Keeping It Simple: 2018

Maybe it's because my bones ache. After years of abuse, my body feels like a Matchbox car that has been thrown off a building and set on fire too many times. Or it could be because, sometimes, as I reach out to pick up my dynamic one-year-old, my shoulder will neatly pop out of the joint. It might even be the arthritis from countless broken wrists, minor knee injuries, broken and sprained ankles, tight ski boots, flat landings, and NASCAR-quality mountain bike crashes. Perhaps it's a product of bad choices: now, in the middle of an already injury-laden existence, warranty since expired, I spend a few days a week in a jiu-jitsu gym getting manhandled like a 4-H rodeo sheep by men half my age.

Whatever the reason, I crave simplicity when it comes to cross-training. Part of it is a tired body, but mostly it's a tired mind. I'm sick of being sold get buff, get strong,and get fast schemes. For the most part I feel like workout programs are largely repetitive ventures; I've always admired or, felt sorry for people that could do the same thing over and over and over again and get satisfaction from it. I get exasperated with the obsession of working out. The air in the gym is stale. The sideways glances from the dudes with shaved chests confuse me. My playlist sucks. I start feeling like a rat in a cage.

So I go back to basics, because I'm old and set in my ways. I'm a curmudgeon. Thus, I gravitate to utilitarian training, prison-yard set-ups. Don't coddle me with gadgets and brightly colored computers. Resist protecting me from injury with over-engineered machines. My happy place is when I’m forced to stay at some dingy 3-star hotel that just happens to be managed by a former marine, not some community college-certified food and beverage director. Don't get weird on me, you know the setup: they proudly advertise the three treadmills, full set of bosu balls and guided squat machine gathering dust in the corner next to a full length mirror that countless mid-level executives have used to suck in their guts and practice their sales pitches in.

I digress. I like free weights and basic, dynamic body movement. Reflections of real life, when I might have to jump up, or sideways, or lift a 250-lb beast of a purple-belt off of my abdomen. I still have some skiing to do with my friends and with my boy as he gets older (and radder). I have to keep up with my wife, a former pro-snowboarder who will relentlessly tease me if I fall behind in the trees. On a fundamental level, I still have to get out of bed in the morning if anything at all. All of this requires some semblance of joint mobility, strength, endurance and power.

Bench press, box jumps, squats, sled pushes... I played football for half a semester my freshman year in high school and sled pushes still suck. I've also watched a couple of movies about Navy SEALs, no big deal. Pull-ups, pushups, kettlebells. I love kettlebells. Fireman's carries, deadlifts. Put that in a neat, scary package by someone adept at applying healthy pain and I am your first acolyte, an evangelist til the day I die which, coincidentally, might be the day I stop training.

If I can have all of this and be surrounded by like-minded athletes, supported even, then I've found the perfect situation. Better than working out alone, but I'll take that over frills, gimmicks, crappy pop music and the insecure gang-land mentality of your average sweat factory. I don't need to look hard or far for this; generally, I'm pretty good at finding simple, pretty skilled at discerning the essential from the unnecessary. At the end of the day, after I've committed hard won time, money and effort, I just want to feel like I've been challenged enough to have grown physically and psychologically, can still play with some semblance of athleticism or, just enough to keep the wolves at bay for another year.

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