Pink Gloves: women's boxing fitness franchise

A Montana-based personal trainer and his old football buddy have started up a franchise selling a group women's boxing fitness program that is part of a formal organization structure. It's called Pink Gloves and yuck - they do indeed award Title-brand pink gloves to clients as they attain certain levels of proficiency, much like the belts system in popular martial arts.

NPR did a nice business-angle piece on the start-up. Pink Gloves hasn't made a profit yet, but sounds like it should have some marketability. Read it here or listen to it here.

Photo by Jacquie Peterson for NPR

Choi Hyun Mi: Defector Girl Boxer

Featherweight boxing champion Choi Hyun Mi escaped North Korea with her family. She fled to South Korea for the love of boxing. She's billed as “Defector Girl Boxer.” She won a world championship at age 17.

From the NY Times:

Ms. Choi hopes to supplement her family’s income with her fighting fees. Like Americans who vaulted past class bias through a life in the ring, Ms. Choi also hopes to lift her family’s stature.

“My parents gave up everything in North Korea to give their children a better life in the South,” she said. “Boxing is my way to prove that my parents made the right decision.”

She's getting some great press. The NY Times devotes two pages to her. Hear her story on PRI's The World. Watch this report from Al Jazeera.

Photo from Reuters

Happy Holidays

damaged goods

I've been dealing with a lot of damage lately. It's part of life, the natural balance of things. Where there is strength, there is lack of weakness; where there is new, there is lack of old. As things begin new, so they may end old, or damaged. It's all part of the same process, wheel of life, etc.

Here's a round-up of things I've damaged in my gym over the past year or so. Doesn't it always seem like everything goes at once? Car parts, lightbulbs. . . Once a cycle starts, you just got to ride it out until it's finished. For me, that cycle (hopefully) ended a few weeks ago. More on that in a moment.

The platform was the first to go. Okay, it wasn't a real platform. It was a wooden garage door. My weights punched holes through it.

Then my equipment started going: my bar - the threads wore out and it couldn't stay together anymore. For a long time, the ends would come unscrewed over a work out, and I would just screw it back together before it fell apart completely. Eventually, there were no threads left to hold it together. I even duct taped it in desperation, but after every rep, it would literally fall apart. That's harsh.

Plus, my bar had a hole punched into it by slamming it onto the rack. It's a little rough there, but I got used to it.

My Muscle Clamps, as much as I love them and as strong as they are, just aren't made for dropping the bar. A few times I did drop it and they struck the blocks I was working on. The clamps flew apart. We managed to get them back together, but they'll never be the same. The pity is that after this happened to my old blue ones, I ordered sharp new red ones, and then it happened to them.

My little warm-up plates, same thing. They're not meant to do the work of bumper plates. So when the bar struck the blocks, it also sent shards of plates flying. Now the weight is off. And once the inside is exposed, the slightest bit of moisture starts rust. One plate split into two pieces.

My shoes finally died. They didn't have to; it was just the straps, but I couldn't part with them long enough for a cobbler to work on them. After months of holding the straps in place with paperclips, I finally cut one strap off completely. Well, I knew better than to lift in shoes not up to the task, but I was too cheap to move on it. They were only two years old.

My heavybag has really taken a beating from me. I've worn through the hardware hooks that keep it hanging twice now. My DH knew exactly what had happened the second time he heard bang-bang-bang-crash then his name.

The bag is held in place by a band that's hooked to a strap across the bottom, but the strap on my bag wore through. There's really no work-around I can think of. Now it just swings like crazy and I'm used to it.

When everything catches up with you and actually stops your progress, it can bring you down. It can seem like replacing things is just too big of a burden, financial and otherwise, to prioritize with all the other demands in life. And when other demands keep pulling at you, when it's cold and dark in the gym, you're tired, and there are a dozen other obstacles, you can get off your game. I guess what I'm finding is that since there are so many obstacles to keeping up your training regimen, don't put obstacles in front of yourself. Control the obstacles you can. Not buying yourself the right equipment when you can afford it (because you're cheap or stubborn or just plain lazy) is obstructing your own path.

I said my cycle (hopefully) ended a few weeks ago. That's when my body was damaged. I was walking across the street on my way to work one dark, rainy morning, when a guy hit me with his truck. I'm proud to say I unleashed my trained thunder and beat on his truck. But as he took off, I began to feel my injuries.

You can put off dealing with damaged gear, but you cannot avoid dealing with bodily damage. My focus moved completely onto my recovery. When real interference hits in my life, I hold to my training regimen faster than ever. I focused 100 percent on healing, doing everything right to create the circumstances for my body to heal and recover. I treated myself the way I would recommend others do for themselves - something we don't always do. I iced and soaked and did everything nice for my body that I could because my body needed me now, instead of me needing it to meet my demands. I was very fortunate to have some sports specialist clinicians working on me, too. The professionals involved in my recovery have been amazed at how well I withstood the hit, and assured me I owe it to my weightlifting conditioning. What greater motivation is there to lift then that?

Right before I got hit, weightlifting legend Tom Hirtz advised me, "A good bar is critically important. This is your sport. Don't wreck the experience with a shit bar. Save money and buy cheaper bumpers, but go with a decent bar." So I bit the bullet and ordered not one, but two brand spanking new weightlifting bars, 20KG and 15KG. I ordered some bumper plates, too. They arrived when I was waiting to be able to lift again. Such inspiration these bars were! There they were, things of beauty, shining and perfect and new and all mine, just waiting for me. New bars for the new me. Or at least the changed me. I'm very grateful for the timing of these bars. I felt joy just seeing them and touching them. When I did step back into the gym, my heart rose at the very idea of working with them. And they are amazing - enhance the whole experience. Tom was right.

Today I broke down and ordered new weightlifting shoes (Kanamas). When I realize the low-grade toll of the crummy feeling I've been having each time I pull on my shoes and adjust the paperclip, I begin to value the investment of new things, good things, for my lifelong journey in strength and motion discovery. Besides the obvious and indisputable value of safety and performance, there's this immeasurable motivation and happiness that sound gear can provide. And here I was just being cheap. But this is my responsibility; who else but me is going to provide me with weightlifting shoes?

One day when I was tightening up the bolts on my bench yet again, my DH said, "You know, if you didn't use it so much, it wouldn't break down." Made me smile. I was busy being annoyed, but that's the wrong reaction. It's a point of pride to wear out your stuff. Each ding, nick and tear, each break is there because you used it. Proof that you're alive and kicking ass.

We built a real platform. It was like a whole new world. I know this can be daunting, but the experience of taking your lifts onto your own platform is huge, huge like moving into a new house or getting a new vehicle. Never think you're too small-time for a real platform. They're not just for gyms. If you're a weightlifter, a platform is your gym.

Maybe I'm just getting carried away, but I ordered a real sandbag today. One made for work outs, with handles and strong innerbags. (There, I said it, I want a sandbag with handles.) I dumped my homemade sandbags, the sand spilling out, and took them inside to wash the cat pee off them. They were covered with cobwebs and dust. Why? Because they were falling apart and just so wrong for the job that I hadn't used them in months. I had found joy in sandbag training, but I stopped doing it, and blamed myself for not using my bags, instead of stepping up to my equipment needs and buying myself something nice. Where's the gain in that?

I'm reflecting on damage and recovery, and I'm feeling good about moving forward. No matter what happens, that's what you have to do: just keep moving forward. You could just consider this essay to be spending rationalization, and that's partly true. But that doesn't mean it isn't valid or can't offer deeper insights into living. Anything in life should hold clues for living. It's a material world, and my material body needs the right materials to train. I'm looking forward to my training. I'm excited about it. Whether my maxes are compromised at my next meet or whether I hit PRs, I'm going to appreciate being there and performing at all. . . But I'm hoping for a PR.

Related links
How much does it cost to work out? A reality check
Quality Recovery: the training benefits of being sick

My studio


This beautiful Thanksgiving message from Chip Conrad at Bodytribe

What I'm Thankful For

If we had to give everything back, if the universal plan demanded us to hand over all possessions and start again bare and raw, I would have a very under-impressive load to turn in. What we would be left with, in our stripped down, essential state, is the coveted internal real estate we should perpetually be striving to cultivate. To give and receive from this place, there is no better exchange. All else is superfluous, although possibly entertaining. As a naked, unencumbered soul, give thanks, then, for how well you can fill the world with nothing but you. The caveat to this spiritual nudity is the quick understanding that if you haven’t taken care of yourself, if you don’t have the respect for yourself to care about the condition of your system, you greatly limit your choices and possibilities.

Naked in front of God, Buddha, Posieden or Pan, give thanks for the better choices you’ve made, and embrace wisdom for choices not yet made.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!! Eat well, be well, do well!!

Photo by me, flying into a Texas sunrise

recovering from hit and run

I'm never sure who's actually reading my blog and keeping up me, but I am recovering from being hit by a hit-and-run driver while walking across a crosswalk.

I know I'm very fortunate not to have been hurt worse or killed. I'm glad I'm in good shape, to take a hit like this.

I don't want to post any more info publicly due to legal reasons, so friends just seeing this are welcome to contact me with any questions.

Ohio in fall

Mt. Hood Barlow Trail

A gorgeous, rainy October day on a historic Mt. Hood trail. We finished the hike in a total downpour. Meanwhile, kept flashing out my poor camera to try and catch some shots. None of these do justice to the luminous yellows against the murky greens. And - chatted with some mushroom pickers - those guys are hardcore.

October benches in Portland

downtown respite

October sights

musical stairs

Keep it fun or you won't keep it

It's a matter of motivation...

Wonder Woman art fights domestic violence

Checked out this terrific art exhibit on Wonder Woman in Portland.

Wonder Woman Day is a charity event observed in Fleming, New Jersey and Portland, Oregon, in support of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Proceeds of the art auction go to local domestic violence shelters and programs.

The exhibit Amazing Amazon will be at Lara Sydney Framing Gallery in the Pearl District until Oct. 25, 2009. That's the night of the live auction, which will include many more Wonder Woman art items.

The gallery owner's mother Cynthia told me the opening was packed. It's a relatively small gallery, so plan on being crammed for the live auction. But you can bid through the silent auction up until the 24th.

There are numerous first-rate comics artists involved, and the caliber overall was impressive. I'd like to namedrop, but there are just too many. Scroll down on this page for names.

My furtively snapped cell phone pictures of course don't do these pieces justice, but here were a few of my faves.

Willamette Greenway State Park

Jim Schitz interview

Barry Kinsella of the excellent blog Weightlifting Epiphanies is on a weightlifting journey - literally. One place it took him recently was Sacramento. There he interviewed the amazing Jim Schmitz. I followed Jim's program and am a huge fan, so this is a real treat. Thanks, Barry and Jim!

Now we should all kick in for a tripod for Barry.

50 KG clean & jerk

I got what I went for with my C&J Saturday. Only posting this clip, since my videographer eclipsed me with the back of a woman's head. At least she was clapping.

100 pounds will always be 100 pounds

From Lauren Kott's article Life Lessons from Lifting, published in in Milo about nine years ago. I got it from a reflective article by Chip Conrad on the Bodytribe blog.

To me, lifting has been meditation, salvation, and sanctuary. When I have been able to count on very little else in my life, the weights have been there. They are a constant in a life full of variables. Yesterday, today and next year, one hundred pounds will always be one hundred pounds. How that weight feels to me might be different over time. But the weights themselves are steadfast and abiding.

There is so much fight a lifter must possess that naturally translates into the rest of your life. I call it "lifting from your soul." At times there is something more than sheer bodily strength that drives the weight up.

Northern fur seal encounter

Labor Day weekend '09

How to watch Olympic weightlifting

From e-how: How to watch Olympic Weightlifting

1. Find an event to attend. Visit the U.S. Weight Lifting website and click on the calendar icon to see a list of events. "You're going to see a dynamic and explosive sport," says Wes Barnett, two-time Olympic weightlifter who is currently training in Colorado Springs for the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia.

2. Understand the rules of Olympic-style weightlifting. "In competition, each lifter gets three lifts in the snatch, which is the first event, and then three lifts in the clean and jerk. The best lift in each is added up and that is how you get your total."

3. Listen to the announcer. "A good announcer will explain whether a lift is good, and also mention what is coming up next," Barnett says. "An announcer can make all the difference in your experience as a spectator."

4. Look for explosive lifts. "Olympic-style weightlifting is all about speed. Watch for the lifters to explode into the lifts as they set themselves. Watch for locked elbows at the finish of the lifts."

5. Keep an eye on the lights on the scoreboard. "As lifters put the weights down, look for the lights on the scoreboard. Three referees will press buttons: a white or green light if it is a good lift or a red light if the lift is not good. Two out of three rules, so if you see at least two white or green lights on the board, you know the lifter will get credit for the lift."

6. Watch the different weight classes. "There are eight different weight classes for male lifters and seven for women," says Barnett. "These are based on the size of the lifters."

7. Don't be afraid to cheer. "Olympic-style weightlifting is a lot of fun. The lifters really get excited when the crowd is into the event."

Don't be confused between weightlifting and powerlifting competitions. Olympic-style weightlifting is a sport that is built around just two different lifts.

Dahlia fields

Took way more pics than last year.

end of August sights