Jungles, 12 Steppers, and UFOs: Join the Online Strength Community!

Welcome to the Jungle.


Jungle
Welcome to the Jungle.
The competition to survive in the world's rain forests and jungles is brutal. The animals are all killing each other, quicksand sucks up everything and everyone that missteps, while the billions of insects supply various fevers and diseases to anything they can get a hold of, not to mention all the sickening humidity. A friend who slogged through a stretch of Ecuadorian rainforest told me it was "like living in someone's hot underwear". Not even the trees are spared from the competition. The most powerful, tallest trees are also the oldest, because they get the most light. Close to the ground are the weak and the small trees, stunted in their growth and following whatever trajectories the giants dictate. They can't reach the sun, so they go nowhere.



Light, physical or abstract, is typically associated with enlightenment, but you could choke the whole world with all the metaphors and similes out there about light, some sappier than others. "Light is knowledge", "Light is good", "Light is nice", "Light is a purring kitten" (I'm sure it's out there somewhere) etc. And then you can make all sorts of other leaps. "Light is knowledge, and knowledge is power, so light is also power" etc. There's plenty of fancy wordplay out there that I won't add any more to.



Back to the trees: those stronger trees survive by depriving the weaker trees of something they need. This is the opposite of what my (limited) experience in the online strength community has been. The biggest and the strongest have typically proven the most generous to me, with both their time and talents. Results are what we want, and we gravitate to those who have had the best results. These mighty few usually have stories about their own mentors. Mentors/teachers/coaches are essentially people who offer to sponsor (sometimes for an hourly fee) your success.

Now, I'm going to assume that, even if you're not addicted to something, you know someone who is/was/will be. You can't fight an addiction without a system, something like the popular 12 step programs. The 12 step model forms a system of constant encouragement and self-scrutiny. I'm taking a look at the classified ads in Salt Lake City right now--whatever's ailin' you, anonymous or not, we've got you covered:

Overeaters, undereaters, UFO abductees, Religion, Atheism, gout, alcoholics, narcotics, low self-esteem, (too) high self-esteem, oversexed, cutters, panic attacks, grief, depression and so on...



I'm happy these programs exist and that people benefit from them. One of the first things many of them do is assign each member a sponsor. You contact your sponsor to talk you down from the ledge. They support you when you want a drink, a donut, you feel the panic attack coming on, or your stomach flips as you see the whirling lights of that UFO descending again. Your sponsor checks up on you, encourages you, and hopefully slaps some sense into you during the weak moments.

Maybe you don't need that person. I've heard plenty of people say that they love strength training because you do it alone. I'm the same, I also know that I'm more productive when I'm in touch with someone who shares my goals, or at least knows them.

Getting involved in a few of the online forums has been, for me, like instantly having a million sponsors. There's a way to reach out to some of the strongest people in the world and pick their brains. A lot of them also prove to be the coolest people out there, people you'd want to know under any circumstances. There is a group to celebrate your achieved goals with. Every day people I've never met contact me to ask how my shoulder rehab is coming. It's exciting and humbling and fun. So you're strong. Would you turn down a chance to be stronger? I suspect not, and that's why you find these strooooong people hanging around the forums--they haven't decided they know it all yet. Maybe it's not the "light" of overwrought poets and professors, but I believe the strong of any discipline all feed off the same energy.


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Are there potential downsides? Oh yeah. Here are a few quick guidelines:

A lot of my strong friends have resisted my attempts to persuade them to go online. One tried and said "All I saw was a bunch of meatheads typing "Yeah bro!" or "Yeah dude!". Is there some of that? Sure, there's a ton, but who cares? That's the beauty of the community--if you see something you don't like, don't read it. Nobody's holding a gun to your head. Delete it, change the channel, cancel the feed, and just tune it out.



Anybody who's done much reading about health of any sort has probably heard Bruce Lee's quote: "Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless". That's why I'm online. If I can absorb anything that helps me progress or cheers me up or whips me back in line, I want it, even if it's just a big fat "HELL YEAH BRO!!!!!!!"



And if any of you have been abducted by UFOs, contact me and I'll get you in touch with the head of UFOs abductees anonymous here in Salt Lake City. Help is on the way!





Josh Hanagarne

Josh Hanagarne has an undeniable obsession passion for grip training. When not re-adjusting his bun and telling people to shush, you'll find him over at World's Strongest Librarian. And, of course, on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.



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Of course, if you enjoyed these, I'd highly recommend grabbing the Strength & Fitness Newsletter. Delivered weekly, and absolutely free.

(there's also a Daily Update, if you're looking for an even larger dose of training-related goodness.)

NB : If you'd like to write a guest post for Straight to the Bar - I love hearing how other people are training - get in touch. If you've got a fitness competition or seminar coming up, add it to the calendar.

Look forward to hearing from you.


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