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Substitute Parents.

The old Captain Viking Pirate & his Gritty Warrior Viking Pirate son … enjoying some ‘Father-son” experience.
These moments get etched into the memory bank of great experiences.
Build these up.

What’s on my mind right now?

Kids and being a parent.

Come into my head as I think and type to you my thoughts … (my typing speed is very, very fast … and I don’t look at the keys on the keyboard and type with very high accuracy … anyway)

What does it mean to ‘love’ your kids?

We all have our own definitions of this word and area of love. Good. I think loving your kids, means, in part, that you put them ahead of other concerns in your life (at appropriate phases of life – different for a man and a woman).

You see, what I have seen and observed (being in the gym talking to thousands of parents over the years … and actually owning a gym for 7) … what I have seen is that too many parents are caught up in getting ahead in their careers or that promotion. Or better still … buying a bigger house or playing golf every weekend or buying that expensive car.

I find that they devoted so much energy to those things that they failed to free up the time necessary to really listen to their kids and just ‘be’ with them. Not to be with them when you schedule in to make ‘quality time‘ with them in your busy diary …. no, just to be with them.

It’s no wonder kids are so angry. Their parents aren’t giving them the love and attention they deserve.

I believe if kids don’t see their parents making certain sacrifices in order to work at being good parents, or if they already tried to talk to their parents and have been shut up by them, then they aren’t going to keep trying. They’ll either seek out another adult (as substitute parents) who will listen to them or they will buy into whatever youth culture is telling them to do.

Note: don’t “palm off parental responsibility “ to so-called “coaches” in sport clinics, games clinics etc. not everyone wants to and can be a top sportsman/woman. That is a fact of life. One of the mum’s at Zachary’s Athletics club said to me in our initial meeting that she joined her son in the athletics club to learn how to be confident. She did this because she was told that that was what the ‘other parents’ were doing.

I said that was a misperception.

I told her that the best place to learn confidence and integrity and honesty and care and compassion is in the home. From her, the kid’s parent. Not at some substitute parental course (that was over-and above the skill level of the young coaches employed to teach sport skills … not life skills. They were not qualified Life Coaches, most hadn’t experienced much life yet!).

Give him the scaffolding in your son’s life to help him, help himself build & live a life of significance. With a foundation of good etiquette/manners.

You don’t learn self-confidence and have a healthy self-esteem from school or taking part in sport. You learn confidence and all the intangible traits of a well-adjusted citizen in the home. In a loving home with parents making themselves available. That is where I learned my confidence from … confidence large enough to be the BEST in my sport and compete against the best in the World at two World Natural Bodybuilding Championships. I didn’t learn this off substitute parents. I learned it off family, very close family. I learned how to be a Champion from Champions in my family, and guidance from some very good teachers.

Parents continuously not ‘being there’ for their children when necessary is one of the reasons the rate of sexually transmitted diseases – and the rate of teen pregnancy – is very high (and still rising).

Kids are not being loved by their parents (because parents make selfish choices & employers/organisations that don’t support flexible working ideas) …. so these kids accept a cheap substitute. To these kids (to many kids and this has been happening for generations) … it’s better to accept a substitute than to face the hurt of NOT receiving love from their parents.

If you have kids … make the RIGHT choice. For them, for you … and your future relationship with them.

In the years running my gym I have helped many teenage kids (where parents have tried everything) get back on their Life-Track. I have seen “A” students end up with the wrong crowd and end up in jail. I have seen delinquent students and failing students turn their lives around and are now successful business people.

Learning and absorbing our habits every single day of their initial phase of their lives is what our young Princes do.
Teach them well.

I have helped hundreds of kids, help themselves find their best /better selves. I have loved them and gave them that substitute love they never got from their parents. Simply because I cared.

I love mathematics … and I sum it up this way:

Less love and time given to your children in their young years (before 10) …. EQUALS ===> more time spent getting them out of trouble in their teenage years. There is an inverse relationship.

It costs parents more in time, money and heartache and pain in future years.

Make time NOW … before it is too late.

Don’t make the mistake many (previous generations made). There is Power in Two (your partner/wife/husband) and work together to manage the all-important time and love to your growing children.

It will be one of the best and most important investment decisions you will ever make in your life (more than that promotion or that business deal or )…. just like making time to ‘work/train’ your muscles … not just for now … but for your future/old age.

All the very best in your decision

Yours always, in iron and muscles,

Cheers & Ahoy!!

 

The old Captain Viking Pirate … and loving kids … and making the Right decision

A ‘sick day’ from school day for us here, 4 years ago now.
Enjoying the entertainment at Sydney’s beautiful Luna Park.
I never let schooling interfere with my or my family’s education.

Building a good foundation for your childrens’ character is like building good lean quality muscle.
It takes time and patience. Lots of patience but laser-like focus.
Proper exercise techniques and application of relevant principles , compounded over time results in the goal you visualise.
An morally-upright, free-thinking citizen of the world putting his/her hand up to lead if necessary.
As parents, be the best teacher you can be.

Me in my cowboy hat & enjoying a beer (still training my ‘guns’ … drinking my beer)

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Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

I ask God to help me be the man my son hopes to be when he is older.
I’m far from perfect but I get up and try every single day … to be the man I want him to be.
And I have no doubt he will … because I have God on my side/in my corner.

Men.

We’re interesting creatures.

Simple, yet complex.

I like to refer to us all, as the simple-complex man, individually.

Women, do you agree?

Mens’ needs are simple. I grew up in an large extended family and I heard a lot of things said by many different people I lived with during my first 12 years of my life. One thing I heard one of the older women was –

“the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.’

When I reflect on that now, there is a partial truth, actually more than just a partial truth in that statement. You see, men need a few basic needs (like being fed with warm, proper nutrition) and we’re satisfied. Well, I think most Real Men would be. I also think that men, Real Men, are torn between two extremes, like a Dr Jekyll and Hyde or Harvey Two Face from the DC Universe.

Let’s run through a few needs or what I refer to as ‘matters of the heart’, as I see it. If we run through the basic psychological needs like – to know and be known, to love and be loved by others, there is one that stands out. I can honestly say and I honestly believe that men, Real Men need deep, caring relationships with other men.

Enjoying a little ‘biceps workout’ with my very good Aussie friend of almost 20 years now.
A best man in my wedding.
Every man needs at least one good male friend in his life.
Just one.

A have a handful of very good male friends. One, I spent a day and half with as he passed through Sydney, on his way to South America for a week long conference, attended by represented by 60 countries, including the USA and Australia. He is a United Nations Legal Advisor. We’ve been best friends since we were in kindergarten, over 40 years ago. We share dreams and sorrows. We ‘open up’ to each other and hug in public. We lean on each other during tough times but also celebrate during wins.

I have another friend, the very first friend I made on my first day of University almost 30 years ago at the start of my first degree (majoring in Mathematics and Physics). He lives only a suburb away from me and we meet up regularly for coffee and ‘debrief’ almost every week. We make time for each other.

I also have another friend I meet up every quarter that I have known for the last 20 years. We share our fears, our successes, our failures and our dreams. We share feelings. Just the way men should feel comfortable doing with other men. He got a divorce 5 years ago, it was difficult period for him. He’s in another chapter in his life.

I also have a few other friends scattered throughout my existence that have travelled with me in different phases of our lives. All there for a specific reason, upon hind-sight.

The point is, men need other men for deep, caring relationships. Like I need these men.

My very first friend at University on my very first day almost 30 years ago.
Lives just a suburb away for the last 20 years.
Catching up for a coffee and chat and digging deep in our relationship.
Man-stuff!

Yep, you read that correct. And you don’t have to be gay to want that (not that I have anything against being gay or anything like that). No, just talking purely on a ‘needs basis’.

You see, in my experience with males I call my friends and my love of observation and being around mostly men in the last 30 years of visiting the gym, I can deduce that Men need strong, caring relationships with other men. Relationships that allow a man to speak freely about things going on in his life. It is vital to their existence and sense of being and purpose. It is vital to their sanity and management of energy.

It’s to this level that James instructed Christians, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16). I believe that a man who doesn’t have at least one other man to who he can be accountable regarding failures, hurts and temptations is a prime target for masculine anger.

Yep, you heard me – masculine anger!

And how does this arise?

Well, from my observations and dealings with mostly men in the different phases of their lives, I have seen that the angry man in our society seems to be caught between mythical masculinity on one side and true masculinity on the other.

You see, the man feels the pressure to achieve, to earn, to conquer, to win and so forth. Yes, but he also feels the silent pressure to do all these things on his own. Now, that is a lot of pressure, and just like many things in life, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. Men all handle pressure differently and have different stress tolerance levels.

Apart from the pressure just mentioned, a man, a Real Man also feels the NEED to love and to nurture those he loves. He also has the need to be loved and nurtured by those who love him.

This is where so many of us go a bit askew and out of line.

Askew, when he tries to reconcile or balance the two needs of love.

The man, the Real Man is constantly torn between two extremes of character, like Harvey Two Face or Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde. He is torn between being invincible and being vulnerable. He is torn between being aloof and being involved and present. He is torn between being self-serving and selfish and being of assistance.

This confusion and imbalance caused by the constant juggling act between character extremes drives a lot of men crazy, which I believe contributes to the high levels of male suicides every year. The roots of this conflict sends up numerous shoots of anger-producing tendencies in his life.

This has got to be stopped or at least managed better.

What we need is a gym like the one I ran for 7 years, in every suburb. A place where men can go and just connect with other men. A place where men can love and be loved, unconditionally. A place where every man came there with the honest purpose to help the ‘man in the mirror’ and to connect with other like-minded men who are there for the single purpose of bettering relationships.

With themselves and with other men.

This gym will be predominantly for men. For Men Only. Men need this (and this has nothing to do with sexism). This is about survival of the male species, of what it means to be a man. Today and tomorrow. Consider this: more men die now from suicide in Australia then women die from breast cancer.

Shocking truth: Men suicide rate in Australia!

A last real Man’s Domain: a gym like mine, where everyone knew your name and were happy you came.

Sit back and watch the men that we produce … within families, within communities .. within states … within countries and the … future world.

These will be men with much more balanced characters that will one day make decisions when they will be leaders of tomorrow. Decisions that we hope will be rooted on the foundation of what they have learned while – loving other men and being loved by other men.

Give it two decades.

We will create not only make Champions out of these men, but more importantly we will help form the foundations of Champion Leaders.

I will be smoking my cigar-filled pipe by then, sitting back and thinking “wow!!”

That is life. What a wonderful life and world this is.

Amen.

 

Until next time …. cheers to all YOU Real Men out there … never stop believing in YOU … keep on keeping on … Stay alive, it’s worth it!!

Ahoy & cheers!!

 

The old Captain Viking Pirate … & his thoughts on the battle within most men

Me & some of the Men of the Gym I ran for 7 years … getting together for a simple eat & meat men-bonding session
Simply because men need this.

I had a family gym that was predominantly male (70%) for about 7 years. I encouraged the men to speak freely and communicate all their feelings and we shared stories and helped one another through tough emotionally difficult phases of life. What a wonderful group of ‘post-feminite new age males’.

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Saying No … to say, Yes.

Beauty comes in many forms. Look at this exquisite beauty at an art show I went to. This Bonsai Tree is produced with constant pruning and shaping. A little like shaping a young male in to not just a Man but a Gentleman. It takes time, a lot of patience and high skill levels. I sit back and go “wow!”

My son is growing up in to a fine young man. He has a Tom Hanks character inside that young Arnold Schwarzennegger tough exterior already and he is only 8. He’s tough but tender when appropriate. Understanding yet stands his ground and confronts when required.

He’s my young Warrior Viking Pirate Prince.

He made me aware recently of a habit of mine. Good or bad, you decide. He said –

Dad, why is it, that you always say no when I first ask you for something… and then a little later change your mind and say yes?

Initially I responded – “Kaka!”.

This is a term I created to be all-encompassing.  A term that gives me an ‘out’, my little exit strategy if I ever get caught in a corner with my childrens’ endless questioning. To be used when I was just too tired to give them an answer or when I didn’t know the answer (which was very regularly) and I didn’t want them to know I didn’t.

Instead of saying ‘just google it”, I came up with my ‘made-up Fijian’ word which I said meant – it is just the way it is! I am not obligated to give an answer and this is where the conversation ends. Full stop!

They hate that word. I use it sparingly.

Then, I got thinking. I asked myself that same question, that great question he had asked me. Why Paul? I’ve always told my children from when they were able to speak, to not be afraid to ask questions and to question everything, even beliefs, behaviours, my actions and the way I do things, history and so forth. However, I’ve always reminded that the most important thing to do is to ask the right question.

This particular question from Zachary, was a right question.

Initially, I didn’t have an answer. I was stuck, in that corner no one likes to be. He got me. Gee … zus, and he was only 7 years old. What other questions is he going to be asking me as we progress through life I thought? Scary stuff! Luckily, I coined that ‘get out of jail’ term pass – kaka. Phew!

After reflection, I called him back and said –

“well, son, if I said yes first off and then said no later, you would be quite unhappy, wouldn’t you? You would probably think I’m cruel. But, if I say no first because when I do and then change my mind … to say yes, you won’t be disappointed and would most probably think that I am a nice dad. A nice man, that I am.”

I told Zachary my son, that this habit of mine was to ensure that I allowed myself time to reflect and think about my decision. This would make sure that, whatever decision it was, that I always came across as a Real Man … a Gentleman that I wanted to be, always. A role model that he, my son, would copy his behaviour off. A template for him to build on.

Working out in my gym during a photo shoot. Shaping a young male in to a man, a Gentle Man is very much like building good quality lean muscle within the walls of balance & symmetry. Requires patience, a lot of skill and dedication to truth, with tonnes of love.

Preparing him for the changing post-feminite landscape

First impressions matter.

That is what we have heard all our lives. Even more so now. I want my son to understand that, I think he does already. Fairly or unfairly, people are going to judge you to be a gentleman or not within the first minute or two of meeting you. Having a template, a blueprint of good manners is important.

We all have a blueprint.

My blueprint … a template evolved (and continuously evolving) that is a cross between relevant ‘old school’ traditions that I still retain from my English Gentleman Grandfather and skills honed by me in these modern times. Skills that he, my father & grandfather would not know and didn’t have to because they lived in a different era, with values and practises that were relevant to that time.

Just like the way I train in the gym, a fusion of ‘old school training methods, combined with a modern twist”. I want my son to learn the old fashioned chivalry combined with a modern respect for women. I want to make sure that he puts the ‘gentle back into the man’ and keep it that way for his future. A future that will be embracing change at a pace that I or previous generations of dads would have never faced.

I need to prepare my son (and daughter) as best I can to believe in himself first, an important step to becoming a gentleman and that knowing that the real meaning of the saying “it’s ok to be a man’ is that men are capable of many dimensions. In other words, to be proud of who he is.

Putting the gentle back into man means nurturing the classic male qualities of kindness and thoughtfulness, patience, compassion and trustworthiness. A man that embrace intimacy qualities simply because he chooses to. A True Gentleman with manners does not have to have feminine qualities. No.

A true gentleman understands that manners matter. He is aware of social etiquette. I want many things for my son, and one of the important ones is that I hope make him conscious of this – in the way he looks, sounds and acts around others.

We all need a bit of guidance and reminder of what and why we are a man. It takes effort and the desire to be made aware. Manners in a Man, Matters. The great thing is that manners can be improved through increased awareness and practice.

Why is this important?

Because the landscape for men has been changing and has been changing very fast in the last decade or two. Men are very confused and unsure in many things, prime example is on how they are expected to be a man – a Real Man.

I want my son to grow up understanding good knowledge of manners and etiquette because it just makes for a better world and also because it paves the path to manhood. Being a man requires a certain amount of experience and knowledge.

I want Zachary to know that it is one thing being a male but it is a totally other thing to be a man, a gentleman. Granted, today the social landscape is not what it used to be when I was growing up as gender roles have blurred and continue to change dramatically. Many things have changed.

I want my son to embrace this change but be prepared for it. I want him to be a successful gentleman in this new landscape. A landscape that requires him to know how to act, how to dress, how to talk and how to date.

A man needs to allow himself to be coachable to help him, help himself navigate the challenges he faces in the Sea of Life.

 Being the BEST Dad and Father you can be

He is learning this from me, every single day. That is the pressure and responsibility that us men (with young children) and the men in society at large have. Helping create the New Men and beginning with teaching them the new etiquette. I have to admit, it is a little daunting as I tell them that I am their Flawed Hero, their Less-than Perfect Dad.

You see, from where I sit, saying no … before I say yes is only one piece of the puzzle of what it means for my son to grow into a modern day Real Man with relevant old traditional values with a modern twist, needed for survival in today’s world. A world currently filled with many confused post-feminite, re-constructed, new-age so-called men! Not Real Men, far from Real Gentlemen.

I remind him of what my father used to say to me ‘action speaks louder than words!’’ Yes, indeed. I want Zachary to understand that it’s one thing to say we need to change how we act, but it’s another thing to do it! A very necessary ingredient to successful body re-engineering journeys that I have helped people, help themselves achieve over the last 20+ years.

To get quality results in anything, one has to not only have  a clear goal but develop a quality plan and most importantly, ensure a quality implementation of the quality plan. A ‘scatter-gun’ approach will not give you the desired results.

Etiquette, after all, is more than knowledge, it’s a product of well-rooted self-confidence. That is probably one of the greatest gifts any dad or father can impart to their sons – that of self-confidence. They don’t learn this at school or the sporting fields, they learn this at home.

Children, like seeds need a lot of guidance and nurturing as well as the freedom to grow. However, with more freedom comes more responsibility. Teaching them life etiquette helps them manage their sailing better.

With regards to being a gentleman, I know that how we feel about ourselves is often how we present ourselves to others. You see and hear about it every single day. If you honestly believe you can excel at a job or in a game of football then the confidence will show when you talk to your boss or take a penalty.

People and society notice and reward good etiquette, demonstrated through appropriate self-confidence. Good manners matter!

So, there are many things I hope and wish my son will be and skills he would have practised through good behavioural habits. When channelled in to the right mediums, habits can be life-changing.

For a better life.

My ultimate wish for him is to have a fulfilling life of significance. I’m sure it is the same thing our dads had for us and I’m sure all you Dads and Real Men reading this feel the same as well. We’re all ultimately helping to mold the future Leaders of our world when we’re old, frail and silver. And not fall in to the trap of ‘do as I say, not as I do” philosophy that some of the previous generations of men have passed down. This is one that need to be put aside.

The skill all us Dads need to develop is the skill of continuously questioning beliefs passed down to us and filtering out bulls*it and values that are not relevant and life-affirming for this era. And the most important skill of discerning between what is helpful and what isn’t, based on relevance.

That takes time … and hard work/YAKA!

Let’s hope they are great examples of Real Men, men who have simply practised putting the gentle back in to man and have learned to say no … pause .. … then say yes.

Thank you Zachary, for asking that right question.

 

Ahoy & cheers my friends …

The old Captain Viking Pirate … & his thoughts on being a Real Gentleman

I had a family gym that was predominantly male (70%) for about 7 years. I encouraged the men to speak freely and communicate all their feelings and we shared stories and helped one another through tough emotionally difficult phases of life. What a wonderful group of ‘post-feminite new age gentlemen. Men that understood that manners matter.

Give him the scaffolding in your son’s life to help him, help himself find his light. To allow him to build & live a life of significance. With a foundation of good etiquette/manners.

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Worshipping Work.

How many hours do you work? 30, 40, 50 … maybe 80 hours per week?

If you do, congratulations. I’ve spent a bit of time in the Corporate world working very long hours and ‘climbed the ladder’ so to speak for a number of years, almost 10 years to be exact.

Interesting climb to say the least.

Many workers today are sacrificing themselves for work or rather on the altar of work. In my years in Corporate consulting I saw a lot of things. Good and no-so good. I saw many tolerate hugely harmful symptoms such as anger, chemical dependencies and loneliness in a what seemed to be a blind pursuit of self-fulfillment through career success.

This may be pathological but it may also be idolatrous!

What I mean by this is that, if you’re a Christian, you’ll understand and agree that such a person worships his or her career as though it were a god.

Yes, I understand the importance of work but I think for many, work has been taken a bit too far. Like all idols, work is impotent in the face of true human need. Not sure if you’re familiar with a passage out of Psalm in the Bible (I spent 8 years as an altar boy, assisting Priests in the Big Catholic Cathedral in Suva City, Fiji Islands). Well, 115:4-7 puts it:

Their idols are silver and gold, made by the hands of men. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but they cannot see; they have ears, but cannot hear, noses, but they cannot smell; they have hands, but cannot feel, feet, but they cannot walk; nor can they utter a sound with their throats.’

Now, I don’t want to sound like I am preaching to you because I am very far from a priest. I just quoted a relevant text from the Bible. To get the story straight, I have to admit that I have been very guilty of putting ‘work before everything else’ in many phases of my life.

Many.

My version of the Hulk Pose. Sometimes we all need to ‘smash’ hard, old, bad habits to embrace growth and fulfillment by simply saying and acting ‘no’. Have no fear … like the Incredible Hulk,

When I ran the gym for 7 years for example, I never took leave and I worked consistently between 12 and 18 hour days every day for 7 years. Now, if that isn’t idol worship, I don’t know what is. So, what I am saying is that I am no better than you, I have travelled in the same boat and been ‘in your shoes’. I am just sharing a perspective of what we’re all battling in our lives: this work-life balance.

Back to that passage, what do you think it means? Yes, if you feel it sort of spoke about the powerlessness of idols, you’re correct. That is exactly what the psalm is trying to make us aware of and to take sufficient and appropriate actions, that work as an idol is just as powerless as an idol itself.

I think it also says that those who worship work as an idol are defenceless in the face of true need… as another passage/psalm states –

“those who make them will be like them, and so will all those who trust them. (115:8).

I have spent a lot of time with men of all ages, ranging from teens to men in their 90s. I enjoy spending time with men of all backgrounds and socio-economic status. My shoulders has been a pillow for many grown men to cry on over the years of owning my gym. Those moments spoke volumes.

Take ‘time out’ to reflect about where and what you’re worshipping.
Going on a holiday to Fiji is a great way to maybe, find some answers … and courage to act to change your perspective on life … for the better.
Work, but don’t worship work. There is a huge difference. That difference could be your relationship with you, your close family & friends … & could mean your life.

I have sat with grown men, exceptionally powerful men in business (I once had one of the top 200 wealthiest men in Australia secretly training in my gym and whom I called a friend). I learned a lot about business and property investments from him as I helped him, help himself become his best self. I’ve had grown men weep on my shoulders (luckily I have pretty solidly wide, muscley shoulders to hold down the weight of their heads and tears).

They shared their tragic stories. Some with so much success’ in the financial world but with personal lives shattered, others with families in shambles. Some with their character de-based or their business in doubt, their circumstances out of control.

At some point, I look into their eyes and I see an emptiness for a brief moment in time. The emptiness tells me that all their professional accomplishments, all the machinery of their companies, all their wealth they worked all their lives for …. Is of no help at all. It amounts to nothing.

Simple nothingness.

On a beach in the beautiful paradise islands of Fiji … where I was born and spent my early youth in.
The Fijians understand and live and breathe “Fiji Time” very well (& use it when appropriate/needed)  … and is the way of life … Fijians are some of the world’s hardest and smartest workers but …. they never to worship work like an idol. They only worship one God – Jesus Christ. Full-stop! ‘Take a page out of the Fijian’s Book of Life.’

I see nothingness in their eyes … their souls, as they say the ‘eyes are the windows to the souls’. I have seen many souls in my time. And I have travelled with them, helping them, help themselves find their way out of the depths of despair.

They were in deep trouble and their god (work) is impotent. Of no help in time of need.

I have grieved with such men (and to a little extent, women).

They have chosen the wrong God. How much do they have to lose to realise the emptiness, the sadness. There is power in simply saying ‘no’. The power of no. Use it, if need be.

Of course, I also respect the fact that the same thing could happen to me (and it has in the last 25 years and could happen to anyone).

Work is one of God’s gifts to us.

The problem arises, I feel, when we begin to worship and serve it rather than … the true God, God himself … and Jesus.

Or whatever Higher being you want to call God.

Choose well.

It is your life after all.

 

Yours in iron, muscles and nuggets of wisdom,

 

The old Captain Viking Pirate

Front double biceps at my favourite beach here in Sydney, Australia.
Enjoying the sun and the creator that it is.
Be not like the moon, be like the sun.
Take time out of ‘work’ to enjoy your surroundings.
Vv.

Appropriate outfit given the Rugby World Cup
Go the Wallabies & Fiji! Not excessive time at work/worshipping work allows you to invest your time in to your children. This is one of the best investments you will ever make. Remember this: less time spent with your children when they are young ==> more time in their late teens/early 20s … getting them out of trouble. It will cost you more in time and $$ and heart-ache too. Choose well … and be proactive, do it now.

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The Gym, Reps, Sets, Synergy and Workouts.

You perform your reps, sets and workout with one of the tools – dumbells, when you search for that ‘elusive pump’ feeling in the gym.

In my almost three decades in the ‘iron game’, I have learned many things.

About gyms, about people, about different training methods and styles, about perceptions, about limitations, about the mind, and about muscles, fat loss and body sculpturing.

I have learned a lot, filling my domain knowledge of subject areas that have always been fascinated about. And still am.

The Gym

I’ve always believed the gym was a micro-cosim of society. It is a metaphor for Life.

It does not represent reality – it tells (beautiful lies) about people. What it basically says, in my opinion, is I’m bigger or better than I really am. It is a kind of fantasy world.

But the gym is also not pure fantasy – it voices and indirectly describes and reflects, the real world (outside) by people the same people that make up the gym, by inventing little worlds that resemble it, loosely or closely.

I find it fascinating because, like Forest Gump said of life – “life is like a box of chocolate, you never know what you’re gonna get.” That is exactly how I feel before each visit to the gym. You never know what you’re gonna get, like who will be there, what equipment will be available when you need it, whether the gym will be “packed to the rafters” or quiet and empty.

No, you never know what you’re gonna get.

The gym alters reality to allow us to ‘see’ reality better.

What I find most interesting is that the gym lies (if it is a good gym), to reveal the truth to you (about the world outside the gym).

Each person in the gym has their own history, their own story, if you pause and ‘listen to what they’re not saying.’ Each person’s story is a metaphor for an aspect of the Real World.

The gym, in a sense, and among other things, is allegory. What it gives you (if you’re willing to listen and look and feel) is the real world – indirectly.

Maybe, that is why the gym is appealing to many of gym-goers world over. Maybe, it just allows us ‘let be.’

It allows the world each person is creating within their minds to come into being for themselves and everyone else in the gym … by leaving the real world (outside) well enough alone.

Just for those minutes or hours they are in the gym.

The gym allows each user the ability to create their own worlds in their minds. That is one of the reasons why, I think the gym has been so appealing to me all these years because it is fundamentally, how real life goes.

You see, most people proceed each visit to the gym with ignorance and uncertainty; then they get glimpses of the ‘truth’ – their truth, or moments of understanding. And, if you’re like most people, you rarely (and usually too late) get to ‘see’ the whole version of reality.

The gym is, maybe, the TRUEST REALISM.

Members of my ‘extended family’ when I used to own and manage my gym for seven years. Some of the best and hardest years of my life so far. I loved leading the members (predominantly males – 70%) and they allowed me to take them to unchartered territories for us all. The gym was (unlike today’s) a social place. An ‘inbetween home’ between your place of work and your home. That’s me on the extreme left.

 The workout.

Every workout is got to be about some part of the body or … I guess, these days, the ‘whole body.’ Every workout has got to be about something at the very least.

It doesn’t take much to do a workout – less still to do a set or just a handful of sets. In terms of action, I mean.

A workout to me is more than just a number of sets or selected exercises performed for a pre-selected number of repetitions. To some, a workout in the gym with traditional weight-training equipment is akin to a meditation hour or so. No, a workout is the pattern of a thing, a living thing – its rhyme and reason. It is what a moment or a memory or silence is about, if that makes any sense.

A workout does not need to be scientific. There are many types of workouts and I have tried and experimented with many over the last three decades.

To me, a workout is the genius of a thing. A workout could comprise just about anything, it may even be nothing. A workout is what you experience to write the story you are writing in the gym.

The Sets

A Set is simply, one tool a gym enthusiast might use to fulfil his goal to achieve a workout, the workout he or she imagines he is going to do. The set is, to some extent, a form of a workout in itself which uses action as its mode, usually in the form of a slight discomfort or pain.

The set intricately and closely connects one exercise to another, usually through a causal chain, ending in a moment of pain and pleasure or what I refer to as ending in a climax.

I have done thousands of sets since I began lifting weights in my late teens almost thirty years ago. To me, a set is a miracle and a mystery. A set is the track from somewhere to somewhere else – the start and the beginning of a mii-project, a small journey.

It carries the performer from silence to understanding, from nothing to something.

A set to a workout is like a river is to a whole catchment. Namely, everything. The part serves the whole; it is what the whole comes down to.

It is the point, the ‘dot.’

Sets alone or sets performed in no particular order mean something to the enthusiast but not much. I find that when I am doing a set, I am telling a part of my story, my life because what I am striving for ultimately is, meaning. And how does meaning arise when you’re doing a set?

It arises when I put the repetitions required to perform each and every set into an order in which I have learned to recognise a pattern of relationship (through the many thousands of sets and workouts I have performed over the last 3 decades).

I then derive meaning.

Over the years, I have learned to recognise relationships between sets and causality. We all have that gift for seeing and attributing meaning patterns – and for storing and repeating them in mind and workouts when recalling. We do this for almost everything in our lives, it is just easier on our brain as the brain relies heavily on autopilot, ultimately to conserve energy.

We humans, make sense of life that way, by learning how things interact, what causes what. The only thing is, like anything else, learning so, takes time.

Climaxing at the end of a set is one kind of pleasure, a lot of time, with pain thrown in to the mix. The completion of the pre-determined number of sets is not the point of the workout.

So, the point of a workout as I see it and story-tell, is in the ‘feeling.’

It is the feeling that allows one to build and soak in the ‘essence of the exercise.’ And how do you get the essence? That involves much, much more than just lifting a weight against gravity and moving the weight from point A to point B.

I will save that ‘find the essence of the exercise’ to another blog.

Providing a little bit of assistance. My pupil here ‘feeling the essence’ of the exercise.
All relationships require work and time .
Sometimes, its the little things, that determine your success in pursuit of a worthwhile goal.

Reps

Reps, is the shortened version of repetition. Part of gym lingo. It is the basic unit of a set and the building blocks of your workout. It is the number and tempo that dictates what kind of set you’re doing and the feeling you get at the end of the set (if you get any at all).

Not every rep is the same, just like not every golf swing is the same, using different clubs for different strokes.

Performing the rep is when you ‘get your hands dirty.’ It is when you feel the blood pumping excitedly through your veins. It is when you sweat. You sweat to earn those muscles. The rep is when you experience what I call a ‘continuous progression of focused moments.’

Some people call this meditation.

Everyone is at varying levels of meditation and are, ideally, working towards improving their meditation ability or what we, bodybuilders refer to ‘mind-muscle’ connection.

This is when you ‘feel the essence’ or what Arnold calls the ‘pump’. It is an elusive thing and not many gym rats get to experience this climaxing moment. It is the holy grail of lifting weights. It is one of the factors that separate real bodybuilders from the gym rats.

So-called self-help gurus have, for decades now, spoken about how one can ‘get in touch with one’s inner-self. Well, I have news for everyone, bodybuilders, real, authentic bodybuilders have been their inner-self for over a hundred years now.

Bodybuilders have a very highly level of understanding of getting in touch with one’s inner-self, because you couldn’t really get any more any ‘in touch’ with yourself then getting in to the individual cell, with vitality-infused blood.

Feel the essence, I say!

Fully focused!
A true warrior & champion. Phil applying principles in one of my programs and adopting my framework.
Focusing on making every repetition of every set of every exercise as ideal as possible.
Practise does not make perfect – Perfect practise makes perfect!
Photo: Retired Champion Ex-Australian Wallaby Captain & NSW Waratahs Captain and player in action under my watchful eyes.

Synergy

Sets alone or sets carried out in no particular order could mean success … but very little: Second set, 8 to 12 reps, power on the positive, control on the negative with a 2-1-3 tempo! Oh, I get it. A workout is completed; sense of achievement arise. How does that happen? It happens because the gym enthusiast/bodybuilder puts the sets in an order in which he has learned to recognise a pattern of relationships and so can derive satisfaction and purpose. It happens because of the innate human avidness of the human GIFT for seeing and attributing meaning to patterns – and for storing and repeating them in mind and body and spirit (dare I say, speech).

We humans make sense of our life and in the world we live in by learning how things interact, what causes what. The way every cause has its effect; the way every action has its actor, its object and its consequence. So, most gym rats learn that for every

What I am trying to say is that put a man and woman who like the look of each other in a place together and what you’ll get pretty soon, among other things, is someone doing something; and someone doing it back; and two people doing something together. What you get is ‘synergy’.

Sex; a relationship; perhaps issues. What you get is sets performed – simple, compound, complex and compound-complex, fragments and fractals.

What you get is synergy.

Anyone can ‘lift weights’, but unfortunately, not many can lift weights with synergy. And how do you do you make those reps, those sets perform their alchemy and achieve synergy and purpose.

I have found that one can learn the many different types of training ‘techniques’ and ways of lifting without ever knowing what the essence feels like. Just like you can understand the whole scheme of evolutionary history, without ever knowing why a minah bird moves exactly, and with such intelligence, as it does – why that is necessary and how it came to pass.

Achieving and feeling the essence and flowing with synergy in your workouts is another lively mystery.

A tip: one needs to learn rhythm. This comes after years of deliberate mind-muscle-heart-spirit practise. One of the greatest joys of doing a workout is not just achieving synergy but also making music within.

That is when you get hold of ‘that mystery’ and master that miracle within.

Good repetitions of good sets of good exercises performed well, amongst other variables, performed with synergy and music .. .makes for a good workout.

And the more balanced and elegant one’s sets are, the sounder they are structurally, the better one’s workouts will be.

You approach what I refer to as the ‘state of beauty’ … an enlightened state that brings you closer to balance and symmetry, a state of finite bliss. A state of enhanced balance and symmetry, when done correctly.

Not many gym enthusiasts ever get to that state. That is ok, most don’t. … and most don’t know how to, either.

 

Until next time,

Captain Viking Pirate Vaughn-Van-Valentine (VvV)

Collage of some bodybuilding poses

Collage of members of my gym in action … many, many years ago.

Quality Plan + Quality Implementation allowed Team Valentine (my wife & I) to beat the best in the sport here in Australia and stand on the stage against the best in the World.

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Keep on keeping on.

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Life, what is it?

How do you define what ‘life’ is? What does it mean to you when you think or hear people say ‘live your life?

To keep things simple, life to me, is just like building and hanging on to muscle (after almost a quarter of a decade of working with it).

It – Life, depends heavily on two principles – simplicity and continuity.

You can read about this analogy in an earlier blog. What I would like to elaborate on, however, is Life and what it means. People view life through different lens. I believe, life – all life, is intended to have purpose.

From my interactions with and observations of people over the last four decades of my existence on this planet, it seems that many people live their lives almost as if they worship it. Yep, they put it up on an alter – they exalt it to almost Godly status!

The question I ask is, why?

Is it in the genes or has it been instilled in us by our environment.

Perhaps we all too easily become worshipers of life. Life itself, is likened to that of an idol. It seems that all the marbles are put in to the one basket called life and there is nothing after life. People seem to be very busy, rushing around, trying to squeeze in as much as they can while they can – experiences, places to visit, ticking off ‘bucket lists’ and promotional ladders at work.

Most people just seem to focus on what they can get out of ‘this life’. Why? I just don’t get why this insatiable desire for more, more, more …

The thing is that if we put all our eggs in one basket – this basket called life, I think that death or the mere mention of death would most likely be an unwanted trespasser, an uninvited purposeless intruder. Probably part of the reason why a lot of modern day society revolves around avoiding the question of or conversation of death and dying. So much so, that the aged population get segregated from society in to over-hyped ‘aged care’ facilities, separated and out of sight from the rest of society. Nobody in modern society wants to be reminded of death, no, it is life that is celebrated!

This is a sad state of society, not only for the seemingly unwanted aged put aside, in a patient room, waiting to die. But, it is also a sad state for those that are left behind, those in society that would benefit greatly by having the aged pass on knowledge and wealth of experience through the long lost art of story-telling.

It would benefit the younger generation immensely. If only, people had a little more patience.

Sad indeed.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t live life and live it to the full. No, but to exalt anything – another person, an object, rock bands, a job, a position and including even life itself, into the ‘be all and end all’ takes a critical ingredient out of the picture. Do you know what this critical ingredient is?

It is God.

Worshipping anything, even life, squeezes God out of the picture, out of the equation of a truly successful life. It becomes a life that is purposeless, something that is an increasing symptom of many people in today’s very fast, busy worlds.

They are growing more distant from God and appear to be soul-less as they are searching for him in all the wrong places. There is an hollowness in their soul. Even though they have more social media connections, they have less genuine relationships. What is missing is their spirituality.

Remember, that it is your relationship with God – your God, in your life that enables you to make sense out of the countless nonsense out there. Having God in your equation, your life gives you hope, hope that even when sense and purpose seem to escape you at times, one day you will understand.

It is true, that you should live your life as if it were your last in this world.

But, understand that worshipping it to the status of an idol is not needed if you believe. Believe that Jesus Christ was the resurrection and the life. Believing in him and God allows you to live (even when your physical body dies from this world).

So, live and believe in all your heart and soul. This belief will mean that you will never die, that you will live forever in to the next life. Believe that your life now, this life, is only a small part of your life in the time continuum – that you, me, we are all living out days of our eternal life.

Now.

Keep it simple. There is no end to life, there is only continuity and simplicity, which as I mentioned at the start is the two fundamental principles that life and funnily enough – muscle is built on.

All you need to do is believe and be redeemed by our saviour, the son of God – Jesus Christ.

Close your eyes. Breathe. Keep on keeping on …. Don’t stop believin’.

Amen.

 

Until next time,

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The most important kind of invasion.

Imagine. Believe.

Imagine. Believe.

If you believe in God, in a God ….

Have you asked the question – how does your life fit in to God’s design? How do all our lives fit in to his design? Can we see the design of history’s tapestry even though the entire cloth is not yet woven? Can you see your future? Do you believe you have total control of your destiny?

No, I didn’t think so.

Can we be sure that the thread of our lives fits into this – his great design?

Maybe, when we redeem ourselves, we can be sure.

World history is littered with stories of invasions. However, the most important invasion is the one where we allow redemption in Jesus Christ. This initiates a new life, one maybe in which the life of God invades us and fills us with love and increased awareness. With this invasion, the passage of time somehow takes on the significance of eternity.

When we have God in our lives, we believe. And this belief allows us to see the passage of life through eternity’s eyes, not just in terms of hours or minutes or the 86,400 seconds in each day.

Because we allow God’s invasion, we know and believe there is life after death. We believe there is a heaven. We believe there is a hell, too.

But our lives, the thread of our lives fits exactly as it should in to his tapestry design – in his cloth of life. Because you have redeemed and you believe, every single day. So, this does not mean that we have to fill our lives again with constant activity. No, that is what this world, our world has been and is doing, every single day.

Everyone is rushing around trying to be ‘busier’ than the next person and take, take, take as much as they can from the world each and every day. The world seems to teach us to constantly find ‘LIFE IN TIME’ (cramming as many experiences and activities in each and every day).

This approach is short-lived because the world – our world finds out sooner or later, that time becomes scarce and slips away, it disappears and …. Everything ends in sadness and remorse.

When does the world learn?

Allowing God to invade your heart, your spirit, your being, allows you to view time very differently. It allows you to be in HIS time, what I refer to as “God’s Time”, not the “World’s Time.”

Time itself becomes alive, alive to those who allow themselves to be invaded by God. Time becomes ALIVE to us, the invaded and this calls for a dramatically different view of time:

A view where there is no such thing as time. Our ‘inner-time’ becomes one with all the “redeemed time” of the saints of time, of all time. There is no beginning, there is no end. There is no such thing as time.

You become part of God, time is part of God, so, you are time, time is you. You are living forever, living a part of your eternity. You are part of one whole, and the whole is part of you.

All that you have done, all that you have ever hoped to do, all that you have had and all that you have desired is complete. There are no more tasks. There is no more rushing around, filling your day. Everything is, as is.

Allow the most important invasion to happen to you if you have already done so.

Redemption is key.

Believe. Believe. Believe.

Amen.

 

Until next time,

Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord!

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