Father’s Day

So, I was a little more stiff getting out of bed this morning than usual.  My legs are a tad more sore than I expected, which was not sore at all, because, after all, I can be arrogant at times and forget that I’m forty, or human.

I had a pretty good weekend these past two days.  I hope you did, too.  If you’re a father, like me, then I hope you enjoyed your Father’s Day and were feted appropriately.  I certainly feel like I was, made me feel like I was doing something right.

Saturday was a very short day at the gym.  Usually I work from 7 am to around 12 or so, training clients, running my boot camp and tai chi classes and then getting in a massage client or two.  This Saturday I had nothing scheduled beyond boot camp.

Fortuitously, I had gotten a call the previous afternoon from Wendy Jarvis.  Wendy runs the Dia De Los Muertos celebration we have here in Birmingham each year.  It’s a highly successful event and if you’re ever in Birmingham on November 2nd I highly recommend you check it out.  I donate firewood each year for the mini bonfires, which earns me a backstage pass, free beer and makes me feel super cool.

Wendy was calling because she knew of a stash of firewood that someone was looking to get rid of and that I could probably use it.  She was right.  The combination of last year’s super mild winter and being super busy this spring and early summer has led me to be a tad behind on stockpiling firewood for this coming winter.

I have a little more than half a cord left over from last year but that’s no where near enough.  The call for two truckloads of firewood was a welcome one and I was glad to retrieve it.  The wood was an old pecan that, now fully cured, had not been fully cut and split for firewood.  What I hauled home was a mish-mash of pieces; limbs eight feet long, thicker sections cut around thirty six inches and some pieces, a few, that were firebox ready.

That just meant I got to spend a part of the afternoon running my chainsaw and swinging my splitting ax–and yes, I do mean “got to.”  See, there’s a nine year old boy still inside me.  That boy watched Lou Ferrigno as The Incredible Hulk, he had a chance opportunity to watch Pumping Iron with his father and see giants like Arnold push the boundaries of what the human body could become.  He loved kung fu movies and Star Wars, his favorite character, Chewbacca.

The truth of the matter is, that boy was frequently scared and felt powerless in the world.  In bodybuilders, professional wrestlers, kung fu masters and Chewbacca he saw strength and power–not power to lord over others, but power to keep others from lording over him.

As I was loading and unloading the truck I thought, “Damn, too bad I don’t have my camera.  This would make good material for the blog…Call it ‘This is why I train.'”

But it’s not.

Saying I like to be strong for my family is a nice line and in an indirect sense it’s also true, but the real truth is that I’m motivated by something a little smaller, much older and quite fragile.

A nine year old boy that no one can take care of but me.  So I train for him.  I make myself strong to show him that he is strong, that he is capable and no longer needs to feel afraid.  I’m a better man for it and my family does benefit, so all in all I think it’s a good thing.

Yesterday was a good day.  We got up early, Samantha, Bronwyn and I, and headed out to Oak Mountain State Park.  The Alabama Waldorf School was hosting a 5k and Agoge Fitness Systems was running the warm-up.

The warm-up went well and I introduced a few of Elliott’s bio-energetic exercises into the mix.  Feeling good and pumped from the warm-up I decided, at the last minute, to run.

I am not what you would call a “regular” runner.  In fact it’s been a good four months since I did anything more than sprint across the parking lot or a 400 meter jog around the block.  Also, I am slow.

I ran a little more than an eleven-minute mile and had enough gas to sprint the final tenth or so.  That was enough to make me happy.  It was a beautiful, day, I ran the whole race and I kept good company with my dear friend, Paula Boggan.

And this, dear friends is why I’m sore, mainly in my calves, my ankles a tad stiff.  Nothing too bad and certainly nothing a mid-morning workout won’t cure.

The rest of the day was just as, if not more, wonderful: I got a nap, spent a few hours splashing in the river with my wife and all three daughters, had a fat dinner of ribs and salad and retired home for homemade coconut ice cream and to finish the movie I’d drifted off on while watching the night before.

Before bed I read a little further into Alexander Lowen’s The Language of the Body.  Lowen was a psychologist, a student of Wilhelm Reich, who was a student of Freud.  His main premise is that issues of the mind show up in the body, as chronic weaknesses, imbalances or postural deviations.

I was reading about the “oral character” (We all start with ourselves, right?) which develops from infants who undergo significant deprivation early in their lives.  Given a generation where mothers were encouraged to let their children cry themselves to sleep, ours is a generation rampant with oral tendencies.

It was these ideas that got me thinking about the nine year old, and younger parts of me, that were damaged and neglected growing up.  I was saddened to think not only of the unconscious damage I experienced but the damage I inflicted and inflict on my own children, things we all do, with the best of intentions, that create lifelong challenges.

And that’s where I saw the beauty of it.  We all have choices, both as the agent of dysfunction and the recipient.  Do we have to follow crackpot advice, that goes against the grain of all our instincts, of some professional just because this guy has credentials?  Do we have to accept slights and injustices of youth as truth even as an an adult?  Must we continue to tell ourselves the same story of our lives or do we take pen in hand, as arbiters of our own fate, and rewrite our story to one that suits us best?

Here comes the plug…You know by now, that I view physical fitness, particularly strength training, as a profound vehicle for personal growth and development.  Strength brings with it a sense of confidence and personal power that gives you room to explore the rest of your life.

On July 28th and 29th I’m bringing a unique expert in this realm of personal development through strength and ability, Chip Conrad, to Agoge Fitness Systems.  Chip runs his own gym, Bodytribe, in Sacramento, California.  Chip is a powerlifter, an Olympic lifter, and a bodyflow, yoga and movement enthusiast, who has made it his mission to re-instil the original concept of Physical Culture, function is form, ability is aesthetic, into our gyms and our lives.  Register HERE and join us!

And as always, if you like what you read, you can get it sent directly to in your inbox by clicking HERE.  We will never sell or distribute your email address, we hate spam as much (or more) as you do.

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Filed under Fitness, Martial Arts, Motivation, Movement, Personal Development, Personal Training, Recovery, Strength, Strength Training, Tai Chi Chuan

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