I Got My *** Kicked Today

April 24, 2013

If you follow this silly little blog at all—or have nosed around it any when you have stumbled across it sometime, then you probably know that every summer I head down to Guayaquil, Ecuador for a week with a dozen other men, where in partnership with Hogar de Cristo (Homes of Christ), we build anywhere from seven to ten simple split bamboo homes for some of the poorest of the poor in the world.

It’s hard work, it is rewarding work, and the trip and experiences give men a chance to be real men, working with their hands, but also coming face to face with the devastation that extreme poverty brings to those who live in it. At any moment, while working, guys may be laughing their heads off at something that has happened or that someone has said, but by the same token, they may be in tears, looking in the eyes of a single mother with five children who has nothing—and I mean NOTHING—to feed her children that day. Looking out over the horizon, seeing hut after hut after hut, and passing hovel after hovel, we are struck by how richly blessed we are, and how we who have been thus blessed, are charged to serve the world, in God’s name. We are blessed, not so that we can say we are blessed—but so that we can be a blessing to others.

Haul lumber for a couple of days in a row; swing a hammer all day long for a few days; lift and carry materials, cut lumber, and do it all with no power tools, in the direct sun, two degrees south of the equator, and you’ll feel my pain.

So last year, after we returned, I talked to my friend (and Peachtree Presbyterian member) Randy Nicholson about an idea. Randy is a former World Kickboxing Champion (yes, you read that right: WORLD), and he owns and runs Fitness Firm Studio in Sandy Springs http://www.fitnessfirmstudio.com/). My idea was that Randy would design something for the guys going to Ecuador, to help us get ready—physically—for what we will face.

He agreed, and I talked him through what is involved in a build. Today—at 6:00 this morning—I showed up to go through the workout myself.

Now, I like to think that at 55, I’m in fairly good shape. Admittedly I am 40 pounds lighter than I was this time last year, thanks to my Doctor telling me to go on the Mediterranean Diet. I still cycle several days a week, jog a couple of days a week, and lift weights a couple of days a week.

And, in all candor, I rode about 7 or 8 miles on my bike early this morning before heading to Randy’s studio. Maybe not the best idea ever. Because he kicked my butt.

Not physically, as he could, given his kickboxing skills, but metaphorically, as I simply ran out of gas. At one point, doing squats while lifting a 15-pound weight over my head, I looked at Randy and said, “I’m lightheaded.”

Randy did not hesitate, but said, “OK, that’s it. You’re done. There’s no coming back from lightheaded. Go stretch.”

Nothing I did was particularly hard, but let me tell you, it was steady. Far different from the aerobic base stuff I am used to doing, and as I watched my heart rate, I was staying in the 135-145 range (like in the 80-90% of my range?!) I was working my core in ways I am not used to working it, and in a steady, consistent, wear-you-down, kick-your-*** manner.

Eight and a half hours later, and I’m still tired.

And I can’t wait to go back tomorrow and do it again.

I refuse to be beaten, and I am going to reach Ecuador in better shape than ever before.

I just hope I can finish the darn workout tomorrow!

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