I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I got emotional the other day watching one of those P90X infomercials. I’m not — repeat NOT — doing P90X, but I could relate.
Underground Athlete is a personal training and functional strength and conditioning training facility. They use kettlebell training and other methods. I suppose it’s similar to CrossFit or workout boot camps in some ways. It’s meant to be the best of all worlds based on the latest research and exercise science(?). Take what works and what works best and use it to get results.
So I got emotional because if I just do what I’m doing — go to the training sessions, eat, recover and go about my daily business — I’m going to be much, much closer to the me I want to be.
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I saw a bumper sticker yesterday that said, “If it’s not fun, why do it?”
It brought to mind a recent conversation with someone about passion and only doing things that are fun. Some people’s philosophy is that a good life is just a series of highs or rushes. The search for endorphins by way of adrenalin or even pharmaceutical enhancement, so to speak.
Of course, being older and mellowed by time I brought up things like investment, consequences, reality. Wow, that sounds much more boring now that I’ve written it like that.
I don’t know if it’s a generational thing but I have had a few similar conversations recently. It’s like M.T. Andersen’s “Feed” has already happened. Where everyone who could afford it had a brain implant that made the internet like another limb. Silent chat with a friend with a thought. Constant and pervasive entertainment and blissed out escapism. Access to all the knowledge of the world. But with waning appreciation for wisdom, experience or empathy. Why go to school when you have Wikipedia? Just look stuff up.
For example, one of my nephews wants to do a walk-a-thon. Another said, “Why would you do that? Just go for a walk.”
I said, “It’s for a good cause. You can help raise money for a charity.”
“Then just walk around the block and donate money to a charity.”
“Well, going for a walk around the block and donating money isn’t quite the same as a few thousand good-hearted, generous people coming together to march — to have a mobile party — through the streets of a scenic downtown area and raise hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars for something they believe in.”
In my mind, there is no substitute for experience. Reality isn’t virtual. And you have to invest energy, time and often money to get what you want out of life. That’s the price of pursuing your passion. Of finding your bliss.
To be less poetic about it, if you want something you have to pay for it in some fashion.
Action: Underground Athlete
I wanted to share something with you. Check this out:
It’s only been two weeks — tomorrow is the start of week 3 — but this semi-private, personal training is the probably the best use of time and money that I’ve ever spent. I’m not doing all of the things they’re doing in that video. I originally wanted to take a kettlebell class. That was my goal, but there was an amazing deal on personal training and from the screening it was very obvious that I have some deficiencies. My shoulder strength and range of motion is poor and my legs are extremely tight. My right side is stronger and more coordinated than my left. My hip flexors are weak and there’s a cascade effect that causes all kinds of imbalances and awkward bio-mechanical compensation. Much of that is from sitting at a desk all day for years on end.
Justin designed a program for me to address those issues. The warmups are slightly different for each person. He adjusts on the fly. On Saturday, I was doing a stretch against the wall. I suppose it’s targeted at the hip flexors but my quads are so tight I had to keep moving away from the wall in order to do the intended stretch. He was like, “Man! You are TIGHT!”
Not the good, hip hop “tight” either. I tell him, “Oh crap. I feel it here. And here, too.”
He nods because he knows exactly which muscle or muscle group I’m talking about. If I ask, he’ll tell me what they are, how they’re situated, how they got so tight and some ideas of how to address the issue. Then he has me do another stretch. The amazing thing is that all those suggestions and stretches and warmups? I feel them in the exact spot that needs help. Unfortunately at this point, I feel them intensely. I’m not going to lie. Some of that mess hurts. Straight up hurts.
Paying the Cost
But it feels so damn good to move. To be physical. Most of us sit or lie down for 20 out of 24 hours per day. The feeling of using my body to its limits feels right. It is right.
I like to exercise. I like to jog on the treadmill even though I can’t do it regularly because of the stress on my shins. I love mountain biking and hiking. But there’s only one time in my life when I felt as fit as I wanted to be. It was so fleeting and only lasted a few months. Even so it was an incomplete kind of fitness. I was good at what I was doing and only that. As soon as I did something else, it was a strain. That was a huge disappointment.
I never really did strength training, though. Lack of knowledge, equipment and affordable facilities … and motivation. I’ll add it to the list of things that I wish I had known or done decades ago.
I enjoy it, though. I enjoy paying the cost. It’s not about constantly feeling good or happy or ecstatic. It’s the joy of breath and movement and life affirming exertion and even pain. It’s the joy of pushing yourself past your limits and knowing that you’re building a better you.
I didn’t want to hear this
The one thing that Justin told me that I didn’t want to hear is that the weight loss (the fat loss) is all about what I eat. I’m not trying to bulk up or pack on muscle, but if you wanted to do so you’d have to eat like a horse. I’m trying to lose fat so I have to eat accordingly. Low carbs (except for after workouts) and watching calories still. Taking protein supplements.
Eat what you need when you need it. You don’t need your system swimming in fats and carbohydrates right before you go to sleep, for example. You don’t need high octane food to sit in a chair and type for eight hours.
Luckily, when I exercise my appetite is suppressed so it works out.
I did take “before” pictures. Ugh.
I did get on a scale last week (after only one and a half weeks) even though I told myself I wouldn’t. There was some definite progress. Even a slight decrease in body fat, which I haven’t seen in ages. Today I noticed that I had to tighten my belt a notch.
Meanwhile, I’m just putting it in the rack of things that I do. I do strength training, I go to yoga, I hike (occasionally), I eat decent food. As time goes on, we hope to see results. I’ve been more concerned with recovery to tell you the truth. I haven’t been too focused on the numbers of what I’m lifting and how many reps. I’ve been focused on being less sore and improving my form and … uh oh. Monday nights he does intervals/circuit training at the end of the workout. That’s a ball buster.
Someday, at the end of the 3rd month perhaps, I may post a series of “before” and “after” photos. I’m hoping that it will be impressive enough to warrant it.
And to give Underground Athlete the props they deserve.
That’s all for now. I’m off to buy a FoodSaver.