Thoughts about Virtuosity and Make-up Day
After class tonight I showed Daniel this picture and he laughed and said, “In order to be a good lifter you first have to be a plumber.” Having worked as a plumber at one point in my life I thought it was pretty funny. After I finished laughing I started thinking about my experience on the jobsite and establishing parallels to my experience in the gym. Believe it or not there are many. When I started working in the trades I was always fascinated with the plumbers and the pipe fitters. I wanted to immediately cut and fit pipe and solder it up. It seemed like such a challenge to puzzle together the pipe and all the fittings. Unfortunately it was a year or so before I got to hold the torch. I had to demonstrate proficiency in all the little things: how to measure and cut copper, how to sand fittings, how to apply just the right amount of flux, and how to use the bread from my lunch to stop water long enough to solder a new fitting in place (I didn’t follow a paleo diet back then). I also got a lot of practice carrying the tools and cleaning up. Finally, after showing proficiency in all the pieces I got to hold the torch, and just like with the barbell I had good days and bad days.
Coach Glassman frequently talks about gymnastics scoring, pointing out that an absolutely perfect routine will only get you a 9.7 out of 10.0. In order to receive the additional three tenths of a point you have to demonstrate “risk, originality, and virtuosity.” I would like to focus on virtuosity here. It is defined as “performing the common uncommonly well.” Coach Glassman sees virtuosity as the mark of true mastery.
I am sure by this point you are thinking, “Lindsay, what the hell are you trying to say?” Well, take a look at that picture again and forget my ridiculous plumber’s humor. When you come to class next time and the trainer asks you to get a PVC I want you to think about virtuosity. Can you move through each position of the Olympic lifts with perfect form and balance, and proper weight transfer? Can you execute an impeccable overhead position with a PVC? Hell, forget the PVC, can you execute a perfect air squat? Can you do a perfect push-up? These are the things that will make you a great athlete, the things that will turn the heads of other athletes and coaches. Just like I had to carry tools, cut pipe, and sand fittings before I could even attempt soldering the perfect joint, you must master body weight and PVC movements before you can execute big lifts. Demonstrating virtuosity takes patience and discipline, but the rewards are great. Next time the trainer takes you through a PVC warm-up look at it as an opportunity to become virtuous. Don’t just go through the motions.