168. That’s the number of articles on leanfunctionalmuscle.com, including this one. That leaves out the guest articles I’ve written, pdf’s I’ve done, video instruction, Facebook forum posts, and the book I’m steadily progressing on.
This June will be the 3rd year that I’ve run this fitness website. It’s gone through a name change, numerous design changes, and multiple months without accruing any income, costing me more than I could manage and leaving the thought of shutting the site down in my mental inbox many times.
You may misunderstand me; the lack of income couldn’t affect my passion for this website even if my blue CHASE bank card literally turned red.
No, what made me want to shut down my website was the lack of support.
I’ve come a long way in many respects with the site. My article quality at the site’s inception seems atrocious compared to my articles now (don’t worry, folks, I’m still improving).
I prided myself as an isometrics expert, yet I’ve learned so much more about isometric exercise in these three years, let alone oldtime strongman training, hand balancing, and physical culture in general.
Like a child, my potential, passion, and efforts have been improving by the day.
Yet, like a child, I often felt ignored, as though my friends were telling me to go play outside because they were busy.
I mean, what was it worth?
Having the knowledge, having the drive, having the voice to spread it, what was it worth if no one would listen?
I have friends who swore their undying support for this site who I know couldn’t tell me what the URL is.
What’s more, I often have people asking me for flawless expositions of different fitness principles, then ask the same question three times a month as though I spoke to Casper.
I felt like I was standing in a room full of people, sometimes being the only one talking, yet everyone preferred to listen to the radiator turning on and off.
The comparison feels even more accurate considering some of the fitness advice that my “friends and supporters” were listening to: “don’t squat, you’ll hurt your knees” - to a friend with no history of knee problems; “the neck isn’t designed to sustain weight” - a personal trainer who’s head was apparently weightless; “wrestling is fake” - fight me.
I found a lot of humor in those moments much of the time, but I also had very disparaging days that motivated me to call it quits and pick a career path that would clear the disappointed gazes from the eyes of my family.
The moment that actually motivated me to continue writing, to trudge down a road of epic risk with great reward, was when I got yelled at.
I got totally, thoroughly screamed at, and thus I never felt better about running my website.
I was walking back to my college dorm from the grocery store one day, and I heard my name echoing from the dorms. This was just one of those days when my generally cheery demeanor couldn’t peek through my clouded thoughts of the future.
I looked towards a balcony with a group of flailing limbs that I realized were friends of mine. I would’ve been surprised they could see me from that distance if I didn’t have the most recognizable backpack on campus.
I yelled some kind of witty comment back to them, and they cleverly replied, “WHAT??” in unison.
I stubbornly repeated my comment, with the thorough response of “I CAN’T HEAR YOU!”
I laughed a bit, because I could hear each word they spoke with clear articulation; in fact, I could pick out the different voices, and the fact that someone had just opened a really crinkly bag of chips.
And that was the moment it hit me, and the moment I steadily began cheering up.
Trust me, it’ll make sense in a minute. Don’t believe me, just watch.
All this time, I was mad at myself because I was screaming at a mountain. You see, my message wasn’t important, nor was my delivery. What was important was the platform I stood upon to speak.
I could hear my friends clearly yelling from the balcony, yet my voice didn’t quite reach them.
My voice will carry better from a higher platform.
Think about it. When the Yamazaki group was just doing flips and swings from their neighborhood railings, they didn’t have much recognition, and probably had much more ridicule.
Meanwhile, parkour is one of the most famous contemporary movement arts. Same with the calisthenics guys who did pull ups and front levers in their respective neighborhood parks, but became teachers and competitors once the mantle of BarStarzz existed.
I realized then, as I realize now, that I’m facing the base of a mountain. A huge, industry-sized mountain with all manner of personal trainers, strongmen, gymnasts, rock climbers, martial artists, and anyone who has ever looked at their bodies, desired changes, and sought physical instruction.
Yet I also realize how many others lack even this platform to express their voices. Without a degree, you can’t work in many places, regardless of your level of knowledge and expertise.
Many gyms will pick the overweight new PT with certifications over the fit, personable, and experienced trainer without them. The industries have spoken; if you want to cross this river, these are the only roads you can take.
Sometimes, I’d rather take a boat.
Sometimes, I’d rather stand at the base of the mountain, and cry a rebel yell that echoes through the land.
It’ll be that much more refreshing to hear the difference in my voice at the top.
I welcome you to join me on my climb.