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To say it’s been a surreal few months would be a bit of an understatement…

Like many families around the world, we’ve unfortunately experienced firsthand the devastation of COVID-19. The pandemic has brought about a new reality, largely marked by loss, grief and uncertainty. 

During this forced pause, I thought it might be a fitting time to begin writing again on a more regular basis. Both to have a canvas for making sense of the thoughts in my head, and to share a few things that might help others too.

With that in mind, I’ve restarted the Hero Roundup – a monthly update for you guys regarding life, training, useful resources I’ve stumbled upon, books I’ve read, hot sauces I’ve consumed, and more. 

I hope it provides you with some value. 

Live well, stay safe and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Thoughts & Ideas from This Month

We live in strange times. At least for the time being, most of us are unable to visit loved ones, and many of the rituals and habits we took part in on a day-to-day basis are on hold. The uncertainty about the future and the inability to take action can understandably bring about a feeling of hopelessness. We’re stuck in limbo, unsure how to react, and what the future holds.

One thing I’ve been holding onto over the past month or so is that no matter how gloomy the cloud, there’s often still a silver lining to be found if we look closely enough. And in saying that, I don’t intend to negate the pain and devastation families and healthcare workers have faced. I fully appreciate that things are bleak and I don’t have the answers.

But even in the darkest times, there’s the potential for growth. There’s a proverb that says the darkest hour is just before the dawn. This reminds me of a quote from renowned Psychiatrist and holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl: 

"Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way."

There are many lenses we could use to look at the current situation. Lenses of fear, uncertainty and hopelessness are completely understandable. But another is one that highlights opportunities for introspection and self-improvement.

I like the image of Qui-Gon Jinn in the Phantom Menace. As the laser fields block his path to the battle between Obi Wan and Darth Maul, Liam Neeson takes a break from using his specific set of skills to take a knee and meditate. 

His path is cut off and he’s forced to come to a standstill. It’s not an ideal situation, but he can’t do anything to change it. So instead of resisting the present moment, he takes a pause to slow down, calm his breath, and prepare his body and mind for the challenges that lie ahead.

Perhaps we can do something similar. Difficult times give us the opportunity to look within and carry out the work necessary to rise above obstacles. For me, that’s meant a lot more reading, breathing and journalling. It’s meant less intense training and freelance work, but more focussed practice and content creation. It’s meant more quality time with family in my household, and more regular contact with friends. 

I may have been ‘less productive’ lately, and you may have felt the same way too. But remember – this is against standards created in a fast-paced world that no longer exists. Maybe this is a chance for us all to slow down. Doing so has helped clarify where I’d like to go next, and some of the habits and practices that weren’t serving me as much as I thought they were. 

A few friends have also commented how the change of pace has helped them re-evaluate their current situation and inspired them to pursue other avenues. Another quote that comes to mind from a recent series I watched:

"Sometimes the greatest inspiration comes from the shadows"

No matter how dark things seem right now, know that you can come out the other side a stronger, more resilient version of yourself. 

Books & Articles I've Enjoyed

🔗 Simple and Sinister Pavel Tsatsouline

Swings & getups. A brutally simple, and err, sinister kettlebell program designed by one of the greats. My dad has followed this program for 3 months with great results, and I started it early April. I’ll post a full review at some point, but suffice to say I’m enjoying it so far. 

🔗 Never Let Go Dan John

Some great nuggets of training wisdom and philosophy from one of the most respected strength coaches in the game. Highly recommended for anyone looking to get stronger and more athletic, or to help others do the same.

🔗 The Four Hour Body Tim Ferriss

An interesting one to re-read. I gathered some handy training and nutrition practices that I missed first time round and have been playing with them over the past month or so.

🔗 The Samurai’s Garden – Gail Tsukiyama

Some important lessons about recognising beauty amongst the struggle. A slow-paced, easy read that seems fitting for the current times.

My Training This Month

Training at home has been fun. Having restrictions forces you to be creative, which I find can actually lead to more enjoyment. Although I envy those with a full home gym setup, I can’t complain. I’m fortunate to have access to an outside space, some weights and bodyweight training tools, and the weather has been decent enough to train a fair bit!

I’ve overstretched and had a few flare-ups with the old autoimmune joint issues this month, which is to be expected based on the current circumstances. But I’ve still managed to have a fairly good run with training, with 18 sessions total (not including mobility, skill training and  breathwork, which I tend to do daily in the morning or between work intervals).

This month I’ve split my training into four main sessions / categories, decreasing in intensity:

  • Two different strength training sessions – primarily bodyweight strength progressions for the upper body, and unilateral movements for the lower (yep split squats, I’m talking about you), with some loaded carries, core and mobility work to finish.
  • A Simple & Sinister (S&S) style kettlebell session – primarily focussing on swings, Turkish getups, then messing around with cleans, snatches, mobility and core work.
  • Easy, Zone 2 style training – a mix of barefoot running, rope training (more on this later this week) and hitting my old pal BOB the heavy bag.
  • Everything else – gentle mobility, posture drills, skill work (handstands and pancakes) and breathwork practices. 
I’m pretty happy with the progress I’ve made, getting stronger in most of the key movements in my strength sessions, while losing some body fat (down to around 85.5 kg from 87.5 kg). I’ve also been plodding through the S&S protocol.  
 
A 32kg bell arrived last week (sorry Mr. Postman) and I was pleasantly surprised that it went up first time with the Turkish getup, both sides. I know it’s not a world-record, but I’ve not been doing any weighted overhead work for a while (opting for bodyweight progressions instead) and my overhead mobility is something I’ve struggles with for a while, so was happy with that.
 
Next month the focus is to continue building General Physical Preparedness. I’m testing a theory that by improving your aerobic base and strength through relatively low stress, sub-max training, you can still potentially increase your performance in more maximal feats (like say a race-pace 5k or heavy deadlift).
 
I’ll hopefully have some updates next month!

Content You May Have Missed

I put together a few resources and routines this month, including:

Coming up in May:

I have a video on Rope Training for mobility and athletic performance, along with some more at-home mobility routines. I’ve also been working on an eBook that I’m hoping to have finished up late May / early June.

Other Random Things I've Been Enjoying & Am Grateful For

  • Good Quality Sleep – Despite the current situation, my Oura ring sleep and readiness scores have been higher than they have been for a while. Being out of a mold filled flat and back near family no doubt helps.
  • Sauce Shop Habanero Hot Sauce – It’s a solid sauce. Fruity, fairly hot and goes with anything. 
  • Gwynt Y Ddraig Black Dragon Cider – A favourite from the homeland. Medium-dry & fairly strong 🤪
  • Crazy Ping Pong – We’ve set up a makeshift net on a rickety old garden table, which has kept us amused.
  • r/MobilityTraining – I set up a new subreddit for all things mobility, flexibility and posture. The aim is to share resources and tips to help people with the process. Please join us!

Thanks for reading. Be safe, stay inside, and keep moving forward. 

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Luke Jones

Luke Jones

Luke Jones is a Movement Coach, Wellness Enthusiast, Online Content Creator, and Founder of HERO Movement. Through articles, videos, courses, and online coaching, his big goal is to help people discover freedom of movement and create lives filled with well-being & adventure.

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