James can be reached at TwinFreaks CrossFit, where he is an owner and trainer. James coaches barbell lifting classes and CrossFit classes. Contact him by email at james@twinfreakscrossfit.com or by phone at 720-204-2631.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Karl Marx didn't Train

There was a time, not so long ago really, when I would have claimed to be a Green-Socialist. Over time I learn and evolve, which can happen at a fast rate for me since I spend a vast amount of my free time at the public library reading on an array of subjects, often including economics. I've seen that capitalism is the best of all the imperfect systems, and that it might not even kill us off early if it's intelligently regulated. In sum then, if you're a Democrat, I'm a liberal, and if you're a Republican, I'm still a Socialist.

If I understand Marx and his ilk correctly, the problem is just that under Capitalism assholes are going to exploit non-assholes, and remember the environment is a non-asshole, for their own gain. Uncle Karl apparently got this idea hanging out in English textile mills, which I gather were not much different than some of the contemporary factories I have worked in that made me a young Socialist.

The thing is just this: if Uncle Karl had spent his time in the gym, or in the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academy he wouldn't have bothered writing any manifestos.

Unlike in so many other environments, assholes don't thrive in the gym or the academy. In Fact, they don't even last. You might occasionally meet one, but if you stay with it a week or two, or maybe a couple months in an extreme case, he'll be gone. You can go in and be yourself without any central planning or regulation to protect you.

You, not the asshole, will thrive.

Over time your own experience will convince you I'm correct here, but this wouldn't really be a post without my personal experience, so I'll offer a couple anecdotes.

Let's just say I'm not a rich guy, and at times lately I could much better be described as poor. I had decided I could no longer afford BJJ, and after I had been gone a month the good people at Dark Horse BJJ contacted me, asked what the problem was, and provided a solution. Without going into detail, let's say I'm now creatively financed. This all happened, I'm sure, because I'm viewed in the academy as a team member and not an exploitable resource.

Now to be sure, some of my income gap, let's call it, is caused by my desire to run my own gym. I can't very well get any kind of normal job and still put in the time and effort I think my own team deserves. So, much of the time when I'm between library books, I think how nice it would be to have a high-paying, part time job with flexible hours and benefits. Unfortunately, you can't - or I should say I haven't - been able to find any such thing on any of the Internet job sites, so obviously print media isn't going to help.

I was beginning to think that perhaps there were no jobs meeting my criteria, when I was surprised to get an e-mail saying in effect, "James, send me a current resume. My company has an opening for a high-paying part time job with flexible hours and benefits."

What didn't surprise me is that the e-mail was from a young man I cut my training teeth on a few years ago. I taught him the Big Three and put him on a simple 5x5, and I guess he thought it was time to try paying me back. I'm not sure if I'll actually get the job, of course, but this is radically better than I had been doing on my own.

I do still admire the Chinese Communists who forged steel in their backyards, but I have been helped more by the steel relationships I have forged in the gym and the academy.

I leave it to you to decide how to act in the outside world, but I suggest you hit the gym or the academy and see how life is supposed to be.

Just don't be an asshole, eh?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Goals & it's Past Time to Fucking go off Here

I was happy to see that VP and MG took the initiative in putting up a goal board at TFCF, and I'm happy to watch it start filling up. There are many ways to get to where you want to go, but it's necessary to have some more or less defined idea of where exactly it is you're going. I suppose there is an anti-goal camp, and possibly that's okay for them, but I've always tried to set goals. There are many sources explaining effective goal setting, and they do a better job than I do. I'd only say make your goals meaningful to you. Maybe I'm biased, but I think the strangest looking thing on the board so far is my own goal of rowing a 1:26.4 500m. It seems arbitrary, but actually that represents a triple body weight in wattage 500 for me. I can't expect anyone to be as enamored of rowing as I am, but within our cult, the triple body weight 500 is a serious rite of passage, and it's a good example of what I think of as meaningful. Sure, if you really can't think of anything Earth shaking for you as an individual, join the pull-up club. At least you'll find new motivation to progress, and along the way maybe you'll discover another goal nearer your own heart.

Now I'd like to take some time to write on the difference between behaviors and outcomes. I didn't invent this line of thinking either, but after encountering it, it had a big impact on my thinking and my long term prospects for progress. It's simply this: rowing a 1:26.4 500 is an outcome, and in the end, I can't force a certain outcome. Focusing on outcomes can be dangerous in that if the outcome is not met, dejection sets in. I can provide my own perfect example. You'll see that my primary goal is acheiving a 200 kilo squat, and while it wasn't written publicly until a few days ago, that was also my primary goal back in July. At that time I was sure I would hit 200k by November 2010, when in reality I squatted 365 pounds, a full 10 less than I had done in July. Shit happens. I've learned that a healthier and ultimately more productive idea is to focus on behaviors. Squatting 200 k requires certain behaviors, for example I have to squat once a week, attend to my rest, eat well, and so on. These are behaviors, and in the end, I have perfect control over them. Further if I'm consistent in hitting my behavioral goals, there's a good chance I'll eventually get my desired outcomes also.

To fucking go off now, which I assure you has to be done lest I put a medicine ball through someone's head, let me start with some background without I hope giving too much detail. Basically, my personal life is chaotic, uncertain, and for those that have developed the stoicism I have had to, actually fun most of the time. Right now I'd assess my position as almost in the gutter, and yet perilously close to being successful. I never suspected that the two could be so close together. As further necessary background, let me admit that I have developed a fluid sort of morality as that seems to me to have been necessary to survive in the way I do. I can, however, unhesitatingly say I have never fucked over anyone who has earned my loyalty, and though I've regretted it more than once, one of the easiest things to do is earn my loyalty.

So the problem, it seems, is that some fuckhead is apparently threatened enough by my utter failure - wild success tightrope walking act, that he feels it necessary to start the kiddy, behind-the-back rumor mongering. Word on the street, or those streets behind my back at any rate, is that I'm shutting down my operation.

Nice try junior high.

I started doing what I do because I love it. I'm going to finish doing what I do because I still love it, and many of you have come to love it.

There is a good chance I'll downsize, but only to the extent that I'll get rid of unused capacity. I certainly won't be cutting service.

Don't believe the shit talk. You'll know when I'm quitting because it will be several months or years after I start sleeping in the gutter.

So immature shit-talker, have at it. Huff and puff and so on.

Me and mine are setting goals and exceeding them.