Home Owning to Fitness

by Sean St. Onge

"How do I get better at _____ (insert exercise here)???"

Pavel Tsatsouline is credited for reintroducing the kettlebell back into the Western World in the early 2000's. The former Russian Special Forces coach has also been known to provide sage advice to strength training, specifically when his American father-in-law wanted to get better at performing chin ups. Pavel had a grand idea. He had written an exercise program for his father-in-law that required him to do five chin ups every time he had to enter his own basement. After having to go to the basement multiple times a week, the gentleman, over a brief period of time, saw his chin ups struggle from 5 to ballooning to 20 reps with ease!

I recently purchased my second home. This time around, the home I chose was strictly based on LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. My first home was chosen because it was move-in ready for the most part. I didn't need to learn or "practice" too much in the guise of additions, building, or fixing structural issues. 

Yet, upon purchase of my second home, my more experienced and handy friends and family had all too easy retorts and answers to all my issues regarding the new purchase. 

"Oh, the lawn is bad? Just do the simple old cut it out, and install some sod. But don't forget to water it heavy after you do so, and be careful where and when you install it. Make sure not to allow it to be in the sun or dried out before putting it down."

"Oh, busted walls? Nothing a little joint compound can't fix. Just tape that stuff up and go smoothly, you can always add a ton of it and smooth it out as you go."

"Remove a wall? All it costs is labor, the material isn't too expensive. You just have to be sure if it is a load bearing wall to add deadman boards and LVL's to be sure the structure stays intact while you work on demolishing the existing pieces that are to be removed. Then a bunch of 2x4s, 2x8s, drywall and spackle/joint compound will work to clean that all up."

OH, well in that case...

So you are now saying, "Sean, pray tell how this correlates to fitness and health education?"

Coach Pavel wrote once, "Specificity + Frequent Practice = Success."

As coaches, we often look to continuing education seminars, workshops, videos, and other educational information as more tools for the toolbox to bring to work. In essence, we learn to become "handy" in a myriad of situations and it allows us to be better prepared for any and all challenges. The same can be said of experiences, successes, and failures with our own fitness. 

Admittedly, I am a terrible handy-man. Yet, with every small project I wish to accomplish, with some watchful eyes and skilled masters nearby, I feel I am getting better and above all, more knowledgeable of how to actually build and repair and continue to add to my toolbox of experiences.

When someone is struggling with exercises, let's just say for instance the deadlift, and it is a drill we wish to become better at, or maybe perform without pain, if these are the parameters of our goal, we should NOT accept practicing this drill once a week and expect results.

Author of the book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell says that "most experts accrue about 10,000 hours of practice before they develop their talent."


The extra added "tools in the toolbox" are the assistance drills that follow, and all our classes at 212 Health and Performance are geared to the individual's frequency of resistance, load, and attendance with us under our watchful eyes. 

With every good, bad and great repetition we complete in every drill, they serve as more time "at the bar" practicing as we physically, and yes even socially and emotionally, learn from experience. So just another arduous rep to another painstaking stroke of your brush with paint that seems to evaporate into thin air is yet another notch on your tool belt...for life.

One of the lessons I have obtained in this new home owning process (besides frustration) is the amount of frequency of practice on my home has helped me learn something new daily on becoming handier. The same can be said when it comes to exercise or training. 


With hours of practice, it comes down to the right timing for everything to come together. After hours of doing something like a deadlift, and then performing all the drills that will set you up for longer term success like a Romanian Deadlift, glute ham raise, or even a slide board hamstring curl, many exercises like these enhance your ability to create force with appreciable load to tax your body to push it even further for the next time you try to pull a heavy weight off the floor.

All the hours of practice taping joint compound over your head and down low, reconstituting the shape and form to get it just right on the wall so everything is flush and perfect. Yet, over time, and when all is practiced just so, your strokes with the tape knife become smoother, you have less wasted energy and you eventually become more efficient in the job. Another portion of the "right timing" is down to trusting in your patience in the process. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard, "don't worry, it takes time, have patience." And like many cliches, it applies here. Have confidence in the process, respect it even. Because it has been said equally as many times as "have patience," the phrase, "it's your house, so take your time and make it the way you want it so it is perfect to you."

This should be our mantra for our bodies, our mentality toward training, and our perspective on how if we REALLY REALLY want "this", whatever "this" is (a leaner body, a heavier stronger bench press or deadlift, running a marathon, etc.). We need to just stay the course and respect the learning process because it will "all come together."

Until then...