Showing Up: A Personal Example

Expanding on the showing up principle. Let me share a weekend of highs and lows. So on November 22 and 23 was the Workshop I had been looking forward to for over a month. I was going to meet Dean Somerset and Tony Gentilcore, two world renowned trainers. The seminar ran both days from 9 to 5 complete with “knowledge bombs” and “voodoo” techniques. Trainers from across the country came to attend. Gunnar Peterson was there as well. He was a familiar face, but it did not hit me until reading Dean’s summary post later that I remembered who he was. He cracked plenty of jokes during the workshop and gave Dean/Tony a hard time :P

The workshop was held at Crossfit714 a gorgeous facility full of equipment in any serious lifter’s dream. Located in Anaheim, it was only a 30 mile drive for me. We even had a guy fly in from Hawaii to attend. Needless to say, this was a big thing for us trainers and fitness enthusiasts! For me, and probably many others, I learned more in 2 days than I ever did in my own reading and research. Tangible techniques that I immediately applied to my clients afterwards for instant results. For one who isn’t great at research and ADD when it comes to reading deeply, nothing beats hands on and visual learning for me.

We were given alot of the latest research, myths, pitfalls, along with personal anecdotes and experiences from Dean and Tony. We got to get hands on with each other, with a few participants (including myself) getting up on a table for them to poke around on. Personally, I discovered that the bowed chest I was born with has a big effect on my shoulder mobility and core stability. Dean taught me how to retrain my breathing and it’s something I’ve been working on ever since. My left supraspinatus has had a partial tear for a while now so I eased off on pressing work. It was during the workshop that I now have a clearer understanding of why it happened. My breathing inhibited proper alignment and range of motion in my presses which lead to a gradual wearing out of my shoulder. Among many other things, that epiphany paid for the trip itself.

A man crush of mine Ben Bruno also made an appearance to show us some awesome landmine variations and the great Mark Cheng that I had heard so much about but never met came on Sunday to seduce me into the world of kettlebells that I never really delved into.


So there you have it, a life changing and unforgettable weekend. Now… let’s get into the not so happy things that happened prior to the event.

Starting Wednesday that week my body was feeling a little off. I had a hard workout Tuesday of cleans, lunges, and pullups and thought maybe that left me a little more fatigued than usual. Or maybe I didn’t fully cook my chicken the Sunday before and was paying for it now. Well from Wednesday to Friday I basically had alot of pooping happen. No worries, I should be good by Saturday I thought. Come 1am Saturday I awoke to a growling stomach, followed by the most intense session of defecation in my life. My stool had become liquified to the point where I was more or less pissing out my ass. This lasted from 1am to 5am. I went at least 20 times and used up just about 2 full toilet rolls. No fever, slight headache, and just crazy dehydration. I had no idea my body could release so much water but hey we are 60% water right?

The worst of it seemed to be over around 5am. But suddenly another emergency occurred. One of our neighbors was banging on the doors of the apartment to wake up all tenants. My mom awoke and was the one to call 911. We live in a Chinese-centric apartment and my mom knows more English than all of her peers so she was tasked with the call.  Our neighbor’s husband had passed out in the restroom. The phone was then passed to me as my mom’s English, although quite stellar for her generation, was not ready for emergency calls. I confirmed the number and location with the operator and went to the scene. He was laying on the floor of the restroom, bottom half bare but covered with a blanket because there was a trail of feces. After a quick check I was instructed to begin CPR. This was my first time ever doing CPR live and I was certified in March 2013. At that time I was taught 30 Compressions and 2 breaths. I confirmed this with the operator, but he told me to just focus on compression. Maybe the standard has changed? I guess I’ll find out when I renew. He said I should try for 600 compressions. Luckily we live literally 3 houses from a fire station so they came within 10 minutes of the call. I had made it to 100 compressions before they took over. We stayed a bit to help translate and get medical history information to the Paramedics, but I soon had another toilet run coming. I excused myself, flushed my system once again and tried to get some sleep.

It was about 6am at this point and they took him to the hospital. I got up at 7 to get ready for the trip. I took another 3 dumps before stepping out, hoping I didn’t shit myself on the freeway, and hot damn I didn’t. I left around 7:45 and got to Anaheim by 8:30. Took one more dump there and was empty for the rest of the day. I felt like shit. I didn’t sleep, I didn’t eat, I was dehydrated, but luckily no fever or headaches. I saw Dean and Tony, and the day took a 180 degree turn from there. It was like meeting a celebrity. The Jackie Chan of the fitness industry for me. I was able to attend, participate, and stay awake to soak up all the knowledge and energy there. I skipped lunch, fearing another lapse and hoped I wouldn’t pass out from an empty stomach. My stomach even growled when Dean was working on my breathing, getting him worried about me possibly farting. Haha! It was during the lunch break that I called my mother to ask about my neighbor. He didn’t make it. Having just turned 70, he had dealt with Asthma, Diabetes, and just overall a weak body for many years, coughing all the time, but always smiling and ready to greet me warmly. May he rest in peace.

So what is the point of this lengthy post?

Not to complain, but I would say my week got bad halfway through and very nearly ended catastrophically. Had I simply given up on the workshop and stayed home, I don’t think I would’ve been in good spirits. From a body numbing experience that almost warranted an ER visit, to the death of a neighbor, safe to say it would have been wise to rest. But this was a workshop I had looked forward to for over a month. A man I’ve been wanting to meet for over 2 years from Canada, who happened to be in California this month. Oh and $400 was dropped to attend of course. What if I had let this opportunity go? Even if I got a refund, would Dean ever be in LA again? There’s no way to say. I just knew that when I saw him, all doubts were gone, my perspective refocused.

It was a tragic experience, but it’s always how people handle it that makes the difference. It was unfortunate and untimely, I received much praise from his son, wife, and other neighbors, who basically panicked when I did what any person should’ve. The praise made things worse, because at the end of the day, it wasn’t enough to save him. After careful inquiries and accounts from them, I found that the response was less than optimal. Long story short, he might’ve been laying there not breathing for well over 10 minutes before we were notified and the call was made. But I’m not here to blame, I spoke with everyone and gave them a simple process to follow in case of the next emergency. The lesson is to waste no time in calling 911, because anything else you try is just testing your luck.

So, when shit hits the fan. Try your very best not to cry. Keep moving, because as harsh as it sounds, the world doesn’t stop for you when you cry. It’s up to you to make the best of what you have, and take on what you get. I’m glad that when the time came I didn’t panic. I’m satisfied with how I handled it. This situation was an eye opener and answered one of the age old questions that always lingered for me: “Will I really be ready when the time comes?” After careful reflection, the answer is yes. If you’re still living, you’ve got work to do!

So if you made it this far reading I thank you. Was there a situation in your life you could have handled better? Was there an opportunity you missed because you gave up at the last second? This is similar when it comes to fitness as well. I can’t tell you how many sessions have been missed for silly reasons. Those lost sessions are just an abyss of could have beens. It might’ve been a new PR day for some, or a Eureka day for others.

So I encourage you to show up, because sulking and accepting fate is one thing to do, but thickening the skin and challenging the so called inevitable brings invaluable growth.

Dean and Tony, thank you for rocking my world!

Dean and Tony, thank you for rocking my world

If you’d like some tidbits from the event, please visit the facebook page.