Friday, August 26, 2011

the long answer.

physical fitness and behavior modification.

"so, what makes your gym different?"

its a common enough question, a question that always seems to have a slightly different answer, depending on who asks. but after a good friend asked this very question, and patiently waited the 4 hours it took me to answer to my satisfaction, i figure its about time to nail it down.

the first, simplest, and most overlooked difference is the fact that we define fitness as the ability to perform a task. this has some rather significant ramifications - we set goals. individual goals. personal goals. this means we must understand both where we are, and where we wish to go. the requirements of our desired task, and where we stand in relation to those.

its better to think of our gym as a process rather than a place.

it is important to understand that physical fitness is rarely the limiting factor. ones constitution. ones emotions. ones habits. ones technical proficiency.... these are all important, often more important than simple strength or endurance.

"why then, even bother with a gym?"

we use work, physical goals, to reprogram habits. we believe one can condition integrity. make a habit of doing everything right. make a habit of working hard. of learning how to force yourself to do something that will hurt, that will not be enjoyable, but will - eventually - make you better. we learn how to cope, how we, as individuals, cope. we learn how to push ourselves, how to exceed our self imposed limitations. we learn to be responsible, to own our successes and our failures. to keep what is useful and trim away what is not. we try to understand our conditioning, to take control of it, and to use it to our advantage.

this is done in a variety of ways. pressure. physical, emotional, social. we cultivate this pressure. we use it. we will match up individuals that bring the best out of each other. we will set up arbitrary tests, challenges, even internal competition if it helps. we court failure. we use it. learn from it. it is all information. we use the tools at our disposal to solve the problems we face. blame. bully. bribe. whatever it takes. when the goal is vital enough, we will do what is necessary to achieve it.

this leads us to study relationships. diet. sleep. stress. attention. we have finite time and energy, and everything costs something. in trying to achieve something at the edges of our ability we must accept the cost. we must realize all the little things in our lives that take more than they give, that are not worth their price. these things may still be undertaken, but no sympathy will be given if they sabotage your goals. you made your bed, now lie in it.

training is the artful application of stress to achieve a specific goal. all stress takes its toll, leaves its mark, and shapes us. high level functioning requires a refined tool, free of the imperfections caused by inattention and self sabotage. we do not demand perfection, only responsibility. own your decisions, pay your bill, and work hard. you will only be as good as you make yourself. others can help in the process, but we, ultimately, bear the responsibility for our own growth.

ultimately, we are different because we accept this premise. because we focus on this. because we will use every tool at our disposal to become better, to improve in a real and meaningful way. because we are focused on what is useful. above all else, on utility. if fitness is the ability to perform a task, then it is only right that a fitness program would be geared towards shaping every edge of the self to achieve that goal. to pursue it wholly, ferociously, and honestly.

to work.

-the station

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


it has been 10 days since i returned from the GYM JONES level 3 seminar. i have been chewing on it. digesting information. evaluating. there were many, many, lessons.

the first lesson came early. during the warmup for the 1st workout, doing narrow grip overhead squats i pinched something in my shoulder. my forearm and hand went numb, and now it was time to work - OHS @ 95# and ring pushups. 30 - 20 - 10 needless to say, i did terrible.

it would be easy to blame my terrible time on a slight injury, but why did i end up pinching a nerve in my shoulder? well - i have been working on correcting a known shoulder imbalance for the last 6 months to a year, but apparently not hard enough. working at that gym, with that caliber of individuals, i pushed myself further than i do on my own. i have been doing narrow grip overhead squats, but not that narrow, not that deep....
confidence is like patience. it is not bestowed but earned - bit by bit, moment by moment, and conflict by conflict.

i did not have the confidence to hold back or did not put in the hours to solve the problem beforehand. either way, i am the only one to blame. this is not upsetting but empowering, because if it was my fuck up than it is in my power to correct. i am smarter now than i was then, i have more experience, and am aware of another of my pitfalls.

not all lessons exacted that kind of toll. we did the obligatory "minute all out" on the airdyne, and while i have spent some time in hard short intervals, the 20 calorie jump in my score since the level 2 seminar has its roots in more than simple fitness. there was a lot of hard work done, some hard information digested. some rough moments of self reflection, and a whole lot of ice.

we assign value in our lives. time is valuable because it is irreplaceable. i am crossfit certified. it took a weekend and $1000. i am ACE certified. it was a $200 test at a local driving school. these things were steps. they had the emotional content of getting my drivers license renewed. my time in SLC has weight. it takes time and thought and self examination. it is a hard look into a mirror and a willful choice to be one of the smallest fishes in a very deep pond. i am honored to have the chance to work with such people. there is a level of integrity, of commitment that is exceedingly rare in today's culture. in a world filled with weekend certifications and experts by mail, the focus and demands required by the individuals who make up GYM JONES truly set a new standard. or perhaps a simply re-instituting an old one.

"show up, ask questions, don't quit" - MFT


integrity. habit. doing the right thing, alone and unwatched. un-congratulated. over and over.

it can hurt, realizing you are not where you want to be. where you aught to be. but in accepting that fact a path begins to form. the way to achieve your goals. but you must first ask hard questions, and listen to the answers.

also, i must extend the deepest of thanks to Rob MacDonald, your care and dedication are truly exemplary. as well as the rest of the attendees, i could not ask to be associated with a better group of people.