Intelligence requires that you don’t defend an assumption ~ David Bohm
The setting: a recent Friday, early evening, alone and between clients at Austin’s Efficient Exercise Rosedale studio. Shuffled tracks from Van Halen’s late 70’s/early 80’s stuff (Van Halen II, Fair Warning, Women and Children First, Diver Down…) blasting from the stereo. I’m 8 sets into a power clean — Russian leg curl combo workout, and my thumbs are now completely raw and hook-grip-numb. My posterior chain is just about spent, and my quads — as a result of an ever-lower catch depth — are fading fast. Rep after rep; set after set. To most, this would be the epitome of prolonged drudgery and yet to me, this is just some good damn quality time spent alone. Hardcore iron meditation; in lieu of Gregorian chants, I’ve got the incessant wailing of David Lee Roth‘s voice over an Eddie Van Halen guitar.
It occurs to me that, save for my Addidas Adipure-shod feet, this could just as easily be my 17 year-old self “slaving away” at the Power House Gym, San Antonio, Texas, circa 1982.
What’s kept this love of Physical Culture alive for me for so long, I’m not really sure I can pinpoint. I don’t think it’s any one thing though, but rather a patchwork of things. I think most of us who have remained true to whatever manifestation of Physical Culture we define as our base (HIT, HIIT, Oly or Power lifting, bodybuilding, etc.) can relate to Henry Rollins‘s notion of the iron never lying. When all else in the world my be completely and insanely bat-shit, an evening’s worth of 225 lb power clean repeats remains comfort food for my physical being.
In fact, the very things that defined my exercise base 35 years ago — cleans, dips, chins and sprints — still define my base today. Sure, I utilize a myriadof different training modalities and exercises now, and my workouts run seamlessly, day-to-day, into my play and back again. I’ve refined and compressed my training now, with the two-hour marathon sessions being few and far between. I have access to, and frequently utilize, proprietary ARX Fit equipment — one of the most advanced exercise technologies to come along since the heady Nautilus days; an equipment technology that I know has, in fact, allowed me perform my base-of-preference movements at ever-higher levels — and yet there’s just something about a solid, well-executed, old-school clean, a gut-wrenching dip, the clanging of iron between your knees when grinding-out chins, or that earth-skimming feeling of an all-out sprint.
I’m sure nostalgia plays a big part in this, just as I’m sure I remember myself as being a better athlete than any of my coaches would attest to. Maybe these are the little lies we tell ourselves to make it through this life, I dunno. What I do know is that this type of lifting — and these particular movements — are not only good for my body, but good for my mental state of being as well. In their essence, these are primal moves; the base of the Physical Culture pyramid — heave, press, pull…and haul friggin’ ass. Follow-up one of these sessions with some wanton carnivory and, well, we’ve got two of the four Ancestral Wellness rails covered. Eventually, we’ll get around to addressing community and spiritual life using the same Ancestral template. Ancestral Wellness 3.0 and 4.0? It’s just a matter of time before these issues will force themselves to the forefront, just as the first two phases have done.
A little something to contemplate. Is Physical Culture an art, in the same way that music is an art?
I would argue that it is. Check out this clip from Big Think, and let me know what you think.
There is a huge difference between training from a template, and training intuitively according to your n=1 circumstance. A template can never adjust for your particular set of givens; time, tools, techniques and temperament are unique for each individual, and must be navigated accordingly. To move toward Physical Culture mastery, you must break free of adhering to some one else’s notion of what ought to be done, and cut your own path. You can always learn from what others do under their particular set of circumstances, but blindly copying is a mistake.
In health, fitness and Ancestral Wellness -