“There is magic in fighting battles beyond endurance…”

Strong is beautiful: A Silverback soliloquy.

A week or so ago a friend of mine was questioning whether lifting heavy weights or Crossfit was right for her. As usual she was worried that all the lifting we were doing was gonna make her bulky and she was afraid she would build certain muscles over others and wouldn’t look proportional. It breaks my heart when I hear women talk about not wanting to lift anymore because they’ll get bulky, or talking about quitting Crossfit to just diet and do yoga. It kills me to see what female role models young girls have to look at on TV and in mass media, over skinny, underfed, skin and bones girls. I’ve been fortunate in my life to have some very strong women love me, teach me, and inspire me. None of these women inspired me because they were rail thin size zero runway models, they inspired me with their strength of character, strength of mind, and strength of body.

I am also inspired by our Crossfit Ladies and OCBC members, every day these women are smashing the myth and showing everybody that strong is beautiful. I am filled with hope when I see “Ear Muffs” come skipping in the gym with “Grey Beard,” going through our warm ups and then finishing her own WOD, the next generation of OCBC members will be full of strong women. Below is an email I wrote to my friend, I truly hope all women can see through the trash and realize that strong is beautiful.

How your body will look is largely determined by genetics, ectomorph, endomorph, mesomorph, are the three basic body types: long and lanky, athletic and lean, stronger and softer. Changing your body type isn’t impossible but for somebody like me who is pretty much a mesomorph I’ll never be long and lanky, it’s not in the cards. I could get more athletic and lean by adjusting my nutrition accordingly but I probably won’t ever look like Brat Pitt from fight club (I would kick that guys ass anyway). So to some extent you are limited by what your parents gave you.

Lifting weights will not make you ‘bulky’ and yoga will not make you ‘long and lean’. Anybody who tells you lifting makes you bulky and inflexible is a moron and probably doesn’t know shit from shit. Look at female gymnast, or Olympic sprinters who are jacked out of their minds and tell me they are not flexible. Muscle don’t stretch permanently, when you stretch your hamstring your quad shortens and the opposite happens when you stretch your quad. If you really could make your muscles permanently “longer” you would have to also grow taller, where would the extra muscle length go right?

You as a woman are constantly overwhelmed with body images in media that are probably enhanced to unnatural and unattainable levels, achieved via very unhealthy practices, and generally are sickly looking. I know myself and almost every man I know would take an athletic “Crossfit Lady” over a skinny sickly runway model any day of the week and twice on Sunday. The dudes that like super skinny girls are tiny little wimps anyway so they don’t count.

On a personal level I’ve struggled with body image issues my whole life and still do. I’ve never been skinny, or shredded like Ryan or Zach. Even in college wrestling when I wrestled at 187lbs, nearly 100lbs lighter than I weigh now I didn’t have a six pack. In college when I had to make weight and maintain my weight I did a lot of unhealthy things to do so and it caught up with me. After I was done and I stopped wrestling I gained like 70lbs almost over night, so do a lot of weight class athletes, so please don’t do anything unhealthy. I literally have been on teams and competing with dudes that are the best conditioned athletes in the world, no body fat and muscles for days, and here I was a chubby dude that no matter what I tried it didn’t seem like I could get there. In the end I guess I figured out that it doesn’t matter what your body looks like, I’m not saying you should get morbidly obese, but the things people are drawn to are attitude, confidence, and personality. Strength makes you confident, confidence improves your attitude, a positive attitude improves your personality, and a good personality will take you farther than being super thin ever will.

Have faith in yourself, have faith in what we are doing in the gym.
Most importantly… be strong.

Posted by: Johnny

6 Responses to ““There is magic in fighting battles beyond endurance…””

  1. Excellent point sir. One of my favorite things in Crossfit is too see how well women perform without restrictions. Keep up the good work ladies! You inspire all of us to push ourselves harder.

  2. southwellj Says:

    I’ll throw in my two cents here too. As a dad of two girls, the best I can hope for is that they will see “fitness” as something that encompasses good nutrition, athletics and commitment. I look around the room every day and think to myself that these are the EXACT people I want Jac and JoJo to see as examples.

    I too know that genetics is something that I can’t change and unfortunately neither can my girls. So, what to do as a father? Set an example and look for healthy activities that cater to their natural abilities. JoJo can do burpess and pull-ups like a MF and I’m confident that Jac could lift a car off me if she wanted to. I’m lucky that they have a Mom that embodies these same values.

    Now, it’s just a matter of getting them to tune out the crap in the media and focus on doing the best with what they have every day. That’s exactly what I see in this gym and I hope that everyone else sees it too.

    As a parent, you only want the very best for your kids. Well, in my opinion, the CFWS Ladies are the very best and each of you provides an example for the next generation. Thank you for your commitment and hard work.

  3. When the whole “Strong is Beautiful Edition” idea came about it was Roo and myself talking about it. Then Johnny told me about his friend and told me he wanted to help squash the myth behind strength training. Funny thing was I had not mentioned that Roo and I were talking about a one time post.

    Well then I had two writers. From there I started hearing lots of chatter on the subject. I mean LOTS of chatter. I figured it was time to air the subject out. I was a little worried when John said he was gonna write something. John is a… Well John is strong in his beliefs.

    I thought it would be a rant(pretty much how I write all the time), but it wasn’t. I couldnt believe what I reading, it wasn’t a rant at all. It was all simple truth. It was the facts, and how the facts have affected John.

    I’ve been in the fittest industry a while now. There is so much garbage out there. It makes me sick that people still buy into most of this shit. If you don’t want to work hard, if you don’t want to lift, if your so consumed by what a small group of people think then our program probably isn’t for you.

    Strong is Beautiful. Believing in yourself is too. I feel sorry for all the ignorant people out there. Because your out numbered now. Instead of passing judgement on people why don’t you go crawl back whatever rock you came out from under in high school. (If John wasn’t gonna rant I guess I was). Strong is the new Beautiful.

  4. I remember having a similar conversation with Johnny. (reference in the above post)
    I was wondering if i should reduce the lifting and time at CF and get serious again with Yoga.
    He said…”don’t start doing the yoga thing…you’ll get skinny fat!” I admit i struggled with the appeal of “Yay!… “skinny” fat…” but then came to my senses— it’s much cooler to squat the house, feel the burn of your muscles growing stronger each time you PR and realizing being powerful is an amazing gift that not everyone so easily obtains. It’s ***ing cool to be strong!

  5. Nice post Johnny!
    I have to say this series of posts is Excellent, and everyone in the Gym should be reading these.

    For almost 30 years I have worked in an industry that helps push the definition of what women should look like.
    I have worked on Ads and catalogs for almost every major retailer in the US and Canada everything from lingerie to high end fashion.
    I can tell you that every single image that you see in any magazine or catalog or TV ad has been digitally retouched.
    Hips, butts, arms, entire body’s are reshaped, reduced, stretched. Blemishes, age lines, wrinkles tattoos piercings, etc. are reduced or eliminated. What ever the creative or art director feels makes the product being sold more desirable to the consumer!!
    How can anyone live up to a standard like that, and why would you want to anyway.
    Even the fitness models are not exempt.

    Strong , Real, Natural, now that is beautiful.

  6. I love all of these posts but I am really loving all the men supporting strong is beautiful. Thanks guys for your kind words and ladies lets keep lifting and proving mainstream media wrong!!!!

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