Excellence

11 12 2007

copy-of-dscn3169.jpgOkay, so after all that talk about making more out of our workouts than just physical exercise, it’s my turn:)

Over the course of the year, mostly during the hikes, there was a lot of conversation about life, where we were each at and the general firing back and forth of challenges or obstacles we were going thru, just bouncing our reflections off a sounding board. As we continued, the hikes really began to take the shape of a metaphor for the challenges we would face or even the solution to them. It became a very natural association. An association which carried over, without any particular intention, into our quest to “300”. Only this time it evolved to the next step. It was the specific identification of a quality we wanted a greater grasp on and using the workouts to develop it. And I’ll be honest, although we both adhered to this and saw this as the generating force behind what we were doing, Chris was the first to actually do it (and the only one for the duration of our 6 months to “300”). Chris had identified his reason for striving towards our end goal…….it was Discipline. Here are a couple of his posts where he discusses this: Alone, Back to Circuts.

I had never actually identified anything for myself. But as we were nearing the final “300” test, I began really wanting to dig deep, to find the quality that I need to develop at this time (and to make it the focus of whatever the next “round” was going to be). So I started thinking about it and came to a conclusion.

A fews years ago, I’d really come to recognize that I have two distinct sides to me. One is this huge appetite for life and learning, with many interests and things I want to do. The other is this part of me that yearns to really zero in on just one thing, focus precisely and get reeeaaally good at it. As it happened, for a good 10 yrs (my teens and early adult life), the “do it all” side was the strongest force. Now this is not to say I was scattered, stressed and all over the place. Everything I did, I put a great deal of focus, time, effort and energy into it all and loved doing it. I just did alot of it. Which limited to what lengths I could become proficient in any given activity. I especially felt this with regards to my martial arts practice. Yet it didn’t change anything and I still did everything under the sun. I eventually came to realize that I had this unconscious association that quantity = living each day to the fullest (even though it was quality that I was trying to live by).

So the last few years have been about actively slowing down, prioritizing and spending more time within the activity I’ve chosen (and this isn’t just personal interests, but expands to family and work as well). In the last few months, qualities like simplicity, contentment, detachment have been reverberating strongly within me. Yet in trying to find the “quality” to work on, those just didn’t seem to quite fit the bill. Then it hit me: Excellence. It is time to take that final step, to allow that other side of me to come forward and have it’s turn (along with all the challenges and learning, but ultimately deeper levels of understanding that I will gain from being focused at such a level).

For the next year (which started Dec 01/07) I will strive for Excellence in Kettlebell Lifting (which means the triathlon I wanted to do in the spring is out…..as is the getting started in parkour……not to mention……oh never mind…..you get the point:0). And I’m in no rush to get to a certain level by the end of this one year period. I’m just putting in my time, being present with each day, each moment and continuing to get to know the Bell much better, ……and me along with it:)

s.





Roots

6 12 2007

roots.jpgA philosophy of interconnectedness has rooted itself here. It wasn’t necessarily the intention or the goal, but rather the organic outcome, as a result of the lives we strive to live. The spirit, body, mind and heart, all interweaving back and forth between each other. In fact working and existing as a single entity, as we struggle along trying to figure out their individual parts and how they all fit together:)

Developing a greater sense of awareness. When we emotionally feel a particular way, recognizing the discomfort, pain or sickness that our body manifests as a signal to what’s going on. When we allow the mind to run loose and become the dominating force within the entity that is us, seeing the build up of emotional instability that occurs as a result. When the body comes under extreme stress, throwing the mind into a state of panic, the need to call on the spirit to take over at the wheel and get us thru to the other side (in relatively one piece;) And the greater the awareness becomes, the harder it is to dispute this interconnectedness, the harder it becomes to progress forward without perceiving our growth in this manner.

Approaching our physical work as a means of also attending to our mental, spiritual and emotional work has tremendous benefits. It makes sure that we are actually being mindful of and taking time to attend to them. It helps to keep us looking at the whole rather than the zeroing in on, and losing ourselves, amongst the parts. It propels our personal growth forward and sparks it in those around us. It gives far greater meaning to the workouts than just getting a six pack. That greater meaning provides immense reserves of fuel that keeps us motivated to continue exercising (because let’s face it, if being in amazing shape was REALLY THAT IMPORTANT to us, we’d find a way to do it and all of us would look like Greek gods and goddesses).

Most of us need a reason for undertaking the physical work. Reflect on the work of the spirit, mind and heart that needs to be undertaken. Identify what is most pressing, what your “gut” is screaming out at you to address. Just take a sec, you’ll hear it. And before long, it’ll be loud and clear. You now have your REASON. Let it take root. Send it back along those interconnected channels to your body. “Alright, body, this is what we’re working on. Let’s give us exactly what we need to make it happen…….and look damn sexy while we’re doing it;)

s.





Ascending With Bells

6 12 2007

6-copy-of-dscn1057.jpgFor nearly a year we had consistently been hiking out in the mountains, making the commitment to ourselves to get out once a week. Then, when all this began, we trained CrossFit style a la Gym Jones and continued to do so for 6 months. Within the first 6 weeks, we noticed a big improvement in terms of endurance, speed and recovery time. And all we were doing was about 20-30 min, 4 days a week. Actually, here’s a great article by Mark Twight about his testing this high intensity way of training and it’s carry-over to endurance pursuits.

So we personally saw what training power-endurance did for us in our pursuit of the mountains. Now we are shifting a bit and are training more strength-endurance. As I’d mentioned before, we are focusing on kettlebells now and those are touted as the optimum tool for training strength-endurance. So we will see in the months to come the effect that has and whether there is a difference or not.

Important to note: it is not actually the kettlebell that develops strength-endurance, it is the way in which it is used that does. The kettlebell happens to just be the tool that allows you to train thus, in the most efficient manner, with the greatest overall results. Making lifting the kettlebell the best way to develop strength-endurance;)

This efficient lifting methodology was introduced to all of us at the Las Vegas workshop by Steve Cotter. And it is the proper kettlebell lifting technique and subsequent training for Kettlebell Lifting Sport that provides the immense strength-endurance benefits that come with it. Another important note: There isn’t a difference between lifting kettlebells for sport and lifting for, say fitness. There’s lifting kettlebells and then there’s what you use Kettlebell lifting for. This is something that is being cleared up and clarified by the the American Kettlebell Club, with the assistance and technical guidance of their Head Coach, Valery Fedorenko (“the “Michael Jordan” of kettlebell lifting – world champion, record holder and national coach”). This is not to say that our exposure to kettlebells the last 5-10 years hasn’t been beneficial. It was immensely beneficial. Along with the skills it taught, it was a leading engine in creating a paradigm shift in the outlook on fitness (in North America anyway) and it forced the elite kettlebell lifting community out of obscurity, now making accessible to everyone the decades upon decades of experimentation, learning and perfection.

And lifting in this manner still fits in with the needs of Chris and I. The workouts will still only be around 35 mins long, we can do them here at home, they are still physically and (more importantly) mentally grueling and challenging and will keep us at a relatively high level of fitness.

Bring it on……heh,heh,heh…..

s.





And the Journey Continues……

4 12 2007

path.jpgAfter the “300” test, Chris and I took some time off to relax, allow the bodies to recuperate and figure out in what direction we would be moving next. We’d both come to the conclusion that we were ready to take a break from the CrossFit styled workouts and do something different. Over the last month or so, since I went down to Las Vegas for the Kettlebell workshop, I’ve been wanting to take more time to do more kettlebells. And Chris had enjoyed the month of KB’s we did for the “Sprint Cycle” and so we’ve decided we will focus primarily on those.

Now, we don’t have any specific goals at this time that we are working towards (like the “300” was for our first 6 months). I think that will come to us as we proceed forward (because, as we all know, specific goals are important, they are a huge motivating force for what we undertake and assist us to be specific with our training, which then increases what we get out of it).

We do, however, have a  twofold focus. One, the physical/mental aspect, is continued improvement in our fitness, mental endurance and clarity under induced stress and it’s carry over to hiking the mountains we frequent (and mountains we look to frequent more).  Two, the spiritual/emotional aspect, is identifying the qualities within ourselves we wish to develop and using the physical workouts to assist in that growth;)

Same journey, new challenges, same goofballs, new learning, same gym, new tools…….or rather, just alot more of some of the old ones:)

s.