Monthly Archives: August 2015

BodhiBuilding (AKA Chris’s home gym)

Courage: The mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.

Strength: : The quality or state of being physically strong.
: The ability to resist being moved or broken by a force
: The quality that allows someone to deal with problems in a determined and effective way.

Bodhi: Translated into English, its literal meaning is closer to “awakened.”

In my home I have several small areas set up as courage corners. Their purposes are to build a body, mind and spirit that can withstand, and recover from training with equipment that can charitably be described as “uncooperative.”

The Iron Corner. Kettlebells,chains and bands.  My current kettlebells range in weight from 18-72 lbs/8-32kg including several matched pairs. Lengths of chain and resistance bands can be attached to increase load and handling challenges. This corner is located in my comfortably air conditioned home, but since the equipment is so portable I can take a bell or two to my nearby parks and take advantage of the outdoor gyms.

The Earth Corner : Several stones ranging in weight from 22-86lbs /9-37kg.  Primarily used for Throwing and Pressing. By far my least expensive and most uncooperative equipment and readily available in the Las Vegas area. I am only limited by the days weather.

The Desert Corner: A pair of Sandbags weighing 25-75lbs/11-34kg. Dynamic variable resistance training for loaded carries and numerous types of lifts. These are in my garage, which can get near unbearably hot in the summer.

Three very different mini-home gyms yet the same training principles apply.  I still of course have my regular training gym which I frequent and at any time can go for a walk or do some form of mobility drills and calisthenics.  (Yes, I have taken weights for walks around my neighborhood the way other people take their family dog.)

The path to strength is long and the skills many.  At times it can be painful, frustrating and monotonous work. Knowing this, why should one pursue the costly proposition?                                                                                                                                                                                   When has there been a time in your life where you wished you could have been more afraid and weak?  Depending on where your beliefs lie, do you honestly believe we were meant to be fearful and fragile?

Because strength stands above all other qualities and is the one thing that improves all other qualities. Pursuing strength makes all other pursuits happen.

Because what is initially difficult will become simple work in time.

Because the path to the goal is often more rewarding than the goal itself.

Because its an investment in potentially the greatest stock on Earth. YOU.

Because we are Creations of Strength, and we were born to move.


Get loose, be present (AKA Chris talked to a Naturist)

I’ve met a lot of cool and interesting people.  Not long ago a friend of mine informed me that she is an avid naturist (AKA a person that enjoys being nude outdoors) and through her I gained some insights into things as they relate to training and practice ….besides the importance of knowing where your parts are in space and laying a towel on a bench.

As my naturist friend explained, as she is removing her clothes she is also removing the stresses of the day, she is subtracting stress while subtracting her clothes.  By the time she is done is she is essentially unburdened and stepping into the sun letting life recharge her.

I kind of like that thought.  Letting go of things and recharging oneself.

I’ve had clients show up for training in stressed conditions where something during that persons day clearly got to them.  Although I am not a psychologist, I am an engineer of sorts.  My job is to mindfully apply external loads on a human being, monitor the clients rate of force production in order to create internal and external changes.  If the client is not with me in the present moment then outcomes will be less than optimal.  I have a perfect athlete safety record and plan on maintaining it.

So how do I get my athletes to get loose, and be present in the moment?  How do I create an experience where they leave the gym feeling recharged despite the amount of work accomplished?

I have a few little catchphrases that often recenter people, but my personal favorite is the one I use on myself.

I call it the thin line.

The thin line is an imaginary division that separates “the outside world” (where whatever is stressing me dwells) and “the Iron” (wherever I’m training.)  The Iron doesn’t care what is happening in the outside world, it is a private island and everyday has perfect weather.

The laws of the Iron are strict, but easy to follow so long as you remain present in the moment. Once you’ve crossed the line from the outside world into the Iron you must remove all stressful articles from your life.  This is a case of addition via subtraction.

LAW: There is overload (a good thing) and over-overload(a bad thing.) Deal with the former and not the latter, you wouldn’t take an entire jar of aspirin to cure a simple headache, you’d take the minimum effective dosage.

LAW: Technical incompetence can be costly to more than just your ego. If you’re not 100% present in the moment that means your partially somewhere else.  Remember, the Iron doesn’t care about the outside world.

LAW: Technical degeneration is a result of fatigue and over-overload.  Re-read laws 1-2.

LAW: Its not the set, its not the next rep nor the last set and rep. It’s the present rep. Be present with it.

Polish (AKA Chris on Progress vs Perfection)

kaizenKaizen is the practice of continuous improvement.  We were designed to be creations of strength and throughout our life we continually polish ourselves to reveal our full potential.

Slowly but surely, I am improving in my lifts, approach and understanding of training concepts,teaching and living a confident and spiritually rewarding life, Over the course of the past week I have had a complete wreck of workout which I stopped within 15 minutes simply because I truly wasn’t present in the practice, and that’s when accidents happen. Two days later I enjoyed a practice that I can honestly say was one of the best I’ve enjoyed in awhile..

I left my training the way I want my clients and trainers to leave training, feeling better and recharged instead of beaten.  It is my belief that we are designed to get things from life (and training) and not simply get through life.

“Before I studied the art, a punch to me was just like a punch, a kick just like a kick. After I learned the art, a punch was no longer a punch, a kick no longer a kick. Now that I’ve understood the art, a punch is just like a punch, a kick just like a kick. The height of cultivation is really nothing special. It is merely simplicity; the ability to express the utmost with the minimum. It is the halfway cultivation that leads to ornamentation. Jeet Kune-Do is basically a sophisticated fighting style stripped to its essentials.”    Bruce Lee

As a child, I recall my first Karate Sensei telling us that it takes 10 years to begin to understand some of the complex forms found in Martial Arts. Understanding therefore being one of the early steps towards mastery. Several forms within Japanese and Okinawan Karate systems contain 70-100+ individual movements, these are reserved for more advanced students.  At a higher level one starts noting the seemingly minor movements that connect major movements in addition to the practical application of the principles within the system.  Later still, all forms start becoming very clear.

I noted that simply by expanding or contracting a technique it could alter its use as either defensive or offensive, which later led to the question if there truly were any purely defensive movements. At that point the singular Martial Art that I had studied started taking on a look that was entirely unique to me.

30 years of training and practice later, I gained a degree of acclaim as a teacher instructor largely due to my ability to teach techniques within the forms that were often considered nebulous. I would offer 2-4 possible interpretations and practical applications and drill each with the group.  Given the fact that the students in this case were all at an advanced level it was fairly easy to grasp and improvements were noted quickly,

Essentially I added a layer a polish to other instructors.

As I now approach my 40th year of practice, I can say I’m, starting to understand a few things,my movements have become much more economical and my teaching methods have simplified. I still love learning new stuff.

Although hardstyle kettlebell as taught by StrongFirst and RKC is comprised of only six main techniques (The Turkish Get Up,The Swing,The Clean,The Snatch,The Press and The Squat) I find there is exceptional depth to each technique regardless of the visual simplicity and that the principles remain constant even when other objects are used in place of the Kettlebell.

It took just under a year to gain that insight, and in every practice I add a layer of polish to myself. The process of Kaizen is never ending, and at times can be arduous.  I am far from where I can ascend, but I have faith that tomorrow I will be one step closer towards understanding.

Moving on (2015)

After consideration I have decided to end my partnership with a local gym.  I have faith that opportunity will present itself, or I will get the message that it is time for me to retire as a strength coach and personal trainer.

If the latter proves true, I take comfort in believing that I’ve been able to influence a few people on living life confidently and how to be the best trainers they can be.  Retirement itself doesn’t take away my other goals and I still have works to complete.