I’m an athlete.

Always have been. Always will be.

I love to explore movement and find new means of physical expression. Human movement is, to me, a language. And I’ve had that feeling for as long as I can remember. I loved Saturday afternoon kung fu movies not because of the violence, but because of all the cool ways people moved.

Soccer, basketball, tennis, football, beach volleyball, they all had their seasons in my life. I enjoyed them during their chapters in my book, training for them, competing in them, and enjoying the lifestyle they each created. I even coached friends on certain skills and started physically training people for their sports, just for the joy of helping them get better.

Even though I’d first lifted weights when I was 14, I didn’t understand the deepest principles of program design, or the process of selectively creating a series of exercises over time to elicit a desired physiological response. By the time I reached my mid-30’s, I was an intermittent gym-goer, had developed some pretty bad habits, and wasn’t really thinking much about my physical condition. As 40 approached, I wasn’t just heavier than I’d ever been; I was slower and weaker than I’d ever been. BAD COMBO.

I was basically a common middle-aged man. No longer challenging myself in competition, no longer training for a sport, and no longer testing my physical capabilities. Many men of a certain age know how this story goes. They know that it starts at “I’m too busy to take care of myself,” and ends with a doctor saying, “You have low testosterone levels.”

It all changed when I was invited to make a career change and become a personal trainer. As I dove into the education necessary to be a top-notch coach, I discovered the methodology of hardstyle kettlebell training. (In another blog post, I dig in on what hardstyle is, rather than what it did.)

And it was love at first sight.

Hardstyle is a martial skill. It honors the way the body is designed to move. It strips away the unnecessary and leaves only the most effective. Born of a martial art (the karate style of goju ryu, to be precise), it prepares the body for the combative rigors of daily living unlike any other training approach. The principles underpinning it transfer to other implements, so that while the kettlebell is the ideal point of entry, the kettlebell itself isn’t the sum of what I call hardstyle.

The strength and mobility I have gained from hardstyle kettlebell training gave me the confidence to tackle something I’d always wanted to attempt. And now as a student of jiujitsu, I’m a martial artist and once again an athlete.

Always have been. Always will be.