My biological mum had me before she turned 16. She had a choice to have an abortion but chose to give me life. Being so young and incapable, her parents (my grandparents) decided to raise me as their own.
Because of the societal norms at that time, I now understand that my grandparents adopted me as their own, in every sense of the word. They were the best Parents any kid could wish for. My “mom” (grandmother) died when I was 12. It felt like the end of the world to me because she was the word to me.
She was caring, compassionate and loving 🥰 & very strong (usually welcoming in strangers and the homeless. She would clean them, clothe them, feed them and give them a place to sleep for a short while … and give them a little help on their way.
Some of the Strangers we helped, would return, sometimes years later, to offer money and thanks for her (& my grandfather’s unsolicited care & hospitality when they had hit a “rut”). I recall seeing the turnaround in the individuals and the impact my humble grandparents and their kindness gave them.
A whole new lease of life.
My grandmother was my first role model of a loving & strong independent woman. I really loved her full body massages she gave me to wake me for school almost every morning. This is where my penchant for hugs 🤗 & kisses originated. I thank her for that.
In my pre-teens, my biological mother’s sister (my Aunty) stepped in and assumed a “mother” role for me. She showed me a second type of strong woman. She was a woman’s woman.
My Second Mum: the Ambitious Career Woman.
She wasn’t too lovey-Dovey like my mum # 1. She was very ambitious and career-focused and very risk-averse. Very strategic and almost always chose a conservative approach to many things. Her thing was – “don’t rush life, Paul”.
Two things were important for her – good education and making money. She was very successful and raised me in very rich surroundings in my teens. I learned and experienced life through very wealthy lens and feel very fortunate to have done so. Not many children grow up in a 3 car-garage, 3 storey 6 bedroom mansion with a pool. My bedroom even had its own bathroom and walk-in wardrobe.
I only got to know my biological mum after an uncle broke the “news” to me two weeks before my Final Exams at High School. We had a heated argument and he let out the “truth”. In hindsight, Not the best time. I wish he had waited until I had finished my exams before telling me that the first 17 years of my life was a lie. That my grandma was not my mother and that my “older sister “ was in fact, my real mother!
I was shattered. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing .
I locked myself in my room for a whole week… trying to come to terms with this bomb 💣. I cried a river in my room…. Everything I ever knew … about my family … about my life … was a lie. Who could I trust? Why is this happening to me? I was angry at everyone… they all played a part in the lie.
It had a significant effect on my High School Results. Negative. I was aiming to be in the Top 10 but I failed. I think I made the Top 20. In the whole scope of life, the mark I got didn’t matter. I still got to do what I wanted to do at University.
That was a first. Me, getting to University in my immediate and extended families. The ceiling in academia was High School… but I raised it … and still raising it.
It’s been almost 30 years since I learned of this truth. Along the way, I learned that many other individuals have experienced similar situations. Some famous like Jack Nicholson, who only found out that his older sister was in fact, his mother. He only find out in his late 30s when a reporter dug up his background for a story on him.
In many cultures, especially in Polynesian cultures, “step in”. Grandparents generally stepped in to protect the child and give them every opportunity to succeed. They did. I got all the love and attention any child could have. I am very grateful for the unconditional love life they gave me.
They were my parents and friends & family and schools & teachers and anyone I ever interacted with all played their roles.
You could say my first 17 years was a lie.
That’s ok. Every family has their “secrets” and “skeletons in the closet”. What are yours? Do you have any? Is your whole life “the whole truth & nothing but the truth?” Is the truth better than living a lie? What if living the truth disadvantages you more? Would you then choose to live a lie? If you had the choice?
My Third Mum: the Risk Taker. Biology Matters.
The choice was made for me. Her choice to give me life rather than get an abortion.
And it was made with love snd for my benefit and protection. An unselfish choice by my biological mother in playing her role as my “older sister “.
It was only in my later years that I realised how amazingly courageous and unselfish she was to live in the same household as me … and stop herself from playing the “mum” role to me.
I had many arguments with her and told her off on many occasions. I would see her run into the bedroom, close the door and I’d hear her crying. She wouldn’t cry in front of me or argue with me.
Remember, she was my older sister to me. Little did I know then … who she REALLY WAS. This is the Mum that didn’t always make decisions logically because she usually made it with her heart. She was a “thinker”, the most academically gifted of all her siblings. A rebel, a risk-taker.
I buried my biological mum in 2011, 3 months after my son, Zachary was born. Like my grandmother, My biological mum, Margaret, died from cancer within 3 months of being diagnosed. Aaaahhh… the Circle of Life, as they say.
She did not live long but she epitomised what courage is to me. What a brave woman, who lived & died, with integrity & dignity.
THE OLD HAS GONE, THE NEW HAS COME!
The Bible has been a big comfort for me all my life. It gave me strength in those years (18 – 22) that I refer to as my “lost years “. It was always a source of inspiration and strength for me … in the many times I needed courage.
We have been gifted not only from our genetic background but also by the environment in which we were brought up. Each of us were formed by all the people who have made an impression on us.
From the people who gave us affirmations (like my grandparents did for me) to the people who put us down or belittled us. The former types gave us a positive view of other human beings and the latter, a view that fed our uncertainty about ourselves and … others…
Genesis 1 relays a story that God created living things to bring forth according to their own kind. So, not only are we likely to look like our parents but it is likely that we will embrace life’s challenges just as our parents did.
“So God created man in his own image.” (Genesis 1:27)
So, i/we were not only created in our parents image but also in God’s.
Yes, we all have our past (and even if part of it was not lived in truth like mine), take comfort that we also have God (if you’re a Christian). I spent 8 years as a Catholic Altar boy in my early youth and one phrase that sticks in my mind is –
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the NEW HAS COME!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
This verse has always given me comfort. Especially, after I learned of certain truths at 17. I get Comfort in knowing that the curses and the distortions and sins of previous generations does not hold me back. That it does NOT MAKE ALL “ME”… that I can release the OLD… to make room for the NEW.
We are Built in God’s image. Something that I can … we can ALL use as a springboard to being the BEST VERSION OF OURSELVES.
Yes, We are trapped with our old us … the past experiences… and the good (& imperfections in genetics 🧬 passed down to us) ….
With the knowledge and belief that we, as Christians, are also created in the image of God, gives all of us I mmense COURAGE…. And hope … and belief… that we have a huge capacity to change!!
You are unique! Believe it so…. And you can change!! We ALL CAN!!
But, this is not easy and TAKES COURAGE and … a lot of WORK! In my experience, You MUST TAKE CHARGE of your life! You must stop saying –
“I’ll always be the same … I’ll never be different “
Instead, you should begin saying –
“I CAN be different because of God’s love 💕 working in me.”
DO NOT FEAR CHANGE especially if the change is to make you all that God wants you to be.
When you decide to Invite Christ into your life, know that you have been re-born… snd the Holy Spirit will guide you.
I know I have been “re-born “ many times … in my life, so far. When I reflect, I was very fortunate to have been influenced by three strong & courageous women. They were all different and they were women who loved me differently but all had strong values & principles.
I may have lost two Mums, but there still remains one. Something many cannot say. I will continue to love this Mum that is still alive today….and the other two Mums are always with me in spirit.
Thank you God. Amen.
Ask yourself for God’s guidance and he will answer.
When you’ve done something wrong and/or have wronged someone, you firstly need to take FULL responsibility for it.
You repent because you realise that, that inexcusable wrong can be judged or forgiven. Inexcusable wrongs can never be understood and overlooked. Fake Repentant people seek and beg for forgiveness, with no thought of deserving it.
Yes, you read that right, they don’t deserve it.
That is not fair – to the person that has been wronged and not fair for the person who has wronged.
To gain trust back, perpetrators need to own their “inconvenient truth” (to borrow a phrase from US Vice President Al Gore).
Truly Repentant people are people who finally understand God’s amazing grace. When you truly seek repentance, know you need only to confess to experience the forgiveness from God Almighty.
Forgiveness is ALWAYS there in infinite supply.
Recently, I got into a very big argument with my wife of twenty years. It was probably the biggest blue we’ve had in our time together. It involved her and my family. To get straight to the point, I was an Asshole … well, okay, I was a HUUGGE Asshole! I even called myself one during the fight.
Alcohol was involved. Correction: excessive alcohol was involved.
On reflection, it is quite obvious that I was being a selfish prick! Yep, you read that right. I was being a thoughtless spouse. And here I was imagining that on my deathbed, my children and wife will remember me for many things but for mostly being the most THOUGHTFUL human being they have ever known.
After this incident, that dream/imagination may not manifest into reality. I fucked up, and my selfish choice was not “thoughtful “. I simply fucked up!
You see, whether we are adulterers or thoughtless spouses (like me, in this instance), the problem with all of us is one of perspective. Instead of thinking of our thoughtlessness (in words or actions/deeds) as INEXCUSABLE SELFISH CHOICES, we stubbornly regard our interpersonal failures as UNDERSTANDABLE MISTAKES. Understandable mistakes, can you believe that?! It comes down to a small but significant factor of perspective, or the way we view something.
And in my recent case: I clearly made a selfish choice and my perspective was NOT the right one.
Seek to understand first.
I’m not one for giving excuses or listening to excuses, but during and after that big argument, I found myself giving excuses. It just rolled out of my tongue and the strange thing was that I was fully aware of this roll-out while it was happening. And here’s the catch: I did not stop this conveyor belt of excuses.
When I reflect, I realise that excuse-making has been a part of almost every area of life that has humans participating. Excuse-making has been a natural tendency in people since, I guess, Adam blamed Even for eating the apple and … Eve blamed the Snake for persuading her. It’s been around for a long while.
I guess, without some form of self-justification, we are forced to look at ourselves in the mirror, just as we truly are … not necessarily, the image the mirror reflects.
Now, based on how I argued in that fight, the standards I adhered to fell very short of God’s standards. My actions and words deserved punishment.
I read somewhere that a wise person seeks to understand before wanting to be understood.
That is something I need to improve in my life. What about yours?
Joy evolves from misery.
When we really look at ourselves in the mirror and truly see ourselves as we are, would we accept our status as sinners.
And what are sinners? Sinners, like me, are worthy of judgement. We are powerless to improve ourselves … and are humbled that our best deeds provide no defence.
That is how Joy evolves from misery. Throughout my experience and learning from other people’s experiences, I’ve learned that those who make themselves naked and vulnerable and basically more human, are the ones who get the most trust.
Or at least, get part of or most of the lost trust back.
It is through the process of embracing genuine nakedness, humility and vulnerability, that you find your AUTHENTIC SELF.
I believe, moving closer to your authentic self is not only where life BEGINS but also …. Where JOY blooms and your GROWTH CONTINUES.
Now, as a Physique Artist, I regularly strip down to a pair of “g-strings” on stage, under very strong lights to display the ‘flow of muscles’ … and ‘paint a picture of moving art’, using my sculpted physique, from my heart … to the hearts of the audience.
It is one of the closest you can get to being naked, humble and vulnerable. By being vulnerable, humble and exposed, I find you allow yourself to be more open and transparent. This is important for any relationship. For me and my wife, this is vital. Always has been.
I am an “open book” and this nakedness, this humility, this vulnerableness, demonstrates to her that that I have nothing to hide ( or an impression anyway).
Now, allow yourself to strip yourself of EGO and wear your “G-STRING of YOUR SOUL”. That takes COURAGE. Seek Courage… for without courage, no great achievement is every attainable.
For me, in all my most important relationships, Trust is vital. It is one of the key foundation stones of my 21 year relationship with the most important woman in the world to me- my wife.
One day ... you may realise that the beginning of a New Day … is also the “Death of Yesterday “
I guess it depends on how you hear it;
One day, every cliche’ that you hear will remind you that YOU alone are … here; that you alone came in your this world, alone … and you, alone will go out … alone;
One day, You’ll realize that You didn’t Love yourself, that you thought you did… but you didn’t;
Maybe, you should ask Love 💗 –
“What are you?”
Maybe, one day Love 💕 may reply –
“Can’t you feel me… I’m here … I’m the one ☝️holding your hand reminding you not to forget me …
I’m Life when I’m near … hope, without fear;
I’m the warm feeling in your belly when you don’t know why… I’m the tingle on your skin …by a raindrop …
I’m the beautiful jewel that’s never bought … I’m you … I’ve been YOU, since day one ☝️;
I’m the Knowing when your eyes 👀 meet … your eyes in the mirror and recognise yours”
Does my dog 🐶 “Mr Fuzzy/Fussy cuddles “ love 💗 himself? Is he conscious of that? Probably not, that’s what separates his level of consciousness from us, humans. Learn to harness that consciousness and learn to love YOU better. And don’t let others make you feel bad about doing so. Life is too short, otherwise.
You thought Love was reciprocal…
Think again ..
One day, You may realise that you were searching for love … and strove to love others, looked for others to Love You, and tried to get loved by others.
One Day, you may realise that …
… while searching for Love, You missed the most important person in the world to You: “YOU!” – yourself.
Maybe You thought your lovability came from giving others Love, that it would guarantee You’d get Love back.
Maybe You thought that love 💗 was reciprocal… that if You gave more Love it would get You more.
Maybe You thought that getting others Love would make You worth more, make you feel more valuable.
One day, maybe sooner… maybe, later … but one day, hopefully, you will realise that –
You didn’t know then what You know now: thatYou were lovable from day One.
Kindly tell that “little voice “ in your head that fills you with doubt & guilt to kindly … “Fuck off!” Just like the negative people in your life.
The Scientist and Philosopher FRANCIS BACON said –
“Write down the thoughts of the moment. Those that come unsought for are commonly the most valuable.’
INSPIRATION IS THE CATALYST … that lights the fire or sets the journey of creativity in our ships as we sail & navigate the Seas of Life.
Without it, every Pirate and genuine Voyager … knows there would be no work of art or scientific discovery. In fact, very little that is New and Creative and Innovative would come into the world. Imagine not having your i-phone? What world would that be like? (actually, a lot of you from my generation would know what that was like .. ha ha ).
Like a kiss, inspiration opens the heart in each of us to receive … it gives us the means of reaching the mystery beyond our worldly identities.
I find that surrendering to inspiration brings about a greatness that is the glory of existence (every Pirate and Viking knows this). We all suffer from lack of inspiration at some point or points in our lives, there is no avoiding it.
Question is, what do you do when you’re experiencing it?
There is inner and outer beauty. Appreciate both.
The only requirement is that Love
Romantic poets believed that inspiration came to them because their soul was able to receive such visions. In modern psychology, inspiration is seen as an entirely internal process, like Sigmund Freud believed it came from your inner psyche, directly from the subconscious.
Inspiration to me, has nothing to do with the skill or capability of you, the individual and therefore, anyone and every single person can get inspired. We can find it anywhere – in a book, a speech, a movie … a person .. a symbol … a hope.
To me, the only requirement is that of love. That for you to be inspired, you need to allow the flow (of inspiration) to come from the heart … your heart. It is a Power from Within, necessary for all creation and innovation, which is the way of the future.
It is energy, so you cannot either create nor destroy it .. just become a better conduit of energy .. of what I call ‘un-mind energy’. It is but a brief moment in time … where that un-mind energy flows through your heart … allowing you to transmute that energy … into creating something beautiful.
‘That moment’ is like what the great thinker, Khalil Gibran described when –
“the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the wind longs to play with your hair.”
There is courage within each person, There is inspiration available to all souls … just allow your courage to help it speak to your heart … to release that energy … that light … to light others who are in darkness
Inspiration helps light that catalyst
We’ve all faced many problems and challenges in our lives so far (and many of us are struggling with ones now) and … sometimes people, feel incapable of solving, realising and accepting their own limitations. But, it is in those ‘moments’ of challenges/problems/obstacles lay embedded in them, the hidden solutions.
Every situation and every individual stores a potential and strength that is yet to be discovered.
INSPIRATION helps light that catalyst to tap the source of power within … to face whatever obstacle we face. When our purpose is to give birth to our TRUE IDEAL SELF, inspiration allows us to see ourselves in a New way every time.
When you’re inspired, we glow on the outside from the light within and this radiance shines out from us .. and lights the way for others in the dark. Even the great RUMI explains how we can nurture the power of inspiration by transcending our perceived limitations (from whatever fear we are facing), he said –
” The sound of the bow provokes fear for the arrow wounds its mark. What is sense beyond the unseen is inspired by perception. Increase your necessity to increase your perception.”
Let inspiration be the catalyst to light your inner-world … to brighten up your external world and… those you come in contact with
I love many genres of music and one of them is Raggae and I think Bob Marley was a genius. He sang about freedom and justice and was a great Leader and Thinker and Poet, saying –
“I have no education. I have inspiration. If I were educated, I would be a damn fool.”
But don’t confuse inspiration with motivation, they are not the same. Many make this mistake. There is a major difference and the difference is a “matter of heart’. Inspiration connects with the heart .. and motivation connects the mind and is often ego driven. The ego, may in the short-term give to you … but in the long term, will take ..and continually take from you until you don’t know what or who you are.
As Socrates said –
” I decided that it was not wisdom that enabled poets to write their poetry, but a kind of instinct or inspiration, such as you find in seers and prophets who deliver all their sublime messages without knowing in the least what they mean.”
Find the “Giant” within you … within each person … of which inspiration is the catalyst.
Separate inspiration from motivation
“So, what should we do then? How should we live?”, you may ask.
Here’s the thing, I believe that , one of the ways to separate inspiration from motivation is to be aware that at every moment we have a choice about how to live. With increased awareness, we can observe how those choices affect us. Now, keep it simple … if we allow inspiration to be our guide, then each day can possibly welcome a new and exciting opportunity. When we feel the heart engaging and singing … with and in what is happening ‘in the moment’ to us, we know that we are connected with a hidden source of joy!
Individuals, groups, communities, states and countries all around the world is crying out for inspiration (and for some, for a very long time). Let’s pray for all those in need of inspiration… of more inspiration … to summon the courage to face their fears … to find the solution(s) that may lay within the obstacles/challenges they are facing right now.
I tell my kids, there is no such thing as a problem/mistake,… just opportunities to find a solution(s).
The world needs many things right now … but now, more than ever, it needs – more love … more care … more compassion and … more trust. Please play your part in making this world a better place by giving this to whoever interacts with you on a daily basis.
Inspiration has the Power to Empower. Inspiration has the Power to Change for the Better …. ONE LIFE AT A TIME.
It is a choice. Don’t sit on the fence. Inspiration without ACTION becomes a wasted opportunity.
Embrace inspiration. Embrace Change. Embrace your Heart. It leads to the ultimate Freedom… but you must ACT on that inspiration.
We are all inspired by many things to … Live. Die. With Dignity.
Yours in iron, heart, mind & muscles,
(some people call me – “The Old Cap’n Viking Pirate Muscled Monk”
Find the inspiration within you … to help motivate you to making a choice … the Right Choice … for LIfe… in your life.
Release the Hulk in you .. when appropriate There is a time to be placid and do nothing … then, there is a time to act … and stand for something.
A slight variation to the common ‘back double biceps’ compulsory body-building pose.
We all know when muscle is being used for vanity,
It’s hard to understand if you’re uninitiated;
It’s dense and vague. It’s fake and impersonal;
It’s formal and cold or it’s false breezy.
It’s heavy on ego and light on substance,
It’s loud about ends but quiet about means;
It’s complicated and un-caring;
It dwells on the process not the people … the audience,
It’s passive and does not connect with or opens the hearts of others;
As an artist, I am committed to reflecting on the messages that come through my heart, rather than relying merely on my technical ability in the art medium i choose;
My Physique artistry offers me the creative opportunity to find metaphors and express myself through the medium of muscle dance in slow-motion;
With a belief that, we humans are drawn like moths to a flame whenever we witness physical brilliance – when brain, mind, and body operate together with singular grace as is sometimes evident in sports, dance, craft, or music.
We can all readily appreciate beauty in all its forms and far few take the time to search for their truth.. and create their beauty from within. I have found mine in Physique Artistry and this living project is always a work-in-progress.
Quality lean muscle that “flows” takes time & a goal of balance & symmetry
Create from the heart
As a Physique Artist, you are blessed to be able to manifest and share the beauty of the spirit of love that dwells within us;
Thus, the outer form becomes kind of skin for our deeper surrender to the inner, living reality;
When the Physique Artist allows the creative process to find its voice and clarity, purified by the right intentions, then only are we freed from our more personal ideas and desires and …
We can then simply focus on what is concealed inside … manifested in our physique as we bring it to the surface … and give it Life;
This is the same for all authentic artists – painters, musicians, designers and so forth;
Drawing on a multiplicity of capabilities, some of which are primordial in their simplicity.
Instead, others choose to use the thinking mind as the ultimate source of power,
And as stimulating as it can be – face losing something wonderful in the process –
Losing something wonderful, mysterious and transformational that moves us beyond our mental understanding alone … because this creation comes from the heart,
And, is, from my three decades of experience, anyway … that moves us towards the ultimate energy that creates the universe;
So, when we only use the ego and the thinking mind, we risk losing ourselves … and ultimately, losing everything;
An authentic Physique Artist is privileged to be a messenger who reflects and reveals the creative power that is hidden within all of us, in a display method to force one to submit, even temporarily;
But, when we allow our ego to master our true selves then …
They are like fine ways to say nothing much at all while taking a long time to say it.
Like good politicians do;
Learn more about YOU. The knowable. Don’t chase the unchaseable. The physical manifestation of the image you hold vividly in your mind is created from the heart with the tools in (and out) of the gym. My place of meditation, my church rests within me.
Leave your ego at the door
An inauthentic Physique Artist, builds and shows muscles but intends not to include but instead, exclude it’s audience;
Sportstars (like the great Lebron James) & many others in other sports regularly strike a “front double biceps 💪 “ (which is one ☝️ of the traditional bodybuilding poses). They do this to indicate strength, courage and overall “winner” attitude. A far cry from what it represents in the sport of bodybuilding/physique artistry
The best thing you can do to help the world is … to continuously strive to be the best you can be, for you first, then for everyone else.
Achieving a well-balanced physique should be understood for what it is: a masterful fusion of art and science. One should improve once’s “BODY Smart”knowledge. this takes time and deliberate practise. Top 5 in the world, two years in a row at a sport I love ain’t too shaby for an city boy from the beautiful paradise islands of Fiji If YOU think you can and you BELIEVE YOU CAN … YOU CAN.
It must, within the limits of professional care and perceived and political reality,
Speak plainly to its viewers, aiming to say as much as possible as silently as possible, through the ultimate in non-verbal communication,
With the human masterpiece that is the sculptured Living Human Physique,
Giving pleasure to an audience, that sees the human form in all it’s beauty,
The beauty, of which part was … the journey of the spirit … with the on-ongoing pursuit of expanding and enriching the individual towards finding his truth and …
With an understanding that the spirit of love moves us beyond time and space to help set us free in a beautiful forest of creativity where we can engage in the dance of life.
Authentic Physique Artistry is bodybuilding with the fusion of art and science, in it’s true sense, with the glue being the heart of the creator;
Communication to the hearts of viewers non-verbally in the most economical poses manageable;
A Good physique artist is like a passionate photographer … he understands the link between heart and mind … between thinking and doing … and the balance & symmetry communicated with the manipulation of light and shadows with extreme angles. He is a “David Copperfield of Muscle Illusion”.
Good physique artistry must be everything that fearful, ego-filled, self-interested posing is not –
It must be humane, plain, active, informal, concrete, elegant and specific.
A Physical Artists’ posing display must have a voice, without uttering a word.
It must have heart, balance and beauty communicated with harmony and care;
Collage of some bodybuilding poses .. presenting my physique art to the audience in my gym
Beauty comes in the human form. My favourite Physique Artist of all time. It is a living masterpiece. On display, from a masterful poser/artist, the human body exemplifies beauty and truth rolled in to vibrating ball of flow of muscle. The hard part is to CREATE beauty. We all have the ability within us. To create a beauty through the human form is genius. Everything matters, however, small it is. GIGO for their minds: If you want to create champions and leaders , feed them daily champion & leadership thoughts.
My son and I. Provide the best blueprint you can of what it means to be a man. He needs you now more than ever. Save him now so that tomorrow’s world will be saved too. Vv.
Let’s all resolve to become increasingly aware. Take sufficient and appropriate actions and most importantly, adapt.
I believe we can do it.
JUST DO IT!
How do we begin?
The answer lies in the question.
Cheers & Ahoy!!
The old Captain Viking Pirate …. & his thoughts on Stopping. Reflecting. Adapting. Taking actions and adapting.
Be the light unto yourself with faith in God. And then … be the light for the future men of our world – our sons. Be the light that illuminates the path they are to follow. We are the source of light in their young lives, with God’s help.
Learn the basics of exercise in the gym. Learn to be more coachable – learn the rules so you know how to use them better in the future. This applies to most rules in life. Vv.
My gym experience has taught me a lot about people, about human nature. I love observing human behaviour in action, it fascinates me.
As most of you would agree, there is no doubt that people are different. We are all different and unique but we also are more alike than we like to think. We are all wired differently and that wiring lends itself to certain skills, environments and roles rather than other skills, environments and roles.
Some people find it very difficult to change. Some people need to learn to be more coachable, if they are to achieve their full potential and avoid some of the mistakes other people and previous generations have made.
There was this member of the gym I used to own for a number of years that was very stuck in his ways of training. I always tried questioning him on why he did things the way he did and he was very inflexible to learning something different. An alternative.
His reason: he had been training with weights for longer than me and he didn’t have anything to learn. Fair enough. I did not want to force him to stop doing harm to himself but I felt it was my role and duty of care to point out the potential risks he was putting himself and others in the gym, now and in to the future.
This a story about how too much of a good thing can be bad for you and relates to one particular exercise: the wide chin-up exercise.
Let’s call this individual “Dave”.
You see, he loved doing chin-ups. Some of you may know it as ‘pull-ups’. He loved it so much he did it every time he came to the gym for his ‘session’. He came to the gym about four times per week. He really loved doing very wide chin-ups and prided himself on lifting an additional 40kg dumbbell hanging from his waist for reps. He was certainly strong. He was very dedicated.
The one major drawback with his weight-training sessions was the fact that he loved doing chin-ups so much. Now, there’s nothing wrong with having a favourite exercise and this exercise is a great one.
Learn the rules of life. Learn the rules of training in the gym. Learn to be more coachable to manage your ‘risk:benefit ratio’ in life. Vv.
However, one should always be aware of doing that particular activity too often as it increases one’s risk of injury. And this is exactly what happened to our poor friend Dave. As we have all been told over the years – “too much of a good thing can be bad for you”.
I had a great chin-up bar. Matter-of-fact, I had another installed beside the original just because men had different size hands and preferred varying grips. It was a winner – for Dave and for every other enthusiast.
At the very start of his relationship with me, I gave him a piece of advice regarding his training regime that was rejected stubbornly every year for five years, before his accident.
Yes, he did have an accident.
My piece of advice was: don’t overdo an exercise.
I told him that he should probably cut back on the frequency of his chin-ups (doing it every day, every week for the whole year) to consider doing it in one workout every fortnight, that he should consider doing the many other exercise options available that would target the same muscles that chin-ups did but with minimal risk to his joints.
Minimising potential risks to his tendons and ligaments around the elbow joints. I basically tried to tell him to give his joints more rest and recovery, which in turn would probably see him spur on more muscle growth than what he was used to.
I suggested the traditional “Lat Pull-down” machine. A perfect alternative and there were a few ways of doing this exercise too.
That was unacceptable to him. Period!
He said that only ‘sissies’ did the exercise. I couldn’t believe he said that, calling everyone who ever did machine lat pull-downs a ‘sissy’, including me! I reminded him of some of the best backs built over time due partly to machine lat pull-downs. They used the machine lat pull-downs religiously!
He didn’t want to hear it. He was happy doing what he was doing and had been doing all his life. We went through this same conversation at least once every year. Me warning him about the excessive nature of his exercise choice of chin-ups and the damage he was potentially doing to his elbows further down the track.
Anyway, in his fifth year of training in my gym, Dave went missing from the gym for about a month. I called up to see if he was ok like I did for anyone of the hundreds of members that I didn’t see for more than four weeks.
He returned to see me in the gym the next day.
A mentor told me once – “no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care. Me & former client -Glenn. One ☝️ of the hundreds of members of my Family Gym I once owned & managed for 7 years. They came because I cared. I gave them “results with care” (my slogan)
He wasn’t able to train in the gym, in particular he couldn’t use his arms without experiencing excruciating pain through the elbows. All pushing and pulling movements were no longer possible. He basically couldn’t train and he wasn’t coping with this lack of activity very well and didn’t know what to do.
Dave felt a little embarrassed and admitted it was one of the biggest training mistakes he had ever made – not listening to my little piece of advice over the previous five years. The high risk of injury I had made him aware of every year for five years had manifested and now he couldn’t do the exercise he loved to do but even worse, he also couldn’t train. Period!
He was a mess. Physically, emotionally, spiritually. He needed help.
I sat him down and let him rest his head on my shoulder. I said it was alright to cry. All grown men have a license to cry. He did just that.
I told him to forget about the past but to learn from it. I gave him two options to help him make his way back to where he was but I needed him to listen and let go of prior beliefs regarding training.
He needed to set new beliefs. He needed to understand and introduce a new paradigm. He needed to learn to be more coachable and unlearn some irrelevant old habits. He was going to have to accept the guy that looked back at him in the mirror now – not twenty years ago in his youth.
He needed to be agreeable. Kinder to himself. He needed to love himself more.
He learned to do this after almost twenty five years of training in the gym. Yes, he was training and gaining a lot of ‘experience’ but it was not getting him anywhere. He was just getting more and more experience of getting it wrong.
I devised a plan of recovery for him and he got back the use of his arms, particularly his elbows. As the pain sub-sided and he started exercising after a little while, his whole demeanour and life improved.
True Leaders develop Leaders. Here we have former Australian Rugby Wallaby Captain – Mr Phil Waugh, allowing himself to be led and coached to help him, help himself … find his best self. Leaders have belief, they have faith but most importantly … they have hope. That tomorrow will be better than today.
As you know, ‘knowing is one thing, doing is another.’ A wise man once told me that ‘elephants don’t bite, mosquitoes do!”. It really does apply in this case and in many things in life, where too much of a good thing can be bad for you.
Dave did not take care of the mozzies (like the frequency of performing the exercise) and as a result, the compound effect of incorrect technique combined with unnecessary frequency leads to unwanted joint injury.
The message in this story could apply to all areas of life where too much of a good thing (chin-ups for Dave) can be bad for you. Dave learned the hard way and didn’t want to learn from other people’s experience. He didn’t allow himself to be coached. It takes courage to understand your faults but it takes even more courage to make changes to help prevent a huge mis-hap later.
Life is short. There are rules in the gym and gym training, just like there are rules of life. Learn the rules, so that in time you can have the wisdom to discern what is relevant and not.
Have fun with your workouts and have fun with life.
Learning HOW to exercise with proper technique is paramount to achieving your goals with Maximum gains/benefit & lower risks of injury/failure Be more coachable snd find yourself a suitably qualified & experienced coach in the area you hope to improve in.
Learning how to properly execute an exercise with good form throughout the full range of motion is vital to muscle building and longevity. Vv
I was asked by a host of a function I attended recently about what grip was best to get the most out of your barbell bench presses?
Over the last two decades I have seen many variations of grips. I believe it is a matter of individual preference and your level of experience of training in the gym. If you’re a beginning gym enthusiast, it would be best if you used the ‘thumb grip’, meaning your thumb goes around the bar in the opposite direction to your other fingers, forming a secure grip.
If, however, you are more experienced and advanced, then using the ‘thumbless grip’ may be something for you. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term ‘thumbless grip’, it simply means that you move your thumb to the same side of the bar as your fingers.
If you had to assess the risk of the two types of grips, the ‘thumbless grip’ is a much higher risk to you and possibly others close to your training station. I know of a man who injured his sternum doing a bench press using this grip. The bar slipped off his hands during a set of bench pressing and fell on his chest. Very painful, not recommended.
However, this risk is lowered if the bench press is performed using a “Smith Machine” or similar. The thumb grip is safer.
It can also be argued that it is more productive to NOT use a thumbless grip when performing an exercise like the bench press. However, how productive you are depends on many other variables and in the list of key variables influencing your productivity during your workouts, the grip you use would have to be quite far down that list.
So, to sum up, if you’re a beginner, DO NOT use a thumbless grip, especially if you do bench presses with free weights. Period! The seasoned campaigner can give it a try if you are using a smith machine to mitigate the risk of the bar falling on you or have a good training partner.
But, if you are in it for the long haul, the use of a ‘thumbless grip’ isn’t going to give you much more weight doing your presses. I think your focus should be on more important things like ‘feel’ and ‘control’.
Two principles of building muscle: 1) Simplicity and 2} Continuity. Here, Ex-Australian Rugby legend Phil Waugh using a ‘thumbless grip’ in a Smith Machine to do Bench Presses. Become aware; Apply action: Adapt accordingly.
I tell everyone that if you’re not feeling the muscle and not in control of weight, then you’re not building muscle, you’re just building ego. Learn to leave your ego at the door if you’re serious about building good quality muscle and re-shaping the body you see in the mirror towards the one you imagine yourself to be.
Focus on doing each repetition of each exercise properly. Do this repeatedly as best as you can. This includes doing the last rep as good as your first. Not some of the time, – all of the time!
Feel the ‘essence’ of the exercise ( … and it ain’t vanilla!).
When you feel you’ve mastered this and the BASICS, then, and only then, should you worry about what grip to use when you train.
The “Most Muscular” (HULK) pose in the sport of Body-building. Roaarrr!!!
We all get angry now and then.
That’s something everyone reading this blog and every citizen of the world have in common. I have always been fascinated with the Marvel Universe characters, one of which is the “Hulk”. To a little extent, I like to imagine that every person has a super-hero in them. That we all have some superhero power.
In this blog, I would argue that there is a Hulk in every one of us.
What’s important is not that we all have that Hulk that could awaken at a moment’s notice but that we get better at managing that Hulk – that anger. Knowing when to unleash your Hulk.
You see, in dealing with thousands of people of all ages in all walks of life in more than two decades in the gym environment, one of the observations I have made is that different people use anger to hide different feelings. The interesting thing is that a lot of times a lot of people don’t know the real reason they are angry.
Think about you when you get angry. Do you use anger to cover different emotions at different times?
Having children brings out the best in every parent and I think many, if not all parents reading this would agree. This includes the best of ‘anger’ too. Having children teaches you many things, one of which is patience and your tolerance for it. “Zachary, can you stop kicking the car seat please!” and then a few minutes later … “For the hundredth time, Zachary, stop kicking the car seat please!”.
Your patience is constantly tested by your children as you do your best to control that lever that releases the Hulk or anger. It is a daily constant battle at times.
Two principles of building muscle: 1) Simplicity and 2} Continuity. Become aware; Apply action: Adapt accordingly.
In this phase of his life, my son’s curiosity encourages him to push limits – push beyond his own physical, mental and emotional limits and also push us – my wife and I, beyond our limits too. An interesting phase in our lives to say the least.
At one point or another, we all find ourselves asking ourselves the question: “Is this the moment to be accepting and empathise so that my child will not be afraid of his feelings?” or “should I put my foot down so he understands that he cannot get away with this?”
What I have found is that there are NO SET RULES TO FOLLOW.
Each situation must be handled separately but this is not as difficult as it sounds.
As an owner of a gym for 7 years, I found myself constantly resolving conflicts – conflicts between members, conflicts between members and their family members, internal conflicts of members and conflicts in general. What I found was that the first response I chose to a situation SET THE TONE for how traumatically an event will be taken. I have also found that this is a very good approach to keep in mind when dealing with children too.
It seems to work with my ability to manage conflicts with my two kids.
When one of my children is hurting, I have found that compounding it by reacting with angry words or action (and letting the HULK out) does not add to the solution. Instead, responding with initial softness and empathy, helps more. I think it allows the child to see that if me or my wife (Dad or mum) aren’t panicking, maybe, just maybe, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
The philosophy you follow heavily influences whether you achieve your goals in life or not.
Where does this ability to be permissive and initiate softness and keep from panicking come from? It comes from WITHIN. The same place the HULK lies dormant. It is a choice. It is a choice that is made by you, the parent, in the good times – the quiet times. That is the best time. The best time to decide on how you respond to a child’s mis-behaviour.
Because if you didn’t decide on such an approach/response or similar, then chaos would prevail and anger or the Hulk will be default system you will react on. There isn’t time to think about ways to prevent a fire, in the MIDDLE OF A FIRE!
If you’re religious, you will believe that GOD works all things unto good.
So, when difficulty first happens, don’t lecture your children, panic or commence scolding. Allowing them to feel the hurt, the anger and initially responding to their behaviour with calm comforting lays an important foundation. A foundation that will allow them to find value in their experience.
Yes, it is much easier to just release the HULK, but it takes a lot of strength to keep it at bay. Calmness comes from within. For you Christians or members of other religious denominations reading this, calmness comes from God’s word. For those of you not so religiously inclined, think of this calmness as being already a part of you. Part of your “inner-self”.
THERE IS A TIME AND PLACE FOR GENUINE, APPROPRIATE ANGER. There is a time and place to let the HULK out. For instance, most of us would respond to injustice and cruelty with anger. Healthy anger can be channelled towards constructively making our world a better place to live in. Healthy anger can be transmuted when one trains with weights. This is one of the un-sung benefits of weight-training with moderate to heavy weights. When executed properly, negative energy (anger) is transmuted through the iron and replaced with a charge of positive energy and vitality.
Anger or the HULK, when released with the appropriate intensity and direction is very positive and a good thing. This is partly because painful trials or conflicts that challenge the threat of the release of our anger/the HULK, produces something encouraging. It produces maturity and growth.
This maturity and growth ultimately leads to LOVE.
Your challenge: become better at controlling the Hulk within. Don’t be afraid to let it out and work on becoming increasingly aware of when to unleash your Hulk. But, only release your Hulk – when appropriate, and with a proportional response.