Inspiration from the Iron Tamer: Day Two

Still excited from the amazingness of the first day of the Iron Tamer‘s two-day kettlebell workshop (and fueled by the amazing dinner my dad and I had at Peg Leg Porker the previous night), I showed up for day two ready for whatever would unfold.

And—as was true for day one—day two didn’t disappoint.

Get Bent

Day two began with some more of the breath practices that we experienced the previous day. This peaked the energy and brightened the focus of everyone there; we were all smiling and ready to learn more.

After we all got good and fired up with the help of Wim Hof method breathing, Dave began teaching us about pressing variations guaranteed to bring joy and delight into one’s life.

In his book Taming the Bent Press, Dave quotes Jon Engum, who has said that “The secret to happiness in life is to put heavy stuff over your head.” Dave continues by writing that “the bent press, once you are skillful at it, allows you to put more weight overhead with one hand than any other lift…. Therefore, the bent press is a joyous activity. If enough of us get good at it, we can make the world a happier place.”

It certainly seems worth a shot, doesn’t it?

Through the course of the morning, Dave unpacked the differences and similarities between military presses, side presses, and bent presses, and provided each of the attendees with valuable guidance towards enabling each press variation to work with their specific body.

I am not going to dilute the deep wisdom that the Iron Tamer presented that morning; to do so would be to do it (and all of my readers) a grave disservice. Do yourselves a favor: get his book. Then, once you read it, contact him and find out how you can learn from him directly. Trust me on this: it’s worth it.

By the end of the morning, I had gone from never having even attempted a bent press to doing them with kettlebells and a barbell… and gaining a deep respect and appreciation for this amazing lift. I have continued to practice since returning home, and it has already taught me a great deal about my body’s mobility and strength and about the process of maintaining mindfulness through movement.

Also, practicing it makes me happy. So Dave and Jon must be right.

Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

After we practiced joyfully putting iron over our noggins, we transitioned to learning about alternative methods of programming for goal attainment. Again, I don’t want to dilute the richness of what Dave taught that afternoon, so I’m just going to offer a few jewels and encourage you to do seek out his books and/or to learn from him personally.

First, the “Beast Mode” mentality is misguided at best and fucked up at worst.

Second, training and practice trump “working out.”

Third, the body knows what the body needs. Trust it more than you trust even the most well-put-together program. As Dave wrote in Taming the Bent Press (I can only hope by now that y’all have clicked over and ordered a copy), “If a plan calls for 10 singles and by the time you get to 5 you know that you are done for the day, I encourage you to shut it down. Gravity will still be there tomorrow. The weights will wait. Likewise, if you are feeling great and know that doing a little bit more than what is written is a great idea for you today, then that is fine, as long as you are truly following intuition and not ego. Remember: treat training as practice.”

Our bodies know much more than we give them credit for. When we ignore the messages that they are sending us, we are getting in our own way: being as present as possible for these messages is the fundamental key to safe and sustainable progress.

Bonus Round: Yeah, I Did That

And that, dear readers, is a basic exploration of the inspiring and eye-opening experience of attending a workshop with the Iron Tamer.

However, this post comes with an important epilogue. Because after the workshop had ended, I asked Dave how a person would get started on bending steel. He replied by handing me a piece of steel and coaching me through the bending process. Then, as a fun chaser, I bent a nail, too.

These experiences were the culmination of an already life-changing weekend. (Think that’s hyperbole? Just wait until my next post.)

As I later wrote in a message to Dave, “I have watched the video of my first bend several times, and I keep coming back to a suspicion that the most important moment was right after my first attempt at a push, when the steel actually knocked me off balance a little and I accomplished nothing at all, and instead of letting it get in my head I just got into position again and pushed one more time. In that moment, I didn’t even consider letting that happen again: I knew I was going to bend it. That moment… it was something else.”

(For a video that better depicts that moment, click here.)

And it was indeed something else entirely, something different than anything I’d previously experienced. I think that it’s completely possible that, had I attempted to bend that steel at the start of the first day, I would not have been able to. Would I have had the strength to? Absolutely. I just wouldn’t have had the benefits of being exposed to an approach to training that went so deeply into the connections between body, mind, and breath.

As I’ve mentioned before in previous posts, I have had a daily gratitude practice for over six years; every day, I make note of something for which I’m grateful, and post it to my personal Facebook page. I haven’t missed a day yet. So I feel comfortable saying that the practice of gratitude is one that I’m fairly experienced with… and I can tell you all that the depth of gratitude that I have for having been able to learn from Dave is bigger than I could have ever expected.

In fact, it keeps on unfolding. I was expecting my thoughts regarding last weekend to have been a single post, and then I decided to split it into two posts. Well, in the time since I wrote the first post, I’ve realized I have even more to say… and so a third post will be forthcoming; this one will be about the ways that Dave’s book Superhuman You has opened me up to a whole new level of intentional living. So stay tuned for that!


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