“FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU! I HATE YOU! FUCK YOU!” I am screaming at the top of my lungs. With every shout I am hitting a padded massage table with a tennis racket, as hard as I can.
After several minutes of doing ungodly violence to the table with the racket I switch to pumping my elbows behind me, with force and velocity. A violent shrugging meant to do harm, “GET OFF MY BACK! FUCK YOU! GET OFF MY BACK!” Again this goes on for an uncomfortably long time. Part of me wonders what the guys deadlifting in the other room are thinking, the rest of me is in full blown cartharsis and really doesn’t give a shit. There are demons to be purged and purge them I will.
Once again I’m at Elliott Hulse’s gym in St. Petersburg, Florida and once again I am outside my comfort zone. Elliott earned my trust a long time ago, his commitment to helping others become the “strongest version” of themselves is beyond question. His desire to serve others, to share his knowledge and experience is unparalleled. What can I do but open myself to what he has to offer? Anything less would be abject cowardice.
So I’m a little bit uncomfortable. So walking back into the gym, amongst guys I’ve been training with all day, will be awkward. So what.
Elliott was taking me through his latest passion, Bio-energetic Analysis. Bio-energetic Analysis is an offshoot of Freudian psychology, that comes to us from the works of Freud’s student, Wilhelm Reich, and Reich’s student, Alexander Lowen. Elliott studies under a student of Lowen’s. The underlying basis of Bio-energetic Analysis is that the body and mind are connected. The way we think and feel is reflected in our how we carry our bodies and dysfunctions of the body are often reflections of dysfunctions of the mind.
I was in St. Petersburg for a workshop with Elliott on his and Mike Westerdal’s Lean Hybrid Muscle, an online informational product they launched a few years ago. I was marginally involved in their follow up program Lean Hybrid Muscle–Reloaded which came out last year. Elliott and Mike are both highly skilled professionals who together produced one of the top products in the market for building muscle and loosing fat.
Elliott was teaching the deadlift, and taking advantage of his years of study with Paul Chek, was getting very detailed with the lift. He was working with me in maintaining a neutral spine throughout the lift, something I find especially difficult due to a tight chest and and almost uncontrollable rounding of the shoulders. After a few minutes of instruction he could tell I was getting pissed at myself. I’m a worthless poker player, every thought and emotion registers on my face before I’m even aware of having thought or felt it.
The next thing I knew I was in the next room taking myself through a full blown tantrum. After hitting and screaming and giving myself the freedom of a toddler, he had me lie back on the table, panting and sweating profusely from all of my exertion, and breathe. First with hands hovering a few inches over my hips, fingers extended, my mouth stretched wide open, I pulled large breathes into my lungs and once full simply let the air escape as it would. What developed was a kind of rhythm. A post orgasmic release, completely asexual, but that kind of intensity followed by a total relaxation nonetheless. Over the next few minutes he had me move my hands from my hips, to my belly, to my chest and finally my throat, spending ample time at each location. Just breathing, mouth stretched wide, and relaxing into my body.
With my mouth stretched, almost to an uncomfortable degree, my lips would twitch. I don’t know how else to describe it, but there was an uncontrolled release taking place. Energy that was bound up was finding it’s way out through a muscular expression. Elliott noticed it, identified it as my body’s expression of tenderness, the yin to it’s earlier, violent yang. He had me, still lying on the table, reach forward and clasping and unclasping my hands make “kissey faces,” smacking and smooching the air.
Were it anyone else, I’d be certain he was just making fun of me. “Let’s see what we can make Dave do.” But like I said, I trust Elliott and I’m not above making a fool out of myself, especially if there’s something to be gained from it.
Later, Elliot explained that there’s a specific pattern to this kind of release. A natural pattern, one that’s already hard wired into the body and we experience it every time we have sex. There’s a charge, a ramping up of intensity that peaks and a discharge where that energy is released and we ride back down that mountain we’ve created. Just like a good novel, tension, climax, denouement.
When we rejoined the group I was a little embarrassed. I knew they heard me and could only imagine what they were thinking. Everyone was absolutely cool and supportive. Elliott’s ability to draw in like minded people is astounding and one of the many reasons I don’t think twice about making the trip. No matter what’s on the agenda I know I’m going to be introduced to a new group of people, all of whom read from the same page I do, are excited about the same things I am and that new connections will be made and new brothers found.
By the end of the workshop I was wiped out. Keg carries, clean and pressing some of those same water filled barrels, stone loading, tire flips, yoke carries, handstands, levers, bench presses, squats and deadlifts all took their toll, but were nothing to the drain I felt after the Bio-energetic Analysis. Back at my hotel I slept for a concentrated hour, so deeply I didn’t even realize I had fallen asleep.
Once I cleared that fog I had dinner with Elliott, his wife, Samantha and my new brothers. I was light, energized, open and alive. I’d been gifted with a whole new experience. Ultimately, it was THE reason I was in St. Petersburg and now I have a new tool, a vital tool in peeling away all the muck and grime that so easily clings to us, that clogs our mirrors and prevents us from shining, preventing us from becoming the strongest version of ourselves.