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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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Mid-life Crisis.

Hello!

Sacrifices

One of the wisest men I have ever been mentored by, my good friend – Dave ( a fellowship member of Menza) told me once that “Nothing Changes but form.”

Do people change. Of course they do. But, change according to what? And … what is your perception of change?

Got me thinking.

What is a “worthwhile sacrifice?”

A four year undergraduate degree at a prestigious university? An apprenticeship with a famous chef? Sweeping the floors of a multi-national conglomerate just to “get in?” All these sacrifices and those like these change the person – some for the good and some for the bad.

If you’re in a relationship, like I am – in a relationship with this woman for 19 years now. It sounds like a lot but it is nothing compared to her grandparents who lived to their 90s and were such beautiful people.

Time (& space), as Einstein said is relative. So, basically, nineteen years, in the whole scope of the time spectrum, is put simply – nothing!

So, what do you do with marriages that go through periods where there is ‘rough seas’ as they co-captain their ship through the ‘sea of life?’ I know for a fact that over the years, I have carried my wife (& was the stronger one) and in other times (like the whole of last year), she was the STRONG ONE & carried the weaker one – me.

Sailing through the sea of life, will inevitably produce tough times, it’s just foolish to think that you won’t encounter bad weather & monstrous waves in the depths of the sea of life. Foolish.

It is in times of trouble that, you just hang on to each other, because it is easy – very easy to lose one another. You need to go ‘above and beyond’ your call of duty in seeing that the weaker partner gets through that rough period ok. Everyone responds differently to unexpected rough weather & no one is immune to it.

Change is a certainty in life. Life is about change, if you’re not changing, you’re not living. But the rate of change differs between individuals. I think it was the great science thinker – Stephen Hawkins – that said “intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.’ I agree.

The woman and man need to adapt to the changing stimulus (phase of life) because it is in the process of adaptation that new growth is experienced & felt. So, don’t be afraid to sacrifice old philosophies and adopting a new, evolved one, in order to provide the glue that keeps them together.

Needs

Owning a family gym for six years has taught me a lot of things about life – in fast forward. In those six years I helped, with my programs, helped people transition through the sticky phases of life – teens to man-hood; the troubling 20s; the ambitious 30s; the ‘lost hope’ 40s; the care-free 50s; the uncertain 60s & the content 70s and 80s.

If you reach the 90s, its highly likely you’re on your own to celebrate your 95th birthday because everyone you ever knew is …. Six feet under.

Now, I have concluded, in my experience and my small sample of men and women in my lab (my gym), that part of the reason people stay together in marriage is because their needs are being met.

At first glance, that idea seems to be self-centered and selfish. Maybe it is. Just maybe, we ALL have the ‘selfish gene’ in us, like the aetheist Richard Dawkins proclaims. Good on him & his followers.

Marriages that last, include couples who WORK hard at it. Marriage, that is.

I believe they have a deep sense of commitment, a desire to stay together, and an ability to express affection as they understand each other’s needs and … I believe, specifically work at meeting those needs.

That is paramount. The meeting of these needs at various phases of life. It is never static, always continuously changing.

Understanding & meeting your mates/husbands/wife’s/ partner’s needs is a powerful way to serve your mate and strengthen your marriage.

So, what are you waiting for (if you’re married) …… go make your spouse her favourite warm drink (coffee?) & do it with love & care. Thank you.

Romance

What is romance?

I’ve never really understood what it is. I mean, I have done something in the past that I didn’t think was special, and I was thanked for being ‘so romantic.’ There are other few times where I thought I was trying to be romantic and got the cold shoulder.

I’m still confused and I’m a Mr Valentine?!

All these years later, I still don’t know what is to be romantic. I’m sure a lot of males out there do (and that is great) … but I struggle with being romantic.

I think romance should be done daily, in the little things that we do for each other, that won’t make a romance novel – like making your husband a cup of his favourite coffee or giving him hug when he least expects it. It does not take much to please a good gentle man and make him happy. Taking care of mozzies (mosquitoes) daily, not this ‘once-in-a-blue moon’ party shi*t@!

Romance, as I see it, is built upon qualities that each partner (hopefully) showers on each other, Some of them are –

  • Meeting each other’s needs;
  • Being tender;
  • Considerate & sensitive;
  • Thoughtful & …
  • Listening

Listening is very important. If you’ve been together for a long time then you should know him quite well so in addition to listening to what he says, try to listen to what he ‘does not say.’ Now that takes listening to a level that only very close ‘best friends’ tap in to.

Emotional Connections

What happens when man enters his mid-life years? I have a fair idea because I have seen and helped many-a-man transition through this phase of the many phases of life.

One thing that comes to fore is the feeling (from the mens’ perspective) that they are being ‘mothered.’

But, from my sample of hundreds of men over the last two decades, I can conclude that men DO NOT WANT A MOTHER. Women, do you know what they want?

They want a GIRLFRIEND. They don’t want a mother to make them feel like they are ‘one of the children.’

No!

They want a girlfriend.

Now, for a woman to become a girlfriend to her husband, I believe (from my observation of life), she NEEDS to develop spontaneity.

Now, what does this mean … well, let me take that previous statement back. I think there is no such thing as spontaneity because a person has to have the thought – first, before any action is executed.

It may mean (for the wife), assuming a younger outlook on life, or a younger approach to the relationship. She should think in terms of how a younger woman would act around her husband.

She should, above all else, show admiration and affirmation to the extreme …. & dare I say it, ACT MORE FLIRTATIOUSLY.

Little things matter. But what makes you do the little things (I call these the ‘mosquitoes’ in life), whether positive or negative? Have you every thought about this? You may have heard people say ‘willpower.’ I have news for you, it is not willpower. Willpower means forcing yourself to do something you don’t really want to do. This is a never-winning game for you.

You cannot keep forcing yourself to do something if you don’t really want to do it. Period.

So, no, it is not willpower that drives your actions, but your ATTITUDE.

Attitude shows itself in everything you do – actions speaks louder than words, as we have been told when we were a child. So true, your attitude determines both your simplest and most complicated actions – from the way you carry yourself to the way you deal with hard times.

And a man going through a mid-life crisis phase … is a hard time. Let’s not kid ourselves, it is not funny at all.

So, for the partner we need to embrace this phase – not with willpower, not with determination or controlling your attitude and feelings. No. You need something more stronger, something that is at the heart – the breathing source of your attitude.

You need to re-discover this energy source to give you that ‘edge.’ And what is this source, well, it is simply your ‘philosophy’, which is a fancy word for the way you see yourself and the way you see the world. It is your philosophy that feeds your attitude.

Attitude is everything in life.

Your attitude is never static, it is changing all the time. And as your attitude changes, your feelings also change. Your philosophy is the secret that lies behind the puzzle of fate or destiny. So, to summarise –

A positive philosophy ==> positive attitude ==> positive actions ==> positive results.

A negative philosophy obviously does the opposite effect. Remember the “Ripple Effect” … well, it works both ways!

To manage this phase your partner/husband is going through you have to change yourself. And how do you do this? Well, your change yourself by changing your philosophy. BUT, you have to be willing to change or ADAPT & change if your want to change what’s happening in your life, your philosophy or how you see things must change.

And, very importantly ….

Don’t bring up the past in a negative sense. One of the quickest paths to success (I believe) is to get out of the past. Sure, its smart to review mistakes and unhappy events because that helps you to make better choices in the future. However, keep it swift.

Review, understand and take responsibility for the errors you’ve made (and we all have our fair share of mistakes/errors … no body is perfect, right?) But, don’t even spend too much dwelling on this even. Just use the past as a tool to do things differently in the present and, most importantly ….. MOVE ON!

So, invest your ‘emotional labour’ towards emotionally connecting to your partner/husband and realise that other things in life are not as urgent as they seem.

They can simply WAIT.

It is time to give your spouse your time and attention (before it is too late).

Please understand that this is just my initial thoughts, nothing more, nothing less. There are obviously many other reasons (when compounded over time) provides a leathal dosage of destruction.

Don’t’ let that happen to you. I will embrace it if it ever happens to me.

Amen.

Best of VITALITY to YOU.

 

P.e. Valentine.

A good teacher is hard to find but finding a good student is even harder.
Plan the work – to work the plan.
Photo: discussing fine points of one of my programs with ex-Australian Wallaby & Waratah Captain, Mr Phil Waugh.

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The Here and Now.

Hello!

Life is NOT perfect.

Don’t ever expect it to be.

Life, was never meant to be and IT (Life) NEVER WILL BE.

One thing I have learned over the years is that you, firstly NEED to strive to BE THE BEST YOU CAN BE to get the BEST YOU CAN OUT OF LIFE.

You simply have to make the VERY BEST of IT and whatever IT has dished out to you (cards you’ve got).

I believe a very important philosophy to apply is to have an “open mind” and an “open heart” to possibilities and to embrace whatever IT offers you.

Through increasing AWARENESS, IT could offer you both the UGLY and the BEAUTIFUL. Reach out and ABSORB both. You need both in your life. The Ugly is necessary and can be viewed as good because without the ugly, you can’t differentiate the beautiful. So, in a sense ugly is beautiful, too.

So, as Nature continually demonstrates in it’s existence by continually fusing chaos and order, so is Life, and we need to continually remind ourselves to accept the bad things in life, with the good …. and manage all the uncertainties and chaos in our lives with the routines and order that we build around it …

And ….

Stop, take a moment and BREATHE. Fill up your lungs to the brim and TASTE the air. Then –

Say THANK YOU to your GOD.

And ….

Remind yourself that “You’re ALIVE!”

That you’ve still been given the Gift of Life.

Wherever you are (as you read this) – BE HERE.

Be THERE.

Be PRESENT.

Just BE.

Life does not get any better than this  –> The NOW!

…. The HERE and NOW, for now, anyway.

Continue to be more CURIOUS, more INQUISITIVE about Life… with an open beating heart.

That’s IT.

Best of VITALITY to YOU.

 

Until next time,

P.e.Valentine

– Energy & VITALITY Coaching Conversationalist –

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The big mistakes I see people making when it comes to muscle, fitness and nutrition.

 

Enjoying the sun at a local beach.

In my line of work, part of what I do is help people, help themselves with change as they transition through various phases of life. I help people, help themselves re-engineer themselves in to the person the imagine themselves to be.

A Life affirming approach.

I help men and women of all ages and sizes help themselves, find their best selves and work towards increased balanced and symmetry – externally and internally.

Someone asked me the question posed in the blog heading recently, and it got me thinking. Put simply, people don’t stop, start from a clean slate and prepare for the beginning and the end. Upon reflection of my experience over the last quarter of a century, I have attempted to answer it below –

I have found that ….

People don’t begin with belief.

People don’t begin with trust.

People don’t begin with hope.

People don’t begin with love.

People don’t begin with patience.

People don’t begin with a dream.

People don’t begin with their imagination.

People don’t begin with simplicity.

People don’t begin with continuity.

People don’t begin with gratitude.

People don’t begin with care.

People don’t begin with discipline.

People don’t begin with courage.

People don’t begin with balance.

People don’t begin with harmony.

People don’t begin with the end in mind.

People don’t begin with responsibility.

People don’t begin with their heart.

People don’t begin with desire.

People don’t begin with forgiveness.

People don’t begin by unthinking.

People don’t begin with acceptance of responsibility.

People don’t begin by aligning their philosophy with nature’s principles that is fundamental to Life and living well.

People don’t begin with the end in mind.

People don’t begin with the unconscious.

People don’t begin with their spirit.

People don’t begin by being still.

People don’t think.

People don’t DO.

Enough.

People don’t begin by giving….

So …

People don’t receive …

Enough.

But letting go of things you hold dear is very difficult and the little things, like letting go of a habit that is not life affirming can be very difficult. Neuroscience research tells us now that letting go a habit can take anywhere between 31 and 267 days. Wow! So, be patient and be kind to yourself if you’re thinking about making a change in the way you look.

The fact that you are ‘thinking’ about change is a win in itself. Before a change, any worthwhile, life-changing change can happen, you must want to have a change in mind-set. Now, to do this, even before you think about exercise, dieting or your fitness, you should firstly accept YOU as you are now, not the you – yesterday. The present self “is”, and your former self ‘was’, and in truth, your ‘was’ self is not identical to your ‘is’ now.

They are not the same.

People change, you change. Life is about change, if you’re not changing, you’re not living!

So, let go of the ‘was’ self (past) by letting go of any and all regret and guilt resulting from the past ‘was’ self. The past cannot be rewritten, but you can view it through different lenses and re-framing your view of your ‘was’ self. Tell yourself that past errors are mainly due to limitations in perception and ignorance and that they belong to that ‘was’ self at a certain point in the time continuum. It was all part of the learning process and gaining wisdom and was unavoidable.

This applies not only individually but collectively as a human race.

Most importantly, tell yourself – your ‘is’ self (now) that the habits that were acceptable in the past is no longer acceptable today and now. All regrets and guilt of less-than-ideal and less-than life-affirming habits that helped create the ‘was’ self is now boxed up and viewed simply as an error of judgement, ignorance, mis-perception or miscalculation. Put simply – an error.

All this brought about as a consequence of a limitation of human consciousness.

The first stage is self-forgiveness. This is facilitated by humility but also acceptance of this limitation (by letting go of the ego).

Solution: Begin with the right philosophy, filter and remove beliefs that are no longer relevant, acknowledge your soul and then reach out and …

Embrace the ‘is’ YOU with your whole being. Show you care. Feel your love. Allow the healing to happen – to you and those you value around you. Changes then become long-lasting and sustainable as you chart your new course through the sea of life.

All the best in your choices,

 

Until next time,

The right strategy –
” a quality plan + quality implementation
===> quality results. A quality strategy
of a balanced nutrition, exercise philosophy and rest of the body, mind and spirit helps you achieve a ”6-pack”.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger exterior, Tom Hanks interior.

With my trophy – doing the “Abdominal/Thigh” pose.
Top 5 Natural BodyBuilder in the world.

I love observing life and society and everything around me. I am a student of life. In recent years (last ten to fifteen years or so), I have noticed that men are forgetting or maybe do not know or are unsure of what it means to be a Man anymore.

A Real Man.

I have a few theories about how this has reached a growing and worrying societal problem now and for the future, but I won’t go in to that in this blog. No, I’m going to dance with the idea of what a Real Man is or should be.

What should the mark of a Real Man be?

Status in society? Richness in money? Accumulated financial wealth? Power? A tattoo, maybe? I’m sure you’ll have your opinion and definitions.

One word: GRIT.

I believe this is one characteristic of a Real Man. And a sub-set of this word Grit (along with resilience, unrelenting, solution-oriented etc), is simply “toughness”.

But it does not end there.

What is more important than toughness? It is exercising the RIGHT KIND of toughness. Anyone can be tough and we all are at various points in our lives but not many people can call on the right kind of toughness at the right time.

Now this takes skill, this takes effort and work and deliberate thinking and practise to get it right. Now, this characteristic is the foundation of a Real Man . It is the building blocks of what it means to be a Real Man.

It feeds in to his strength of character.

But that is only half of what a real man is.

The other fifty percent should be intimacy, gentleness. Don’t you think so?

Put together, you have what I refer to as a possible definition of a real man. He has an Arnold Schwarzenegger exterior (toughness) and a Tom Hanks (gentleness) interior.

How should we go about attaining these two qualities of a Real Man?

Well, I believe each man should strive for ‘balance’. Everything comes down to balance – internally and externally. So, every man should consciously strive for balance with both qualities.

Knowing when to be tough is as important as knowing when to be tender.

The wise man has the power of discernment and knows when to exercise either. The art in the dance through life is in developing this power of discernment towards balance.

Balance is achieved when a man stops trying to be someone else but the man that is truly reflected through the eyes he sees look back at him in the mirror. A man needs to just be himself and believe in the Holy Spirit or his inner-self, his Real Self and not be afraid to let him out. To let him be vulnerable.

The more vulnerable you become as a man through increased positive self-awareness, the more ‘Real’ you become. The closer you get to becoming more authentic, more of a Real Man.

A man cannot just choose Toughness and no tenderness or only choose to be gentle (and a gentleman) all the time and not be tough. No, this leads to confusion with his self and also with his woman and every person around him. Simply, because he is not clear on his role as a man and what it means to be a Real Man.

A Real Man is partly defined by having both these traits continuously intertwined in his daily life. At home and at work and play. It is a never-ending, dynamic complex fusion of chaos and order to produce something unique: the Real Man.

Being just tough results in a man being cold, distant, intolerant, unbearable and impatient. What we’ve all been brought up hearing society (mainly angry women) refer to “All Men are As#holes! “. Very unfair because not all men are like that.

But, being tough and tender brings about something different, something elusive. It makes a man appear closer to what I refer to as beauty.

And why do I say that?

Well, being tough AND tender … results in gentleness, thoughtfulness and being considerate. The man is more attuned to the principles of nature which is harmony.

Being tough and tender brings you closer to the elusive balance and symmetry of life. Brings you closer to what I refer to as ‘beauty’. I love formulas and mathematics so here is a little formula for you, based on my hypothesis of what a Real Man is:

Tough + Tender => Balance + Symmetry ==> Beauty!

So, all you men reading this, ask yourself if you can be beautiful. If you strive towards balance and symmetry in these two strengths of character – toughness and tenderness, you run the risk of being referred to as a ‘beautiful man’.

And why not, the word beautiful should not only be reserved for women, cars, sculptures and paintings and flowers. No, men too can be beautiful.

Being referred to as beautiful is worth the risk because I believe a beautiful man is a Real Man.

Work on your beauty and not be just a “Gentle-man” or “Tough-man”, no, work towards being a Beautiful-Man.

A Beautiful Man is A Real Man!

Until next time,

Explaining the principles of training within my programs.

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a better life, action, awareness, balance, Beliefs, change, courage, decisions, desire, Energy, habits

Giving Up.

Our Everests - giving up.

Our Everests – giving up.

Life is beautiful.

Life is fun. Life is still not totally comprehensible to any human being since the beginning of time.I have learned a lot from life in my first forty years so far. Some through other peoples’ experiences, most through my own.

We could exalt the many achievements of man-kind over the centuries – the many scientific discoveries, the search for other life in outer space, the journeys to un-chartered territories. And history shows that we have. It is normal for societies and civilizations document the achievements of man-kind and have done so since the beginning of time.

These all take time and planning and lots of effort and pain. Real pain.

I think it is beautiful but I also think that all these external representations of achievement pales in comparison to the achievement of continuous internal growth as a complete human being – emotionally, physically, intellectually and most importantly spiritually.

In my life so far, I have experienced a lot of pain. We all have. Pain in all forms – pain in the heart, pain in the body, pain in the soul. We have all experienced real pain in various degrees. Reminds us that life is beautiful but is also difficult. I believe that this is one of life’s greatest truths, that life is difficult.

The thing is that once we accept that this is truly a great truth, only then can we all transcend it, to rise above it, to another consciousness level. Once we truly understand and accept this truth, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.

How beautiful is that? It doesn’t matter! But to get to that point, one needs to feel real pain to fully accept.

I have learned that most people, however, do not see this truth. Most people do not understand and accept that life is difficult. A lot of people moan more or less, to varying degrees of the enormity of their problems, their burdens as if life should be easy. They complain that their difficulties are unique to them, their families, their tribe, their nation.

They are disillusioned.

Like I said earlier, life is beautiful, yes. But, life is also difficult. Matter, of fact, I would go as far as giving one definition of life as – a continuous progression of problems and conflicts. Just like I define what a weights workout as – “a continuous progression of fifteen to forty five seconds focused moments.”

So, in essence, to get better at life, to become a better student of life, to get the most out of your one life – you need to become a better manager of problems, become better at conflict resolution.

But the most difficult part of our journey through life is simply – Giving up!

The arrival of my two children have increased my awareness of this most difficult task we all have, of giving up. Let me elaborate. ….

You see, just like most of you, I like winning. All my life, my desire to win had served me in good stead, for I have won many things. In my chosen sport for example, my desire to win has taken me all the way to being top five in the world natural bodybuilding for two consecutive years.

I play a lot of games with my two children. My children made me aware of the most difficult thing, the most difficult, the most painful thing I have ever and will ever experience. They taught me that the most painful experience we will have in our lives is in giving up, in letting go! Nothing else compares to this pain.

You see I have learned that my desire to win, my desire to win at all costs needs to be second to my desire to win at parenting, my desire to be a better parent. I have learned to ‘let go’ of my desire to win at the games I play with my children. I have taught myself to give up my desire to win at games. It has served me very well in my youth, but it does not serve me now. It is not relevant anymore.

However, my desire to become a better parent allows me to experience the pain of giving up.

I think this is an important part of being the best parent you can be. To allow yourself to learn to ‘give up’. I have accepted that this part of me is gone now. It died. It had to die. I killed it! I killed it with my greater desire to win at parenting, to become the best parent I can be as I journey through life.

My desire to win, to not give up had worked in my earlier phases of life but was not relevant now. As a parent, I recognized that it got in my way, it got in the way of my relationship with my children. So, it was a no-brainer, it had to go.

The times have changed. To move with them I had to give it up. I do not miss it. I thought I would but I don’t.

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I think this is one of the most difficult, the most painful tasks every one of us have to teach ourselves to do – to let go, to ‘kill’, to give up certain behaviours, certain beliefs, certain habits, certain desires. My children reminded and taught me that my greatest challenge in life is to give up part of myself, part of me.

But this reminder to give up applies to all areas of life as we negotiate the challenges and curve-balls life throws at us. I have seen it every day as part of what I do – seeing people give up habits that are not aligned with where they want to be. It takes a lot of courage to give up just one habit, let alone a belief or value that was appropriate as a child but no longer serves you.

It is not easy, matter of fact I would go as far as saying that giving up something that has been a part of you and that has contributed to the person that you are and have become is one of the most challenging and most difficult hurdles every human being faces.

Ask yourself, what are some things in your life right now in all areas that do not serve you as it once did (say, when you were under ten or in your teens or in your twenties etcetera) then give up one. Only one.

Give up the one thing that you consider the most difficult to give up.

Now, understand that you have taken one giant step towards continuous internal growth as a complete human being. An exercise that does not get external recognition, does not get any awards, a decision that does not get recorded in world history.

It is just one step but it is a step that has immense significance to the quality of your one life.

You will move forward. You will grow emotionally and spiritually. You will unburden yourself. You will achieve better balance in yourself, in your life. Balance after all is something which you, me and every human being alive is searching for.

This one step will help you in your search. All the very best in your decisions in your search for your truth.

 

Until next time,

Being a parent teaches you about giving up.

Being a parent teaches you about giving up.

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a better life, adaptation, asking questions, awareness, basics of training, Beliefs, better choices, body, breaking points, caring, change, choices, ego, Energy

Learn to be more coachable.

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.

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.

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.

Dave wasn’t open to other ideas, he did not want to be coached.

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.

Just like any activity, understand and always assess the risk of any exercise you do in the gym. Vv.

Just like any activity, understand and always assess the risk of any exercise you do in the gym.
Vv.

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 did.

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.

Not good. He trained mainly with his ego and did not leave it at the door each time he walked in to the gym. Does not get you anywhere and generally leads to disaster as his case showed.

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.

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.

Live life with quality and integrity and live it to the fullest. Know yourself and be true to yourself.

Have fun with your workouts and have fun with life.

 

Until next time,

In body re-engineering, fast improvements are the result of excellent feedback from excellent coaches. Here, constant examination of my physique by my coach (and 2 x World Natural Body Building Champion) allowed me to reach my peak performance and placing 2nd in Australian Titles. Learn to be more coachable to achieve your best in whatever area of life. Vv.

In body re-engineering, fast improvements are the result of excellent feedback from excellent coaches.
Here, constant examination of my physique by my coach (and 2 x World Natural Body Building Champion) allowed me to reach my peak performance and placing 2nd in Australian Titles.
Learn to be more coachable to achieve your best in whatever area of life.
Vv.

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