We live in a competitive world. We compete against each other and against ourselves. Competition propels one to take action when one might otherwise choose to remain inactive. For some, the idea of competition can be a paralyzing force. I believe to some extent the competitive nature of life keeps many of us glued to the couch seeking comfort, watching endless hours of TV while our dreams slip away. We become afraid of our potential successes and failures and choose to do nothing else but cling to our comfort. In a world where obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other diseases are continuing their rise to epidemic levels, a little bit of competition may serve us all some good.
I have the honor and privilege of being a Master Trainer for Josh Henkin and his DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training program. I am passionate about the program itself and the gaps it fills not only in my fitness but also in the fitness of my clients. I am passionate about education, teaching and sharing my knowledge and experience with others. Recently, I was invited to attend the DVRT Master Trainer Summit in Arizona in October with 29 other DVRT Master Trainers from the US and abroad. We are all committed to growing Josh’s vision and the DVRT program. I underestimated how much I would be growing myself until the USB Clean and Press challenge was presented about six weeks before the Summit.
When I first heard that I would have to clean and press a 60# USB strength bag 50 times in 5 minutes, I was a bit reluctant. I didn’t see the point-all I saw was a competition looming ahead of me. My self-doubt started creeping in but given my tendency towards comfort, I decided to stop listening to that voice and to add some variety into my training and to give myself a goal to work towards and ultimately, a breakthrough. I realized there were 29 other people who were going to be working towards completing this challenge as well. The roots of our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training community were growing.
I must admit, the training for this challenge was quite fun. Our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training community shared training tips with each other and in the process relationships and a support system were created. I was seeing improvement not only in my numbers but also in my lifting technique. I was “mastering” the Clean and Press and, more importantly, my Self. I felt inspired to press on even though I didn’t hit 50 reps in my training- I was taking action knowing nothing comes from nothing. Is this what competition is really about? Participating, belonging to a team, not giving up- win or lose? And more importantly, are there really winners and losers?
Fast forward to Scottsdale. It is the day before the challenge and we are all gathered in a conference room going over the particulars of the test. We were sharing our training stories, our concerns, our fears, and our feelings about using this particular test as a requirement to earn the title of being a DVRT Instructor. I must admit that I was hearing some comments in the room that made me question whether I wanted to be a part of this community. I contemplated having a challenging, high rep physical test dictate my competency to do what it is I intend to do as a DVRT Master Trainer- help my clients reach their fitness goals and teach other fitness professionals and consumers why the DVRT system is a wonderful framework to work within for fitness training.
I’m going to suggest it is also a wonderful framework to train for life itself. You see, if it weren’t for the looming reality of the test I wouldn’t have spent as much time using the DVRT system and USB to work on mastering my technique. If it weren’t for the 50 reps as my goal, I would have been lazy and inefficient with my technique. If it weren’t for my 29 peers training alongside me, I would have felt alone as opposed to part of a family and a community. I would not have stepped outside my comfort zone to become a better person today than I was yesterday and the day before. You get the idea…
On test day, we gathered shortly before 9am, warmed up, and prepared ourselves mentally and physically for the 5-minute challenge. Some of us hit the 50-rep goal. Some of us did not. I am confident that no one left the gym that day feeling like his or her life and Being had not been grown and stretched in ways previously unanticipated. More importantly, I didn’t even care that I was 4 reps shy of my 50-rep goal. What I did care about is the fact that I pushed myself to become better and to work harder. I grew a bond in this shared experience with 29 people who until two days before were complete strangers. We supported each other for 5 minutes in ways many of us never get support in an entire lifetime. That being said, I now see the point of the test and if and when you ask yourself, “What’s the point of the USB Clean and Press Challenge?” perhaps you’ll have a better perspective to see its many benefits now that I’ve shared my experience with you. Enjoy the process!