Your Fitness is Governed by the Laws of the Rosebush

May 1st, 2020

Category: Emeryville

Your Fitness is Governed by the Laws of the Rosebush

This rosebush was pruned, and it exploded with roses

For the purposes of this post, I’m going to define fitness as the sum of one’s health and performance. In math terms:

Fitness = Health + Performance

And while I’m defining terms, let’s cover health and performance. I’ll define health as the overall quality of one’s physical, mental, and emotional state. I’ll define performance as one’s ability to complete a given task or set of tasks. Let’s be clear, there are many other much more expansive definitions of fitness, health, and performance out there, put together by some very smart people. One of my favorites is the CrossFit definition of fitness, which is well worth your time to read. These are just simple working definitions to get us through this post.

This post isn’t about the definition of fitness. It’s about what you can do to bring up your fitness, or at the very least, one way to think about bringing up your level of fitness. Although this post is relevant at any time, it’s particularly relevant now, because many of us are without the traditional tools of the gym (barbell, pull-up bar, etc.). That’s not a drawback, though. Instead, it’s a huge opportunity!

A word of warning before we get started: I’m sometimes referred to as the analogy guy. And we’re about to dive deep into an analogy.

A little background first: My wife and I inherited three rosebushes last fall when we moved into our new house. All three were dormant at the time. I was told by a trusted authority that they wouldn’t produce roses. A month or two before spring, I decided to conduct a little experiment. I used one rosebush as my control. I didn’t do anything to it and just left it as is. For the other two, though, I went to town and aggressively pruned them back. A lot! I pruned every little bit of dead matter from those two rosebushes I could find. They were little more than loosely connected sticks by the time I was done with them. I figured I had nothing to lose, since none of them would be producing roses, anyway. And before I forget, it should also be noted that all three rosebushes received the same amount of water and sunlight during the course of this experiment.

Fast forward to the spring (really, within the last couple of weeks) and my experiment has produced insight that I never would’ve had if I hadn’t conducted it in the first place. So what happened?

First, the control rosebush produced roses, which was a real surprise. I guess Mother Nature is fierce in her determination, it seems. The thing is, though, it’s only produced three to date. I do see a few more buds coming in, though, so there will be more. On the other hand, the two I pruned back have produced multiple dozens so far, and there are more buds on the way. It’s been a rousing success!

So what the heck does any of this have to do with fitness?!

Simple, we’re not that different from the rosebush. Yes, of course we need water and sunlight. But more relevant to our quest to be better at moving, to get fitter, and to improve our health and performance along the way, we need to regularly get rid of our dead matter as well. The dead matter in this case might be a bum knee that aches whenever you run, or squat heavy, or whatever. It might be that back pain that comes after deadlifting. Pay attention to these signs. These issues can be fixed. But the fix won’t be instant, in most cases. Even with the rosebushes, it took a couple of months for them to produce buds after being pruned back.

Use this time during the SIP order to fix those movement-related issues that might be present as well, even if they don’t produce pain. Do you shift to one side when squatting? Does your bar lean to one side when pressing or when doing an overhead squat? Or more simply, have you lost range of motion or skills that you once had? These are all areas ripe for some pruning. Remember, when we prune, not only are we creating an immediate fix (getting rid of dead matter that serves no purpose), we’re setting ourselves up for growth down the line. In fact, without pruning, we seriously stunt our growth. The dead matter weighs us down and doesn’t allow us to flourish.

If you take care of these matters now, when you aren’t distracted by things like a pull-up bar, a barbell, or a prowler, you might surprise yourself with the progress you make when you return to the gym.

And our coaches can help. That’s what we do. That’s why we’re here. So if you’re uncertain where to begin, or if you don’t know what kind of pruning will help with the issue you’re addressing, hit us up! We’re just an email away.


  1. Hannah Love May 3, 2020 at 9:04 am

    Mikey. This is a fantastic post. Thanks! I yes, could use some pruning. 😉 🥀