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Archive for the 'Inspirational' Category

Never Too Late To Change

Below is a video about a 64 year old man whose physical ability is beyond inspiring. The 22 minute documentary includes English subtitles and is well worth a look. Don’t let the language barrier cause you to miss out on a tremendous story.

I am not easily impressed but 64 year old Wang Bingrong certainly has my attention. He possesses a rare mix of strength, endurance, and coordination. The feats that Wang performs with heavy padlock weights are truly incredible.

What I enjoyed most however is the story of Wang’s transformation. It was not long ago that he suffered from severe ulcerative colitis. He nearly drank himself to the point of no return. At one point in the film, Wang discusses how he could hardly walk a flight of 36 steps. He actually had a rail installed so he could hold on and pull himself up one step at a time. He was a physical mess.

Upon hitting rock bottom, Wang realized it was time to change. He began training at a local park and alone in his basement. He slowly rebuilt his body and gradually learned several awe-inspiring feats with the stone padlocks. He now hoists considerable weights in each hand with relative ease.

As for those wondering the size of each padlock, they are labeled in jin. One jin is equivalent to approximately 1.1 pounds. In other words, Wang is not hosting around baby weights. He is moving considerable weight with incredible coordination and accuracy.

Wang’s story not only highlights human potential, but also the ability to reinvent ourselves at any time. It is safe to say that we’ve all had ups and downs at one point or another. Wang Bingrong was on the verge of drinking himself to death before deciding to change. Anyone who saw him unable to walk a flight of steps at age 50 would never believe he’s the same person at age 64. He has completely reinvented himself and he didn’t need anything fancy to do so. He worked hard in a park and alone in his basement.

There is no secret to his transformation. He decided to change and never looked back. He was diligent and consistent with his efforts. If you’ve ever doubted the potential of hard work and consistency, look no further than Wang Bingrong. As evident by his example, it is never too late to change.

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Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. – Samuel Ullman

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Passionate About Passion

I can’t believe it was over 25 years ago when I first saw the Ultimate Warrior perform as a wrestler in the World Wrestling Federation. As a youngster, I enjoyed watching him lift other wrestlers over his head. He was a physical beast. When I’d see him wrestle in the 1980s, I would drop to perform pushups in hopes of someday developing his strength.

Unfortunately, I learned of the Warrior’s sudden passing earlier this week. Born as James Brian Hellwig, he died at age 54 on Tuesday. And while I have not seen the Warrior in many years, I recently came across his video below. I certainly enjoyed it.

Within the video, he discusses the difference between being alive and truly living. He states that living means engaging your life with intensity and passion. I could not agree more. Too many people plod through life without realizing the gift that it is. Tomorrow is never guaranteed. If there is something you want to accomplish, you need to stop waiting for the perfect moment. You don’t need to have everything figured out to move forward. Someday is not a day on the calendar.

The video does contain vulgar language, but if you can get past that, the message itself is quite powerful.

RIP Warrior

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I’m passionate about f–king passion! – The Ultimate Warrior

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Age vs. Calisthenics

The video below comes from a 45 year old man who contacted me last week about a recent article. It was within that entry where I discussed the importance of patience and consistency. The man seen below subscribes to a similar philosophy. He recognizes that true fitness does not entail a 30 day transformation, but instead is a lifelong journey.

He mentioned that he has only trained with calisthenics for two years. He opted for this style of exercise because it is fun yet difficult, and can be performed almost anywhere. He continued by stating that it may take over three years to achieve a full planche that will last but a few seconds. He is not intimidated by the challenge, but instead welcomes it. He truly embraces the grind.

In his own words,

The joy of this process is the constant battle with myself and this growth is the true reward…

Based on what can be seen above, there is no denying his growth. What this 40+ year old man has accomplished in less than 2 years of calisthenic training is incredible. He has literally surpassed countless fitness professionals who make a living out of marketing much more complex programs to the masses. And he did so without any elaborate equipment. The bulk of his routine does not require anything but the ground or a bar. He has become his own gym. He could go anywhere in the world and achieve a quality workout.

It is this type of story that truly deserves more universal attention. If we ever wish to develop a more healthy and active population, we need to stop complicating the simple task of exercise. So while some may grow tired of me preaching the potential of simplicity, I would rather be a broken record than one that blurts out nonsense and deception. I could scream all day about simplicity and consistency and I’d still be a faint whisper in an industry that is built around meaningless noise. More and more fitness professionals seem to be less concerned with health and fitness and instead focused solely on dollars and cents.

Fortunately, there are still some who are able to see through the deception. The man above is as good an example as any. He is an inspiration on many levels. Not only has he defied age, he has done so with nothing but his own body. His training success is not dependent on anything but his own willingness to get up and move. He alone accepts the responsibility of what he will or will not become. His future lies solely in his own hands.

Many in this world could learn and benefit from this man’s example.

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A man is not old as long as he is seeking something. – Jean Rostand

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70 Years Old, Still Going Strong

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.

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All the so-called “secrets of success” will not work unless you do.

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Never Give Up, Never Settle

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

Before image

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.

Zorahgail powerlifting champion

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.

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Update - Since posting this entry, Zorahgail submitted a new entry video for the 2014 season of the American Ninja Warrior. Check it out here.

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Stubbornly persist, and you will find that the limits of your stubbornness go well beyond the stubbornness of your limits. – Robert Brault

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