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Clint McManaman

Four weeks of Strenuous Living

The following is a recap of the first four weeks with my digital company, Class 045, in the Strenuous Life.

Learning & Earning

Requirement 1/3 of the Strenuous Life: Earn at least one badge during the 12-week boot camp period. There are over 50 of them to choose from.

If you follow me on Instagram or know me IRL you know I’ve never met a patch or badge I didn’t like. Anytime I visit anywhere new I’m on the lookout for that adventure patch as a memento to hold from that experience.

In the Strenuous Life, you earn real badges/patches for completing any of the 50+ challenges. I’m currently working toward five of them and completed my first one this month, the InfoSec badge (more on that in a future post).

“Skilled practices serve as an anchor to the world beyond one’s head—a point of triangulation with objects and other people who have a reality of their own.” – Matthew B. Crawford

An Agon A Week

Requirement 2/3: Complete the first 12 weekly Agons sent to you. You must complete 12 out of 12 to complete the Strenuous Life challenge, if you miss one, you can make up one and only one by doing a 50 mile hike (not going to miss an Agon).

In ancient Greece, the agon was a struggle or contest that would test a man’s bodily or mental toughness and prowess in athletics, art, music, debate and more. In the Strenuous Life, the Agon is a weekly challenge to push you out of your comfort zone mentally or physically.

Throughout the month of January I completed all of the weekly Agons:

Agon 1

A week of 5 minute ice cold showers. The first three days of this sucked, but I made it happen and by week's end I was hooked on the invigorating feeling post-workout. I also read Wim Hoff's book on the subject of his cold-training method.

Agon 2

Read a book at least 150 pages long in a week. I started and completed Louis L’Amours memoir, which was also part of the Gentleman Scholar badge I’m working toward earning.

Agon 3

Take the Army Ground Forces Test. This is the same test my Grandpa took when he joined the Army. This was a humbling experience to say the least. I had a great set of drill instructors though and set a bar to improve upon it later in the year.

Agon 4

The Examen, a daily self-examination where you express gratitude, acknowledge your sins, review how you spent your time since the last examen, ask for forgiveness for your sins, ask for grace to amend them. I created a template for this in Day One and the daily habit has stuck beyond the challenge.

"Mens sana in corpore sano" – a sound mind in a sound body

Rings on Rings

Requirement 3/3: Complete 75% of the daily 60 minutes of physical activity and good deed check-ins required during the 12 week boot camp.

I had fallen into a sedentary trench somewhere in my mid-30’s. Before that, I had never worked out as habit, at least not in the traditional sense of daily walking, running, weightlifting, etc. I was a drummer in a band and for a few years of my life we were touring, playing music nearly every day and when we weren’t doing that I was behind the kit, practicing in the barn. I was in great shape, but I had no exercise discipline.

By my mid-thirties all of that was gone and no other types of regular exercise habits (besides the wrestling and outdoor play with our kids) emerged. Couple that with desk jobs, drinking copious amounts of sugary coffee in the day, beers at lunch with comrades, fast food and I slowly took on a skinny-fat dad-bod. The lack of physicality also began to affect my mood, my self-esteem, my outlook on my day and more.

“No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without ever seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.”– Socrates

At first, the 60 minutes of physical activity was a battle of motivation, flipping off the mental excuses and just doing it.

Now, it’s a daily habit that I look forward to and now need daily in order to feel like myself. I’m stoked to report I haven’t missed one day of exercise. 25 days of running, if not running I was on the Peloton or on the floor exercising with the Streaks app.

Daily Deed

The daily good deed comes in different forms, from helping my co-workers solve issues at work to picking my neighbors paper up off the sidewalk and dropping it on his door step on my way to run. I’ve learned that the more you perform daily deeds, the more you’re aware of opportunities to perform them wherever you are.

“Happiness and usefulness are largely found in the same soul” - Theodore Roosevelt

An Antidote

The past four weeks have proven to be an antidote to fight off my own feelings of angst, depression, frustration, just feeling stuck and aimless. Feelings that I’ve had for a big part of the past three or four years. Feelings that built up from my own lack of daily intentionality, my choice to be reactive versus proactive, resting on my laurels of the past, working and living in other peoples wills for my life and just going with the flow of everything our modern world throws at us.

“Life is a game with a glorious prize,
If we can only play it right.
It is give and take, build and break,
And often it ends in a fight;
But he surely wins who honestly tries
(Regardless of wealth or fame),
He can never repair who plays it fair
How are you playing the game?”
— Anonymous, c. 1900

The Next Four

Four goals for the next four weeks:
• Connect irl with some of my dotcomrades in Class 045.
• Set new personal goals in my daily exercising.
• Bridge the Strenuous Life into my role as a husband and father.
• Pick up a few new skills and earn some badges along the way.

Cheers to Living Strenuously,

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