Defective Personality…

“My greatness is the sum of all my personality defects.  Well, most of them anyway.”  Me

Personality defect #1:  Growing Up Cohen…

This I know:  My mother and father loved me very much.  My childhood was safe, and my opportunities were numerous.  I was never threatened, abused, or otherwise compromised as a child.  I was taught right from wrong, good from bad, truth from dishonesty, and to say please and thank you to everything that moved.  And for all of this I was loved, housed, fed well, and given 50 cents per week.

My childhood might not quite have been the Ozzie and Harriet show, but it more closely resembled the TV life of the 1950s than it did the Ozzie and Sharon show.  Still, from an early age I developed a strong desire to withdraw from my family, from my social peers, and spend a great deal of time in self-imposed isolation.

It wasn’t enough to be alone though, I had to be moving while I was alone.  I would ride my bike, skateboard, swim, dive in the pool, shoot baskets, or just walk for hours at a time, and could not be any happier for my introverted exertions.  At an early age, solitary exercise was my house of worship, and remains my sanctuary to this day.

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Still the best way I know to be alone…

The two go well together for me; solitary and exercise. Give me one without the other, and they will each be appreciated.  Give me both, and they become trans-formative medicine.

Personality defect #2: Mass Appeal…

I can’t remember the first time I really took notice of a person’s musculature.  Maybe I was 12 or so.  It might have been a football player on TV, a bodybuilder, a guy swinging a sledge hammer on a road crew, I’m not sure.  I do know this; that from a very early age, the sight of lean, well formed, larger than normal muscles on a person compelled me – male or female.

Not just on people either.  As a child I would stare for hours at pictures of Seattle Slew and other race horses of the era.  The lean musculature of racehorses had a gravity my eyes could not resist.  My mom couldn’t get me out of the primate exhibit at the zoo either – the width of a gorilla’s back, and the squareness of his chest was something I wanted too.  There has always been something about the ornamental quality of large muscles in motion which has captivated me.

Triceps are a little weak, but LOVE his chest....

Triceps are a little weak, but LOVE his chest….

At some point, maybe near middle school, I made this connection; that I possessed the ability to go from just looking at and admiring muscle, to becoming the muscle.  On this realization, the course of my life began to take shape.  Personality defects #1 and #2 were about merge into the pathway expressway on which I would haul through the rest of my life.

Personality defect #3:  Hardworking In All The Wrong Places…

As my desire to create muscle on myself increased, I required more and more time in isolation to work on the muscle project.  My requirement for solitary exercise would now consume me.

By the time high school came along, it had gotten in the way of my solitary exercise.  I was so involved, as both the sculptor, and the sculpture, that I released myself from high school on my own recognizance.

Drop out.  Chalk up.  Lift.

Too cool for school...

Too cool for school…

Solitary exercise, in the form of weightlifting, had become my single biggest priority.  Oh, and there were also the sprint workouts which I began to do 2-3 times per week, which I enjoyed much for the challenge, and the conditioning, but also for the solitude.

As my adult life would further unfold, solitary exercise would expand to include running, cycling, surfing, kayaking, and more.  The older I got, the more important my medicinal movement became. It also became my livelihood.

Personality defect #4:  The World Begins With Me…

It is this defect, #4, that enabled defects #1 and #2 to become defect #3.  I put myself first in most situations – for most of my life.  I think science may have it wrong.  From my vantage point, the universe is didn’t actually begin until the day I was born – and that’s how I have lived for most of my life.

I like to think that I’m no longer as selfish as I was for the first 5 decades of my life.  I now recognize that there are 7 billion persons on Earth not named Roy Cohen.  With this realization, I think it’s fair to say that I have become a pretty giving person of my time, of my money, of my heart, and of myself.

My solitary exercise is still the largest part of my life, though I now include others more frequently as I partake in the joy of wearing myself down – wanting to share the experience.  In running, hiking, lifting, and cycling with others, I have learned to be more malleable in my exercise ways, and am finding new life from my movements, and fostered new friendships that have enriched my life.

Personality defect #5:  Reconciling Utility vs. Fulfillment…

As I have written before, it’s my belief that the car with the most, and the hardest miles on it will likely go to the junkyard first.  Of course maintenance, quality of fuel, and quality of miles are factors, but using the body to excess is not necessarily a recipe for a ripe old age.  Still, I push hard, and I push daily.

I won’t know until much  later in life whether all my personality defects, and my lust for movement have served me well, or will have beaten me down.  It will probably be a little of each, but that’s how life is.

Going equine one more time.   Seattle Slew-perman...

Going equine one more time. Seattle Slew-perman…

Of course these are not all my personality defects, only the ones which serve this essay.  I’m not a bright man, but I’m guessing I have a personality defect or two that I’m not willing to advertise.  So for those who truly know me, PLEASE feel free this week to drop them into the comments section and help fuel the conversation.  Be well.  rc

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Please check back in 2 weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head.
Oh, and there is this from the Grande Roses, enjoy…

A Girl Named Smith…

Goodbye Dear Friend…

I just said goodbye to an old friend, one I know I’ll never see again. She and I have been friends for years. We met shortly after my divorce. She was instrumental in helping me pick up the pieces of my deteriorating life, and put it back together during those critical post-divorce years. I can make a clean argument that she helped save my life at a time when the depths were pretty low, and eminent danger was near.

We saw each other almost daily for many years, often twice daily. She provided me with a kind of strength that doesn’t come from within. In an era when pundits of self-help are quick to point out that real strength should come from within, I can say unequivocally that sometimes an outside source of strength is required to build inner strength. This source – this friend, was always there for me, never said no to me, and helped me develop a special strength, inside and out – mostly out. Goodbye Smith Machine. I hope you enjoy your forever home…

All That We Shared…

It’s very popular these days for avid strength trainers to poke fun at the smith machine, and those who use it. Most often this is done by younger folks, bros, and hardcore gym enthusiasts. I think it’s fair to say for a lot of my adult life I have been as hard core as anyone I know, or at least in the conversation. Truth is I rarely touched a smith machine until I was in my 40s. Maybe once in a while if a gym I was visiting was crowded I might slum it a bit, and do some squats, or bench presses on a smith machine, and hope nobody was looking. The shame of it all…

As I got older though, and developed my own style of strength training, with lots slow negatives, pauses at extension and contraction, and an emphasis on cross-bridging, I realized the smith machine could not only be used to develop strength, and muscularity, it could be exploited with huge returns.

A Brief History…

The smith machine was invented by Jack LaLanne. It can be used for a variety of exercises from squats to bench presses, rows, shoulder presses, lunges, and more. The safety aspect can be appealing for those who train without a partner, since there is no need for a spotter. As I eluded to earlier, for me, the smith machine has been the midwife to an intensity in my workouts for over a decade. Of the all the exercises I did on my smith machine, squats and bench presses on a high incline were my favorites. I could get so deep inside myself – so intense that I often left nothing on the floor but sweat.

I mean for sure, right bro…? No way you can get any good chest development with a smith machine!

I know, I know, gotta pose the face too.  Not my strength...

I know, I know, gotta pose the face too. Not my strength…

Her Forever Home…

After 14 years I have decided to close my San Diego area studio, and return to Colorado to be closer to family. I am keeping most of my equipment because I enjoy training alone, and I may someday start my business again in Colorado. I did though, sell my smith machine combo because I just didn’t want to move, and store it. Dry your eyes, dry your eyes – she’s going to a good home.

Her forever home will be with Fred. Fred is almost 70. Several years ago he became a client, and quickly discovered the utility of strength training in support of the active aging process. Fred hikes, backpacks regularly, plays softball like he’s 12, and spend much his time tending his trees, building fences. He doesn’t even have an email address – the perfect candidate for a forever home for my his smith machine.

It was important to me that this machine be loved, and cared for. So much home exercise equipment goes unused, underappreciated, and can even be abused. Imagine using a treadmill as a coat rack – the horror. When Fred expressed interest in buying my smith machine I lit up like a junkie to a hot spoon. I knew immediately she would be going to a good home, would be used, and appreciated. There was no way a smith machine of mine was going to some kind of shelter, or worse.

I have no doubt that she and Fred will have many good workouts together. I can rest easy that she won’t be killed. As for my future workouts, they will mostly take place in what I expect will be a bitchin’ basement or garage gym when I get back to Colorado. When I need a smith machine, I will have to go to a public gym to use one, though I know I will buy another at some point. That’s okay. Being in a public gym is always a good reminder for me of what not to do – on smith machines or any other piece of equipment. Be well… rc

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Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there is this from Shrimpboat. Enjoy!

If you leap, the net will appear…

Fruit Jar Piggy Bank…

Over a decade ago, after a long workday in the gym where I was training my clients, I arrived home, opened a mason jar I kept on my kitchen counter, and counted the money it contained. Having not counted it for a while, I knew instantly I had enough to equip my 3-car garage with everything I would need to train my fitness clients from home. To that point, I had been working nearly 12 hours per day, 6 days per week at my local gym – for nearly two years. I wanted to work less, to simplify, and moving my business to my home was the first step in that process. Still, I was unsure about the transition.

I traded emails with my older brother for several days as I agonized over what to do. His final email to me on the subject contained a phrase I will remember for the rest of my life,

“If you leap” he said, “the net will appear”.

That was all I needed. In that moment I made the decision to leave the gym, set up shop at home, and take my chances. The following Saturday I walked into a fitness equipment wholesale warehouse as if I had just stepped off of my private jet, and pointed to all the things I wanted as the salesman walked behind me rolling his eyes.

“I’ll need THAT!” I said, “And a couple of those.” “Oh, and I definitely need that!” I even remember saying to him, “I hope you’re writing this down!”

I walked up and down every isle, pointed, demanded, and purposefully never made never made eye contact with my guy in tow. I’m certain he thought he was going through the motions, and that I had no intention of buying any of what I was looking at. He looked stunned when I stood by the cash register after an hour or so, waiting for him, and tapping my finger.

The ticket rang up to a little under ten thousand dollars. “I’ll be paying in cash” I said smugly. Suddenly his disbelief vanished. I peeled off dozens of hundred-dollar bills as we scheduled the delivery for early the following week. I was just as smug when I suggested the delivery guys “be prompt”, or I might not be back for more next week.

A Good Run…

That weekend I installed panel lighting in the ceiling of my garage. I finished, and textured the walls, my friend Christa painted them for me, and a studio was born. Though my studio would be moved several times, for the next decade I had the best life a man could hope to have.

I only made fair living in dollars and cents, but in freedom and enjoyment, I was wealthier than any man I knew. My commute involved bare feet, and stepping over my dogs without spilling my coffee as I entered my studio.

 

Studio #1; my garage...

Studio #1; my garage…

Studio #3; Brandon Street...

Studio #3; Brandon Street…

Studio #4; The Houdio...

Studio #4; The Houdio…

During this period I had the pleasure of meeting and working with magnificent people. I lived an aesthetic, if not an ascetic life. My rule of thumb was that if you had a job, you probably couldn’t afford me. The demographic in which I lived supported that.   I could write an entire book about the personalities that passed through my studio, and all I learned from them. The word blessed couldn’t put a down payment on the life I lived through most of the 2000s.

I have helped many seniors reestablish their physicality. I have helped dozens of people lose hundreds of pounds. I have assisted many student athletes in expanding their skillset to better prepare for their college sport, and coached bodybuilders – male and female. I have even worked with a few professional athletes, and celebrities. Celebrities, by the way, make crappy clients. Overall though, I could not have hoped for more – and never really did.

rc phone home…

Last week I spent time in my home state of Colorado. I stayed with my mother, attended my niece’s soccer games, and gazed at Long’s Peak for the first time in a while. The first few days of my visit surprised me. This state I had thought about so often, and had begun to miss with an increasing frequency now tugged at my heart, as did my family.

While I was there I helped my mom have a moving sale, made tacos for my nieces and nephew, and enjoyed some good road time with my brother who now lives close by in western Nebraska. I agonized all week as to whether or not I should leave my business behind, and return home to spend time with my family – my mother is now in her mid-80s.

Like a volley from hell, I went back and forth for 10 days; I’m moving home. I’m not moving home. I’m moving home. I’m not moving home. Then, in a moment of clarity as I watched my little dog standing in grass early one morning – the kind of grass that doesn’t grow in California, and with Long’s Peak in the background, I remembered my brother’s words, “If you leap, the net will appear”. Suddenly, my home state fit me like a glove.

Coming home to a place he's never been before; Stroodle Of Colorado...

Coming home to a place he’s never been before; Stroodle Of Colorado…

At that moment, I decided my mother should have a son nearby, and that my nieces and nephew mean more to me than I realized, and that my brother is still my favorite road trip partner. I decided that, despite the amazing lifestyle my job and surroundings provide me in southern California, and the risk involved with leaving it all behind, it has been a good run, but it’s time to go home.

And that’s where this essay ends – almost. With a single decision to walk away – to leap from a comfortable life, and into the unknown so I can be closer to my family.

Gratitude…

I have also made the decision to walk away from fitness training as a career, at least for now. I have no idea how I will earn my keep, or what tomorrow will bring. I only know that my mother will not grow old without family in the neighborhood, that my nieces will see me at their soccer games as I am able, my nephew will have a new movie buddy, and that my brother and I will enjoy some weekend road trips, and camping.

To the many clients who have trusted me with their fitness values through the years, and who have enriched my life by sharing their experiences, and wisdom, I am beyond grateful for all you have given me. I thank you. I appreciate you. I will always remember you. I hope you will understand.

And for those reading this anywhere, who may be facing difficult decisions about your own life – where to go, and what to do – if you leap, the net will appear. Be well. rc

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Though my career in fitness may be over, this blog remains.  Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when push the STOP button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there’s this from Archers Of Loaf.  Enjoy…