Leap, And The Net Will Appear…

Evil Cohnievel…

A friend recently referred to me as the Evil Knievel of leaps of faith. That is among the highest compliments I have ever received. Her statement arose from my willingness to change the circumstances of my life on a dime, regardless of the potential for a disastrous outcome, in hopes of a positive outcome. I guess I do this on a regular basis.

My friend was probably unaware though, that emotionally speaking, I have gone over the handle bars, been thrown like a ragdoll, and tumbled to the end of the landing ramp on more than a few of my leaps. Even the leaps that look seamless to those looking on, have rattled me pretty good on the inside.

A Snow Cohen In Winter…

I had been shoveling snow at 5:00am on a hateful Colorado morning in February of 1999. After I dug tracks wide enough and long enough for the wheels of my car to pass through the drift, I came inside, shook off the cold, and exclaimed to my family, never again! Weeks later I would be in the San Diego area looking to purchase a home.

That leap didn’t go so well. Less than a year after the move I ended up divorced, broken, and beaten. It was my Caesar’s Palace moment as the Evil Knievel of leaps of faith. It took a long time to recover from the numerous injuries that resulted from that leap; not withstanding that I severely injured two others, and the recovery continues even now for us all.

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Eventually I was healed enough to start a business, make new friends, and put down some roots in Fallbrook, California. For 15 years in my life was on autopilot. I lived a minimalist life with few expectations, and designed my existence to be aesthetic, if not ascetic.

My Fallbrook Home...

My Fallbrook Home…

However on a visit home in May of this year I got a good look at much of what I had left behind in Colorado 15 years earlier. My mother, now in her mid-80s, was primary to this view. I quickly came to realize how important it will be for me to be close to her in the coming years.

An almost immediate decision was made to walk away from those roots, relationships, and even my business in Fallbrook, and return to Colorado to be closer to my mother, my brother, and his children. Leap…

Mammy:  How I love ya...

Mammy: How I love ya…

Snake River Cohen…

I had no idea how I would earn a living back in Colorado, I simply leaped. I had been somewhat burned out on fitness training. I began looking for work almost immediately. Anything would do – I just needed a job to support my leap.

There were many promises of low pay, long hours, and human exploitation. I was beginning to wonder if I would be going over the handlebars yet again – to have walked away from a good life and my own business in favor of swapping out restaurant floor-mats at 4:00am for $15 an hour.

Eventually a high-end athletic club in the Denver area expressed interest in me as a sales manager; a job that would have paid me a good base, with incentives I was confident I could exceed. A smooth landing was in my sights.

Leaving this athletic club, in a city of 2 million people, I took a good look around. I saw traffic. I saw suits. I saw stress. But what stood out most of all, was an absence of soul. I began to question my decision to accept such a job, and live in that environment. I designed my life to be simple, low stress, and pedestrian in a small town.

I returned to the place I was staying, wrote and sent this letter to the Director of the Community Center in Nederland, Colorado – a town I have had a peripheral relationship with for nearly 20 years.  The Director called me the same day she received the letter and we agreed to meet later in the week.

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 Long story less long: I am now in a collaborative effort with the town of Nederland, using my social media and networking skills to promote use of their facility in the community. In exchange, I can run my fitness training business there – so long as there are folks willing to be trained. Leap…

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It Could Be Ugly. It Could Be Pretty…

I continue to be as amazed as I am appreciative of the people, the circumstances, and the choices which seem to have influenced and shaped my life; a life that has changed more in the past 6 months, than in the 15 years previous.

I’m still midair on this one. The landing could be smooth, I could once again go over the handlebars, or it could be something in-between. I know the potential reward. I understand the risk. I leapt. I now await the result. Either way, the audience is sure to be entertained. 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’s this from The Plateros. Enjoy…

Pros, And Cons…

A Kick To The Gut…

The 2nd hit to the chin always seems to surprise me more than the 1st, though it’s usually not as painful. So earlier this week when I read that Adrian Peterson had been accused of child abuse only days after the NFL indefinitely suspended Ray Rice for punching his then fiancée in the face, I was stunned but not in any more pain.

Like many, my immediate reaction was, that’s it – no more supporting the NFL. In an era when crybaby millionaires dominate headlines ahead of more pressing social matters, it has often seemed to me ridiculous to support professional, and even high level collegiate athletics.

It's best not to judge, but if you're going to judge, please be consistent your judgment...

It’s best not to judge, but if you’re going to judge, please be consistent your judgment…

With so much going on in my own life; the more pressing matter of finance, family, community, and self, I have questioned for years why I have invested so much of my time and emotions into the actions of others, solely to satisfy my need to feel uplifted. Quite often, I am as let down by the play on the field, as I am by off the field behaviors.

And then I remember this, “It ain’t the 6 minutes, it’s what happens in the 6 minutes.”

This remains one of the most formative scenes from any movie I have ever watched. A good reminder that we have a very human need to be transported away from the daily articles of discomfort and disdain that bind to our psyches from living otherwise unstimulated lives at home and in the workplace.

A Walk Not To Remember…

When the baseball World Series was cancelled in 1994, I swore I would never watch another game. It took the Boston Red Sox contending for and winning a World Series nearly a decade later to bring me back, but even so, today I follow baseball from a distance.

When the NHL experienced a lockout in 2004-2005, I was beyond disappointed. Not that I was a huge hockey fan, but like a lot of people, I had believed the NHL was the last professional sports league not to be (excessively) distorted and corrupted by greed.

I could dedicate a year to researching criminal offenses by professional athletes, coaches, and administrators, and still not scratch the surface of what transgressions take place in the arena of professional sports. I could also say the same thing about the business world, Congress, and probably the local elementary school. The relative proportion of infractions might vary from institution to institution, but the truth remains that greed, violence, and corruption exist in all walks of life.

Upright Culture On The Skids…

Man has been playing sports competitively for millennia. Whether we’re talking about the ancient sports in Mesopotamia, Mesoamerica, or Rome, there have been two constants in sport; fans and corruption – and the tween have always met, and seem to have been necessary and compatible bedfellows.

I’ll suggest that there may have been as many cheaters and wife beaters in the Native American sport of Pasuckuakohowog, as there have been in Cricket, Football or 3-meter springboard diving. I sometimes have to work to remember that there are many more citizens of good intentions, who are graceful practitioners of their athletic craft seeking only to succeed and entertain, if not to be role-models.

There Will Be No Roycott…

I will continue to watch professional sports for their value to both entertain and transport me away from an otherwise unexciting life. I will simply appreciate the good they have to offer, and look beyond frailty of character which is in all of our collective DNA.

Whenever discussions of boycotts arise during times when violence or corruption are exposed in professional sports, I always try and take a step a thousand steps back and view the bigger picture. I ask myself, who gets effected in a boycott, and what are the unintended consequences. Again, I could dedicate a year to studying that and still not scratch the surface. I will simply suggest that there are unintended consequences to a boycott of any kind, and unintended consequences are the folly of man.

In Artistic Terms…

Many reading this are not sports fans and will scoff at the very idea of investing time, money or emotion into the sweaty jocks of others. They may feel all sport should be boycotted all the time for their lack of artistic merit in society.

To them, I ask only that there only be consistency in judgment. For every person that chose not to enter a Mel Gibson movie on the evidence that he’s a foul mouthed anti-Semite, there is someone else listening to and appreciating a song of John Lennon. Though Lennon sang of peace and love, he had a taste for heroin that is well documented. I can assure you the chain of producing and marketing that drug was appalling, and that Lennon probably knew the steps it might have taken before it reached him – and he used it anyway.

There have been as many creative artists through the span of culture as there have been athletes who have had issues with drugs, violence, and greed underlying their creative endeavors. Many have been forgiven or overlooked because they stood for peace and love, if not for touchdowns. I ask then, with whom do we draw the line…? Be well. rc

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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 my head.  Oh, and there is this from The Allmans.  Enjoy…

Hear Here: A Tale Of Jaw Cardio

Work-out Kryptonite…

For the better part of 20 years I have been able to work-out alone in my basement gyms, garage gym, or in the fitness studios I have owned. Occasionally I have had partners, but for the most part it has been me. Alone. Solo. Smile.

One of the better garages  have had...

Royland, 2003:  One of the better garages have had…

Through the years I have been able to avoid intermingling with lunks throwing weights, unnecessarily grunting, and messing up the place with traces of blood after prying their acne covered simian roid-backs off of the bench press.

I have also been able to avoid clueless cardio bunnies dressed like porn stars, with their ponytails fishing lures swinging back and forth as they stare aimlessly at CNN in front of them, all the while not really knowing where Libya is – and such.

"Like, I know how to make toast..." "Shut up!  I know how to make toast too...!"

Girl on right:  “Like, I know how to make toast…”
Girl on left:  “Shut up! I know how to make toast too…!”

And best of all, I have not had to navigate through the sea of old men in striped warmup suits taking up space as they read the Sunday Times in-between sets of the only exercise they know, triceps pushdown, as they loudly exchange ideas amongst and between them about how to save the world.

Yup, for 20 years I trained in my underwear if I wanted to, listened to audio books, lectures on physics or religion, and only occasionally loud music. My best training partner was the clock on the wall, there was no monthly auto-draft, and the gym was always open – to me.

I have though, maintained memberships pubic gyms – just in case. I have used them sparingly, only on those days when I needed to get out of my own studio for reasons of sanity, or to join my friend Marshal for our lunch time pre-burrito StepMill sessions.

When have ventured into public gyms, I have always aimed my head at the ground, kept earbuds plugged in, and I made eye contact with nobody. All of this to avoid the one person I knew could ruin my work-out, and subsequently my day; Jaw Cardio Guy. You know, that one guy who could carry on a 20 minute conversation about nothing, all by himself, and still hold me captive, all the while keeping me away from my precious deadlifts. I hate that guy.

A face I hope to never see again; Jaw Cardio Guy...

A face I hope to never see again; Jaw Cardio Guy…

On those occasions when Jaw Cardio Guy would be so insistent that we speak, that he could break me from my trance and get me to take out my earbuds just to appease him I would, in very clear terms, make him aware that my time is precious, my work-out is necessary, and his conversation was kryptonite. I’m just not nice in those scenarios.

He-man Of The People…

I’m now working out in a public gym regularly for the first time since 1995. This gym is also where I have the proprietary interest for my fitness training business. Since each person working out there is a potential student, being a dick is not an option. Each conversation I have may augment my livelihood. Notwithstanding, this is my community now and being philanthropic with my time and my expertise is the right way to be.

Still, there remains my desire to be deep in focus, lost in my meat during my sets since strength training is the methadone of my existence. Despite this, if I am going to be the man in this town, I must be a man of the people and find middle ground.

For about a month now I have been assimilating myself into the local gym. I have already met some nice people and a few of them have become students. I have also been dragged into conversations that two years ago I would want or have no part of. Now I see these conversations as human, and am learning how to appreciate them and engage in them without losing the rhythm of my work-out.

This I Have Already Learned…

To let go a bar after a completed set and take a few minutes to answer a gentleman’s question about which exercises might help offset his sciatica, is not the end of the world. He will probably never be a student, but I enjoy watching him fulfill my suggestions, and can see that it’s already helping him.

Telling someone, “no, I’m not using that bench – go ahead” while I’m mid-set of a fairly heavy squat did not cause me to drop the bar, stop the set, cause my legs to shrink, or cause me to get fat. It simply caused me to smile and take an extra breath.

Where I once wouldn't be caught dead talking in the gym, I'm now likely to be found dead-talking...

Where I once wouldn’t be caught dead talking in the gym, I’m now likely to be found dead-talking…

If a political discussion comes my way while I’m doing dumbbell flies it won’t deter from completing my set, any more than it will persuade me to change my world view mid-rep, though it might help me better read the pulse of my community. I will eternally though, label an asshole an asshole if he or she uses the term, “nigger president” as happened so frequently in my last community.

Mostly, I have learned that talking, being friendly – being outright social in the gym can be a very human experience, enrich my day, and will not cause me to lose my gains. Along with work, human relationships are what we are here for. How blessed am I that I get to combine both on a daily basis… 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’s this from Reunion.  Forty years later I still nailed it word for word.  Enjoy…

Stand Up..

I was quite touched when I read this piece by Shannon.  Though the Stand Up TV event is over, cancer remains.  Please take a few moments to appreciate this heartfelt perspective.  Thank you.

Comments are closed this week.

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A guest post by, Shannon of http://www.maybeyoucanrelate.com

a1shan

The picture above is from my mom’s funeral program. The sentiment, “There are no other mommys like you.”, scrawled on the back of scrap paper and presented, no-doubt proudly, by a preschooler 35 years ago to her mom, is mine, but it is a sentiment felt by kids young and old about their own moms.

Neither I, when I wrote it, nor my mom when she stashed it away to pull out and look back on years later, thought it would make its next appearance as a final tribute on her funeral program at age 59. Or that I, her 36 year-old-daughter who had written that note on the back of a drawing some thirty years before, would such a relatively short time later, be making the decision to have it buried with her.

It doesn’t matter what age you are or what age they are, losing a loved one is devastating. Losing them to cancer needs to stop. And some day I know it will. My hope is that day will come sooner than later.

I’m not going to give you a lot of facts and statistics. There are plenty of places that can do that better than me.

I am just going to give you my personal story.

Cancer has touched other members of my family and friends, but never like it did when it hit my own mom two years ago. She had been extra tired, exhausted actually. The summer before, she had an unexplained cough that took months to go away. But, life carried on as normal.

Until she woke up August 14, 2012 with a completely limp left arm. She couldn’t move her arm at all, it simply hung at her side. A few days later the weakness spread to her left leg. Then came the diagnosis.

She had seven tumors in her brain.

December 18, 2012 at 4:30pm, 127 days after her first symptom, my mom passed away.

I am going to be honest. I try not to think about cancer every day. I actually don’t even keep too many reminders of my mom around the house. I have a small set of four pictures propped up on the vanity table where I do my makeup every morning, but other than that, I don’t keep a lot of physical reminders around. The emotional reminders are ever-present on a daily basis. Still. Nearly two years after she passed away.

Mom.

The memories, the happy, the sad, they all mingle together in my head. The shock and confusion of her cancer diagnosis, the physical and emotional struggle of her illness, and the heartbreak of her death, all those memories are hard to handle. Even the happy memories of the past often remind me there are no more happy memories to be made with my mom. So, most times I find myself shying away from mentions of cancer, for my own self-preservation.

But, this year, when I saw the commercial for the Stand Up 2 Cancer event that will be airing on all major television networks tonight, Friday September 5, I decided I wanted to participate. And I wanted to spread the word a bit.

I went to the standup2cancer.org website and bought a t-shirt that I wore to work today. I will tune in to the televised event tonight at 8/7c. I will make a donation. I will remember my mom and other family and friends I have lost to cancer.

There are millions of women, men, boys, girls, toddlers, and babies fighting cancer.

Some will survive, some will not.

Babies who haven’t had a chance to crawl. Boys who have never ridden a bike without training wheels. Girls who have yet to hit their first home run. Teenagers who are just finding their own voice. Young men and women who just want a chance to make their mark on the world. Young brides and husbands just starting their lives together. Moms and dads with young children. Moms and dads with grown children who still see their babies when they look in their kid’s eyes. Grandparents who have lived a long and storied life, and are prepared to go, but should be able to leave this world not in pain.

Moms. Dads. Daughters. Sons. Sisters. Brothers. Grandpas. Grandmas. Aunts. Uncles. Nieces. Nephews. Cousins. Mentors. Friends.

All over the world, every day, people are fighting, living with, and dying from cancer.

I want to keep other families from going through what I’ve been through, and what millions of other families around the world have been through, and are going through every day.

If you have the means, I urge you to make a donation to support cancer research. If you don’t have the means to donate, simply spread the word and remember your own loved ones tonight.

https://www.standup2cancer.org/

As they say on the website, “When we all come together, cancer doesn’t stand a chance. This is where the end of cancer begins.”

I’m standing up for my mom, Melinda, who was my best friend, my biggest supporter, and my favorite person to laugh with for 36 years.

Who will you Stand Up For?

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I’ll be back, far too soon, with something far less important.  Be well…  rc

Lead us not…

Who’s Your Cheerleader…

The standard of what we call fitness has become skewed and distorted. Priorities are misguided, leadership lacks, and followers are not blind so much as they are just subject to a necessary yet almost random faith in an increasingly complex subculture which, in my opinion, is headed in the wrong direction and does not need to be so complex.

I don’t recall where I was or what I was doing when the screaming trainers of reality TV, CrossFit, and Navy Seals became the leading spokespeople for the fitness industry. Respectfully, I get that reality fitness shows may inspire people, CrossFit looks cool, and Navy Seals are good at killing bad guys in difficult situations.

a1sealaa

None of these though, and I mean this emphatically, are helping people who are truly in need of improved fitness, the way those people need to be helped. Nor do I believe they represent sustainable fitness values. They better represent good marketeering, confusion, and conflicting information.

Most people who seek improved physicality need three things in order to achieve change:

1 – A relatable cheerleader

2 – A basic understanding of just a few principles of movement and eating

3 – A schedule of movement and eating to adhere to

When assembled, these three things can serve many more, far more, than a stellar WOD, some bitchin’ before and after pictures, or a screaming trainer in an unsustainable boot-camp workout. Not that anyone is in compliance with these for the long-term anyway, but that’s my point.

It just seems that people are placing their fitness faith on all the wrong shoulders, all the while overlooking some simple principles and not-so-difficult decisions that are much more useful for changing their physicality than the trends, promises, and good marketeering that dominate the fitness culture of today.

From Confucius to confuse us…

It is a 3,000 year old Confucian ideal that we have a responsibility to take care of ourselves on behalf of our families, our employers, and our communities. Society simply functions more efficiently and at a higher level that way. Relinquish our physicality as a collective, and things begin breaking down proportionately as a society.

a1confu

This in no way is me being judgmental of those who have lost or decreased their physicality. A quick glance of our culture though, will quickly illuminate a growing disparity. We just have an increasing segment of the population on their way the gym for an unsustainable workout screaming, go big or go home! Yet we have another increasing segment of the population eating moon pies, shooting insulin, and looking for a way out of those behaviors, but looking primarily to the go big or go home set for inspiration. The middle class of fitness is disappearing.

Buddhabuilding: The Middle Path…

At times I have been guilty at being extreme with my personal fitness. Rarely though, unless requested and paid appropriately, have I ever preached or led a client down an extreme or unsustainable exercise path. One of the things that attracted me to the ideal of recreational bodybuilding to begin with is that it’s an old person’s endeavor. Strength training can enhance a quality of life, while also prolonging it, though I see few people or entities teaching strength in moderation these days.

a1budd

I would love to see those who don’t exercise do more of it, and eat a little better. I truly believe that would serve our society better. I would also like to see those who lead do a little less screaming, a little less boasting, and be a little more mindful of their leadership. And for those who truly are seeking leadership to help motivate and improve their fitness, I beg you, please let sustainability be the cornerstone term in your search. 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’s this Prine cover from Stu Larsen and The Once. Enjoy…