Category: Current Affairs

Tom Kechter 12/29/64 – 5/21/15

A year ago today, my brother, Tom Kechter, passed away – way too early – at the age of Fifty. It’s taken me most of the last year to wrap my head around his passing. Grieving. Assessing. Accepting, as best I can.

I miss him every day. For great parts of every day. For all of our lives we (at least) spoke nearly every day, usually later in the night when most everyone else had gone to bed. We’d talk about the day, about physics, comparative religion, comic books, the state of the world, magic (he was a close up magician), stand-up and filmed comedy (he was a stand up comic for most of his adult life), about writing (we both wrote and were published). We’d talk about family, about his daughter Molly, or my wife and daughter. Usually the talks – a lot of them lasting for hours – degenerated into peals of laughter – sometimes to the point of a giggle-fit, as one or the other of us said something that would spark the other.

Now, on the anniversary of his death, I am finally ready to say: “I miss you, Bub. More than you would probably believe. If there is life after death, I hope you’re in a good place, having fun, and at peace. I wish we could meet for tea, like we used to do, and talk about superhero movies and Bill Hicks… Really, about all of the things.”

Tom is survived by his mother Anna, his daughter Molly, me and my family, along with hundreds of friends, extended family, and anyone who saw him perform live for them.

RIP, Brother. I Love You.

Tom

Sorting and Ruminating

Life and Family

This time of year, especially around the Thanksgiving holiday (as well as my birthday) are an especially reminiscent time for me. A time to take stock. To “see” if I am where I think I should be.

This past year (2013) – has been an odd year of ups and downs. On the upside, my relationship with my family is strong, and gets stronger and deeper every day. I have never had more fun, been loved as much, challenged as much and grown as much than since I have been a part of their lives. And greedy SOB that I am, I just want more.

On the downside, I lost a couple of dear friends during the summer. One to pancreatic cancer and one to a surprise heart attack. Along the way, we’ve also been nearly flooded out – during the historic floods in Colorado – our house only escaping damage by about 60ft. And my mother-in-law had a pretty serious health scare, as did my brother (still dealing with the after effects of a stroke he got a case of pneumonia that nearly killed him), and in a low-key way, so did I.

For myself, I had a physical done a couple of weeks after my birthday in July, and my blood work came back wonky. My thyroid was way off (hypothyrodic), my total cholesterol was high, as were my triglicerides, testosterone (low), Vitamin D-3 levels, and other hormones. I did a carotid exam which told me I had no identifiable plaque in my arteries (yay!) but due to inflammation my veinous age was 74yrs old! (Compare that to a series of training tests to measure things like my Vo2 Max, flexibility, strength, etc., which gave me a training age of 22! My body seems to be really confused!). I had gone gluten free due to an intolerance back in 2008 (I get pretty severe flu-like symptoms if I eat them – digestive distress, joint swelling and aches, fever, headaches, etc. – that will last for days after ingestion) and had been low-carbing it (ish) since the middle of 2012. I added some carbs (mainly rice – which I can eat without problem) and sugars back into my diet, took extra Vitamin-D3 and some ethyl esters fish oil for inflammation and in October redid my numbers which came back back within normal ranges. I will do a followup carotid test next February to see how all that (and my training) affect my veinous age.

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Work

I love working as a trainer, building relationships with clients, learning how to help them meet their goals, watching them move, trying to figure out the puzzle of their physicality – their strengths and those areas that need shoring and polishing. Figuring out what and how to motivate them towards movement and health. It hits something in me akin to volunteer service. And there is something sublime and powerful in those relationships.

The downside though, is it doesn’t really pay the bills very well… At least working within the big-box system like I currently am. The gym takes the lion’s share – which I don’t begrudge – they have to pay rent and equipment fees, and pay staff, etc. The job also can be very taxing, both physically as well as psychologically. For every five clients I have, that I enjoy working with, that follow directions to get to a healthier place in their lives, there are two or three that do the exact opposite. That can’t (or won’t) make changes to their lifestyles, their movement, their approach (which hasn’t worked well for them so far – or they wouldn’t need someone like me). And that can be frustrating and exhausting. That will be an area of my job that I address in the near future. I am going to start cutting those that can’t (or won’t) meet me half way in their quest for better health, movement and (hopefully) longevity.

Before I forget it, another upside (or is that flip-side?) of the job: for the first time, I got to teach a handful of seminars this year. Seminars on women’s self-defense, kettlebell play, unconventional training, mobility, and yoga. I am planning on doing more of these in the future, as I enjoyed them very much, made money, and learned a lot doing them!

I dig teaching classes. Outside of the seminars, I teach three bootcamps per week, three MMA classes per week, and yoga once per week. I have been teaching yoga at least once per week (I used to teach two classes and a bunch of privates. Now I teach one class and a bunch of privates 😉 ) for over three years now, and doing the bootcamps for almost four.

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Training

I met all the training goals that I set for myself earlier this year – by September. The last couple of months have been used for exploration, play and teaching (seminars, boot camps, yoga, MMA).

I have already set up three goals for the next year, starting with this cycle (which begins on Dec. 1st, and will take me into March of 2014).

A few weeks ago I was teaching a youth MMA class at Seraphim MMA, working with a 210lb 15yr old. I allowed him to get an Americana on me, taught him the set up, get position, and I tell him to go slow and finish it, so he can feel the submission. Instead of slow he slammed it on (not maliciously) and strained (maybe slightly tore) my biceps tendon in my shoulder. I’ve spent the last 6 weeks rehabbing it. My unloaded mobility is spot on – with no issues, but I have a significant disparity in my strength levels between my shoulders, as well as some pain in the anterior soft tissues of the left when under load. So, goal 1. is to completely rebuild my shoulder back to 100%. 2. To get a one-arm handstand (which means I have to work through ALL the progressions). And 3. to lose 4% BF for Mexico in March (15th).

Practice

I have two areas I want to focus on here in 2014. The first is to deepen my standup, clinch, and ground games along with weapon-based skills.

The second is to continue to deepen my Yoga/Flow/Balance Work Practice.

These last two areas are for fun/education and to support my Jiu-Jitsu/MMA habit – as well as in my continuing evolutionary quest for self-mastery – which can only aid and expand into all other aspects of my life.

Competition

Any competition done this year will only be with my trusted coaches and teammates during drilling, sparring, rolling and FoF.

Financial Security

For Personal Training: Now that I’ve got my feet wet doing some seminars, this coming year is going to be all about developing my own practice – setting up my own “shop,” working more seminars, teaching more classes. In doing the math I can make what I make at Gold’s just training two people a day… My goal is four (or five) clients per day – upping the ante…

-Secondarily: I would like to increase exposure to my macro-nutrition seminar. I did one a couple of years ago that was both fun and lucrative…

For commodities trading: be mindful of the trade – i.e. plan my work and then work the plan. I’ve spent a good portion of the last year paper trading commodities – trying to learn/relearn robust and as anti fragile trading strategies and tactics as I can find. My monetary goals are modest, as it has been several years since I’ve done any active trading and will be conservative (at least) at first. Getting “back in the water” while not losing my shirt 😉 is the only goal…

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Personal Development
Continuing to read and write (for learning and expression), along with (more) consistent meditation.

Creative Development
More writing – My goal is 500 words per day (M-F). Along with that, I am going to devote time to visual arts (drawing, painting, digital art).

So, that being said… Onwards and upwards!

Evacuation Order

Hard, stressful, weird couple of days! After three days of continuous rain, the Big Thompson River flooded on Thursday (Sept. 12, 2013) and we had to evacuate. We left and stayed with a relative in Broomfield.

Between Thursday night and Friday morning CDOT closed ALL highways between Denver and Loveland due to flooding. We spent a STRESSFUL night Thursday night, imagining all kinds of terrible things about our house, neighbors, and friends all over the state…

In the morning we found out about the highways. About 2pm – after a much needed nap, we found out two of our neighbors had gone back home. They checked our house out for us (NO DAMAGE!!!!) and we decided to come home. Using the Internet we found that 287 was mostly open, except for a couple of detours in and around Longmont. We made it home after a 2+ hour trip (normally 45min.).

Found our house intact (YAY!). Also found out that several neighbor’s places were broken into and robbed (Boo!).

About ten minutes after we got home, we were watching the river, standing outside on our deck, completely floored by the new reality of of our redesigned terrain. As we were standing there watching, a 40ft. Cottonwood was undercut by the river and brought down. It took, maybe, three or four seconds. Crazy scary… I sometimes joke that I can “bench press a bus,” but this kind of power was beyond anything I’ve ever seen. It was truly one of the most humbling moments of my life.

After chilling out for a few minutes, and unpacking, we spent some time hanging out with our neighbors, then spent some time watching and fretting about all the “looky-loos” endanger their lives crossing police lines to get close to the crazy-fast, torrential, flood waters…

There are times I fear for the human race. Natural Selection in action.

I have some more pictures and video on my Facebook Page:

Broken-Trail

 

 

Back from Texas

Back from a few days off in Texas, hanging with family for nephew Zach’s graduation. I had an excellent time (except for the heat – I generate enough of my own, I don’t need help 😉 and getting in a fender bender coming out of Lady Bird Johnson’s Botanical Gardens)…

Now back at it… After a slow start to the day, I did some mobility work, arm balances, a little locomotion body flow and some yoga. Followed it up with a light Jiu-jitsu session – working on positional flow and some light rolling… Feeling groovy… Strength work sometime later today, either before or after chores…
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A couple of cool things:
This made laugh and shake my head: June 2, 2013 5:33pm

And this. A highlight reel of Ramon “the Diamond” Dekker – one of the best Dutch Muay Thai/Kickboxers – who just passed away earlier this year.

Resurrection and Redirection

WARNING – WILL BE LONG! 🙂

It is time to resurrect this blog. Some might say past time (and some might ask why I don’t just let it die a peaceful “death”). Hopefully, all will be explained.

A lot of things have transpired in the intervening months since I wrote last (was it really back in November? Sheesh).

What’s Been Going On

I went to Spain with my family over the holiday weeks. We were gone for a little over two weeks and had an up and down trip. We all got sick the first week we were there. I got a respiratory infection (when we got back I went to my doctor for a lingering cough and was told it looked like I was getting over pneumonia – ugh, and go immune system!) My wife got both a respiratory infection AND a digestive tract bug. We almost took her to an emergency room on Christmas eve, because she had strained abdominal muscles coughing and was dehydrated. Luckily she got better, quickly. My daughter also got a lung bug… If we could have flown back early I think we would have – we were all so miserable. But we persevered and by the second week were on the mend (except for my cough).

We got to see a lot of cool things while we were there, the artwork at the Prado Museum was awesome! I got to see the original works of some of my favorite painters: Goya, Picasso, Velázquez & Salvador Dalí, as well as others… Toledo was awesome as well – it may be one of my favorite places in Europe that I’ve ever visited… Barcelona was also a very, very cool city! I could go back just to visit it (though it would take a lot of doing for me to visit the rest of Spain). I have put up a bunch of photos on my Facebook page – for those of you living under a rock and haven’t seen them…

When we returned home, I started coaching at Seraphim MMA, working for my friend and head coach Bob Gilstrap – teaching a youth class in MMA 101 – which keeps me in the “game” and hits my MA training buttons. The class is small, but growing. Along with it, I hopefully will start teaching yoga there soon as well…

I have been teaching a yoga class at least once a week for almost three years now (at Gold’s Gym in Loveland), along with a bunch of yoga privates throughout the week… And I’ve started branching out a little and following in the footsteps of some of my friends and coaches – I’ve taught three workshops in the last few months. One on the KB Swing, another on “unconventional” training – where I taught a yoga/ma gymnastics flow progression as well as a muscle up progression and finally the goblet squat as a weighted mobility drill, and finally a TRX suspension workshop… While the classes were small, I had a great time doing them, and got some fantastic feedback and new clients out of them. I hope to do a lot more of these in the future!

My clientele as a trainer has grown the last few months. I was busier from Sept. 2012 to the present day than I was for almost the two previous years. I guess it took a while to get my name out there – not just as that trainer who can do all that “freaky” BW/Yoga/KB stuff, but as a trainer that can ACTUALLY help a person meet their goals…

Funny how the wheel turns…

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About the blog

It’s interesting (to me at least) that when I started this blog/website back in 2005-2006 I built up a readership of approx. 8-10,000 hits a month. Then I moved to TypePad and it dropped. Then the move to WordPress and that dropped by another two thirds… Last year I took a marketing class from a fitness “guru” and changed my website content to something like what he recommended and it dropped yet again – significantly…

And I hated it. The loss of contact. The loss of affiliate sales. And especially the content.

Hated it.

It’s one of the main reasons for not writing for the last few months… Or consistently for a lot longer than that. I hated it and was completely bored by it…

So, I am going to retool it – back to something that I’ll enjoy. Because, if there’s one thing I’ve learned building my reputation as a trainer, it is, if you don’t like what you’re doing, if you don’t know what, how, or why you’re doing it, no one will pay attention. No one will want to work with you.

If you know me personally, you know that one of the things that differentiates me from a most others, is that I’m a polymath-in-training. And I am “into” a lot of different things and wear a lot of different hats. Art, writing, training, martial art, anthropology, physics, psychology, nutrition, endocrinology, comparative religion, mythology, meditation, yoga, pop culture, comics, etc… And back when I actually had a readership, this blog reflected that…

It’s time to get back to the things I love.

And share them.

Training

My own training has been very good the last couple of years, though, lately, finding the balance between my own focus/needs and those of the MMA class has been interesting – especially at 50. Most of the time I can’t just demo something and get out of the way. More often than not, there aren’t enough team members for me to sit out, so I have to perform – at least at some level. And I have one student who is almost my size and weight – and is STRONG – that wants SO BADLY to submit me he can taste it… So on drilling/sparring days it can get on the intense side.

For my training, I have been working a lot of gymnastics (work) for the upper body, along with some targeted lifting for “problem” areas, while doing some weighted work for the lower (deadlifts, squats, Oly lifts) … I occasionally do some BW work for my legs, but really, once I “get” the balance/depth/neural drive thing of single leg squats (for example), they don’t do much for me anymore. I still do some – but they become more mobility drills than anything else (not that I can – or would want to – do a plethora of them – a la Steve Cotter).

I do mobility work and yoga every day – at 50, mobility work is where it’s at – to keep everything moving right and to keep injuries down. If I had to choose one aspect of training to keep – discarding the rest, mobility work would be my choice. It is the foundation of ALL my training (and life!).

My martial practice is mostly satisfied by teaching at Seraphim, but I get in a few extra sessions a week – beyond teaching, drilling, and rolling with students. During those sessions I work on learning and refining my Muay Thai (stand up), Judo (standing grappling/clinch), and grappling (ground). Occasionally I get in some stick, staff, knife, and gun work…

Looking at what I wrote above, it looks like all I do is train all day, but the truth is, I train two, sometimes three times a day, but never for more than 3hrs spread out over the day (and 80% of the time it’s only 90mins to 2hrs – including MA). Never to failure. And I’ve made more – and consistent – gains in the last couple of years than at any time since I started on this journey. Strength, skills learned, work capacity… And all it took was throwing ALL my training on the floor, taking a look at it – and taking some advice from some REALLY smart coaches to understand how to put it together the right way…

Live and learn.

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So, welcome – if you’re new here – or welcome back, if you’ve been here before… Welcome to a new chapter of this exploration…

Comments, as always are welcome.

Onwards and Upwards!