With the Rocky movie franchise overdone, it feels hard to imagine the original when it came out. Neither the movie nor Sylvester Stallone were institutions.
I grew up in Philadelphia and I remember some of its popularity, certainly for Rocky II. It was nominated for 9 Oscars and won 3.
If the Rocky movies are about anything, they’re about a man finding within himself the discipline and motivation to achieve greatness through incredibly hard work, foregoing fancy equipment or flash in favor of homegrown, homemade grit and basics: you have all you need, you only need to dig deep enough to find it and act on it.
I think we like the movies so much because we know we can approach that practice and ethos more than we do, but we choose comfort and convenience. We know we don’t need fancy equipment but we tell ourselves stories that we do to excuse not reaching our potential. We dream that there is part of him in us, not completely lost to comfort and convenience.
6:15am December 2017, Greenwich Village
With the shortest day of the year a week away and waking up in one minute, I’ve been doing my morning calisthenics for the past few weeks before sunrise (when hosting visitors, which I’ve had plenty of lately, I wait for them to wake up).
I don’t turn on the lights. Enough comes through the windows from streetlights and under the door from the hallway, so why burn the fossil fuel? I don’t turn on the heat all winter, favoring sweaters. I end up sweating a minute or two into the workout, even in just a pair of shorts when it’s 30 degrees out.
Though it’s not enough to prepare for a heavyweight championship boxing title bout, for a 46-year old, it’s intense. It reminds me of this scene (sorry the radio is dubbed)—not the grossness of the eggs, which I wouldn’t eat, but the dedication and discipline to exercise with little, not complaining, getting results beyond others who get all fancy and pay a lot get.
You don’t like it but you do it. On the contrary, you like it more. You meet the resistance, cold, and loneliness with ritual and vision.
Why not just sleep in?
The Equinox a couple blocks from me costs $240 per month plus a $500 initiation fee. I can afford it and it’s convenient. There are beautiful people there plus clean linens, the latest machines, and the works.
I’ve paid that much total for all my fitness needs, including the rowing machine, kettle bells, and marathon dues for at least ten years. I get my full workout in the time it would take just to go, change, and come back, not counting the time working out.
While Equinox members enjoy luxury, I think I like the Rocky grit of Gonna Fly Now and Eye of the Tiger that I think the luxury misses. I like beautiful people, but I like the independence of requiring almost nothing but what I find inside.
I’ll stake my results against theirs. I like luxury, but I value the results more, plus the time I save I spend on my passions—for now, Leadership and the Environment.
The deeper I have to dig the more I value what I find of myself.
I also know that while in the video above he doesn’t reach the top of the art museum steps, it’s part of the process that gets him there in the end.
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