“Necessity is the mother of invention” Unknown
Jack Of All Activities, Master Of None
As a fitness trainer I have worked to complete a variety of physical accomplishments. Some of these I have enjoyed and kept primary in my life; they connect the thinking me with the skeletal me. I have found much fulfillment in strength training, trail running, and surfing. I have excelled in strength training – not so much with surfing and trail running, though I do enjoy them.
I have participated in other activities because fitness is my livelihood and feel I should be adept in a variety of actions. I have found little joy in running marathons, paddling a flat board across the open ocean, horseback riding, or hitting a little ball a couple of hundred yards with a stick – but I can say I have participated in them, and done so with serious intentions.
Comparing Me With Myself
In pursuit of physical challenges, I have rarely compared myself to anyone else. If I have felt any need for comparison, I have occasionally compared the me of today, with the me of yesterday. In truth, I’m not too competitive even with myself. I do the things I do, intensely and passionately, because pushing my body hard sooths my reckless mind, regardless of how well I perform. I understand that the human body will only get so strong and so fast. To want too much of these, I would be physically greedy, and I’m just not a greedy guy – usually. I also respect that we are designed to age and to lose our capacities over time, and I’m good with that.
Bustin’ Down The Door
The first time Carrie entered my studio I was immediately struck by her musculature. She had been introduced to me by her Hapkido Master, who was my neighbor located behind my fitness studio. He felt strength training would be complimentary to Carrie’s increasing fitness regimen. Two days later she began strength training under my guidance. Three things were immediately evident about Carrie:
- She is genetically gifted, both in strength and in structure.
- She has a supreme work ethic.
- She is a discriminating eater.
With that combination, in my mind, she was about to become a competitive bodybuilder. I would confront her about this on and off for over a year as her development advanced. In an aw-shucks kind of way, she expressed that she really wasn’t interested in that. That’s okay. To be great at something and not want to compete, displays a rare humility.
Ups And Downs
Carrie made fast progress with her strength and with her physique. As hers were on the rise though, mine were on the way down. Due to a couple years of scattered workouts, intermittent eating patterns, and boredom, my strength as well as my physique was waning. As this occurred, I began comparing myself more and more to Carrie. Consider that; a professional fitness trainer was now comparing himself to a 40-year old mother of four.
Though I was stronger than Carrie in most every movement, she was in the conversation. After a year though, our directions crossed paths and she became stronger than me in nearly every movement in the gym. There was no shame in that for me – she’s just gifted and hard working. This did illuminate though, that I was becoming more content with being in a lesser state of fitness. Carrie would also become leaner – much leaner.
Enough Is Enough
Carrie wasn’t always the beast who roared her way through the deadlift forest. Four years ago she was eating at McDonald’s 3-4 times per week. Her typical order was 2 regular hamburgers, a large order of fires, and a regular Dr. Pepper. Poor eating was where she was. Physical activity was where she was not. She even nicknamed herself, The Cookie Monster, for her love of cookies.
Whether it was out of necessity or not, this mother decided to reinvent herself. In addition to Hapkido, she began fitness classes in that same studio. Eventually Carrie was handed some eating tips by guru Bud Ravenscroft. Adherence to these suggestions fostered noticeable progress with her weight loss, and that progress changed the way Carrie viewed and used food. Carrie also changed the way she viewed muscle. Previously resistant, she came to accept the value of muscle on a woman. That’s when she chose a new path – the path of most resistance.
The Mother Of My Reinvention
As this 40-year old mother blew by me, I found new inspiration. I was still ahead of the game for being over 50, but came to feel I should be stronger and faster than anyone I train, or at least as strong, and at least as fast. It became time for me to walk the walk once again.
Since we were evenly matched in strength and workout intensity, I approached Carrie about leaving my care as a client, and joining me as a workout partner. She felt this would be mutually beneficial and agreed. That was about three months ago.
My workouts with Carrie have raised my game. I push myself harder so I can teach her better. I push myself harder because I’m inspired by her. I believe this is mutual. I’m using poundages I have not used in years, and I’m loving my workouts like a junkie loves a hot spoon. Our Sunday morning trail runs on Monserate Hill are epic, and have become an integral part of each week’s rebirth.
Of Grindage And Grace
What I have learned most from Carrie is something I have known for years, have taught to hundreds of others, yet not practiced myself too much of late – that for success in fitness, eating is 80% of the game. I’m eating today, better than I have eaten in years. Those eating choices are showing up in how I look, how I perform with my activities, and even in how I think. I have, it seems, engaged in a reinvention of my own, sponsored by this mother.
If you had told me four years ago that the person I would most compare myself to – most strive to be like, and most be inspired by, would be a forty-two year old mother of four, I would have laughed in your face. Now Carrie has become a mother of six; her four children, and her two reinventions – hers and mine. Be well. rc
My last essay for 2012. Please have a safe and healthy holiday season. Check back in early January to see what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head…