One of the motivators behind this blog is my desire to prove that it’s possible to get in shape with little or nothing. As a result, I’ve shared countless stories of athletes who have thrived despite training in less than ideal environments. Whether it was boxers in Brazil, wrestlers in India, or athletes in Russia, the common denominator between them is their ability to succeed without the so-called necessities that the fitness industry so heavily markets.
Unfortunately, there appears to be confusion in regards to some of my previous entries. For example, one reader of the site asked why I continue to share so many stories of underprivileged athletes.
He wrote the following:
“You’ve made your point, it’s time to move on.”
Another reader of the site asked what’s the relevance of an athlete who lives in poverty to those who are more fortunate.
In his words:
“Are you suggesting that we need to live in poverty to be successful? How ironic…”
Based on comments such as these, I feel it is important to clarify a few points.
1. Not An Exception, It’s The Rule
First and foremost, I will continue to share stories of underprivileged athletes to silence those who would otherwise suggest that one successful case is the exception not the rule. It is with conscious thought and intent that I have shared stories from athletes around the world. For example, I’ve highlighted success stories from boxers in lands such as Ghana, Brazil, and Uganda (just to name a few). Not only do these boxers not know each other, there’s a good chance that they don’t know of each other. There is no relationship or sharing of information between them. These are unique stories. Once again, the common theme between them is success despite lack of equipment, supplementation, and nutritional options outside of simply trying to survive.
2. Raw Footage
What’s nice about observing these athletes in action is everything you see is raw and real. There is no marketing nonsense to sift through. These athletes don’t know we are watching. We wouldn’t even know what they were doing if it wasn’t for the journalists who traveled to those lands to document their stories. That alone is significant.
These athletes are not training to impress us. They are literally training for their lives. They have dreams of escaping the poverty that surrounds them. They train how they do because it has been successful. They don’t do so with hopes of converting others to follow their approach. Such realness is rarely captured in the fitness industry today.
3. Observation Is A Powerful Tool
I don’t share these stories with hopes of converting an army of blind followers. You don’t need to copy what you see to benefit from these examples. Instead, use observation as the powerful tool that it can be. Simply observe the various athletes in action and make note of what they’ve done to become successful. You can then apply Bruce Lee’s timeless wisdom to absorb what is useful and discard what is not. For example, just because the wrestlers in India may train without a floor doesn’t mean that you need to as well. You can however learn from the work ethic and desire that they so clearly display.
Whether you choose to admit it or not, fitness is a hustle. The fitness industry is a multi-billion dollar machine with no signs of slowing down. Yes, there are good and bad apples within any industry, but we all know that the fitness world is filled with deception. I don’t have a problem with anyone earning an honest living, but many fitness marketers make used car salesmen look as honest as a young child.
Not a day passes without a marketer spamming my inbox with false promises of improved fitness. There is no shame in their game. They are relentless and extremely manipulative. It’s these modern fitness gurus who tell us what’s needed to get in shape. Meanwhile, there are countless stories from poverty-stricken lands that suggest otherwise. Whose story should we believe? The marketing powers who dictate trends in the name of revenue or those who succeed with little or nothing?
Hopefully we won’t need Captain Obvious to save the day and answer this question.
It’s comical that a fitness marketer will tell others what is needed when 99 percent of them wouldn’t last a day in the gym with athletes in distant lands such as Uganda or India. Perhaps what the industry tells us we need isn’t as important as previously thought.
5. I’ve Lived It
The stories that I’ve shared highlight the significance of intangible qualities that cannot be sold. The fitness marketers cannot sell you attributes such as hard work, dedication, sacrifice, consistency, or perseverance. As a result, these qualities will never receive as much attention as those items that can fatten the wallets of the fitness regime.
Fortunately, there are still some of us who have walked the walk and understand the significance of the intangibles. I don’t simply write about low-tech environments because it interests me. I have lived it. Below you can see me training in the basement of a housing project back in the 1990’s.
Our gym consisted of nothing but cement walls, a few punching bags, and several fighters who were hungry to succeed. It wasn’t Ghana or Uganda, but we didn’t have much more in terms of equipment. Lack of equipment didn’t stop us however. Everyone who was there was in shape. We worked hard, we challenged each other, and we encouraged each other. We thrived heavily on the basics. We worked hard with calisthenics. We ran hard. We hit the bags hard. We sparred hard and we fought regularly. The approach was simple yet effective. None of us knew anything about nutrition and no one took any supplements. That didn’t stop us from getting in shape. When in doubt, we always relied on more work and harder work. It never failed.
6. More Than Boxing
My experience is clearly rooted in the sport of boxing. Fortunately, you don’t need to be a boxer to learn from these examples. Instead, recognize that if high level fighters can thrive on the basics, you can too. The Average Joe or Jane needs much less fitness than a competitive fighter. To suggest that they cannot succeed with a similar low-tech approach is beyond ignorant.
The fitness marketers would certainly like you to believe otherwise so it’s my hope that the stories above will help some see through their rampant deception. If you wish to get in shape, you have everything you need to get in shape. Almost anything works if you are willing to work. The only legitimate secret is that there aren’t any secrets.
Get up, get busy, and the results will follow. If athletes in distant lands can succeed with this approach, you can too. It isn’t as complicated as many would like us to believe.
“Effort is between you, and you, and nobody else.” – Ray Lewis