I'm a competitive guy.
That's always been one of the keys to my success in my fitness evolution. I never liked knowing that there was someone out there who could do something that I couldn't, whether it be in the weight room, or on the track, or in the kitchen.
But boy, it was a hard lesson to learn.
Summer of 1994 and I lived in a remote part of Pennsylvania. "Remote" as in "a banjo soundtrack played every time you crossed the town border." Anyway, living in the sticks meant there was nothing to do but eat my grandma's home cooking and pump iron in her basement.
Casa de Granny served as my dorm as I commuted to college.
After about two years of that formula, I was so huge, I had to cut the seams on the sleeves of my t-shirt so that I could get my arms through them. Bench presses? 400 pounds was no big deal and my back looked like an oversized challah bread. I thought I was a bad motherfucker.
Then the local pastor asked me to fill in for him at the Church's annual charity softball game, probably because he figured I could hit 17 home runs in one inning. So I showed up at the ball field on Saturday morning and in my first at bat, crushed one down the right field line and chuckled as the hapless right fielder took off in pursuit.
Stephen Hawking could have scored on that play.
But guess who got thrown out at the plate? Yep, that was me, because my big, dumb, engorged ass ran out of steam rounding second. To make matters worse, I was so top heavy, I lost my legs and did a faceplant in front of the opposing shortstop, who looked down at me with a mixture of awe and pity.
I will never forget his face, like, "I can't believe this idiot is going to get thrown out on a ball that landed in a different time zone."
Still sucking wind, I got up and desperately lumbered home, arms flailing like a swollen sack of lactic acid, my teammates screaming at me to slide. I just crumbled at the plate after getting tagged, in the same way a grocer would effortlessly tag a bloated melon before putting it on the produce shelf.
Ya' know for a church function, there sure were a lot of f-bombs.
As I laid there all dirty and full of shame, I realized yep, I was doing it wrong. But here's the thing: I don't need to be the fastest guy on the field. I just want to belong. Like if the ball drops in for a single, I want the center fielder to fire it into second, because there's a chance I could stretch it into a double if he dawdles.
That's the attitude I have with every fitness endeavor. I don't need to lift the most, or run the longest, but I want to be a contender in every facet of the industry. Maybe I won't finish first, but goddammit, you can bet your ass I'm gonna be able to keep up.
By 2010, I thought I had it licked.
There really wan't anything in the gym I couldn't do without some degree of success. Free weights, kettlebells, treadmill, stairmaster, you name it. I also had defined abs for the first time in my life and figured that was it, I had finally won the war.
A fitness friend of mine was struggling with his diet and wanted me to evaluate what he was eating. When I asked him what he consumed before working out, he responded with, "I usually wake up and have a cup of black tea before I start my yoga."
Uh ... what?
I actually laughed. Yoga? C'mon bro, that's for girls. Granted, my knowledge of yoga was limited to Dhalsim's catchphrases from Street Fighter 2 (Yoga fire!), but I had relegated that "stretchy stuff" to something along the lines of ballet.
Then he asked me to join him.
I said, "C'mon man, do I look like I need yoga?" To which he replied, "Actually, yeah. You move like a T-800."
He started bagging on me about how I was afraid of yoga and why it was so great that he was better than me when it came to fitness. Being a competitive chap, that was the straw that broke the camel's back. I wasn't going to just try yoga, I was going to do it and embarrass this fool in the process.
Turns out the only one embarrassed was me.
First of all, I walked into the room at his gym and I was like, "Uh, call an HVAC guy, you either blew a pipe or someone has been fucking with the thermostat." I couldn't believe the room temperature was increased to 104 degrees on purpose. Then my breathing became labored, before finding out the humidity had been set at 40 percent.
WTF did I get myself into?
So after 40 minutes of stretching, posing, breathing and sweating (lots of sweating), I walked out of there a physical wreck. But the next morning, I woke up feeling unusually refreshed and dare I say it, a bit looser. I am, however, not easily sold, and figured it was the power of suggestion, or perhaps just the shock of a new discipline.
I went back with intent to debunk.
Fast-forward to 2013 and I now go every Saturday, purposely saving it for the end of the week as sort of a last hurrah, following consecutive days of strenuous exercise and on-the-job bullshit. Yoga refreshes me, recharges my batteries and somehow purges my soul of negativity.
Or, it could just be all that sweat.
Either way, it's been a nice addition to my weekly fitness routine and has improved my flexibility, as well as my recovery in weight-resistance training. I'm well rounded! The best part? I have one more thing I can check off on my list of "Yeah, I can do that."
Don't knock it 'til you try it.
You don't need to do "Power Yoga" or drive yourself to some scorching facility, either. There are plenty of do-it-at-home DVDs for every skill level. I like to recommend the celebrity programs for beginners, because they are scaled down and very easy to master, setting you up for the more advanced techniques later on.
That's also why I like to recommend ViSalus.
Getting started on a weight loss program is easy with the Vi-Shape shake mix. All you need is two shakes a day and a sensible meal and you're on your way. Then, once you lose the weight and are ready to move on to improving your fitness level, you can supplement your training with Omega Vitals, a proprietary blend of essential fatty acids to promote health, cognitive function and cardiovascular support.
What, you thought this was just about shakes?
ViSalus has a product for every weight loss goal as well as every fitness level. You've heard Apple's famous "There's an app for that" line? Well, when it comes to ViSalus and your fitness goals, there's a kit for that. See the Challenge Kit line up over at their official website by clicking here.
And for those of you who have jumped on the yoga bandwagon, let's get some feedback on your routine for those scaredy-cats (or macho men) who still haven't tried it.
Don't be scared, homie.
Fitness Friday is sponsored by ViSalus. Opinions expressed are solely of the author. For more information on the ViSalus line of products click here.