How Functional Fitness and the Steel Mace Found Me
One of the hardest things since the tumor shattered my leg over two years ago (crazy…feels like yesterday) is being partially functional and having people assume you have always been this way.
I have the guys or trainers that are like, “Aww….yeah, you should try exercise….you know…it’s good for you and since you’ve never done it…it will probably help.”
Ummmmmm, I have never in my life been the guy watching from the sidelines while everyone else was winning medals. That’s just not me. My entire life I have been the varsity athlete…all state in multiple sports….lettering in multiple sports every single year. I went on to play lots of sports during college and stayed crazy active.
Even in practice, as busy as it was….up until the few months leading up to the fracture (due to the pain I was in from the swelling) I was working out doing bootcamp training 4-5 days a week and running a crazy busy practice.
But the problem was that I knew that….and my wife knew that….and some of my friends knew that….but no one else does because like John Maxwell says in “LeaderShift”
“People will honor you for what you did in the past, but they respect you for what you are doing TODAY.”
Looking back….I realized that there were 2 things that knocked me out of my fitness journey and sent me spiraling downward:
The first was losing our son. That’s a long sad story and if you want to read about it go HERE. But our 3rd child, a boy named Evans, passed away 2 hours after Cindy delivered him back in 2014. This sent me into a tailspin and I honestly feared leaving Cindy and the kids because I didn’t want to be gone if anything else happened. I felt guilty for missing his delivery.
The second was the tumor in my leg. I didn’t know it at the time, but the tumor in my femur was changing the angle of my leg and causing a ton of pressure into my ankle on my left side and gave me pretty awful plantar fascitis.
Blah blah blah….all that to say….LIFE happens and sometimes it can be really hard to stay active. But there is always a way to get BACK and it may not look like it did before.
Fast forward to last fall (2018) and I was at a men’s event that I help lead in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I love this event but if I’m being honest my least favorite part of this event has always been the intense focus on personal accountability in the area of physical fitness. It was always hard because most of the guys there kind of looked at me like the out of shape science nerd when in reality….the past few years are the only years of my entire life I haven’t been in great physical shape.
I was embarassed about it and ashamed of it really.
“They don’t know me…” “They don’t know what I’ve been through.” “They don’t know the amount of pain I have been in and am in now…”
But at this particular event one of the speakers made this statement:
“Tell me any of the excuses you use as to why you don’t workout and I’ll show you how working out will actually solve that problem for you!”
And I got angry….and I knew things were about to change. I have always known when the Lord was poking me and pushing me to grow in an area by how mad it made me!! LOLOL
So I got home and started doing the fitness work I had always done and been used to…..and it was terrible.
I even joined an online training group that gave me set workouts and all I had to do was walk into the gym and follow the program…. The problem was that with the limitations of function in this leg and with as much strength as I had lost with the time I had been in a wheelchair and on a walker/cane….I could only do 10-20% of the workouts they were recommending I do.
I would literally leave the gym in tears because I couldn’t physically do anything I “needed” to do.
So one night after going to the gym and leaving defeated…in serious pain….I sat in my chair after everyone went to bed and worked through the problem.
“Ok…we can’t do anything in the gym….soooo we need to find something we CAN do and change our expectations of what a workout looks like.”
So I started thinking back to anything I had done and enjoyed that didn’t over-stress the legs that I thought I could do and it hit me…. KETTLEBELLS!! I had bought a set of kettlebells from a buddy years before and loved them, but had loaned them to a different friend while I was in the wheelchair.
I knew I could start here. I refused to be the dad that sat on the sidelines in pain while his kids played soccer and never participated because of my injury….I didn’t want my kids remembering their childhood like that.
So I got my kettlebells back and I could barely pick them up I was so weak. But I had hope.
I am super visual and needed some inspiration so I got on Instagram and unfollowed anyone that didn’t inspire or motivate me and began following hashtags like #kettlebell and #functionalfitness and things like that to really see what people were doing. I found some amazing fitness people on IG and began following what they were doing.
That’s when I saw someone swinging what looked like a weighted baseball bat….”What the heck is THAT thing?!?” I looked up what Steel Clubs were and found work by Scott Sonnan and ordered a set of them…..again I was so weak that I had to swallow my pride and go back and order much lighter ones to be able to begin working out.
Not a week later on one of the accounts I followed I saw another guy swinging a long pole with a weight on the end of it….the Steel Mace.
My brain exploded and I knew immediately I was going to train to use this tool and that this was the direction I was going to go in.
I bought my first mace and slowly because studying and practicing and working with the mace and did anything I could do and devoured any content I could find online.
Up to this point I would say that my pain levels consistently stayed at a 6-8 out of 10 most days with a couple days a month in there less than 5’s that were total gifts.
I fell in love with the mace and swung it every single day from that point in early September of 2018. And what I found blew me away…
I didn’t lose 50 pounds overnight and grow a sixpack…. I didn’t jump up in weight and start doing one arm pullups overnight…
No, what I found after 4-6 weeks was that after doing the Steel Mace….my leg and foot pain dropped almost to nothing daily and at it’s worst right now it might get to a 4-5 out of 10….and I have had very very few bad days since starting to swing this ancient tool.
It blew my mind…
But it totally made sense because the mace relies on a pendulum action to create an exponential weight load on you as you swing it and the movement creates amazing changes in:
Core Strength Spinal Stability Rotator Cuff strength Tricep Strength Lat Strength And serious cerebellar (neurological) stimulation and balance
Bottom line….this thing is a full body workout that I could and can do that does not overwork my leg and foot.
Starting off I was so weak that I couldn’t even swing my 5 lb clubs for very long so I started off with a 7 lb mace. Now? I’m swinging a 30 pound mace during each of my workouts and am doing one arm work with a 25 pound club!!
The point is that fitness doesn’t have to look the exact same for you as it does anyone else. And to never give up. Movement is an essential nutrient to the body and the brain….without it you slowly waste away physically and mentally. Find something that you enjoy that you will continue to do consistently and DO IT. My mentor in Mace training, Rik Brown said to me:
“People always ask me what the best workout is for this or that. I tell them…the one you will DO!”
And that is so so true. Find something fun and something that challenges you. Whether that is swimming, jumprope…or ancient weapons training with big weighted sticks like me!
I’m nowhere close to where I want to be…but I’m a long way from where I was. I’m going to enjoy the journey…and so should you.