Updated: Dec 28, 2020
I grew up with it being mandatory to play outside. I remember my dad always saying, “unless it is dark or raining, you need to be outside playing.” So, that is what I did. There were no constraints on this play, either. It was simple; just be outside.
So, my friends and I did just that. We played pretty much anything you can think of. Backyard baseball and football being the most popular. My friend’s dad even mowed a “Field of Dreams” into their backyard. What I mean by that is he mowed the base paths lower than the rest of the yard so it gave the look and feel of a baseball diamond.
As a result of my parents valuing an active lifestyle and making me be outside, I picked up sports when I was young. I played pretty much anything that I could. It started as early as tee ball, and I played football and basketball all the way through high school. I don’t remember a time in my childhood where sports weren’t a thing. I always had practices for something and even if there was a short period of time off, my friends and I would be playing some backyard pick-up game somewhere. My friend even slit his knee open playing “Kick-the-Can.” That’s a story for another day.
In high school I was very small. 5’8” tall and 135lbs my junior year of football to be exact. I hated lifting. I thought it was so physically uncomfortable and it just didn’t make sense to me. “Make your body that uncomfortable, and maybe, just maybe, get a little bit bigger in a few months?” “No, thanks,” was my attitude. So, most of my high school career I did just enough lifting to make the coaches happy, but not enough to make myself uncomfortable (In hindsight this is hilarious because that is basically the only way you make progress in the gym). This is even more surprising because my dad was a high school strength and conditioning and football coach. But, it didn’t help. I still hated lifting.
Like the guy who always gets back with his ex, I had a change of heart. I had made the decision that if I wanted to make a bigger impact on the football field my senior year, I had to get committed to lifting. Towards the end of my junior year I started lifting out a guy’s garage that a few friends of mine had been training at for a few years. I don’t know why, but this time I was bought-in. I gained about 20lbs of muscle in about a month. Granted, this isn’t that crazy because I was so skinny to begin with. I don’t know if it was the old school environment of training in a rusty garage, but I felt as though I would be training for the rest of my life.
I was just telling people at the gym this morning how stupid I was when I first started college when it came to training. I basically looked up workouts on BodyBuilding.com and did ones that I thought were interesting. I didn’t get much stronger through college. Just a bit bigger. My senior year I watched a podcast with then Weightlifting Olympian Kendrick Farris. The next day I went to the gym and to the only Olympic lifting platform at Ball State to teach myself the Olympic lifts. I was wearing crappy old tennis shoes. Not for long though as I sold my iPad for a pair of Weightlifting shoes just a month later.
I completed a few internships after college, learned a lot more than I did in college, and got a lot better at Weightlifting and Powerlifting. A 512lbs squat, 325lbs bench press, 567lbs deadlift, 121kg snatch, and 151kg clean and jerk have to be strong to someone, right?
“Where are you going with this, Justin?” I’m glad you asked…
Training is second nature to me now. I don’t have to think twice about working out 4-5x/week. I wish I could toot my own horn and say this is all because I have a bunch of willpower and self-discipline. The fact of the matter is that it’s easy. Playing outside everyday during childhood makes it easy now. The thousands of sport practices when I was younger makes it easy now. Playing sports most of the year during high school makes it easy now. Training 3-4x/week almost every single week since my freshman year of college make it extremely easy now. Discipline is very easy when you have accumulated thousands and thousands of reps at something.
This is my life. Influenced all the way from when I was just 6 years old. Most people you may be training any given day might be starting for the very first time. They may be starting after taking 20-30 years off. It is extremely NOT easy for them. These people deserve all of our empathy and patience.
This post is largely centered around a conversation I had with a client. She was talking about hard it can be to workout some times. The motivation is just not there. I briefly told her my story and the only reason it is easy for me now is because I have essentially built this muscle of consistency around health and physical activity since I was 6. I think it is only because I was lucky to be born into the parents that I had that this was possible. Not everyone has started building that muscle that early.
There are a lot of driving forces behind what you see now. Just like you never saw all the hours of practice Kobe put in, you just saw him have a spectacular game. This is true of everyone you see. It is important to understand that Rome can’t be built in a day, and also that if you want to go anywhere, in any endeavor, the reps have to be put in. The 200th time training will be easier than the 20th time, and the 2000th time will be exponentially easier than the 200th.
Oh, you were looking for the secret recipe for something? Nothing of value comes easy. Just keep clocking in.