The Pain Barrier

A lot of times over the years, and specifically over the past few as I have gotten older, I have had to come to grips with the concept and reality of training while in pain.  Not just any old pain, such as the usual muscle aches that come from heavy lifting and hypertrophy, but nagging pain.  That’s the kind of pain that comes from tears and injuries in professional wrestling, as has happened to me on several occasions over the years, or the kind of pain comes with the aging process and 40+ becomes your new reality.

Anybody out there recall the last Rocky Balboa movie?  There was a great, inspirational message in that movie regarding the kind of pain that I am talking about, which you can reference below:

But I digress and ask: what exactly IS pain?  Is it a neurotransmitted response to the central nervous system, telling that a certain level of intolerable discomfort has been reached or exceeded?  Or is it something more psychosomatic in nature?  What do we TELL ourselves that pain is to US?  What is pain — REAL pain — to YOU?

Allow me to make you uncomfortable for a moment.  Let’s say you were put into a concentration camp.  Let’s imagine that you were subjected to a plethora of different, unsettling kinds of circumstances, ones where you would encounter physical violence to your person.  How far could you be reasonably pushed and prodded, before your body could take no more?

I ask this, because the truth of the matter is, that the mind, over and above all, dictates to the body where point zero actually is.  You might have loads of potential and capacity left in your mind, but your willpower shorts out before your body will actually quit on you.  As the old saying goes, it’s “mind over matter, and if you don’t mind, it don’t matter!”.  Remember what Jesus said about faith in Scripture. using the parable of the smallest of all seeds on Earth, the mustard seed: “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20)

Man, that there hurts.  The truth hurts because that kind of pain goes all the way to the heart and into the soul.

We, as people (and especially as western consumers and lovers of convenience), often want to choose the path of least resistance.  In many ways, this is truly pathetic.  We should be bitchslapping ourselves in the face for being so lazy and hedonistic.

We’ve lowered the bar, learned to demand less of ourselves.  We have become weak and frail as a culture as we become more and more slaves to technology.  With the changing of the social conscience at large these days, we are no longer “allowed” to call a spade a spade.  We come up with “soft terms”, to give ourselves and others around us an easy landing.  Quite frankly, it’s sickening and it’s not doing anyone any favors.  And it needs to stop.

We all need to get uncomfortable.  That is the only way to grow, both in terms of being human and in terms of the pursuit of fitness and healthy longevity.  You have got to put in before you can take out.  It’s an old wisdom, all too often forgotten.

So what really is pain?  I believe it’s something in the recesses of the mind.  We all need to “man up”, even the ladies out there (err…perhaps the term would be “be a woman!”).  No one rides for free.  There is no such thing as something for nothing.  Put in the time.  Resolve to be a stronger person by quitting all the excuses.  Get serious.  You cannot fool yourself.  At the end of the day, when you lay your head on the pillow, you know where the chips lie.

Man the fuck up

Strength, real strength, comes through overcoming.  No one ever achieved anything great by maintaining the status quo, by just coasting in their comfort zone.  All great achievement requires great effort, the willingness to persevere hardship and a fearlessness when it comes to pain.

Besides, the greatest pain and hurt of all is the progressive and slow degeneration of a person — especially when it’s a product of one’s self-chosen lifestyle — affecting every area of your life: your family, your job, your relationships, your self-esteem and if we are honest, your self-respect.

No one can curb the oncoming of pain in this life, in all of it’s dastardly, nasty forms.  We can just buckle up and accept what is to come.  So get some callouses built up.  Get some body armor and beef on them bones to better withstand and absorb the beating that life is going to throw your way.

Michael Majalahti Voimapuoti Gym

What’s Your Motivation?

A lot of times I hear people talk about needing motivation, a spark of something, in order to get started at the gym or to keep training regularly.  This is like a mantra that has been heard a million times, and folks use it like a crutch.

There’s just one catch: that elusive motivation is a mirage.

Comfort zone quote

You see, if you end up waiting for that sought-for motivation to show up and magically change your life, often times it will come at a very high personal cost, such as in the wake of Type 2 Diabetes or the imminent threat of a knee operation due to excessive overweight.  You don’t want things to progress that far, when it will be absolutely necessary to make a change.

The gist of the matter is, that most people procrastinate starting or carrying through with an active lifestyle because they aren’t willing to step out of their comfort zones.  They love the easy life, the path of least resistance.  They expect to get maximum gain with minimal effort.  I call it “The Google Syndrome”, you know, results in a fraction of a second.  Just press enter!

stop wishing start doing

Yet, we should all know that life does not work this way.  Just like picking up a new course to further educate yourself or moving to another location to live, an active lifestyle is simply a choice.  A choice that is made when you come to terms with the realistic options you face in light of that choice.

For example, you can foresee, that opting to remain sedentary and inactive will scientifically do ruin to your body, making you fat, weak and flabby before long.  It will literally make your physical inner being turn to gelatin as the years progress.  After all, if we’re honest, the most taxing thing most folks do physically nowadays is carrying a bag full of groceries from the cashier’s counter to their car.  And that’s pretty sad.

Motivation is between the ears.  It’s a mindset, one that says “I want to be healthy and strong.”  It’s really as simple as that.

So don’t wait for the magic pill to be pushed in front of your face.  Don’t choose to be lazy.  Don’t take on the sedentary lifestyle, one which is increasingly popular, due to the influx of technology and all kinds of gadgets out there for your frivolous entertainment today.

extraordinary

What started with remote controls, so you wouldn’t have to get up and turn the channel on your TV, has cascaded and down-spiraled into stationary and sedentary lives, immersed in their smartphones, rooted to the laptops and glued to tablets.  It’s slowly and surely killing us as a culture and society, folks.  Make no question about it.

For me, my greatest motivation is feeling empowered, strong and healthy.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

bus driver

No Days Off and No Excuses

I once heard a tremendous quote that I have often recalled throughout my life, that says “There are no such things as excuses, only reasons why things don’t get done.”

As some of you might or then might not know, in addition to being a professional wrestler, I am also a rock vocalist in three separate bands: Overnight Sensation (hard rock), Angel of Sodom (thrash metal) and Crossfyre (southern blues rock).

I just came home a few days ago, back to Finland, after spending the last two weeks on the road, through the Baltics, down to Poland and Germany, for a set of gigs with Crossfyre.  Before I left for this recent tour jaunt, I got word that I’d be having a match against Russia’s premiere wrestler, Ivan Markov, on July 23 in Helsinki.  I knew that I would have to train on the road, utilizing every possible opportunity to get some body work and conditioning in.  After all, this is going to be a very important match.

I loaded up one 16kg kettlebell, two 5kg plates equipped with handles and three different resistance power bands.  This, plus my own bodyweight and a plethora of training knowledge, were all I had to train with for two weeks, while on tour.

My tour training equipment, lying on the sand of a Latvian beach.

My tour training equipment, lying on the sand of a Latvian beach.

I recall doing the same kind of training five years ago, when I played across Europe with Crossfyre, which was just before my pro wrestling debut in Japan.  That definitive time period was a breakthrough opportunity for me, when I was to make my first foray in the Land of the Rising Sun, in my first match there against Hajime Ohara back on July 24, 2010 in Tokyo.  After that initial match, and the subsequent second match I had, later that same night, against former WWE superstar “The Japanese Buzzsaw” Tajiri, my career was made in Japan.  I became a superstar there, literally overnight.  That was, beyond a shadow of a doubt, one of the finest moments of my professional athletic career.

Now, five years later, I am on the edge of another critically important moment in my wrestling epoch.  On July 23, I will be defending the honor of the country I represent, Finland, against the imposing threat of big Russia in the first-ever wrestling war between our countries.  I absolutely must be in shape for this coming battle, and my entire training approach changed considerably when I heard the news that Ivan Markov had called me out and challenged me to a match on Finnish soil.  Especially, considering the history between our countries, and the fact that Finland used to be under Russian rule in years past by the Czar, this is a huge, milestone moment upcoming in athletic history in the Nordics.  Plus, Ivan Markov is bigger, younger and stronger than me, so I have to up my ante to face this coming challenge.

Take a look at the bodyweight and hybrid training montage that I compiled from the tour we were on.  I hope it inspires you also!  It just goes to show, that when there isn’t an actual gym nearby, there is still no excuse to get in an effective training routine, regardless of the circumstances.