The Grass Ain’t Always Greener: a My Journey to Ninja Warrior Interlude

Aloha and welcome to The Grass Ain’t Always Greener: a My Journey to Ninja Warrior Interlude.

This instalment has been on my mind for about ten Days and has been prompted by recent sightings of former-acquaintances who made choices that removed them from my circle.  I’ve been pretty busy this Week with a complete reworking of my recent eBook entitled ‘Training for Ninja Warrior’ which shares motivation and programs used in the last twenty-four Months of Ninja Training so haven’t updated the Blog with an Interlude instalment.

There’s an old adage that goes ‘This Grass is greener on the other side of the Fence’. Strictly speaking this isn’t always true, a lesson these former acquaintances have learnt the hard way. Often the Grass on the other side of the proverbial Fence IS actually greener BUT you don’t see the blood, sweat and tears that goes into making it that way. The truth of the matter is that if you were to decide to put the same amount of blood, sweat and tears into tending your own Grass you would probably surpass your neighbor’s.

The analogy can be applied to anything in life, your relationship, your Employment or even your Home and Garden. There is no escaping the fact that IF you make the choice to put the work in then the Grass WILL be greener. Let me put it this way; I used to be in awe of the individuals that attended my Gym and easily put in set after set of perfect pull-ups. Did that stop me attending the Gym, heading for the A-Frame and trying to emulate them?

No.

Time passed and as I began to see improvements in my own performance I came to the realisation that these individuals weren’t somehow born with the ability to perform set after set of strict pull-ups with apparent ease. I made Gym-friends and through speaking to them, gleaning what I could from their philosophies, it quickly became apparent that the one thing that they had in common was that they had put the time in. Much like when I started the journey they had begun in EXACTLY the same way.

So this is the lesson for this instalment, stow the jealously. Put the work in and greatness will come, your proverbial Grass WILL soon be greener than your neighbors and they will be the ones jealous or envious of YOU.

Mahalo (Thanks) for taking the time to read my musings. I appreciate your taking time out to spend with me. Until next time, and as always, with much Aloha I remain

Jon

Jon G. Richelieu-Booth

Author, Coach, Personal Trainer, Superman and Future American Ninja Warrior / Ninja Warrior

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My Journey to Ninja Warrior: I’m Possible

Aloha and welcome back to this Week’s instalment of ‘My Journey to Ninja Warrior’ which is entitled I’m Possible.

This post came about by my being told something was impossible and thinking about what that statement means. In life there are many that will tell you something is impossible but you must NOT listen.

Trust me when I say that the hardest thing to hear is someone telling you that something is impossible. I’ve been there and heard those exact words many many times before. The thing to remember is that it isn’t about you. What is possible is a very personal thing to the individual and no one knows what exactly is possible except you in the moment when you are faced with the choice to dig deep and leave it all ‘out there’ on the course or to quit.

More often than you might think I get told something is impossible, which I love by the way as when I do it not only am I proving the naysayers wrong but I’m redefining what exactly is possible. The Ninja Community I aspire to join professionally embodies this mentality and pushes the envelope Year after Year. Just look at Ninjas like Drew Dreschel and Jessie Graff, they are great examples of individuals dedicated to pushing the envelope and redefining the limits of what is possible each and every single time they get out on the American Ninja Warrior course.

The word ‘impossible’ disproves itself by it’s very composition..

Impossible =  I’m. Possible.

A few Years ago in the midst of a very painful Divorce I lost contact with a very good friend, we spoke Yesterday and he reminded me of how much I’ve changed and how I redefine the word possible.  His comments led me to look at the person I was a Year ago.. A Year ago I wasn’t in the physical condition I am Today. A Year ago I wasn’t the Superman I am Today. So what changed?

The answer is simply that I did. I looked at what I wanted, what I needed to do to get there and threw myself headfirst into preparing. I aligned myself with those who would support me and push me higher than I thought possible. I cleared my schedule of distractions that added no value then committed myself 100% to the goal.

If I’d listened to my Doctors I would be walking with a cane not free-running on the moors. If I’d listened to the naysayers I wouldn’t be spending so much time at my local Gym and picking up the nickname ‘A-Frame Jon’ given the crazy shit I end up doing.

Remember, when someone tells you that something is impossible.. it’s an opinion NOT a fact.

Once again a HUGE Mahalo (Thanks) for making space in your busy schedules and lives to spend this time with me, I am truly grateful.

Until next time, and as always, with much Aloha I remain

 

Jon

Jon G. Richelieu-Booth

Author, Coach, Personal Trainer, Superman and Future American Ninja Warrior / Ninja Warrior

The Cape: a My Journey to Ninja Warrior Interlude

Aloha and welcome to another interlude instalment of ‘My Journey to Ninja Warrior’, this instalment is entitled ‘the Cape’.

In early 2011 the words of a very special young lady, my Lois if you will, were ringing in my ears: ‘embracing who you are at your core should never stop, so don’t stop there’. At the time she said those fateful words to me she was holding a replica Christopher Reeve cape which had been delivered to my room at the Hilton Ft Lauderdale earlier that Day while I was working an event for Tony Robbins.

I thought about what she meant by ‘embracing who you are at your core’ on the flight home with the cape neatly folded in my carry-on. I was flying back to the UK and one of the worst experiences of my life trying to figure out what my next step was. Embracing who I was at my core was going to take a lot of figuring out as I was struggling with the very issue of identity after watching everything I valued stripped from me in the preceding Months.

One of my very best friends at the time called me ‘Clark’ and it was during a conversation with him that I figured out exactly what ‘embracing who I am at my core’ meant. I walked over to my closet, retrieved the cape from it’s hanger, feeling the weight of it I smiled..

Time passed and life, as it is wont to do, happened. In the meantime there were additional challenges piled onto my plate, most notably the catastrophic injury to my gastrocnemius. It took until Chicago for all the pieces to come together. The Chicago event was a reunion with many of my friends, and one of these – Todd arrived bringing with him my new custom-tailored cape complete with resin ‘S’.

Back at the Hotel I stood in the complete suit and donned the cape for the first time. I I felt a sense of peace and certainty that I had never felt before that point. I finally knew what she had meant by ‘embracing who you are at your core’.

I can’t take credit for the lesson of this instalment, that belongs to the amazing woman that taught me it, but trust me when I say that there is real power in embracing who you are at your core and owning your identity. That’s what makes me her Superman.

Mahalo (Thanks), as always, for taking the time to read my musings. I honestly do appreciate your taking the time out of your busy schedules and lives to spend this time with me.

Please keep the feedback and comments coming. I may not respond to each and every one personally but I can promise you that I do read each and every one.

Until next time, and as always, with much Aloha I remain

Jon

Jon G. Richelieu-Booth

Author, Coach, Personal Trainer, Superman and Future American Ninja Warrior / Ninja Warrior

My Journey to Ninja Warrior: Surprise

It isn’t very often that I am surprised but Tuesday this Week was one of those Days..

So for those who have been following my journey you may recall that I have been working with my Strength and Conditioning Coach James for a little over two Years now.. I like to think that we have become good friends too, something that was underscored by a little surprise.

If you’ll indulge me in a little scene setting:  since working with James, and excepting a couple of blips, I have gone from strength to strength and rapidly put size on.

I was texted Monday to check that, at some point, I would be in the Gym on Tuesday as a belated Birthday present had arrived and was to be passed to me. About halfway into my session James walked up, I was in my usual spot on the A-Frame, and handed me a grey baggie. Despite it testing me (Must. Stop. Doomsday 😊) I managed to rise to the challenge and upon opening said grey baggie I found a new Man of Steel (Superman) shirt. James told me to go change as he wanted to get a photo.  I sprinted into the changing room and donned the new shirt before returning to the A-Frame where one of the other PTs, Elliot, was waiting. This wasn’t the entire surprise, the surprise was an Instagram post that would drop later in the Day..

James starts off by mentioning it was my Birthday recently (7/17), sharing my nickname (A-Frame Jon – which I’m never gonna escape am I?) and calling out that I have been a member / celebrity since the Gym (Leeds) opened back in 2011. That prompted a smile in itself but it was the next paragraph that floored me.. he went on to mention that when you talk about optimism and staying true to yourself and your goals you have to give me a metric shit ton of credit. No matter what I am going through you will always see me wearing a smile, giving 100% and “taking care of business”. It’s no secret that I look up to people like Dwayne Johnson, aka the Rock, and model a lot of my Social Media on how he interacts with his fans so to have someone write something like this was truly humbling and showed me how I am seen.

I can’t take credit for the Superman label, this was given to me a few Years ago by a young lady I completely adore. Despite meeting during one of the darkest times in my life she saw in me the potential to be more than my pain. She saw through everything I was facing down to what I was capable of and six Years after naming me I’m endeavouring to live up to both the name and her love.

So rather than sign off as I usually do I’m just going to let the following paragraph sign off for me and if you need me you’ll find me at the Gym takin’ care of business..

Anyone that knows me knows that I don’t make vows lightly but I will reiterate this one, no matter how hard it is or what I’m facing one thing you can always count on that the colors will fly, I will stand for those who can’t stand for themselves and I’m always around.. all you gotta do is look up

Jon

Jon G. Richelieu-Booth

Author, Coach, Personal Trainer, Superman and Future American Ninja Warrior / Ninja Warrior

My Journey to Ninja Warrior: the Meaning of Life

Aloha and welcome to another instalment of ‘My Journey to Ninja Warrior’, this instalment is entitled ‘the Meaning of LIfe’ and has been prompted by my forty-second Birthday (Monday 7/17). Douglas Adams fans will get the relevance of the title 😊

So as I have approached the end of another orbit around the Sun I have been reflecting , as we all do, on what I have achieved in the last x number of Years. In fact I can’t say that until I left for College I ever achieved anything of note, as it was there that I met my sweetheart and proposed (eventually Married).  Upon leaving College I began looking for, and found, a permanent role. This was with a large Bank and as 2003 began I felt that I had “made it”, I felt like an Adult. Unfortunately this wasn’t to last, within ten Years of graduating everything I felt I had achieved was stripped from me.

I clearly recall returning Home from Work on the Evening of 5/27/2010 to find my Wife and fur-kids “missing”. In their place was a note. With my entire World ending I crumbled to the ground and as night fell I was laying on the floor desperately praying for Death to claim me. Thankfully Death never came, so after a sleepless pain-filled Night I got up, dressed and headed off to Work at a job under a dysfunctional individual who had no business being in a Management position. The Hours turned into Days, the Days into Weeks and the Weeks into Months.  2010 would draw to a close and a catastrophic injury would take up much of my 2011, as bad as it was that’s not to say 2011 wasn’t without it’s high-points because I began to associate with people who seemed more aligned with the person I was becoming.  No sooner had I begun the long painful rehabilitation than I faced Redundancy and a Divorce (coming within eight Weeks of one another) and my fall continued.

At the start of 2012 I was given an amazing opportunity by a man I call one of my greatest mentors, Richard. As it happened he had committed to work a couple of events and due to his own commitments he was going to be unable to do so. Knowing exactly who I am he asked me to step up in his stead, as it was Richard doing the asking I didn’t think twice and readily agreed.. this would prove to be the biggest mistake I could have ever made, not to say that I blame Richard at all. The people I hold responsible were the ones I trusted to support me in my mission to make a difference.

Given that in January 2012 I had been made redundant from Lloyds and that following my Divorce in February I was struggling financially, my now-ex  was dragging her feet in signing the marital Home into my sole name and if I’m completely honest the entire process seemed more than a little vindictive on her part.  Several members of the “Tony” World didn’t like what was on my Social Media accounts at this time and pulled the role I had been contracted to deliver.. with absolutely no notice. So I had paid for my flight and accommodations, at a total of nearly $4, 500 only to discover when I arrived in San Jose that I had been screwed over.

However, I didn’t learn the truth behind “Tony” and his business practices so when the opportunity came up to work in Las Vegas I agreed. The Vegas trip passed without incident and a few Months later I ended up in Orlando to work what I had advertised as my retirement engagement. On the final Day I had decided that didn’t want to leave and not make peace so I sought out the Contractor liason and thanked her for the opportunity, imagine my surprise when she told me I was lucky to be there as no-one had wanted me to be and that she had given me the benefit of the doubt. I was crushed and as I struggled to deal with the rejection one of my friends from that world, Dug, said something to one of my other friends that made it easier.. he said (and I’m paraphrasing); “if you’re continually returning somewhere time after time for Years then one thing is clear, you’ve not learned or grown”. I agree completely.

Everything I sacrificed (and paid), to work these events and support his “mission” (and yes I’m putting that in quotes as his mission is realistically only about the almighty dollar rather than helping people as it was when he started out) was repurposed into advancing my own cause. I’m glad it happened how it did, I have better things to do than advance someone else’s cause and pay for the privilege. Tony extolls people that attend his events to “give back”. What a load of BS. Give back? I have NOTHING to give back to that man, let me break it down for you; he gave me NOTHING without first being paid for it be that financially or with labor (a kind way to describe eighteen Hour plus Days). With the money I have saved since leaving the “Tony” World I paid for a second Personal Training course, accredited through the ACSM with the aim of allowing me to work as a PT in America and I have carried out a number of improvements to my own Home. This would never have happened if I had continued to be one of the hero worshipping sheep that turn up to event after event with the delusion they are valued and that they are making a difference to anything other than Tony’s bank balance.

So to get back on track, my first thirty-five Years were a test-run for the man I am becoming. Five short Years after commencing this journey on self-discovery I’m blessed with genetics that allow me to rapidly heal any injury, to put my physiology through absolute hell and bounce back. None of this means anything without will. The will to stand. The will to act.

Today I stand proudly at six feet tall, weigh around one-sixty (pounds), am in the best shape of my life (I can lift far more than I weigh, run faster and longer than logic dictates given my devastating injury of 2011) and I am in love with an amazing Woman. In addition to her I am blessed to have the unconditional love of a close-knit family who believe in me and watch as I constantly push the envelope of what is possible and redefining what I am capable of every single Day. Realistically I wouldn’t be much of a Superman without them.

Mahalo nui loa (Thank You Very Much) for sticking around given our very erratic publishing schedule these last few Weeks. I hadn’t realised how much work writing another eBook would take. I remain grateful that you take time out of your busy lives to read my musings and I hope that you find some value in said musings. Until next time, and as always with much Aloha, I remain..

 

Jon

Jon G. Richelieu-Booth

Author, Coach, Personal Trainer and Future American Ninja Warrior / Ninja Warrior

Special My Journey to Ninja Warrior Edition – It’s OK to not be OK

Aloha and welcome to another instalment of ‘My Journey to Ninja Warrior’, this instalment is entitled ‘ It’s OK to not be OK ’ and is about going through  challenging times as we all do. I have personally gone through a challenging time recently, May isn’t exactly my favorite Month for a few reasons; it marks the anniversary of my Father having his Stroke and it marks the anniversary of my now-ex Wife walking out. I have held off on blogging as I haven’t wanted to put that kind of energy ‘out there’ as it were.

Looking back I instinctively knew that something wasn’t quite right, largely due to my Training being a little off point and a complete lack of appetite. I think my absolute lowest was when I seriously considered withdrawing my application for Ninja Warrior. A very good friend of mine recently called me out on one of my abilities, how I am able to revisit the past, and my Father also picked up on this and called me out for punishing myself. Which poses an interesting question; why do I feel the need to punish myself? What crime, or crimes, can I have committed that require constant reminders to prevent their repetition?

To be honest there’s nothing that I can think of.   In the absence of perceived wrongdoings I came to the realisation I have been dealing with a mild depression, and depression is an illness that no-one can see. Usually the damaging advise is that things can’t be that bad and that the sufferer needs to “man up”. Those that come out with comments like that have clearly never faced depression, or maybe they don’t understand the Human condition as keenly as those who have. The harsh truth is that, to the sufferer, things ARE that bad. I speak from experience as I have struggled with depression and have some very good friends who suffer too, it kills me to see this. I’ve never been good with seeing friends in pain going through tough times and know that I cannot do anything to take their pain away.

A short time ago I learned that one of my former Training partners, the one most directly responsible for guiding my first steps on the fitness journey, was facing depression. Thankfully they sought out help and are on the path to a full recovery. I won’t name them but I’m proud of how they’ve dealt with things.

If there is anyone out there in a similar spot, facing the big black dog of depression, I hope that they’re reading this and take some small measure of comfort in knowing despite how they’re feeling that they are NOT broken. It will take time. It will require leaning on friends but you WILL kick it’s candy ass.

To close the door on this challenging period and echoing one of my personal idols, a man I endeavour to emulate by adopting his shield, in his role as the famed Man of Steel from Superman II;

“I’m sorry I’ve been away, but I’m back now.”

Mahalo for bearing with me during this absence from blogging. I remain grateful for your taking time out of your busy lives to read my musings. Until next time, which I promise won’t be as long as it has been, and with much Aloha I remain

Jon

Jon G. Richelieu-Booth

Author, Coach, PT, Superman and future (American) Ninja Warrior

Learning a Lesson: a My Journey to Ninja Warrior Interlude

Aloha and welcome to another interlude instalment of ‘My Journey to Ninja Warrior’, this instalment is entitled ‘Learning a Lesson’ and has been prompted by the last few instalments of this blog in which I revisited my time in the Anthony ‘Tony’ Robbins world

When I was a part of that World I used to donate a lot of my time to pro-bono Coaching, that is to say that I found people that needed help, either at events or outside in the larger World, and gave them my support at no cost. One of these was a Reporter from Lincoln who I met in Los Angeles Airport.

The conversation started about Coaching and an invitation to appear on the Radio Show, the American Dream Team, she hosted on Lincoln’s SirenFM, and would progress to me providing pro-bono Coaching for a time. During the course of many conversations I would learn she wanted to become a published writer, to this end she had a WordPress Blog too entitled ‘33andLostinLife’, that she struggled with her University studies and had a love for Diet Coke. Things eventually reached a tipping-point for her and she suspended her studies, our sessions became more frequent and she started to lose sight of her dream.She forgot as I touched on in an earlier post that when you want something you absolutely positively MUST get up, dress up and show up. There were so many excuses and reasons for not writing, be that new material or an entry in her blog, but through it all I never lost sight of her potential even though she did. She became so resistant to being helped I had no choice but to level an ultimatum, I asked her to write a blog post as she’d been promising otherwise I would have to withdraw my Coaching. As you might imagine this didn’t go down well at all and I received a very angry message by return that she wasn’t going to be bullied into writing a blog post that would undo everything that she had previously written about me, so as much as I hated walking away I washed my hands of her and did just that.

Ironically enough both the original iteration of this blog and the book I wrote entitled ‘From the Ashes’ that I have recently overhauled as part of my 800th Instagram celebration were created to try and goose this Client into getting out of her own way and writing.

She finally graduated from University after her impromptu Gap-Year, moved to London as planned yet wasn’t working in the industry she had wanted to and began dating. It was around this time that we reconnected briefly but as I had very little time, and as she was going through some stuff too, we fell out of touch again.

So a couple of Months ago I stopped by her blog and noticed she hasn’t written an entry in quite some time it’s nice to see however that she has found someone and is moving from London to be with them.

The lesson that this Client taught me was sometimes people don’t want to be helped, you can do so much but there comes a time when there’s no value to sticking around. You have to trust that they will find their place in the World and accept that it’s not your responsibility.

Mahalo for joining me, I’m grateful that you continue to read my musings. Until next time, and with much Aloha, I remain

Jon

Jon G. Richelieu-Booth

Author, Coach, PT, Superman and future (American) Ninja Warrior