Tag Archives: life

Workout Update: My plan is working!

I told someone the other day, as you get older, you always have something going wrong with your body. One day its a shoulder, the next its a knee. You just never know. But I know some young folks who are the same way, so its not exclusive to aging.

Today, I have zero issues. I am so happy for that. Yeah, maybe I’m not admitting to a lingering thing here or there, but nothing comes to mind as far as injuries.

I attribute much to my current lifestyle. I am working out intuitively and “playing” a lot more. Here is what a common workout looks like for me:

CARDIO
I often start (sometimes finish) my workout with a Heartbreaker WOD (workout of the day). For me, its always 21-15-9 repetitions of a couplet or triplet. They usually have a bodyweight movement or cardio aspect included. Here is a list of common exercises:

Strictly cardio: run, row, ski-erg (all for calories)
Bodyweight stuff: box jump, jumprope double unders, burpees, pullups, pushups, situps
Other ideas: med ball slams, wall balls, thrusters, Romanian deadlifts

Example: 21 calorie ski-erg, 21 kettlebell swings, 15 ski, 15 swings, 9 ski, 9 swings

OLYMPIC WEIGHTLIFTING
I listened to a podcast the other day and it rocked my world. Instead of following the common template of snatch work then clean & jerk work in the same day, you split the movements alternating every day (or session). So every other day I do one or the other type of movement. Here are some examples:

Snatch day: snatch (singles, doubles, …), pauses, hangs, presses, pulls, angel drops, Sots press, snatch balance, snatch from blocks, overhead squat, muscle snatch,…

Clean & Jerk day: c&j (1x, 2x, 3x,…), pauses, hangs, jerks, complexes, blocks,…

This has helped me spend more time on a movement and lets me do other things too.

ACCESSORY
This could include a CrossFit WOD. Or it could be a CrossFit skill to work on, like muscle ups, handstand pushups, pistols, etc… I may do Strongman, like yoke squats, farmer carries, or Atlas stone shoulders. Or it could be straight up BodyBuilding, which is becoming a favorite. The interesting thing about Bodybuilding is that it is done strictly with quality. It is opening up tightness and weakness that my other work doesn’t cover. And lastly, I may do powerlifting. I bench press at least once a week. Trap bar deadlifts is a staple of mine and I do this nearly daily. And squats are central to Olympic lifting.

PLAYING
Its good to live life outside of work and “working-out”. One of the central points in CrossFit is to play sports. It is what makes all the hard work functional. I often Hula Hoop as a warmup or just for fun. Belly hooping gets the heart going and makes you move in ways that opens your body. But also playing and dancing with the hoop in many ways is fun. I have a Pole, so I do some pole work often, which is fun and adds lots of strength and flexibility to the routine. Stand-up Paddle Boarding, running, biking, kayaking, slack-lining, yoga aerial swings and silks, and many other activities. And actually working outside, like trimming trees, mowing the lawn, building something, all uses muscles in different ways. And of course, I play yoga all the time. I teach yoga, I participate in online challenges, and I take as many classes that I can. It is central to all that I do. Self care with self massage or getting massages from a professional rounds it all out.

Be healthy and find what works for you. Maybe you don’t devote an hour or two every day, but maybe its 15 minutes of something that makes you feel good. Take the time to enjoy life.

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Responsible Ownership

This could include anything that could cause harm to others. That is, a car, propane tank, knife, internet usage, relationship, hammer, welding torch, …

But in this context, I’m talking about firearm ownership. Whether you believe its a useful tool or not, here are a few things that come to mind. Mind you, the reason I write this was because of something I saw on an Instagram story post:

The video showed someone looking over the sights of a handgun pointed at and following an individual. The caption said “Should I?” I think it was meant in a joking way, but to me, it wasn’t a joke at all. Not only did she point at the person, but she had her finger on the trigger!!!

There were two immediate problems with what I saw. Here are two rules that should be obvious to most people with a little bit of common sense:

  1. Never point a weapon (handgun, nail gun, slingshot, BB gun,…) at something or someone that you might harm. Don’t even do it jokingly. You always assume a weapon is LOADED regardless if you triple checked it to be unloaded. Never EVER point unless you plan to shoot.
  2. Never put your finger on the trigger until you are ready to fire the weapon. That means your finger should be pointed forward along the weapon and not on the trigger until the very moment you plan to fire. This has a major role in preventing accidental discharge.

Along with these rules, here are a few things I’ve been thinking about:

  • I am for the 2nd Amendment. But insuring a proper licensing process that excludes felons, minors, people with a history of domestic abuse, sex offenders, and others is an important step in the process. Every gun owner should have a FOID first (Firearm Owners Identification Card). This includes a screening process and an FBI background check. People who don’t know what their talking about think that anyone can easily get a firearm. This is not true. Then possibly a Concealed Carry permit only for those trained to safely use a firearm.
  • Always make sure a firearm is SECURED. This means securely on your person, locked in a safe and put away out of sight in a vehicle, or in a locked safe at home. Its an owners responsibility to prevent theft and take guns off the street out of the hands of criminals and minors.
  • Don’t be a HERO!! This was said over and over in my classes. Because you have a weapon does not mean you turn into the police or a good Samaritan for every situation. Find safety for yourself and family first, then call 911. Your weapon is only a last resort should all else fail.
  • AVOID – don’t get into violent situations. Don’t go to bars looking for trouble. Don’t carry to a pickup game of basketball where emotions can rise. Don’t carry to a party. Most of these things are against the law anyway. You don’t carry in those places. If a situation arises, AVOID the situation. Don’t get involved. If you are involved in a road rage incident, keep your windows up and drive away. Don’t honk and shout profanities. That only puts you into a fight.
  • DE-ESCALATE – if you are subject to a road rage incident or other situation. Make every attempt to soften the tensions. Tell them they are right and walk away. You know you are safer because you have a weapon. Don’t let your bravado get you into a situation. Walk away!
  • There isn’t a safe WARNING SHOT! I saw on the news where a person was prosecuted for getting involved in a situation they shouldn’t be involved in. They fired a warning shot to stop the altercation. It turns out it was two (black) mental health workers trying to secure an escaped (white) mental patient. There is a lot wrong with that. A warning shot can ricochet; a shot in the air means a bullet can come down anywhere; and it causes undue fear in the population. Not a single concealed carry class would encourage warning shots. Don’t do it! It is illegal and you will get prosecuted.

Having a firearm shouldn’t make you more brave than if you didn’t have one. But it gives you security so that you are not a sheep waiting for slaughter. If someone threatens your child or spouse with deadly force, then you can respond with the same and not feel totally helpless. If you are against overwhelming odds in a bad situation, at least you have the ability to defend your right to live. But you are not a hero, you aren’t looking for fame, and you don’t show off your weapon or tell everybody you are carrying. Those are the people who shouldn’t carry. There was a report of a lady police officer who’s weapon accidentally discharged and killed an 11-year old sleeping in his bed in the next room. She was off-duty at a party with friends, drinking and joking, and for some reason decided to pull out her weapon to play with it and show off. Those are people who shouldn’t have weapons. If you do it right, nobody will ever know you carry. You don’t talk about it. You don’t show off. Its a serious matter that only will ever show up in a life or death situation. And hopefully that never happens.

Nearly all victims of rattlesnake bites are young men. Instead of avoiding a poisonous snake, they feel like they need to be macho and play with it. Most women are smart enough not to do that. So its stupid people who end up paying the price. Don’t play around with dangerous things, firearms included. They aren’t toys.

Don’t Fight Angry

unequal_fight_2

I probably should use angrily since its an adverb, but this is a better title. And, better yet, avoid a fight at all costs. We’ll all be better off with less fighting. But if you’re a fighter, then here ya go!

A top-fuel funny car or dragster can clock a quarter-mile time in 3.278 seconds. I mean, you have to admit that is super fast. The only problem is that a good percentage of the time, these cars blow-up, spin their tires, or crash due to some little wobble that makes it uncontrollable. But when they are on, they are something else.

Now take a Rally Car. It may run several hundred miles in a race on 4-cylinders without much horsepower compared to a top-fuel dragster. But it can go the distance making calculated strikes with gas mileage, speed at taking turns, navigation, and whatever it can to efficiently make it to the end with a win.

When I wrestled in high school, I was the dragster. I may have gotten “real” wrestling fitness toward the very end of the season. Otherwise, I was always gassed if I went the distance. Well, the distance is only 6 minutes, but you really have to be there to understand. Prepping for a match, I would mentally psych myself out. I would imagine my opponent hurting my little adopted brother. I would get foaming at the mouth mad and my adrenaline would crank through the roof. I would say that in about 40% of my matches, I pinned my opponent in the first minute, all with a lot of anger. But if we got past the first round, I was in trouble. I might hang on for dear life holding on to the points I scored in the first minute. Otherwise, I could barely fight at the end.  Sometimes, I had to be helped off the mat since I was so tired.

If you’ve ever gone to a powerlifting meet, the consequences of this psyching is clearly evident. Some of these guys will stomp around and yell, sniffing smelling salts while their coach pounds on their shoulders. They build their adrenaline and lift enormous loads. But you have to time that adrenaline dump if that’s your style. If they lose too much energy in the minutes before a lift, or even hours before, then they gas out and often don’t complete the lift. Elite powerlifter Travis Mash talks about this a lot. He was more even-keeled with his emotions. And he ended up being one of the greatest powerlifters ever. He timed his energy not wasting it on emotion, but on the lift itself.

Here is my advice:

  1. First, develop a good chin. Learn how to take a punch. Learn to resist the emotional first response. If you hear something that is politically or personally offensive, let that first shot glance off your bow away from you. The worst thing you can do is go off on somebody and make poor decisions in the heat of the moment.
  2. Second, make your jabs efficient and effective. Put power behind them, but not with a ton of emotion. Make them calculated hammers to the face & body. Use words that are crisp and calculated. Don’t be the quarterback who runs for first downs head first in the first quarter only to be taken out early. Don’t let emotions draw you into a brawl. Keep your elbows in and your guard up. Breathe and don’t let yourself get winded. Stay in a zone where you can recover and fight the long fight.
  3. Third, take the mindset of Iowa wrestling. Instead of conditioning for 7 minutes on the mat, condition for 30 minutes. Put that beast into 2nd gear and stay there. Keep grinding non-stop and don’t let up. Don’t blow it all on emotion and all out efforts. If you lift 30 reps of clean & jerks with 135 pounds for time, focus on how you’ll do the last 5 reps, not the first 5. Don’t let someone capitalize on your weakness when you’ve lost your endurance. Don’t end a fight not even being able to lift your arms. Finish strong.

 

Sweaty Hot Mess

sweat

So I’m chillin, enjoying my evening watching TV when all the sudden my wife asks “don’t you teach hot yoga tonight?”

OH CRAPPPPP!

It’s 7:07 PM and I teach at 7:30 PM and the studio is all the way across town! Yikes!!

I had some workout shorts on and it was freezin cold out. So I just threw on something over me, grabbed my gear, and ran out the door. It was a smooth drive there and someone set the heat on high for my hot yoga class. So not bad for having to rush around.

Then, I realize I didn’t finish my playlist. I add 3 more songs and put them in order and I’m set.

I have a full class. I mean, its a small room and I had 21 yogis. Wow!

You know, when you give speeches or presentations to a large group, they say you can over prepare. If you write out your thoughts word-for-word, you end up reading it word-for-word and boring the heck out of your audience. Instead, if you know your stuff well, you should be able to let it flow out of you. I usually have a few things prepared in my mind. But I had nothing planned at all…nothing even remotely in my mind.

So, with nothing prepared, I just rolled with my class. I asked yogis if there was anything in particular they’d like to do or bodypart of focus. Hamstrings! OK!

Cue the music…breathe…let’s begin.

It turned out to be one of the funnest classes I’ve ever taught. The energy was electric and the sweat flowed freely. We kept it simple since the room was so packed. We focused a lot on “core” and savoring the heat. And, I demonstrated a lot through the class since I positioned myself right in the middle. So it felt good for me too.

Afterward, I got a lot of questions. And my heart was full of joy!

Sometimes, whirlwinds are best savored when they bathe you with their fury.

Learning To Fall

aikido

In yoga, we often start doing inversions like headstands and handstands against the wall. Many fear leaving the wall because they are afraid to fall. Some never leave it at all.

When I was wrestling in high school, we weren’t really allowed to throw each other, but it happened a lot. We fell on fairly soft mats so it wasn’t a big deal. It always looks worse than it feels. Later when I was in grad school, I started into Aikido at a dojo near my house. The floors were giving, but definitely not soft. You really had to learn how to fall properly so as to not injure yourself.

In early Aikido and in some traditions today in Japan, you begin with very humble beginnings. Quite often, you swept and cleaned the dojo for years before being allowed to practice. When you are finally allowed to practice, then you may spend a few years as the Uke.

Uke means “the one who receives”, or the one who takes the fall.
Nage is the thrower.

We first begin by doing low rolls from our knees both forward and backward. Then you do more awkward side rolls and what looks like Granby rolls from wrestling. Then you just lean and fall flat on your back, but you use a hard slap on the mat to dissipate your energy. You see this in the WWE Pro Wrestling. I always thought they did that just for show. Eventually, you take leaping rolls forward. Only after this are you prepared to meet a Nage who will throw you.

One lady Aikido Master was physically attacked in a parking lot at an airport. She reacted quickly and threw him into a car badly injuring him. She told the police she didn’t want to press charges because “it wasn’t his fault that he didn’t know how to take a fall.”

There is an art to falling. When you are riding a bike on roads or trails, you try to roll through a fall and not put out arms to brace yourself. Regardless, falling at 40 mph is no fun at all. In yoga classes, when teaching forearm stand, I often have yogis go to the back of their mat; put their forearms down; then tuck their chin and roll forward. If you do this several times, your fear of falling is greatly relieved. I once saw a young lady in a class (that I wasn’t teaching) trying forearm stand. She didn’t tuck her chin, landed on her head toward her forehead, and then went flat to her back knocking the wind out of her. She really hurt herself and curled up groaning. Believe me, a fall like that would probably scare a person into not trying ever again.

I would say everyone should practice tumbling rolls forward and back. Also do cartwheels, then turn the cartwheel into a round-off. You can practice this at the wall as well. This will greatly decrease your chance of injury when practicing inversions. In fact, I would always start with this first before ever trying headstands, handstands, or forearm stands.

Metaphor for life: Learn to Fall. When you start a business and it fails, learn how to recover. If you fall off your horse. Learn to get back on it again. When a child is learning to ride a bike, teach them its ok to fall. If your life is just roses and pretty ponies, you’ll never learn how to recover from hardship. A parent needs to know they can’t bubble wrap their kids for life. They need to challenge them to try when they are afraid. Everyone needs their own Basic Training Boot Camp to life. Build your emotional skills. Face challenges. Go into something knowing you’ll likely fail. Learn that its OK to fall now and then. Its what makes you stronger.

5 Keys to Longevity

As you roll out of bed, you engage your abs and hip flexors to rise to standing. You walk to the toilet, and if you sit down, you use your strong quads and glutes to get back up. You reach down to pet your dog or pick up the newspaper, which uses your lower back and hamstrings. You open the cupboard and reach for a coffee mug on the shelf. These are all the basic movements in life. When you can no longer do these things, its a downhill progression to your existence. As healthy people, we take this for granted. But as people who know what this feels like to have these simple things taken away, it is devastating.

Now let’s crank up the quality of life part of our world. Now you pick up your 40 pound toddler and play. You grab the groceries from the floor and take them to the counter. You twist under the sink to check a leak. Maybe you help someone move that refrigerator or sofa down the stairs. You don’t really want to fail or get injured doing any of these things.

So here are the functional movements to life. If you don’t do anything else, at least do these.

  1. Sit-ups – Most movements in real life involve engagement of hip flexors too. The fitness community went away from sit-ups long ago because they didn’t think it isolates your six-pack abs as much. But realistically, hip flexors play a huge role in life and your core abdominals assist in the process. Maybe you also do leg raises of some sort as well. But we shouldn’t neglect sit-ups anymore. Hernias and lots of back issues arise from having weak abdominals.
  2. Squats – Simplistically, this may mean sitting on a chair and then standing up. We all should be able to do this. Honestly, if you can no longer get off the toilet on your own, life won’t be very good for you. Better yet, put some weight on your shoulders. When men and women can squat 1 to 3 times their bodyweight, there is nothing in life that can get in their way. Keep the flexibility there too. Old school “Starting Strength” people live off of flawed science that’s all been debunked. The “don’t let your knees go past your toes” idea is long gone. If you look at pictures of people from developing countries, they do everything in a deep squat from cooking, cleaning, to going to the bathroom. Today, Olympic weightlifters lift huge weights after first dropping to Ass-To-Ground squats with knees far past their toes. Keep your ability to move by including deeper variations of squats. So, either keep it simple and use the chair. Or find more information on variations. You can’t ever get bored with squats.
  3. Deadlifts – Again, there are many varieties of this lift. My latest infatuation has been doing trap bar deadlifts. It is a huge mass builder and you can vary your knee bend and back tilt to the nth degree. But you can do forward folds and rises (good mornings) just as easily with wonderful results. You can grab jugs of water or maybe a sandbag. There is no excuse for not doing deadlifts. Learn good form. Gain some grip strength. It will pay off greatly in your quality of life.
  4. Overhead Press – Ever seen a baby laugh when Daddy lifts them overhead. They smile and squeal with joy. Lifting overhead has so many benefits. Think if you were pushing a lawnmower or a friend’s car down the driveway. Think of putting that 5 pound bag of sugar on a shelf. Again, this can be as simple as pressing a jar of peanut butter overhead. Or it can be doing handstand pushups. The varieties of this movement are endless. They work not only shoulder strength, but torso, core, hip, and leg strength. There is also the element of balance.
  5. Ambulation – There is so much written about walking and running. When I was into ultra-marathon running, I didn’t even think twice about being able to run to work, or even from one city to another. If you read in historical texts and even the Bible, people walked all over the place. Research says that the speed at which you walk has a direct correlation with longevity of life. The slower you walk means your end is near. Stride length also has a relationship with life. If you can imagine someone stricken with Parkinson’s Disease, you can see how unhealthy it is to be restricted in balance and muscle lengthening with shortened steps. This is something that I’ve come back to myself. An injury 3 years ago took running away from me. But now that I feel healed, I will be back on the trails enjoying runs through nature again. We should all find more time to exercise our heart, balance, muscles, and enjoyment of the outdoors.

Like I said, if you don’t do anything else in life, at least do these 5 things. Find time to explore this and grow. If you lose any one of these functional movements, you’ll start to lose your ability to live.

Yoga is for Men too!

eagles-yoga

Actually (and somewhat unfortunately), yoga started its first several thousand years as men only. But once it came to the Western world with ground-breaking pioneers like Indra Devi, the first Woman of Yoga, it slowly became more female dominated in the U.S. The Father of Modern Yoga, Krishnamacharya, accepted Indra as a student and she spread the goodness to China, Hollywood USA, Mexico, and Argentina. But her promotion of yoga was out-shadowed in large part by colleagues like Pattabhi Jois, B.K.S. Iyengar, and T.K.V. Desikachar. If you read most texts like the Bhagavad Gita and other foundational yoga literature, it was a very male dominated arena. The last Century has seen major leaps and bounds with yoga, but mostly for women.

So, last night, I walk in to the studio and write down a few props on the sign-in sheet and I see 3 male names. Then, another man walks in for my class. I was like “hmmm, maybe I’ll have an all-male class for the first time ever.” The only other times I’ve had male dominated classes was when I offered karma yoga to the University of Illinois Army ROTC cadets and other Veterans programs. I would say that 100% of the time, I have mostly or all ladies in my classes.

In CrossFit, “mobility” reigns king in classes. And you see it in football and other athletics, but it doesn’t usually go by the name of “yoga.” The ideas of stretching and meditation go back 5,000 years with yoga, but somehow that moniker is frowned upon in certain circles. Maybe there is a male ego thing that prevents them from calling it something that is so female dominated in America. Images of designer leggings and brightly colored yoga mats don’t fit the jock mindset. Hopefully, those mental obstacles will change and we’ll find more acceptance in those communities. We find that history repeats itself over and over with these kinds of things.

When I first started running 5K and 10K races in the middle 1970’s, there weren’t many women runners. When a woman passed a man in a race, they say that you were “chicked”. It wasn’t super widely accepted to see women in races. You may recall images of the Boston Marathon where Roberta Gibb was denied acceptance to run in 1966 and was pulled from the course when she tried to jump in. It was a cultural thing that people (men) didn’t think women could run that far. Times have changed and we’ve even seen women like Pam Reed become the overall winner of the Badwater Ultramarathon in 2002, which is a 135 mile race across Death Valley in the middle of the Summer. But now, men struggle for the same acceptance in a woman’s world. Being completely confident in my manhood, I even ventured into other areas as well. I went to a pole dancing class a few weeks ago and was happily accepted among the 20 or so ladies that were in attendance. Nobody even looked twice at me. So I know how it feels to be in the minority.

Physically, men have more testosterone, on average weigh more, have bigger bone structures, and therefore more connective tissue and muscles. So it goes without saying that we need yoga so badly in our lives. I listen to many podcasts and read articles focusing on CrossFit, Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, and strongman sports where mobility is continually discussed. It aids muscle lengthening, recovery, and performance. But this need hasn’t translated to yoga as much as I’d like. It is that alpha male mentality that gets in the way. But the few men I’ve seen wander into studios, the attitude shift toward openness to try new things has been a bonus for their quality of life. And it never hurts to be around such beautiful people.

Try it, you’ll like it. Maybe you’ll even love it!