Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Strength training, character and cults

Something occurred to me earlier today. I think it was Pavel Tstasouline who popularised the phrase "Strength training is not about building character," or something along those lines. I think what he was getting at is that everything should be based on numbers and progression. And that most training sessions should be easy. A whole lot of other shit too.

I personally disagree with most of it. I like Pavel sometimes. His articles and books are fun to read but for myself anyway, strength training is about more than just increasing numbers and very much about building character. And I despised half-assed, easy workouts. The only time I'll have an easy workout is when I'm bored and completely wiped out by recent actual workouts but still feel like training anyway. That's when I'll play with a kettlebell or something.

Here's another thing. Dipshits who like the word train better than workout.
"Oh, I don't work out. I train."
What's the fucking difference? Is it like one word makes it sound so much more serious than the other? Fuck you!
So here's the main thing. Pavel has built up quite the flock of sheep over the years with the RKC and now Strongfirst. I've never actually met anyone from either of these cults in real life but from what I've seen online I wouldn't want to. Crossfitters are bad enough with their obsessive conformist behavior. I really don't like these cults. When I first started competing in strongman back in 2003 I don't think I even knew what Crossfit was. Now it seems you can't go to a contest without seeing at least one or two Crossfitters "representing" their gym. I just find it very strange. Maybe because I'm a loner who trains, sorry, WORKS OUT by myself and have never even thought about representing anyone or anything other than myself when I compete. I did wear a Wipeout T-shirt to a contest once but even that was just more about me selfishly wanting people to watch that show to see me on it than promoting the show itself. I'm just that kind of an asshole. But it's not the cult members I don't like so much as the overall cult mentality itself. They're obviously doing what they enjoy and I can't hold that against them. I do what I enjoy too.

My friend Ashley Werner, a popular Crossfitter here in Ontario who was also on the same Wipeout episode as me, brought me to a Crossfit gym once and I could tell right away that it wasn't something I wanted to be a part of.

Ashley Werner and me.
After Wipeout and after then after the Warrior Dash.

People take their kids to these Crossfit gyms with them and the kids look bored out their minds. They all do the same cookie-cutter workouts on the same day. I just couldn't train like that. I need more self-expression than that. More character.

Here's what I don't get anyway. These cult members live and breathe their cult memberships. It's not just something they do, it's who they are. It's their identity. They view their fellow cultists as family. Much like a gang. Now I'm not much better in the sense that I feel that working out is a big part of who I am and I'd be a totally different person without it. But at the same time I don't want it to be my identity. I don't want it to be the only thing that I am. I get the impression from the cultists that I've met that all they ever think about is working out. Everything they wear is about advertising that they work out. All their friends work out and all they ever talk about is working out. That bores the fuck out of me to be honest. When I was young and first started competing, at competitions in between events most of us would talk about working out. Exercises, sets, reps, etc. As years went by I realised more and more that all that stuff is piddly shit compared to the big picture. When you train consistently and it's a part of your life, you'll do a million different workouts with a million different set and rep schemes so who the fuck gives a shit about any one of them over any other. So as the years passed, we talked about that sort of thing less and less. Fellow competitors and I tend to talk about our kids and our jobs and other assorted catching up way more than sets and reps. We all work out. Why talk about it? So when the cults started coming on the scene it just seemed really strange to see the resurgence of obsession over the hobby itself. So all I can gather is that it must be the one and only thing these people have in common. Sad. But if "strength training is not about building character," why is it that the very people who apparently feel that way can only express themselves through the fact that they strength train? They get tattoos of their cults. They advertise their cults everywhere they go through their clothing and language. Their whole attitudes and personas are based around their cult memberships. They are no longer individuals. Their training is who they are. So if it's not about building character, who is this character that they're all playing?

Look at me. I lift weights. No, really, I do!
This whole rant made more sense in my head before I started writing it down.

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