Let’s face it.


When your Physical Therapist gives you “rehab exercises” to do at home, you probably use that sheet of paper to do one of two things:


Homework Meme

Crumble it up and use it for next week’s bonfire


Mark Cuban Meme

Use it to doodle during your next work meeting


Why bother?


You want to jog along the Georgetown Waterfront, go to Crossfit five times a week, or hike Old Rag, not do some basic “stuff”. 


As a Physical Therapist and Trainer, I admit that we are somewhat to blame for not explaining how some of these “boring” exercises are not only key to your recovery but also key to your performance in the future. 


When clients come to my office for Physical Therapy, they want to return to performing at a moderate to high level. It’s not uncommon for a client to be a full-time employee and have a goal of getting back to six workouts per week. 


That’s right, 40-60 hours per week of work PLUS working out six times per week...with no shoe deal or Gatorade endorsement, just for fun.  Not your average human being. 


Guy on treadmill while working at standup desk


In Washington, DC, most are striving to or have reached the top of their field. If a ten is mastery, many are at a seven or beyond. Conventional wisdom is that this did not and could not happen overnight, it took DECADES. Yet, when it comes to rehab and performance, most of us (myself included, at times) think we are beyond the basics. 


In the words of Rodney Coleman: 


Everyone wants to be a bodybuilder, but no one wants to lift this heavy *** weight.


You don’t get in the best shape of your life, place in the top ten for your age group at the next half marathon, or recover from an episode of low back pain and go on to win your next powerlifting competition by going directly from zero (novice) to ten (mastery). 


You start at zero, build the right habits and learn the fundamentals that will move you to one. 


Let’s use the practice of law as an example.  


In high school, you wrote for the school newspaper and signed up for the debate team. Then you enrolled in college as a Pre-Law student majoring in Political Science, where you participated in clubs like mock trial and interned over the summer for a local politician. 


After being accepted to Harvard Law School, being named the head of the Harvard Law Review, getting your first clerkship, passing the bar exam and working at a top-tier law firm in New York City for a few years, you have moved the needle (drum roll, please)….one point. 


Hercules Meme




Think about that for a moment. 


You put in all this work just to move the needle to one. 


The point is that most of you know what it is like to spend years and sometimes decades going from zero to one. 


If you have ever watched Jiro Dreams of Sushi on Netflix, you will find out that their apprenticeship lasts YEARS. That is years learning to pick the perfect fish at the supermarket, prepare and make rice that is so perfect, one would think that it was genetically altered because no human could possibly make this on their own.


All that and more just to move the needle...one point. 


The process of performing at a high level or returning back to a high level isn’t a zero straight to ten game. Very few get to 10 (Roger Federer, Michael Jordan, etc.) but no matter who you are, to get to six, seven, or even ten, you have to get to one first. 


In her book, Bird by Bird, Anne Lamont encapsulates this process in reference to becoming a writer/author: 


“I wish I had a secret I could let you in on, some formula my father passed on to me in a whisper just before he died, some code word that has enabled me to sit at my desk and land flights of creative inspiration like an air-traffic controller. But I don’t. All I know is that the process is pretty much the same for almost everyone I know.”


Want to get to ten?  Start by getting to one, first.

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