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Mindshift 2015

I’ve been busy offline so I haven’t had much time for blogging over the last few weeks. Therefore, I hope you had a nice holiday and I wish everyone a Happy New Year. I’m surely looking forward to 2015. I am eager to remain active and productive just like any other year. And while I don’t personally adhere to New Year’s resolutions, I wish the best to anyone who uses this time of year to spark a change.

If you find yourself in that position, you may wish to view the brief video below. It was recently passed along to me and it certainly uplifting. I have already listened to it a few times and thoroughly enjoyed the message that is presented within.

Videos like that above remind of a classic quote from legendary boxing trainer Cus D’Amato.

In his words,

A boy comes to me with a spark of interest, I feed the spark and it becomes a flame. I feed the flame and it becomes a fire. I feed the fire and it becomes a roaring blaze.

Clearly, a short video cannot take you from a spark to a blaze, but the right message can definitely feed a spark to a flame. Once the flame begins to burn, the individual must then keep the fire going. Getting the fire initially started is often the most difficult step in the journey however. Once you see the flame, it’s much easier to recognize your potential and continue to fuel the fire.

If you have goals for this year (or any year), there is no time like the present. As I’ve said many times before, human life is an amazing gift, but unfortunately it does not include a rewind button. We can never recapture lost time. If there is something that you want to achieve in this lifetime, it’s up to you to get it done with whatever time you have left.

Now is as good of a time as ever. What are you waiting for?


The vision must be followed by the venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps — we must step up the stairs. – Vance Havner


Working Hard With The Basics

As each year passes, I become more and more fond of a simplistic approach to exercise. I make this statement as someone who went through my own phase of complex programming many years ago. During those formative years, I split hairs over decisions that I eventually realized were insignificant. I now train with a style that is as simplistic as ever, yet just as effective as anything I’ve ever done.

I say this not to suggest that you should train haphazardly without planning, but instead to emphasize more important variables. Speaking for myself, each year seems to pass faster than the year before. When I see pictures of my children, I am constantly amazed at how fast they have grown. It seems like it is only a hop, skip, and a jump away before they’ll be headed off to college. The last thing that I want before that time is to be lost in paralysis by analysis with my own training. I’d much rather work hard with a smaller group of exercises that I enjoy without beating my head against the wall over trivial details.

Hard Work and Consistency

Although I have simplified my approach, my belief in hard work has not changed. I just don’t spend as much time worrying about how that work will be applied. As long as I am consistent and diligent, I know that I can stay in shape without hindering other aspects of life. In other words, I can continue to thrive physically without life passing me by.

As for inspirations to my philosophy, there is no denying that the age-related section within my own blog has been a motivator. I first created that section to inspire readers of the site, but the stories actually served to motivate me as well. Seeing countless examples of men and women who have thrived in their 60s, 70s, and beyond has undoubtedly influenced me. I hope to one day create a video that is similar to what can be seen below.

Take a look at the latest addition to the age-related archives. Within the video, you will see 80 year old Walt Ottenad Jr. perform 500 pushups in approximately 30 minutes.

This 80 year old Marine has kept himself in excellent condition. I don’t know much about him, but it is safe to say that he grew up in a much different world from what we see today. He certainly performed his share of calisthenics while serving and has continued to do so throughout his life. No one knocks off that number of reps at 80 without years of practice beforehand.

Thus, while there are clipboard trainers who may critique his technique or argue about alternatives, I’m guessing that few will be as active and capable as Walt if they are fortunate to live 80 years. As an old saying suggests, actions speak louder than words and Walt is clearly a man of action. He continues to do while others debate what should or shouldn’t be done. I see him as a huge inspiration in that regard. I too plan to keep doing without worrying too much about what others believe to be optimal. As long as I’m working hard and consistent with my efforts, I’ll take my chances doing what I enjoy. The specifics matter less than the conscious attempt to regularly apply yourself diligently and effectively.


Related Entries:

Just Work

Beyond Sets and Reps

Grand Master Jhoon Rhee


None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm. – Henry David Thoreau


Will Power With Willie Burton (E:60)

I have been a fan of Dan Gable for as long as I can remember. I don’t know if the sporting world will ever see such a dominant athlete again. He wasn’t just a legendary wrestler though. Dan Gable was equally successful at developing other wrestling champions. Such dominance is rarely seen individually as an athlete or coach. To accomplish what he did on both fronts is beyond impressive.

This entry isn’t about Dan Gable’s past success however. Instead, it is about another wrestler who has at least one thing in common with Dan Gable. Willie Burton wrestles with the same heart and determination that Dan Gable possessed throughout his career. The difference is that Willie Burton was born with cerebral palsy.

In the video below, you will see an ESPN E:60 special about Willie that is narrated by Dan Gable. It’s a 12 minute video that a viewer was kind enough to upload from his phone. The footage is a bit shaky at times, but certainly does not take away from the power of this story. If you’ve ever contemplated quitting any difficult task in your life, Willie Burton’s example will offer some powerful perspective. I was literally at a loss for words after watching the video. I can’t recommend it enough.

I only wish I could figure out a way to replicate Willie’s heart. Even the most gifted of athletes would benefit by possessing what he has inside.


Related Entries:

Dan Gable Boxing In His Rocky Gym

Dan Gable’s Home Gym

Dan Gable – Dominant Athlete and Coach


A lot of my intensity in wrestling was due to my mental preparation before the matches. I got myself into a different world. – Dan Gable


Train Where You Are With What You Have

One of the obvious themes throughout this site is our ability to exercise with minimal equipment. As I have stated many times before, much of my training is performed with homemade tools or objects that were not initially intended for exercise. I am a firm believer in the simple premise that if you want to exercise, you have everything that you need to get started. It does not matter where you are or what you own, there is always something that can be done.

To convey this point, I naturally use myself to demonstrate the potential of low-tech training. Walking the walk is important to me so I will always practice what I preach. I don’t waste time talking about things that I won’t do or haven’t done. Training with minimal equipment is a way of life for me. There are few things I’d rather do than exercise outdoors and enjoy the fresh air around me.

Fortunately, I am not alone in my quest to spread the potential of outdoor exercise. People from around the world have embraced the concept. For instance, an individual from Slovenia recently passed along the following video of him and a trainer partner. You will see a variety of exercises performed throughout their town. I particularly enjoyed the wooded area that can be seen at the 3 minute mark. That short segment has given me several ideas that I hope to build in the future.

In summary, it is always nice to see people from opposite ends of the world who have embraced the same concept. It doesn’t matter where you live. We are all people. When we learn from each other and share ideas, it doesn’t just benefit us, but also those around us. The downstream effect can be significant.

If more people promoted the potential of outdoor exercise, we’d have more people up and moving. And getting more people to become more active will ultimately benefit everyone. It would be amazing to live in a world where the majority of people were healthy and active. I doubt it will ever happen, but making exercise more cost effective and accessible is certainly a step in the right direction.


Related Entries:

Outdoor Pull-up Bar

Outdoor Workout In Germany

The World Is Your Gym


Simplicity of life, even the barest, is not a misery, but the very foundation of refinement. – William Morris


The Homeless Bodybuilder – Jacques Sayagh

It has been a few days since the video below went viral. In case you missed it, you’ll see a 50 year old homeless man who exercises on the street and competes as an amateur bodybuilder. He trains primarily with resistance bands and a variety of bodyweight exercises.

When I first saw the video, I knew there would be mixed reactions. Some people would be inspired by the man’s ability to exercise without a gym, while others would question his place in life. What I didn’t expect to see were so many insults directed towards a man who is homeless. I’ve seen this man called everything from a bum to a steroid abusing piece of crap.

When I read these comments, I can’t help but wonder if a homeless poet or artist would elicit such strong reactions. Call it a hunch, but I’m guessing that the haters would have skipped over the story and instead found someone else to bash. For some reason, strong reactions are the norm when discussing a man or woman who exercises. Maybe the haters are jealous that a homeless man has developed an admirable physique. Perhaps they’d rather see him drinking alcohol on the corner rather than buying supplements and exercising. I honestly don’t know. Regardless of the reasons, I’ll never understand why certain people waste so much energy arguing about a man whose life is different from their own.

Focus on your own shit

I make these comments not to suggest that you should be inspired by Jacques Sayagh. I hardly know anything about the man. I don’t know his life story and I’m not here to judge. I do however know some hard working adults who ended up homeless. It wasn’t by choice. Life isn’t always fair or easy. It’s certainly easier to sit behind a keyboard and cast stones without knowing the full story. But once again, what’s the point of criticizing the man? No one benefits.

I actually know a homeless professional boxer. If you’ve ever been to a boxing event in the northeast, you may have seen him. He’s fought on a few of the cards that I’ve worked at in Connecticut. We even shared a dressing room with him a few years ago. He lost that night, but he fought hard and earned the crowd’s respect. He scored a knockdown in the first round against an unbeaten prospect, but eventually lost a decision.

Afterwards, I saw him shaking hands with people in the crowd. I even saw a few kids ask for a picture. He may have lost the fight, but he won over the crowd. No one knew he was homeless, but even if they did, there wouldn’t have been any insults. Most people who insult others online have very little to say when that person is standing in front of them.

In summary, rather than criticize a man like Jacques Sayagh, why not instead use that time to better yourself and others around you. All I take from his story is that it is possible to stay in shape without a fully functional gym. I already knew that to be true, but Jacques certainly provides a unique reminder. As for whether or not he takes steroids, I don’t know and don’t care. Regardless of what he does or doesn’t do, he has clearly developed his physique with minimal equipment. Criticizing other parts of his life won’t benefit anyone, so why bother? How does insulting a man prove to be any more worthwhile than what you have insulted?

Time is limited for us all so don’t waste it stepping on a man or woman who is already down.


Absorb what is useful, Discard what is not, Add what is uniquely your own. – Bruce Lee


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