Category Archives: Gymspiration

How to Make (and Keep) a Daily Ritual

2 IMG 2454 How to Make (and Keep) a Daily Ritual
Sam Page at Lake Arrowhead Cabin. Photo by Joey Flynn, FLYFOTO

Top performers and enlightened masters often share something in common:  they practice a morning routine.

The concept of a “daily ritual” was explained to me by my oldest personal training client to date, Mr. Jacques Dury.   The 96-year-old Frenchman still enjoys gardening, a leisurely brunch and multiple glasses of French wine throughout the course of his day.  As I listened to him describe his limitations, (partial blindness and difficulty with balance) I also quickly observed his otherwise astonishingly great facility and independence in nearly every area of life.  Jacques credits this largely to what he called his daily ritual.

“The Ritual is the single most important thing that gives my life its sense of meaning.”
—Mr. Jacques Dury

Two summers have passed since I trained Mr. Dury.  And with varying levels of success, I kept trying to create my own ritual—I kept at it because I believed him that creating this ritual would unlock the door to a more satisfying life.  Because of my respect for Mr. Dury and the impact a commitment to a lifelong Daily Ritual can have, I have purposely waited before writing about this until I’d come up with my own workable practice.

So over the next few weeks, in bite sized entries, I’ll post about how I create my Daily Ritual. It’s easier to keep a practice of this magnitude by “leaning into it” rather than trying to do everything all at once. (Thanks, Oprah).  So smaller entries will encourage you  to visit more often.  (And I welcome your feedback in the comments).

As you begin to consider your own routine, I encourage you to incorporate as many of the six senses as possible into each part of your day. For example, I love waking up in the Lake Arrowhead cabin to the aroma of strong Morning Joe, then meditating shirtless in the sun out on the big back deck. (Thanks Robert!)

How Val Kilmer, Mark Wahlberg and The Tao Turned Me Into A ‘Stud’

AT AGE 16, I WAS LAZY—AND FAT. Naturally, then, when I had to choose between “Men’s Powerlifting” and “Body Mind and Spirit” during my junior year of high school, I chose the second.

And it really was PERFECT: I’d read a little from THE TAO, do a little TAI CHI, and of course: meditate, usually with this image of Val Kilmer in Top Gun stuck in my head. Guess what?

A few months later, I was training for admission to West Point.

The importance of visualization and breathing is underrepresented in fitness, but in meditation—it’s paramount. I’ve seen it first hand, training thousands of hours with clients in private sessions. But I’ve experienced it while “butchering” an aria on an audition for the LA Opera, and as an Army cadet: running the muddy fields of Fort Lewis (with a 40-pound ruck on my back)

“It’s not enough to work out and eat right. To make a lasting change, you need to reach inside, connect your mind with your body, and a future vision of who you are becoming.”

This image of Mark Wahlberg is what I chose as “my future self” back in 1997 after moving to L.A. I ‘photoshopped’ my head on Mark’s body, and printed dozens of stickers, putting them everywhere, even on the back of my license.

You don’t have to join the Army, audition for the opera, or pay a trainer to make this connection. You can start with meditation. Be ready to answer this question: what does YOUR “future self” look like?