The Ongoing Battle…

I have invested far too much in seeking precise answers to questions that I know have no clear ones.   Chief among these questions is this…

Just because we are capable of doing something physical, and we can refer to it as a form of exercise, does it mean that we should take that action…?

My formula for answering this question has (almost) always defaulted to the risk/reward ratio.  That is, does the risk involved with performing the exercise outweigh the reward…?

I think I have spent the last couple of decades making what I think are good choices based on using the risk/reward formula, both for me as well as for my clients.

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Even so, there are times when I step under a bar to do a squat or lay on a bench to push a weight vertically away from my body, and I will ask myself if this is the right thing to do.  If I am wrong, and I am wearing myself out prematurely or putting myself at risk then that’s on me.

If, however, I ask a client to stand under a bar, to jump, or even to twist, turn or bend, and I haven’t fully analyzed and applied the risk/reward ratio, not only am I a bad trainer, I’m also an ass.

On the surface, I always feel as though I am doing the right thing, but deep down I wonder, and I guess I always will…  Jhciacb

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If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so.  Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there’s from Country Mice.  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…

Idea Handlers…

First Hopes

I doubt there are many new parents who hope their children will grow up to be out shape and unintelligent.  So to avoid obesity and stupidity, we immediately place our children into structure.  From their earliest days we expose our children to school and to sports – keep ‘em off the streets kinda stuff.  School is required by law.  Sport is required by the law of  perceived status.  So it begins; formation by institutionalization.  It’s hard to argue against structure.  I mean, everything we have as a society we owe to structure, I guess… 

I often say that worst unintended consequence of advancement is… a lack of advancement.  And though keeping our children embedded in structure is a good idea, some good ideas often clash with other good ideas, choking out better ideas still.  As a species, I’m not so sure we’re very good handlers of good ideas. 

When Structure Gives Way To Structure: Back Seat Homework

A weary child sits in the back seat of an SUV while mom navigates the fast food drive through.  The child is sweaty but cooling off.  He is perhaps 7 or 15 years old, or any age in-between.  Dressed in his team uniform, having just left the game or the practice that took place right after school, his mom orders their dinner into the microphone at the base of the menu display. 

Only partially exhausted, they head now to the next game or practice of this two-sport athlete.  The child stares at a schoolbook on one knee, perhaps taking notes on a spiral notebook balanced on the other knee.  This is the room where homework is done – the back seat of the car.  Beside him is the other uniform, the one he will change into for the next game or practice he will be attending.  He fuels his body with a #6 value meal while mom continues driving and texting.

What Gets Lost In The Balancing Act

He may be playing for the love of the games.  He may be playing because his parents would rather see him in sports than in front of the TV.  One of these sports may be the child’s future – his ticket into college or scholarship money.  Regardless of whose choice it is or why, I’ll suggest that many children will only tell their parents what they think they want to hear about all of this.  And many parents will only tell their children what they should believe about all of this.  I’ll suggest though, that there is probably not as much fruitful discourse as there should be about all of this. 

Leadership, listening, learning, and respect; these all important virtues learned from the structure of youth sports.  I believe in youth sports.  I have played them and I have coached them.  I have also spent a great deal of time listening to prep athletes and their views on all of this, as I help them become better at their sports.  As well, I have listened to a lot of their parent’s views on all of this as I help them become more fit adults.  When I attempt to correlate some of these conversations, between parent view and athlete view, they don’t always jive.

Make no mistake I have seen some teenagers handle this multi-sport lifestyle with grace and academic success, as well as success in their sport.  But from my view, it’s not usually this way.  Many who live this life are weary, socially awkward, and conflicted with their parents about how their lives should be lived.

And It’s Not Just Sports

I used youth sports here because it’s something I’m close to by way of how I earn my living.  But this kind of overload is widespread.  It is clubs too; music, drama, and other activities – any avenues which offer the structure that the parents may not be willing to create, implement, or foster themselves.  I mean, we all know that without an overload of structure, our children become junkies and thieves, yes…?

What Gets Missed

“I can’t remember the last time I ate a home cooked meal.”

Those words were spoken to me last year by an athlete I do strength and conditioning work with.  She continued that when she did eat at home, meals always came from a can or box, and that she felt the drive-through food was usually better tasting and healthier.

As parents we emphasize college and we emphasize activity – and it’s important that we do, especially when we view the children of parents who don’t emphasize these.  I am wondering more and more though, as good ideas clash with other good ideas, canceling out other ideas still, when will we begin to emphasize home cooked meals, homework done at a desk, time to play and be social, as well as time to veg…?  The beast of structure has been let out, he’s hungry, and he feeds on families.  As a species, I’m just not sure we are good idea handlers.  Some food for thought…  Be well.   

Please check back in two weeks for more thoughts on the philosophy behind the fitness.  Oh, and there is this from Slightly Stoopid.  Enjoy…