"This is Us" (Why do we train?)

by Sean St. Onge

Sorry for the misleading faux title, click bait, yes. Have I watched the show? Not at all.


How is that? Better?

Sadly, this will not be another Ancient Aliens diatribe on my part…but to jab quickly, yes we are from Mars. SOAP BOX IS SET A BIT HIGHER TODAY, so grab your helmets for this one kids.

Mind my attitude as it bleeds through your screens today. I was upset with myself after being sucked into a social media trap tonight. I read a post that basically somehow put blame on everyone but the postee about why they are out of shape, didn't want to spend time in the gym, waste money and feel sad for themselves while endorsing giving up and fast food due to lack of effort and will. I am not shaming them for being discouraged. We have all been there. And fast food, yea we all try it. Claim to love it...maybe for an hour or two and the "something" word happens to the porcelain.

To say the least, I can just point out and say, "they are honest with themselves." Yet, it bothered me more to then realize NO, this was a plea/cry for attention.

We need to change that piece of our CULTURE.  

And it made me beg the question, “Why do we train?”   

Basics: Your one-plus hour of training per day is to alleviate, and ultimately, make your physical duties easier to accomplish. Your one and half hours mowing the lawn and carrying yard waste to the curb should never be harder than your training in the gym. If it is, time to reassess your "wasted" time and realign and design your efforts. That's why we train. To make ourselves better and ready to accomplish "tasks" we need to do. And do them with ease and efficiency.  Ever do the dishes after Thanksgiving dinner and wonder why your back hurts? Well, the nerdy answer is more than likely, you shifted your weight to one leg and foot depending on where the "drying sink and washing sink" were, and when your legs and body grew tired of the seemingly everlasting line of dishes, and forks you didn't know you owned, your body compensated. It probably shifted the load to another group of muscles that were basically not ready for that job. But that assessment and diatribe is for another time. The concept of why we go to the gym has shifted in the last 80-100 years since the inception of commercial gyms and physical exercise enthusiasts.

Vanity: Yes. The benefit of moving more, exercising, lifting, challenging our bodies to gain better overall health and strength with consistency provides us with a sweet by product. Looking "sexy AF" as the kids do say.

Moreover, feeling better and gaining confidence that cascades into all other facets of our lives. When we feel better and look better we are more inclined to MAINTAIN this amazing by product of "sustained habitual enhanced living." I had a client that was slightly older than 70 years old that came to the gym at least 4x a week. Once when I heard a gym goer marvel at his attendance and effort his reply was, "just fighting off death day by day.."  *MIC DROP*.

So when did exercise become strictly about the aesthetic? Please allow an EXTREMELY abridged history of strength training and exercise to follow. In the early 1900s, a popularized form of strength exercise was noticed during circus events. When the photograph was invented, an amazing man named Eugene Sandow was one its first repeat photo gems. His sheer look was unlike any other in his time which, by the way, the average person had much better overall physical traits due to the fact that manual labor was the ONLY labor for the masses. Needless to say, had he been alive in the renaissance DaVinci would have painted him. His training was that of merit as well as marvel as he could back up what was on paper. 

Due to Sandow's then deemed unorthodox training regimen, he spawned a bigger community to follow. Begat from the 20s to the 1950s. Modern bodybuilding as we know it was starting to flourish. "Split body" sessions were developed to isolate and concentrate on specific body parts to build up and make larger through hypertrophy.


Or if you need a quick dissertation…


Due to Hollywood stars like once Superman Christopher Reeves father, Steven Reeves, who capitalized on his efforts to look larger than life, many publications and magazines sensationalized these feats and provided content on "how to look this way," complete with tutorials and program samples. Due to this popularity, when you see a star of stage and screen, we as a culture want that look, and need to figure out how to get it. Where in our culture did this drop off? Where did the effort go? I am all about being comfortable with being yourself and individuality, yet sadly, today exercise and hard work is met with conjecture and why? It's deemed as well, ....WORK.       

We are now by products of our own technological success. We don't use manual labor as our prime use for work. 97%( in a poll I made up for this blog) of you are sitting and reading this AT WORK. (Shout out and pop culture reference to Tony Gentilcore's series, "stuff to read while pretending to work")  Despite personal training and coaching being one of the more budding professions in the country, even amassing collegiate level requirements to obtain certification and education, WE ARE STILL LOSING THIS FIGHT. The awareness and education is everywhere yet we are born head first, yet brought up ankle deep.

Obesity is at an all time high. The country is complacent and has allowed (like so many other things that I couldn't finish listing in a four hour pay per view) this to become socially acceptable. NOW this is not a cry and or as a means to point fingers because there is boat load of change going on, and thousands of people in preventative health industries that are trying hard and doing thanksless work to educate about nutrition, food, cooking, self awareness to name a few in conjunction to fitness strength fields.

“This is us….now.”

This is the world we live in. Less accountability, yet more finger wagging and pointing.

My plea is to you all to help create a new culture. Rehash the old because everything old is "new"again with a twist and spin. "Nothing new under the sun." Disallow this complacency and suss out the labels. Not all exercise is Crossfit. Despite its rich history and literal insertion into all known movement, Yoga and Pilates are not the be-all-end-all. It ALL works so go with what works for you and TRY what you are not good at. It's the only way to become better overall.  Don't equate the concepts of exercise to being a special subculture that only elitist and already "beautiful" people can obtain and join.

Do Something.

Even if you have nowhere to start. Check your circle of genius. See who is the most qualified to help guide you. Doing something to initially utilize that energy and will in a positive manner is the key to string together a routine.

Start Today.

Much like the hallowed late 80’s hardcore group “Gorilla Biscuits” once preached…”Start Today.” With lyrics like “Procrastinate, it can’t wait"

Own it.

If you fall off your path, it is your own doing. Save for a huge catastrophe that is NOT involving social media that should impede you from getting to your goals, there is no one to blame but yourself. So own it. Make it YOUR priority or own it and admit it isn’t something you really want. Kerry once said, “You can WANT something really bad, but to NEVER try consistently you really didn’t work for it. Work for it & it is yours.”

 Achieve ALL.

“ALL.” Yes it is the name of a band I like. Yes, I am inspired by something created in the 80s. What can I say? They got it right. Former “Black Flag/ALL” & Descendents drummer Bill Stevenson once spoke of the concept of “ALL”. He was fishing on a small boat with a friend and when Bill noticed they had caught enough fish to cover the floor of the boat it was time to go back to shore. His friend frantically bellowed “NO….ALL!!!” Bill, grasped what he meant. He later would utilize the concept to every aspect of his life. Achieve ALL. All, whether it is to take ALL the fish in the sea while fishing on a small boat, or doing your absolute best and making the most of every situation until you have achieved your own personal….ALL.

Strength in itself has no boundaries, or limits, and yet has billions of faces. There is strength to be had and USED by all. I'll leave you with this concept. "The strongest and most fit of exercises and lifters has provided this nugget of truth. It is not of the size of the muscle or movement that is truly the feat. It is merely the mental toughness to conceptualize the end of the means to do the task. " - Sean St.Onge

Want another quote from me?


Heavy stuff huh? (Yes, in case you were wondering the above meme’d was my high school senior quote.)

Change the CULTURE, to being stronger by working for what is needed to be done. We are always going to pick things up, walk and move, and continue to work. Why not provide ourselves the dual mind body actions to get us there more efficiently? SOAP BOX OUT.