Ari Shaffir Skeptic Tank #277 with Henry Rollins: Iron and the Soul by Henry Rollins

I heard about Henry Rollins from Joe Rogan. Rollins is a world traveler and has plenty of insights into living a strenuous life. I’ve been listening to a lot of Ari Shaffir Skeptic Tank. Alongside Joe Rogan and Bill Burr I find Ari to be one of my favorite comedian podcasters. Ari really shines through as an interviewer in this episode. Included is Rollins essay on lifting weights. Iron and the Soul. A must read for lifters.

 

Iron and the Soul – By Henry Rollins

I believe that the definition of definition is reinvention. To not be like your parents. To not be like your friends. To be yourself.

Completely.

When I was young I had no sense of myself. All I was, was a product of all the fear and humiliation I suffered. Fear of my parents. The humiliation of teachers calling me “garbage can” and telling me I’d be mowing lawns for a living. And the very real terror of my fellow students. I was threatened and beaten up for the color of my skin and my size. I was skinny and clumsy, and when others would tease me I didn’t run home crying, wondering why. I knew all too well. I was there to be antagonized. In sports I was laughed at. A spaz. I was pretty good at boxing but only because the rage that filled my every waking moment made me wild and unpredictable. I fought with some strange fury. The other boys thought I was crazy.

I hated myself all the time. As stupid at it seems now, I wanted to talk like them, dress like them, carry myself with the ease of knowing that I wasn’t going to get pounded in the hallway between classes. Years passed and I learned to keep it all inside. I only talked to a few boys in my grade. Other losers. Some of them are to this day the greatest people I have ever known. Hang out with a guy who has had his head flushed down a toilet a few times, treat him with respect, and you’ll find a faithful friend forever. But even with friends, school sucked. Teachers gave me hard time. I didn’t think much of them either.

Then came Mr. Pepperman, my advisor. He was a powerfully built Vietnam veteran, and he was scary. No one ever talked out of turn in his class. Once one kid did and Mr. P. lifted him off the ground and pinned him to the blackboard. Mr. P. could see that I was in bad shape, and one Friday in October he asked me if I had ever worked out with weights. I told him no. He told me that I was going to take some of the money that I had saved and buy a hundred-pound set of weights at Sears. As I left his office, I started to think of things I would say to him on Monday when he asked about the weights that I was not going to buy. Still, it made me feel special. My father never really got that close to caring. On Saturday I bought the weights, but I couldn’t even drag them to my mom’s car. An attendant laughed at me as he put them on a dolly.

Monday came and I was called into Mr. P.’s office after school. He said that he was going to show me how to work out. He was going to put me on a program and start hitting me in the solar plexus in the hallway when I wasn’t looking. When I could take the punch we would know that we were getting somewhere. At no time was I to look at myself in the mirror or tell anyone at school what I was doing. In the gym he showed me ten basic exercises. I paid more attention than I ever did in any of my classes. I didn’t want to blow it. I went home that night and started right in.

Weeks passed, and every once in a while Mr. P. would give me a shot and drop me in the hallway, sending my books flying. The other students didn’t know what to think. More weeks passed, and I was steadily adding new weights to the bar. I could sense the power inside my body growing. I could feel it.

Right before Christmas break I was walking to class, and from out of nowhere Mr. Pepperman appeared and gave me a shot in the chest. I laughed and kept going. He said I could look at myself now. I got home and ran to the bathroom and pulled off my shirt. I saw a body, not just the shell that housed my stomach and my heart. My biceps bulged. My chest had definition. I felt strong. It was the first time I can remember having a sense of myself. I had done something and no one could ever take it away. You couldn’t say shit to me.

It took me years to fully appreciate the value of the lessons I have learned from the Iron. I used to think that it was my adversary, that I was trying to lift that which does not want to be lifted. I was wrong. When the Iron doesn’t want to come off the mat, it’s the kindest thing it can do for you. If it flew up and went through the ceiling, it wouldn’t teach you anything. That’s the way the Iron talks to you. It tells you that the material you work with is that which you will come to resemble. That which you work against will always work against you.

It wasn’t until my late twenties that I learned that by working out I had given myself a great gift. I learned that nothing good comes without work and a certain amount of pain. When I finish a set that leaves me shaking, I know more about myself. When something gets bad, I know it can’t be as bad as that workout.

I used to fight the pain, but recently this became clear to me: pain is not my enemy; it is my call to greatness. But when dealing with the Iron, one must be careful to interpret the pain correctly. Most injuries involving the Iron come from ego. I once spent a few weeks lifting weight that my body wasn’t ready for and spent a few months not picking up anything heavier than a fork. Try to lift what you’re not prepared to and the Iron will teach you a little lesson in restraint and self-control.

I have never met a truly strong person who didn’t have self-respect. I think a lot of inwardly and outwardly directed contempt passes itself off as self-respect: the idea of raising yourself by stepping on someone’s shoulders instead of doing it yourself. When I see guys working out for cosmetic reasons, I see vanity exposing them in the worst way, as cartoon characters, billboards for imbalance and insecurity. Strength reveals itself through character. It is the difference between bouncers who get off strong-arming people and Mr. Pepperman.

Muscle mass does not always equal strength. Strength is kindness and sensitivity. Strength is understanding that your power is both physical and emotional. That it comes from the body and the mind. And the heart.

Yukio Mishima said that he could not entertain the idea of romance if he was not strong. Romance is such a strong and overwhelming passion, a weakened body cannot sustain it for long. I have some of my most romantic thoughts when I am with the Iron. Once I was in love with a woman. I thought about her the most when the pain from a workout was racing through my body.

Everything in me wanted her. So much so that sex was only a fraction of my total desire. It was the single most intense love I have ever felt, but she lived far away and I didn’t see her very often. Working out was a healthy way of dealing with the loneliness. To this day, when I work out I usually listen to ballads.

I prefer to work out alone. It enables me to concentrate on the lessons that the Iron has for me. Learning about what you’re made of is always time well spent, and I have found no better teacher. The Iron had taught me how to live. Life is capable of driving you out of your mind. The way it all comes down these days, it’s some kind of miracle if you’re not insane. People have become separated from their bodies. They are no longer whole.

I see them move from their offices to their cars and on to their suburban homes. They stress out constantly, they lose sleep, they eat badly. And they behave badly. Their egos run wild; they become motivated by that which will eventually give them a massive stroke. They need the Iron Mind.

Through the years, I have combined meditation, action, and the Iron into a single strength. I believe that when the body is strong, the mind thinks strong thoughts. Time spent away from the Iron makes my mind degenerate. I wallow in a thick depression. My body shuts down my mind.

The Iron is the best antidepressant I have ever found. There is no better way to fight weakness than with strength. Once the mind and body have been awakened to their true potential, it’s impossible to turn back.

The Iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all kinds of talk, get told that you’re a god or a total bastard. The Iron will always kick you the real deal. The Iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in the pitch black. I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds.

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5 Takeaways from the Art of Charm Podcast interview with Brett McKay

I look up to both of these guys. Having Jordan Harbinger and Brett McKay chop it up together for an hour was awesome. Here’s what I learned.

  1. Masculinity in Classical Greece was physical. Physical Strength is useful. This is manly because you can provide security to your family and friends. Increase you circle of protection. Barbell Training. I will look into the Starting Strength program Brett and Jordan talked about.
  2. Get outside of your head and just Act. I have heard around the web that confidence was not thinking. Just acting. When at the bar, its about just acting. Think afterword about what went wrong. Just starting is the hardest part.
  3. Me, Always, Everything think. Stop, and spin the box. Ask yourself questions. Is this really that bad? Have other people done this before? What can I learn from this? How can I slowly improve? Trust the Process and do what action you can take right now to get closer.
  4. Life isn’t about Facebook followers or personal branding. This blog isn’t about getting followers. I really only want to flesh out my ideas. When I write things down they stick.
  5. Be more useful. At work, at home and out with friends. I gained more satisfaction from fixing my creaky car door with some motor oil and a sander than I did skiing with my friend. Eliminating a small screeching door felt better in the long run. It’s about solving your problems and being better today than you were yesterday. I just got a promotion at work, and it’s important for me to learn everyday and get better. Lives are on the line.

Action items:

  1. Learn how to film youtube videos. Brett’s are really good.  His Grilling/Smoking series is awesome.
  2. Fix up my washer leak
  3. Fix my car headlight bulb

The Episode

 

Bag Check: What to bring to a Tennis match in your Tennis Bag

federer-isner-us-open-2015
Day Six of the 2015 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 5, 2015 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.

I’ve been reading  Winning Ugly: Mental Warfare in Tennis by Brad Gilbert. This part stuck out to me.

The player who understands the significance of gaining a small advantage (and of doing so repeatedly) might still underestimate the role that tennis equipment can play in helping you win more matches. Yes, you can bring the bare minimum, but any player who is serious about winning will go beyond the bare minimum.

I decided to make a quick list for my old high school team. I did some extra research and found this explanation from Gonzo Tennis very satisfying. Answering the question. Why even care?

If you’re heading over to the public courts for a quick rally or match with a buddy then don’t worry about what you bring with you (apart from a racquet and shoes) as there is no consequence for quitting early due to equipment malfunction or injury. However, if you are going into battle, so to speak, where winning might actually matter to you, you should have your tennis bag packed with these just-in-case items. Obviously, preparing for every eventuality is impossible so don’t bother trying. Keep the following basics in your bag and you can feel comfortable that you have taken reasonable measures.

US-Open-Image

10 Essential items

  1. Water, drink plenty before, during and after your match. Hydration is the key to good performance. Sip water on every changeover.
  1. Energy food: bananas, oranges, mangos, apples, cliff bars, granola bars
  1. Rackets, at least 2 rackets, in case you break a string
  1. Towels, 1-2 regular size towels to keep you dry
  1. Medical kit: Different types of bandages, neosporin, athletic tape, blister specific bandages, body powder, small pair of scissors, sunscreen, lip balm
  1. Dry tennis clothes: 1-2 spare TC tennis shirts, 2-3 pairs of dry socks, extra shoelaces, extra pair of tennis shoes, sweatbands
  1. Hat with a visor and sunglasses
  1. Over grips, in case yours get soaked or unravel
  1. Extra Shock absorber, in case yours flys off and you can’t find it
  1. A plastic shopping bag, for wet clothes, or for a makeshift cold pack

winning-ugly-mental-warfare-in-tennis-lessons-from-brad-gilbert-paperback-cover-art

Credit: Winning Ugly: Mental Warfare in Tennis by Brad Gilbert

How Red Lerille Mr. America 1960, started Red’s Gym: The biggest and best gym in the South

Reds Gym Pic

Reds started in 1963. His goal is to make an improvement every month. There have been 624 improvements since 1963. Today Red’s is over 185,000 square feet. Every time I get onshore I go here 4-5 times a week. Red has built a world class gym in the 214th largest city in the US. It’s an amazing place and an good story.

“This place started off like Red Lerille’s Health Studio, then it became Red Lerille’s Health Club, then Red Lerille’s Health and Racket Club, and eventually people dropped all that shit and called it Red’s.”

Red’s Keys to Success

1. Arrive on time, ready to work

From Red Lerille: Painting the town Red,

“Every day, Lerille rises at 2:30 a.m. and rides one of his six bikes to the club to open it at 3 a.m. He works out for about 90 minutes before he hops on his bike for about 45 minutes of cardio and then pedals home. He takes a shower, shaves, eats breakfast and then heads to the 7 a.m. mass at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, down the street from his home. After mass, he heads to the private airport where he hangars the antique airplanes he restores and flies one for about a half-hour. Then, he drives back to Red’s, usually arriving by 8:30 a.m.—about the time many people are grabbing their first cup of coffee for the day.”

Credit Lara Hale

      2. Say hello and goodbye

  Red’s has 250 employees. Guess who opens up the gym every morning at 3:00 am. Red.  He usually stays until 7pm, even on Sundays.        

         3. Make a change every month

“You gotta have a board, with some goals written down, you have to write your goals down.”

        4. Learn as much as you can

When I joined the gym he gave me the tour personally. He handed me a book One Summer by Bill Bryson. It was fun read and chronicled the crazy events of 1927; from Lou Gehrig and the Yankees to Charles Lindbergh. Not just into fitness, his hobbies are building airplanes and motorcycles.

       5. Stay in shape

He works out everyday. One of the pillar habits in The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg is exercising. Exercise has ancillary effects in your life that moves you to accomplish all other goals.

 Tour of the facility and history of Reds.

 

Red’s is an anchor for Lafayette. It has

  • a basketball court
  • 4 large swimming pools
  • boxing ring
  • racketball courts
  • cafeteria
  • coffee shop
  • 2 yoga studios
  • Pilates stuio
  • Cycling studio
  • Outdoor obstacle course
  • Day Care
  • 6 squat racks and full sets of bumper plates
  • MIT which is basically its version of crossfit

Besides all that is has a world class tennis facility.

  • 20 outdoor courts (14 hards and 6 clay rubico)
  • 3 well lit indoor courts with a viewing gallery.

This place is amazing.Reds tennisreds 2

Two critiques I’ve heard are were the price and the bodybuilders. The former is an excuse, and the latter is an over generalization.

  1. Red’s over delivers on value. Those that say it’s too expensive just don’t want to go to the gym. That’s fine, but don’t tell me about how your free week at reds was amazing, and you really wish you could afford it. I paid a one time $230 joining fee. And I pay a monthly fee including meals and tennis court of around $80 per month. You get a world class facility for a low cost and it gets better every month. That’s a high return on investment.
  2. “Oh Red’s, isn’t that just a meathead gym”. It is a bodybuilding gym, but its a lot more than that. Red’s foundation is bodybuilding. He was 1960 Mr. America after all. Their are serious bodybuilders there and they do stand out, but to be honest they are maybe 5% of the total membership. And I’ve never had a bad experience with them. I think the critique is based on the assumption that if you are big you do steroids and act aggressive. I’ve found Red’s to be a community of like-minded people trying to improve everyday.

Compared to other gyms Reds is incredible for the value you get in return. You get a world class facility for a low cost and it gets better every month. That’s a high return on investment.


 

My 10 Goals for 2016

Bruce Lee

2015 was a great year. I learned to play guitar and backflip on a trampoline. I played tennis on red clay in Argentina and got my weight under 200 pounds.

This year I have set 10 ambitious goals.

“The boring, behind the scenes work, day in and day out, are what make you rich” – Ramit Sethi

My Goals for 2016

Travel

  • Sit lower level at Arthur Ashe Stadium at the US Open
  • Drink XX beer while relaxing on a hammock on a Beach in South America
  • Eat a Bratwurst at a Professional Baseball Game with my Dad

Projects

  • Film, edit and upload 3 tennis videos to YouTube
  • Record and post a Podcast on ITunes
  • Write, edit and publish 15 new articles on this blog by writing 1,000 words a day

Fitness

  • 20 Pullups
  • 100 pushups
  • Squat 250 5x
  • Weigh 180 pounds

A part of me is scared that I won’t follow through. That small voice that tells me I can’t do it. Beyond that small voice is a deeper and stronger voice. It tells me that I’ve already accomplished them, I don’t have to do anything extra.