Declaration of Intent – January 10, 2017
It is no surprise that as a species we have come to seek out and cherish comfort. For most of us growing up and living in the western world, life is very easy. Can you imagine living without running water, electricity or without heat and shelter during a Montreal winter (gasp!)?. Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a cry to go return to the 18th century. The cushiness of modern living and the plethora of easily satisfying choices in the form of readily available foods and entertaining distractions have made us soft. Our bodies have become soft, as has our tolerance and will to endure and overcome obstacles. The easy route is all around us and I recognize the desire within myself to tend towards comfort as well. This has led me to question, how often do we really chose to enter into the uncomfortable and to challenge ourselves and our boundaries? Beyond the immediate gratification provided through easy living, very little of lasting worth is gained through living in comfort; growth comes through living in the suck and overcoming hardship. Given the trappings of modern life, the struggle for inner and personal growth must therefore be sought out.
For me, physical training has been the most rewarding form of struggle. Maybe it is because of the physiological mechanisms that make every fibre of your being scream ‘stop – why are you doing this to me’ that make exercise more immediately present and real and than other goals or pursuits, like studying for an exam or working to gain status or a promotion. When you are physically working hard, you damn well know it and oh yes, it feels so great and rewarding when you are done. Beyond the immediate reward of completing a workout, the benefits of physical gains over time are also incredibly visceral. Despite what the fitness industry may want you to believe physical change is not easy. It is not an easy thing to lose weight, gain muscle mass or generally improve your level of fitness. It takes dedication and consistent effort. Weeks, months, years of hard work, sweat and time. Beyond physical change, fitness also involves skill (hamster treadmills and self-limiting machines aside…) and the development of technique takes targeted and purposeful effort. The effort put into the training hall to change ones body or become skillful in a movement practise or art translates into pride, self-respect and confidence in all aspects of life. Lastly, a high level of physical capacity equals freedom to move, thrive and live a pain free existence. You can be the smartest, richest, or most powerful person in the world, but if you’re physical health is poor, your life will be one of constant suffering.
The path I have chosen for my life’s work is the physical realm; aiding others in the pursuit of physical health to find happiness and a path towards personal growth and development. Looking back at my youth, I have always been a physical person and was always happiest when I was able to move. I was involved in competitive sports since a young age and found physical training and weight lifting in my teens, but started working at age 15 and never pursued anything seriously. I never tried to achieve anything amazing physically individually or as part of a team. When I began practising Kung Fu in my late twenties, achieving my black belt was the goal. This didn’t mean much though in terms of physical capability; I had no idea what it would take physically to get to this level, in the movies this was the gold standard of being an ass kicker. When I was lifted weights in my teens, size and strength were the chosen ends, but there were no specific goals. I just wanted to look big and feel strong. While practising Kung Fu the goal was to get better at specific techniques, and becoming faster or more powerful. Essentially I wanted to be more like Bruce Lee. When I added resistance training to the mix, I would train but my workouts were random. This all changed after I took my first Kettlebell certification. First, you feel like a badass swinging a Kettlebell. Second, it challenged my body in ways that dumbbells, barbells and machines never had. For the first time I saw the connection between weight training and movement and I was hooked. I was also enthralled with the Agatsu training philosophies presented by Shawn Mozen and Sara-Clare Lajeunesse – the generalist that is equipped and physically capable to face whatever obstacles that life presents. I wanted the freedom of movement that they displayed! I wanted to be limitless.
Down the rabbit hole I went and have since taken multiple certifications with Agatsu. I competed in Kettlebell Sport and Mace competitions and sought out the uncomfortable in my training. Deciding to do my first Kettlebell sport competition was a definite turning point in my training. Having a competition date and rep target to meet greatly increased my dedication and consistency. It is easy to skip training session when you are tired, but when you know you have date with a Kettlebell in month, you get to work. My dedication and discipline to training increased tenfold; having a goal made a huge difference! Kettlebell sport is also an incredibly tough sport. It takes grit and determination to not put the those bells down when your body is screaming at you to stop. Want to feel physically uncomfortable? Try ten minutes of long cycle then lets talk.
The challenge of Kettlebell sport is very specific though. It is technical, it takes a lot of strength endurance and is a fairly specialized activity. It is a goal of mine to one day achieve a rank of master of sport in Kettlebell Sport and keep pushing up my numbers, but I’m not looking to stop there. I truly want to become a fitness badass and take my training and body to the next level. The path to do so is laid out before me in the form of the Agatsu level 2 Kettlebell certification. To pass this certification you need more then Kettlebell skills, you need a high level of overall strength, balance, flexibility AND Kettlebell technique. 15 dead hang chest to bar pull ups, 10 toes to bar raises, 10 unbroken pistol squats on each side, a 3 minute bridge hold, 15 external rotation ring push-ups, 35 kettlebell jerks and 100 snatch in five minutes with the 24 Kg’s. There is nowhere to hide with this one. You hear the stories of the certs where NO ONE passed. You just can’t walk in and do this (if you can please allow me to shake your hand and take a picture with you…). To pass this certification requires dedication and preparation. Realistically if you intend on attending this years certification the work should have already begun to get there. You want to challenge yourself, grow as a person and become a better human being? You want to shuck off the comforts of modern life and see what you are truly made of? This is the path to growth and development. You submit yourself to the test and push yourself to your limit, making every day count. This is exactly what I intend to do and I will be chronicling my journey as I prepare for the Agatsu Level 2 Kettlebell Certification. I hope my weekly entries will inspire you to set some goals and make an effort to better yourself. I’ve got my goal and I’ve got my date – June 1oth, and that date is coming fast. My training priorities have shifted from the Kettlebell to the path of the generalist. 6 months of fun ahead. It is time to unleash the beast. Here we go. You with me? Let’s get at it!