Let’s set the scene. Imagine an office environment, your colleagues are content with instant coffee and beige pastry snacks for a meal. You’re restless in your chair, you make excuses to go to the fridge or fetch things from downstairs as an excuse to get closer to your steps quota for the day. You’ve found the toilet door is the perfect height to hang from. You know its good for grip strength and decompression of the spine whilst counteracting being sat for too long in a chair. You hold full squat, ass to grass waiting for the kettle to boil. During your lunch break you’ve found a local park to practise handstands as you urge to be outside.
This was my life just over a year ago. This is not a dig at an office environment or the 9-5 lifestyle but it was no longer a match for me.
I was never gifted at sport, but never the less enjoyed being physical. I was obsessed with action heroes and their physiques especially the larger than life characters that Arnold Schwarzenegger would adopt. Later I was more intrigued by the capabilities of the human body as Parkour and more gymnastic elements came to the mainstream. A similar story at school where I got my head down and worked hard but studying didn’t come naturally. I was studious and diligent but my natural talent lead me eventually towards a more creative path with subjects such as Design and Drama, going onto study Industrial Design at Loughborough University. Ultimately this became my career for nearly a decade.
Towards the latter stages of formal employment I became qualified as a Personal Trainer. I was spending more and more time researching health and anatomy often using myself as the guinea pig or taking weekend courses to dive deeper into subject matter. Up until this phase of life I’d been mostly interested in rugby but found myself dealing with numerous injuries I was trying to rehab, many linked to shoulder injuries. So transitioned to more single minded disciplines. My focus shifted to individual pursuits including climbing, bodyweight training and being outdoors.
My first foray into this world was a set of gymnastic rings back in 2015 which I used to set up at the local park. I enjoyed combining being outside with learning skills and building strength. This allowed me to train all year round, and some interesting conversations with the local police. More on that another time. I enjoyed the feeling of working towards a goal that wasn’t just moving more weights on a bar or trying to get ‘swole’. I was never going to have the upper chest development of (recently deceased) Franco Columbu or the bicep peak of Arnold. But what I could do was move my body through space and I found that more rewarding.
Watching accomplished athletes master their bodyweight left me in awe. I felt it was an accessible way to build strength and more importantly do cool things whilst not detracting from other pursuits such as climbing. If anything it helped me progress further. Watching Ido Portal with his animal movements and physical intelligence was a breakthrough moment for me.
I used to get annoyed that I never knuckled down and chased one sport, but in many respects it was my saving grace. It gave me movement freedom to enjoy many sports whilst having competency and awareness to enjoy new things.
I was once asked by a client ‘How do you stay motivated to train?’ My response was that I didn’t know life without it. Its intrinsic to who I am as a person. This was highlighted to me following a motorbike accident when even getting out a chair brought me pain and discomfort. I need to move to be me.
As with many things in life, the prize at the end is why you start, but its the gold you earn along the way. The nuance, the why, which keeps you engaged.
Around the time I bought my first pair of gymnastic rings, Tim and Jacko released one of there first beginner classes so I signed up and went along. A few years later I and was quick to jump on the Coaching Calisthenics Seminar. This was the beginning of learning and friendship. I’m now honoured to be part of the team. I see them as my big brothers, there to guide and teach but never smothering. Letting us, the team, learn and giving us the tools to empower others.
You could define my approach as holistic, one look at my instagram page to see what I value (@owenbjackson). Cold water exposure and juggling to name a couple of things. Overall I feel our body is the best piece of technology we own, and have a duty to explore its potential. Embrace life and be fulfilled by your endeavours.
If you made it this far, THANK YOU. If any of this resonated with you I’d love it if you got in touch through instagram (@owenbjackson) and be sure to listen to the podcast with the chaps and me.
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