Saturday, January 12, 2008

It's 6:30am and I'm awake because our two cats start to play fight at about 6am. It's their way of telling us, it's time to eat! They really go crazy running around the house hissing and yelling, tumbling around. It's like the wrestling match of the year everyday! Geeesh!
Anyhow my next guest is the Mighty Kat. We bumped into each other via She can write beautifully and hit the Iron with passion! She's also a workout outside kinda landy and you know I dig that! I hope you enjoy her as much a I've enjoyed getting to know her. Take a trip to her website to look around and read some of her work.

I am The Mighty Kat.

I am an explorer by nature. This means that not only do I tend to move residences every couple of years and change jobs, I continue to evolve in the fitness world. And I love it. The journey is as exciting as the highlights.

Sports was never my thing, and it can be tough to stumble into a fitness discipine. I had a few early inclinations. I picked up my father’s dumbbells when I was a kid, and carefully followed the exercise diagrams for building shoulders. I noticed people’s musculature and admired fit bodies. I called a gymnastics place and asked about the rings, but was told they didn’t teach girls the rings.

In elementary school, I was the only girl who could climb the knotted rope at the fire station, and I did the flexed-arm hang for longer than any girl in the county, they said. I did the hand-over-handle bars until I grew too tall.

(I mention these things because there are kids out there like this right now, and maybe you can spot them and guide them to opportunity. I think adults take kids’ playing for granted, especially girls, and can overlook natural inclinations that could blossom with the right environment. So I pass on this tiny flag.)

Fast forward to college. The one good thing to come of a terrible romantic relationship was that a guy introduced me to weight training and running. It clicked. It outlasted him. I bought a bench and used it (the same way any untrained guy would – lots of bench presses and curls).

Eventually, I became a gym rat, and naturally got drawn into bodybuilding.

The training waxed transcendental at times. The work outs demanded every bit of effort I could give. I loved the sensation of specific muscle failure, the “pump.” The dieting, while no picnic (yuck, yuck), was easier for me to handle than most, because I’m phenomenally stubborn.

I hired a “cool” trainer for my first competition. He trained me the traditional way – like a 200-pound guy on steroids (although I was none of the above). On contest day, I found myself lying on the floor of the men’s room, surrounded by people icing me and trying to forcefeed me Gatorade. I had done everything I was told, and I nearly died. I nearly died.

I abandoned the trainer, but not the exploration. I wanted to know if bodybuilding could be done in a way that was physically and mentally healthy. I discovered “natural bodybuilding” – a world apart from the conventional gymrat bodybuilder world, and I found Dr. Joe Klemczewski (, a fabulous guy with a unique, pioneering approach to bodybuilding dieting, and he brought my experiment to fruition.

When I walked out of a show at midnight hugging a trophy sword, feeling healthy, happy, with my husband still smiling, I knew I’d achieved my goal in bodybuilding.

Bodybuilding has a lot of drawbacks and demands. I felt ready for my next adventure.

Then I discovered Olympic lifting through Mistress Krista’s, and it was off to the (next) races. My split training has made way for multi-joint strength training. The lifts are at the heart of it, coupled basic strength exercises – pull-ups, chin-ups, dumbbell bench pressing, stuff like that. Now I warm up by walking around the yard with a bar held high over my head and swinging dumbbells and odd items. I’m thinking about the rings again, now that I’ve bumped into people like Jen, who demonstrate that girls can indeed do the rings. And the journey continues.

I think part of being an explorer means that you make connections with people, and communities, and traditions. But ultimately it’s the journey that drives you. I tiptoe around training disciplines that label themselves, and I dance away from ones that seek money in exchange for participation. Because the physical practice of moving and honing one’s strength is as sacred as the spiritual, and once institutionalized, traditions can go awry.

So I walk my unchartered path freely, stopping to enjoy what there is to enjoy along the way, and savoring each special tradition for what it contributes to my being as a whole. I love this adventure, and look forward to what lies ahead.

In strength is joy, and I wish the joy of strength to all, and the joy of the journey to all the explorers.

Mighty Kat: live a little from The Mighty Kat on Vimeo.


~The Mighty Kat~ said...

Just wanted to say thanks again, Jen, for inviting me to contribute to your awesome blog. Even when you're injured, you're an inspiration.

Catherine Imes said...

I second that Jen. Another great read. Keep them coming.


Jen said...

Thanks ladies! I wish we could all get together and have a beer(or two).
It's people like both of you and my other guests that keep me moving on days when ya don't feel like moving!