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Archive for the 'Inspirational' Category

40 Is The New 20

In the video below, you will see a reader of the site who is 41 years old and still going strong. He demonstrates countless exercise variations that would humble most men half his age.

This man is not just physically strong however. What I liked most about his video is the creativity that accompanies his strength. He is clearly capable of training almost anywhere with almost anything. He is not dependent on any particular facility. The bulk of his training is performed with nothing but a pull-up bar and ordinary household items such as chairs. This man certainly subscribes to the idea that the world is his gym. It is always open and can be found wherever he goes.

It is also great to see yet another example of a 40+ year old man who possesses such strength and athleticism. So many adults in our world today have been fooled to believe that 40 is over the hill. Sadly, it has become the norm for parents in their late 30s and early 40s to label themselves as old. Speaking as someone in this age group, I literally hear these words uttered on a weekly basis. I am always left speechless when a man or woman who is younger than me describes themselves as being too old for brisk exercise.

40 is the new 20

Personally, I think it is pathetic that society is surprised whenever a 40+ year old displays above average strength and athleticism. I wish I could share these stories as just another day in the neighborhood. There should be no need to highlight this man’s age. We should just be able to appreciate his strength and creativity.

Unfortunately, much of society still believes otherwise. It is not as if people want to become sedentary and unable to enjoy the world around them. The real problem is that many intelligent adults honestly believe that they are too old for exercise. This notion has become somewhat of a wives’ tale that has been passed on from generation to generation.

With that in mind, it is videos such as that above which truly need more widespread attention. Not only do you see a 40+ year old who is strong and capable, but also one who can train anywhere without spending a dollar. He is truly self sufficient. Wherever he goes, you can be sure that strength and vitality will accompany him.

Yet, perhaps most importantly, these priceless attributes are not just available to him. Strength is readily available to almost anyone who desires it. Ultimately, it boils down to an individual’s willingness to display hard work, consistency, and dedication. And fortunately, you can work hard regularly without feeling miserable. It is not difficult to see that this man is enjoying himself. He obviously enjoys his time outdoors.

In summary, the man above provides yet another example that exercise can be fun at any age, and doesn’t need to break the bank. If you wish to stay active as the years pass, you need to stay active. It is as simple as that. There is no secret formula or equation that is yet to be solved. Strength and vitality are there for the taking.

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Growing old is a bad habit which a busy man has no time to form. – Andre Maurois

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Ben Jackson: Wrestler, Athlete, and Inspiration

Ben Jackson: Wrestler, Athlete, and Inspiration

Ben Jackson was born with cerebral palsy. At the time, doctors questioned whether he would ever walk or have the opportunity to experience and enjoy life. Many assumed he would be confined to a wheelchair and unable to interact with the world around him. Fortunately, Ben chose not to listen.

In the video below, you can hear from Ben and see what he has been able to accomplish.

What I like most about this story is how Ben refused to quit after failing countless times. He did not win a single wrestling match his entire first season. No one would have blamed him if he stopped wrestling at that time. Just getting out there to compete was already a victory. Ben had already accomplished more than anyone could have initially imagined.

That was not good enough for Ben however. He wasn’t on the mats to please others. He wanted to win and was not going to stop until it happened. He knew that it would not be easy, but he also recognized that nothing worth having is easy to acquire. Consequently, Ben trained harder than ever. He stayed up late to study video and refused to give up no matter how many times he failed.

Ben was also cognizant of his smaller victories. For instance, he mentioned that lasting a few extra seconds in a match was an early sign of progress. I think it is safe to say that we could all learn from this example. Instant gratification is a myth. If you want to accomplish something significant, you must recognize that failure is inevitable. Whether you succeed will almost always depend on how well you deal with failure. You can either hang your head low or stand up and learn from each step of your journey.

Each loss provided Ben with a valuable learning experience. If he had not endured that first challenging season, he would have never learned what was necessary to win. Fortunately, Ben exhibited the type of perseverance that is rarely found in today’s world. It is much more common for ordinary people to make excuses when they fail. Some people just cannot accept that more work needs to be done. It is much easier to give up and assume that it isn’t meant to be.

These people fail to realize that nothing is meant to be. Things happen based on what you do. No one is owed anything, nor is anyone guaranteed anything. You need to repeatedly show up and earn what you desire. Ben Jackson proved this harsh, but truthful reality on the wrestling mat, and now hopes to do the same in the weight room.

I certainly would not bet against him. I look forward to seeing Ben Jackson compete in 2016.

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In every match I would get closer to success, even if that meant being on the mat for an extra second than I was in my previous match. – Ben Jackson

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Inspiration from Stuart Jamieson

Stuart Jamieson was born with spina bifida, scoliosis, kyphosis, and diastematomyelia. He was not expected to live past his second birthday. Doctors did not even expect him to sit up as a child. The thought of him living an active life as an adult was not even considered.

Over twenty years later, Stuart is now a British Classic Powerlifting champion. Highlights from one of his recent meets can be seen below. You will see him pull 225kg while weighing in at just 59kg. If you aren’t quick with math, that’s a few pounds short of 500 at a bodyweight of approximately 130 pounds.

Stuart provides a powerful example of an individual who was determined to write his own destiny. His early doctors were entitled to an opinion, but Stuart and his family did everything they could to prevent that opinion from becoming a reality. To suggest that they defied the odds is an understatement.

Fortunately, you do not need to have endured Stuart’s early struggles to learn from his example. At some point, I’m sure we have all been told by an authority figure what we could or could not achieve. Whether it was a doctor, teacher, coach, or family member, there is a good chance that someone could not resist sharing their opinion of your future.

Ultimately, it is up to you whether you’ll accept such opinions as fact or instead find out for yourself. Stuart and his family obviously chose the latter.

In fact, Stuart shared the following wisdom in a recent interview:

Despite my conditions, I have had an incredible life. I have experienced the best and worst that life has to offer but I have not allowed my disability to define my quality of life…  Life was never destined to be a smooth ride for me, but it has given me the strength of character to live a fulfilling life and chase my passions.

I want to show that regardless of what we may be labeled as – disability, age, race, gender – we all control what life we lead and what we can achieve.

In summary, if there is something you wish to achieve, you owe it to yourself to take a chance and find out. Ironically, hard work and self-belief are both invaluable, yet also freely available. Rather than wasting time worrying about the opinion of others, invest that time in yourself. When you truly do work hard and refuse to give up, you will not only surprise those around you, but also yourself.

Potential will always be an opinion. No one knows exactly what can be achieved until it has happened. Find out for yourself. Regardless of the outcome, the journey will be much more rewarding.

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The art of living lies less in eliminating our troubles than in growing with them. – Bernard M. Baruch

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He’s a Fighter

Throughout this blog’s history, I have featured athletes from all corners of the world who have thrived despite living and training amidst poverty. I have highlighted athletes from countries such as Myanmar, Russia, Ghana, Brazil, Uganda, Cuba, and Thailand. Many of these athletes know nothing of each other, yet share in their quest to fight for survival and hopes of a better life.

And while not every fighter is fortunate enough to escape the harsh reality that surrounds them, there have been countless world champions who have risen from poverty. They have thrived despite growing up poor and training with little or nothing. These fighters never had access to fancy equipment, seminars, quality foods, or any of the other so-called necessities that are hyped by the industry today. All that they’ve ever had was the desire to someday escape the world around them.

Such harsh environments are not always located on the other side of the world however. It is one thing to read about fighters in distant lands such as Myanmar, but often times there are others struggling in the city or town next door to you. You do not need to live in a poor country to live in a harsh environment. One such example can be seen in the video below. Antoine Douglas has been fighting since day one despite being born in our nation’s capital of Washington D.C.

As for his harsh upbringing, Antoine wouldn’t have it any other way. When asked about his childhood, here is how he responded in a recent interview:

I don’t regret any of it because it made me into the person that I am today. Actually, I appreciate it more than anything. If it wasn’t for all of that,I don’t know where my mind would be at right now. Because of that I am so grateful to be where I am now… That’s why I am pushing so hard to be as successful as I can.

Antoine is not the only Douglas fighting hard for a better life though. His sister Tyrieshia is also an unbeaten professional boxer. She recently improved to 5-0 while Antoine will put his unbeaten record (14-0) on the line on July 25th. His upcoming bout will be broadcast on Showtime’s ShoBox series.

In summary, where you start does not matter as much as where you finish. So the next time you panic because you’ve run out of protein powder, remember that it could be worse. There are other athletes in the world who don’t even know when their next meal will come. They aren’t just hungry for food however. They are also hungry to compete and improve. Once you understand and appreciate these athletes, you tend to have a better understanding of what really matters when considering athletic development. At some point, it always comes back to how bad you want it and how hard you are willing to work.

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We acquire the strength we have overcome. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Cancer Survivor Fitness Compilation

It’s rare that a week passes without someone asking how to recover from an injury or setback. Just last night I heard from a young man who was upset about missing 4 days of training after a recent bout of nausea. A day before I heard from a woman who sprained her ankle during an obstacle course race. I could go on and on with similar examples. In each case, an individual suffers a short term setback and panics under the assumption that their hard work will wasted. They fear that a few days of inactivity will cause them to lose all previous gains.

The reality however is that a few days is a blink of an eye when you consider the big picture. And please note, I say this not to minimize any particular injury or illness. I too dislike missing even a single day of training. I enjoy the work so a day without exercise is a day I prefer to avoid. With that said, we often need to be reminded that missing a few days is insignificant. It takes much more than a few days of inactivity to lose what took years to develop. In addition, whatever is lost during a period of downtime typically comes back much faster than it did to initially acquire.

Furthermore, many injuries and setbacks are not nearly as bad as we believe. The old saying that it could always be worse is usually true. I was recently reminded of this simple concept by a reader of the site. Below you can see an image of cancer survivor Joshua DiMezza.

Cancer survivor

It was a few years ago when Joshua emailed me while undergoing chemotherapy. When all was said and done, he endured 25 rounds of chemo. Yet despite what was obviously an extended period of suffering, Joshua refused to stay down. Instead, he fought back by battling one day at a time. The results of his hard work can be seen below.

In summary, while no one wishes to be plagued by injury or illness, there is usually a chance to fight back. What Joshua has accomplished is nothing short of amazing. Hopefully the rest of us will never experience the struggles that he endured, but we can at least use his example to put our own bumps and bruises into perspective. Joshua hit rock bottom yet fought back to display a rare mix of strength, power, endurance, and athleticism.

It is actually somewhat ironic that Joshua first wrote to me after being inspired by my videos, yet I am now the one who is inspired by his example. His story will certainly be on my mind if and when I suffer my own injuries or setbacks.

Thanks to Joshua for the inspiration and best of luck with your future endeavors.

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Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents which, in prosperous circumstances, would have lain dormant. – Horace

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