Knowledge is power.
Frequently, I throw in the phrase “tried and true.” Referring simply, to those things that have proved reliable time and time again. It was the dutch computer scientist Edsgar Dijkstra who once said, “Simplicity is prerequisite for reliability.” I am by no means a techie, but I like simple. As well, I like reliable.
The fitness industry is an ever changing industry. As it should be, and as such, there are lightbulb moment discoveries all the time. Some of them even seem completely contradictory to what was just preached as the gospel fitness truth. Disciphering through it all can be puzzling and frustrating – enough to make you want to throw a dumbbell. Well, not really. But scratch the forehead confused, yes.
Day after week, month after year, we hit our workouts with one thing in mind – improvement. Unlike somethings in life we are doing it for our health. We want to build strength, improve musculature and tone, and we most definetly want to burn off unwanted fat, just to name a few. A simple list of goals, right?
Method behind the madness
Leave it to none other than the “Godfather of Fitness” himself, Jack Lalanne, to have summed it up the most coherently a few years back. “My goal has always been to help people help themselves. Your body is your most prized posession; You’ve got to take care of it!” Thank you Jack. For many of us in the industry, this sentiment is the cornerstone reason for the career path we’ve chosen.
But more on that in a bit.
Mr. Lalanne had, what I sincerely believe to be, a truly one of a kind story. Around the beginning of the 20th century in the United States, there were no gyms as we know them to today. A self proclaimed sugar addict, he set out at a young age to make a change. And change he did, eventually opening one of the nations very first health clubs, as well, the prototype for the Smith Machine.
Doctors of the day warned people to stay out of his facility, some supposedly claiming that elevating ones blood pressure could lead to a heart attack.
Now we have H.I.I.T
Despite critcism and doubt, he decided to take all of his progress, knowledge, and experience and focus on inspiring others and helping them reach their goals. He lived to be 96.
Inspiration vs Motivation
Looking back over the last few years of content, typos and all, I’ve used merriam-webster text book defenitions repeatedly. Why? Clarity maybe. I’ve always felt it helps set a tone. Perhaps even a certain “how can you argue with this,” approach. But then again, everything nowadays seems up for debate.
In one article I briefly discuss the two types of motivation. Internal and external. In layman’s, doing something because either a. we simply love doing it. b. we do it for an outcome, and what ever your motivation may be for exercising, to just do it.
Jean Nidetch, a Brooklyn New York housewife and mother was plagued by weight issues. Legend has it that in 1961 she went to the grocery store and an acquaintance mistook her for being pregnant. She set out to change herself and change did she. Not only losing the weight that plagued her, but forming Weight Watchers. A global platform inspiring millions of people to not only help themselves, but others. She thought out of the box. She took her knowledge and set out to help others.
Broscience We know what it is – rather what it refers to. That being said, I’d like to give some credit where credit is due. No, not throw shade – the world has enough haters in it. I believe in coloring outside the lines a little. Artwork isn’t always made by keeping within the lines. Neither are physiques or workout routines. True, effective training techniques and methods are there and proven to work. No, nothing is set in stone. However, when it comes to muscle confusion or busting through a plataeu by all means do what works for you. Mix it up, get a little crazy.
But not to crazy. Looney tune lifting only gets a certain amount of recognition and then thats allll folks.
Frank Zane, 3 x Mr. Olympia and all around legend, has been interviewed many, many times and then some. Everyone wants to know how he trained. If there is ever a hallmark of symmetry it continues to be Frank Zane. In one such interview he discusses preparing for a show:
“We did lots of sets. Lots. Lots. We’d started with 135 pounds, went up to 185, then 225, 285, 315, 365, and 405. For each set I did 10 reps – so if your doing the math that’s 70 squats per workout, 140 per week using heavy weight. Brutal.”
I’d certainly say so. Is it any wonder then he scooped up as many titles as he did? These guys had their eyes on the prize continuosly, and did what they needed to do. This “Goldon Era” of bodybuilding is a stark contrast to that of today. For one, symmetry and balance where given a great deal of emphasis. And then of course, the infamous “vaccum.” Ah, yes, no bloated, puffed out bellies back in the day. Rather, the tapered look with small waists and flared lats. Upon closer research, posing routines were fluid, elegant in a way. Graceful.
Ironically, this select niche of people, with herculean goals, were not just a club, but a community, and they supported each other and shared knowledge.
I think I can, I think I can
After numerous jobs where I never really felt rewarded, I took to working out. I wanted satisfaction in something. Something I could control. It is true, once you start seeing the first glimmers of progress you become hooked. Consequently, I scoured every book, magazine and website I could find.
At one point, I had a roommate who was the quintessential magazine article of lanky – guy – turned – truly – natty. Looking back, his methods were pretty conventional. Like clockwork, he trained three days a week, a day in between for rest, and opposite muscle groups each session. Our fridge had beacoup containers of cottage cheese and an industrial size tub of protein powder sat on the counter.
I then took to training others. I thought, if I could do it, anyone could. Over the years, I’ve come to know what works for me – as well – what works for the people I work with. Simple, reliable with a healthy dose of the unconventional thrown in here and there.
I look forward to learning. And sharing. And learning some more.