I’m going to grow a beard; in fact I think I’m not going to shave for the next 30 days. It’s been a while since I indulged in the manliness that is a beard and let my inner Viking warrior/beast run free. After posting my last article about building a summer six-pack I really started thinking about the constraints that a lot of us are living by today. Sometimes I just get tired of it all. I know what you’re thinking; as a personal trainer this fitness thing is my life and to an extent it is. There comes a point though when you have to ask yourself what’s this all for? When do we reach a point when working out, and eating right, and watching our health takes over our lives?
Are you as tired as I am with being told that one thing is good for you another is bad, and this move is best and this one is dangerous? I guess what aggravates me the most is that the rules are constantly changing and fitness seems to have become a game of catch-up or one-upmanship. I am the first to admit that I strive for a certain look, a certain physique. But it kills me to see my friends and clients push themselves towards an image that is forced on them. Now before you think I’ve flipped my lid let me explain.
I believe that fitness is important, especially when it concerns body-mass and weight. There’s just no denying the impact of obesity on a person’s health and quality of life. That being said someone needs to speak up though and tell people its okay to not have a six-pack. You don’t have to be below a certain body-fat percentage. If it’s your goal then by all means go after it and get it done, but do it for you and because that’s what you want, not because that’s what you think healthy looks like.
I know too many men outside of the magazine model definition of health and fitness to say that’s what a man is. These guys I know are beasts; they get it done pure and simple. I look up to them not just because they’re strong but because they have heart, courage, dedication, and character. Some of them are raising kids on their own, some are working to build a better life, and others are embarrassing men half their age in gyms everyday all without chiseled abs and picture perfect muscle definition. The question then becomes is it better to be strong or look strong? For me the answer is simple I’ll take real strength over the illusion of it every day.
In my favorite sport a lot of people idolize Gerard Butler’s character of King Leonidas from the movie “300.” They hold him up as the epitome of manhood, ironically though they run from the very things that made him such a beast. What made this character so awesome? Was it his willingness to sacrifice for others, his bravery, his character, that he was a father and husband protecting those he loved, a leader protecting those under his care, a ruthless warrior, and a compassionate friend. He was all these things and more. All these qualities made him strong; they made him a real man.
I wonder if a warrior such as Leonidas stressed over whether his diet was conforming to standards, or if his exercises were effective or even popular. I wonder if he cared at all or did he just do what worked and let the chips fall where they may? There’s another movie hero I really admire; Wolverine. Hugh Jackman’s character was literally a beast. Here was a man who didn’t deny the aggression and strength inside him he unleashed it. I think that’s what more of us need to do. For the next 30 days that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I’m going to celebrate real men; I’m going to be one. I’m going to beat my chest, strut around and remember what I was created for. I’m going to do what I was trained to do, what I was made fro, what I was born to do; be a man.
Guys for the next 30 days let’s try an experiment shall we. Let’s let go of all that crap that really doesn’t matter. Let’s put it down and walk away. This next month let’s remember that we’re men and focus on that, embrace it, absorb it and run with it. Women have been missing the manly men they fell in love with, that power and ruggedness that overwhelmed them. I miss that guy I used to be too. I miss feeling like I could uproot a tree. I’m tired of feeling like a puppet, doing this, eating that, working out for a prescribed time for a certain number of reps. I don’t want to win races I want to conquer life. I want my victories to be the things I did, the places I saw, the people I loved, and the legacy left behind.
For the next 30 days I’m going to grow a beard, lift heavy iron using the moves my grandpa would have. I’m going to have a steak for dinner this weekend and enjoy it. I’m going to eat protein graze on every green thing I can find, puff out my chest and occasionally howl at the moon. I’m not going to work out I’m going to declare war on my barbell and bend it to my will. I want people to see me and not be impressed by my abs or muscle definition but to walk away knowing they just left the presence of a man, a beast, a sweating, heavy breathing savage.
What do I hope to accomplish with this; nothing. There are no goals beyond doing it. I just want to remember there’s an animal inside me and now and then it needs to run free.