I'd be lying if I said Rocky IV wasn't my favorite movie of all time. Of course, there are many movies on my list of "best evers." Yet, this movie takes me back to my childhood. A product of the '80s and early '90s, my summers consisted of watching movies at my grandmas house. We had all the greats on VHS: Back to the Future, Harry and the Hendersons, The Godfather saga and every Rocky movie known to man at that point. But it was Rocky IV that I watched religiously. Now, if I am going for cinematic genius, the original Rocky takes the cake as the best of the best. But if I am going for sheer awesomeness, then Rocky IV is superior to all.
This past holiday, some station was looping 24 hours of Rocky for our viewing pleasure. I watched every installment and came to a conclusion. I credit Stallone's workout montage in Rocky IV for molding me into the fitness professional I am, today. Everything that I love to do in my workouts stems from the Balboa regimen. Let's get down to brass tacks.
The dude runs through Russian mountains during one of the harshest looking winters in history. This is not only dangerous, seeing it's Cold War era, but it's super bad-ass. He becomes an overnight lumberjack, swinging axes like it's his day job, just to beef up the bis. His core radiates as he hangs over the edge of a barn loft to perform what look like simple crunches. And he tops it off by lifting, over the shoulder, a copious amount of boulders snuggled in a fishing net hanging from a pulley. Sheer awesomeness.
Until my recent deep thought on the matter, I didn't realize that the Italian Stallion's techniques had been carried within my subconscious all this time. To think, I love to run through harsh elements. I love mud races, beach runs and putting myself through some sort messy situation to push my limits and make gains. I like to swing hammers and push sleds loaded with weight. I like to carry heavy things over my shoulders when I go for runs. Think about it. The Rocky IV workout scene is a combination of the obstacle, CrossFit and boot camp worlds. It is exactly what I love! I feel like I've reached an epiphany.
Now, I don't expect everyone to think that they are going to like this type of training. It is kind of, how do you say, crazy. But here are some takeaways for everyone.
Take advantage of the outdoor elements -- Go for a hike, run or bike ride through nature. Run on the sand or along a dusty trail. Sprint uphill or hike up the big rock. Be careful, of course, but test your limits a bit and do it using the beautiful world around you. And don't cancel the excursion if it is raining or snowing out. This just adds to the challenge and fun! The fresh air will shed new light into your world both physically and spiritually. Trust me, you will make connections with nature that will open new pathways for yourself on many new levels, all while getting physically tuned.
Push and pull heavy things -- Resistance training is important to creating a healthy life. It helps build new muscle, strengthens bones and helps boost energy. No matter where you are in your life, a resistance program can bring your mind and body to a higher level. Use resistance machines at the gym. And if you don't have a gym, go all Rocky and use things laying around the house. I used to lift my old Acura Legend tires in my garage. I used the tires for lifts like curls, shoulder presses, chest presses and squats. And it kicked my rear end! Lesson learned: Be creative!
Commit -- The one thing Rocky never lacked was commitment. And neither should you. When you have the idea of getting fit, jump on it and don't look back. If it means waking up at 5:30 a.m. to attend a group class before work, commit to it. If it means working out at home while your child eats dinner, commit to it. Rocky committed to running by himself through the Russian wilderness for a whole winter with sub par lodgings, no TV and sans modern amenities. But it was all done to reach a final goal. Now, I don't expect your goal will be to enter the ring of battle to slay a giant Russian behemoth and have the audacity to win. I can imagine your goal will be to lose 20 pounds or to look more like Julianne Hough did in her Grease Live debut. All great goals, but there will be no achievement without your full commitment.
Have a crowd cheering you on -- Poor Rocky went all the way to Russia to train by himself. This is a tough thing to do, even for the Stallion. The first part of his training was missing something. He worked hard, but his production seemed a little off. He had Duke and the always surly Pauly with him to push him along, but something was amiss. It was not until his wife, Adrian, came to his side that his productivity skyrocketed. This is at the point in the movie where every vein in his upper body was bulging out while performing a wagon lift. Now, the reason behind this ridiculous feat of strength was the fact that he had a great supporting cast to push him to the next level. We are only as good as the support that we have around us. If no one thinks you can win, your probability of failure is high. Just as if no one thinks you can lose that 20 pounds, you are sort of behind the 8-ball. Find like minded people to help propel you to your goal. It can be a partner or loved one. It can be a gym buddy with the same goal. It can be your softball team or your classmates at school. Whatever the "team" you assemble, make sure they are on the same page as you. Rocky's team had one goal in mind: taking down Drago and single handedly ending the Cold War. They did it, and so can you.
So, there you have it. Rocky IV has a little something for everyone. A little drama, a little conflict, a little bit of love. But most of all, it has some great takeaways on how to live a healthier, happier life. Remember, we all have the eye of the tiger within us.