Updated: Apr 4, 2021
I don't know when I first earned the nickname "The Alabama Sasquatch." I'm pretty sure it came from my buddy, Chip Conrad, during one of our many travels about the country preaching our peculiar brand of fitness. Peculiar, not in that it featured odd or highly specialized movements, but peculiar in that it stands at odds with how fitness is widely promoted and the reasons generally given for why you should train. In a nutshell we train not to make ourselves "pretty" or "attractive" or even "admirable." We train to be effective. Meaning, my training is done for the sole purpose of being able to be of service to both myself and others.
Years ago, Chip encapsulated this concept in his Three P's - Protect, Provide, and Play. And then later summed it up in his book, Are You Useful? The Three P's cover the priorities of movement. Can you protect yourself and those you love? Are you capable of providing for the same? And then finally when the basic needs are meet, do you have anything left over? Play is an essential aspect of life, offering countless benefits beyond just stress relief and as a vehicle for learning new skills. Are You Useful? asks a fundamental question that gets to the very bedrock of existence - are you contributing to the world around you or merely consuming?
For over seven years Chip and I have taken these ideas on the road, visiting various cities, holding workshops, and doing our darnedest to have a positive impact on this thing we all call fitness. My wife calls Chip and I Yogi and BooBoo after the Hannah Barbara cartoon featuring the picnic stealing bears from Jellystone Park. I am a good deal larger than Chip, whose athletic frame and boyish good looks make him the obvious front-man of our little band. My looks tend more toward the pre-steroid era of professional wrestler. Big, blocky, thick.
As such, I've always been a bit more shy about putting myself out there as a model for fitness or training. Sure I can do stuff. I've competed in multiple Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournaments. I have a near 30 year history of training in the martial arts. I've done Olympic Weightlifting, Powerlifting, and Strongman. I still maintain a solid training schedule and roll regularly with guys 10, 15, sometimes even 30 years younger than me. But I never felt I really "looked the part."
Given that insecurity I was more than willing to let Chip take the lead as we worked on promoting a better way to do fitness. Only...if what we were preaching was really true, what I look like shouldn't matter. And the truth is, it doesn't.
Enter the Alabama Sasquatch (cue awesome intro music.)
Truth is there are more of you like me than there are the cookie cutter ab boys of Men's Health or even Muscle and Fitness. And hell, if my wife can free herself of the image shaming that women's popular culture is rife with then I can too. So forget what you look like. If you've read this far, odds are you're older, probably married, and with kids. At this point in the game those six pack abs will bring you more problems than benefits, anyway.
Instead, let's focus on what you can do. If your kids are little, let's get you back on the ground again. Let's get your energy levels back to where you look forward to coming home and playing with them and not wishing instead you could just veg on the couch. Let's get you thinking about weekend projects, an epic fort for the kids, a classic restoration for you. Let's put that fire back in your marriage and get your cardio up to enjoying those preliminary laps around the house as you play "hard to get."
In the end, your looks will take care of themselves. Healthy is just plain better looking. So instead let's put our focus on building attributes that will actually serve us, strength, endurance, skill. Let's become truly useful and thereby improve the lives of those around us.
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