Bodytribe Newsletter, January 11th

 In Uncategorized

Hey, I’m in the Sacramento News and Review this week (among a few other local publications, but this is the only one with a weblink).



Certain things bare repeating.

Certain things bare repeating. I received an email from an old friend who is slipping into the scary world of film making. Thankfully he can probably keep his dignity due to using the door marked ‘soundtracks.’ He’s a song writer, and has started to score bigger pictures, most often of the ‘horror’ variety, and understands, as I quote Ronald Dworkin from the The Rise of the Imperial Self in my book, that folks command a little more attention when their appearance seems to demand it. So it seemed prudent to apply a summary of much of my preaching in my response to him. This proved to be a good little reminder for myself, so here it is…
The biggest ‘secret’ I’ve learned has come from the wisdom of those about a century ago, during what was known as the physical culture movement. The ‘strongmen’ of the time realized something that is all but forgotten in commercial ‘fitness.’ The empowerment of the self through achievement creates a more permanent and appealing attraction. ‘Ripped abs’ mean nothing compared to someone who knows what he has DONE. This is the appeal of the strength world to me. Coming away from the workout (or, what I call ‘play time’) leaves me with a sense of accomplishment on a level that transcends aesthetics. In other words, knowing what I did and can do, the accomplishments I made over very real physical obstacles, gives me a sense of confidence that, I believe, creates a greater sense of, dare I say, attractiveness than just what my flesh packet portrays to the world (this pale, scruffy mug ain’t fit for super model status anytime soon, so I need something to fall back on).



Today’s fitness is based on looking ‘strong’ or ‘in shape’ without caring if anyone really IS. But what a physical culturalist always knows is that looking the part will follow when you ARE the part. Embracing movement, in whatever form (could be anything from yoga to powerlifting), as a passion and tool of personal accomplishment has an AUTOMATIC byproduct: being more ‘attractive.’ Even if the body doesn’t transform into an underwear model or a cast member of Lost, the body will carry itself how the spirit feels. I’ve known strength athletes who are nowhere near any modern aesthetic ideal walk into a room and OWN it, simply because they KNOW what they do. They conquer.

Strength, in it’s many forms, is attractive, commanding. Sure, this working out silliness might burn fat, build muscle, enhance posture, blah, blah, blah, but ultimately a STRONG person commands attention. Not even an underwear model will appeal to anyone for any length of time if he or she is shallow and weak
Where to start? Define what it is you want to do. The first thing I have anyone in my gym or workshops do is define two words. It doesn’t matter if it is a roomful of trainers or a brand new client, they all stare at me blankly when I present this request, because no one makes these two words their own. Strength and Fitness. What does it mean to be strong? Fit? I’ve sent years defining these terms for myself, so I present it as lifelong homework for everyone. We can’t achieve, teach or learn what isn’t defined, so that is always task numeral uno.

Yesterday’s blog dabbled a little in the art of goal setting, toying with the premise that answering ‘why’ will give us the definitions of ‘what.’ Then building goals off of these definitions becomes a bit easier.


Art Show tomorrow.

Strength Camp in February.

Buy my Book.

Hey, I’m in the News and Review (in case you didn’t see this yet).


Thanks for reading,


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Showing 4 comments
  • Zac

    You gotta stop talking about the “two questions” in this blog. Now you won’t catch me off-guard at strength camp. I’ll have had three weeks to mull-over my answers. Throw me a curve-ball when I get there…

  • chip

    Curve balls left and right. Worry not.
    “What… is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?”

  • ultrafknbd

    Recognized your mug on the cover and thumbed immediately to the page. Inspired – as usual. What were the other rags yous in?

  • Gubernatrix

    Word, young Chip.

    “From the inside out” is a good mode to apply – to everything.

    Just had a conversation with my work colleague about medicine: we are both frustrated with the ‘western’ approach of treating only the external symptom: refusing to look at underlying causes and ‘fixing’ it by applying something externally – a pill, a cream – to the external manifestation of the problem rather than looking at what is going on internally – diet, stress and so on.

    The same applies to fitness and looks. The current trend for makeover programmes that take women with very low self esteem and cut them up to look like freaks is an extreme example of this outside-in approach.

    You’re describing an inside-out approach where if you take care of what is on the inside (diet, training, learning, thinking), the outside will take care of itself. And you are so right that it’s not just about abs or ass, it’s about the look in your eye, your posture and bearing, your walk and talk.

    I try to make a similar argument to women (or anyone – but it is often women) who are embarrassed to work out in a certain way in the gym or embarrassed even to be in a gym. Being a red, sweaty and frizzy haired mess at the end of a workout – or in my case, from about 5 seconds in – isn’t anything to be ashamed of. In my experience, most people look at you with greater respect (and the ones that don’t aren’t worth knowing anyway!).

    So real training produces greater strength of mind when you realise that you don’t have to feel on show when you are in a public space. You need to have that childlike attitude (that you’ve talked about elsewhere Chip) where you simply don’t care what you look like because you are so caught up in what you are doing.

    People DO have this ability – you can see it on dancefloors across the land, where people can really let go. People need to bring that dancefloor spirit into the gym or it needs to be fostered there – perhaps with a glitter ball and flashy lights. I don’t know whether you ever saw it but I wrote a post for Josh on WSL about the connection between dance and strength training – which for me is very strong.

    BTW I am dying to know what that “women and alcohol” article is all about. Things to avoid at all costs?

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