It all started with an injury.
It was an afternoon rush hour on the subway. I was moving to a new apartment an hour and twenty minutes across the city. On my back, I carried all of my belongings—easily 40-50 lbs.
My eyes were fixed on the map outlining every station on the subway. With only 3 days of Chinese under my belt, you could say this was a completely foreign land. I tried to only listen to the train conductor's voice as to not miss my stop.
The sea of people was so thick I would have to tackle my way through a defensive line out the door.
Little did I know what was coming from behind.
When I finally got off on the Lishuiquia station (立水桥站), I felt like a baseball that just hit the bat.
More than getting off, I was thrown off. My shoulders were on the floor. Several people stepped over me and two of them crashed on the floor. None of them yelled at me, but we had such a hard time communicating that none of them ended up helping me up.
None of us were used to such heavy bags and luggage on the subway.
Seven years later, I still feel the pain from where my spine twisted and was chronically damaged—my mid-back vertebrae twisted left. To this day, I still manage the pain. To this hour, I can still click and pop my spine.
For four years after my injury, I kept praying for a fix. Someone, somewhere, would have a way to fix it. All I had to do was wait.
The truth: the only person who could fix this was me. I had to start working out for life. I had to start taking care of my body in a very specific way.
I already was a runner. I had already done a marathon. In fact, I put up with the excruciating pain just to make sure I could keep my mind calm. There was no way I was not going to run it.
Still, if I kept on torturing myself, chances were I was going to become an ugly, cranky, useless hunchback.
The last thing I wanted to do was rehab.
So me being me, I decided I was going to break dance. Yoga was the place to start. You do all of the break dance poses and you stay still during them.
As my mobility improved, so did my pain.
Looking for more, I considered becoming a yoga teacher.
Along the way, I discovered Christopher Sommer and GymnasticBodies.
Each of those decisions introduced a new thing into my life.
Whether it was a slow, meditative, somatic practice—in which I did a body scan and gently transferred the energy to trauma or whether it was intense bodyweight strength training that was harder to do than anything at the gym, I figured I needed to do them all.
This wasn't about just managing pain. This was about achieving excellence.
This was about getting a two-minute, perfectly straight handstand and then breaking out in dance at the next song.
These decisions began to carve more and more time out of my life.
Each day needed a warm-up, a cool-down, and one or two 45 minute workouts. This was in addition to the stretch breaks that helped me feel alive and ready to tackle the next programming challenge or my next management meeting.
Eventually, I realized that my mindset was not enough.
I needed more tools. We had to do something beyond the standing desk.
The time came to invest. And so, while still working my job I started playing around with PVC pipes, backpacks, cushions of all shapes and hardness, in addition to straps and hooks on my doors.
A lot of it looked ugly. My girlfriend didn't like it. But I was hooked. I needed this. And it had to look beautiful.
But I was hooked. I needed this. And it had to look beautiful.
I used to tell people that if I was rich, I would be an architect. I took a semester of it in college and I still remember every single detail, crack, and crevice in each work.
Now was my chance to get close. I could be an interior designer. (And as it turns out a backpack designer as well.)
FROML became a way not only to build up my health, my spine and my mobility—it was also that path back to what I love. The world of form, beauty, and color.
The best part? None of it has to do with vanity. It is all about making sure you, me, our friends and your kids can actually build up the body they need to be loving, engaged and playful humans.
Thank you. It is a privilege to share this with you! 🙂