It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe. – Muhammad Ali
Motivation: We all need it. Tony Robbins has made millions teaching it. Youtube has thousands of videos with millions of views broadcasting it. Authors, on a monthly basis, have made millions selling its secrets. Without it, the world will beat you down. Without it our weaknesses will never turn to our strengths. Without it, we never grow. Those days when the stress of the world seems like too much disappears in its presence. I need motivation just like you need motivation.
I love exercise. However, I despise cardio. I honestly hate it with a passion. The monotony of it conflicts with my exercise ADHD. I enjoy lifting heavy things, jumping over things, and running as quickly as possible over short distances. Rarely will I perform an exercise that lasts more than 20 seconds. Running marathons and biking 20+ miles, in my opinion, is just ludicrous. I envy the patience of those that accomplish those feats. And that is exactly why I was hesitant about starting our Spartacus training camp, which is essentially metabolic conditioning for males (aka manly cardio). It encompasses everything I loathe.
The class is just not hard physically, but it’s mentally draining. More often than not, your mind gives in before your body does. Running 72 sprints over the course of 60 minutes is humbling even for the most successful long distance runners. Performing 20 reps squats followed by 20 rep deadlifts, 20 rep log clean and presses, 20 rep floor presses, and 20 rep bent-over rows is as close to exercise suicide as you can get. It’s nauseating, drop-you-to-your-knees, hell on earth torture. Our first class had over 20 guys. 6 weeks later we’re down to 8 of the originals. In plain English, it sucks. Thank goodness I have Seth Bruhn, April’s member of the month, in my class. He’s all the motivation I need when I feel like waving the white flag midway through the class.
Seth was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Mantle Cell Lymphoma in April 2010. Yes, that’s the “c” word; the word that is most synonymous with death in the medical community. Even when the odds are in the patient’s favor, it can still take your breath away and instantaneously make your life flash before your eyes. And even worse, the treatment is often worse than the disease itself. Chemo is non-apologetic. It’s the medical community’s version of the atom bomb. It kills cancerous cells. It kills healthy cells. It kills anything and everything it touches. It doesn’t care. It’s nauseating. It’s weakening. It’s depressing. And if it doesn’t break you during its first course of treatment, there’s always the possibility of your cancer recurring, and you having to relive the nightmare again. You never truly beat cancer. You survive it.
Seth went through it all: multiple rounds of chemo, week-long hospital stays, and stem cell transplants. It was relentless. It stole his energy, destroyed his appetite, and made him weak, tired, and depressed. It beat him up the best it could. It gave him everything it had and more. And yet 18 months into remission, he hasn’t missed a Spartacus training session yet. Week in and week out, he’s busting his ass like everyone else. No excuses. No handicaps. He’s the true definition of a Spartan. As Ali once said, “Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even.”
Since January, with his metabolism still trying to recover from chemo, he’s still managed to lose 23 pounds, just 9 pounds shy of his total from the very first Biggest Loser he competed in at Ageless prior to being diagnosed with cancer. His secret? Hard work and dedication. A man that is still receiving chemo and has every excuse possible not to exercise shows up at the gym almost every day. Not even the most devastating disease known to man can keep him down.
So when I’m lying on my back gasping for air and contemplating quitting, all I have to do is get a glimpse of Seth willing himself through an exercise, and I get my second wind. When I’m in the corner whining about how hard the workout is, Seth’s nice enough to let me off with just a smirk. I guess to a man that’s had the Grim Reaper tap on his shoulder, Spartacus seems like a trip to the playground.