Sunday, August 17, 2008


I've always been a serious guy. More than one person in my life has said they can't imagine me as a kid because I'm so serious and have been for so long. I guess it's true but it's just the way I am. If I'm going to do something I want to do it right, and if I want to accomplish something I always look at what the best are doing and try to imitate them.

In fact, one of the breakthroughs as I had as a gymnast was when I realized that there was no difference, performance wise, from trying to "learn" a trick and "copying" how the other person did it. I'm not sure that was ( is) the best path to Mastery, but at that point I cared more about repeatable performance than any Zen concept of Mastery.

I picked skills up much faster trying to just 'copy' what they were doing, kinesthetically, than "trying" to coordinate all the different sequences just so.

I had to know, definitively, what those positions were, and what the sequence was, so I could analyze it in my head, but when it was time to try the move I just had to "go".

I needed to "feel" it more than anything.

Once it got locked in the body, rather than the mind, I had a much better chance of being able to repeat it on demand.

So I've alwasy taken a pretty serious approach to any physical, on mental for that matter, endeavor and Bikrams is no exception. If I'm going to do something I want to be as progressive as possible to be the best I can.It's just 37 years of programming and I don't think it's going to change now.
Of course it changed when I was so injured I couldnt move but not really. Because I took as serious approach to my rehab and restoration as I did athletic competition.

I just thought of this this am as I 'warmed up' for class by doing z drills and stretching.Everyone else is just lying there waiting and I know if I dont do my ankle and hip circles my overhead work and my balancing single leg work won't be strong. So I gotta do it.

Two times per week seems to be good now as I had another very strong class with the exception of my first standing bow.I have to take some time and actually practive this asana outside the class and work on it.It's just so easy for me to miss my very very small balancing point I have on my left leg and fallout. Which pisses me off to no extent cause I KNOW I can do one minute continuously.

I also have to struggle with either looking in the mirror, as they prescribe, or being internal which I prefer.If I use the mirror it seems I have virtually NO margin for error when I start to lose balance. If I'm internal I have much better reaction time. More reflexive and less reactive to the "image" of myself losing balance. So much to work on :))

I also was taken by the simplicity of the class and the structure and how much that resonates with me and how it has throuhgout my training life.All throughout my training I have striven to make my training as simple as possible and plumb the depths of it as much as possible.It wasn't really a choice, it was what I was driven to do, and still am.There is that calm still place when It happens that brings me back again and again to it's peace and it's strength. The calm in the eye of the storm of life. That "zone" in the middle of the chaos.I loved to be there. Lived to be there.Still do.

But things need to be as simple as possible but no simpler( I think Einstein said that) so there is always that tight rope to walk with training and Bikrams is no exeption. In fact it freakin PUTS you on the tightrope.Great fun.
When I ran I just ran. When I did bodybuilding I picked the most intense moves and killed them( or I should say myself) rather than a smattering of low intensity movements here and there. Same with powerlifting. What's left in the tank after you get everything you can out of heavy squat or deadlift work?Simple, but not easy.Deep is always hard(er) but its the only way. At least that I know or can swear by.
It's the same with Z. I LOVE the freakin simplicity of doing circles with every joint in all the most basic ways they can make a circle and using that as the assessment tool. As much as I enjoyed all the crazy state of the art information that CK FMS gave to me the absolute simplicity and accessiblity of Z to everybody , immediately as a way to get better so appeals to the Zen monk in me.
And last but certainly not least; Enter the Kettlebell, the ultimate minimalists training tool.And the RKC School of Strength -simple as can be, but no simpler.Brilliant.
Simple.Doable.All one has to do is do.
And go figure, that's the hard part.

Tracy said the class today was as hot as always but for some reason it didnt seem as hot as normal.that's good and having made it through a full week of my normal training and work schedule makes me realize even more how vital routine, regularity and calm stability are essential ingredients if one is to make training progress. I don't know how anybody does it anyway. I'm not sure they do.
I also Really focused on breathing continuously through all my toughest poses and I know this made a big difference.When you hit a move that requires a lot of strength the natural( and correct) response is to hold the breath to increase tension, which increases strength( remember tension= tone= strength) I have to give up some of the strength so I don't gass out in that series and the remainder of the class.
Course it couldnt just been a good day:)) I'll take that too.
Swings tomorrow and I will be ready.


mc said...

Rif, zen monkster,
i gotta ask you, when you ran you ran and when you body builded you intensed out.
Are you saying that's the kind of simplicity you enjoyed? If so, how do you reckon that approach did or didn't contribute to how you talk about your body and it's various bust ups with which you cope today? Would you ever tell anyone to "just swing" whom you hadn't trained in that fine art? Or likewise after the weekend especially "go do a TGU" without that specificity, attention to each detail?

You and i we always meet at this pathway between complexity/simplicity. I love Z drills too, but i am learning that my specificity with them has sucked. There is so much more detail about particular position. I have to concentrate on it so much - it is attentionful right now; not simple.

A colleague of mine, Bill Buxton, teaches kids how to ride horses. He says that when they can go through the moves precisely, while counting backwards, he knows they've really got it. I'm not near a place where i can count backwards either with Z, or get much past 8 down from 10 with the swing. you know?

i know you know. and you know i know what you mean, too right? it's nice just to kick this ball around with you.


Mark Reifkind said...


as always great questions.I think the base has to be a very simple movement or activity over which of course there always has to be work done for the periphery; i.e active and passive recovery modes,pre and rehab work.
but the base of the whole thing,especially for people not competing should be a simple system.
If I could use the rest of the drills I would but I am limited to what I can do and it works great.
remember mc, my injuries were castrophic ones: contact injuries if you will, not overuse repetition stress injuries.
dislocations and such.
and yes, I would tell someone to just swing whom I havent trained; in fact I do it all the time,as I think the swing has the most bang for the buck of any of the kb movements.
HOW to swing is another story but the swing is basically safe enough that if one applies themself they can get a LOT of fitness for very little time in.
As I said in the post, simple but not easy as well as that depth of mastery is the goal. that implies, at least to me, the analysis of the nuances of all aspects of all the moves one chooses to do.
I'm not sure what you mean about your specificity with z drills. I approach them almost as a tai chi like meditation trying to get as much pure perfect movement through each joint as possible and sync the various joints I am using together.
and yes the attention is vital. key even. thats the real secret.
and yes I know you know that you know,lol. and yes batting this ball around with you is fun.
but its hard enough to get it across face to face and, I find, impossible for me to do with words.
thats the zen of it eh? beyond words.

Mark Reifkind said...

oh and yes, thats the type of simplicity I enjoyed. anything that required so much concentration I HAD to be out of time. In the flow. dat be it.

waterboy1 said...

Great reading and tossing it around gentlemen..

Rif, your workouts got me chomping at the bit for tomorrow.. Thank you for the motivation to the 'bell..

Mark Reifkind said...


mc is a woman. and glad my workouts can motivate.have a great workout.


waterboy1 said...

Oops, sorry MC (didn't look at your profile)..

Geoff Neupert said...


Your comments on Z is why you should take R-Phase--Simplicity. The actual assessment is even simpler than drawing circles with each joint...

Glad your workouts are going well.


Mark Reifkind said...


I know brother. I will get there.I'm just a slow guy :))

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