Dave Matthews, the Elliptical Machine, and the Haters
There are a few things in my day that are truly mine. And when I say “mine,” what I’m talking about are those blocks of time that belong to me and me alone. There’s my seventeen-minute drive to and from work that I share with Mike and Mike and Dan Patrick, and then there’s my cardio time I build into my mornings. The rest of my waking minutes are devoted to either my athletes or my family.
Yes, I still do cardio, day after day, and I do it to the same Dave Matthews Band playlist I've been using for years. I use an old Precor EFX 546 elliptical parked right next to my desk. The biomechanics of this machine suits my body perfectly. My Dave Matthews Band playlist has "Rapunzel," "The Last Stop," and "Louisiana Bayou," to name a few. It drives my assistants crazy, but remember, this twenty minutes is dedicated to me. It gives me time to do one of my favorite physical activities (Bill Phillips’ old 20-Minute Cardio Solution) and listen to the greatest band of all time. And don’t try and argue with me on that, because you would be wrong.
I like my daily cardio with Dave. It kicks my ass without fail. I get the greatest endorphin high money can buy. I sweat like a pig, my heart beats nearly out of my chest, and I almost black out every time.
Why yes, that is a tattoo of Dave Matthews on my foot. It's the greatest foot tattoo of a band in the world. (Photo courtesy Chris Holder)
The Hater Brigade
And yet, most of the gurus out there are thinking to themselves, “This guy does cardio on an elliptical. What a moron! Cardio sucks. It has no purpose. What are you trying to get good at? Cardio?”
Yadda, yadda, yadda.
As I read many of the articles published all over the Internet, one thing is consistent: there are millions of self-proclaimed experts (i.e., “haters”) out there. They love nothing more than to tell you what you should, and more importantly shouldn’t be doing. They’ll quote a couple studies and talk about how their Uncle Phil or their neighbor failed at exactly what you are doing. Some will take it a few steps further and go straight frat boy on you, calling you a pussy or an idiot for wanting to continue down the road you are traveling.
These people fall into the same category as door-to-door evangelists. You are a nice person, so you open the door and listen to them tell you why you need to change. All the while, you're wishing they'd wrap it up, so you can get back to your episode of Thrones on Netflix. The fitness "experts" will haze you from behind their keyboard, and then return to their smug existence knowing they have saved another lost soul.
You can find these “experts” spouting their infinite knowledge on the following fitness trends:
CrossFit has done more for weightlifting in the last 10-15 years than perhaps anything that came before it. Schwarzenegger is the only thing I can think of that came close. I’m not even a CrossFit guy. I’m saying this as a total outsider watching the fitness culture completely change due to this community.
Can you name one fitness trend that has introduced kettlebell training, Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, and gymnastics (to name a few) to the common person in the way CrossFit has? CrossFit created interest in some of the most obscure lifting styles we’ve ever known and thrust them into the consciousness of nearly anyone who chooses to partake in any kind of fitness. Regardless of what the fanatics and fundamentalists think, CrossFit has pumped life into the fitness world like nothing before it.
Yes, I know, there are a lot of crappy CrossFit coaches out there. Well guess what? There are also a lot of shitty personal trainers, sport coaches, Oly coaches, mechanics, welders, florists, doctors, lawyers - you name it. Whenever you have more than one person in a profession, there are going to be philosophical differences and a portion of people who don't pull their weight. It’s human nature, and it can’t be avoided.
Some of the best coaches I’ve ever encountered have been CrossFit coaches. No group has worked harder to establish themselves than these coaches have. No community has done more for the rest of us than CrossFit has. And the best thing is, they couldn't care less what anyone else thinks.
I know David Weck. David is the CEO of BOSU Fitness, and he has been a friend of mine for about ten years. David Weck is smarter than all of us. He is a master of movement, a genius on all things neuro-muscular, and a damn fine practitioner of the internal martial arts. If you don’t know what the internal martial arts are, think Bruce Lee, Jet Li, and anything kung fu. I can’t even begin to describe the level of outside-the-box thinking Weck is doing. Most of the conversations I have with him leave me astonished.
Just because some tenth grader decides to jump his pogo stick off of a BOSU ball and breaks his neck and the video goes viral on Facebook doesn’t mean it’s the ball’s fault. As a culture, we need to be a little more accountable for our poor choices. David’s justifications and science are tight. If you want to get into an educated argument with David Weck, be careful. He’ll likely talk you into swallowing your own tongue before it’s over, in true Hannibal Lecter style.
"Wait, did he just defend BOSU balls?" (Photo courtesy Jorge Huerta Photography)
My first question to those of you who spend your energy posting all this nonsense about Planet Fitness, Orange Theory, and any other gyms of that nature is: why do you care? You’re not training there, you aren’t sending your friends or clients there, so why do you give a shit? And please, please, stop using the term “globo-gym.” It makes you sound infinitely dumber than anyone you are trying to mock.
There’s a reason those gyms are everywhere, and it’s because they provide what their clientele want. Not everyone is looking to make the CrossFit Games or prepping for a powerlifting meet. Most people in your neighborhood just want a place where they can go and feel comfortable walking on a treadmill, doing some machine flies, and perhaps a few sets of triceps kickbacks. Not all of them are meatheads like you and me. So stop thinking they are wasting their time, just because they are doing it in a way you think is soft or unscientific. All you are doing is clarifying that you are, in fact, a tool.
Don’t… just don’t.
Anything Not “Scientific”
The term “pseudo-science” is one of the trending words on the Internet right now. I’m seeing it more and more, and with each new use, a butterfly dies in the Serengeti.
I even stopped attending big conferences, because a funny thing happens at each one. The science guys start to commune, and the meatheads begin to congregate. Then the whole conference morphs into an “us versus them” type of atmosphere. My last event was in 2002 in Louisville, Kentucky. I vividly remember noticing this and appreciating the ridiculousness of the entire situation.
Science guys, listen up! You aren’t right in every situation. I’ve spent years of my life conducting studies. I’ve been university-backed and had hundreds of high-level athletes put through the ringer, all in the name of science. In the end, all I got was a microscopic understanding of something specific to a small group of similar people in an isolated setting. That’s it. I haven’t revolutionized training or stumbled upon the next big thing.
Because of my medical background, I’ve been forced to read and be part of countless studies and clinical trials. It’s impossible to control for everything. Unless you are moving your subjects into a warehouse and monitoring every breath they take for the duration of your study, you can only control what you can control - which isn’t much, when you look at the difficulty of pulling off a strong study.
I will acknowledge that your existence is necessary for our progress. I’m not denying that. Just don’t forget, there is something to be said for experience. For example, I am a medical Qigong doctor. I practice a specific type of medicine that has existed in China for over 5,000 years. Say that to yourself: five thousand years. I studied for over six years with one of the greatest healers our world has ever known. I’ve witnessed healings and miraculous disease reversals that cannot be explained. And yet, because the Chinese scientific model does not fit into our tidy Western definition of science, this modality is dismissed and even laughed at.
Just because something hasn’t been extensively studied by a gaggle of lab coats at Stanford does not mean it doesn’t have value. Demanding studies to “prove it” time and time again doesn’t make you look smart. It makes you look like an asshole.
More on the Relationship Between Fitness And Science:
This day and age, all we do is sit. Our food supply is slowly being perverted, and all of our attention is directed to our phones. How could any of us look at someone who is trying to better themselves and talk shit? It boggles my mind.
What works for me might not work for you. As for me, I love my twenty minutes of cardio with Dave Matthews. l also love to back squat. If I die fifty years from now doing this same cardio, on this same machine, listening to this exact playlist, and squatting heavy, I will die a happy man. And I don't care what anyone thinks of it.
But I don’t expect you all to agree with me. For that matter, I don’t expect you to care what I have to say about the exercises or routines you love. I’m not you. I don’t know what gets you up and moving. All I care about is whether you find it.
This article was originally published on Breaking Muscle US.