Gym Jones advanced seminar

This is a reflection of my week at in Salt Lake City. It’s been written three times now. I overthink. I procrastinate. I know, it’s taken too long.

I arrive early on Monday at the gym, full of anticipation and more than a little nervous.

After some introductions, we’re into it. First session is deadlifts. I haven’t been training properly for the previous few weeks due to a lower back problem. This is the first time I’ve deadlifted in weeks. I start tentatively. Things go well. I work up to a new PR at this body weight, but instead of settling there I push it. I have to. I have to see what I’m capable of. Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose. I lost, on what would’ve been a new PR, I tear my hamstring. I feel the familiar ‘ping’ and the accompanying sting. I know what’s happened. I’ve been here too many times before.

I’ve missed important finals and international matches through last minute injuries and this time it was just as disappointing. There was a time in my life when an injury like this would have ruined me. I would descend into a dark hole, blaming myself, hating my body for letting me down and then anxious and impatient to know when I could go again, missing everything that’s going on around me as I turn inwards to deal with my angst.

Not now, not anymore. I’ve changed, older and wiser (well, definitely older, hopefully wiser).

Fuelled by Mark Twight’s Sunday sermon, I stepped back. He wrote about some of the characteristics that are prevalent in the those that are united by Gym Jones and he recognised these behaviours in himself and others, as what he wanted Gym Jones to represent; “hard work, commitment, persistence, difficultly tolerance, internal negotiation, vision, imagination, physical effort. Of course psychological effort above and beyond the physical. Sometimes risk is necessary but not always. The will to do. The will to suffer and all of it lasting for a long time.”

I wanted to see this in action. I wanted to see people represent these ideals. I wanted to see if I could uphold them. If I could learn enough from this week to be able to engage others in this unique project. Could I be worthy, and would after the completion of this week, be able to take the next step on the journey? Could I answer Mark’s call to action?

I watched, I listened and I am sure I experienced far more because of this than if I’d been in the thick of the action. Without the blinkers of my own performance to hamper my vision, I could observe what it was that made this place truly special. The gym has a feeling, a soul. People that have gone there before have left a piece of themselves in the walls and in the floor, and it inspires. It inspires people to give so much of themselves that it’s remarkable to witness. Maybe it’s what the gym represents that pushes people beyond themselves.

The first deadlifting session had many PRs. A 2k row followed in the afternoon. Some of the efforts here were incredible to watch. Again, numerous PRs with plenty of people breaking the sub 7min standard. Even more impressive when one considers the heat, poor air quality and the altitude. Driven by the atmosphere, people excelled, further cementing my belief in the crucial role of environment in performance. Impressive performances are the theme of the week, during the 2k ski, the IWT and the all out 60s on the AirFit bike. The team ethos within Gym Jones is further enhanced when we complete a team ski to close out the week. No one wants to let their team mates down, everybody pushes as hard as they can.

Each training session is supported with education. Each workout given context within the bigger picture, within programming. The value placed on education is high. The learning at each Gym Jones seminar has had an impact on what I do. It has both reinforced what I already know and implement, and then exposed what I need to learn, where I need to improve. There’s always more to do. Mark Twight and Rob MacDonald are both intelligent coaches with a wealth of experience and both are skilled at imparting their knowledge. You know that they have so much more to give and would gladly do so without the constraints of time.

Inspired by my experience. I’m going back. I’m starting the process to become a certified instructor. I want represent the ideals of Gym Jones as presented in the words of Mark Twight. I want to become better. I want what we do here at Evolve to be better, to be the best that it’s capable of becoming. I want to create an environment where people progress. Where people evolve into everything that they are capable of through challenge and hard work.

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