Sunday, July 2, 2017

Practice Makes Perfect - By Jeff "T-Rex" Bankens

This article is a follow up to the recent video posted on this website showing "yours truly" bursting a hot water bottle.

Bursting hot water bottles is a feat that has been performed by old time strongmen for decades. I have been performing this feat myself for nearly 10 years. I really like adding it to a performance because it is exciting to for the audience to watch, and really builds the tension in the room leading up to a grand explosion of rubber and hot air!

While bursting a hot water bottle is, no doubt a very exciting feat to perform, it is very taxing on the entire body. Performing this feat can tax your chest, biceps, abdominals, neck, and cardio vascular system. It can also wreak havoc on your tongue, which makes it difficult to speak shortly after performing this feat. The degree to which it taxes you depends on several factors, including: the type of Hot Water Bottle being used (some are tougher than others), the cardiovascular fitness level of the individual performing the feat, and what feats have been performed prior in your performance.

I was reminded of the importance of taking your own advice about 2 months back. I was performing at the annual employee crawfish boil for the company I work for. I have been performing here annually for at least 7 years. In preparing for my performance, I only took one of the listed factors into consideration: my cardiovascular fitness level was pretty high, as I have implemented some big changes in the last 1-1/2 years. That being said, I did not seriously consider the the feats I had performed prior to bursting the hot water bottle (I was tired and winded by the time I got to the hot water bottle). I also overestimated my ability to burst the new bottles I recently acquired (They are 2 - 3 times harder to burst than my normal bottles). Up to that point I had only practiced bursting them when my body and mind were "fresh".

I wish I could say my years of experience allowed me to skate through that feat and complete it with seeming ease, but I would be lying to you. I was able to get about 30 breaths of air into the bottle, and then it began to overcome me. In general, my body and mind were tired, and more specifically my cardiovascular system were taxed by the time I got that much air into it. I could literally hear and feel the air escaping as I tried in vain to "hold my breath" in the bottle. The struggle became too much, and I let the air escape, put the bottle back up to my lips, and started over. You see, the first time went so well that I decided to give it another shot. Once again, I was severely disappointed. I admitted defeat, moved on and completed the performance.

That failed performance taught me something valuable, again! It taught me that practice makes perfect! No matter how good you think you are, you should never skip out on practice! I was overconfident in my abilities and it cost me a failed performance. Thankfully the crowd was forgiving and enjoyed the rest of the performance.

So, what are the takeaways from this failed feat of strength?

Do not take yourself so seriously that you cannot mess up in front of people. Learn to laugh it off and move on.

Planning is key. Lay out your performance (or workout routine) in such a way that you are able to complete all of the required feats (or exercises). Practice, practice, practice. You do not become an expert at something without hours and hours of repetitive practice.

Should you have any questions regarding this article, public speaking, or performing feats of strength, please do not hesitate to contact me at
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