The Thin Line Between Pride And Injury

As a PSA from a former Waiter and a present day Fitness Coach, I have two requests from the restaurant and fitness industry respectively. If you are allergic to anything, tell your server before you order. Don’t make an assumption about the recipe of the dish. If you’re allergic to kiwi, tell the server. “Oh, but, I just ordered a steak a la carte, that should be fine. I don’t have to tell them about my allergy.” You’re right, you don’t. But, that means that if the chef chooses to garnish your steak with a kiwi slice you should learn a lesson from that. Don’t make assumptions. If you have any unique physical challenges, tell your group exercise coach. You don’t have to tell the entire room, just pull him/her to the side and give the reader’s digest version about your condition. “Oh, but, we shouldn’t be doing any running in this class. I don’t need to tell them about my ankle injury.” Unless you know the exact workout that’s been planned for that class, don’t assume. I try to ask the question before every group exercise class. I ask everyone in the room to speak up if they have any injuries, pregnancies, hangovers, tourette’s, irritable bowels, assholism, $6 million dollar bionic limbs, or hangnails. When no one responds, I remind myself that not everyone wants to divulge what’s going on with their bodies with a stranger (me). So, I follow up with a spiel that seems to work. “I’ve created this workout hoping that everyone in the room will be able-bodied and capable of doing each of these exercises with minimal modifications. If I look over and see you not attempting the exercise, I’ll be left to assume* that you’re not trying. Then I’ll come over to you and kick you in the ribs as I bust your chops on the microphone in an attempt to get you up and moving. Now, to avoid all of that, just tell me about any physical challenges you may be experiencing. That way, I can modify exercises based on your individual needs.” (*-Quick side note: In the confines of 30 seconds, while coaching 30 people, I often have to break my no assumptions rule to make a fast decision.) When I say that spiel, people (thankfully) laugh and understand that I’m exaggerating to drive home the importance of telling me how I can help them. (More on that later.) I also get a few hands to fly up when I finish my spiel. It’s like pulling teeth, but they finally tell me about what they’re body is going through. Why is it so hard to get people to tell me about their bodies when I’m about to guide their workout? One word. Pride. Marsellus Wallace said it best, “…you may feel a slight sting. That’s pride fucking with you. Fuck pride. Pride only hurts, it never helps.”

T1

I keep saying it because I keep seeing it. There’s a thin line between pride and injury. It’s a scientific pontification that *insert made up number here to make it sound official and shit* percent of all injuries happen because of pride. Don’t believe me? Think about how many overuse injuries occurred after the athlete was warned to take a break. Think about how many non-athletes fell and hurt themselves because they didn’t do something as simple as ask for help. “I can get it mysel… OH SHIT!” Think about how many times something wasn’t quite right with your body and you chose to ignore it instead of getting it checked out. (If you’re in a shitty/no health care situation, you obviously get a pass on this one.)

T2

“Jet, my leg has been bothering me for three weeks, what do you think is causing it?” As a fitness coach, I get requests to diagnose all of the time. I’ve spent enough time in business law classes and I’ve read the fine print on my liability insurance so I know not to diagnose anyone. However, despite their asking, people rarely want to follow the advice I give. I’m not always right. I’ll be the first to admit when I’m wrong. But, when people ask me a question after already deciding to be set on an answer, it just wastes everyone’s time. A friend described three of the primary symptoms for plantar fasciitis. She asked what I thought was the issue. I told her that it sounded like PF and that she should get it checked out to make certain. She responded, “but, I don’t feel like that’s it”. I’m glad that you have feelings. Feelings are another word for pride. Fuck pride. Knowing is better than feeling and denial ain’t just a river.

T3

One of my favorite responses to one of my suggestions is, “I should be fine”. A pregnant woman came to my plyometrics class. I encourage exercise during pregnancy. I don’t encourage jumping during pregnancy. She told me about her bundle. I told her to regress all of the jumping exercises and avoid leaving the ground. “I should be fine”, she said. Okay. Someone came to a different plyometrics class and had sprained his ankle one week prior. I told him, in no uncertain terms, “you should not be in here. You should leave.” There are no modifies in a HIIT Plyometrics class for a sprained ankle. “I should be fine”, he said. I laughed. Why wouldn’t he just sit out the workout? One word. Pride. Fuck pride.

T4

Someone told me after a class that he had stitches in his foot. I encouraged him to tell that to any coach at the onset of class so that we could modify his exercises. He responded, “well, it didn’t hurt”. I told him that even if it didn’t hurt, he could still be hindering the body’s ability to heal properly. There’s a thin line between pride and injury. I understand when pro athletes play through an injury for millions of dollars. If you’re just working out for long-term health benefits, it becomes an antithetical effort when you choose to play through your body’s loud and clear message to STOP. I walk up to people all the time, during a class, when I see them getting light-headed. I remind them that there’s nothing to prove here. “Sit down, no one will judge you. If they do judge, they can fuck off.”

T5

Remember that help is a two-way street. As a fitness coach, we attend all sorts of trainings on how to modify for special populations and injuries. If we’re not told about those injuries, how can we use what we’ve learned to help. If you want to have a positive experience in a group fitness class, read this post on the matter, most importantly arrive early and talk to the coach. We can modify the workout for you. But, if you don’t say anything and quietly struggle in the corner (leaving us to figure out what’s wrong while simultaneously coaching 20+ other people) it won’t be a pleasurable experience for you. You could exacerbate your condition and/or place the facility’s liability at risk (in the event that you get injured in a class). Just speak up and help others to help you. If something doesn’t feel right, attend to it. Remember that a fitness program requires just as much self-care (massages, rest time, nutrition, etc.) as challenges. Remember, humility keeps you safe, pride over extends. Don’t get hurt because your pride wrote a workout plan your body couldn’t complete. Fuck pride. Embrace humility.

T6

Wikipedia Says I’m A Sex Worker

The term sex worker once confused my literal mind. I understood it to mean someone that was paid for sexual encounters (be they virtual via phone/internet or actual). When I heard a stripper refer to herself as a sex worker, I was confused. Sex isn’t in the job description of a stripper (not even in the private room)! How can someone be a sex worker if they don’t get paid for sex acts!? I checked the modern-day replacement for the World Book Encyclopedia, Wikipedia. And according to their definition…

“A sex worker is a person who works in the sex industry. The term is used in reference to all those in all areas of the sex industry including those who provide direct sexual services as well as the staff of such industries. Some sex workers are paid to engage in sexually explicit behavior which involve varying degrees of physical contact with clients (prostitutes, escorts, some but not all professional dominants); pornography models and actors engage in sexually explicit behavior which are filmed or photographed. Phone sex operators have sexually-oriented conversations with clients, and do auditive sexual roleplay. Other sex workers are paid to engage in live sexual performance, such as web cam sex and performers in live sex shows. Some sex workers perform erotic dances and other acts for an audience (striptease, Go-Go dancing, lap dancing, Neo-burlesque, and peep shows). Sexual surrogates often engage in sexual activity as part of therapy with their clients.”

Let’s assume, for the sake of this post, that Wikipedia is the absolute undisputed truth. That would mean that the phrase, “as well as the staff of such industries” makes the bartenders at strip clubs sex workers. The doorman at the Gold Club is a sex worker. The promoter that gets paid by the Pink Pony is a sex worker. I wonder how support for sex workers would change if these peripheral employees (that never remove clothing or see clothing removed) knew that they too were societal pariah? If you think that referring to sex workers as pariah is a bit extreme, perform a quick survey. Go ask a few conservative friends what they think of sex worker’s rights. Ask a few conservative parents how they’d feel if their daughter were to become a sex worker. (When you ask, you can leave out the part about their daughter working as a DJ in Club Platinum and focusing her energy on the 1s and 2s instead of laps and tips.) Sex worker’s rights are important to me as they should be to us all. “But Jet, why should I care? I’m not a sex worker? None of my friends are sex workers? How does it affect me?” If the rights of any human are allowed to be compromised due to their choice of employment we will poison the foundation of our society. We are all connected in some way or another. Human rights will never be “someone else’s problem” as long as you consider yourself to be human.

Human Rights

I want to be clear. When I mention the rights of sex workers, I’m not talking about rescue. With the exception of those that are victims of human trafficking, sex workers are not waiting to be saved by society.

T2

Recently, I listened to a panel of sex workers and due to an agreement that I signed, I’m not at liberty to share what was discussed in that room. But, I will pass on one piece of advice from one of the sex workers. Challenge the statistics that people claim. When someone tries to convince you that the presence of sex workers (read: opening a Good Vibrations retail store near your home) will generate crime and lascivious behavior, challenge their numbers. That’s advice that I would give to anyone about anything. 76.5% of all statistics are made up on the spot (or in this case as I sip coffee and type). Do your own research. Look at public records of crime statistics before a strip club opened and look again after it opened. Be smarter than the agenda of those that attempt to convince you. Don’t be a lemming. Here are some resources for you to check out. Just click the pictures to visit the sites.

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Referring back to the Wiki-definition of sex worker, another phrase jumped out at me. “Some sex workers perform erotic dances and other acts for an audience (striptease, Go-Go dancing, lap dancing, Neo-burlesque, and peep shows).” Holy shit! I’m a sex worker! Take THAT high school guidance counselor (and all the people that voted me “most likely to be a lawyer”) #TrueStory ! I’m a Neo-burlesque performer and I most certainly perform erotic routines for audiences. Huh! Who knew!? I once asked a primary partner (in a polyamorous relationship) how she’d feel if I were to act in porn (with condoms). She expressed that that would be crossing a line for her.  I wonder if she ever thought of me as a sex worker. I wonder if she ever told her dad that I was a sex worker? I wonder if my clients that read this blog will treat me differently now that I’m a sex worker in Wiki-world? Who knows. Here’s a picture of me sex working in Seattle.

Courtesy of: Meneldor Photography (Rick Priest) https://www.facebook.com/MeneldorPhotography

Courtesy of: Meneldor Photography (Rick Priest) https://www.facebook.com/MeneldorPhotography

So the joke goes… What’s the difference between burlesque and stripping? About $900 a night. I recently heard someone in the burlesque community attempt to answer the question, “What is burlesque?” (Why are people still asking that question? Burlesque has been on stages for well over a century!) Her answer pissed me off. She said, “it’s classy stripping.” The reason I have a problem with that response is that it makes this attempt to separate burlesque performers from strippers. That response suggests that we are some how above them and should not be in the same category. I don’t consider myself a stripper because, well… $900 a night. But, some of my best friends are strippers. I don’t feel the need to distinguish what I do from what they do with class distinctions. Real talk, I’m taking my clothes off (read: stripping) on a stage. I may take a bit more time with my routine in order to tease the audience, but a striptease is still a strip. So, I’m a sex worker. Will you still respect me in the morning? Will you still introduce me to your parents (knowing that I’ll answer honestly when they ask what I do for a living)? Will you stand up for my rights, despite your conservative upbringing? I hope so. Let’s live a life free from judgment. Let’s live together and choose to accept each other’s differences.

T1

Courtesy of Leah Marie @ Share House Photography

Courtesy of Leah Marie @ Share House Photography

A Guide To Walking, Part 2

This post is dedicated to the people at whom I shout on my runs. Specifically, the lady that I almost ran over during my last two block sprint. When I visited Ireland, there was no shortage of signs at the airport reminding us to drive on the left side of the road. If you’ve ever driven here in the US, you know that we drive on the right side of the road. What do you think that means for walking on the sidewalk?

A.) Walk on the left side of the sidewalk
B.) Walk mostly in the middle of the sidewalk in a zig-zagging pattern as you take in the sights
C.) Walk 2, 3, or 4 abreast with your friends so that no one shall pass
D.) Walk on the same side of the sidewalk that you’d drive

If you chose “D”, you win the grand prize! You are not a donkey monkey (read: jackass poop slinger)! Hooray!

Whenever I go for a run on a path (say around a lake or a neighborhood) I perpetually ask myself, is it just me? Am I the only one that tries to stay to the right? Is everyone else oblivious? Well, I asked the Google machine and it turns out that one other blogger is pretty annoyed about poor pedestrian etiquette as well. You can read that blog here and I couldn’t agree with it more.

I’m writing this post because I have four simple requests for those of you that will ever walk on the sidewalk (read: ALL of you).

1.) Slower traffic keep to the right. You’ve seen the sign on the US highways. The same should apply on sidewalks. “Says who, what makes you the expert, Jet!?” I’m just talking about etiquette, Baby! While it’s not illegal to pass on the right while driving, it’s considered good driving etiquette to pass on the left (for visibility reasons). Some sidewalks and paths are narrower than others. Stay to your right. If you are on the right side of the walk and the donkey coming towards you is in your lane, just stop. Become the rock and let them be the river. I made an exception to this rule as I was sprinting on Sunday. The donkey walking towards me held eye contact for about 20 yards as I was sprinting towards her. I was in the right lane of the sidewalk. She was to her left walking towards me with the rest of the sidewalk open to her. I didn’t say anything because no one’s that stupid, right? She was looking right at me and saw me get closer for 20, 15, 10 yards and just kept walking in the wrong lane. At the last minute, she moved in a hurried panic. I made no apologies for her slow processor. Stay to your right. A note to runners: Call out when you approach from behind. I use three simple phrases that are easy to say in between breaths. “Pardon me.” “On your left.” “Leash your dog.” Walkers, listen for these verbal cues (or the sound of fast footsteps). Tell me again, the benefit of noise canceling headphones as a pedestrian? That brings me to my next point.

2.) Be observant/aware of your surroundings. Congratu-fucking-lations, you paid $300 for some headphones that prevent you from hearing car brakes screeching, runners calling out, thieves creeping up behind you to snatch your smartphone, and other potential threats. Refer back to option B above. People tend to walk in a (sober) zig-zagging pattern due to distractions. Stop staring at your goddamned phone! Keep your eyes up and on the walk ahead.

3.) Keep your entourage tight, this is not the yellow brick road. When four people are walking towards me as I run, I think “where do they expect me to go if they’re taking up the entire sidewalk.” Be prepared to go single file at a moment’s notice. This isn’t YOUR sidewalk. What’s that? One of you needs to stop and tie their shoe and now you must all stop and chat on the pathway? No, you don’t. Keep moving or see #1. Step off to the side and chat for days if you want. Don’t block up the entire path.

4.) Keep your dog on a leash, on a short leash, on a short leash at your side, on a short leash at your RIGHT side. I DGAF which side the grass is on. You walk the dog, don’t let the dog walk you. “But, Sprinkles doesn’t like being on a leash.” It’s your dog, not your human child. YOU should run the show. One of the most dangerous obstacles I encounter as a runner is one of those retractable leashes that’s been reeled out to 15 feet long as the pup roams all over the sidewalk. I have to look for something that’s fishing line thin and hurdle it to prevent a tripping hazard. Don’t let your dog walk on the left as you walk on the right.

T2

Still not sure how to walk amongst the general public, see my last blog on the subject. Just click here.

Hedonistic Workout

I heard someone say, “I hate working out!” and it broke my heart. I don’t care if people hate working out, it doesn’t affect me. But, I heard the statement as this person was checking in at the front desk of a fitness club. Yes, she was paying a handsome ransom to belong to a fitness club and she hated working out. My immediate thought was, “why are you here?” I didn’t ask because it was her journey and it was none of my business. But, that lead me to a new question. Why don’t people just workout like a hedonist and do nothing more than the exercises that derive pleasure?

According to the Google machine…
he·don·ism (noun): the pursuit of pleasure; sensual self-indulgence. The ethical theory that pleasure (in the sense of the satisfaction of desires) is the highest good and proper aim of human life.

Hedonism Bot

Sit down and write out a workout routine wherein each exercise has three key components. First, the exercise elevates your heart rate. (Note: An elevated heart rate does not mean cardio. You can elevate your HR by standing and sitting repeatedly.) Second, you must not be able to perform the exercise while staring at a screen. Put down your goddamned phone. Third, the exercise must be one that you enjoy. Sounds like the perfect workout, right? There’s one thing missing. You can read on or you can try out your hedonistic workout for six weeks and come back to this blog to read more later (don’t worry, the post will still be here).

Wait for it...

Did you guess the missing ingredient to your workout and the potential positive outcome? The missing ingredient is a challenge! You know, the actual work in working out. Pardon me if this sounds cliché, but strength gains begin at the end of your comfort zone. I remember when a trainer friend of mine, we’ll call her Mia, was standing nearby as a third party asked what I was doing for my workout. Before I could answer, Mia interjected, “he’s just maintaining!” I was butt hurt because I respected Mia’s workout and her comment showed that she didn’t have much respect for my workout. Mia was an amateur body builder and her workouts had a very specific goal in mind. We talked about why she thought I was just “maintaining” and she pointed out how I rarely challenged myself (aside from gradual weight increases). I responded with all sorts of excuses, but the truth is that I was working out like a Hedonist. Real talk, there is something to be said for doing what you love in your workout, it will keep your body moving longer than just doing what your told. So, refer back to that previous workout that you created and let’s make some tweaks.

Get moving right Meow!

“If you hate it, you need it.” That’s what some coaches say about all of the exercises you hate. While I mostly agree with that statement, I don’t think that hatred for an exercise can be overcome with such imposed logic. I say, “If you hate it, figure out why first. Then decide if your body needs it to help prepare* you.” (*-More on that later.) Do you hate Burpees? Ask yourself why, before you let someone talk you into needing them as a part of your workout routine. Do you hate running? Ask yourself why. Not all bodies move the same. I spend my days watching bodies move and let me tell you, Burpees ain’t for every body. Running ain’t for every body. Every body is different. I once asked a former cheerleader why she hated running so much. As it turned out, her coach used to make them run laps as punishment for missing steps/cues. So, if they were out of step and messed up the choreography of the cheer, the best way to help them perform better is to fatigue their legs and create a negative association with running, right? No, it’s not. (Note to any coaches reading this, I encourage discipline for being late-wall sits, static push-ups, etc.- but if your athlete shows signs of poor performance on a specific skill, running laps won’t help them perform better without potentially creating a negative association with running. Congratu-fucking-lations, your Pop Warner team won the most games. If those kids won fueled on the fear of lap running, there’s a good chance they’ll grow up to hate running even if they’re still winning games in high school and college. Run through skills drills for the specific skill they’re lacking, don’t use an antiquated method of coaching just because it generates wins.) Athletes, look inside and deconstruct your specific reasons for disliking an exercise. Remember that, “I just don’t”, isn’t a fucking reason. If your reason is bullshit, “it makes me tired”, then you do need that exercise. But, Jet, why do I need it? Because your workout should prepare* (there’s that word again) you for whatever life is going to throw your way.

People often ask me, “what is your fitness philosophy?” Simple. Be ready for anything. Before you tense up for fear that I’m going to start typing about the zombie apocalypse and how you have to be ready to survive a full season on the Walking Dead, relax. I’m typing about real basic shit here. I meet a lot of people that don’t own cars. When you have to carry heavy groceries to your apartment up a steep hill, your workout should prepare you for that. Another thing about not having a car is that there will come a time when you’ll have to run for the bus. It’s always funny to me when I see a Meathead in the gym that lifts and lifts and lifts and avoids cardio based on some gym floor folklore that cardio “breaks down” muscle. (This post isn’t about that, but I’ll just say it’s not as simple as that. Do your own research if you think that adding cardiovascular endurance subtracts muscle.) I’ll see those same Meatheads trying to run for the bus and getting winded. Wait, let me get this straight, you’re in the gym for more than 5 hours a week and you get tired after running a few fucking blocks… TWO goddamned blocks!? Sorry, your workout sucks.

This post wasn’t written to tell you how to workout. But, I did want to share my fitness philosophy and my suggestion on how to create a workout that will help you get stronger. For any comic geeks reading this, you may have heard of the Danger Room. It’s a training facility for the X-Men. When you have super powers, lifting weights is kind of rudimentary and often pointless. So, imagine a room that can generate any scenario you can imagine. You then fight your way out of it. Reading that as a kid, that training methodology made sense to me and it still does today. This is real life, we don’t have access to the Danger Room. But, you can challenge yourself with obstacles. Get your body over things, get your body under things, move your body in ways that will keep you alive in the case of an emergency. (Again, I’m not talking about zombie fiction. But, improving your agility will help your reflexes should a car ever head towards the sidewalk with you on it. Are you agile enough to get your body out of the way? Are you paying enough attention to your surroundings to warn fellow pedestrians? Put down your goddamned phone and look alert when you walk around.) Strengthen your body for the grocery run. Build up your endurance for the bus run. Design your workout by answering four questions (with specific/non-fluff answers).

1.) What do I love to do that increases my HR? While making sweet love is a great (and highly recommended) answer, you may not always have access to that workout since it involves two or more partners to assist. (Hey, we are talking about a Hedonistic Workout here!)

2.) What challenges me enough to highlight the need to make it part of my training? If you hate it, figure out why first. Then decide if your body needs it.

3.) For what will these exercises prepare me? Congratu-fucking-lations, you completed 200 pull-ups in an hour! That’s prepared you for what, exactly? Oh, you can’t give a high five due to fatigue? Good job. You ran so hard that you can’t walk the next day? Sweet! Don’t be a dumb ass! “No pain, no gain” is a stupid fucking saying! Challenge your muscles, don’t injure your body. There’s a thin line between pride and injury. I understand leaving it all out on the field. I don’t understand leaving it all out on the practice field. Make sure that your practices and workouts prepare you for the game of life without breaking you.

4.) Are the weights that I’ll be using lighter than my “carrying around weight” (CAW)? [Click this link for a blog about the dangers of lifting too little.] At the end of your day, walk to your scale with all of your clothes, shoes, bags, laptop, iThings, coffee mug, etc. Get the weight and then strip naked. Get the new weight and note the difference as your CAW. The next time you’re in the gym and you want to reach for three pound dumbbells remember that, with the exception of some therapeutic exercises, any weight that’s less than your CAW will not make you stronger. Further, anyone suggesting that a woman becoming “muscle-y” is a bad thing is perpetuating the women are fragile myth. Those people are suggesting that “no man will want” a muscle-bound woman. Don’t listen to those people, throw out those magazines. Whenever I challenge a female to use heavier (than 3 pound) weights, I often hear, “but, I’m not strong…” as a response. Well, how the fuck do you expect to get stronger working out with weights that weigh less than your CAW?

Write your new workout, ask your coach to review it for suggestions/tweaks. Do what you love. Do what challenges you. Be prepared. Life will never ask you to carry three pound dumbbells down a hill.