How running into a half-naked muscle brute showing off on a city street might hold a secret lesson in transforming your world into a more tolerant place.Read More
Head Coach and Next Level founder Christian Matyi – a/k/a "XN" – gives notoriously complex answers to even the most simple of questions. He'd always rather you "think more" than "know more." So you can only imagine what'll happen when there wasn't any question even asked . . .
You never know what his many years of coaching will inspire him to claim as "relevant" to your progress.
Leadership and social change is not based being the best. It's not about "who's alpha." It's about who stands up for something they believe in. Stand for something that deserves recognition, don't just stand there and be recognized.Read More
Bodybuilding and strength sports are like the "going to the movies" of athletics. Just as with a movie, everyone really believes something is happening; that the events they are watching are relevant and important...Read More
Rob Kearney did not roll out of bed on October 20th thinking he would change the world. But this particular Monday wKearney shifted the thinking of an entire community and stepped onto the pages of the history of social change in the whole world!Read More
Watch this video. The workshop wasn't trying to prove anything. We weren't even taking a hard agenda that "steroids are wrong" or "bodybuilding is full of liars." We were merely discussing what makes something credible. And that is a topic that so few of us in life ever really breach, much less any of us in bodybuilding.
But that idea was at the center of a recent meeting of the Next Level's Spring 2015 team. And at the epicenter of the discussion was guy named named Doug Miller.Read More
There is no end of pride I had for Gina Melnik as she competed at the 2014 Strongman Nationals in Reno in October. And as I was impatiently awaiting news and photos to celebrate on the site, one nifty (Gina's pet word) little dispatch came through about a wondrous experience she had.
No it was not a PR. Nor was it some massive victory. In fact, it was a moment that had nothing to do directly with her competing. It was a side moment that so many competitors experience, yet we so often overlook as valuable.
Let me share it in Gina's words:
Why is this so remarkable? Well, all of us who work in physique sports are subject to being representative of many different symbols. Our bodies and strength represent everything from strictness to delight, from doughiness to dignity. And while can't control how people "read' us, nor what symbols they ascribe to our work and looks, we can meanwhile at least contribute to what we would hope would be perceived, understood and absorbed. When we are in situations where our muscle or power is being directly observed – as opposed to those uncontrollable, everyday moments – we can choose to do, say and represent things to couple with our image. Couple an idea with a symbol enough times and eventually a few people might connect the two. And if the idea is a good one, man, can that symbol be a powerful took for good!
This is especially true among children. It's called "imprinting." Children mimic, admire, investigate and generally pay a boatload of attention to us adults. What we connect with out image stays with a child a lot more potently than with it does our peers. In short, those of us with exceptional qualities (which, in some arguments, may just be everyone in the world) have a brilliant opportunity to use those qualities to influence positive or productive attitudes to children.
In Gina's case, just think of the message, and how profound it is. A young girl – old enough to be aware of her world yet still young enough that she is putting it together – sees a friendly, happy woman who is damn strong. Not only that, the woman has big muscles, and that is somehow an admirable thing. The message is clear and so needed in today's world: a girl can become however powerful she wants, and it can be a fun and beautiful thing.
Did Gina change the direction of this girl's thinking? Add to it? Influence it at all? Of course we will never know, but seeing as the girl went out of her way to send the grateful comment, I think we have good insight to the answer.
This – THIS – is why we shouldn't hide our successes! The imprinting upon others – especially young ones – is profound. When we belong to a marginalized population – say, women in strength – our fully-present self-representation holds deep and valuable messages that far outweigh any accolades or winning positions.
Too often I see competitors "focus-for-a-competition" and turn overly myopic. We too often forget our "real roles" as athletes in society. Via our sports we're just more visible, and being humans, we spend far more of our time in regular society than we do in the tiny, microcosmic fishbowl of our sports communities. So it is these simple yet phenomenal and heartwarming moments that can serve to remind us: it is not how well we did it that makes our work vital, but just that we attempted to do it at all.
Sure, the wins and championships hold value and weight. And we are psyched Gina kicked butt. (3rd place on a national level is not too shabby so soon after having her first daughter!) I would never insinuate that great feats in competition and big wins don't have weight – or even that they shouldn't. Our wins damn well should be seen as awesome and even important.
But it is not the wins that make a competitor great. It is what a competitor can do with them. It's my proverbial coaching question to athletes gunning for a win: "Well, that'll be great, but then what are you planning?". Having an answer to that question makes our efforts hold so much more weight than just some self-entertainment or an ego-stroke.
Your best work represents something. And a good job represents an idea well. making what you do important. Just continuing the work – with great responsibility towards how it can be perceived – is beyond a win. It is a genuine, vital contribution to the whole world.
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Image is bullshit. Until it inspires. Then, even though the image is still bullshit, it becomes some really good bullshit. Recently deceased bodybuilder Mike Matarazzo's image was that kind of bullshit.Read More
Barely-known, self-made, D-tier fitness celebrity Zyzz symbolizes the "permission" for guys to fuck up via their ego-masturbation and get away with it. So why has his name persisted, even if only in small circles?
On the third anniversary of this guy's death due to excesses in partying and pride, the 22-year-old persists as an internet subculture meme and an iconic figure many young hopefuls admire – or "mire," as he termed it. Maybe it wasn't because he has a great body but rather because he represents an entry point into topics we usually are starving to discuss.Read More