No pressure dude.
That’s my theme gong forward with offering content. One of my biggest issues with sharing my thoughts, videos, tips, ideas, etc. has been putting pressure on myself to put out the best possible info and to do so as consistently as possible. But the fact is, I get all sorts of distracted with the infinite ideas and thoughts that rush trough my mind that I either don’t put out the best possible info, or I just don’t put anything out at all. So, rather than demanding so much from myself, I’m taking the pressure off and just allowing things to flow.
I know what I have to offer is of interest to people. My blog back in the day generated a respectable following, and people seem to enjoy coming to the gym and getting coached by me. So, I’ll share.
And here goes. Here’s a little story about holding back and why it doesn’t help anyone.
Back in 2004 I was graduating college and thinking about my place in the world as an adult. I had written a business plan for a baseball training facility in Washington, DC and was all sorts of excited about how easy it would be to just open the thing up and change peoples lives while getting crazy rich!
Well, turns out starting a business isn’t that easy, but I still had yet to really understand that because things got put on hold thanks to a contract offer to play pro baseball in Europe. So, I continued coaching (that and working on public baseball fields was how I earned money through college) and excitedly pursued my dream of playing in the Major Leagues.
Three seasons later I had “retired”from baseball and was now excitedly pursuing my new passion: fitness. My mentor at the time invited me up to Long Island, NY where his business partner was opening a huge indoor athletic facility. They wanted me to run the fitness side of things. “Josh Courage Training” turned to “Baseball Fitness” under the newly formed “Athletic Fitness”. I wrote a manifesto for athletic fitness and for anyone imbedded in the CrossFit world, it looks almost verbatim to what Greg Glassman wrote when coming up with CrossFit. It had 10 physical skills that I proposed all athletes should focus on improving across the board. This would lead to greater athleticism and that would lead to a higher level of play in their specific arena. I was so excited to introduce this style of training to young athletes as I thought is was a step more advanced than most of the college and pro strength and conditioning programs I had seen and tried over the few years I had been in the industry.
Unfortunately the facility, and my program never came to be. The owner was operating without permits and the city shut him down. And me, a lowly 23/24 year old with 3 years low level pro baseball experience and a music degree could not survive in Long Island without a promise of a job. I crashed on a friends couch in Manhattan for a couple months while interviewing at some gyms and going to a few auditions (now that was an experience for another post!). Ultimately I moved back to DC and got my job back at the huge globe gym I had trained at in the off seasons of ball.
Later that year I found Balance Gym, transitioned all my clients there, continued to grow as a coach, and the rest is history.
So how does this tell a story of holding back? Hell, reading back over it it sounds more like I really put it all out there! Well, I had an incredibly researched and thorough business plan for a large baseball facility in DC, something that didn’t exist at all at the time. I never started that. I also created a business model identical to CrossFit before CrossFit ever really existed. It’s now a HUGELY successful business and it started on the exact same idea I had.
Now I’m not bitter at all about this stuff, I’m very happy with the way my life panned out over the years. And I absolutely love the gym I’ve built and the community around it. What I learned from those experiences early on is that if I have an idea that I just can’t shake, I NEED to act on it in some way! This lesson allowed me to open a gym in California when I didn’t know a soul out here. It allowed me to keep things going in DC for over four years after moving and then selling that business. And it’s allowed me many other smaller “wins” throughout the years that the old me would have just sat on and let pass.
The moral of this story is that if you feel strongly about something, literally anything, act on it! You might fail, you might lose, you might even get hurt. But, you might succeed, you might win, and you might thrive too. You never know unless you put yourself out there and act on your thoughts and ideas.
I’d rather take regular risks and live a life full of adventure and experiences than take none and never grow or change. Doing and being the same thing over and over for the rest of my life seems like the worst possible way to live, to me.
“Get Outside and Challenge Yourself”
The past couple of weeks have been ones of some big life realizations for me. The more I focus on figuring out my health, like my complete inside-out-and-around health, the more I tend to dive deeper and deeper into what it means to live a good life. And I’m sure the closer I get to becoming a father (4 months!) the more I think about this stuff as well!
A big “Aha” moment for me was when I was working through some issues I’ve seen with people in the gym so that I can better approach how I coach and cue them. I was thinking about what drives people, and then following that concept down as far as I could go because people are complex and it’s never just about one thing. What I came to was the idea that we are all driven by a need to overcome things, or achieve things, and then gain acceptance for those things. Simple really. Let me go into this a little further.
When we are very young we learn by both watching and being taught. Every time we do something we are told to do, we get some sort of positive reaction. That positive reaction confirms that we did something that must be good (because it feels good to make someone congratulate us or hug us) and we set to continue to do those things. As we grow and mature, the little things that we got approval for (like putting something away, or brushing your teeth, or finishing our food) become part of our lives and receiving praise for doing them stop. Our parents and teachers give us more challenges to overcome and we begin to seek out challenges on our own as well. And as we grow to adulthood, the same progressions take place. We are given challenges by our superiors and peers, and we create our own personal challenges, or, we SHOULD create our own.
And here in lies the complications of adulthood and the “good life”.
To be a happy person one must both constantly be overcoming new challenges, and do so purely for the process. What I mean by this is that as an adult, pursuing new challenges just to gain praise will leave you unsatisfied in the end because praise is fleeting and surface level. Sure, it will feel good in the moment, but that moment will pass quickly and you’ll be left desperately seeking out more and more praise and acceptance. The other part of this is the slow decline in pursuing challenges. I see this mostly in people who were not pushed as children and teenagers to overcome things. People who were sheltered growing up tend to avoid challenges on a more regular basis. This turns into complacency, and this in turn becomes pretty depressing. You ever meet someone who is always talking about things they did a long time ago? Or you ever meet someone who is constantly using typical every day stress as a reason to take some sort of “reward”? Yeah, those people tend to be pretty damn unhappy and it’s because they’ve avoided challenges for so long they have no idea how life changing and positive that process actually is. So then they turn to the need for only approval. And worse than the first type of person (the one who takes on challenges just for approval) these people demand approval for nothing. It’s sad.
Truly happy people take on challenges and create challenges because they know the process of overcoming them is where the growth and change happen. Yes the finish is great, and yes receiving praise is great, accept those with pride and enjoy every second of them. They are additional little kicks to keep you going. But the true reward for taking on challenges, the thing that allows you to grow as a human and continue to grow your whole life ultimately bringing you more and more happiness, is the challenge itself. It’s the struggle. It’s the working through things to figure it out, that’s where you learn and get to know more and more about yourself. Yeah, it sucks a lot of the time, because it’s HARD. You actually have to put in work, and there’s always the threat of failure. But growth will NEVER happen without it.
And in the end, whether you succeed or fail, you have tons of new information about yourself. Now you get to take all that new information and prepare yourself for another one. Because now you’ve taken a small step towards being a better person. And constant steps mean a healthier, happier, better life.
What’s one of the worst things in the world? This is going to be a smack in the face to a LOT of people, but sometimes the truth can be a bit “in your face”. It’s people who reward you and praise you even if you do not progress. Yup, if you come home from yet another “tough day” at work and plop yourself in front of the TV and your significant other/family member/friend says “here, have a beer/ice cream/slice of pizza/cupcake because you deserve it”. That’s a pretty crap significant other/family member/friend! If they tell you “hey, let’s go grab fast food and skip the gym because you seem tired from work and the typical stresses that LITERALLY EVERYONE ELSE IN THE WHOLE DAMN WORLD EXPERIENCES AS WELL. That’s a shitty person.
You don’t deserve praise and acceptance for doing the things you’ve done for years, the things you SHOULD be doing anyway. It’s like continuing to give an adult praise for putting their clothes away, or brushing their teeth, or finishing their meal. Yup, it’s treating an adult like a toddler, and that leads to depression and UN-health because adults and toddlers are very different people, and should NOT be treated the same way.
The challenge is not you going to a job you hate, or dealing with the children you chose to bring into this world. The challenge is eating healthy despite those stresses in life. It’s going to the gym despite feeling a little tired. It’s putting forth a goal to be a healthy person despite all those things around you trying to pull you into being a lazy, fat, depressed, loser of a person, and then pursuing it 100%, no excuses! That's the challenge. That’s where you get the true reward of being better, healthier, fitter, and happier, You get your praise and acceptance that means something too. Like I said, those genuine acknowledgments are little kicks that will help move you in the right direction. Being praised even when you do nothing that deserves praise does not move you in the right direction. It allows you to continue doing nothing and leads you further into a depressed, unhealthy state.
Do you work? Go to school? Have a family? Own, rent? Argue with co-workers/friends? Have bills? have any health issues, or personal issues?
Yeah, so do we all. You are not special in that sense, and expecting sympathy for being another human with typical human problems will do nothing but make you an even more depressed person. And believe me, there is ALWAYS someone with WAY worse problems than you who has chosen to not play the victim and overcome the challenges in their life.
Here’s what I’ll give you:
All the praise and acceptance you could ever want. A smile, a high five, a hug, a giddy excited jump for joy, and a serious look and word of deep acknowledgement.
I’ll give you all of that if you commit to CONSTANTLY pursuing new challenges to overcome DESPITE the universally shared shiftiness of the world. I'll also constantly offer up new challenges for you to pursue, I like doing that!
For some this means wiring down their food every day and making some small changes. For others it means going from completely sedentary to going for a walk every day. For others it’s consistently showing up to the gym, and others it’s choosing events to train and prepare for. You see, there’s no one thing that pushes everyone towards happiness. Just one concept. And that is to always be challenging yourself to something NEW. If it's a little scary, intimidating, something that gives you pause, good. You know you’re on the right track.
Don’t expect praise for showing up once. Don’t expect a high five for eating healthy a few times per week. You sure as hell won’t get any sympathy if you say you don't "have the time” to make healthy choices. And unfortunately enough people have done this over the years that I’ve moved from just not responding to putting you in your place.
Change your perspective. Decide you want to be healthy, fit, and happy. Its going to be a challenge every, single, day. And every step you make in that direction, the challenges will become harder. That’s the point! You’ll learn to love the process because the process is what makes you healthy, fit, and happy. You’ll get your praise and acceptance too. And you’ll know you earned every bit of it because it will be for something real, something you worked your ass off for. And that will make it that much easier to take on another challenge, and another, and another. And soon enough, you’ll be someone who seems out challenges, who welcomes the struggle because you’ve been able to change your mind and your perspective on how to be a happy person.
Never Stop, GET FIT.
This is a bit of a specialty of mine because nature is my number one de-stress of all time. I can literally feel my body relax and begin the recovery process as I drive out to the woods. And once I’m there, most worries, anxiety, anger, and everything else negative just washes away. I’m actually writing this in a hammock in one of my favorite places in the Bay Area, Moss Beach. It’s an eerie cyprus and eucalyptus forrest along a bluff overlooking the Pacific. I come here to relax, and sometimes workout.
Anyway, connecting to nature is something that we all desire and drive for, even if some are somewhat unaware of it. From a base level understanding of human needs, it stems from the need to feel “at home” in our surroundings. If we are not connected to it, we will never quite feel comfortable. This lack of comfort leads to conflict in ourselves and with others and that’s just no fun! Through this logic we can understand that connecting with our natural surroundings will offer us the potential for a better life.
The reason connecting with nature is so important is because it’s what exists outside of us, no matter what. Houses, cities, cars, all that stuff we created. But nature was there long before we ever were. That unwavering existence gives it a sort of spiritual power over us. It doesn’t care about our problems, it just does what it does. And when we go out into it we can feel that at some level. There’s a certain calm about anything that functions outside of our own crazy worlds and minds. And this calm is what we strive to connect with. I view this the same way people try to connect with a God. It is an comfort to all the unknown in life. And the more we can connect with it, the more comfortable we can feel functioning alongside it.
Nature is greater than us. Its versatility and complexity is beyond anything we can know, despite our efforts to try to fully understand it for thousands of years. We can do nothing but trust it’s ruthless and beautiful ways as we continuously innovate new ways of destroying it. In fact, the more we disconnect from nature through our own technology-driven lifestyles, the more we’ll struggle. We’ll struggle with health, despite the billions of dollars we put into innovative ways to cure our illnesses. We’ll struggle with understanding connection despite our efforts to innovate new ways to replicate connections (social media).
But one of the biggest fixes for many of our issues is easily accessible everywhere in this country. Just go to the woods, the mountains, the oceans, the lakes, the deserts, the hills, the plains, or anywhere untainted by human touch. Step into nature even for a second and it draws you in to its ancient and undying calm. It forces you to connect with it just by being there. It has functioned similarly for hundreds of thousands of years, and that greatness is something that humbles and relaxes us.
You don't need to become some sort of nature expert and go camping every weekend. All I’m suggesting is that you get outside and into true, unchanged nature once per week. That connection will work wonders on your overall health. I know there’s actually science out there that proves the health benefits of being in nature, but I won't link to that just yet. My hope is that if you believe in what I’m saying, you'll make a point to connect more with nature. And if you never really thought about it, perhaps this will make you think about it and give it a try. If you don't agree, let me know why!
OK, that’s enough writing. I’m going to read a bit and take a little nap with this chilly Pacific Coast wind blowing through my hammock!
People really do suck sometimes.
We trash our bodies, we trash nature, we keep building and expanding because, hell, we can, and “it’s all about making more money!”. Then we buy crap that we have no need for and spend our lives complaining about everything. We don’t need more outlet malls and high rises. We don’t need more fast food joints and fancier cars. We don’t need more ways to disconnect from the world. But we want all that. So we make it.
We leave in our wake an endless pile of sick and disabled and angry people, ruined nature, and a rapidly expanding problem of an eroding earth and ozone, and extinct animals. We are the single most destructive force on this planet.
We hide behind our climate controlled houses and big screen TVs. We rely on our countless food options, our cars, busses, and planes to comfortably take us anywhere we please. And then, because we have everything we want at our fingertips, we don’t know what to do with ourselves. So we bitch to each other about how hard our lives are.
The picture above sums up to me just how destructive and completely unaware so many people are. We get together with our friends, drive in our comfortable cars to the liquor store to buy pre-packaged alcohol in big boxes. Then we head out to the woods so we can “get away” from our horrible lives back home. We then drink in the woods and toss our waste amongst the trees because, hey, it’s cool, and it’s easy to just be done with it.
How many of you define relaxing trips as going to an even nicer place of living than you already have, eating even crappier food than you already eat, drinking more alcohol than you already drink, and being more lazy than you already are?
I’m sorry your life is so miserable.
It’s sad and unfortunate that we’ve redefined what it means to be human. Now it’s destruction in the form of innovation (cities, highways, shopping communities). It’s disconnecting in the form of fake and surface level interactions (social media), and it’s weak, entitled minds because we’ve completely lost the intuition to survive (thanks to big houses, security systems, packaged food, etc). Yet we still want more, want it to be easier, make fun of our friends, say incredibly ignorant things on the internet (or enjoy reading other peoples ignorant statements for hours) and live in fear for some reason.
Now we complain when our internet is running slightly slower because our TV shows won’t load on our tablets so we can lie in king sized beds with down comforters and watch Game Of Thrones. One of the most common things I hear is people whining and moaning about how crappy the technology they choose to rely on is. Do you realize how insane this is? The very things we use to avoid a better, healthier life, we complain constantly about it not being up to a standard we can’t even comprehend. We now expect the computer in our pocket, and the ability to get almost anything we want within minutes to be faster and better!
And what are we all so scared of? Expensive security systems, guns “for protection”, deadbolts, security camera, and on and on. We have all these things and we still live in fear. But what we should be most scared of is ourselves. Most of us can’t run for more than a minute without keeling over out of breath. Most of us would have no idea how to procure food if our local whole foods wasn't available to us. Most of us would take to the internet to express our deep anger and annoyance of not being able to sleep because our king sized bed and 1200 thread-count sheets were not available to us.
Get your god damn hands dirty. Get lost in the woods at night and you’ll realize so quickly that all your insignificant little fears are just flat out ridiculous. We are humans, the most intelligent species on the planet. Yet we scream and run when we see a spider in our house, and crank the heat when a crisp winter breeze comes through. We have become slaves to our creations and lost touch with just how great life can be.
Here’s a thought:
Live in your incredible house, with the ability to control the temperature at the touch of a finger. Sleep in your soft, warm bed. Lounge on your couch and watch your TV. Drive in your car, listing to your favorite music while drinking $5 coffee and pick up a gourmet meal that someone else prepared for you. Text your friends on the computer in your pocket all while looking up a place to shove dessert down your gullet and posting a picture of that dinner you just ate on all your social media accounts. Walk down the paved sidewalk in designer shoes and comfortable clothing you purchased from the mall. Drop into any store at any time to pick up literally anything you feel you need. Visit family and friends any time you want. Join community events and surround yourself with like minded people that you can connect with at any level you please. Do all this, please!
Stop taking all these things in your life for granted and practice a little gratitude. Take a second and realize that the crap you want to complain about is insignificant. That all you’ll do is bring other people down with you in your bitterness and anger. Learn to shut your mouth, smile, and fully appreciate just how incredible your life actually is. Every time you want to open up and talk about how bad traffic is, how slow your phone is, or how much your family, or boss, or employees, or anything pisses you off, DON’T!
Acknowledge the good. Verbalize something positive. And it doesn't matter who you are, you have TONS of positive in your life. You just need to take a moment and remember that.
And most of all, know that complaining about things YOU chose to have in your life makes you an asshole. It’s cliche, but think about what your life could be like in a third world country, or if it was 1000 years ago. Think about what would happen if you lost it all. Maybe for a second you can realize just how good you have it and maybe your life won’t be as miserable as it is.
Yes I'm angry. But I'm also so incredibly grateful that I have the ability and a platform to reach so many people and make them think. I was able to get pre-warmed soup, drive out to the woods in my warm clothes and meditate for a while. I walked away from that trashed area and got lost in the incredibly peaceful woods deep in the hills of the northern Santa Cruz mountains, it was perfect. I get to do that almost any time I choose. I am so lucky to be able to have access to something that supplies me so much peace. When I got back to my car I sat against a tree with my iPhone and wrote all this out before driving back into society. I got caught in traffic, I barista messed up my coffee order, and a few people acted out a bit at the gym during evening classes. Those things bothered me but that's not what took over my day. The overriding feeling I had going to bed was gratitude. I am thankful every day for all the good in my life. I hope all of you can take a moment and be thankful as well.
And for the love of god, pick up your trash!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
You know what, the world isn't angry, the people are angry. There is so much anger in the world it's sometimes overwhelming. But it's not new, people all over the world have been angry for as long as we know.
Anger is an emotion that gets a reaction. We all feel it, every single one of us. We all see anger around us, every single day in some shape or form. And most of us have no clue what to do about it. Interestingly enough, anger in one usually inspires anger in the people around them, it's just that sort of emotion.
We express anger when we don't get our way, when we feel trapped and not in control. We express anger when our thoughts and ideas are not validated and we are treated differently and less than we feel we deserve. We express anger when we feel wronged, betrayed, hurt, and insulted. And we express our feeling through anger because we don't know how else to do it, and became it forces people "hear" us.
There is nothing fundamentally wrong with anger, it's just another emotion that all people feel and express. What's wrong is when anger is expressed in a manner that hurts others for the sake of our own emotional self-preservation.
When we lash out at another person, or groups of people because we feel we've been wronged in some way, and we want those around us to feel the same way we do.
When we selfishly force our own emotions on others because we don't have the capacity to deal with our own issues in a healthy and productive manner, we make things worse. Always.
This can be said for ALL emotions, even the "good" ones. If you try to force someone going through a rough time to be happy, you'll probably create conflict. Things associated with positivity are not always good. People need to feel what they are going through, and being forced to feel something else, even if it's happiness, or joy, might not be a very good thing for them at the time.
So we all have a choice. Knowing that we all feel anger, we have a choice to learn to express it in a way that doesn't hurt or bring others down. And knowing that others feel anger, we have a choice to react to theirs either by matching and ultimately adding to their anger, shoving an opposing emotion down their throat, or by helping and supporting them.
What you choose to put into the world, and into others, is 100% on you. No other person has that sort of control over you, no matter what you think. If someone is screaming in your face, you actually do not have to scream back. You really don't.
And how do we control our own anger? Learn to express it in a less harmful manner.
If you're pissed off because work is stressing you out, don't take it out on your friends and loved ones, they are your support.
If things are falling down around you and it seems like you have no control, take the time to understand what you can control and accept what you can't.
If a small group of people decide to lash out and act out of anger, don't close your doors on ALL people because of the actions of a few.
Adding anger to somebody already angry NEVER helps or works. Never.
You have a choice. Help yourself and the people around you to understand and grow from an angry situation, or add to the anger and fuel the fire of conflict.
What kind of person will you be?
Never Stop, GET FIT.
A couple weeks ago I drove down to one of the most incredible places within an hour of my house, Castle Rock. This place reminds me of some of the rockiest areas of Great Falls, MD, except it’s up in the mountains (great views) and the rocks and trees to climb range from the pretty easy and basic (kids and people in flip flops climb them) to really damn hard (I got stuck in one spot for about 10 minutes trying to figure out how to get down or up, and serious rock climbers come out to train here).
I love getting outside and exploring. Sometimes I just wander around and find things to climb while I totally relax by connecting to nature. Other times I search for whatever adventures I can get in to. For me, challenging myself is what it's all about. Not only because it's fun, but because I think its important. So, I had three separate scenarios where I got myself pretty nervous, and that is what I want to get into here.
There is this massive redwood that fell against a huge rock-face and it seriously looked like it was deliberately put there to climb. You can start right at the base and sort of spiderman crawl up the tree about 50 yards while using those awesome branches for support. Most of the way up this thing you realize that you are a good 20-40 feet above the ground until you reach the “safety” of the rocks being about 5-10 feet under you near the top. Now I’ve done enough climbing around the woods to not really get too concerned for my well-being on something like this. But it had been a long enough time for me to feel that heightened sense of excitement as I climbed. My heart raced, and my senses got super focused. My breathing quickened and I made myself pause in the middle of the tree to appreciate the feeling. I hadn’t felt that way in a while
This is the one I mentioned in the opening paragraph. It was this sort of crack between two large rocks and I decided it would be a fun challenge to shimmy up between the two of them to the top. The best way I am able to do this is to press my back against one rock while pushing my feet against the other one and slowly leveraging myself upwards. Well, this rock decided to be weirdly angles making that strategy not possible. So, I just found my way up. This worked really well until the halfway point. Here I found myself sort of stuck in a game-of-twister style position, wedged between two rocks about 30 feet above the ground. Yes, it took me a solid 10 minutes of slight body weight shifts and risky hold changes to finally get myself through the top and to safety. That got me pretty scared for a few minutes, along with extremely dirty, sweaty, and scraped up pretty good too
This is the one that got me thinking about fear and how important it is for us humans to experience it. I climbed up an absolutely awesome tree. This huge one about 50 yards off the trail with two massive branches stretching out into the silent forest. One was about 15 feet high, the other about 20 feet. To get up to the first branch I had to do a bit of a trust jump going from a knob near the base of the tree to what I hoped to be a decent hand-hold on one side of the lower branch. Lucky for me it was a solid hold, and then I used what little muscle up skill I have to maneuver my way up onto the branch (again, even dirtier, sweatier, and more scraped up). But the reward was a huge natural mezzanine of sorts that I could actually lay down and spread out, listening to the forest and really connecting with nature. The tree was covered in moss too, so it felt like a super comfy natural bed. I hung out there for a while, it was really, really nice.
But eventually I had to get down. And getting down the way I came up was risky enough that it was out of the question. So, my only option at that point was to jump off the 15 foot branch into a very sloped and branch-and-rock-filled earth below. No problem, I tossed my bag down first (it proceeded to roll over itself about three times showing me just how sloped the ground was there), then stood up and got ready to jump. I froze. Damn. I was so scared!
What if I tripped and fell? What if I landed wrong? What if I got hurt, or worse, what if I crashed to the ground and got empaled by a huge branch?!
This fear very quickly gave way to sheer excitement. I immediately remembered why I love being out in nature so much. And why I insist on climbing things, and jumping off things, and exploring, and getting lost. I crave this fear. I know tons of people out there can relate. Climbers, adventurers, explorers, race car drivers, divers, motorcyclists, surfers, the list can go on and on. The fear we feel in these situations makes us feel alive. It gives us purpose. It trains us to understand our emotions and learn how to control ourselves in extreme situations. Putting yourself at risk, getting so far out of your comfort zone you genuinely don’t know what to do for a period of time, those times are when you learn the most about yourself. Those times are when you become a better version of you because you HAVE to. When you walk to a ledge and the only way down is to jump, you learn to trust yourself, to trust nature, and have faith. Faith is one of the greatest things we can have. It is how we overcome fears. It might be faith in God, or something spiritual. it might be faith in yourself, or just in an idea that things will work out. Allowing yourself to disconnect from all those fears you have learned to have is such a unique and incredible skill. You must believe in the fact that whatever happens in the moments after your leave your feet, you are ready for it, good or bad.
Yes, this is a metaphor for life. It doesn’t have to be jumping from a tree, it could be starting a new job, trying out a gym that uses barbells and atlas stones, traveling to a new country, telling someone you love them, anything that takes you out of your little world of comfort. Sure, you can always measure your risk levels and assess that joining a gym is a little less risky than climbing Mount Everest, but you see my point. For some people, unfortunately, stepping out of the house in the morning is as much a scary situation as it is for others to climb a 100’ foot cliff. It’s all relative. And my message holds true to anyone and everyone out there: these fears are good, and NECESSARY for you to grow and improve as a human being. Embrace them for all their scariness and appreciate every single thing in your life that you’ve had to take a risk to achieve. Those things are so worth it! Most of the greatest achievements come from great risks. So damn it, JUMP!
Back in that tree. I actually laughed out laud. It felt so good to fear in nature. It was a rush of excitement and I missed it so much. I looked around the woods, felt the cool California dusk wave over me and heard the birds chirping as the sun went down. The trees rustled, the giant rocks loomed all around me, and there was not a single sound of another human being, car, or plane, It was perfect. I took a deep breath and jumped.
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Anyone who knows me knows that I love to be outside and in nature. My goal (one that I have not taken seriously enough these days) is to get out into nature at least once a week. This does not mean head to some local park and stroll around, or go for a "hike" an a huge blazed trail just outside of a nearby suburb/ No, it means get out deep into the woods or somewhere where you can't hear cars, there are no houses, and few people venture to and explore. I call this the Outside, or Nature; some call it The Wild.
But The Wild to me is the city. A place completely and totally man made that does not occur naturally. Out in the woods there are things that have been untouched for thousands of years. Places no human eyes have ever seen. Places nobody has trashed, or destroyed. Animals roam freely and do their animal things. Plants grow, rocks sit, and nothing but what has been for as long as we can understand exists. This is not The Wild. Yes, I am aware it is the actual definition of "wild", but I am talking about "The Wild" here, something I think most people have created a definition for.
To me, the crazy man-made urban life is about as Wild as it gets. A never-ending display of human creation and destruction on a daily basis. A complete and total transition away from what this world has naturally given us, to a reliance on only what we have created for ourselves.
This is absolutely Wild. Give me trees, rocks, oceans, mountains, bugs, and animals. Give me nature and I will become the best human I can be.
But that't just me.
Never Stop, GET FIT.
If you were to walk into my massive, spacious, cavernous, 200 square foot Garage Gym and ask any of my athletes what the number one focus of this past summer was, you would hear a resounding “body control” echoing from the rafters 8.5 feet above your head!
You see, one of the main things I have always been extremely focused on, in my own training and with training others is learning more about ones own body. The way I talk about it is body awareness, and body control. But in the fitness world, this is generally understood as proprioception. This is basically the idea of a sixth sense, which we all actually have, some more than others, but we all have the ability to be aware of things within us and around us without really knowing how. I am absolutely fascinated by this stuff and I found, through research and trial and error, that learning more about proprioception will very quickly help you become a fitter, healthier person.
Here’s a little bit about all this works. All your senses are pretty self-explanatory. When you touch something, you feel it, when you see something, your process it, same with hearing and tasting. I really don’t know the inner mechanics of all that, but I know it to be true because I can hear the tapping of my keyboard, I can feel the keys under my fingers, I can see the words appearing on the document and I can taste the bacon I just ate in my mouth! But what about this sense of awareness; how do I have the ability to put my arms, hands, fingers and head in the most effective position for this whole typing fun? Well, from what I can understand it goes a little something like this: your brain says, “arm, move to the computer”, your arm then moves to the computer, then your arm says, “hey brain, I just moved to the computer, give me another game to play!”. This sort of thing happens hundreds of thousands of times a day; think about it, just take a moment and try to comprehend how many movements you make each and every day and that there is a full-blown process for each and every one.
We just take this stuff for granted all the time, but when you take a moment to realize that this stuff can actually be improved, you all of a sudden realize just where you stand might stand athletically. I mean, look at like a pro football player: his ability to comprehend how to change direction not once, but twice, or three times even, all while catching a football, avoiding a couple massive dudes wanting to crush him and this all takes place while airborne. Yeah, that’s body control. The best athletes are the ones who can control their own bodies the best, I mean think about this: if you didn’t know how to put one foot in front of the other, how would you be able to do anything athletically? That’s a bit of an extreme example, but you get what I’m trying to say here.
So how do you become more aware of yourself? Well, one of the quickest ways I have learned is to practice basic gymnastics. Do headstands, handstands, forwards and backwards rolls, cartwheels and on and on. The more you move your body through space, the more you’ll be able to understand HOW to move your body through space. If you spend the majority of your time moving other objects through space (as in: lifting weights…), sure you’ll get strong, but you will rarely allow your mind to connect to the body in an intimate way. I am not discounting the effects of connecting to the barbell, or anything else for that matter, I just think that getting your mind and body syncing is probably one of the most important things you can do for overall health. If that is way too tough to get to right now, start simply buy doing very basic body weight movements (squats, push ups, sit ups, pull ups, etc). To help out even more, do these in front of the mirror, and, place your hands on the portion of your body that you’re moving. What you’ll be doing is using your main senses to assist in understanding how you move. The more you move, and the more focused you are in each and every movement you make, the better you’ll be at those movements! Easy as that!
In the end, it’s my belief that while lifting heavy things is really cool and impressive, the most impressive thing in the world is being able to have full control of your body. Google any gymnast, or Parkour athlete or B-Boy and you’ll know instantly what I’m talking about.
Never Stop, GET FIT.
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