Maxwell Strength & Conditioning Blog
Enjoy a peek at the world through Steve's eyes as he delivers sermons on everything from training to peace of mind.
What Do You See When You Look in the Mirror?
I get emails from people all over the world asking for advice. Most of these letters are very flattering and appeal to my ego. Often, the letter writer seeks free advice, although they would never phrase it as such. Free information, I give in plenitude via my website, videos and social networks.
These letters follow a common theme:
Steve, I've been a big fan for a long time...I'm in my 30's/40's/50's and I wish to look/be like you...someday.
This is inevitably followed up with either a “quick question” or a request “to pick your brain”.
Yet the questions are never quick! And the gold within these brain cells isn't to be mined for nuthin'--we're not talking about cotton, here!
I won't lie: occasionally I respond to queries and even release a gold nugget to a lucky seeker--occasionally I do. But other times, I explain that coaching advice is what I do for a living and a fair exchange is expected for my services. Anything otherwise is unfair to my clients who pay monthly subscription fees. Some people find this shocking--because they are unwilling to pay the price. These people had no idea there was a price--because they don't truly value what it is I offer.
In the fitness market, knowledge is true wealth, and some people are reluctant to exchange paper currency for the wealth. This is unfortunate, because in a gym, money is pretty worthless. Just as money is worthless to a desert island castaway, where real wealth equates to water, a coconut tree, fishing line, and a pretty girl.Someone lacking endless hours to to experiment and make mistakes can trade money for gym know-how.
While there's plenty of free advice out there, you must have the time to sift through it and the ability to discern nonsense from truth, since most of what's in circulation is either delusional claims or deceit the latter often linked to the liar's financial gain, and mostly found in the fitness magazine and supplement arenas.
As for the magazines, even the seemingly most straightforward training advice is suspect: do you really think the current MMA champ is publishing the details of his training program? Or the top fitness model? Well, they don't.
But let's move on and discuss those people who, in one way or another, have a source of good advice--solid advice--advice that is both meaningful and practical. Over the course of my career. I've dispensed much advice of this kind to clients--both in person and online. Mind you, I don't claim infallibility; I've known error and delusion, but ignorance is all part of the human experience. And this is another valuable aspect of what I offer--the wisdom of errors committed and obstacles overcome.
And so I continue honing my methods--an alchemy of physical culture--in identifying that which is essential and always true.
But still, even when given true and solid advice, synthesized from what I've done in the past and my current outlook, people respond with, “But I can't do that,” or “That's too hard,” or “I don't have the time.”
They may not know it, but what they're saying is that they are unwilling to make the exchange--to pay the price. And this price isn't even paid to me, but to themselves, to their own integrity.
Take, for example, fitness exemplar Jack La Lanne. Jack was universally admired and well into advanced age people marveled at abilities. Yet upon learning Jack's Spartan routines, people were dismissive, because they weren't anywhere near willing to do what Jack did. They would rather think he was a freak of some sort, or privy to secret training information. Jack never claimed there was anything secret or special about his abilities, other than his own willingness to invest the time and interest. It's a case of values: if you value fitness, it will consume your attention and a big wedge of the pie chart of your life. Which brings us to the sticky question: What does a pie chart of your actual life look like?
Jack spans his pie chart
People ask me:
Steve! What is your diet? What do you eat?
I'd like to have a lifestyle like yours, complete with a lean, muscular body and world travel--how do I get started presenting seminars?
I'd love to be as fit as you. when I'm your age...or even now...
I can tell you what I've done in the past and what I do now attain and maintain this thing that I have, yet it's the rare person who understands the trade-off. The price again, they aren't willing to pay it.
This word, “price”, like money itself, is only a symbol; and it's important not to confuse the symbol--a price tag or paper currency--with its meaning, which is value and resources, i.e., genuine wealth.
In this case, the asking price is a modicum of physical discipline, effort, time, dedication, desire, application and the capacity for honest self-assessment, as well as a receptivity, joy and elation in the experience of the physical body. And this is all inherent in a fit and attractive body.
Often, when on the receiving end of even the most simple suggestions, people have already made up their mind that they simply cannot do this thing. And it's true; they can't. It's a paradox: They can...and yet they can't. But it's important to understand that the mind is the limiting factor, nothing more and nothing less.
Like the man stepping into the arena to face off his foe: if he believes in that moment that he can't overcome...he surely cannot. Despite physical prowess, the mind controls the outcome.
What people don't understand is that they're already paying a price. Every time you're unable to pass up dessert, you're paying a price. Every time you stay in bed and skip your morning workout or walk, another price. Every time you stay awake too late watching television or web surfing, knowing there's meaningful activity awaiting the next morning--you are paying a price. Every time you're out in a social milieu and conform to pressure to drink and get silly with the crowd, you're paying a price. Every time you opt to interrupt your workout to answer the mobile phone or because the kids are fussing, a price is being paid. Every time you follow the secret routine or diet of a champion athlete, a price. Every time you purchase and pursue the delusion of magical supplements or gadgets, another price.
And be sure this price is steeper than any I have ever commanded--and to a dark trader!
The truth is this: you receive everyday what it is you've purchased with these payments. Perhaps you've even purchased yourself lots of money, but bundled with it came poor health, corroded joints, and a overall lack of freedom. It's all in my mailbox.
Fitness--sound mind in a sound body--is ultimately the result of a mental state. Inconceivably simple. So simple, so attainable, in fact, that some people ironically feel ashamed and undeserving of it. They instead rationalize that it must be difficult and thus more satisfying to their ego that they suffer a long and hard path to acquire it. But fitness is more like a child or a primitive; it is that unselfconscious.
So, what faces you in the mirror each morning? Do you see vibrancy, manifesting as clear eyes and a fit form? Or do you perceive instead something incongruent with your self image and professed values, manifesting as flaccidity, a bleary, weary mien and overall sloppiness?
Does your appearance delight or disgust you? Do you see virtue and valor...or something else?
But Steve! It's the inner truth of myself that's important!
This is correct--and every expression, inner and outer, is a reflection of the truth you hold dearest. This is why a beautiful youths end up broken down, middle-aged wrecks. And these are the people who write me wishing to reclaim their youthful experience of simplicity, happiness and beauty.
Unfortunately, in most cases they have long since traded their birthright of natural wealth and vigor for the trappings of family and material accumulation...and it shows. They're shocked that they are expected to make the trade again--this time in reverse. Yet this is the price.
No, you needn't take your Audi back to the dealer, or your baby back to the hospital or cabbage patch. But to get what you long for, you must exchange your system of values from accumulation to liberation. You must take care of the horse that carries the rider--and a horse prefers not to carry a heavy load. Do you want to ride wild across the plains like a Mongol warrior-- swords waving in either hand--or do you prefer to hitch up a covered wagon full of housewares, plodding along with a dream of a bigger, better homestead?
The Mongol man's responsibility was war and hunting--finance and real estate was women’s work
Although fitness is physical, there is a profound link with non-physical states of bliss--and this, my friends is what I offer to share with anyone willing to come up to the trading post.
in Kraft und Gesundheit!
In Other News...
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Breathing to Maximize Performance
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Maxwell Body Weight Trainer Level One Certification
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