Mark Twight Gym Jones

Years ago I met a friend who was heavily influenced by the Gym Jones training philosophy. I had always thought I was a pretty fit guy — and then I met Mike. Those workouts broke me. They were truly a humbling experience, but I wouldn’t trade them for the world. They taught me a lot about myself, as well as just how much more was possible if I was willing to venture deeper into the realm of pain and anguish than I ever had before. Some of our greatest moments of mental, physical and spiritual growth are born out of pain and suffering, and in a bizarre way the person who realizes this truth comes to love and appreciate such feelings in proper doses. And that is why I highly suggest watching the “Solider of Steel” video for the new ‘Man of Steel’ movie by Zack Snyder.

When I was in the military, there was a joke that was made during our morning PT or in the middle of road marches: “Pain is weakness leaving the body!” Gym Jones offers plenty of pain, but there is so much more. It’s the kind of philosophy that turns boys into men.

Mark Twight, Gym Jones trainer, explains:

For me in the mountains, fitness was often the difference between life and death. In a military environment, it can be the same thing — you never  never want to come up short due to a lack of conditioning. When we talk about training one of the most important characteristics I believe, is functional training. And by functional I mean “transferable.” The training that you do in the gym should be transferable to the actual task, which means that if I have to sprint forward to grab a buddy who might be injured and drag him back to a point of cover, then sitting on the a bench wearing a little seat belt doing  quad extensions is not transferable. When you’re training for your military tasks you should be training to develop functional fitness, not the appearance of fitness.

Point number one in our training philosophy in the gym is that the mind is primary. And one of the outcomes of training the mind in the gym is the development of values. Values that are very similar to military values. One of the things for me that is important in the gym is that you always do what you say you’re going to do. You show up every single day. What we practice in here becomes  a habit, and if my habit is always to do less that’s how I’m going to behave in the field. So get in the habit of doing more than you’re asked to do.

Respect starts with self respect. If you respect yourself, you prove to others that you are worthy of their respect. One of the things I like to do is to set up a tag-team type of workout, where one guy has to accomplish a particular task all the while his teammate is suffering. And the faster he does it the less his teammate suffers. These types of workouts really cause a person to digger deeper than they would to save themselves because we will always work harder in the service of someone else.

In the gym context we always know when people are telling the truth and when they are not telling the truth. If you do what you say you’re doing when in comes to diet, then the result is going to be obvious. If you do what you say that you’re doing in terms training, then the result will be obvious. When we make that honor, that honesty, part of our daily life, then it becomes automatic.

A lot of times we assign homework to people outside of the gym because I need to know how they’re going to behave on their own. Does that person have the integrity to do what they said they were going to do? In the training environment, if we practice on a daily basis confronting the things that we’re afraid of and confront our fear — if we get in that habit — then we’ll be to express that in an automatic way once we get outside into the real world.

Wow. Mr. Twight’s passage is a thing of beauty. If all Americans were exposed to this philosophy, let’s just say that the political landscape would change dramatically within a single generation.

Gym Jones is not for everyone. It should be, but it’s not. The reason is because it doesn’t accept excuses, and the modern world is filled with people who live to make excuses for their failures, be it with their diet, love life, personal finances, physical fitness or any number of things.

Regardless, check out the other videos if you get a chance. If you’re interested in taking the first step in transforming you mind, body and spirit they’re a great place to start.

Editor’s note: The image of that guy falling off the rowing machine into a lump on the ground in Episode 3 just gave me a flashback. Sometimes hitting the floor is the best way to motivate someone to reach for the stars.

Here I am doing a workout inspired by Gym Jones, 2009. Pain never felt so good.
Here I am doing a workout inspired by Gym Jones, 2009. Pain never felt so good.
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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

6 comments

  1. Sir, thank you for this. I wholeheartedly agree, it’s not for everyone – but it should be. Rather, everyone should be curious enough about their potential to truly explore it – by whatever means would push them beyond the limits they have imposed upon themselves.

    Onward,
    Mark Twight

    1. It’s an honor to have you comment on my site, Mr. Twight. Again, thanks for what you do. Gym Jones helped me transform not just my body, but also many different aspects of my heart and mind.

      Best,

      Doug

  2. GJ hit a wave of popularity after 300.. Crossfit has become a brand. Adventure runs and races are becoming very popular.
    But do you think we are going to to see a time of inspiration here in the next 5 years where fitness becomes a staple of American culture, and get over this obesity epidemic?
    Or are we going to have to wait 15-25 years for all of the post-industrialized dieting (50s fast food/tvdinner) babyboomed parents to die of coronary heart disease?

    1. I actually think the obesity problem is a symptom of a much deeper hollowing out of the culture. Think about it: We have reams and reams of information on good health practices at our fingertips due to the internet, food labels up the wazoo, cities that are so regulated they essentially should have sodium and trans fat police (I’m looking at you, New York), and yet we have large swathes of the population who are heart attacks waiting to happen.

      I think what is missing from American society are many of the values that GJ instills in its practitioners. Somewhere along the line there was a tipping point, and the majority of Americans lost those values. The causes can be talked and argued about forever. Regardless, at the end of the day it’s about individuals in their local communities working one-on-one with others to help change the direction.

      Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I appreciate it.

  3. What real men are made of? Turn boys into men??? Sexist jerk! Just kidding. That short moment of pain, when you choose the most difficult task, can certainly grow any boy, girl, man or woman.. whether it’s at the top of a climb, holding a kettlebell, holding your tongue, or confessing a wrong.

    That workout looks phenomenal. Love the “tag team effect”, just think of how that could strengthen a marriage 🙂

    1. Hmmm. I’ll have to trick my wife into doing some of these workouts. Although, I have a feeling that we’d spend a lot of time laughing through the pain. She’d go slow on some sets just to mess with me, and then I’d do the same. 😉

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