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Today’s workout:

Max Effort Lift: Jerks.

Repetition Lift: Ring Flyouts

Brutal Recess: The Sambo Combo

See it all here:



There must be, not a balance of power, but a community of power; not organized rivalries, but an organized peace.” Woodrow Wilson

“Balance” was the rage for a while. The physical relation between the body and the space around it, not letting gravity take you to the ground. It is important to covet, but our little industry went on a small rampage, inventing wobbly boards and goo balls to stand on, shouting really loudly that these were ESSENTIAL for stabilizing the CORE.

Ya know… for BALANCE.


For the American psyche this translated into unstable surface = awesome 6 pack. Now, less than a decade later, you can still find these toys, but usually being given away on Craigslist or collecting dust in the corner of a gym that once had them as part of their ‘group exercise’ program. Research repeatedly showed that no one was getting much better at anything thanks to these gizmos, and trainers learned that even the opposite was true. Great, you can balance on a half globe of rubber, but while training for that, you forgot about that little thing we call STRENGTH. Try a handstand! THAT’S balance.


The word still pops up with frequency in fitness copy and even in gym names. In these cases, let’s hope the word has something to do with the integration of multiple approaches to wellness, letting brain and spirit join the party along with those awesome contractile tissues (“muscles” I believe they’re called), bones and, that bitchin’ powerhouse that runs the show, our central nervous system, all bound together for the cause of Wilson’s dream of organized peace. Peace among the systems of the body.

This ‘community of power’ (which I would disagree with ol’ Woodrow in it being different from a ‘balance’ of power), the combined systems of our beloved flesh packets and their ticklish ethereal innards (yes, souls are ticklish… just ask them), is our own personal mega-machine. ‘Twould be nice if the instruction manual made more sense, but it is simply a single sentence, which most of us won’t read anyway.

“Don’t fuck this up” is all it says.


At one point in history this might have made sense, or maybe we were supposed to grok this at a much younger age and somehow hold onto that sagacity as we expanded physically. Heck, as snotball-makers and diaper-wetters, we were pretty balanced. We ate until we weren’t hungry (not until we were FULL), slept when we needed it (which was a lot) and could squat before we could walk. This was all conducive to figuring out the world, gleaming the largest amount of education we’d ever get in the shortest amount of time.

How’s that for mind-body connection? While we learn the most about our body (that walking thing takes some serious practice) we also learn the most about the world (walking AND talking? Damn we’re good). THAT’S balance!


Striving for that as adults ain’t a bad little task to take on. Lauren Kott wrote a great article called Life Lessons from Lifting in Milo over 9 years ago, but I still dig the words. Here’s some clips…

“To me lifting has been meditation, salvation, and sanctuary. When I have been able to count on very little else in my life, the weights have been there. They are a constant in a life full of variables. Yesterday, today and next year, one hundred pounds will always be one hundred pounds. How that weight feels to me might be different over time. But the weights themselves are steadfast and abiding.

“There is so much fight a lifter must possess that naturally translates into the rest of your life. I call it ‘lifting from your soul.” At times there is something more than sheer bodily strength that drives the weight up.

“The weights teach us to have balance in our lives. “


She explains how. Simply physically, a body out of balance will not reach top performance, whether it is structural – tight muscles, weak muscle chains, etc. – or causal: too much = bad things happen. Too little = not enough good things happen.

“There it sits: 100 pounds. Is it heavy or is it light? We decide. The weight stays the same. It is you and I who chose to change in order to meet the weight head on.”

Replace “100 pounds” with any obstacle or challenge you might be facing. The meaning doesn’t change. That’s another lesson of the iron. If we can make the choice to change to meet the weight, then why not anything else?

“The best and safest thing is to keep a balance in your life, acknowledge the great powers around us and in us. If you can do that, and live that way, you are really a wise man.” – Euripides.

Today’s final thoughts on balance aren’t my own. Here’s Wayne C Allen on Rumi…

Rise up nimbly and go on your strange journey
to the ocean of meanings.

The stream knows it can’t stay on the mountain.
Leave and don’t look away from the sun as you go,
in whose light you’re sometimes crescent, sometimes full.

— Rumi

“Rumi wanted us to understand one thing – the path to deep understanding, which could be called the path to enlightenment – is an “easy” path. It is a downhill path. It is a guided, illuminated, clear, direct path.Human beings have been making the journey difficult or impossible for themselves for 100,000 generations. This doesn’t make the path difficult. The difficulty lies in our resistance to self-responsibility.”

“Balance, in life, involves giving up on thinking anything is ‘so,’ and accepting that all things ‘simply are.’ Balance involves letting go of having to enforce our judgments on others (we never get over judging – we all judge, all the time. The question is what we do with the judgments. If we beat up on ourselves or others, we have not learned balance.)?” – Wayne C. Allen, The Phoenix Center


Coming soon…

Kettlebells Adventures!! This Saturday’s Tune Up is in Grant Park. Let’s play with KB’s, in new and unique ways. 10-noon at 22nd and C streets.

Bodytribe Movie Night!! Next Saturday Night, Sept. 19th, we’re going to watch The Princess Bride here at the tribe. Bring some grub and a comfy chair and watch one of the most quotable movies ever!


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Showing 5 comments
  • Zac

    Okay, while I was over there under that rock, did I miss a shift in Bodytribe jargon? Brutal Recess is a new name for GPP?

  • Jack

    Amazing stuff! For the Sambo, what’s the progression for learning the back bend walks? Should I have spotter?

    Also, for the jerks, what’s the best way to avoid hitting my chin? I did it once and it hit like shit!

    Should I look up? Tilt my head?

    Thanks Chip!

  • chip

    Sambo combo progression:

    Spotter is a good idea. Getting comfortable with a bridge on the ground first helps. It isn’t at all a comfortable position, so go with what’s comfortable and then slowly push the effort each time. Coming UP is often the hard part.

  • chip

    Jerk: practice strict presses, working on getting the head out of the way and then driving the chest through the arms as you lock out. If you’re comfortable strict pressing, then the jerk feels less like an enemy.

  • Jack

    Thanks for the advice!


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