Gratatouille Part II…

Facebook Games…

Social media can be a fickle bitch. One week it’ll slap me on the back of the head and make me wish I didn’t own a computer at all, while simultaneously wondering why I remain friends with that asshole or moron who writes, believes, or propagates so much of the hatred, nonsense, or ideas unwanted.

Other weeks, social media can bring me nearly to tears, overjoyed with the human connections, ideas, and experiences that reach me through my 17” window to the world and touch me so deeply.

Though I try hard to avoid Facebook trends and games and hope not to drag others into them, this week one caught me by surprise. My friend, Jenny Marie, tagged me to share 3 gratitudes per day for 5 straight days. I have to say this was one of the better experiences I have had on Facebook in a quite a while.

Rather than write my usual essay this week, I thought it would be fun to share my 15 gratitudes here.  This is dedicated to those readers of this blog who are not on Facebook or captives of social media.

Day 1 of my 5 days of sharing 3 gratitudes. Todays’ theme: Family

1) I am grateful for Trudy. Though we are not married any longer, she remains the most important person in my life, alongside the daughter that we share. Her friendship and kindness defy words.

2) I am grateful for my Mark. Being 4 years my senior, my brother has taught me many lessons, and provided much inspiration in my life.

3) I am grateful for my mother, the only woman on earth named Willie. She has always, and I mean (even today) always been there for me.

Mom.  Always there...

Mom. Always there…

Day 2 of 5 my days of sharing 3 gratitudes. Today’s theme: (some of) my near death experiences

1 – You learn a lot when your parachute doesn’t open correctly. Even more when you spend a year housebound recovering from the related spinal injury – oh and there’s a toddler in the house. For all the lessons I learned in that turning point in my life (1993), I am grateful, and can honestly say I haven’t taken too many days for granted since.

2 – You learn a lot when you drink beer for breakfast while camping with your buddies and decide to leave your lawn chair and jump into the top of a Class IV rapid. Of all my near death experiences that one should have killed me. Every bone in my body took an exceptional jolt except for my head. I am grateful for the humility I gained. Another turning point in my life.

Yes.  I actually jumped into this...

Yes. I actually jumped into this…

3 – You learn a lot when you realize there’s a rattlesnake in your car. I learned immediately that the entrance to the King Sooper’s grocery store could accommodate an S10 pickup. Got out, went right to the gardening tools, grabbed a shovel, and killed said snake. Not a single employee questioned me or what I was doing. I am grateful I saw him before it was too late.

 Day 3 of my 5 days of sharing 3 gratitudes. Todays’ theme: Self-deprecation:

1 – I am grateful to all of those who know me, and like me anyway.

2 – I am grateful that I can look at the disappointment of a man that I was 15 years ago, but take comfort knowing that I eventually learn from all of my mistakes.

3 – Mostly today, I am as grateful for my pain as I am for my health so that in the words of Bob Dylan, I can know that I’m really real.

 Day 4 of my 5 days of sharing 3 gratitudes. Todays’ theme: Stroodle

1- The truth is, when he was brought to me 7 years ago as an abused 1-year old, I didn’t want him. My friend and her daughter insisted I take him. I think about that almost every day now – that I didn’t even want him. I am so grateful for said friend, and Stroodle.

2- Every morning while he is still in sleepyhead position (shown), I thank him aloud for the lessons he teaches me daily in humility, unconditional love, and living in the present. I am grateful for this ritual.

3- We walk commando (off leash) 3-4 times per day. I am grateful for the purity and joy I see when he turns back at the end, and sprints to the front door.

My hero, truly...

My hero, truly…

Day 5 of my 5 days of sharing 3 gratitudes. Today’s theme: Humor And Mental Survival

In the last 3 months I have walked away from a successful business, had my bike (my only transportation) stolen, got burned by a couple of clients for some pretty big money, I have moved 3 times and lived for 2 months without a place to call home until this week. I almost got my head taken out by a falling gate arm, and I have seen several good friends going through incredibly difficult times. I have been in dark places myself, fearful and more desperate at times than I would ever let on in social media. Through it all though, I have not lost my sense of humor.

1- I am grateful for my brother who almost singlehandedly cultivated an irreverent sense of humor in me while growing up – to the point that being the class clown was the primary reason I stayed in school as long as I did, though I did eventually release myself on my own recognizance. He taught me abut Franklin Ajaye, George Carlin, and Woody Page.

2- I am grateful for my father who raised me with regular jokes in the car and at the dinner table. They were often horrible, unfunny, or too complicated for me to get, but they were a constant part of my upbringing.

3- I am grateful for all the comedians of this world. A few of them might even read this. As Lewis Black once said, “the only thing that separates us from those who wish to see us all perish, is our sense of humor”.

I could not agree more. Laughter may not always be the best medicine, but it goes down smooth and never leaves me with a hangover.

That’s it.  Fifteen 15 gratitudes in 5 days.  I may just keep this up, even if it means I lose a few social media friends.   Ok, one more: I am grateful for the awareness this has brought to me.   Be well… rc

Please take a moment to scroll up and rate this.  Thank you!

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Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I push to STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Courtney Barnett. Enjoy…

 

Desparately Seeking Structure…

He Sells Sold Sanctuary…

I have recently transitioned from a very simple, albeit very structured life in southern California, to a simple yet ever-changing life in Colorado – in pursuit of new structure all the while.

The cornerstone of structure in my life has been exercise, strength training in particular. Since the last couple of decades have found me working out on my own equipment in my own studios, structure has been a non-issue. I have called my studio, The Sanctuary, for good reason.

Sanctuary...?  More like the Thanktuary...

Sanctuary…? More like the Thanktuary…

In Colorado I no longer have my Sanctuary. Hell, I don’t even have a home yet. I have been camped out with good manners and low expectations with those who have been willing to host me, and grateful for their goodwill.

My daily strength training has also been at the good will of others – guest passes and day use fees at local fitness centers and public recreation centers which are numerous in the Denver area. I have even been making use of a small apartment gym at the place I am currently staying.

Despite this lack of a singular and consistent place to workout these past few months, I am proud to have consistently met my workouts, making the most from whatever resources I can find, wherever I can find them.

Lost In The Bally Of Hope…

I had registered online for a 7 day guest pass at a nearby Bally Sport Fitness Center. Shortly after I registered I began receiving phone calls from Bally’s employees wanting me to come in and activate my guest pass. This was to be expected – they are there to make money and I have no problem with that.

Tired frustrated with the apartment gym I had been using, one evening I decided to head to Bally’s to activate my pass and try the place out. I used the navigation on my smartphone so there would be no problem finding the club.

“You will reach your destination in 600 feet” said the voice on my phone. WalMart…? There’s a Bally’s in WalMart…? No. BUT, there I was in the WalMart parking lot having arrived at my destination. I was frustrated and confused. I switched from smartphone navigation to the navigation system of the car I had used to get there. Five minutes later I found myself at the same Walmart with nearly twice the frustration. I returned home for a beer in hopes of a do-over the following day.

Confirming the address from the Bally’s website, I headed off yet again to Bally’s WalMart. Crap. This time I called Bally’s and asked their location from where I was. “Are you on Exposition Street?” the man on the phone asked. “Yes” I said, “I am”.

He replied, “Oh, we moved a while back. We’re now on Abilene about a mile further south. Our website just hasn’t been updated yet”.

ballys

It wasn’t always here, but here it is…

One might think a company worth hundreds of millions of dollars would update their website more regularly. All is well that ends well though, and I arrived at the new Bally’s. It is a gorgeous club. Since it was early in the morning, the young man behind the counter was the only one there and not able to activate my guest pass. I quickly paid a $10 guest fee and took in a great workout.

Noah Time For Old Men…

The following morning I went again in hopes to activate my Bally’s guest pass. Noah, a baby faced trainer/sales team member barely out of his teens was there to greet me. Noah toured me the club from top to bottom but did nothing on the tour to truly engage me. He then escorted me to a computer kiosk where he asked a series of computer generated questions involving my personal fitness.

Let’s be clear, though I am not currently at 8% body fat or in prime bodybuilding shape, it should be obvious to anyone who sees me that I take strength training very seriously and have been at it for a while. This went completely unnoticed by young Noah. In fairness, I did not introduce myself as a career fitness trainer, but I was sleeveless and obvious.

Noah asked the basic questions; my age, weight, medical history, where I thought my fitness level was, what my goals were, etc. I just went along and answered honestly, “I currently strength train 4-5 days per week, ride my bike 17-23 mile every-other-day, and eat very well most of the time.” As he entered this information into the computer a chart came up alongside a silhouette which resembled me fairly well; athletic. The corresponding chart suggested I was in excellent health.

Twenty miles out, and I needed a rest.  Yup, I should probably hire a trainer...

Twenty miles out, and I needed a rest. Yup, I should probably hire a trainer…

At this Noah began to ask me about goals. I explained that I’m in my 50s and that my only goals in exercise are enjoyment and sustainability.  Without hearing a word I said or taking a good look at me, Noah took time to explain that statistics show that less than 3% of people who don’t work with trainers ever reach their goals. However, people who work with a trainer are 88% more likely to realize goals.

I’m not going to question those statistics today. I’ll leave that for another day. What I do question take exception to is what happened when I declined the possibility of working with Noah as my trainer.

Hit The Road Jumping Jack…

I explained to Noah that I had been working out on my for over 40 years and that despite that I see great value in using a trainer for some, I didn’t I feel I needed one. I just wanted to activate my guest pass and check out the club as a potential consumer. Noah explained that since I had been in the club the day before, and paid a day-use fee, I was no longer eligible for a guest pass. My only options he said, were to buy a membership or leave. I left.

I have been in and out of the fitness industry since 1981 or so. Since that time I have been a trainer, in sales, management, and ownership. What transpired with Noah didn’t surprise me, it simply put me in a very bad mood.

This pass entitles holder to one swift ejection...

This pass entitles holder to one swift ejection…

The following day I received a phone call from a different employee of the club – inviting me to come in and activate my guest pass. “No. No thank you” I said. I’ll simply write this this essay, post it to my blog, and send it along to Bally’s Director of Brand Management and await the litigation.

This is just one more reason why, despite my affinity for the fitness industry, I will remain its largest skeptic critic. Be well… rc

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Please take a moment to scroll back to the top and rate this essay honestly.  Thank you.

Please check back every so often to see what happens when I hit the STOP button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there is this from Slade.  Enjoy…

Formative Moment #3,287: Fitness Culture On The Skids…

Love Hate Love…

At the core of my love-hate relationship with the ideal of fitness, is my love-hate relationship with culture itself. Specifically, how society so often manages to ignore the very priorities which should preserve and enhance culture.

Example: Smoking causes early death.

Reality: Smoking is prevalent in society.

lovehate

So what does this have to do with fitness…?

Example: Working out to take care of one’s self is good.

Reality: Obsessing on exercise to the point of ignoring everything else in one’s life is selfish and counterproductive.

This morning I overheard one gym member speaking to his workout partner about blowing off his wedding anniversary later that evening in favor of a 2nd workout – on the same day. Hearing this, I began reflecting on a similar moment I experienced with my own workout partner a couple of years back.

Formative Moment #3,287: The Back story…

In 2012 I had been about 7 or 8 months into one of the better training cycles, and training relationships I have enjoyed in my life. My workout partner at the time, formerly a client, was a female bodybuilder with a great physique and a supreme work ethic. She was also a working professional, the mother of 4, and seemed to have it all.   She and I strength trained together 3-4 days per week, trail ran 1-2 days per week, and dined together frequently.

She was the most disciplined training partner I have ever had. She even planned her professional travel schedule around gyms in the cities and countries where she traveled. She helped reignite a fire in my training life which had been cooling for a couple of years.

If It’s Broke, Fix It. But Don’t Interrupt My Lunch…

One Sunday morning after my partner and I finished a hard trail run, we were on our way to our ritual lunch of Mediterranean salads, ice tea, and patio time in the San Diego winter sun. While driving, she got an unexpected phone call from her husband. Her son, 12, who rides motocross a very high level, had been in an accident and had broken his arm. So much for lunch.

I was a little confused when my partner didn’t turn the car around on a dime. She just continued driving as she and her husband discussed which medical facility he would take the child to. Minutes later my partner and I were on the café patio. This left me feeling uneasy. I was sitting under a palm tree drinking tea with this kid’s mother while he was on his way to the emergency room to have his broken arm set.

What's my scene...?

What’s my scene…?

 

The following day my partner had told me that her son had a fracture of both the radial and ulna bones in his forearm, and there would need to be a surgical repair involving rods and screws. That surgery would not take place for several weeks since his arm would have to set first in a cast.

Formative Moment #3,287: Gulpsmacked…

Several weeks later my partner showed up for a morning workout. As I do with all my clients, I greeted her at the door and asked her how her family was doing. During this exchange I asked about her son’s impending surgery. I was thinking it was scheduled for later that week.

“Oh” she said, “I just dropped him off.”

Just. Dropped. Him. Off.

Now the hospital in question was only a mile from my training studio. The child’s father was with him, and my partner did have her cell phone with her. However, I just couldn’t imagine the mother of a pre-teen boy who wouldn’t want to be at her son’s beside as he goes under a general anesthetic – or at least be in the waiting room. No surgery is a guarantee, but I guess no workout is either.

That moment changed me – truly and deeply.

Yes, she was the action figure every woman wanted to be, and the best training partner I ever had. She was becoming somewhat of a social media sensation, and a local hero for her physique and for her hardcore work ethic. She was no longer though, my candidate for mother of the year.

Zombie Workout…

I sauntered through our workout that day in an almost catatonic state. During my sets I was on. In-between I just looked at the floor and could hardly speak. I was saddened sickened that she chose leg day over her son’s bedside. Yet another person I had greatly admired up and disappointed me, but that’s on me not her. I should know by now the only person I should put any expectations on is me. This was just one more reminder that in life that those who seem to have so much often achieve their success at a price we may never know about behind the scenes.

My relationship with this partner deteriorated in the coming weeks, to a point where eventually we no longer trained together. She caught the CrossFit bug at just the right time, and that’s just as well since I am the opposite of CrossFit. She and I have come face to several times since the demise of our training relationship and have been cordial.

It all looks good -- until you have pass on the beer...

It all looks good until you have pass on the beer — or your kid’s surgery…

At the time she dropped her son off for his surgery in favor of a workout, I was nearing the best shape of my life past 50. That night though, as I took it all in, I ordered a pizza and enjoyed it with a beer or three – and didn’t think twice about it.

Keeping the right fire lit...

Keeping the right fire lit…

Since that day I have continued to train hard – most of the time. I have eaten well – most of the time. I have maintained a fair physique, though I am not where I was on that day two years ago. I knew the second she spoke those words to me, “I just dropped him off” that the fire required to be jacked and shredded would never burn that hot again. I can only hope that my fire to be mindful, and reasonable stays lit, and for the rest of my days. Be well. rc…

   *****COMMENTS ARE CLOSED THIS WEEK*****

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Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I hit the STOP button on the blender in m head. Oh, and there’s this from The Hoodoo Gurus.   Enjoy…