Archive for the ‘Fitness’ Category

Kindness

Monday, June 27th, 2016

“Kindness is the water that puts out the fire.”  I awoke today to this quote from Lady Gaga and I found myself moved by it.  We live in a time of unrest and unease and many people are responding with fire….with meanness and intolerance and divisiveness and fear.  But “Kindness is the water that puts out the fire.”

CinderellaThis is the cousin to my other favorite quote from the movie “Cinderella,” Have Courage and Be Kind.  Both of these quotes remind me of the tone and focus that I strive for in my life.  We can all impact the world, starting with our own little corner of it.  So I’m striving to respond with kindness.

We have a responsibility now to speak up when we hear someone spreading a blanket statement of meanness or intolerance.  We must be the water that puts out the fire, for the fire is not the truth.

If someone says that all Muslims are evil, we must speak up.  This is not true, and this is not kind.  I have many Muslim friends who are wonderful and caring and have the same values that we all share.

If someone says that gays will destory the fabric of society, we must speak up.  This is not true, and this is not kind.  And this kind of rhetoric just feeds the fear, feeds the fire.  How many tragedies do we have to endure before we decide to choose kindness instead of fear?

If we hear someone disparage Mexicans, or women, or African-American, or any other group, we must respond with kindness and bring the water to put out this fire.  Solutions to problems will not come from divisiveness or meanness or intolerance or hate.

So have courage and be kind.  Be the water that puts out the fire.  If we all bring the kindness to our own world, we can create a wave of love.  

Sacrifice

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

Trophy smallerIn this day and age of instant celebrity online, many people seem to have forgotten that in order to achieve anything, you must sacrifice.  It’s human nature to look for the easy way out, the shortcut to achieving your dream, the silver bullet to give you the edge.  But ultimately it all comes down to hard work and lots of sacrifice.

Want to get into shape?  You’ll have to sacrifice.  You’ll have to eat less of foods you like.  You’ll need to make different food choices.  Free time will be sacrificed so that you can spend time exercising.  Sweat, pain, hard work.

Want to make a lot of money?  Hours of hard work are in your future.  Less free time for fun, more time to concentrate on the new business venture.

Want that vacation?  Perhaps you have to wait a year.

Want to compete at a high level?  Hours of practice await you.

Want to overcome an addiction or problem?  Money and time and hard work await you in therapy or recovery.

But with this sacrifice comes great rewards, wonderful achievements, fantastic accomplishments, pride in self, feelings of great self-worth.  The thrill of reaching a long desired goal.  It’s all worth it!  Just know that you’ll have to sacrifice!  Some things will have to go so you can give your time and attention to your goals and dreams.

But so totally worth it!

Oh, and I must say that if you want to have a family and have small children, you’ll likely need to sacrifice eating in certain restaurants for a while.  It’s part of the job of being a parent.  So don’t think you can just go ahead and live the life you want.  You’re going to have to sacrifice for your kids, your body, your career, your dreams.  But boy can it be worth it!

Gym Etiquette: Big Boys Should Know Better

Saturday, July 4th, 2015

indexWe all share the gym, so I'm often frustrated when my fellow gym members don't follow the most basic rules of gym etiquette.  This includes putting your weights back where they belong, removing weights from machines when you're finished, cleaning up a bench if you leave it sweaty, and not leaving used Band-Aids lying around on machines.  (Really, Band-Aids – ICK but we see it often….there's a trash can really near by, people!)

But I get especially frustrated when the folks not following these rules are obviously long-time lifters. If a guy with lots of muscles walks into a gym, we all know that he is not showing up for the first time…and thus assume that he will follow basic rules of being a good gym citizen.  So when these muscular folks let us down, I find it especially disappointing.

Yesterday a man in his early 20’s walked out of the locker room in a “hand-cut” tank top which showed off his hard-earned muscles well.  The fact that he had this tank tucked into his gym shorts AND was sporting black socks with this tennis shoes gave me pause.  I was even willing to overlook his displays of poses in the mirror between each set.  He was working hard and had a lot of size.

It was not long, however, before he started “the show.”  This is something that we sometimes see with members who want to make sure everyone knows how hard they are working and how huge they are becoming.  For this fellow, it meant doing a set of deadlifts with the heaviest dumbbells while groaning loudly during the exertion phase.  This fellow would bend all the ways down until the dumbbells touched the floor, then back up to standing position.  This is impressive when holding the 100 lb. weights….until he reached the end of the rep and DROPPED the weights all the way to the floor with a giant thud!  This was on a concrete floor, not part of the gym with pads on the floor.  And we wonder why our weights are loose and get beat up!

What was so maddening is that he had just shown he could bend ALL THE WAY to the ground with these weights, so there’s no reason he could not bend down one more time to set them on the ground.  The drop of the weights from waist level was clearly “for the show.”  Make a lot of noise to top off your set so everyone will see you and be impressed.

But impressed we were not.  Someone who has obviously spent many years in the gym should know how to treat the equipment.  When the giant thuds started to happen, the “gym regulars” started to look his way and then talk among ourselves about how long we should wait before we went over to talk to this knucklehead.  Fortunately, his gym workout partner seemed to notice our looks of disgust so after a few sets of this nonsense they moved on to something else and I was spared the confrontation.

Sadly it seems that the biggest boys sometimes are the laziest, or feel they are special and don’t need to follow the rules.  This always makes me scratch my head, so I share this post to encourage everyone, no matter young or old, new or long-time member, huge or not, to be a good gym citizen.  And consider white athletic socks with those short shorts!  Thanks.

Improving My Health through Martial Arts Training

Friday, November 7th, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 8.15.56 PMToday I was excited and honored to pass my evaluation and reach Section Three of Black Belt Training at the Martial Arts Center for Health.  This achievement came at the six month mark in my training.  But my day started sitting across from a doctor.

My doctor asks to check my bloodwork every six months, and it just so happened that I had my last check-up at the same time I started my martial arts training.  Now six months later, I had the coincidence of having my doctor’s check-up appointment on the same day as my Section Three Evaluation.  So I started my morning at the doctor’s office getting the results of my blood test, and then traveled in the afternoon for my martial arts test.

Here’s what’s so interesting: Every single marker of my health in the bloodwork testing showed an improvement!  My blood pressure was down, cholesterol was down, PSA’s were down….every marker that was tested was better than 6 months ago.  And good things were up, like testosterone level and good cholesterol!  Every single aspect of my health that was tested was improved.

And at the same time, I feel better than I have in a long time.  I can move better, I get less sore, am less tight, my shoulder issue is monumentally improved, my body fat is down and I’m more defined….in fact I think I look and feel better in every way.

There is no question in my mind that I must attribute all of these improvements in my health to my training at the Martial Arts Center for Health.  The dedicated (and infinitely patient) instructors there have guided me through a process of transformation, and I have the medical, scientific tests to prove it!

Of course, the doctor only announced to me exactly what I already knew.  I feel and look better, and I know that my health is greatly improved.  So my hat goes off to Instructors Matt, Scott, Eva, and Jim for their work with me in martial arts class.  And I’m proud of myself for the resolve and commitment I have been able to give.  Of course, when you are having fun AND know you’re transforming your life and health….such resolve is easy to find!

I’m ready to fly forward over the next 6 months toward my Section Four evaluation, knowing that with the guidance of my martial arts mentors, my life and my body will be moving forward with grace, strength, flexibility, and joy.

Martial Arts Center for Health Website

Being Brave

Monday, September 1st, 2014

michael sam rams

Currently in the news, Michael Sam was not signed by any NFL team.  A GM of an NFL franchise admitted that he wanted to sign Michael but "was afraid of the media attention."  So my thought was that these big bad football types are really acting like a bunch of cowards.  This is all the more apparent because Michael Sam's story is one of such raw courage in the face of fear and ignorance.  Could the contrast be more stark here?

This reminds me of my own career in music and show design.  I feel I can say with confidence that every time I've had a really big success and a show has been a huge hit, it always was a show where we took a risk.  A lot of courage was on display by the director and his staff, the marchers, and the designer.

Nothing great ever comes from playing it safe.  Even if you win with the safe production, will you really look back on it as a special moment in your life or career?  Many times a monumental failure can be a great accomplishment and something to be proud of. At least you "went for it" and tried something.  

This Fall I've created two marching productions which are probably two of the most daring of my career.  Both shows are taking a risk, and the directors have taken a "leap of faith" with both concepts.  Time will tell if these shows work, if they are successful, or even if people like them.  I certainly hope that audiences are buzzing and talking after seeing these shows, and hopefully out of excitement and not horror!  But either way, everyone involved in both shows will have AN EXPERIENCE!  Something to tell their kids about!  Something to be proud of.  

There's something to be said for trying, for blazing a new trail, for sticking your neck out!  It's boring to be normal and do what's expected.  

So hopefully an NFL team will grow a pair, do the right thing, and bring Michael Sam on to sack quarterbacks every Sunday.  And hopefully this Fall we'll see designers and marchers taking risks.  I feel confident that if they do, they'll have a great adventure, have a great time, and learn that being brave IS worth the risk.

Quiet Down Already!

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

We have three new guys in our gym who have started showing up at our afternoon workout time.  They seem nice enough, work hard, and have decent physiques.  But they are incredibly annoying.  Why?  They are loud!

Not loud in a friendly “say hi” and share your energy kind of way.  They are loud in a “workout show” kind of way.

o-GYM-ANNOYED-facebookSome people in the gym have to get ego strokes by being loud and making lots of noise while they lift.  There’s a constant element of “HEY, Look over here and notice how hard I’m working” to everything they do.  Believe me, we can all tell if you’re working hard—you don’t have to bang the weights around for us to notice.

Apparently, you want us to see how hard you’re working by being loud and dropping weights, grunting, and yelling at each other. But what we see are “posers” who are looking for some validation and desperate for ego strokes.

Superman Men Alter Ego Compression Shirt By Under ArmourYesterday at the gym this new loud crew arrived in their tank tops and bright head bands (??) and started yelling and dropping weights and banging things around as they did their deadlifts.  After sharing lots of looks of disgust, I noticed something very telling.  Near us, on a bench doing bicep curls, was the biggest guy in our gym.  This man is just enormous, with curves everywhere.  He often wears skin tight superhero shirts, which he fills perfectly, and he’s one of those guys who could win any local contest but is just not interested in competing.  He just loves being in the gym and being big.

And one other thing….he’s perfectly quiet.  I’ve never heard him make a sound.  He never draws attention to himself, whether squatting or benching or curling huge poundages.

So here’s hoping the new loud crew “catches a clue” and pulls out of their self-absorbed screamfest long enough to notice that this monster of a man is quietly working his way around the room getting much bigger than they could ever dream of being.

Now hush, and lift already.  Save that energy you’re wasting with your noise and redirect it to your workout.  You’ll make better progress and we’ll all enjoy a bit of quiet.

Seeing Through New Eyes

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

I’ve been an educator my entire life, and I always loved those moments when I saw the “light bulb” go on in someone’s eyes.  I’ve had this happen with students, instructors, even parents I was working with.  It’s one of those rewarding elements of teaching.

I’ve always cherished when I had one of those same “light bulb” moments in my OWN life.  And I had one recently.  First, some context.

There was a time when I did not enjoy listening to Mozart.  I thought it “boring” and just a bunch of notes.  Then one day I had a teacher that taught me how to listen.  He explained the intricacies, the way the lines moved and interacted, and I was able to suddenly hear the music “with new ears.”  I’ll always be thankful for this gift, as I’ve enjoyed Mozart (and many other composers’ music like it) very much ever since.

I recently started Martial Arts training at the wonderful “Martial Arts Center for Health.”  When I first showed up at their door (at the suggestion of my talented and miracle-working osteopath Dr. Laura Rampil) I was a bit skeptical.  These instructors were saying all the things I wanted to hear, and I thought it might be too good to be true.  Could they actually pay enough attention, and care enough about each student, to take the time to customize the teaching for each individual?  Were they really willing to let each student work at their own pace and toward their own personal goals?

After a month of “Introductory Training” I discovered that this was all, indeed, very much true and I learned a deep respect for the hard work of the instructors.  Yesterday, I took the next step and had a one-on-one consultation with master instructor Matt Mitchell that served as an “Introduction to Black Belt Training.”  I was shown a variety of postures and movements which severely challenged my body and stamina, most of which were chosen (from hundreds of possibilities) to directly target my stated goals and desires.

(To say that I’m sore the next day is an understatement of monumental proportions!  After almost 40 years of hard work in the gym I now see that there is much more strength and growth in store for my body.  And these challenges will serve to allow me another 40 years in the gym, I feel confident.)

Many times in the past I had watched the instructors move through a series of movements, “forms” of martial arts, and was impressed with the obvious skill involved.  But I didn’t really know what I was seeing.  Like listening to Mozart without the right ears, I wasn’t sure what I was seeing.

matt mitchellYesterday, sitting in a folding chair behind a screen, I watched Instructor Matt take the series of postures I had just struggled to replicate and incorporate them with jaw-dropping elegance and grace into a series of postures and movements that took my breath away.  Suddenly, I was seeing with new eyes.  Instead of random motions, I saw the postures I had been learning for a month, and then trying for a day, and saw the potential, the beauty, the level of flexibility and strength required to complete the form he was demonstrating.  As I sat there with tears welling in my eyes, I realized that I had indeed arrived at the right place at the right time in my life, and I realized that I was seeing with new eyes, with new knowledge, and with a sudden respect for the art form and the talent and dedication of the instructors.

I can only hope to approach such a level of mastery, and hope to get the gifts that will come with the hours of hard work that are before me.  But now that I can see all of this with new eyes, I am more excited than ever to take the first step, allow myself to stumble and fall, and then rise up stronger with each attempt.  For this gift I’ve been given I will be forever grateful.  

Martial Arts Center For Health

Martial Arts Center for Health on Facebook

Leading by Example

Friday, April 18th, 2014

Today at the gym I was working out alone because my workout partner, John, was not feeling well.  I can’t be too upset at him as he is wildly consistent and never misses.  I was working on shoulders so I spent almost my entire workout using dumbbells and using the benches near the dumbbell rack.

gym emptyAs is almost always the case at our gym (and most gyms,) the dumbbells were completely out of order.  Despite the fact that each pair of weights has a spot marked with its number, everything was in the wrong place.  This is a huge pet peeve of mine.  Nothing can mess up the flow of a good workout than a hunt around the gym for a pair of dumbbells of the weight you need.

The dumbbell rack is like a lot of things in life, it starts out nice and orderly, but then a couple of people get lazy and put things away in the wrong place.  Then after a certain point, it’s so bad that everyone just gives up.

Since I was working out alone today, I filled my time between sets by cleaning up.  Certainly I can admit a bit of an obsessive streak here, but it’s my gym. (I work out there all time, so it’s my gym.  It’s where I workout.  The gym where you workout is YOUR gym.)  I like the dumbbells in order so I can easily find what I need.  It really is true that if you just put things back where they go, life works a lot better.

What I find interesting is that correct behavior really is contagious.  After about 10 minutes of me moving weights around slowly between sets, others in the area started to notice.  A young pair of high school guys who looked fairly new to the gym had put their weights back in the wrong spot.  After waiting a bit, I quietly went over and moved them to their correct home.  After a bit, these two budding gym rats started to put their weights back in the right spot each time.

So lead by example at your gym, or your school, or your office.  It really can influence people without a word being said.  And oh how nice it is to be able to walk right up to where those 70 lb. dumbbells are and find them right away when you need them!

Perseverance

Saturday, February 15th, 2014

Jeremy_Abbott_at_2009_Skate_CanadaOne of the most inspiring moments of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games was the performance of Jeremy Abbott in his short program.  Jeremy is the current US Men’s Figure Skating champion and was a contender for a medal in Sochi.  However, on Jeremy’s first big quadruple jump in his short program he fell, and fell hard.  He was in obvious pain, slammed into the wall on the edge of the rink, and laid there for at least 4 or 5 seconds.  5 seconds in the middle of a figure skating performance is an eternity.

Amazingly, Jeremy was able to somehow stand, regain his composure, and then with the crowd cheering him on, went on to miraculously complete the rest of his routine in amazing fashion.  This was an inspiring performance, showing great grit and determination in the face of pain and failure.

Figure Skating - Winter Olympics Day 6

Interviewed after the skate, Jeremy said that he had always been a symbol of Perseverance, and that his entire career had been an example of sticking through tough patches and pushing through difficulties.  This is undoubtedly inspiring, and also reminds us that sport, and music, and art, and marching band, and every other endeavor is always about way more than medals and trophies and placements.  Thank you, Jeremy, for your amazing example, perseverance, and great style in the face of adversity.

Geeky Guns

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

glasses1I have a thing for men in glasses, and have for as long as I can remember.  I also love guys with big arms.  So one could imagine that putting these two things together creates a perfect storm that I'm sure to appreciate.

Mentzer (10dcf914)

My good friend John and I were walking around Universal yesterday for his birthday and we passed a hunky man in black glasses with great arms.  Knowing that this guy was "right up my alley" John commented that he was "Geeky Guns."  And right then and there I realized I had another catch phrase for my life.  So there you go… one of the things that turns my crank is "Geeky Guns Guys."

I'm pretty certain that this all started with Mike Mentzer.  He was a huge bodybuilding star in the 70's when I started following the sport and buying magazines.  (He's pictured here in the black "George Turner's Gym" T-shirt.)  Notice the arms that are not small….

Madzarovic (8968b3ae)So now you know something else exciting about me.  Hey, to each his own, right?  I know you'll rest better with this snippet of information!  And I recommend that you find your own fun catch phrases to accompany your life.  Hope you have a friend like John who excels at groaners like these.