I always like to write these blog posts as it is a cathartic process to see the year out and to take stock of the previous twelve months (previous editions can be found here and here). It can be hard to write these articles without some air of self-indulgence but these are only lessons that I have picked up in my own consciousness and I can only write them from my own point of view, so obviously they will be tinged with my own bias.
So even though this is essentially a form of self-therapy and closure on the year for me, until I can find a more appropriate platform for this style of blog post, here will have to do. Hopefully you can pick up something from it or at least be entertained for a few minutes. I have also mixed the lessons of the year with the gym highlights for no particular reason whatsoever.
Finally, this post may have a more sombre or serious tone than previous ones and this has much to do with the aftermath of my past 4 weeks and even though my current disposition is ephemeral (I just wanted to use that word), I am already looking forward to a better 2019!
Allow yourself to be you
I am an emotional person. I have spent the best part of 38 years apologising for feeling a certain way about certain things or in certain circumstances. I have begun to realise that feelings are a natural and unique thing. They make us what we are and are nothing to apologise for. It does help to be objective and try to observe these feelings from the outside to understand them better. There may be ‘wrong’ reactions to certain feelings but the feelings themselves are not bad (until they are acted upon). This is something I am working on.
Always be grateful to the people that helped get you where you are
Bringing my Dad to a Man City game
I grew up planning to bring him here to watch me play but my knees had other ideas. At least I could bring him to a game in some capacity. I need to do more of this.
A cross to bear
Mental health. This is one that I have been sitting on for a few years and one that will get me a lot of flack. Many times I have felt an urge to write about this but from a PR point of view it is a minefield. When it gets to the point that numerous people talk to me about this, I feel that I need to say something. Mental health is at the forefront of a tonne of platforms these days and especially in the fitness industry – depression is waved around like a badge of honour. I think people are too quick to use this label and also incredibly quick to hide behind it to demand excuses for terrible behaviour.
Again this will get me in trouble and it is not to take anything away from people that do have depression but I feel that it needs to be said. I have grown up up around this – I used to visit my grandmother in psychiatric wards as a child, I have grown up with a close friend who suffered badly with depression in their teens and family members that suffer from this. I feel like a lot of people are going through hard times – and as an observation I see this on a sharp increase and I blame social media and technology generally as we are on call for work 24/7 and feel we need to be busy every moment of the day. People are feeling OVERWHELMED (I have to credit another close friend for this observation) and could deal with this better by seeking professional help. I am not belittling mental health matters in anyway – it is an incredibly sensitive topic but I detest people on social media that have a significant following and ability to ‘influence’ others and abuse their responsibility by cheapening this problem by using it as an excuse to negatively affect others and excuse their own bad behaviour.
Some people will dislike you regardless
Surely the above piece will bring some criticism but people that know me know how genuine I am and that the above is coming from a good place. I have spent most of my life trying to be liked by everyone or please people and have learnt that some people will just dislike you no matter what. This used to get to me. Accepting it is a relief in someway. But you can’t fake being at peace with this, you genuinely have to believe it. And fuck those people anyway.
I see a terrible need for a lot of men to get help. I am lucky that I can talk to a lot of my guy friends and they are all well read and smart men that are in touch with their feelings and not afraid to express vulnerability. They are good men and it drives me nuts when I encounter women that harp on about how all men are bastards or have some sort of hidden agenda. I have had murmurings of this in the gym and nipped it in the bud very quickly – its just a lazy and jaded viewpoint and won’t change anything.
In terms of the men, I don’t quite know how I can help with this as often times I feel like my life is in disarray but I would love to be able to do something. There is a strong need for something for men. Like it or not, roles are being blurred and a lot of men are feeling lost and without calling, unable to live up to old traditions and it is a real challenge to come to terms with this. I would really like to provide some sort of platform to help with this – suggestions on a postcard are welcome. This is not about women versus men or visa-versa. It is about women and men getting strong TOGETHER not at the expense of each other. Everyone would benefit from this.
I have had to deal with death and grief this year, more than any other year. We are promised and guaranteed nothing. I know we should appreciate everyday but it is tough. Much like a difficult workout, you just have to keep the head down and take things one rep at a time.
I still carry this weird belief that when I spend money on books I amn’t really spending money (I will blame my mother for this). I still can’t go into a book shop without buying 5 books at a time. The anxiety that is induced in me every time I look at a growing book shelf of books that I haven’t read is increasing by the week.
Travelling the world to train martial arts, rub shoulders with world champions and challenge myself is immensely gratifying and it nourishes my soul. It gives me a feeling of purpose. I can’t explain it but maybe there is no explanation needed for something like this. The pursuit is the happiness.
Tattoos hurt. More than I remember.
We hosted more seminars in 2018 that all of the previous years combined. Again, that is not a lot but the quality of coaches that passed through our doors this year fills me with pride. Early in the year we had Dr. Mike Israetel, Dr. James Hoffmann and Dr. Melissa Davis from RP Strength over. Then in the summer we had Jane Erbacher and in the latter part of the year we had William Wayland over from Powering-Through.
It was amazing to host such a highly qualified group of coaches that all brought something unique to the gym. Each coach influenced all of us in some way and I would like to think that we will see them back in Dublin at some stage. I still pinch myself when I think about these guys coming to our little gym in Harolds Cross.
The Squad Grew
Arnoldas turned up at the RP Strength seminar as a keen attendee and a combination of his own enthusiasm and persistence saw him come on board as a coach this year.
Knowledge is not power
You can fall into the trap of collecting more information than you need. Gathering of information can be seductive but without acting on that information, it is entirely useless. This may seem obvious but I fell into this trap in terms of self-help books /websites / counsellor sessions etc. It is better to act consistently on one piece if information than to gather 10 pieces and not act – this applies to everything , diet, training plans…
Go with the flow
The universe will ultimately guide you in the direction it wants you to go in. I still find this hard to come to terms with – you must concede some sense of control but at the same time not get sloppy and stop trying your best. Attempting your best ties in with where you need to be and will always give you a higher chance of fulfilment. I got injured at a time the gym was getting busier . I could have gotten extremely frustrated with my lack of ability to train but looking back, I probably would not have been able to train hard and keep the pace up in the gym and at least at the time I had the bandwidth and mental capacity to grow the business.
Be more kind
I have to stop thinking the worst of strangers. I have to be less confrontational. I do believe that you attract what you put out into the universe but I still can’t help myself sometimes. One incident that steps out in my mind was after I was visiting my grandmother in hospital I was returning to my car and I could see a fairly dodgy looking character walk by my car looking at it. Immediately I had my guard up and pictured myself running over to him if he went near it (what an asshole I am…) as I got to my car he drove past and leaned out the window, again I was expecting him to say something smart – he was leaving his space early and offering me his parking ticket. Now I really felt like an asshole. I need to work on this. I made sure to partake in numerous good deeds that week to balance the universe.
Be less of an asshole
For a sensitive person I can be confrontational – I got into two physical altercations this year and I am extremely embarrassed about it. It is no way for a grown man to act BUT I feel as though there are no repercussions or at least very limited amounts for people that behave badly in this day and age and unfortunately a large part of me still feels as though a good strangulation is quite the remedy for this dilemma. And I also feel that it is a terribly antagonising thing for a person to pick a fight with a guy when he is with his girlfriend – in terms of ‘bro codes’ this is a huge breach of etiquette and one where I have learned that you still lose even when you win, despite how chivalrous you think you are being.
Scallo Got Engaged
This lady has this in spades. She is a person that has had an extremely positive impact on the gym and myself. People pass through your life and make an impact in various ways – Jane gave me confidence to think big with my own gym here and in my own ability as a coach and in our potential here to help many people. I would like one day to pass this impact on to someone else.
Expecting more of oneself
William brought a no-nonsense sense professionalism and a feeling of unwavering integrity in his work. Something that is missing in this industry and it immediately had all of the coaches here committed to improving (‘do what is meaningful not what is expedient…’) and he is a stand-up guy too. And strong as fuck.
The growth of the gym
This day out may have seemed incidental but for me it was a big deal. I was injured and unable to attend but Arnoldas got a small crew together to spend the day hiking. This was the first real time the gym as an ‘entity’ of itself organised a successful get together that I had nothing to do with and that was an awesome thing.
Getting to share life events with members is a beautiful thing. The hangover, not so much.
Axe Throwing is great fun.
But it hurt my ego to find out that I was awful at it.
Ups and downs
Life can be beautiful and brutal. I have experienced both extremes this year. There are times when it all felt too much but what other option do you have but to keep going. Use whatever motivation you need at that current time – often I have used spite – ‘I’ll show these fuckers what I’m worth…’ whatever you need to use, as I have said previously, feelings aren’t wrong especially if the reaction is going to be constructive.
My last Grandparent died
From this whole experience I remember a quote that rung true – ‘since when did death stop becoming a natural process and turn into a medical failure?’. There is a lack of humanity in keeping someone alive for the sake of keeping them alive. And that is all I will say on that matter.
Blood is not thicker than water
That is also all I will say on that matter.
Life will give you deloads
Once again I had a plan for my life and that got turned on its head. It is probably much like a diet – staying on track = working towards a goal but you need time for a ‘cheat meal too’ or at least just to float at sea for a period of time. Listen closely, maybe the universe is saying something or suggesting an alternative route.
I really am a terrible singer.
In fact, one member who shall remain name(Susan)less, took great pleasure in telling me I was the worst singer she ever heard.
He wasn’t much better…
They still give me more abuse than Neal, Jason or Arnoldas ever could.
Living in Dublin
Another year not being able to afford my own home. This is hugely frustrating but I am more successful than last year in terms of running a business and all I can do is keep that trend going – again, knowing where you want to go is key with any goal. Sometimes it can be difficult to picture getting there (whether it be owning a house or even losing weight) but a combination of hard work and faith – especially in those early days has to help.
Some of the lads in here are getting ridiculously strong
And it is contagious. There are impressive feats of fitness happening all the time – girls breaking skierg records, guys lifting ridiculous weights… the standard in the gym is rising and I don’t think some folks realise just how impressive they are .
Life happens when you are making plans.
A shock / fright can bring out the strangest reactions. I got rear-ended just before Christmas, I thought such a scenario and the way it happened would have provoked me into choking someone unconscious but maybe I was numb from the universal kicking I was going through. When I got out of my car to inspect the damage, all I could say was ‘fuck it, it doesn’t matter’, and got back in my car and drove off.
A part of me felt it was just the right thing to do – it was close to Christmas. When I was getting back into the car I noticed was he was a blood delivery car for the HSE, maybe he was in a rush to get somewhere. I remember my Dad being involved in similar situations and doing the same thing, that is one of his admirable qualities – generosity. I just don’t like the idea of claiming if I am not hurt, it is needless and corrupts and already corrupt system. Generosity is a quality that I would like to think was passed down to me. Having said that, my Dad once attempted to run a guy over who tried to break into his car – maybe I got more of that gene, but a little bit of A and a little bit of B keeps things interesting.
Doing the right thing is one thing…
But doing nothing can sometimes be worse than doing the wrong thing. This is just something that has arisen in a few different situations that I have been in or observed over the year and worth thinking about. Conviction is a perishing trait.
This year ended in all sorts of disarray for me and I took a kicking on a few fronts. I know that it won’t last. It is easy to get caught up in it and start to descend into a downward spiral. I am curious to over all of this and see if there is some innate decision making or thought process that gets myself into various dilemmas. One cross that I do bear is that I hold myself accountable for almost everything that happens to me. I learned about transactional analysis this year and the idea of each of us writing our own scripts and how these subconsciously underline our lives – almost self-fulfilling prophecies and I am fascinated and still trying to get my head around the fact that we can dictate the course of our own lives by bringing this ‘default’ script to the forefront and amending it. I am curious to look into this more but as I said above, I have a feeling that the universe has plans for us that we just have to accept.
From a gym point of view, we have never finished the year stronger. We kept to our promise of making things better and more successful and we will strive to repeat that pattern in 2019!
I feel like everything can all be summed up by the famous Samuel Beckett quote, essentially TL;DR…
Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.