Archive for the ‘Circular Strength Training’ Category

In December of 2010 I released my Clubbell training program, the Clubbell Mass Evolution. A full 3 month training program with a specific focus of putting on lean muscle mass using clubbells.

“Clubbells are now my true love when it comes to any kind of free weight training system. The Clubbell Mass Evolution was a truly enlightening and fabulously fun way to get trained in them, thanks to Shane Heins of Gymnos E.”   -N.G.-

While the feedback I have gotten from those who have used it has been great, I have had a few people write in asking where they might find more before and after pictures. They really like the philosophy and the approach. They just aren’t seeing what the outcome actually looks like. And they feel they need to see the physical “results” to motivate them to take the plunge.

“I just started Cycle 2 today…oh.my.god. I love it! I love the rhythm, the flow. I’m seeing changes in my body, too….  I feel like my metabolism has been turned back on and revved up….Even though I still have cycle 3 to go, I can honestly say that I already feel stronger than I did after 3 months of personal training linear-style.”  -S.D.-

And you know what? Totally fair question. I also really appreciate their honesty. The before’s and after’s is an interesting one. I had my beta testers  for the program take before and after pictures. And while it wasn’t dramatic from a picture stand point, there were changes. But I’d decided not to require them to go on a strict diet (which most other

programs that show before and after’s do, because you cannot get those types of results without it.) I actually provide a nutritional guide with the program. It’s not a pre-prescribed diet, because for the majority, those don’t work. So it’s geared to helping everyone systematically shift their eating habits, in a way that allows them to find the “diet”, or way of eating, that works best for them ,while providing a means to helping them achieve continuous, sustainable progress.

“The nutritional guide to Gymnos Evolution’s “Clubbell Mass Evolution” is the most sensible 11pgs on nutrition I’ve read in a fitness product” -D.M.-

But I wanted to see the results people got from just incorporating the program itself into their life (as very few will actually undergo the whole kit and kaboudal off the bat.) This is fitness for life.

“This program accentuates Clubbell skill acquisition, immensely. I have been able to try and succeed with some of Coach Jone’s ballistics now. Encore! Encore!”  -M.S.-

What have the results been? All the ladies who have done the program have only gained a few pounds (if any), but dropped good amount of body fat. They get a shift in their body composition, firm up and feel really strong. So they are obviously happy. Consistently, the guys so far writing in are gaining between 6-12 lbs after 3 months. But that also includes a drop in body fat, change in body composition and feeling stronger. Another major point of feedback is feeling back, shoulder and hip imbalances getting corrected (more mobile and pain free).

This is what I want people to connect to with CBME. To gain the benefits of putting on lean muscle mass (it doesn’t have to be in excessive volumes) in a way that enhances their life, rather than causes frustration and disappointment, deflating their efforts to continue. Instead, to gain strength. To feel capable. To be mobile and pain free. To give them access to other interests and pursuits. To be excited about their fitness. To be inspire by it.

“I was doing a clubbell workout out on the back deck, near the squirrel feeder, and this squirrel was watching me intently. I went back out later, the clubbells were over under the feeder, and that squirrel had experienced some CLUBBELL MASS EVOLUTION!

Loving CBME! Phase 1 is a great workout, and really looking forward to the wild variety in the coming stages!”  -M.L.-

Yes, it is a specific lean muscle mass building program. That’s how it was designed. But this program is simultaneously a “mass” evolution. It’s is an evolution for the masses in how we look at gaining that lean muscle. That’s its intention. And with that shift, I anticipate more people (the 85% who normally don’t see those results) actually seeing the gains. Even I myself have been pleasantly surprised at the number of people who have gone through and either completed or are in the middle of completing the program (all 3 months), from start to finish. That’s not common, especially so soon after release.

 “So far, really enjoying the CBME.  I’m using it with a small group of women who have worked with me for several months and are familiar with clubbells – but unfamiliar with the volume.  Two of them are in their seventies!”  -J.K.-

Getting into the before and after pictures starts to automatically shift the perception back to what we’re used to seeing. And I’m hesitant to unintentionally set up that trap for people to fall into, with expectations that they may or may not achieve, not because of the program, but because of their perception of what they think they should be looking like (and the reality of what they will have to undergo to do so). By taking that away, there is an increase in the percentage of people who are seeing it thru to the end (that includes 7 women! 7 WOMEN undertaking a MUSCLE MASS BUILDING program, not including those in the above mentioned class), which then does bring them the results and feeling great while they’re at it.

“Day 10. High intensity day. Workout B. Still using the 15s for Barbarian lunge, Duck, Drop and Drive and Figure 8 Shield Cast. The figure 8 is still clumsy. Need to work on the form more. Good and intense workout today. Really needed this to lift up my spirit.”   -T.J.-

Of course, that being said, you can’t just talk the talk without showing SOMETHING. So there is the journey of my Beta Testers:

Part 1

Founding member of Gold Medal Bodies and CST International Education Director Ryan Hurst:

Here’s mine:
Part 1

“All I can say is AWESOME WORKOUT!

I’m a military officer with 23 years of service….B.S. in physical fitness, been certified as an Army Master Fitness Trainer and at one time certified with the American College of Sports Medicine…..I have been a paratrooper and served as a reconnaissance platoon leader, military police company commander, and have worked with foreign governments training their personnel in VIP protection….I have been an operator my entire time, and physical fitness has always been a top priority – especially functional/tactical fitness – and I think I have the experience and knowledge to know what works (and this does).

At 42 years old, I’m always searching for programs that keep me at the top of my game to compete with the younger generations. Thanks for providing an awesome program that will definitely occupy a place in my own personal workout sessions.”  – R. –

So I will continue to NOT use before and after pictures. Because this is an evolution. A mass evolution. And I am far more interested, moved, inspired and motivated by the experiences people have had and the stories they share. To me, they speak so much more honestly to the journey many of us are on and what we are truly looking to have access to in our lives.

Dare to Evolve,

For more of these stories, you can find them at the Clubbell Mass Evolution. Have one you’d like to share? I would love to hear about it.


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I want to take a moment to weigh in on Scott Sonnon’s newest TACFIT project: Tactical Gymnastics (TACGYM).


Now I don’t normally do “product reviews” here on the blog, though I’ve been wanting to share more about the programs I’ve found to be most effective for developing optimal fitness, health, performance and longevity. Because our physical well-being is part of the whole. And I’ve found addressing our personal evolutions can sometimes feel easier when we have something tangible to grab onto. A source that gives direct feedback that we feel and can connect to right away, ie: sweat, fatigue, the struggle of moving objects through space, etc.

I’m a very physical person. Always have been. That physicality has been a major part of my process of growth, my forge for unveiling the deeper recess’s of my capacity. That is why I became a health professional. Because while I care about your fitness, I care more about your journey to accessing the greatest heights of your potential. And it is through the physical gateway I know how best to serve.

Okay, back to TACGYM. I’m not going to give the play by play of what’s in the box and what you get, in terms of materials, for your investment. There are others out there that give GREAT reviews in that capacity. Far better than I ever would. That and you’ll see everything that comes with the program when the official page goes up.

I’m going to weigh in on this, the newest in Circular Strength Training’s TACFIT armada, as a practitioner of these materials and from the background of a CST Head Coach and TACFIT Team Leader.

Now being the National Director for Canada and on RMAX’s International Education Committee, there’s potential for this to be seen as extremely biased. And I’ll be honest, there is some biased here. It can’t be helped. I’m a fan of the system. It’s why I’ve stuck around as long as I have.

Circular Strength Training

But here’s why. Circular Strength Training (CST) is the most complete system for health, fitness, performance, well-being andlongevity I have ever come across. And I’ve explored quite a few different modalities. I’m not saying that it’s the only thing out there. Or that others don’t have great benefit. There is so much out there and so much cross over. In the end it really does come down to what connects with you most, if it’ll get you moving. But as a COMPLETE system, taking in the greatest aspects of our health, that have the greatest, most effective impact, I have met no equal. And I have seen it’s impact first hand, not only in myself, but in so many around me who have taken the plunge.

And TACGYM, as a program of that system, is no exception. The tactical focus of TACFIT is meant to take the health-first performance benefits of CST and apply it to the needs of the tactical community; police, military, firefighters. The individuals who serve in this capacity are among those who face the highest degree of stress and intensity in their occupations on a day in and day out basis. A level that has long term effects on their health. And as it turns out, we all face, on a daily basis, higher levels of stress than ever before in history. So not only is it beneficial for tactical responders, it’s beneficial for u all.

Where Tactical Gymnastics fits in is the integration between the very effective recovery methods within CST, more specifically the bio-mechanical exercises from Sonnon’s original Body-Flow* , and the unique application of protocol, movement selection and tactically specific preparation, to be able to adapt and improvise in the face unknowable challenges, of TACFIT.

*If you were to look at stretches, yoga or gross motor movement, it’s the movement in between the movements. The transitional keys to unbinding and accessing flow in all degree’s we are meant to move. For an example, check out Sonnon applying it here.

This is HUGE. Because that is TACFIT’s paramount objective: recovery. To learn to recover as fast as humanly possible, from within the range of heart rate max, without the aid of external expensive, state-of-the-art equipment. Rather tapping into the most state-of-the-art machine we have available to us, our Body. Because when it comes down to it, it’s not about who’s bigger or faster or stronger. It’s about who can recover faster. He who recovers fastest, wins.

And that’s not me just saying that because I drank the Koolaid. It’s me saying it because I’ve experienced it. Over and over again. I’ve been taken to my very edge and recovered faster than I ever have before having worked at that level. And then taken to the edge again. And again. And again. Where I could just keep going each and every time, working at my max. And I have helped others do the same. Think about it. You could be the biggest, the strongest and the fastest. But if you are unable to recover to come back and perform at near top performance, the one who can is going to do it again. And again. And…well you get the point. And they are going to leave you in their dust.

This is not just applicable to sports or athletes or tactical responders. It applies to all of us as well. How many times have you found yourself facing a challenge, a “Beast”, in your life that stopped you dead in your tracks? That blocked you at every turn, seeming near impossible to get by? A challenge, that you weren’t expecting to face, but took months, maybe years to get past? To recover, so you could get on with your life?

Being able to train in this manner for your physical development automatically translates into your mental and emotional development as well. If you train (with all the benefits of getting bigger, faster, stronger, fat loss, etc) in a manner as such, you will begin to recover faster mentally and emotionally as well. Think what that starts to mean for you in your life, if you can get through that pit of quicksand in weeks instead of years. In days instead of months. Moving you forward, faster from one stage of growth to the next. What does that mean for your life and the potential to live it in a manner we all, deep down wish to? To it’s greatest extent.

The thing is, attending to the recovery from the training (which is paramount, no matter what program you train in), is the most challenging for us. It’s always easier, ironically enough, to dive in to the deep end and do the “hardest” part, running ourselves ragged. We don’t last long, but it’s what we gravitate to. Where it takes more self motivation to get off the couch to attend to our active recovery.

This is where TACGYM has bridged the two. Taking movements that will continue to release bound up tension by moving us outside the limited ranges of the “box” that much of our life is lived in. But turning it into a training approach we are more apt to undertake. On top of that, developing everything we’ve talked about above. Not to mention having fun. This is one of the gifts of Circular Strength Training and all it’s incarnation’s. It lets us tap into such a high degree of movement sophistication and complexity, that our nervous system is constantly excited, constantly wanting more. Would you believe, that’s one of the biggest keys to youthful vitality and longevity. And having the progressive levels of sophistication, that is one of Scott Sonnon and CST’s trademarks, you too can get there.

As part of the launch, Sonnon has given out a Free book and video teaching you what is required for TACFIT’s Spartan Challenge : “Defeat the Beast”(an example of what you from Tactical Gymnastics). Give it a try:

*offer is now over* (but you can take a look at my example on Youtube and give it a try).

For the TACGYM product itself you can go straight here.

You can also follow along as I take you through what it is like to undergo the challenge itself. Tough. Just remember, included is a regression level to come in at. It’s not about doing what everyone else is doing. It’s about daring ourselves to face the “Beast”, wherever it may present itself. Enjoy. ;D

Dare to Evolve,

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2011 is upon us and showing no sign of letting up whatsoever from the momentum of the year past. After a much needed week and a half off with the family over the holiday season (after an intense couple month preparation period and successful launch of my new training product, the Clubbell Mass Evolution), I came back to work. When I come back from having been off, it really is because I was off. I go completely offline. The computer shuts down, the phone gets turned off and I unplug. And having returned, the inbox is spilling over, there are a few loose ends to finish tying off from 2010 so I can really focus on the new year before me AND all the action required for everything that goes along with it. I imagine that is the same for many of us.

But I feel it is of the utmost importance to take a moment and reflect when reaching significant turning points, to fully draw what one can from the experience. And I just came across a very important reason for doing so.

Just before going offline, I was invited to be profiled for an article. I of course accepted, not knowing what the article was or which magazine it might be for. The request was coming from my Coach and Teammate, Scott Sonnon, and thus was fine with wherever it ws getting posted. I didn’t have much time to get into it, I had to answer the interview questions because I was going offline. The questions were very intelligent and I liked what was being asked. So I submitted and was done.

I am now back, just a couple days, and while attending to the final bits of last year and all the new bits of revving up for what is looking to be an even more incredible year than last, it’s been a little all over the place and from the outside could seem somewhat chaotic (heck, from the inside it looks chaotic ;)). Along with that, comes still being in the dark about some stuff. Then today, I see a few messages that end off with a “And congratulations on being chosen #1 trainer of the year!” Huh? Pardon? I had no idea what was being referred to. At first I almost thought it was just a really nice gesture by the individual. But I decided to do a little digging. And what do you know; I had been entered alongside 9 other trainers by RMAX International into a poll that would be voted on by the CST community for the Most Aspiring Trainer of the Year award. And as it turns out, I won.

And this is why it is so important to take a moment to take stock. Because the potential for missing this was there. And what I would have missed out on was, not finding out that I’d won, but having missed the opportunity to honour those in whose company I have been placed.

There is no denying that I stand upon broad wide shoulders, in whatever progress I have made in my growth and development, as a member of this CST community. I have always believed that no one truly does it on their own and that we learn, even if it be equivalent to that of a grain of sand and from a seemingly very negative interaction, something from everyone we come into contact with. And the fellow trainers on this list are no exception. This is what I have come to very much respect about the CST community. The caliber of individuals that it attracts. Not only does it attract these incredibly gifted, talented and innovative powerhouses, but those same trainers pour so much back into the community they’ve become a part of. Each of them to a man or woman, are imbued with a sense of service, for the betterment and progress of those around them.

My whole life has been motivated, inspired and driven by a strong sense of service to my fellow man, that we may collectively grow into the unquestionable capacity we have just waiting to be unlocked and tapped into. And to be surrounded and supported by a team of people that do the same is a blessing, gift and absolute honour.

This would be a very tough vote, as each of you brings something so unique in your expression and promotion of CST/TACFIT, that it’s difficult to differentiate the impact you have each had as individuals. Because it is precisely what you bring, as an integral piece of the whole, fulfilling a capacity that only you can bring to the table in the way that you all do, that plays such an important role in the effectiveness and impact we all have as a team on those around us. It’s no wonder it’s felt like an explosion of talent and growth amongst the CST trainers this year!

I know for myself, anything I have been able offer in service to those around me and in continuing to expand CST’s ever widening reach, ever deepening influence, it has been in large part due to the energy, selflessness, inspiration, support and encouragement of you all. I am honoured to be a part of this Team. To be a part of this collective that I truly believe will continue to be a significant part of trailblazing, shaping and facilitating growth for our family’s, community’s and our society at large.

Thank you Coach Sonnon for my inclusion amongst this amazing group of incredible individuals, in spotlighting the growth that is now going to continue blowing wide open by leaps and bounds.

Thank you to all, for your vote of confidence in my continued participation with this community and endeavour.

Boy….we thought 2010 was a huge year…..lookout 2011! 😀

Dare to Evolve,

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Over this last summer it was interesting to observe a similarity that I was seeing in many “Huge Success’s” I was coming across. Most of them found themselves with only 50 cents in their pocket and were homeless. No literally, this appears to be, recently anyway, the trend. And then they tell you how they changed it all around and became millionaires. I’m not arguing whether they did or not. Neither do I sit here, resentful of their success. What it caused me to do was come back to reflect on what motivates us. Because they were now selling how you could do the same. And the motivation behind getting there? Money. Even when they flower it in “living the life you want”. Because that picture being described always came back to living a life of leisure, having a huge house, fancy car, etc. Eventually coming full circle to making loads of cash.

The thing is, money as a motivator doesn’t work. If it did, we’d all be bazilionaires. Who it works for are those who use it to push our “desire” buttons. Our desires of having what we’re being told is the ideal life. Our desire, that constant pull back, to being comfortable and not working so hard. To having more but doing less. But do we really want to be doing less? Or is it we just want to be doing less of the daily “grind” that doesn’t fulfill us? We associate having more with being happy. But perhaps we misconstrue “more” for material consumption and gain. When in reality, we want more of what feeds the fire deep within us. Feeding our inspiration, our creativeness, the expression of our gifts, our sense of purposefulness, our contribution to those around us and living this life of ours to the utmost.

Yet we keep getting sold on “make your millions” to live the life you want. Funny how we keep pouring what money we have into it. But for what? Because for most of us, making money, as an end, doesn’t hold true value for us. It doesn’t provide the intrinsic motivation to create that success or wealth. Otherwise we wouldn’t sputter out so quick in our efforts.

To get to that place where success (and whatever wealth is associated with it) is generated, we need that motivating force that will have us pushing, driving and hungry to make it happen. We all love the panoramic view from the mountaintop. But we don’t get to that view without having that challenging climb before us. Something far greater than the ineffectiveness of material wealth, which in this case would be akin to having the newest climbing gear, but never starting the ascent. It’s cool to wear for a bit, but when you don’t use it for any good reason, it quickly loses it’s appeal and we are then once again in search of the next “hit”. Let’s face it, whenever we overcome a great challenge, we feel the exhilaration of true accomplishment, because in the process we overcame perceived limitations and obstacles that is likened to being freed from self-imposed chains and fetters. There was meaningful purpose behind what we were able to do, even if just on a personal level.

I have run my own business, Gymnos Evolution, for nearly 2 years now. It has been the sole source of income for my family and I. It has been a tough slog. And yet at any point where it felt hard and like there was no “financial” gains being made, in fact perhaps seeing a decline, it also simultaneously showed immense promise and signs of growth on a whole other level. The vision of the business continued to expand, the building of my  Team around me continued to expand, the recognition and acceptance of the value I brought to others(not just by others but by myself as well) continued to expand. So plug away I went. And behind it all was my motivating reason. It was my commitment to being a part of bettering the lives of those I serve. Of providing the opportunities for us to grow as individuals and as a community. This is what drives me, stokes my fire, has meaning, gives me a sense of purpose and fulfillment in my day to day life. With everything I have faced over the last 2 years and the sacrifices my family have made in support of it, there’s no way I would have stuck around for the money. It wouldn’t have meant enough to do so (despite the fact that we “needed” it).

And about 8 weeks ago, I found myself at the very bottom of bottom, financially. The lowest I have ever been. We were already well below zero and about to go into the realm of nothingness. We were already approaching rock bottom when I went to California to attend the CST Head Coach and TACFIT Team Leader Certifications with RMAX International. I actually found an arrangement that allowed me to return collected bottles to help cover the cost. Now this is TABOO to talk about your financial situation. Especially if you want to present a “front” of being at the top of your game. There’s this notion that people think if you are financially unsuccessful, then there is no value to what you have to offer, because you have no money. Yet at this point of being financially the lowest I’ve ever been, with a wife and two boys to support, I was feeling MORE SUCCESSFUL in my business and MORE FULFILLED in my work than I ever have in my life. And this is why I share. I don’t care what others perceive about me to be true or not. I care about the honesty I pour into my process, into my growth and into the service I provide others. And if my example can help show the skewed correlation between success and money, than it has served it’s purpose.

Does that mean I don’t need to make money or learn how to do it better? Well no. There’s obviously much I still have to learn. 🙂 But the importance is that it is not my motivating drive. Even at that state, I had no thoughts of quitting. I had no thoughts of doom and gloom. Okay, maybe a little bit of gloom, but otherwise, just as focused as ever. All thoughts were honed in on “how do I make it work?” What actions do I need to take, that I have not been taking? Where do I need to grow. How do I need to grow?  And therein lies the power of finding your purpose behind what you do. Finding your motivation with Mmmphhh! It’s what gets you through the dicey spots to the panoramic view. So if you find yourself feeling sucked into being sold on “make your millions to live the life you want”, perhaps start thinking rather about living the life you want, so the millions can flow in. And the life you want being driven by what is truly important to you, allowing you to find purposefulness in it, to connect to the heart of who you are and the gifts you have to share with the world.

I’d meant to write this post 8 weeks ago, in the midst of it all, to see how it all turned out. Wouldn’t you know it if I’ve been too busy to do so, because the floodgates of opportunities have opened and I am now facing the most financially successful period of happily running my own, very fulfilling, business.

Dare to Evolve,

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Last week it started….
The next few months are about going deep into the forge….

This journey only having just begun….

To wrought all that is unnecessary by hammer and heat, that it might unveil more of what lies within….

With my tool of choice….
Via my system of choice….
Where I begin will not be where I finish….

Time for an Evolution….



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Today I saw a great video by my good friend and fitness professional/physical culturist/life liver, John Sifferman. He was performing CST’s Prasara Body-Flow to soothe his two week old son. Yes, while holding him. If you have Facebook, you can come check it out on my “Wall”. It was great to see and reminded me of a post I wrote a couple years ago on the old blog, Gym Jane, and felt it was still very relevant. So reposting it here for you today. Enjoy!

“Isn’t it great watching a baby, or young child, learn to move? It always seems to bring about such joy, laughter andamazement in those of us adults watching.

The other day, I was putting myself thru a session of training specific movements from Scott Sonnon’s Body-Flow: Freedom From Fear-Reactivity materials.  This stuff is great! In a nutshell, overcoming our blockages due to fear of making mistakes or facing the unexpected, thru movement exploration. Most of these specific movements are also basic components for Prasara Yoga.

You might wonder how relevant doing some movement exercises are to emotional blockages. The next time you head out, go for a walk, to work,  shopping or social gathering, take a moment to be aware of how those around you are carrying themselves, physically. How they are standing, walking, reaching, sitting. What you will most likely see is a wide array of variations. Then take a moment to reflect on the perceived state of mind those individuals are in. I know you can’t know for sure, this is just a little exercise. But you will most likely be able to infer quite a bit, just from the way people move. Even with friends and family, you can see the difference from day to day, depending on their mood. That’s because our body expresses physically our mental, emotional and  spiritual  states. Those states of being start to build habitual patterns of movement, which often develop into restrictive patterns of movement.  Then because we are limited in our movement and trigger pain when moving outside of that range (a positive survival mechanism from our body to help us identify what needs attending to), it starts to conversely affect our mental, emotional and spiritual states. Thus begins the cycle.

So by going thru specific movements that challenge our range of motion and habituated movement patterns, in a space that is meant to allow for mistakes to be made andunexpected events to occur, we create a break in the cycle. Why start with movement? Take a moment to think about how many times you’ve said ” I’m going to change  (habit), now.”  Now think about how “easy” it was to start and follow thru. Or about the amazing, immediate “results” and “success”. Okay yes, I’m being cheeky. But really, it’s dang hard! We can all relate how often we go thru that, if not on a daily basis.

To start with movement; a physical, tangible practice that doesn’t take a whole lot of thinking, just a get down on the floor and start doing it, start playing, provides an opportunity to successfully release blockage, with tangible results. And although the movements may appear simple at first (and don’t make any mistake, they are), you will probably be very surprised at how bound up, tense and hesitant (read: afraid) you are to allow yourself to  perform them. There’s that fear thing. You’ve now just stepped out of merely performing physical exercise and stepped into the arena of unhinging, unblocking, unbinding….everything.

So there I was, doing my Body-Flow practice, with my sons Olee (3 yrs) and Will (6.5 mths) taking part. Olee immitating me and spontaneously creating his own movements, rolling all over the place. Will, army crawling around at surprising speeds, and learning to move forward once he’s gotten up on hands and knees, followed by subsequent face plants. And both are doing it with the biggest smiles on their faces. It reminds me this is supposed to be fun. It reflects that we are all in a similar stage of physical discovery. Wait a sec…..that means for me it’s re-discovery. I’ve had this already. And therein lies the difference. They are just going with the flow, allowing it to lead them thru the process of unlocking their innate gifts. I’m actually a step behind, as I’m having to first learn to get out of my own way, to remove the walls and obstacles damming up my natural gifts and abilities to just go for it.

“Body-Flow is not something to be acquired, but rather something you will learn to avoid interrupting.” -Scott Sonnon-

Go for it, start the crawl, get out of your own way. You may be surprised to find what has already been there all along.”

Dare to Evolve,

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Recently I tested for my Black Belt. Well……my imaginary Black Belt.

After 5 years of studying Tae Kwon Do from two martial artists I truly respect and who to this day, I consider among two of my most significant mentors during my teenage years, I was invited (encouraged;) to test for my black belt. In our school, one did not request to test for black belt. Neither was there a schedule upon which you knew, after this many hours or this much work, you could test. You tested when they essentially felt you had already earned it. You were just required to show it formally, the final “pressure of the test” an acceptance of the honour and sealing the next step being taken.

Although my formal martial arts training didn’t start until I was 15 yrs old, like many of us I  imagine, my martial arts training began when I was young. It began with watching the Karate Kid and an assortment of other martial arts films. Hahaha. That’s okay. Let it out. On the surface it may seem kind of silly. But know that for many who read this, there is truth in it. Included were various medieval films or books, wherein knights and warriors upheld a code (whether established or personal) to which they dedicated their lives. With my upbringing and the blessing of an amazing family, a very strong spiritual foundation was also being laid.

So the principles traditionally upheld by martial arts were developing within. And lucky for me, they did not stay in the realm of theoretical. I was put to the test every single day. Whether it was in facing the extreme environment I grew up in or fighting for my life. Yes, “fighting for my life” might sound a little excessive. But on many an occasion it was the truth. Ego was squelched. Character was forged. Focus and drive ignited. And tempering it all into a productive maelstrom so it didn’t tear me apart. So when I finally came to Tae Kwon Do, I met with a physical expression of the internal process I’d already been undergoing for years.

The totality of what martial arts was “traditionally” used to develop, holds immense value for me. It means alot. More so than the style of the art practiced or the rank held within it.

As anyone would be, just getting the vote of confidence from those I admired and trusted, was uplifting and made me excited at the idea of testing for my black belt. In the end however, I didn’t test. There was another opportunity I was being invited to take part in, which when it came down to it, was also very important to me. And it wasn’t necessarily going to come along again. Whereas I knew I was a martial artist for life. The black belt will come. Well the next chance I had to test came around, simultaneously following in it’s shadow, a similar endeavour to the previous one that made for a very difficult decision. But just as before, this was in service to others and my black belt…..well, my black belt was for me. Once again, no test.

To this day I never did test for it. Do I regret it? Not one bit. I went with my gut and it was right on the money. Interestingly enough, I came to a sudden realization about a year ago.  That in part, though unconscious at the time, was the fact that I didn’t want to test for my black belt. Though others felt I had, I did not feel I earned it. For me, the black belt is a symbol of the time, sweat equity and commitment to mastery put in. And I had always felt like I wanted to put more time in, that I could do so much more and go so much further in my practice then I did. But I was involved in so many other activities, that the time just didn’t permit. And I hadn’t made it a priority. But finally, I got my chance to follow through in the way I’d always wanted to.

I’ve been training in Circular Strength Training (CST) for the last 2.5 years. I’ve been a trainer of CST for the last 1.5 years. When I came colliding into it, like TKD, I found a physical practice that complimented my internal process. Only this time, I knew what I wanted to put into it. I have trained myself in CST every…single….day, for the last 2.5 years. I have worked very hard to continue my mastery  of this system. With the realization last year that I felt I hadn’t earned my black belt test, also came the understanding that my CST practice was in fact my martial art. Everything I was pouring into it (and what I am continuing to gain from it) mirrored what martial arts is to me and has to offer us in our growth. And with that, acknowledging that, should my certification as a CST Head Coach with RMAX International eventually come to fruition, it would represent, for me, my black belt test.

I did not force my development through the Coaching stream. I pursued it further as I felt moved to do so, allowing my internal gauge of whether I’d put enough in, in my eyes, to at least attempt certification. After that it was up to my coaches. Frankly, I was detached from the result, as it wasn’t the title that was important. A few weeks ago, I came to my “black belt” test. A rigorous 5 day examination, for my attempt at CST Head Coach and TACFIT Team Leader certifications. My goal was to put my best foot forward, regardless of the end result. It wasn’t about earning my certifications. It was about earning the opportunity to test and that I did so to the very best of my current abilities. I felt I followed through on my end, and that made it a success. It was one of the most fulfilling weekends of my life.

And the best part about all this? It wasn’t just for me this time. Well it was for me, but it included doing it for all those I have trained, train and have yet to train. My further mastery of this system will continue to improve what I can offer others in their path to bettering their lives.

This humble attempt, for whatever it was worth, is dedicated to my TKD instructors Vlado Brisjc and Dana Rasiah, who saw in me perhaps more than I saw in myself. This is my following through and not leaving in vain, an invitation to go beyond. Thank you.

It is dedicated to my current coaches, Scott Sonnon, Ryan Murdock, Ryan Hurst, Brandon Jones, Joe Wilson and Jarlo Ilano, who have, each in there own unique way as dictated by their gifts, been instrumental in guiding me along, giving me the nudges that helped me stay on the path to exponential progress and growth, both personally and vocationally. Thank you.

Finally, it is dedicated to my Team. Fellow CST Head Coach Candidates John Wolf and Jeffery  Larson. To our fellow Coaches and Instructors, all going the distance with a common vision of bringing something to the world that goes beyond us as individuals. It gets there through us and what we each uniquely have to offer. But we do so together. Keep crushing it!

And yes, I earned my Black Belt…..well, my imaginary Black Belt. 😉

Dare to Evolve,

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