Thirty years ago, I sold fitness equipment.
I sat all day in a showroom filled with high-tech chrome and glass: the newest machines, the latest bikes and treadmills and elliptical trainers. I had home gyms and free weights, bodyfat scales and every color of mat in the yoga rainbow.
At 5pm, I’d shut off the lights, unbar the back door, and walk out into the parking lot. On most days, I’d find a teen athlete waiting for their training session.
I’d pull an old barbell out of my truck bed; draw a footwork pattern in sidewalk chalk on the bumpy asphalt, and load a homemade sled full of mismatched dumbbells and plates.
Warmup: drag the sled to the park down the street. Clank weights from the ground to overhead. Sprint, bound and carry stuff. Throw big rocks. Pull the sled back to the parking lot and cool down.
That year, I trained eight athletes. Seven got scholarships. The eighth was too young.
While their buddies did isolation curls in the mirrors, squeezed their abs in the air-conditioned change rooms and sipped postworkouts in the sauna at the YMCA, my clients worked. Sweated. Got a bit dirty. Got stronger, faster and more powerful.
We never touched the new stuff in the treadmill store.
I’ve always been attracted to what WORKS instead of what looks good.
A lot of the fitness equipment at Catalyst is unconventional. We push sleds. We carry sandbags. We swing kettlebells and do push-ups on gymnastics rings. We climb ropes. We jump over, roll under and push stuff out of the way.
I’m not a mennonite. I believe that fitness should be simple; that complexity creates drag and slows your progress. I think work should have purpose, and if that purpose isn’t obvious, it’s irrelevant to your progress.
We do not chase novelty. We chase outcomes. I want you to be stronger; to move with grace and confidence; to know others who know their limits and their capacity and are humble with both.
Workout tracking apps, hot tubs and pedometers…these do not produce fitness. They produce the appearance of measurement. They let you believe that you are paying attention, and that your intent alone will improve your health. But best wishes never pushed a sled all the way down the street. Good intentions don’t carry the rock.
Want to get fit? Here’s your prescription.
Lift something off the floor until you get tired.
Press something over your head until you get tired.
Pull yourself toward something until you get tired.
Walk, drag, carry or push something for 30 minutes.
Sit down and stand up, holding weights in as many variations as possible.
Do it outside if you can.
The key isn’t to find the next tech, the bluest pill or the new machine. The key is to get off the couch, off the carbs, and out of your head for a half-hour every day. That’s the old way…and the old way is the one that works.
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