Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Anywherefit 2013: Buenos Aires to Santiago Day 8

Workout of the Day

40 minute AMRAP run for distance

Today was the day we crossed the Andes.  As a mountain lover and secret lover of geographical landmarks, I was really looking forward to this part of the trip.  A run at high altitude in one of the most famous mountain ranges in the world had awesome written all over it.  However, life had other plans.

Our drivers arrived an hour late to the hotel for pickup in the morning, setting us back a bit on our schedule.  But hey, no big deal.  We still have a large chunk of the day ahead of us to get done what we need to get done.  While heading through the pass we are informed that the customs office at the Chilean border closes at 4:00pm and if we didn’t make it by then they were going to turn us around.  That meant we couldn’t risk doing the run in Argentina.  Instead we arrived at the customs line at 2:30 and didn’t get processed until after 5.  Frustrating, but necessary. 

As we passed into Chile we immediately entered a construction zone with 5 mph traffic.  Our drivers informed us that it would be impossible for the bus to stop to let us out until we were through the construction and near a wider shoulder.  Here’s where I began to worry because the light was starting to fade and we had already passed the highest of the peaks.  Over an hour later we were through the construction but the mountains were behind us and it was dusk. 

Finally, I had had enough and told the drivers to just pull over where we were.  From that point everybody was instructed to run 20 minutes up the road to whatever distance they could cover, turn around, and run back.  In spite of the circumstances, this turned out to be a great run.  Sunset over the hills and a summer breeze definitely helped to ease the tension of a tough day trapped on the bus. 

Overall, today was a lesson in patience more than anything else.  When things don’t go according to plan and are out of your control, sometimes it’s difficult to accept the alternative.  The good news is that we are in Chile and have 3 nights and 2 days more ahead of us.  

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Anywherefit 2013: Buenos Aires to Santiago Day 7

Workout of the Day
Establish 1RM of the following Barbell Complex:
1 deadlift, 3 hang power cleans, 1 jerk
Bent Rows 4 x 10
Situps 4 x 20
Handstand walking practice 3 attempts

The only scheduled event for the day besides our workout was an afternoon wine tasting trip to the Maipu region just outside Mendoza.  Since the last day was such a long drive, we decided to give everyone a late wakeup call and not get started training until after 10:00 am.  After a brief conversation with the hotel attendant, Sven and I learned that there were a few options for gyms in walking distance of the hotel, but no crossfit boxes.  For that matter, there didn’t seem to be any concrete options for heavy lifting.  We decided to check out the place that was closest to us first, both because of the proximity and the fact that it was housed in a sports complex.  Turned out to be a good call.

The sports complex housed tennis and soccer clubs, including a pretty sick looking set of stadium stairs that a few of our group took advantage of after the workout.  Underneath the stadium we found the gym: a small cement room with treadmills, free weights, and front desk guy who was willing to work with me.  After a little haggling I got him to agree to let the 20 of us train for the day, take the weights outside in the sun, and lend us a soccer ball for a little game.  Without a doubt, this man gets the award for coolest and most accommodating Argentine of the trip.

In all, we had access to 5 barbells and plenty of weight.  No Olympic bumper plates so dropping was out of the question, but that wasn’t a problem for most in our group.  The nature of the complex kind of forced us to be conservative with the loads.  The best part of this WOD was the location.  We set the bars up adjacent to the stadium stairs right beneath an enormous crest celebrating the soccer club.  The sun was blazing and the sky was bluer than blue.  The more experienced lifters kept circulating to give tips and coaching to those who needed it, making this day one of the most teachable of the trip. 

Upon concluding the lifting we separated into teams of 4 and played some soccer on the mini field nearby.  It was astro turf and right by the street so we did our best to control the competitive impulses, but you could see how easily taken away people get in the current of the game.  Man was this fun.  People were screaming and cheering like they were back at the Bocca Juniors game and really playing hard.  It was a great example of how the best plans are sometimes the ones made on the fly.  Nothing that happened at this complex was pre-determined, all happened spontaneously. 

We grabbed a quick lunch then reconvened at the hotel before getting picked up to go wine tasting.  The first winery we stopped at was extremely commercial, and the most well-known and oldest winery in the region.  It was housed in town on a huge property of vats, museums, and machinery.  To be honest, this was a cool insight into the business of wine making but not the most beautiful example of it.  The second place we stopped could not have been more different.  A family winery that only produces bottles for sale locally, this place was out in the country amongst the vineyards and much more in keeping with my idea of traditional wine culture.  We were led through the different rooms and cellars where the grapes are pressed, sifted, filtered, strained, fermented, and aged.  The care taken during this process is impressive to say the least.  These people are extremely meticulous, patient, and, more than anything, in love with their craft.  The lot of us bought bottles before leaving.

We wrapped up the day cooking for ourselves in the backyard pool/barbeque setup at the hotel.  Easily the most enjoyable meal of the trip thus far.  Ryan, Sunny, Erik, and Ben teamed up to grill the meat and vegetables while the rest of us sipped beer and wine and rehashed the day.  Even the Bocca match doesn’t measure up to this day for me.  Such a complete and fulfilling experience to get to train, play, and learn so much in such a sort span.  Tomorrow we head through the Andes toward Santiago, the part of the trip I’ve been looking forward to more than anything.  Going to be a great run!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Anywherefit 2013: Buenos Aires to Santiago Day 6

Workout of the Day

40 minute swim for distance

The drive from Cordoba to Mendoza was a long one.  Including our stops, it took us almost 13 hours to make the trek.  We knew this would be a difficult driving day because of distance, so we were on the lookout for a lake to stop at and stretch our bodies.  With the help of our drivers we found a place near San Luis that served the purpose.

We couldn’t get the whole story on the lake, but it looked like there was a hotel based at one end and a race track encircling it.  There were some banked turns and stacks of tires designed to keep cars from crashing into the walls, but at the same time it was the main thoroughfare for cars to get around the lake. 

Now, the water didn’t smell particularly good—kind of a stagnant scent about it, but it wasn’t horrible and it was relatively warm so there weren’t many qualms about getting in.  The plan was for everyone to swim at their own pace, whether that meant doggy paddling the entire time or swimming across the lake and back.  A group of about 12 of us started out across the lake right away, some with goggles and some without.  At no point was there anyone in this group that seemed to be struggling with the task.  Sarah Beverly even did the entire distance in her baseball cap, a task I certainly wouldn’t want to attempt.  The rest of the group stayed closer to shore and did stroke limited laps (40 strokes out, 40 strokes back).  Not only was this a perfect way to stretch our limbs after the long bus ride, it was the ultimate “anywhere” statement of survival fitness.  Random lake in the middle of Argentina… go swim across it.  I was really proud of everyone’s willingness to get after it, and really impressed with everyone’s capacity to do so.  I think this day said a lot about the caliber of individuals on this particular trip.

Getting back on the bus after the swim for the home stretch of the drive to Mendoza was like nap time in kindergarten.  Everyone was OUT.  Even just 40 minutes of prolonged sun exposure down here is enough to sap the body.  But, once again, the luxury cruise liner of a bus we were on made this even easier.  Tomorrow we’re lifting and hitting the vineyards on Valentine’s Day.  

Friday, February 15, 2013

Anywherefit 2013: Buenos Aires to Santiago Day 5

Workout of the Day

WOD 1 – in the morning…
3 minute AMRAP:
1 under over
1 wall muscle up

WOD 2 – in the evening…
Back squat with 3 second pause 10 x 3
Sumo Deadlift 8 x 6

Day 5 turned out to be our best day of training yet, even though it also included the longest drive.  Our night in Rosario was very tame—the city itself was pretty dirty and didn’t seem so suitable for a major night out—and allowed everyone to get a good nights rest before hitting a workout early in the morning.  The location we chose was just to the side of a huge, derelict school for teachers.  Separating the street from the sidewalk was a dividing bar with two levels engineered to keep pedestrians from straying into the street while waiting for the bus.  For us it provided a perfect apparatus to climb under and over before muscling up the 7 foot ledge abutting the school. 

The under/over portion of the WOD required a fair bit of skill and technique.  As one watched others progress through the workout you could see their technique improving, evidence that they were learning how best to accomplish the task.  This is the biggest reason to do workouts that don’t involve barbells, the skill set needed is infinitely more unpredictable. 

Because we were so many and we didn’t want to take up too much space at once, we ran the WOD in heats of 3.  This also created a cool spectator experience for those of us waiting our turn.  The locals passing by and boarding the busses were treated to a noisy morning in the street, as 3 by 3, 21 crossfitters created a training playground out of ordinary objects. 

The novelty of the WOD made it special, but the intensity made it legitimate.  Any time the workout lasts 3 minutes or less it’s like you are given permission to go full speed without consequence.  That’s what we saw this morning: everyone going balls to the wall for 3 minutes without fear of not finishing the workout.  I, for one, was crushed at the end. I completed 24 rounds of the workout and needed a solid dousing of water to assuage the headache that was fast approaching.  Erik Hayes also finished 24 rounds, only he made it look a lot easier than I did. 

We covered 400 kilometers in the bus on the road to Cordoba, crossing mostly plains and crops.  If it weren’t for the comfort of the bus, the drive itself would be tough to stand with so little to look at.  As it is, people are just racking out and watching movies.  After arriving and checking into our hotel I discovered that because it was the 2nd day of carnaval nothing was open.  We had originally intended to drop into a Globo Gym for a heavy lift, but plans had to be altered.  The hotel clerk offered the hotel’s gym up as an alternative so we went up to check it out.  There were two bars, neither of which were Olympic size.  Actually, they looked more like a bar you’d find in someone’s garage; the ones with the plates that have really small holes and no collars.  Ingenious adapters that we are, we decided to run the strength WOD in heats of 4 every 30 minutes, therefore cycling everyone through the 150 square foot facility in a little over 2 hours.  There was no squat rack so we loaded the weights on the bar and hoisted it up for each lifter.  To avoid unnecessary lifting we organized the heats by comparable strength.

Man, if this didn’t turn out to be an awesome workout!!!  Antiquated equipment, rooftop of a hotel at sunset, and a broken air conditioner.  Needless to say it got real gritty during this one, but everyone loved it.  The 3 second pause squats were a great technique enforcer for those with depth issues and the sumo deadlifts a perfect assistance finisher.  I expect the group to be sore and happy in the morning from this. 

For dinner we shot down the street to a local restaurant and were served what appears to be a customary argentine platter of meat, being that we’ve received similar variations of it the past 3 nights.  Steak, blood pudding, chicken, pork, sausage, intestine, and ribs.  Add some fries and salad on the side and there you have it.  With the exception of the intestine, this has been consistently delicious.  Just that bit is a little chewy and hard to get down. 

Tomorrow we leave for Mendoza, a whopping 600 kilometers to the southwest.  We should finally get out of the flatlands and see some true South American terrain, as well as make a pit stop for a swimming WOD a little over halfway.  After tonight’s lifting, I think that’s exactly what we need.

Anywherefit 2013: Buenos Aires to Santiago Day 4

Rest Day

Skill Session

Because we couldn’t make it in to Tuluka for the skill session last night, we decided to squeeze it in this morning before packing things up and moving on to Rosario.  Again, I can’t say enough about the hospitality of the coaches and members at this gym.  They very graciously partitioned off a section of the gym for the 20 of us to work on a variety of skills including muscle ups, handstands, and Olympic technique.  Depending on where each individual’s weaknesses lay, all were working on different progressions.  And with great success!  Kelly got her first unassisted handstand, Sebastian and Ryan their first muscle ups, and Des learned how to clean for the first time.  The idea behind the session was to give everyone an opportunity to practice movements without intensity in order to learn.  Nothing super heavy, no large sets.  Just training the brain to accept new commands and perfect them. 

After a quick lunch back at the hotel, we said our goodbyes to Palermo and Buenos Aires and walked outside to where the bus was parked.  And then it happened…the moment of surprise and excitement that Sven and I had been hoping for.  This was no ordinary bus.  Awaiting us was the Royal Suites, a 26 seat, double decked lazy-boy on wheels.  Each seat reclines fully to flat and comes equipped with a tv monitor, headphones, and a list of movies, shows, and music options.  Everyone also has double sided curtains if they want to shut out the outside world.  It’s literally the nicest bus I’ve ever been on, and now it’s going to be our primary home for the next 5 days and nearly 1900 kilometers as we make our way across the continent.  

Anywherefit 2013: Buenos Aires to Santiago Day 3

Workout of the Day
Zercher Squats w/ partner 3 x 10
Good Mornings w/ partner 3 x 10
Team Relay:
Bear crawl
Broad jump
Left foot jump
Right foot jump
Back peddle
Reverse bear crawl
Reverse broad jump
Reverse left foot jump
Reverse right foot jump
(authorized rest positions: plank, bottom of squat, leg raise)

The morning of day 3 everyone was still buzzing from the night before.  But between the soccer match and Matt’s birthday celebration, there was some alcohol to be sweated out.  We took to a different park in the city to attempt some lifting using partners as resistance.  I’d never done zercher squats or good mornings with a person before… challenging on both parts.  If the person being carried really hold on tight the zercher squats actually feel pretty comfortable balance-wise.  Imagine a husband carrying his wife then squatting her 10 times and you’ll get the picture.  Then imagine his bride is a 100 kg Englishman and you’ll be in my shoes. 

We tried a couple different loading variations for the good mornings, but decided that the fireman carry was the best placement.  One arm under a leg and the other arm under an arm, again with the most important aspect being the carried person’s ability to hold on tight.  Both of these exercises are a challenge whether you’re lifting or being lifted. 

We followed it up with a bodyweight relay to finish things off.  The wrinkle in this relay was that each leg required people to travel down 10 steps, around a bend, then back up a different 10 steps.  Our reasoning for including the stairs was to increase the coordination demand during crawls and jumps.  It would also necessarily slow people down and force the workout to last longer, giving us the needed time in the heat to sweat out the toxins.  This turned out to be really grueling!  It kept getting hotter and hotter as the workout wore on, and the jumping sets in particular were a real challenge.  Turns out nobody really practices jumping backwards.  Go figure.  During the authorized rest periods (the time you were waiting for your teammates to finish their legs of the relay) people were seeking out the shady areas to hold planks, squats, and leg raises.  By the end, all teams were soaking wet and spread out across the grass. 

With a great workout in our wake, the entire group headed into San Telmo for the afternoon to enjoy one of the world’s biggest street markets.  To get there, we did what every traveler must do—sample the local public transport system.  After a short walk, the entire group descended into the tunnels beneath the city and boarded the subway train for the city center.  I have to say I was pretty impressed with the condition everything was in.  Even though everything here is exceedingly hot, the air in the tunnel wasn’t uncomfortable.  The system was easy to understand so any fears of getting lost and popping up somewhere in the slums of Buenos Aires were quickly put to rest. 

San Telmo is Buenos Aires “old district,” and used to be home to the city’s elite.  While most of the wealth has moved into La Recoletta, San Telmo still retains the history and charm of the old days, not to mention a market that stretches for miles.  No joke, we started walking from La Casa Rosada (Argentina’s equivalent of the white house, only pink) and didn’t stop for an hour.  There was live music, fresh barbeque, and more fedoras, sunglasses, and knives than I’ve ever seen in one place.  The demand for these items must be abnormally high in Buenos Aires because every third or fourth merchant was peddling them.  As in any foreign country, it was a cool and authentic experience to walk amongst and negotiate with some locals. 

The original plan had us going back to Tuluka for a skill session in the evening, but by the time we got back from San Telmo I could tell everyone was pretty exhausted.  Instead, we went out to dinner just around the corner from our hotel and walked about Palermo for a few drinks before calling it a night.  I have to say that of all the areas we have explored in the city to this point, Palermo has the most appealing character for me.  It is covered by a canopy of tall trees, offering shade on almost every street.  There seems to be restaurants and bars at every corner, but not in the often obnoxious manner you’d expect from a city this size.  Places appear quaint and inviting, rather than loud and repellant.  Something about the architecture and greenery give this neighborhood an urban/tropical feel, similar to areas of New Orleans.  In short, I love it here and will be sad to leave in the morning.  Although I’m excited to explore more of Argentina, I know that we could spend all 10 days in Buenos Aires and still only have scratched the surface.  

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Anywherefit 2013: Buenos Aires to Santiago Day 2

Workout of the Day

WOD 1 - in the morning...
Partner 1 - complete 23 floor press, 23 push press, 23 jerks
Partner 2 - AMRAP 23 HSPU, 23 pullup, 23 situp until P 1 finishes
Switch when ready.

WOD 2 - in the afternoon...
10 rotational throws each side
10 chest throws
10 clean throws forwards
10 clean throws backwards

WOD 3 - in the evening...
La Bocca Juniors futbol match!!!!

For training on Day 2 we spent the morning at CrossFit Tuluka.  Very hospitably, they opened their doors to our group and allowed us to rope off a small section of their box for a special workout to celebrate Matt Mizinski's 23rd birthday.  Everyone partnered up with someone of similar strength, decided an appropriate weight for the pressing complex, and jumped into it.  Because we were working alongside the regular class, we didn't have access to a main clock, making this one more for completion than for time.  The idea behind the workout was to make the weights heavy enough that one couldn't breeze through 23 unbroken reps of everything.  Rather, sets of 3-5 were intended to make it feel more like a strength workout rather than a conditioning one.  After yesterday, we didn't really need another lung burner.

Hardest part of this workout is definitely the push press.  It's so easy to want to re dip and jerk the bar up, so staying tight and tall in spite of this urge is difficult.  Also, if you're partner 2 you're coming into these sets after already having done quite a bit of handstand pressing and pullups.

The atmosphere was great in Tuluka for the workout and the coaches very friendly and accommodating.  It's got some of the best interior signage I've ever seen in a crossfit box, with arguably the coolest signature logo.  Well, maybe 2nd coolest.  Definitely a great experience training there and looking forward to stopping in again before we leave B.A.

We had a free afternoon with an optional 2nd workout to take place around the corner from our hotel.  Sven had spotted an old demolition site on our run to the park yesterday and rallied 12 of the group to go throw stones in the yard.  Using different size boulders and blocks, everyone made attempts at throwing the objects overhead, sideways, from the chest, and for height.  The idea was to train power production with non-traditional objects.  I had to miss this excursion, unfortunately, but as they were almost finished a couple of local police officers popped in to see what was going on.  In no time, they had the entire group up against the wall threatening to take the whole lot to jail.  Turns out they were just looking for a bribe.  So, when it was discovered that no one had money to give them, the group was turned loose with a stern warning and a great story.

But even this excitement couldn't prepare us for what was to come in the evening.  On a whim we agreed to purchase tickets to the Bocca Juniors futbol match versus Quillmes.  Included in the ticket price was bus transportation to and from the stadium, beers and pizza at a nearby bar beforehand, and the bleacher seats in the craziest section of the stadium.  Now, I've been to a few soccer matches in my life, but NOTHING compares to what we experienced here.  The game itself was phenomenal: 2-0 deficit within 6 minutes, a blocked penalty kick with 10 minutes to go to keep the score tied at 2, and the game winner off a side volley from the top of the box with 5 minutes to go.  Honestly, couldn't have hoped for a better showing by the home team.

Better than the game, though, was the atmosphere.  No exaggeration, these people didn't stop singing the entire game.  Can't say I know what they were saying but it was loud and constant.  We were fist pumping, jumping, or clapping at all times.  No one sat down--no one could sit down because there was no room to--until half time.  I'm not kidding when I say being a fan of a team here is a full blown workout.  And the sheer noise of it is hard to believe.

From start to finish we were on this adventure for approximately 7 hours, but I wouldn't trade it.  Such a cool experience.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Anywherefit 2013: Buenos Aires to Santiago Day 1

Workout of the Day

6 rounds for time:
24 air squats
24 pushups
24 walking lunges
500 meter run

After what can only be described as a flight nightmare, I finally arrived in Buenos Aires on Friday and met up with the group.  Originally planning to arrive Wednesday on standby, a broken plane, overbooked flights, and a northeastern storm made this the earliest possible arrival.  Thankfully, nobody  else had any issues getting here and by the time I had myself organized at the hotel everyone was ready to roll.

The weather is HOT.  It's averaging around 95 degrees Fahrenheit and it's humid to boot.  Needless to say people down here are in a constant state of sweat in the summer.  But coming from the northern hemisphere winter, the sun is a welcome sight.

Our hotel is situated in the Palermo district of the city, characterized by lower buildings and tall trees.  It reminds me of New York's lower east side a little because there are so many places to eat, drink, or listen to music.  The city itself is very densely populated and gives off the smell of such a place.  It's dirty, crowded, but also beautiful and extremely green.  We chose one of our areas many parks as the location for the first WOD of the trip, "Laredo."

Because it's a hero WOD with only bodyweight exercises, this was a perfect way to knock the rust off everyone who'd be sitting on planes for the last 10-15 hours.  We walked as a group for about 10 blocks until we arrived at the Bosque del Palermo, and due to the heat were pretty warmed up upon arrival.  A little preparatory movement and a quick overview of the workout and we were on our way.

Right away it was clear that I had underestimated the effect the heat would have on everyone during this workout.  We were able to find shade for the bodyweight movements, but there was no shelter during the run.  Every interval I could feel my brain getting hotter and hotter as I returned to the shade.  We capped the time at 30 minutes simply because we didn't want anyone overheating, but it was plenty of work by that time.  Some of the faster times were me in 19:00, matt in just over 20:00 and Erik right behind him.

Something I noticed right off the bat on this trip was that there were fewer strangers than normal.  Many of these people have been on Anywherefit before, some even with each other.  That make camaraderie and cohesiveness so much easier.  I expect that will bond will grow stronger as it usually does, but having it right away is a nice bonus.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Fitness Is...


It’s a statement about who you are, what you’ve done, and where you’re going.   Your personality, values, and vision are all encompassed here.  How do you respond to adversity?  Are you concerned about your long-term welfare?  Do you carry yourself with confidence and purpose?  In life’s construction, are you the hammer or are you the nail? 

Of course, a person’s entire character cannot be gleaned from the manner in which they train or don’t train. But their attitude about fitness in general offers enough of an insight to betray what lies beneath.  For example: assuming the survival instinct is strong in all conscious humans, we can make one of two assumptions about the person who does not attempt to exercise regularly:  a) This person doesn’t know that exercise improves his chances of survival, or b) This person knows that exercise improves his chances of survival, but chooses not to do it anyway.  Already the manifesto is starting to emerge: The person who isn’t active is either completely ignorant or he is knowingly sabotaging himself.  More than likely it’s a little bit of both.

Now, I’m using the term “exercise” pretty loosely (you don’t have to be an every day firebreather to be considered active). The degree to which you pursue your fitness isn’t really relevant so long as you’re actively pursuing it.  But if you’re going from your bed to the car, from the car to the office, from the office to the car, from the car to the couch, and from the couch to your bed, you’re either a total moron or you’re deliberately fucking yourself.  There’s no way around it. 

If it’s the former, the solution is simple: education.  Read an article or a blog, consult your doctor, and the light bulb will burst above your head.  If that bulb doesn’t pop, go find a rock and hide under it because you’re going to be a drain on society for the rest of your life.

If it’s the latter, things aren’t so simple.  Maybe an injury or a health condition has you scared of doing too much.  Maybe you’re intimidated by the pressure society exerts on you to be beautiful.  Maybe you’re pinned by the momentum of 30 years of bad habits.  Whatever the series of events or factors may be, the result is you are too depressed, too intimidated, too entrenched, or too pig headed to do what is objectively in your best interest.  This is a cycle that so many people are trapped in and desperately need to break out of.  The scary part is that for most of their lives they’ve lacked the courage to try, or have been so quickly discouraged that they quit before success was possible.  

Honestly, I sympathize with those who feel helpless and burdened in the face of their own deterioration, but at the end of the day the choice is theirs and nobody else's.  They're the ones looking in the mirror with high blood pressure, arthritic joints, and a slipped disc and not doing anything about it.  Really, what does it say about you if your own health was too big a task for you to take charge of?  Now your life is filled with things you can’t do rather than things you can, and as you battle illness, immobility, and injury, your children or a social worker are forced to shoulder your burdens.  In the world of responsible action, this makes you the ultimate buck passer.  And then you hide behind excuses like busyness, career, or bad genetics, pretending that they make a difference.  They don’t.  Your reasons for failing don’t change the fact that you failed, and they don’t change the story you’ve written.  The fact that you make them, however, is a chapter unto itself.

For most of us, coming to grips with a truth like this isn’t easy.  Luckily, by its nature, fitness is the ultimate reality check.  It situates you with respect to your surroundings without bias or restraint.  The fact that you can or can’t do something is an undeniable indicator of who you are as an individual, you just need to read the signs.  There’s no mistaking success/failure, ability/inability, life/death.  False fronts, egotisms, and self-loathing won’t help you lift the bar.  They won’t lower your resting heart rate or unclog your arteries.  They’re coward’s clothing, nothing more.

But, even when confronted with stark realities and undeniable truths, people continually fail to re-trace their arc.  It’s like they’ve ground out a trench in the dirt and keep getting caught on the lip while trying to roll out.  In my opinion, some just lack the courage and desire to truly change.  Others are too comfortable in their self-sabotage and secretly enjoy whining over their shortcomings and limitations.  A few maintain the delusion that they’ll get in shape someday, but that’s all it is, a delusion. 

Perhaps what’s missing for these individuals is a true appreciation for the totality of their “current condition.”  They might still live in a world where information isn’t digested properly, where a salient indicator like failure can be rationalized as temporary or inaccurate.  Let’s clear that up right now.  Actions define you.  Completely.  There’s no such thing as a temporary failure.  If you try to lift something heavy and injure your back, Reality doesn’t report that you’re weak due to long hours at work and a rough marriage.  It reports that you’re weak.  Period.  If you gain 30 lbs over summer vacation, Gravity doesn’t cut you a break for being a first time offender.  It defines you as heavy.  You are what you are in this world—who you were 3 hours ago or 3 years ago doesn’t matter one iota.  What you’re capable of right now is all that counts.  You are defined and re-defined, instant after instant, until you die. While people hem, haw, and wallow in their own hesitations, they ARE aging.  Their body IS breaking down.  What remains unsettled is HOW they manage these realities.  When you turn around and you’re 60 years old in a wheel chair and on dialysis, you don’t have time to re-write the script. 

The good news is that every moment is an opportunity for re-definition.  Every dose of reality is a chance to respond.  Whether you do or not depends on your character.

Perhaps more than anything, fitness is a declaration of what you are not.  1) You are not a quitter.  You’re not content to shrivel and die like every other passive aggressive object on this planet: you’re determined to thrive.  2) You don’t need an easy road.  You understand that the difficulty inherent in building strength is a necessary process that can’t be shortcut.  More importantly, you don’t want it to be.  3) You are not a coward.  Whatever obstacles, limitations, or fears you have in your life, they aren’t enough to stop you from doing what you want to do and living strong. 

This is the manifesto I want to read on the face of every person I come across.  Defiant, powerful, and ready.  Pushing forward instead of slipping back.  Because I know that’s what it takes to live long, strong, and purposefully, and I’d rather not do it alone.