Disclaimer: This is going to be a long, rant-y post.
Chip Conrad is like a crazy oyster fisherman. He works really hard and spends years hunting and digging for pearls, and when we approach him seeking to learn, he smiles gleefully and says here, you take it. Trying to encapsulate everything he taught us over the last week wouldn’t just be impossible, but would also be somewhat insulting. Like a great teacher, his teachings aren’t just for here and now, but are going to serve as a beacon that we keep coming back to and realising as we continue on our own journey.
The first time I came across coach Chip’s ideas was in his DVD, building a holistic athlete. It blew my mind. He had the courage and audacity to ask a really important question, something that I felt was on the tip of everyone’s tongue (every fitness/movement person I followed at least) but no one would actually spit out – can there be more to this fitness thingy than just the pursuit of purely physical and selfish motives? And from there, he opened up a can of worms and a world of possibilities. Maybe you don’t have to pick between hippy-dippy movement and flow systems and chalk-eating, shin-bleeding bigger-stronger-faster methods. Maybe it’s okay to have fun when training instead of grinding your teeth and visualising slasher flicks in your head before a set. With his trademark infectious enthusiasm, he painted a beautiful picture of what that world could be like.
Out of all the ideas that he spoke to us about, I am only going to speak about one. This idea permeates through everything he says and everything that we learnt and did at Bodytribe Fitness – purpose.
Purpose, put simply, is ‘the why’ of well.. anything. Why do we train? Why do we want to look a certain way? Why are our training sessions set up a certain way? These questions for me opened up a dialogue with myself that, to be honest, I didn’t enjoy very much. There were some harsh truths that I found myself facing. My training was mostly geared towards two things – getting better at working out, and looking good with my shirt off. And funnily enough, neither of them were things that gave me pleasure in the present – I wasn’t really enjoying the process. Basically, one of my goals gave me happiness from an end result of beating myself up and the other from an end result of improving the way other people perceived me. This wasn’t a fun epiphany.
Over the last week with coach Chip, he made me realise something that I had forgotten. ‘Play’ is awesome. We swung from bars, climbed trees, rolled around on mats and did a whole lot of movement flows. Remember how when you were a kid, you climbed this, jumped off of that, crawled under this, rolled under that and just.. moved? If that was the last time you had fun moving, isn’t there something wrong with that? And if that was so awesome, why are most of us trying to do programs that are reverse engineered from bodybuilding, powerlifting or crossfit training methods?
I’m probably never going to compete in any of those sports.. probably. So why would I train like I was?
So here are my new goals:
Train to be bulletproof in any environment or context
Train to be capable in any situation
Play, and train to to be able to play harder
Whether or not an exercise is ‘functional’ or not will be determined by whether or not it supports these goals.
It’s going to take me many, many years to completely understand and decipher the knowledge that coach Chip has passed on to us, but I’m super glad that Prashanti and I met him now. I think it really has given both of us a much-needed focus for our journey.
A big thank you to everyone at Bodytribe! You guys were awesome. Special mention to Hank, Lulu, Scarlet and Doug the pug.