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29 May

I’ve read countless articles on the importance of having a morning ritual and I’ve struggled countless times to create one and stick to it. The proof is really in the pudding; the most successful and productive people on this planet almost uniformly have a morning ritual, from Tony Robbins to Richard Branson. Across the board they all seem to have one thing in common: they guard their mornings jealously to set the stage for their success throughout the day. Rituals vary from person to person but there seems to be a common thread; there is an activity done to nourish mind body and spirit (meditation for example) and then doing a hundred push ups followed by a half hour of reading.

My Dilemma

My major issue with finding a morning routine was that I would try to stick to it and experiment with different things but there were so many options that I would get bogged down comparing one routine with another or tweaking things last minute then sitting there debating with myself on wether I made the right decision.

Enter Steven Pressfield’s War of Art

Steven Pressfield is a critically-acclaimed author who self-admittedly didn’t realize success as an author until his mid 40’s. Some of his previous works include, The Legend of Bagger Vance, Gates of Fire, Tides of War, The Virtues of War and Last of the Amazons.

If you’ve not read War of Art it is a must-read for anyone with creative aspirations. The central concept of the book is that there is a repulsive force felt by most people surrounding any creative activities or endeavours that the author refers to as “resistance”. Resistance is that almost physically repulsive force emitted by your computer when you have a deadline to meet and the report/essay/project is due. It’s the influencer that whispers in our ear encouraging us to see what our friend Sally’s dog was up to this past weekend on Facebook instead of writing our blog. Resistance is subtle, cunning and alive in us all.

My Solution

Use resistance as your guide; The thing you feel the most resistance to is likely the thing that you need to do the most…or in the words of Mr. Pressfield “Resistance is True North.”

Therefore the first thing I do in the morning shortly after I’ve brushed my teeth is the thing I least want to do. After I’ve accomplished that task I move on to the next and the next and so on. No indecision, no waffling, just productivity.

Funnily enough, things tend to fall into a similar pattern most days; in effect giving me a morning ritual thats mostly consistent. I wake up and do contrast showers, 20 seconds cold followed by 10 second hot. I do this for about 5 minutes. I then put a pot of water to boil on a very low heat. Followed by 15 minutes of meditation. After I make my morning coffee I sit down and either read or write. I’ll generally intersperse this with mobility work and or foam rolling again, touching on the 3 pillars of Mind, Body, and Spirit.

My advice to anyone looking to start a morning ritual. Start small and work your way out from there. It could be as simple as starting the day with five minutes spent appreciating the abundance in your life, and then cranking out twenty push ups, twenty squats and planking for two minutes. That’s it!

If you enjoyed this article and found this style of setting a morning ritual helpful, please post your experience in the comments section.

26 May

The past four weeks have kicked my ass; not just metaphorically but literally. I started prepping for a kettlebell certification about 3 months ago. This is not just any certification, this particular certification is arguably one of, if not the most difficult kettlebell certification on the planet with an average failure rate of 25%.

Preparation started two and a half months ago and unfortunately came to a screeching halt when I seriously strained my QL doing heavy deadlifts. I’m sure things would have been fine if I didn’t seriously strain my piriformis about a week later.

At that stage I didn’t have high hopes that I was going to pass the six skills tests, let alone the dreaded snatch test (100 single-arm snatches in under 5 minutes) at the end of the 3 days however after three weeks of treatment from both my physiotherapist and chiropractor (shout-out to Jessie Elliot and Dr. Ryan Scott!) I was able to limp my way into the first day of the certification.

To summarize the next three days, lets just call it intense, exhausting and informative; Early mornings followed by eight hour practices, followed by ice baths…rinse, repeat.

What I Learned from Those Three Days

  1. The Body is More Durable Than We Think. The human structure has an incredible ability to get us through, immense physical trials: From a military bootcamp to surviving a bear attack, we wouldn’t have survived this long as a species without a way to tap into that primal survival instinct when needed.
  2. Fighting Without Fighting. There are some kettlebell practices that can bring you as near to the feeling of a fight as you’ll ever get without actually being in a fight.
  3. Strength is a Mindset. I assumed going in that the attendees of this seminar would be reserved to super-jacked monsters but I was surprised to see an equal split of men and women who were just regular folks. Moms & dads, landscapers or volunteer firemen and amazingly enough they were strong! It was nothing like the Crossfit games where I witnessed some serious self-selecting and nearly everyone could fit neatly into each other’s silhouettes. The people attending the kettlebell certification looked generally fit but it wasn’t until you noticed the strength in their forearms or felt the solidness of their shoulder when clapping them on the back for completing a good lift that you realized just how fit they really were.

The common thread amongst these folks was that they had all decided at some stage that they didn’t want to be weak anymore. They choose their pain; the one that leads to empowerment and strength and not the pain that chooses you. That is the pain that comes to find you on the couch, or sitting hunched over at your desk.

In summary I guess what I’m trying to say is that no matter what walk of life you come from, choose your pain, don’t let it choose you. Take that first step, walk into your local gym, find a coach or even start out with push ups in your bedroom (like I did). Whatever you decide, CHOOSE STRENGTH! 

Peter Montrait, PTS, FIS, PN1, SFG1

A photo of strength coach peter montrait holding a kettlebell