[rare but obligatory gym selfie]
In the last few weeks i’ve had a few of my peoples express they had no idea how serious i am about my physical training. I guess because I don’t particularly post or talk about it that much, its just always been a part of my life, and I’m not very exhibitionist about my “results”. Here are some fun factoids around why and how I train:
- Close to six years ago, I was diagnosed with gout. It changed my life. This is a terrible disease I would not wish on my worst enemy, but it has been a blessing in numerous ways. I had always been on my physical discipline before this (see #3), but this diagnosis forced me to treat my health as an exact science and be in constant communication with my body, monitor joint health and master the art of controlling my blood pH. Part of keeping this demon at bay is a regular, structured workout routine that promotes strong circulation. Because of this, I am now stronger and more aware of how my body works than ever before… but I am also always living in the shadow of the idea that at any minute I could be temporarily debilitated by crippling pain and thrown into the depression that comes with these attacks, which sometimes last months… I am only in the past year or so learning how to control my emotions in spite of acute physical pain, which is another blessing the universe has given me through challenge.
- As a stage performer, one of my biggest fears is being stiff and giving less than a graceful performance. It’s also one of my pet peeves to see stage performers who have “let themselves go” and aren’t even TRYING be in good shape to perform for their fans. Since I’m a vocalist and frontman who doesn’t play an instrument, I have to do more than just standing and delivering a vocal performance. It needs to be a physical, fluid, visually captivating experience for the people (who have hopefully paid money) to watch me perform. This requires lots of training and fine tuning my body language for stage. I spend lots of time on this and incorporate these philosophies into my workouts, because it’s my job as a performing artist to stay on point. I take that very seriously.
- When I was 9 years old I started designing my own workouts and warm-ups that were a mixture of calisthenics, yoga and tai chi. I kept a running journal of my routines and added to over the years. Throughout my whole life I have fine tuned this workout and picked up other disciplines and sports along the way…. hapkido, capoeira angola, tsing-i + chi kung (also known as taoist yoga), five harmonies style tai chi, and muay thai (my favorite), to name a few… of course lots of weight training, and many random workout programs I won’t list… just adding on and developing my own discipline. I have maybe close to a dozen stretches I’m pretty sure you won’t ever see anywhere else unless you’re training with me. As of now I’m on a six-week program to get my cardio back up for stage, and then I’ll resume the two-year calisthenics strength training program I started at the end of 2014. My goal is to eliminate weight training in the name of extending the life of my joints, so I can stay active and limber well into old age. Now 30 years deep into this creative journey, I have my very own style and variety of exercise, it is a very sacred and spiritual thing to me, it’s how I keep my energy up and my creativity flowing. Many of my ideas have come in the middle of a workout.
- I am not interested in strength for strength’s sake. Master Dragon Bruce taught us that strength is only useful when it can be applied to real life situations, and anything else is extra. One of the many things Muay Thai taught me is that it’s not about how hard you can hit, but how hard you can get hit and keep your composure. This is not just in the ring, but in life. I am more interested in being able to carry children out of a burning building while running and not lose my breath. I would like to be ready to jump, crawl and fight my way out of a lion’s den if I wake up in one and can’t sneak out quietly. I would like to know that if I need to, I can choke a wolf unconscious with my bare hands and then quickly climb up a tree or a sheer cliff face and stay awake for the next 12 hours without food or water while I wait for help. If I have to walk 50 miles to forage for food, I don’t need to be carrying around extra muscles that I’ll never use and get hungry every few minutes. I need to know I can think clearly, react with physical intelligence, and call on my reflexes in a variety of ways in various situations out in the wild. These are the things I think about when I train. To me, this is part of what it means to be a Dragon. It’s not just something I call myself.