Thursday, January 13, 2011

300... and a trip to a real gym!

Yeah, boys and girls, this is my 300Th post! I'll hold off on the self-congratulatory stuff though (for now) and talk about something else. I'm marking this massive achievement on my blog by doing something that I haven't done in 13-or-so years: I actually went to a gym! With weights. And trainers. And cats...

In other words, I got went toBodytribe Fitness in Sacramento, CA. I first heard about the place several years ago by correspondence with Ed Pierini. He often mentioned that he trained at this place that was, "a little different." A subsequent, several-year investigation of their stuff online left me with the following feeling: I'd love to train here.

The first opportunity back in June, 2010 fell through. That would not happen again this time. My body and my job cooperated so I decided to attend their first January Kettlebell class. At the moment, the gym is under the knife, getting bigger and better. It has the same feel that I liked about it before the surgery began: it's a nice balance of serious and fun. There's useful knowledge and hard work here performed by people that take their strength training (and not themselves)seriously. It's nice to be at a gym that's barren of pretense. I'm moments away from accidentally using a dog for box squatting!
Allyson and Chip taught the class. For a dude that never works out more than 40 minutes, I was wondering how fast a 2 hour work shop could go by. The answer: VERY fast! Remember that fun-serious-balanced blend thing I mentioned above? That carried over into the class too! I learned a lot and I had a lot of fun while doing it. I got to hang around with a bunch of cool people ("Hey, you're the Bodyweight Guy!") while we picked on the Shake weight (sorry, Allyson!), Paleo Dieting, and Russell. What more could you ask?
How about a book and a T-shirt? Chip generously reduced the price of his book "Lift With Your Head" from $100 down to $22 for me. I'm sure he'll cut you the same deal. The Bodytribe crew's been making the rounds across the United States. If they bounce into your neighborhood, you might be making a physical culture-crime, punishable by death, for not attending. If you're one of my UK, German, or Australian readers, be patient and make do with the book.

Now, back to the whole 300 Thing...

This was one of the more thought-provoking items that I read on the way out to Sacramento. I'm sure that you know where this is going. It's time for a little bit of public, yet personal, introspection on what I'm doing with this piece of Internet real estate. Lot's of people peck away at keyboards about strength training. Do they have something useful to say? Does their routine hold the key to your fitness goals? Are we all dying to hear about the things that piss them off?

Well, I find my blog useful to me. I enjoy writing. I enjoy training. I enjoy thinking too. Writing takes thought, right? How many times to we use our computer as a way of turning off our minds? Do we do that too often? I fall prey to that, I admit. So I write so I can get my brain worked-out. Just like training the rest of the meat.

The next question though is my muscle musings useful to anyone else? How to judge that...HMMM Maybe such judgement should be reserved for the individual reader to decide. I'm left looking at my "stats" page trying to decipher if the data there equates to my blogs usefulness. The number would suggest they are.

When I think of running, I usually think of a tedious form of nearly-worthless (for me, anyway) exercise that I don't have the time or the desire to do. I have to say this about running though: for cheap exercise, it's hard to beat. There's an industry out there devoted to selling you, as comedian Jackie Mason put it, "a floor...ON A FLOOR," when really, you only need three things:

1. The Earth
2. Shoes
3. Clothes
Even the last two are kind of optional!

What if someone wants to do some strength training? That requires stuff. Lots of stuff. By stuff, I mean things like massive wads of iron in differing shapes and sizes held onto rods, bars, and handles attached to machines. Wait a second, are we building cars or our bodies here?

We know that we don't need all of that shit to get strong. In fact, there isn't much at all that's needed. I don't think that message gets out enough. Even when it does, the message is flawed. Advocating of endlessly-higher reps of calisthenics doesn't amount to a whole lot except: the ability to do high reps. BW can be very effective, it just needs to be used properly. I do my best to show to do that.

I use iron these days. In the old days, I didn't mostly because I couldn't. When I could use weight, I held off, satisfying the curiosity about whether or not I even needed it. I got really strong without it. I could still continue to get strong without iron if I so chose. Strength training really isn't that dependant on what you can lay your hands on.

I've had other messages in the past 299 posts but keeping focused on minimalist strength training has been the underlying theme the whole time. By reading, I can only assume that you've found what I have to type useful.

I thank you for your time.


TR said...

Congrats on the 300. I read this blog because I believe in functional strength, and I think the best way to build functional strength is to master your body, so I like your posts about minimalist strength training. Problem is, I don't push myself and just stop training when I am by myself, so maybe a gym membership is probably best for me to stay consistent. In any case, keep it up, you will definitely keep this one reader interested for the foreseeable future.

Jim Arkus said...

I've been a huge fan of this blog since the day I found it. Yours is one of the few that I've gone back and read from the beginning. Hugely inspiring and always a good read, even if I have been using iron more frequently than when I started. Keep it up, please, and let me know if you're ever in New Jersey!

Gubernatrix said...

Like the site's new look! Keep doing what you are doing - we need blogs like this: committed, independent voices!

Anonymous said...

I bet you were the "badass bully" at that gym, all the handstand you've been doing must have give you a sick overhead press

Barefoot Butner said...

Hi. Just checked out your blog very briefly. Just have to comment.

You do not need shoes to run. This is absolutely not true. Their is a very real barefoot running community around the world. Which includes myself. As you being a body tribe member I'm surprised you have not recognized this.
I was never a runner prior to BF running. I find BF runners tend to be much happier then shod runners. I enjoy working out at my local independent gym barefoot, but I love running BF. Nothing better then being outside in the elements. Feeling every little surface texture, temperature change, etc under my feet.

Really. You don't need shoes to run. Though you do have to transition properly to be able to do it safely. This shoe addicted society has very weak feet. Including chuck t shoe users. It takes significant time to strengthen feet after a lifetime of wearing conventional shoes.

Some food for thought for ya.....

Justin_PS said...

@TR: If that's what you like to do and that's what works for you, have at it dude! Thank you.

@Jim: will do and thank you!

@Gubernatrix: Thank you! Get some rest, BTW ;)

@BB: it must have been a very brief look, you missed a key phrase in the entry that confirms much of what you said!

As for my overhead pressing, I'm not really sure how I measure up. When I'm learning new stuf, I error on the side of caution and use lighter weights. That was a 44 lbs KB.

Anonymous said...

How much can you press? How much of a carryover between partial ROM HSPU's and full ROM overhead press?

Justin_PS said...


i CaN poOSh prEss tWO-100 lbs DUmberBElls for 10 REPS!!!!!

No Brag, just fact!

Anonymous said...

Push-presses are a cheating. Strict press is the way to go, buddy. When you do push-presses you use a leg drive to go through the sticking point.

Justin_PS said...

Um, where's your sense of preception, amigo?

Justin_PS said...

Did you really think I was going to post that? Seriously?