A couple times a year, through some type of media, I talk about my own personal Ragnarok (Doom. You should probably look up Ragnarok. Hint it’s Norse mythology). I do it to provide some type of enlightenment, hope, inspiration, direct answers, and whatever else it brings to whoever may need it at the time. It is also sometimes a costly cathartic release. Do not be sad. Like last year I’m going to relay it to fitness, and enlightenment. Last year with fitness, I mainly used the theme of patience. You can simultaneously click that article by going here.
“Our destiny was never to stop judgement day. It was merely to survive it. together. – John Connor Terminator 3 – Rise of the machines.
On September 4th 2008, I had surgery #5 of six. After a radiation bout with a cancerous tumor (Sarcoma), I had my foot partially amputated. By partial I mean, sixty or more percent gone, leaving my heel and ankle. It resembles an animal hoof. Aint nothing really partial about it to be honest. I don’t do too many calf raises anymore on my left leg as
1) I don’t care that much to do it often with one leg.
2) Still have quads, strong hips and glutes.
I’ll eventually get to doing it again when I don’t forget. Despite all this I still squat deep. If you are able bodied with working limbs there is zero reason why you can’t squat depth. Meaning, you can bend and extend your leg without issue or don’t have serious issues period. To learn more about Squatting, I wrote about it in a two part article.
So yes, I am amputated human being, an amputee or whatever term you could put me in. It really doesn’t matter. I look at athletes who compete in similar conditions and I am happy that they push on. To me, it takes a lot to compete like that. I have been suggested to do similar but I’m not sure as 1) I really just being strong and fit for its own sake 2) I’d still feel a way about put in a “different category from the rest of society.” There is a part of me that feels no one cares who they are, though to me they are the human embodiment of resolve. 3) Moving around is not really an easy task. I honestly just do it anyway. If you knew I took pain pills a couple times a day, wear three to four socks on my right leg, have to correct myself while walking, often block out sudden moments of pain both mental and physical, almost trip a few times a week, be constantly reminded about
The point of me saying this, isn’t to make you sad. It’s just what it is.
Maybe you have certain ordeals that you deal with daily. I believe fitness, particularly strength training helps with these ordeals.
Fitness is one of the greatest things you can do for yourself, lifting heavy weight is great not only for your body but for your psyche. There is a soothing and calming action of violently pushing, pulling, and squatting heavy weight with good form. There are not many things we can’t control in our lives. People will fail you, circumstances will rise against you, money comes and it can go. Businesses rise, and they fall. However the iron, is there. It is objective. A steel or rubber set of 45’s is exactly what it is, a mighty set of 45’s. It is pure. It is righteous. It is uncompromising. It as if the Lord himself established the law of the steel. You can’t exactly just go and deadlift weight that you’re not meant to lift. If you’re not built for the weight, you will have to work for it. When you can’t do something, whether it was rest, stress, or duress, you simply were not strong enough. Your mission is to be strong enough.
Making adjustments and making it work.
I’ve also been a fan of the Olympic Lifts, aka Weightlifting. As in the “Snatch” and the “Clean and Jerk.” Great movements to add to your fitness but the learning curve can be steep, requires patience, and unless you learn from a master, you won’t get the full experience of what you can do. That being said, you can still enjoy them.
The Clean and Press (Strict Press or momentum press) is a great move. If your mobility doesn’t call for perfect execution of the Clean and Jerk, you can still Power Clean and Press just about anything. Without going into full detail of this move today, just know you are picking something off the ground and putting it over your head. I’ll write a whole article about my experience with his lift but in short, bend down without rounding your back like a dufus (chest up, shoulders up, back straight), pull it up and press it above you with glory.
In this clip, I’m “hang power cleaning” an axle bar and strict pressing it over head. You can do this with a barbell, dumbbells or even a heavy medicine ball. Don’t worry if you’re not a crossfitter, or expert weightlifter. The Clean and press is simple vs the clean and jerk. I’ve been doing this movement for years. a similar movement (pulling and pressing instantaneously) would be flipping a tire, or when you lift your couch and press it over to look for stuff.
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Previously…on #Xmen #Avengers and #Ultimates. All 3 teams? Yeah. Don't super teams ask you to help them? Just me? "A different kind." Did some Axle bar training today because I want allllllll the strength!!!! Did some Hang Power Clean and Strict presses. Axle bars are pretty ill. The bar is thicker…ergo a different stimulus. The bar weighs 55 or so lbs depending on the brand I'm told. So it might weigh even more..making me feel even more awesome about myself. I want to say….these arr 175 for 3, 195 and 205 or so for 1. Then did some rows and some curls with this. #strongman training is awesome. Yes this is @balancegym gym on 14th aka Downtown Valhalla. Come here or D st if you want to be a warrior god or warrior.goddess. #viking #zuluwarrior #melanin #melaningang #crossfit #weightlifting #olymakesyouswoly #mutant #inhuman #core #abs #gymnastics #bignastics #bodybuilding #repyosetcuh #culture #wakanda #blackpanther #tchalla
Muscle Snatch – The Snatch can be complicated, but just about anyone can do the muscle snatch with great benefits. There’s also the dumbbell snatch.
Note: Olympic Lifting wise, you can’t go wrong with Catalyst Athletics. I do still recommend seeking a dope coach. If you can’t find one, read , read, read and attend whatever seminars you can.
Squatting- If you can’t squat depth yet, use a rail or trx to help support you as you make your descent. It’s better to do rail squat at depth vs adding weight and quarter squatting like an idiot. Full depth squatting works more muscles. How long do you do this? As long as it takes until your then able to progress to bodyweight squats (air squats are just a fancy term for squatting with no weight) to goblet squats, and then barbell squats.
To show you how easy and fun squatting can be, here’s an IG clip of a little girl teaching a student how to squat. I often would have students helping other students squat.
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Previously…on #Xmen Hint: I often take kids who are dope at things and have them instruct other kids. It saves me time and it shows kids leadership and stuff making them warrior generals. It also will humble you if a little girl your size is wayyyyyyy stronger than youuuuu lollllllll. #Humility. #Lifelessons #Strongkids #DCpublicschools
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Previously…on #Xmen and also #Avengers I can't tell how adorable, dope, powerful, and funny it is to have this young girl instruct these guys on squatting. She's always ready to teach ???. She takes a weight that they might struggle with and reps it like it's nothing…????❤. Watch her get them right. squat #Depth #weightlifting #kids #dcpublicschools #dcornothing #northeast #America #melaninispopping #Youngblackkings #crossfit #powerlifting #youngblackqueens #Blackpanther. #dopeyounggirls #dopeyoungboys.
Slightly funny humble brag. Ballou won the Turkey Bowl and the Championship last year because Deep Squats win championships. Your favorite school probably lost because they’re a nation of quarter squatters.
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Previously…on #Xmen DEEP SQUATS WIN CHAMPIONSHIPS!!! ? ? ? ???? Happy Thanksgiving!!!! Big mega huzzahs to my guys at @ballouhs for winning this year's TURKEY BOWL!!! Shout to the whole staff! Congrats!!! #dcpublicschools #Southeast #dcornothing #southside #kids #melanin #beardgang #football
Note: If you’re built kind of odd like I am, then I suggest pointing your toes outward. This helps INSTANTLY. I’ve trained people who couldn’t squat well, suddenly squatting great with this method. If you can overtime, bring your toes in some.
Burpees: When I first started doing Burpees, I was heavily overweight and uncoordinated. I needed a cane to walk and did not have quick feet. What I would do is crawl down to the floor into a push up position, and then crawl back up. Do not worry, how you look learning an exercise. Remember you are doing your best, and you are learning. By the time I did one Burpee, the whole class already done four or five. I didn’t care. I was there to better myself, and you are too.
Deadlifting: Yes, I’m going to write about it, but unless you have no legs you can deadlift. Whether it be a barbell or simply a kettlebell. I train a man in his 60’s to deadlift and I’ve trained a 70 plus (or more) lady to do kettlebell deadlifts.
I wanted to highlight these exercises because often, things happen in life that calls for adjustments. With simple tweaks, these exercises are still vastly powerful, with deadlifitng being the easiest.
Farmers Walk and Yoke
Take a interest in strongman training but can’t run? Neither can I. The yoke is still an excellent tool. You simply put the yoke on your traps as you would a squat and walk. Yup. Just walk. I advise against putting heavy weight on there if you can’t run or walk perfectly straight ( I can not). However, it’s still a powerful strength and conditioning tool with light weight alone. Throw the yoke on and walk it out. It’s still a great workout.
Farmers Carries – The idea is to do these kind of fast. However, we’re not competing here, so just pick up the weight and walk with a purpose. You can even do unilateral carries (carrying on one side). Carries should be a staple in any training program. Also provides a great finisher. I’d often mix them in with Burpees. Yeah I’m insane like that. You can even obtain the farmers walk handles (the best) and do the movement like that. I will warn you. You will not be able to do these the same someone with full mobility ( complete use of their limbs) can. However in that case, I’d lighten it and do more sets.
Example of kb carries. Total body workout.
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Previously…on #Xmen #Avengers and #Ultimates Young Alumni @loucresha_94 and Ms. Taylor in here working. After some lifting, time for some #conditioning. Kb farmer's carries and #Burpees. Lol. Yup. Students. Teachers. Alumni. I'm turning all women in #Doramilaje . You will be a warrior goddess by proxy if you know me. #dcpublicschools #melaninispoppin #melanin #youth #Dc #DistrictofConditioning #WomenofWakanda #Wakanda #strength
Sled work- I love the sled. I use it a lot. However, I don’t have toes on my right side. I still push it anyway. You may not move as fast as the person with toes or no issues but that’s alright. You will still get strong, maybe even stronger. There is a technical term in the land of science for muscles compensating… Just push that joint. I’m no stranger to pushing heavy sleds but I recently push it for 100 meters with my own bodyweight ( I threw five 45lb plates on the sled) and my quads, hams and glutes were on fire! It was amazing. I push the sled slower, because I don’t have my other set of toes but I still do it.
Running: I don’t run. At all. I don’t even have clients run during training sessions but I suggest it for “additional forms of cardio” if they wish. If you’re not a runner, I suggest Burpees instead. You do Burpees across a field for excellent conditioning. I personally go so far to say, if you can’t do 10 Burpees then you suck. Yes you slum as a human being, fitness wise. Don’t worry, you can rectify your slumming existence by doing the movement.
Yoga: Yoga was extremely beneficial to me early on. It was after 11 months of working out, then taking Yoga, I was finally able to do Burpees.
Jumping Rope: I don’t Jump rope often anymore, just out of preference but after a while, my mind let me know that I was ready to try jumping rope again.
Boxing: Early on, three weeks into my fitness career, I took up a Cardio Boxing class. I didn’t have a perfect pivot obviously, nor could I do high knee raises, but I could do the basics and hit hard. I’d focus on stuff I could do ( over arching theme of this whole article here).
Indoor Rock Climbing (yeah I still do that)- This will take some getting used to, but I can’t tell you the thrill of climbing the top of a mountain wall while wearing an orthotic brace on your leg. It’s that “I’m still here” yell to the cosmos. You are in a challenged position but you won’t die. It’s just open belay after all ( Open belay is when a professional holds the rope for you as climb, and sometimes gives you hints. Think of it like talking to GOD telling you where to jump to the rock as you climb with the superhuman strength he has given you).
As someone who lives with an amputated foot, I do much of these exercises regularly. You may find you want to do certain movements but can’t yet. Be patient, and take your time. As your mobility increases along with your strength you may find you’re able to effectively do them.
If you don’t know, I’ve given you a list of things that will make you the most jacked hardcore warrior ever. Notice I didn’t include sitting down in any 0f these or stress any machine. Over reliance on machines is for weaklings. Standing activates your core anyway. Machines for cool for supplemental but you can do the majority of your work with the mighty barbell.
If you’re like me, you may be tired of being told to “hang in there.” Heck, I tell it to others who may need it. If you’re already out there on the battlefield fighting, the last thing you may want to hear is hang in there. “What else are we doing? What do you think I’m doing now?” You may ask. “People may look to you and…blah blah blah.” I totally understand. None of that may help. It doesn’t bring my foot back, it doesn’t erase the pain and anguish that we may endure on a day to day basis. I remember there was a brother on IG I follow, who had a Sarcoma on his other foot. It was comforting because I still saw him Snatch some solid weight and squat pretty well. Unfortunately I learn semi recently that he had fell to another fight of cancer. A man whom I did not know personally except for here and there on IG, but connected with him through his suffering and ability to fight back. Special RIP to Mike Gratz. Seeing you squat and snatch with a missing toe was a big deal.
I did not take to the iron because of what happened. I took to it in spite of it. When I pick up the steel, I am a mighty warrior and feel like a god. (Lowercase g for your super saiyan saints. Yes you are a little god. It’s actually quite cool) There are many times, I work out when my foot hurts. It’s not always fun, but many times, squatting some solid weight wards the pain away. The iron is therapeutic. When I was pushing a “heavy sled” (not really but heavy for distance) in our alley at Balance Gym ( 1111 14th st nw and 1339 green ct nw), it did not matter that I wasn’t as quick, I was strong. I was surrounded by allies and had the wind at my back and in the sun in my face. Fitness has worked wonders with me, and it is something I enjoy sharing with everyone, either in conversation, workout friends, students I work with or clients. The iron reminds us that are alive one more day, and here is a day that we are able to slay the monsters. It’s my epic quest so to speak. It is our day to make us better. It is human expression.
Leading up to the surgery, it was tough telling people what was going to happen. I really wanted to get it over with because I was in so much pain, but to hear and see people’s face when I told them was pretty tough. Sometimes when you deal with traumatic events, you want people to know you’re going to be ok, even when you’re not. I can’t tell you how tough it was to see my mother believe and pray hard for a miracle, for my uncle to do so years before he died, even to want it happen for yourself but to know deep down it’s going to happen anyway. I am thankful and blessed to be alive. I also recognize the value in my life. I’m sure that when people see me walk, through all the discomfort, maybe they see some type of purpose and inspiration for themselves which they didn’t have otherwise. Maybe they see a plan that the Lord had for them. It doesn’t take away anything but there is good in that. Maybe people will look at you and see some type of good as well. Perhaps you feel anger. That is ok. I feel angry at times, not an anger at anyone or a foolhardy reckless anger but just anger. Maybe you can use that energy as fuel for positive things. I can vividly recall a tough time where I told myself that I would die with this brace. It was tough to say to myself but simultaneously, I felt at ease. Sometimes I feel there is peace in coming to terms with the grim. You can deal with more accordingly.
One of the biggest things for me is that there is value in fighting back and value in helping others fight back. It’s what we’re all meant to do. We all battle for some type of existence in the world. You might as well battle for what you want. Even when it’s awful.
Sometimes the journey teaches you things.
It’s been ten whole years. It doesn’t get any easier. You just get stronger. I will however say, I am still here. There’s still a lot left to tell you, but today I will end here.
Big shout out to Dr’s Wadajo and Dr. Hallivus. Dr. Hallivus patches my foot up so I can trample the ground in my glorious wake. Shout out to Craig for making my brace and understanding what it’s like as he’s literally walked this path long before me.
“Maybe the future has been written. I don’t know. All I know is what the Terminator taught me. Never Stop fighting. And I Never will…” _ John Connor. Terminator 3. Rise of the Machines.