Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Working HARD

My endurance sport promoter friend Chris Kostman of AdventureCORPS used this quote earlier today, and it got me thinking…
"We choose to go to the moon, and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard." -- John F. Kennedy, Sept. 12, 1962

You have a different gear for fitness? Great. I’m all for it. On that note, sometimes we work and work very hard. There is nothing wrong with hard work in fitness. Sometimes we can all get too carried away with all the corrective exercises, therapy exercises, and in the process, the “work” part gets eroded into some other place.

One thing I really learned while watching the US Marine Corps Volkslauf Mud Run last year was how much people “enjoyed” doing something so hard—brutally hard—with vicious intensity at times required!!! It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t perfect. Technically speaking, many of the people there probably should NOT have done the event, yet most of the people there DID the event and did not get hurt. That was a “real-world” lesson for me…it really made an impression to witness that event. I was pretty happy about it to tell you the truth—and inspired to do more work with folks.

On this note, let’s get to work—and sometimes this should mean HARD WORK. Lots of sweating. Lifting heavy stuff. Pulling heavy stuff. Throwing heavy stuff. Steep dusty trails. Grueling yoga postures. Long leg searing bike rides. Soaring heart rates…yeah…real work…not “foo foo” fitness. Correctives? Sure. We’ll do as much as we can as fast as we can for safety, but remember, the less you work, the less you can work…this reminds me of the Jack LaLanne quote too, “Anyone can die. You have to work at living!”

When people in my business examine movements from days past, some of our best athletes today could not do them. Why? We don’t move as well; we don’t work as hard; we are not as healthy as a society as we were a hundred years ago when it comes to hard core fitness. My college football guys in early season cannot even do a proper push up! Fitness people of yesteryear routinely performed lifts like the windmill, bent press, and many others. It was just what they did. The same guys lifted full lives and stayed in shape to the very end. Today? These lifts are rare because most people cannot to do them anymore.

I’ve been having conversations about this topic with my fitness friends too. It’s time to get to work again! Last night on the news they were saying that 75% of youth cannot pass the Army fitness requirements and that our obesity and lack of fitness is now a national security issue—I heard the same thing from my Army recruiter friend last year and from others in the military I have met over the years. Enough! It takes real work to make big changes. We might as well get started and get over it…you might even like it once you get to the other side. :o)

Light duty work is fine. Will it make significant changes? Probably not. Is light work good? Yes. Is light work great for ramping fitness and dropping significant weight? No. If you want to live a vigorous life—get busy and work hard so it becomes a reality…no time like the present.

For an interesting look into the past so we can hopefully have a future in “strength and vigor” at least remotely close to previous generations, check out some examples on Old Time Strongman’s post about physical training in 1899. Pay careful attention to their focus on “whole body” movements and “strength” with the emphasis upon “vigorous” work—yes—WORK! The photos of old gyms and exercises fascinate me—lots of ropes (not just jumping ropes but “climbing” ropes), Indian Clubs, kettlebells, gymnastic type exercises, rowing machines, bars and old school looking weight plates…and remember…they were VERY fit and stayed fit.

Some of the best minds and bodies today in American fitness are saying that we need to get back to these types of movements—some of them should at least be options for many of you reading this post. We are using some right now—Indian Clubs, kettlebells, ropes, sandbags, and some suspension work with the TRX too plus body weight exercises.


In Sweat, Coach RJ

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