Strong for real or just for show?

For years and years now, I have often wondered about the different reasons as to why people train and hit the gym.  Nowadays, with the prevalence of YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and all manner of other social media, people more often than not just want to show off for others.  It’s become an age of vanity over substance, and I’d like to digress for a moment here.

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Healthy self-esteem or vanity complex?  It’s pretty individual, but YOU know.

There used to be what folks termed your “15 minutes of fame”, which was a once-in-a-lifetime slot for the average person, if they’d ever achieve such a platform to be noted at least a single time in their lives publicly before the masses for whatever made them special.  It used to take a hell of a lot of talent to get on television to begin with.  Of course, nowadays, with all the reality TV formats out there, all of that has gone out the window.  Talent ain’t what it used to be, folks!

The same mindset can easily be seen in the populace these days, where lots of people are going to the gym simply to be able to walk around in skin-tight clothes or little to no clothes, in order to strut their stuff.  Now, I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong in being proud of your achievements and “if you’ve got it, flaunt it”, but these days, there is something extra that transcends that simple train of thought: the self-aggrandizing worship of self and vanity to only stroke the ego.  Ergo, we have an influx of people implementing everything from steroids to human growth hormone to silicon to Botox to Synthol to Lord knows what into their bodies to “get the extra edge” or to make up for that which they have not.

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“Getting on the juice” can get you extra strong… it can also get you “ripped” in a different sense, and not the one you were expecting.

I personally cannot understand this mindless mire of vanity that so many folks are caught up in.  When simply talking steroids, the muscles can easily become stronger than their supporting tendons and membranes, and then you are in for a world of snap, crackle and pop.  A world of hurt!  Pecs snapping, bones breaking, biceps popping.  Nature never meant for anyone to exceed their natural limits.  Go beyond, and there will always be a price to pay.

I recall working in construction back in the day as a strapping young lad.  I had been working out in the gym since the age of 15, and at about the age of 20, I found myself installing Gyproc inner roofing boards with a friend.  These boards were about 3-by-1 meter in size and weighed a great deal, being made of plaster and all.  I thought to myself then and there, as I pressed the board above my head so that my friend could screw it into the roof, that “Damn, these things are freaking hard to hold up here!  Why am I running out of gas, since I’ve been lifting weights for five years?”.

Well, the answer, as I’ve come to truly understand afterwards, is that real strength and show strength are two different things.  Show muscle and functional muscle are as far apart as east is from the west.  That said, I have seen guys who can do 180kg on the bench press fail to execute five body weight push-ups between Olympic rings.  That says something.

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Getting strong the natural way: looking for longevity and quality over vanity and quantity.

I strongly believe that real strength can only be built naturally, over a long period of time, generating and building a strong, supporting infrastructure of powerful tendons, membranes, bones and blood in addition to muscle.  There are no short-cuts to that kind of strength, and that kind of legitimate strength lends itself to overall health in latter years to boot!

So forget about enhancement drugs or unneeded cosmetic surgeries.  Put your time in over the course of several years in training and at the gym, and you will build the kind of body that will pay dividends for you in the long haul.  You can build muscle and size in every part and facet of your body with the right knowledge.  That kind of knowledge might cost you, as per a personal trainer or a course or such, but it’s an investment worth making.

Just remember, there are no shortcuts to the real thing.

Personal training in southern Finland

I’ve got some good news for the folks living in the southern, capital region of Finland!

Just this past week, I signed on with Fit Kunto in Hyvinkää as a personal trainer at their fitness club and gym.  I will be working at both of their locations (Uudenmaankatu 29 and Kankurinkatu 4-6) starting on Monday, January 25, 2016.

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If you want diversity in your training and are looking to build a functionally strong body, spurred on by a motivational personal trainer, look into what I have to offer, with 27+ years of training experience myself and 12 years as a personal trainer. (photo: Pasi Murto)

In addition to Hyvinkää, I will still be operating as a trainer at both Voimapuoti Gym in the Pitäjänmäki suburb of Helsinki and at Fitnesse gym in the city of Klaukkala.

In my personal approach, I strongly espouse:

  • building strong tendons, joints and ligaments in addition to muscle
  • training the functional way: what good are pretty muscles if you cannot put them to use and do sustainable physical work with them?
  • understanding the changes that happen in folks past the age of 40, and thus, I am able to help you maintain optimal physical health and understanding past your youth
  • training as much as possible with free weights (dumbbells, barbells and kettlebells), utilizing multi-joint exercises to truly strengthen the body overall and build balance
  • a strong focus on coordination, proper technique and discipline
  • uncovering the proper mental facilities and psychology to attain your ends goal
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Working as a personal trainer for Miss Estonia 2013, Kristina Karjalainen

Take it from someone who has lived the body culture and fitness lifestyle since their mid-teens.  With over 27 years of training experience, and as a personal trainer for 12 years now, I have trained folks from Finland to Denmark to Japan and a few places in between.  I have trained with some of the top athletes in the world over my life, taking in their knowledge along the way, integrating it into my own.  I’ve arguably got a lot to offer.

Take a look at the following video that I made, along with a top personal trainer from Sweden, that showcases my diverse and multi-faceted approach to training:

If you are looking for something new, and not the typical, run-of-the-mill kind of personal training, hit me up and let’s start you on the road to a new, never-before-experienced YOU!

The Myth of Constant Development

You have got to love the grandiose sales pitches and pipe dreams sold on the covers of fitness magazines around the country, promising constant development and growth for one’s body.  I hope you noted the sarcasm there…

First and foremost, in terms of physical development, there is only so far that anyone individually can go.  Nature has set its limits, or dare I say God as creator has installed those limitations in this human corpus of ours.

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Ageing takes its toll on everyone, nothing is forever.

We would all love to believe that we can attain a superhuman kind of physique that will just improve, but this just is not possible.  It’s errant thinking to even consider such a possibility.

While the mind of a person can become more intelligent and broaden its scope up until the twilight years of this mortal existence, the same cannot be said for physical development.

What one has achieved in their early 20s and into their 30s will never, ever be realized again, simply due to the cellular degeneration that happens and begins to take place somewhere between 30 – 40 on average.  The machine begins to degenerate – known as the human condition, the bleak reality of mortality – and from that point on out, one is left simply trying to slow down the inevitable process of stripping, losing and breakdown.

I know this really sucks to hear, but the truth is unforgiving.  There are plenty of companies out there looking to sell you the formula for eternal youth, but that just isn’t in the books, folks.  It’s not in the weather forecast.

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Gains are still possible when older, only everything becomes more difficult.

The raw truth is, a person develops early on, in the prime of their youth, due to the surging testosterone, peak hormonal levels, abundant energy and vital renewal of cellular structure.  It is then, that the greatest, most noticeable development happens and sees its brightest potential.  For a spell, for what may seem like many optimal, good years of one’s youth, that development can be impressive, to say the least!

Yet, the Good Lord in all His wisdom set a limit to all things.  The reasons for this, I’m sure, could be argued altogether in another blog on another platform for weeks.  As an example, a bicep can only grow so big.  There is a limit.  There is no more constant development for that muscle beyond its boundaries past that point.  The muscle will have reached full capacity and that’s it.

In man’s never-ending quest for vanity and personal aggrandizing, steroids and synthetic growth hormone may be implemented to bring about an abnormal, additional amount of muscle on top of that which has been dictated by nature and intelligent design.  However, this muscle also has its limits, and once that exorbitant surplus beef is packed on, the only way to go is back down the hill.  So in the end, you’re still back to base reality, realizing that nothing is forever and after you’ve reached the mountain top the only way is down.

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So to cut through all the bullshit and window dressing, I would like to brazenly offer up some hard, cold truth in closing.

The only thing anyone can do – you, me, everybody included – is to stem the proverbial tide by trying to maintain what we’ve achieved at our peak, only see it bittersweetly dissipate as we turn the curb past our 40s into the latter half of our lives.  It becomes a game and agenda of maintenance and playing chess with Father Time.

Even though science has managed to prolong the average lifespan of people through modern medicine, what it has failed to do is prolong the good years.  We’ve only been able to drag out the ass-end of our lives, and that warrants discussion of quantity vs. quality in my assessment.

So don’t fall for the bullshit sales pitch of constant development.  If you are young, for a spell, the sky is your limit, but be prepared to hit that proverbial glass ceiling.  If you are older and in poor shape to begin with, then yes, you will be able to attain a great level of physical fitness and well-being before you too will hit that inevitable glass ceiling.  Then, in the end, all you will be left with is the question of how well you play your personal chess match against Father Time.

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Your humble author says “be the best you can be and find contentment in that achievement”.

 

Resolution Mania

Every year just around this time, folks are filling ‘er up and packing it on, as they tell themselves that come the New Year, they will be in full repentance mode.  It’ll be time to shed it all off again and make a choice to head for fitter pastures.

It’s actually a tad bit funny to see this scenario played out year after year, like falling for a familiar scam over and over again.  And usually, as the famous life coach Anthony Robbins so aptly states, “Everyone succeeds in the beginning”.

The start of the New Year.  The beginning.  How many start, only to lose focus and steam over the ensuing months?  How many are still “with the program” a half-year into it?  How many are still there at the end per annum?

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The typical New Year’s resolution doesn’t do anyone any good, unless it is a commitment to engage and start a lifestyle change.  That, in and of itself, is a change which knows no “off season”.  It’s full-tilt ahead right from the get-go.

It’s the actual lifestyle change that will change things for the better and turn one’s ship around.  Anything else lends itself to yo-yo dieting and ending right back up where you started at.

Resolutions are nice as a thought, but unless a person is willing to make a 100% commitment to pulling through on that resolution, it just remains exactly that… a nice thought.

Don’t be one of those that fall for the self-deception of momentary mood swings in the name of New Year’s Resolutions.  Go for broke, go all out.  If for no one else, then for yourself.  And remember, if it was easy, everyone would actually do it.

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Commitment and Desire.

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I have recently been doing a good deal of thinking, as I’ve watched some folks drop out of their training modes and regimens, falling back into sedentary sedation.  The phenomena in question raises quite a few questions, which I feel compelled to dig into here.

Firstly, what negates a person’s motivation and/or focus, causing them to drop out in the first place?  Maybe it’s just me being old school, but I have come to believe that it has much to do with the day and age we live in.  Call it Google culture, for lack of a better term.  It’s basically the “give me what I want here and now and not tomorrow” mentality.  People are just simply short-circuited, brainwashed into thinking that anything of any lasting value takes place overnight or instantaneously.  People these days, in large, want instant gratification.  The waiting game is outdated and passé.

But what else lends to a lack of personal investment after an initial spark to get the motor running?  After doing a lot of thinking and pondering on the matter, I believe I have come to a satisfactory, if not very logical, conclusion.  The answer lies, at least partly, in desire, and secondly, in commitment.

The things in life that we truly want are things that we will aspire to achieve come hell or high water.  That tunnel vision and focus is largely fed by desire, and in order to have desire in the first place, you have to have a large enough void of something that you don’t have at the moment to begin with.

If you don’t have the level of health that you want or feel you need to live your life here and now at a satisfactory level, then you have breeding catalyst of desire right under your proverbial keister.  You have the precursor for change, and sustainable change at that, sitting right underneath your arse, waiting for you to flick the switch of desire.  That desire, in turn, will technically provide enough fuel for you to reach your goal… but only if you have bottomed on your former way of being/doing to begin with.  There has to be a sufficient amount of discomfort preceding sustainable change that would keep the engine of desire running long enough to make a difference in the long haul.

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Now commitment can be hard to make, if you don’t have enough justifying reasons to make that life change.  Let’s say you don’t have enough friends or family supporting you, breathing life into your ambition(s) or enough people believing in what you want to achieve.  Then it becomes solely about your own willpower and personal focus, barring all else.  Very few people have this kind of resolve, but for the majority of folks, this is certainly not the extent of their issue.  For most folks, falling off the bandwagon takes much less.

It can be readily argued, that people today are made of much more frail stock than people a generation ago, and the generation before them were of more solid stock on average than the one before us, etc.  To a large degree, this is true.  Times change, but so do people.  The social consciousness of the world has largely changed, and is morphing now into uncharted waters.  The pressure of political correctness is becoming oppressive in much of the western world, to the point where anything can be justified if it meets whatever end is to be attained.  Call it the age of relativity, call it what you will, but it certainly is not doing our society and world any good.

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No one wants to call black black anymore.  White is no longer white and a spade can no longer be called a spade.  What we have come to, is an age of relative truth and convenience above substance.  Therefore, if you fail to achieve, all can be forgiven because there are no more absolutes to aspire to.

A good example of this is fat becoming the new normal.  When such a stark number of the populace become overweight or obese, those that are fit become the vast minority.  Sure, Hollywood promotes the hunks and Barbie girls, but that, it can be argued, is indeed the last bastion of our modern mythology.

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Our society needs these unreachable prototypes to hold in high regard in their glass palaces on high, because they feel they can never scale those same heights.  It’s the dream, and it’s important for both the powers that be, the commercial business infrastructure, as well as the media at large, that these dreams and untouchable prototypes seem to remain out of the grasp of us mere mortals.

But the truth is, that this simply is not true.  It’s simply an illusion.  An illusion of something to aspire to.

I personally realized this illusion and the convoluted reality thereof many years ago, when I decided that I wanted to become more than the status quo.  I did not want to remain among the punters that let the shysters dictate their lives and destinies.  I became a pro wrestler, largely by the grace of God, as I came from a background of very meager financial means.  Yet, I had the desire, and as soon as the door of opportunity was opened to me, I sprinted on through.  I didn’t want to remain a lifelong fan when I could become a real life icon.  Since January 7,1994, I have been able to live that dream to reality, becoming a real life superhero, a pro wrestler who has traveled the world and become very successful with a long and storied career around the globe.

When I look back, for me it took a hunger to more than the guy next to me.  It took a look at the brevity of life, a glimpse of what could be vs. what was at the moment, and the desire to see it through because I had tunnel vision and I had a long-term goal in my sights.

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So in truth, perhaps the single weightiest reason why people these days drop out before they even get started is because they have been conditioned to things coming too easily to them.  Google culture does not parlay well into real life.  You need old school determination and desire to make proverbial shit happen.  Or should I say: it takes more than desire to reach your goals, it takes staunch commitment.

On the flip side, there is only the pain of regret and disappointment.  But as blues rock legend Blind Willie Johnson sang, at the end of the day, we all know “It’s nobody’s fault but mine”.