be used.  So, I take it outside a lot of the time.  Nature is the biggest example, you can apply to that regard, so in terms of longevity I just want to be able to live for the rest of my life.  So, yes I think when if are exposed to those environments and you’re exposed to things like unpredictable scenarios, let’s say for example tree climbing, very simple thing but it’s not something that many people do.

 

Paul

Correct

 

Nikki

To me being able to climb a tree when I’m 90 years old is more important than being able to do a blanch when I’m 9.  So, every, all of the thing that I developed, let’s say in the gym I applied to those environments.  So, I, they need to be applicable and they need to be able to use them

 

Paul

Yes and how would you say that climbing a tree is applicable to everyday life?  The reason I asked you this is because there are so many people that, you know, are exist in their box, you know, they wake up, they get in their car, they go straight to work, they sit on the desk in a cubicle all day they go back in their car, they get take out, they come home, they sit infront of the tv or their couch and they go to sleep and then they do it all again.  

 

Nikki

I think one of the biggest things is no.1 being uncomfortable and no.2 & 3 is not a smooth nice comfortable surface it’s unpredictable, it’s uneven, it’s rough, it’s hard.  So, yes, I think the book that I’ve been reading over the last and it’s taken me months to get even half way through, I’ve really been applying all of this stuff that I’ve learnt from all of this it’s called “Anti-Fragile” by Naseem Taleb, excellent.

 

Paul

Aah Naseem Taleb

 

Nikki

Very dense, I’ve actually had to take notes

 

Paul

Cool!  Great!

 

Nikki

(inaudible) book but that’s the principle that I’ve applied so he talks about being anti fragile and this concepts of fragility and being robust.  So, these structures that are exposed through volatility so for example going tree climbing is a volatile environment it’s unpredictable like you said.  So, I’m exposing my structure to something hard, it’s so hard to kind of put across it’s a very, very dense book but that’s something that I’ve been applying to my practice, a huge, huge thing.

 

Paul

The fundamental principle and the concept of it I resonate so dearly with may which is being able to accelerate and prosper in life, you know, the fundamental principle I tried to live by or one of them at the very least is happiness is not necessarily aligned with comfort and you touched on that earlier in fact I almost feel like it’s the inverse, you know, being uncomfortable often will allow you to accelerate in life.

 

Nikki

Yes the change and adaptation is made through these unexpected experiences so at least these volatile environment, if you’re not exposed to these volatile environments and you stay comfortable and you don’t step outside of those boxes then you are most likely to stay stagnant and stay in the same spot so for me learning and change and progress comes from being uncomfortable

 

Paul

Makes perfect sense, you know, the simple principles of something like neuro plasticity, the ability for the brain to change for itself, I think that extends to that mind body relationship we can take that to the movement world, you know the fundatmental principles of this neuro plasticity is the ability for new synaptic connections to take place and you know there are no, there is going to be no evolution in that brain capacity if you wake up and do the same thing over and over and over again it is going to be firmly cementing in these comfortable mediocre, you know, rituals.  

 

Nikki

Correct and we can take that up to tree climbing you know if I’m jumping from branch to branch and I missed and I scraped my shin and I get a bit of skin off my leg, I’ve learnt more then the gain is more than what I’ve lost so if I don’t expose myself to these scenarios then I’m going to stay, stay pretty stagnant and pretty still.

 

Paul

Butt safe

 

Nikki

Butt Safe

 

Paul

And that’s the world we’ve grown up in, you know

 

Nikki

Exactly, yes, being stable and having the sense of stability is the most dangerous thing you can have

 

Paul

Yes, yes

 

Nikki

It’s dangerous man

 

Paul

Yes I agree, there’s obviously a balance that can be achieved with this but it’s about negotiating those lines and not creating a solid blank line and saying you shall not pass there is, there’s a greatness to it and I think it’s important to explore that, you know.

 

Nikki

Definitely if you ought to go jump off a 5 storey building without having any parkour experience probably not going to end up through well.

 

Paul

Probably not

 

Nikki

You know, I think yeah they needs to be a balance just like everything, balance.  

 

Paul

Absolutely, balance.  Now, I now from time to time you’ve dealt into the mind, body relationship meditation before and after training.  What kind of practice, obviously I have a particular passion towards the mind body relationship.  What kind of practice do you feel or what kind of filter do you feel takes place when consciousness becomes a priority with your training.

 

Nikki

So, you mean meditation?  

 

Paul

Meditation for example, yes just being aware, you know.

 

Nikki

Yes, yes, I definitely have had a huge noticeable change not only just in my mental state but in my physical state, which carries to my training.  Changing the way I breathe has been a massive awareness thing for me.  I’ve learned a lot from Wim Hof if you haven’t heard of him Paul, check him out, he’s called the Iceman.

 

Paul

He was on the show a few weeks ago

 

Nikki

Oh you did have him on a few weeks ago.  So, I used a lot of his breathing methods with my meditation, so that’s created a huge amounts of change, so I take that to my training if I, let’s use the handstand again, I don’t have too much success in my hand balancing if I’m not breathing breath has changed huge

 

Paul

That’s right.  And I guess being aware of something that is with you constantly at least as long as we’re alive like breath it’s undeniable, you need to be constantly be aware of it that’s why so many meditation schools do you use the breath as that object because there’s no denying it.  

 

Nikki

It brings so much clarity, if you can breathe, if you have connection and awareness with your breathing it changes everything.

 

Paul

It sure does and it comes full circle back to you know, what we were talking about with our seating and standing posture the breath can have such a tremendous effect on your stress response.  So, it really, it’s quite consequential as oppose to you need to have to think about wellness from so many different perspective, you can’t just simply look at it from your breath stand point, you can’t look at it from your movement stand point or from your posture stand point.  They’re so intricately interrelated that if you seat with a posture that doesn’t allow you to breathe fully you’re going to really, really trigger that stress response.

 

Nikki

Definitely, definitely and if you don’t have a way to deal with, let’s say a stressful situation, so, if you’re not connected with your breath and you don’t have that awareness that’s going to suffer as well.   So, if I’m stressed I just by breath to relieve that stress, so, yeah you’re right it’s all very inter-connected.

 

Paul

And it’s a beautiful tool to be able to do so, you know, like to have that awareness to be able to say, you  know. This is another feather in my bud that I can use but have that over arching awareness that everything related is key in my experience, that’s what I found anyway.

 

Nikki

Definitely

 

Paul

I want to just touch and talk a little bit on nutrition and I want to talk about what it is you tend to fuel yourself with.  You train a ridiculous amount and it’s so unbelievably empowering to watch and witness.  For a lot of people had, that would train that much they’d be bugged they’d be absolutely and I’m sure you are bugged at times.

 

Nikki

I’m bugged

 

Paul

I’d love to know how you feel yourself, is there a formula or do you trust your intuition, obviously, you know, you’re not eating coco puffs and you know, sneakers bars but give us a little bit of a gateway a little bit of a window into what it is you do to fill yourself with.  

 

Nikki

Except you don’t think there is one size fits all but I think again there are principles and underlying things that can be applied to every person.  So, for me personally I eat a diet of real food.  So, vegetables, fruit, meat and proteins, nuts, very rarely will I have things like grass, I don’t eat greens or anything like that and I have a really high fat content diet but that’s what I just found to be the most effective way for me to be able to train multiple times a day and keep my energy levels fairly consistent and that might not be the most effective thing for you.  So, I think it comes down to the individual but I think there is also now more of the, an awareness of your ancestral background when it comes to things like nutrition and that’s why I think it’s so buried because my background and my ancestral heritage have a huge impact on what my body is processes well.  So, yes I think tinkering and experimenting with your diet and nutrition is probably the most effective way to find that balance.

 

Paul

Sorry I just want to mention something that just came jumped into my mind about ancestral background.  I think it was Weston Price he was a orthodontist or a dentist that went travelling the world to explore different cultures and to see how it is.  They have processed food and what their practices was and he did find firstly that meat was pretty standard part of most cultures diet but he did noticed in a particular part of a tribal culture that were vegetarian because they simply didn’t have access to meet and as a result their, I think it was their large intestine was significantly smaller than every other cultures, which I found really interesting.  I could be missing the markers out their large or small intestine but it was one of the, it was a significant biological difference in evolution, which I found really interesting.  

 

Nikki

Very interesting I think, yeah, that’s a huge, huge consideration because we’re all individual and we’re all have different lifestyle and different day to day activities so I found out with my training and my diet it kind of shifts, so I’ll eat how I train and I’ll train how I eat If I had a really light day of training there for example maybe some flexibility and hand balancing then I’m probably not going to want to eat something like steak and vice versa you know, if I have really a heavy leg day I train really hard and I train a lot of strength, I’m probably going to be more inclined to eat those heavy foods.

 

Paul

Meat….

 

Nikki

Yeah, give me red blood.  So, yeah I think those 2 things go hand in hand as well

 

Paul

Yes, spot on.  What is interesting is you did say was fat was a high fat content diet is something that has really given you the fuel to keep going as well, to obviously interesting progressive research that’s just been done around saturated fats that is negated all the previous researched that has been done in the past

 

Nikki

That’s (inaudible)

 

Paul

Yeah, there’s a lot of crap out there about, you know, the industry as a whole and it’s just so important to have your wits about you and as you said, which I couldn’t agree with enough it’s experiment for yourself and find out what works for you

 

Nikki

It’s practically hurts, practice man and it goes back to that theoretical knowledge of us practical application and the knowledge that comes from this kind of theoretical abstract way of thinking like for example in universities and what you got to do in nutrition course, what they teach you there, it’s no way near as valuable as practical application

 

Paul

Yes I agree

 

Nikki

Practical application will always win it’s the biggest way to learn

 

Paul

It actually reminds me of a common friend that we have I won’t mention the name directly but, you know, she completed a nutrition course at a university and out of everything she has learned she’s now kind of, she doesn’t even mentioned that she has a nutrition degree because she’s a little bit embarrassed about the content that she learned.  It really flies on the face of a lot of the practical knowledge that you can find out in the field, so it is an interesting space, let’s just say.  

 

Nikki

It is and you can narrow that down I guess to the way of teaching and the way of learning that universities and all of these institutions have instilled and the nature of knowledge that they instil, so I guess that comes down to unpredictability as well, like all of these knowledge that people attain from this way of learning is not conducive with the nature of the real world and that’s why practical application, I mean it can be valuable but practical application will always take the cake.

 

Paul

I agree whole heartedly.  Nikki so much for coming in the show, it’s been such an awesome chat.  I want to talk to you about where you can be found, what it is all the cool exciting things your doing with yourself right now and how people can reach you to become stronger women, as well as men that I just, you know, you train everyone but like really, the thing that gets me going is seeing you empowering women to become a stronger version of themselves.

 

Nikki

Yes you can find me on facebook, N, I, double K, I, M, A,S, T, E, R, M, A, N, my email is nikkimasterman14@gmail.com, that’s nikkimasterman one, four at gmail dot com, so yeah hit me up if you want to get in contact.

 

Paul

Thank you Nikki and I’ll make sure to put that in the show notes

 

Nikki

Awesome!  Thank You so much for having me

 

Paul

Oh it’s an absolute pleasure.  Thanks Nik

 

Nikki

Thank Mate

 

Paul

Thank you Nikki that was an excellent interview, I always relish the opportunity to train and to just get a tiny nugget of wisdom from you even if it’s a residual.  By the way have you ever considered doing this or have you ever not considered doing that, which I hear so often.  I’m really truly into my 9 minutes of heaven challenge for the month and I’m having the time of my life, it’s really cool. I feel like I have developed some significant core strength.  I’ve been able to apply my TBA a lot more confidently to big movements like dead lifts, pull ups and squats.  It’s helping like you wouldn’t believe so I implore you guys to jump on it, check it out on facebook, you’ll see what exactly I’m talking about but essentially what it is, is a duration of your choice, I’m choosing to start with 1 minute per exercise where I complete various different isometric plank holds like I said before my strength within my body is going sky high so I suggest jump on board that is it for me for yet another week.  I hope you enjoy this interview, if you enjoy listening to the podcast please write a review, help us get that name out there, it would make all the difference in the world.  Catch you guys next week.  

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Show Notes

 

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