Archive for the 'Inspirational' Category
Below is a video of a 70 year old bodybuilder with a physique that would be impressive on a man half his age. The clip is well worth a look, not only to see how incredible this man performs for his age, but also to hear his thoughts about life and training.
There is so much to like about this man’s philosophy and achievements. For starters, he didn’t begin lifting until age 44. Meanwhile, I regularly receive emails from men in their 30s who are already complaining about old age. Sonny hadn’t even started at that point in his life. Even at age 44, he walked into the gym without knowing anything about lifting.
And to the younger readers of the site who may not know, we didn’t have the internet 27 years ago. Sonny couldn’t hop online to read the latest training research. It is safe to say that he learned his lessons in the gym. He paid his dues through hard and consistent work and the results are obvious.
It is also nice to see a man his age who trains as a bodybuilder. I’m sure we’ve all seen gurus today who make a point to regularly bash bodybuilding and anything related to it. I can only imagine the comments that they would make if the video above was of a 30 year old man. I’m sure they would be nitpicking his exercise selection and use of a machines.
Now take a moment to think about these modern age gurus. How many of them will perform at Sonny’s level when they reach age 70? Call it a hunch, but I’m guessing the number will be slim. That alone speaks volumes.
And I don’t say this to suggest that everyone should train as a bodybuilder. Personally, I have no interest in bodybuilding. I’m not ignorant enough to believe that there is only one correct way to train however. As I’ve said before, almost anything works if the individual is willing to work and is consistent with his efforts.
Think back to a recent entry that I shared about older athletes who perform bodyweight exercise (see here). From a training standpoint, these men have very little in common with Sonny. The common link is that Sonny and these men all perform at a level that is light years ahead of their peers.
While fitness gurus in today’s era battle it out over who is right and who is wrong, these men prove that there are many ways to skin a cat. There is no single, best course of action that all must follow. It is possible to become stronger and better conditioned with countless approaches. Often times the deciding factor is not the routine that is followed but rather how the individual approaches the routine. How much effort is he willing to give?
I may sound like a broken record, but it is worth repeating. How you do what you do matters more than what you do. Countless real world examples validate this simple, yet often overlooked fact. Don’t get lost in paralysis by analysis. Find something that you enjoy and pursue it with relentless passion. The results will follow.
All the so-called “secrets of success” will not work unless you do.19 comments
It was early last year when I first wrote about Zorahgail Balino. At the time, she was auditioning for the American Ninja Warrior show. I shared her submission video and a story about her amazing transformation (see here). Unfortunately, Zorahgail was not selected for last year’s show but it appears she will get another chance. I am certainly pulling for her as I couldn’t think of anyone more deserving of the opportunity.
With that said, this entry is not about the American Ninja television series. More importantly, I believe we can use Zorahgail’s experience to highlight several aspects relevant to personal growth.
I. It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish
First and foremost, Zorahgail has no athletic background. She is not a lifetime jock who has exercised since childhood. Conversely, it was not long ago that she weighed over 200 pounds and struggled to walk two miles. Within a few years, she has become an all around exercise machine. And while her past may not mean much to the veterans of this site, it’s a powerful example for those who have yet to enter the promised land.
For example, following a recent post about enjoying the training process, I heard from several people who struggled to grasp the concept. The common link between them was that they also had no athletic background. Some of the individuals have been hesitant to begin as they believe it is too late to improve. In some ways, their past is still trying to control the future. They doubt what can be accomplished due previous inactivity.
Fortunately, Zorahgail’s example fills a void that I cannot. I have been an athlete my entire life so I can’t tell you how it feels to transition from a life of inactivity. I can only share the experiences I’ve seen. It is much more useful to see the individual who has actually made the change. Zorahgail’s transformation should serve as an inspiration to all.
II. Never give up
Life has two basic rules. First, never give up. Second, never forget rule #1. Zorahgail is a perfect example of these two simple rules. Following a rough start in life, she certainly did not give up. The transformation that I shared in the original entry was remarkable.
Yet despite her transformation, I am sure it was upsetting to not be selected for America Ninja. She clearly invested a lot of time and energy towards making the show. It is human nature to feel let down when a goal is missed. To no surprise however, Zorahgail never skipped a beat.
Instead, she moved right along to the next goal. Her latest challenge was to enter a powerlifting meet. Guess what happened?
She won first place.
So here we have a woman who once weighed over 200 pounds who has now won a powerlifting meet and run multiple half marathons. And if that’s not impressive enough, she can also perform bodyweight movements that would humble most gym veterans. Zorahgail is the furthest thing from a one trick pony.
Would you like an example?
III. No limits
If you know me, you know that I’m a fan of standing rollouts. I have performed the exercise for years so it’s natural that I’ve heard many comments about the movement. I couldn’t tell you how many women have contacted me in search of substitutes for the wheel. And to be clear, I have no problem substituting an exercise that causes pain or requires equipment that you don’t own. I’m not referring to those cases. I’m referring to those who have it in their mind that an exercise is too difficult before they even try. I’ve had people flat out tell me that rollouts are not for women.
Meanwhile, Zorahgail never pondered such a thought. It was only a matter of time as she progressed gradually from one step to the next. She did not begin with limitations in her mind. There’s little time to worry about what can or can’t be accomplished when you are busy working. And when you are busy working, you tend to fly past goals with little interest in relishing the achievement. For example, her first comment to me after sharing the rollout video was that she plans to do 20 by the end of the year. She also has a goal to deadlift 405 pounds. Slowing down is not an option and I won’t be surprised when she conquers each goal. Not only is she strong, but perhaps more importantly Zorahgail believes in her ability.
When you believe in yourself, it’s only a matter of time before others learn to never doubt you again.
Update - Since posting this entry, Zorahgail submitted a new entry video for the 2014 season of the American Ninja Warrior. Check it out here.
Stubbornly persist, and you will find that the limits of your stubbornness go well beyond the stubbornness of your limits. – Robert Brault9 comments
Two of my strongest beliefs in regards to training are that you can do well with little or nothing and that exercise can be fun. You do not need a complex system to be produce results. Hard work with the basics will always be effective. And yes, it is possible to enjoy the process.
Now if you’ve followed this blog for any amount of time, you’ve heard me beat these ideas into the ground. I am passionate about these beliefs so it has become a mission of mine to share the simplistic approach. If we ever wish to combat the obesity epidemic, we must get more people up and moving. The best way to do so is by making exercise more accessible and fun.
I hate the idea of manipulating someone to do something that they do not enjoy. You shouldn’t view each minute of exercise as slow and painful torture. Life is too short to waste it repeatedly doing things that we despise. Exercise can be so much more rewarding (physically and mentally) when we perform activities that we enjoy. Now this doesn’t mean that there won’t be times when you are forced to push through discomfort and fatigue. My point is that such discomfort can be embraced when you know it is bringing you closer to your goals.
Now I could go on all day about the joys of possessing a physically capable body. Some people won’t listen however simply because it is coming from me. I train athletes for a living so my opinion could be seen as biased. And in all honesty, perhaps I am biased. I really do not know any other way. I have embraced movement and athletics my entire life.
Fortunately, I can provide examples other than my own to help spread the message. You don’t need to take my word for it when so many others are willing to share their own experiences. Below is one of many videos that I’ve received in just the past few days alone. The individuals in this video recently thanked me for inspiring them to begin training this way after reading Never Gymless a few years ago.
The work that they perform is truly inspiring. To think that these men from the other side of the world have been influenced by my work is something I could have never imagined in my earlier life. I am truly honored.
As for the work itself, it is clear that these men enjoy what they are doing. No one reaches their level by doing work that they despise. Yes, the work that they perform is challenging but there are clear rewards that make each minute of training a worthwhile step in the right direction. These men challenge each other, motivate each other, and improve each other. The results are obvious and impossible to deny.
And once again, consider the simplistic nature of their training. Such work can be performed almost anywhere. They run, they jump, they climb, and lift. They move and enjoy the process, the camaraderie, and certainly the results. You can be sure that these men don’t rise each day dreading the workout to come. Words are not needed to communicate passion. It is as clear as day even when filmed in remote areas on the other side of the globe.
The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak. – Hans Hofmann8 comments
In the video below, you will see a brief demonstration from Jhoon Rhee on his 80th birthday. If you aren’t familiar with Jhoon Rhee, he’s known by the martial arts community as the Father of American Taekwondo. He introduced the style to the United States upon his arrival in the 1950s.
As for his birthday demonstration, the video is worthy of a discussion for a few reasons. First and foremost, it is amazing to see an 80 year old man perform at his level. There is no denying his mental acuity and physical ability. He is light years ahead of his peers, not to mention many who are a fraction of his age.
Unfortunately, yet to no surprise, I have seen several comments online about his pushup form. And it is that type of comment that I’ve always struggled to understand. Not only does Jhoon Rhee remain capable at 80 years old, he’s still trying to motivate and inspire others to become more active. Who cares if his technique does not meet your criteria for a perfect pushup? When did pushups become an athletic event that are scored by a panel of judges? If Rhee’s version of a pushup is what helps him remain active, who are we to suggest otherwise?
Shouldn’t we applaud the individual who makes adjustments based on individual factors such as ability? Jhoon Rhee has been involved in martial arts for longer than most of us have been alive. For twenty year old keyboard warriors who’ve never accomplished anything to criticize him is beyond pathetic.
Personally, I’ve never been one to care much about exercise form as long as what you are doing isn’t dangerous and apt to cause injury. Exercise is not an event. We use exercise to feel and/or perform better. If an exercise helps you in either regard, who cares if it is performed according to someone else’s definition of proper form. Speaking for myself, if you perform an exercise differently than me, I don’t care. It doesn’t affect me and I won’t lose sleep over it. I’m just happy that you are doing something. Like it or not, we are still part of the same minority in that we choose to exercise. Rather than fighting with each other about how to perform an exercise, why not focus that energy elsewhere and instead get someone who does nothing to do something.
As I’ve said before (see video below), pick people up rather than putting them down.
Hats off to Jhoon Rhee for continuing to stay active and motivate others at 80+. I hope to someday reach my 80′s and still be able to perform pushups. If I make it to that day, you are welcome to criticize my pushup form as much as you’d like. I just can’t promise that I’ll have enough interest to respond.
The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook. – William James13 comments
I awoke this morning to an email from Michael Coe about a documentary that was filmed of him in Thailand. While training at Tiger Muay Thai, a videographer approached him about creating the film. Apparently, Michael thought it was no big deal and gladly assisted. Even his message to me was so casual that I had no idea what to expect.
It is safe to say that Michael has no idea just how inspiring his story is. The brief film below is well worth a look.
To bounce back from an accident that left him in a coma and took his arm is beyond incredible. Michael displays absolutely no self-pity.
In his words,
I chose to persevere because I didn’t really have any other choice. And it was a case of if I don’t make it work, nobody else is going to. If it’s something I want to do, I’m not going to not do it because of the handicap.
There is so much value in those words alone. Michael lost his arm. He had no choice but to figure out a way to survive and adapt. And it is that lack of choice that is so inspiring and meaningful. If Michael can find a way to work with one arm, what does that say about the rest of us who are fortunate to have both?
If he can find a way, why can’t we all? Perhaps it is our ability to choose that is actually the real handicap. We often forget how lucky we are. We aren’t forced to persevere the way Michael does each day. At some point, in some way, we all take that for granted.
Meanwhile, Michael instead pursues the following:
I have no illusions or aspirations of being the best in the world. I just want to be the best I can be.
After watching the video above, I have no doubt that he will achieve his goal. And while he may not realize it, he will likely help many more achieve their goals as well.
Thanks to Michael for sharing the video. I am sure I speak for many when saying that I am truly inspired.
Self-pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in this world. – Helen Keller2 comments