The Strenuous Life Lived In A Garage

The Garage Mind concept comes from an article by Catalyst Athletics Weightlifting coach Greg Everett. Simply put, train in your garage with little to no equipment, primarily for weightlifting. 

Keeping training simple is easier said than done. A program needs to be laid out for you so that you don’t have to think about what to do. The work just needs to be started and completed.

“Little to no equipment” means just that. However, take that with a grain of salt, weightlifting equipment can be expensive if the best of the best is purchased. All you really need is:

A wooden platform, 8’x8’.

A barbell that spins.

Bumper plates.

Rubber stall mats on the side of the platform (to protect the platform where the plates are dropped).

An empty garage, driveway, or safe lifting space.

The costs rack up with accessories: squat stands, bands, blocks, reverse hypers, dumbbells, clothing, weightlifting shoes, you name it.

As for the non-traditional weightlifter*, like us fitnessers stuck at home during this shutdown, the following quote still carries weight.

*Feel free to interchange weightlifter and functional training at any time throughout this article, all the same.*

“(…)There is truly something pure and magical about the sport of weightlifting that can only be experienced when the excesses and distractions are stripped away”, written by Greg Everett in his article about the Garage Mindset.

No distractions, none. No music, no people walking by, no side conversations. Try it sometime, it’s peaceful. Just you and the barbell.

This shutdown has shown us a lot. But, it has cemented the notion that training is one of the most relevant things our community desires.

With the rise of social media, home workouts are everywhere you look; that includes Friction’s direction too, we continue to serve our community as much as we can.

During this rise of social media, the layman can say anything and market themselves any way they want. Including a fitness expert. Have you ever seen an ad, article, video, blog, or youtube series about how to “xyz” exercise better? It’s everywhere because being into fitness is now glamorous, cool and fun.

Don’t get me wrong, it is fun. This is the best job I’ve ever had. But, I need to do it the right way, and that can be really difficult sometimes.

As I’ve progressed through my “fitness journey”, (also known as “training age”, I’m only about 8 years old in that aspect) I’ve seen more and more gyms pop up. Within and around our community.

And within those last 7 to 8 years, there’s been quite a change in the culture across much of the exercise industry and even the sport of fitness! A shift in mindset.

Things got a lot easier, a lot more accessible (not necessarily a bad thing for a gym owner), and a lot more fashionable.

Side note: I’m definitely guilty of trying to be fashionable. Let’s just say I own two small family’s worth of training shoes and Rogue Fitness T-shirts.

Less and less focus was on training and competing, and more and more was on training clothes and instagram fame.

My closet is slowly dwindling down to less T-shirts, shorts, sweatpants, and shoes. I no longer want to think about what pair of shoes I should wear or what T-shirt looks best with green sweatpants (it’s grey or black). I just want to train.

Garage mind is the attitude and mindset of the old school, garage-training weightlifter who loves the sport even when it’s trying to kill you, who will do what it takes to make it work even when it seems impossible, who believes that hard work and character are more important than recognition.” 

Nicely said Greg.

He brings out values and forces the reader to reflect on their values. Why should anyone train like this? If it’s all just trying to look better naked, why do such hard workouts exist and why do they need to be performed?

That’s who we are and that’s what we do. It’s not easy, and we don’t want it to be.

You can have the garage mind attitude anywhere, it doesn’t know what gym you go to. The conscious choice of values, perspective and priorities follows us wherever we go. Embrace that spirit, and you’ll find a new level of passion for training. In essence, work hard to live a strenuous life.

I first heard of “the strenuous life” through an audiobook. And then, it popped up on my social media feed with someone I follow. The phrase is the title of a speech given by Theodore Roosevelt in 1899 when he was Governor of New York.

The main point of his speech was given in his opening remarks:

“I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, of labor and strife; to preach that highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph.” 

The speech reflected his struggle as a younger man. Roosevelt struggled immensely with asthma, and had to be bed ridden for days after an attack. Roosevelt’s father built him a gymnasium within the house so he could become stronger and more fit. This was a slow journey for Roosevelt, but he succeeded, one day ridding himself of his asthma attacks. Anecdotally, Roosevelt was told by his father in regards to his current exercise level that, “he had the mind, but did not have the body.” Roosevelt responded, as a young man at the age of 12, that he “will build the body.” 

The will to become better through perseverance, consistency, and physical training is not something any of us are born with. It’s adopted.

Next time you’re deep in a workout at Friction Grand Rapids or in your own garage during this strange time, ask yourself, “am I living the strenuous life?”

Let’s compare answers, it’s a frequent question of my own daily efforts.

As for Friction, or Victory Kid Barbell for that matter, our posts and social media content are for displaying the expertise we’ve gained through efficacy of our program, displaying our atmosphere through the safety of our program, and our desire to help people with the integrity that we approach athletes, new and old, with. 

We’re almost out of the storm, team. We’ll be living our strenuous lives together in person soon enough.

Coach Mike

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