Fat

There is a current and recurrent thread amongst HEMA and other martial arts disciplines that mocks the fat instructor. It’s one of those things that everyone feels comfortable jumping in on. Five years ago I dropped 50lbs. It was just after finishing my Precision Nutrition certification. One of the most common things you will hear about choosing a health or fitness professional is that you should never chose a fat one. I was sitting at 195, with a good body composition, stellar bloodwork and fitness abilities. And yet every time I looked in the mirror I wanted to scream. I was terrified. I don’t think I can describe the fear.  You’ve either felt it or you haven’t. I looked in the mirror and saw a ghost. I was an insubstantial freak and every ounce of weight that left me was leaving me more and more transparent. Empty. Invisible. Vulnerable. When…

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The Cost of Doubt

Doubt costs repetitions. The time you spend thinking about how to do something, or what you have done wrong, or even if there is a better way to do something, is time you spend not doing something. Success in athletic endeavors can be correlated to volume. Working on handstands, the students with the best handstands, or most improving handstands, are the ones who do the most handstands. In the brief amount of time there is to perform the task in class, some students will do 20 or more handstands or handstand attempts. Some students will only do two or three. Over time, volume wins. The old saying about the water wearing away the rock is true, but it’s difficult to be the water. Doubt is a thing that holds us tight, and stops us from wearing away at our task. When a student is wondering about the correct way to…

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Heavy to Light

It can get a little confusing for students when I lay out the prescription for the day’s class. I’ll explain what’s behind that. The first thing I talk about is what phase we are in. We have four phases that we move through: Power, Strength, Endurance and Mobility. Power is about explosive speed. Strength is where we build our muscles. Endurance is where we work on keeping our strength up for a longer period of time. The Mobility phase is where we take all that strength and learn to preserve it through our whole range of motion. We also take a short recovery phase, as well as the odd single day recovery, where we just give our bodies a chance to catch up. The type of exercise we do is determined by what phase we are in. The intensity of the exercise will vary from class to class. We have…

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Warming Up for Class

I’m an old fat man, so I have to put in a lot of extra to work to get myself ready for class. I’m the teacher, so I need to set the best example I can for my students. I can’t be better than them at everything, but I need to show them the value of what they are doing by being an example of the result. Add in that I constantly experiment with new exercises to add to our mix, and the hit on the body over time can become serious. I can’t afford to give in to aches and pains, and I need to look to my long-term performance. So the warm-up is the most important part of my regime. My warm-up begins in the morning. Usually with my coffee, which gets a 5g scoop of creatine, which is the same amount you would get from eating about…

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Mothers

Mothers. They’re so … tactful. I was a few days into the visit with my parents in June when my mother asked something that had clearly been on her mind for most of them. “So… why don’t you have a flat stomach? I mean, with all the exercise stuff you’ve been doing…” For the record, this is me: I gave her the short answer (“diet”), but it was one more reminder that people who don’t do “exercise stuff” and even most of the people do have pretty much no concept of just how much goes into turning a body into what you see in magazines or on TV. Everybody (with the possible exception of my mother) has seen that Dove timelapse cover girl video, and everybody knows that everything in the media is photoshopped to death, but it’s almost impossible to internalize the idea in the same way that we’ve…

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Growing Power

Probably the number one reason people don’t come to our classes is fear of our workout. The language we use to talk about what we do at the school seems to make people uncomfortable. People that run marathons or at least jog regularly, people that hit the gym for weight training, people that study other martial arts…all of them seem to worry about how they would do in our class. I understand where they are coming from. You mention handstands or cartwheels…that can be a pretty intimidating thought. Fencing seems a bit intellectual, which is at least not too scary. Wrestling? Boxing? From the land of the couch, those seem pretty distant and scary. Adding to the discomfort, this blog and the school website have lots of pictures of workouts and people looking fit. And the truth is we are pretty fit. But we didn’t start out that way. We…

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