As you may or may not know, depending on how long we’ve
been hanging out on this list, I’m a BIG fan of World War 2
veterans and their stories.
Toward the end of last year, I read a great book about an
Olympic runner, Louis Zamperini, who ran the fastest ever
1/4 mile at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.
The book, “Unbroken,” was made into a movie, which I
also saw, chronicles Louis’ early life, how he became a
world class runner, and more importantly, how he survived
42 days adrift in a raft in the Pacific Ocean and then another
3 years in a Japanese POW camp.
To say this book made me introspective would be an
I’ve faced some pretty tough things in my life, but nothing
like what Louis faced.
One of the things, like Louis, that has helped me out, is
hard physical training.
I started seriously at age 16 and have never looked back,
be it running, wrestling, Olympic lifting, or kettlebell training.
There’s something about pushing your body that makes
you mentally stronger -
Able to face life’s challenges – whether financial catastrophe
– like a job loss, fighting off the spectre of divorce and fighting
for the one you love, or worst case scenario, a plane crash
in the Pacific and later captured by your enemies.
That’s one of the reasons I like kettlebells so much.
Because no matter what your age, and no matter what your
physical condition, they’re accessible to everyone.
You start with a single KB and learn the basics -
+ How to fold, hinge and Swing the KB bulletproofing your
lower back …
+ How to pack your shoulder and move your body around
a semi-stationary object – a fixed KB outstretched over
your head with the Get Up…
+ How to pry open rusty hips and squat again with the
+ How to deliver the KB to your shoulder with the Clean so
you can later put it over your head with the Press…
+ How you can really pressurize your abs and use many
of the muscles of your upper body with the Press…
+ And how you can put all the basic skills together into one
powerful exercise to make you stronger, harder, and leaner –
And then you move on to the harder “hardening” exercises –
The ones that require more concentration…
… More tension in the right places…
… That demand and deliver more body mastery –
The Double Kettlebell Lifts.
These are the ones that make you feel like you’re wrestling
with the weights – especially when the KBs are heavy
enough and you’re on rep number 10 of your Clean + Jerks –
Heart pound, pound, pounding away and sweat pouring
down your body…
I doubt you’ll ever find yourself adrift in a raft in the South
Pacific after a plane crash or at the end of a bamboo rod
in POW camp, but you, like me, may find yourself one day
in emotional turmoil – long, persistent, emotional turmoil.
I’m convinced that years of straining against heavy loads
taught me the lesson of persistence – of never giving up –
It hardened my mind and my will – my spirit.
Spend a significant season wrestling with a pair and you
may find, as I did, and as Louie did, that hard physical
training will help you remain emotionally “unbroken.”