Monday, March 2, 2009

"Real World" Strength

There is a big movement these days toward directing one's training toward functional movements that might assist one in daily life rather than in muscle-specific contexts. Kettlebells are one of the tools that have come into the spotlight for functional training which works the entire body in a single session. Kettlebells develop muscular strength and endurance, joint mobility, flexibility and the cardiovascular system.

All of these attributes will help one attain their goals, whether they are sport-specific, fitness-oriented or intended to assist in the real world. A lot of times these days, when you hear someone talk about "real world" strength, the discussion turns into tearing phone books in half or flipping 400 lb tires. Such things are indeed testiments to the type of muscular strength that can be developed, but not too many of us actually ever intend to pursue such feats. Rather, "real world" in my book is attending to situations that unfortunately are all too prevalent in our lives which have nothing to do with barbells, kettlebells or any other physical pursuit.

For the past 2-1/2 weeks, I have personally been through the ringers, hung up to dry and am only now starting to get back to something of a "normal" life. The fact that I was able to get through this time staying (relatively) healthy and with strong spirit and mental faculties is a product of how I maintain myself in the good times.

On Feburary 12th, my 2-yr old son Anthony was admitting to NYU Medical Center for a routine video EEG to monitor the seizures he suffers from as a result of being born with Tuberous Sclerosis. During our 4-night stay at NYU, Anthony not only picked up a virus which interrupted his sleep, but was also subject to the overly insensitive noises of being situated on the pediatric floor of a very busy New York City hospital. This meant, that both myself and my wife did not get much sleep, did not eat well, and were situated in very uncomfortable surroundings. Standing on concrete floors all day long, leaning over hospital beds, trying to sleep while sitting upright in chairs through the night were some of the things we dealt with.

Upon being released from NYU Sunday morning, he returned home to find Anthony had a fever of 104 degrees F. Immediately we were off to his pediatrician. Still diagnosed as a virus we started him on Tylenol and Motrin. Monday evening, Anthony's fever continued to rage and his breathing became very rapid and shallow. Given his history of seizures, we called an ambulance and were taken to the local emergency room. There into the next morning, another round of tests along with an IV of fluids, resulted in another release with a virus diagnosis. The next day we returned to his pediatrician, with no further insight, except to continue with the over-the-counter meds until the fever broke. Two more days of fever and restless nights ensued.

On Thursday, he returned to the doctor who now spotted infections in both ears. Anthony was sent home after an injection of antibiotics. Later that same afternoon, his doc called us up telling us that the blood work performed in the ER three nights before now showed the presence of a bacterial infection in his blood. Within hours were we admitted back into our local hospital and Anthony was again on IV's for both fluids and antibiotics. Fever continued and on Saturday, we were transferred to another hospital with a pediatric intensive care unit. Anthony now also showed signs of pneumonia. After 5 more days of IV's in his arm and foot, blood tests from him other unencumbered arm, x-rays, oxygen treatments and countless of pokes and prods, Anthony finally improved to the point where we were able to return home.

Still on oral antibiotics, but still developing low grade fevers, we have again met with his pediatrician and will be following up with pulmonary specialists along with a pediatric infectious disease specialist. Anthony is almost back to his old self, although he has clearly been traumatized by this whole experience. Hopefully, over time it will all become a distant memory for him.

I personally still feel like I need to catch up on sleep. During one of the nights I spent in the hospital room with him, I started sneezing and have come down with a cold. Luckily, that is the worst of my problems. Although we are not totally in the clear yet, things are now starting to settle down. I am thankful to all the good doctors we had who helped Anthony get through this. I am also thankful for my current methods of training, mostly kettlebells, which not only allowed me to physically endure the trials of the last two weeks, but also helped me mentally stay focused on the needs of my son without having to worry about my own needs. This is what I call "Real World" Strength.

Last night, I performed a brief session of Xtension with my mini clubbells.

Today I completed the following:

Jerk: 16kg - 2 minutes @ 16 rpm

Snatch: 16kg - 2 minutes @ 16 rpm

Long Cycle: 16kg - 2 minutes @ 10 rpm

I'll now be focused on ramping my training back up to where I left off. Hopefully this episode will now be behind us.


hunashaman said...

Jeez my friend. It is so great to hear that things are looking better, finally! It's weird, I was just thinking of emailing you when I saw your post and decided to comment here instead. I'm glad that things are beginning to look better and to see you back under the bells. All the best and I hope Anthony is fully back to his old self in no time. Chat soon.

Rob said...

Just wanted to thank you for your comment on my blog. I'm glad you did because I see I can learn a lot from reading what your blog entails.
New to kettlebells myself. Just started several weeks ago. Mainly learning from other bloggers and some You Tube videos.
Thanks again.. Use to be from New York myself. Once lived in Tarrytown, then moved upstate to Albany before finally moving to Las Vegas, were the weather is awesome year round.

Howie Brewer said...

My pleasure Rob. I'm right over the river from Tarrytown in New City. Let me know if you have any questions with the bells, I'm glad to help. And just the other night I wondered why I still live here in the cold...

Rob said...

One Quick question for now.. Cause I do have a lot I want to learn. What is the best kettlebell routine/exercise that will help build strength? I thought swings did it but another person said that is basically for cardio. I guess different people do have different opinions. Thanks man!

Howie Brewer said...

Rob, if you're looking for pure strength, nothing beats working with barbells. Shoot me an email and let me know specifically what your goal is and I can provide you with specific suggestions.