Fingerprints And A Tribesman…

From The Fingerprints Of Others

If I could for a moment, recount every person who has touched my life, I would feel as rich as any man.  Nothing has mattered more to me than the eyes I have seen, the words I have heard or read, and the names and personalities which have etched themselves across my psyche to create the living work that is me.  Primary to this are the conversations and the observations which have taken place at the hands of those who I’ve been so blessed to know, know of, or interact with.

From my earliest experiences through my current moment, I am the unwitting product of these influences.  Everything I am I owe to everyone else.  Considering this astonishes and always humbles me; that my very essence is just the reflective fingerprints of thousands of others. I call it the web of personalities.  It began with a doctor who smacked my ass, and will only conclude with the person who will pronounce me dead to whoever might be witness.  But for all those in-between – for all those finger painters placing their marks and values upon me, I am grateful.

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Who Is Me..?

I am intensity.  I am weakness.  I am music.  I am action.  I am words.  I am scorned.  I am fear, hate, and romance.  I am the relentlessly optimistic individual who believes that at the end of the day it will all work out and be just fine.  I am the pessimist who thinks a pistol to the upper pallet would be a better finish to the game than riding out what the increasing directionality and complexity of man have in store for us.  I am a father who loves his little girl with all the love he can possibly love someone with.  I am mortal, yet feel invincible.  I am an athlete, a victim, a perpetrator of good, of bad, and of much in-between.  I am the product of family genes and social memes – the sum of those who have touched me.

A Tribesman

Above all things though, in my day-to-day, I am a member of a tribe – a group of like-minded people who have a sincere belief in perpetuating daily action; exercise as a means of living, feeling and looking better, as well as to better serve those about us.

We go about our active lifestyle with a near religious fervor believing that if everyone lived in such a manner, the world would function better as a whole.  Whether we are in the gym, on the running trail, on the road, or in the water, when we are moving we are in a kind of church – the church of daily action.  Some call us gym rats.  Funny, I never use the term church rats for those once per weekers who sit in the pews believing that action will make the world a better place.

My tribe is globally dispersed, and scarcely organized as a collective.  What I like best about this tribe is that the followers are really the leaders, and the leaders are often forced to follow.  Primary in our agenda is freedom; the freedom to take ownership of practicing the action(s) which makes us feel best.  We seek out and participate as we wish, as often as we can and on the days we can’t the weight of the world is that much heavier.  We may subscribe to the values of a specific genre, leader, or orientation, but as we execute our daily action, we move self-centered, and blaze our own unique trail.

There are different bands within this tribe; those who run, practice martial arts, lift weights, power walk, kayak, swim, and play rigorous games with other tribe members such as tennis or handball, among many other things. What binds us all as a tribe is the common belief that to not participate in such opportunities is to deny a primary aspect of our human potential, and all the influences which have lead us down this path.  To be human at all is to be in action – it just feels good.  Sitting still is simulating death.

Gracias

To all of those who have influenced me as it applies to the directionality of my physical life, you are too numerous to mention, but I thank you.  I would be so much less without you – literally.  To those of you who have tried to influence me with opposition – suggesting that I move too much and focus excessively on the physical me, I thank you too.  If not for your contrast, I couldn’t know that I’m correct in how I live.   Be well.  rc

Please check back in 2 weeks for a new essay on the philosophy behind the fitness.  Oh, and there is this from Doug Sahm.  Enjoy!

Influences…

Below is a tease for my upcoming essay, Tribes: The Influence Of Others.  Please check back this Saturday for the completed essay.  In the mean time, here is an excerpt:

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From The Fingerprints Of Others

If I could for a moment, recount every person who has touched my life, I would feel as rich as any man.  Nothing has mattered more to me than the eyes I have seen, the words I have heard or read, and the names and personalities which have etched themselves across my psyche to create the living work that is me.  Primary to this are the conversations and the observations which have taken place at the hands of those who I have been so blessed to know, to know of, or to interact with.

From my earliest experiences through my current moment, I am the unwitting product of these influences.  Everything I am I owe to everyone else.  Considering this astonishes and always humbles me; that my very essence is just the reflective fingerprints of thousands of others.  It began with a doctor who smacked my ass, and will only conclude with the person who will pronounce me dead to whoever might be witness.  But for all those in-between – for all those finger painters placing their marks and values upon me, I am grateful.

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Please check back this Saturday for the completed essay.  Oh, and there is this gem from Rod Stewart.  I know, I used this one last year, but its organic nature is compelling.  Enjoy…

Comments are closed this week.

Good Things Come In Slow Packages…

4Keeps Part I: My Inner Greed

When I earn or receive something that I truly appreciate, it becomes my desire to keep it as long as possible. My favorite shirts, best albums, and even special moments are things I will attempt to hold onto as long as I can.  Though we’re no longer married, I speak with my ex-wife almost every day – it seems I’m even a hoarder friendships.  I’m just not good at letting go. 

My strength, balance, agility, flexibility, and muscle mass are among those things I want to keep until I die.  These I get from my daily strength training sessions.  I never took steroids.  Not because I was opposed to the use of them, but because I knew I never would have come off of them.  The physical gains I have made in the gym are the physical gains I can maintain.

Complexity And Polarization

Like everything else in life, the concept of fitness is expanding and becoming more complex.  Here’s a duality for you:  In an era when the life expectancy of our children is actually shorter than our own, and obesity and diabetes among children and adults are at an all time high, exercise trends and opportunities are increasing.  I’m not a math whiz, but that doesn’t seem to add up.  We are more obese and less healthy than ever, yet people are working out more and working out harder than ever.  Actually the math does add up; as we become less satisfied with our physicality, new exercise trends develop to lure us – that we can make the changes we think we need.  This may be a good thing.

In the mid-1970s, there were just a few gyms in the entire city of Denver.  I once road the municipal bus nearly an hour each day to workout at the 20th Street Gym in downtown Denver – because it was the closest gym to my home.  Today I live in a town of just 40,000 and I look out my gym window and see another gym directly across the parking lot.  There is also one just behind me – in the same building I am in.  There are at least 20 places in my little town where people can pay to exercise.  More people are working out than ever before, and in different and increasingly complex ways.  But are we making progress…?

What’s Cooking In Fitness

Cross Fit is the sexy trend in fitness these days.  Cross Fit is the sum of interdisciplinary exercise actions, woven together to form an intense, and productive workout – workouts that can cause vomiting and fainting.  I have taken a few Cross Fit and similar workouts and I have loved them – intensity, hard work, results.  But are they sustainable…?  I’ll suggest that the Cross Fit disciples of today will not be taking Cross Fit workouts when they are 88 years old. 

Multi-disciplinary workouts such as Cross Fit and Hard Exercise Works practiced without an emphasis on proper exercise form will increase the window of opportunity to become injured during the course the workout.  I know three people who have become injured in the course of such workouts, and been rendered unable to workout, or do little else for months as a result.  Though potentially very productive, these types of workouts can break a body down…

I love Cross Fit and similar workouts.  However, most athletic injuries are caused by forces upon musculoskeletal structures that exceed the structure’s tensile limits.  This means injury is caused by excessive force or excessive motion. What could be more forceful or excessive than simultaneously slinging a sledgehammer in each hand, running with a tire chained to your back, or doing fast power movements in successively worse form as fatigue sets in through the course of the set…?

4Keeps Part II: Basics Work

Tom is 88 years old – he is my oldest client.  Tom practices basic strength training three days per week, with all movements executed in proper form, and through a complete range of motion. Despite that he’s 88, the slow, controlled strength training Tom practices can be challenging if    not intense – but it is also safe.  Tom has been lifting weights in this fashion for years, and has never been injured during the course of a workout.  He lifts weights to make his life better, not worse.

I have never been injured, nor had a client injured, including my most intense and competitive clients, during the course of one of my strength workouts – not one.  I’m not suggesting multi-disciplinary workouts such as Cross Fit are a bad route to get in shape, or get in better shape.  I’m suggesting that they may not be sustainable in the long-term, and come with an inherent risk. 

My Drug Is A Safe Drug

Basics work.  Traditional strength training is over 3,000 years old.  It has been practiced by ancient Greeks, Romans, and the Chinese.  The standard lunge which I teach every week, has been performed by Spartans and Khans.

I understand that every fitness junkie has their own trip – lord knows I have mine.  My drug of choice, basic strength training, will be practiced by me until the day I die – because it can be practiced until the day I die.  Done properly, basic strength training offers great utility for life in the modern era, provides a supreme mental release, and is a great prescription for people like me who have a hard time letting go of good things.  Be well.  rc

Comments are closed this week.

Please check in two weeks for an essay yet to be determined.  Oh, and there is this from Sonia Dada, enjoy…

Complexity, Fatness, And Fitness…

A tease for my upcoming essay on complexity in fitness.  Please check back this Sunday for the completed essay.  In the mean time, here is an excerpt:

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4Keeps Part I: My Inner Greed

When I earn something that I want and that I appreciate, it becomes my desire to keep it as long as possible. My favorite shirts, best albums, and even special moments are things I will attempt to hold onto as long as I can.  I’m just not good at letting go.  My strength, balance, agility, flexibility, and muscle mass are among those things I want to keep until I die.  These I get from my daily strength training.

I never took steroids.  Not because I was opposed to the use of them, but because I knew I never would have come off of them.  Though we’re no longer married, I speak with my ex-wife almost every day – it seems I’m even a hoarder relationships.  The thought of giving up something that once belonged to me is just hard to embrace.

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Please check back this Sunday for the completed essay.  Oh, and there is little nugget from Sweden’s, The Shout Out Louds.  Enjoy….

Lunge Is Served…

Some Things Are Perfect

We continually doubt the existence of perfection.  We preach against striving for it, believing in it, and most are quick to point out that nothing is perfect.   And most suggest a perfect world would be a bad thing – that if we lived in a perfect world, what would our contrast be…?   How would we appreciate anything…?  We would be as clinical and unloving as cockroaches and sea cucumbers. 

A science teacher once told me,

“Where there is no intelligence there can be no stupidity.  Where there is no stupidity there can be no mistakes – only happenings.”

He continued to argue,

“That is why insects will someday inherit the Earth – by default, because they are perfect at happenings.”

Though I don’t believe in the potential for a universal perfection, or of a perfect world run by insects or humans, I do believe in the manifestation of perfection in many aspects of life; moments, gestures, creatures, feelings, and aesthetics to name a few.  New England might be a perfect place to see foliage in autumn.  Diamonds have been cut and rated as absolutely flawless.  A heartfelt “I love you” at a time when it is truly needed might make for a perfect moment.  And in that vein I offer you…

…lunges, the perfect exercise.

Lunge Is Served

There are numerous varieties of the standard lunge.  There are walking lunges, Smith Machine lunges, reverse lunges, and many others variations performed with weights, medicine balls, exercise bands and beyond.  My favorite though, and the lunges I do consider to be a perfect exercise, are lunges in place, with a torso rotation. 

Lunges with a torso rotation are, in my mind, perfect for their unparalleled utility and helping to better coordinate the human body.  Though there is an aesthetic value to any variety of lunge, lunges with a torso rotation, done correctly and practiced consistently, are the sum of strength, coordination, flexibility, balance, and done in the right protocol, can even have a significant cardiovascular effect. 

Lunge With A Torso Rotation

The words and the cadence never change when I explain lunges to a student:

  • Step out slowly and simultaneously extend and raise your hands to a point slightly above eye level, and then stop.
  • Pushing your hands away from you, and keeping them slightly above eye level, slowly rotate in the direction of your forward leg as you lunge down.
  • Keep the rotation in equal portion to the lunge. 
  • Lunge only as deep as your knees feel comfortable.
  • Pause at the bottom to a complete stop.
  • Though you are flatfooted on your forward leg, bare your weight over the heel of that foot.
  • Your back foot will be on its toes.
  • Slowly rotate back to center, in equal portion as your lunge rises, then stop.
  • Then step back, lower your hands, and repeat with the opposing foot and rotate in that direction.

The Elevator Factor

When teaching lunges, I always explain them in what I call “elevator” terms.  Most people I see do lunges step directly into the lunge – they step out and down simultaneously.  In return, they step up and back simultaneously.  This puts the knee at risk, enables momentum, and detracts from the utility of the movement.   I teach, with all forms of lunges, to step out and STOP.  Only then, do I direct the student to lunge straight down, pause and return straight up to a complete stop.  Then, step back into the starting position.  In this fashion, one can visualize the torso as an elevator in a shaft going straight down and returning straight up. Simply put, a lunge is just a 1-legged squat.

Though the video below does not include the torso rotation, but it’s a great visual explanation of lunging in place, done properly.  One day I may actually learn edit, but in the mean time, there is this.  Enjoy…  rc

Comments are closed this week.  Please check back next week for my essay, Mirrors In The Gym, And The Damage Done…

Nothing Is Perfect…

A tease for my upcoming essay on…  well, that’s why it’s called a tease.  Please check back Sunday the 13th for the full essay.  In the mean time, here is an excerpt:

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Some Things Are Perfect

We continually doubt the existence of perfection.  We preach against striving for it, believing in it, and most are quick to point that nothing is perfect.   And most suggest a perfect world would be a bad thing – that if we lived in a perfect world, what would our contrast be…?   How would we appreciate anything…?  We might be as clinical and unloving as cockroaches and sea cucumbers. 

A science teacher once told me,

“Where there is no intelligence there can be no stupidity.  Where there is no stupidity there can be no mistakes – only happenings.”

He continued to argue,

“That is why insects will someday inherit the Earth – by default, because they are perfect at happenings.”

Though I don’t believe in the potential for a universal perfection, or of a perfect world, I do believe in the manifestation of perfection in many aspects of life; moments, gestures, creatures, feelings, and aesthetics to name a few.  New England might be a perfect place to see foliage.  Diamonds have been cut and rated as absolutely flawless.  A heartfelt “I love you” at a time when it is truly needed might make for a perfect moment.  And in that vein, I offer you

______________________________________________________

Please check back Sunday the 13th for the completed essay.  Oh, and there is this from (local) San Diego bad, Slightly Stoopid.  Enjoy…