The last couple weeks have been frustrating; between work stress and physical issues, life has been wearing on me. I let it beat me down for a couple days, but enough was enough. When things are grinding you down, it’s time to get kickstarted again.

February saw the launch of our newest fitness scholarship recipient, Mary Lee. Mary has made amazing progress on her journey already, but she came to us looking for a boost. Her goal is to run a half this year; she ran her first 10k at the end of January and is driven to succeed. She needed some guidance with cross training, weights, and so on.

The Foundation was happy to help, of course. We connected Mary with Brandy Seidel, a terrific trainer who has been showing her different exercises, new things to try, and challenging her perceived limits. After watching Mary, I tried some new things myself. It’s easy to fall in a rut, especially when it’s below 10 degrees real temp for a solid week here in lovely Kansas…

Hello There, Sam

The other thing that inspired me is my new toy… folks, meet Sam. (What, you don’t name your favorite toy?) I’m sure the delivery guy didn’t enjoy carrying Sam across the frozen yard the other day in a busted up box, but I sure appreciated it.

For the most part I do body weight work at home. I have a treadmill I bought second hand years ago, some used dumbbells, a pullup bar/captain’s chair, and a sandbag I picked up somewhere along the way. My home equipment list is not extensive, but everything has multiple uses.

You can go a long way with body weight. Sometimes, though, you just need a heavy toy to throw around. There’s something primal about the stress release of the slam ball for me; there are a ton of things you can do with it, but my favorite is simply lifting it overhead and slamming it down using my full body and core. Sam took the brunt of my recent frustration this morning, and honestly he seemed to enjoy it.

The slam ball has so many possible functions. Slams, Russian twists, weighted sit-ups, uneven pushups, over the shoulder throws, slam ball burpees… Man, I feel like Bubba right now… Heck, I even did part of my #iplankwithmary 4 minutes of planks today with my toes on Sam – just to see how it would work. (Pro tip – it was tough! I’ll be doing that again, for sure.)

Watch The Ball Go In

When I look at Sam I smile because I know what he means to me – sore muscles (the good kind of sore, right Mary?) and a feeling of accomplishment. I watched a basketball announcer talk about when he struggled as a player. He’d get to the free throw line, where it’s all mechanics and repetition. He watched the ball go through the rim; simple enough! That let him reset, and stop pressing as much. Small successes lead to bigger wins!

This is what we mean when we talk about progress, not perfection. You’re not going to do a 5-minute plank 30 days into a challenge. You can do 5 1-minute planks though! Build to the bigger wins, whether you are a beginner or a veteran. And don’t forget the primal power of a good slam!