Glenny Brock is my writing coach. If you write, I highly recommend you get one, not a Glenny per se but a coach (athough, Glenny is quite good, and if you ask nicely and seem a decent sort I’d be happy to make the introduction).
In fact, whatever your speciality I suggest you find someone better at it than you are and align yourself with them. It will only make you better at whatever it is you want to do.
Glenny and I meet Friday afternoons at a local coffee shop. We discuss my writing, either this newsletter or another essay I’ve written. Sometimes she has a reading assignment and we write, usually for ten or fifteen minutes in our neat little Moleskine notebooks that show that we are cool and literate. Hers is red, mine is a classic black.
Mostly we talk. Glenny is one of those people with whom I never have enough time for a full conversation. There’s just too much to say. Our ideas bounce off each other like atoms gone wild in a fission experiment out of control. I am inevitably late for whatever appointment I have scheduled next, usually having to leave mid thought with the clock reminding me that I should already be at the gym.
As part of these sessions Glenny keeps a list. This is a list of ideas, phrases or concepts that come up in our conversation that she thinks would make for an interesting essay later on. Each week I jot down a few of the potential title names and try to write at least one piece based on one of those ideas.
The idea I took from our meeting last week was the title of what you’re reading now, “The Same Church.” It came from our discussion about the conference, my newsletter and the guys I’ve been writing about over the last few days.
In reference to the ease of our comradarie, the bond or connection that so easily happens when I meet new people at these type of conferences or events I said, “It’s easy really, we all go to the same church.”
During my martial arts career, like any good kungfu nerd, I watched a lot of martial arts movies, especially the Chinese masters: Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee, Jet Li, Donnie Yen, and the Shaw Brothers. In fact my whole interest in the martial arts was spawned by watching episodes of Kung Fu with David Carradine and Saturday afternoon “Kung Fu Theater” broadcast by a local TV station.
As such I became well acquainted with the idea of “The Temple.” In terms of the martial arts movie “The Temple” was inevitably Shaolin Temple, the famed birthplace of Chinese martial arts and the backdrop for countless films.
A common plot line ran like this; a young boy, aggrieved and wronged by some evil kung fu badass with a wicked moustache, seeks revenge, he finds himself, cold, hungry and destitute at the door of the Temple, where he is eventually taken in, trained in the ways of Shaolin kung fu by monks of masterful power and then set loose to avenge himself, sometimes ten or twenty years later, on his wonderfully preserved nemesis.
My favorite part was always the Temple. Here we get to see our young hero’s transformation and the training montage at it’s finest. Here were planted the seeds of the gym as a crucible for transformation.
Early on I saw the gym as a kind of Temple and that meant we trainers were acolytes of this new “religion” called fitness. To be sure, like any religion, ours is splintered and fragmented by sects and cults. We have our fanatics–Spinners, Crossfitters, Powerlifters, Bodybuilders and Endurance Nuts, who all “pray” to the same god, but in their own way and each is convinced that theirs is the only true path to salvation.
Then there are the heretics, those of us who refuse to align ourselves with any one church or denomination, who seek a direct communion with Fitness on our own terms and in our own way. I believe that’s because we seek connection with the “true gospel,” but of course, I’m biased.
Chip Conrad and I are “of the same Church.” Chip is a Martin Luther. Brutal Recess is his 95 Theses tacked up on the door of the Church of Fitness. In movement, in ability, in strength and in play he challenges the dogma of what has become commercial fitness, inviting us to rediscover the original gospel of Physical Culture and to rediscover ourselves in the process.
Chip is a competitive, raw powerlifter, an Olympic lifter who has studied with greats like Tommy Kono, a movement specialist who plays with yoga, body flow, kettlebells, lever clubs, or any other odd object at hand. In short Chip is a fully realized human, who eschews limitations of all kinds and refuses to put himself or anyone else in a box.
Come join us, play with your limitations, explore your possibilities and learn to have fun in the gym again.
Chip will be here at Agoge Fitness July 28th and 29th for a workshop, sharing his “heretics dogma” and opening you up to the possibility of the Church of Yourself. For more information, CLICK HERE.
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