Somewhere between Art and Fitness.
Angus Martin, Co-founder of LIFT – The Movement, is known for his opinions, drive and desire to bring creativity and balance into an industry that’s very much sold on sex and insecurity. You’ve seen those highly edited photographs on social media: it’s all about them gainz, shakes, being shirtless and heavily photoshopped, bro. Imagery being the communicator that it is, it’s gut wrenching to see it being the conveyor of disingenuous visuals, thoughts and emotions. That “insta-perfect” body image.
“I think imagery is very powerful – so this didn’t speak to me as a creative on a level, but I enjoyed fitness, I enjoyed training. I always felt slightly out of place. As things sort of evolved naturally for me, I moved away from that place where I felt friction: away from bodybuilding. Away from powerlifting. Not because I couldn’t do the reps, but because of how it was making me feel.”
If you’re trying to find a balance between your creative side and your body – not just within the realm of fitness – it might be worthwhile to look for a philosophy or method that challenges you to use what you already possess: work through your mindset, learn to think differently to see or move differently. Some may try a bunch of different things along the way, but ultimately it’s the only way you’ll find what works for you.
For Angus, it was discovering gymnastics strength training: “It’s an art. There is an element of creativity and expression to it, which you don’t get in traditional gym settings. Because of what that meant as an activity it was then easy to allow the creativity to filter into how our product was being presented. What we were physically doing, and what we were physically and artistically creating and wanted to achieve; it ended up being very symbiotic and as a result, the two came together and now we have LIFT as it is. “ – “We” being, Angus Martin and Elliot Moger, the second half of the LIFT duo.
Where does the storytelling come into play?
It’s always about the journey. No matter the realm – it’s important to remember to immerse yourself in every chapter you’re going through. When you climb a mountain, what’s more important in the end: the view from the top, or the challenges you overcame along the way? Both.
It’s the same in Angus’ practice.
“People are very fixated on the end goal and the end result, but there’s very little focus on the journey and how they got there or where they came from. People want to get from A to Z straight away without looking at B, C, D, E and all the rest in between. I actually enjoy valuing those moments.”
“In terms of physical showing in the creative sense, telling a story – we would focus on the basic movements, when we were doing our marketing. The majority of callisthenics and gymnastics is so focused on the finished products – the Handstand – but very few people are actually showing – what I suppose is perceived as weakness – which is the progression up to that point. And it’s about reprogramming and recalibrating so you’re focused on those individual small goals and that positive journey and experience; reinforcing movement, taking time to develop the more individual bits, because the sum of all those small parts make the whole.”
In other words, like chapters in a book.
“We tell the story physically through that journey.”
“Through that narrative, we tell a much deeper story away from the physical, on a much more emotional and spiritual level where we’re looking to communicate a message of connection, of reconnecting. In many ways it’s a reflection of our wider feelings towards society.
We’re more connected than ever and less connected from ourselves.
So all of this: moving the body, communicating, encouraging enjoyment of the journey, human interaction – they’re all things that we feel are lacking in society and in the training sphere in particular. So then, telling and creating that story is creating something very unique and refreshing that’s directly challenging the status quo, which is the whole point. “
Nothing simply happens overnight
Finding what works for you – a job, an industry, a path that you’ll enjoy walking despite its sometimes uneven or challenging terrain – is not easy. You have to put yourself out there, try things out. Find out what doesn’t work for you to get a better grasp of what you connect with.
“Actually, I’ll tell you the story.
Early hours on the tube, there I was in a tailored suit on this train. Seeing everyone looking just f*cking miserable coming in on the Northern line. And then it just got worse.
The first week, you bear with it. It’s just a feeling; polar magnets: two northern points just hitting into each other. Then there were three suicides on the tube within three weeks over the course of the summer.
And there they were: it was the same poor people looking broken in the morning, looking even more f*cked in the evening. Then someone dying on the tracks that night. And I just – one Sunday, three weeks in, called out my boss and said « I’m never coming to work again. ». And that was it. “
It’s not quitting or giving up. It’s knowing that the work-flat-wife/husband-dog/cat/kids-mortgage-promotion life that we’re told about isn’t the one that will make you happy. If your vision of work doesn’t exist – build it, dream it, do it.
Learn from every experience to find your form
“I’ve always been a grafter, I had another business before this. A failed start up – someone took advantage of me basically. Before that I used to put up marquees, irrigated golf courses and luxury gardens, I’ve worked on hog roasts, built garages – I’ve done everything.
It’s given me all the necessary skills to do what I do now. All of it – human skills, physical skills, digital skills with the editing. I used to retouch pictures for Sony and photographers – I’ve done everything. I think it’s just testimony to my character and how I’ll make it work whatever happens. I won’t stop until it happens.”
On the receiving end of LIFT
Having been lucky enough to follow the teachings of the LIFT philosophy and practice, this is what I can tell you in all honesty: developing a skill is one thing. Building yourself from the ground up is the most rewarding element of this training. Having struggled with paralysis, neural, muscular and skeletal damage, I’d come to terms with the limitations science had explained I’d have to deal with for the rest of my life.
Heavy lifting, cardio and pain were very much a regular thing until the end of 2016. It took one workshop followed by a year and a half of regular practice to grow into something doctors back home said was out of the question in my case.
That’s what LIFT does: it gives back to people, and shows you how to lift yourself. If you put in the work…
You can find out more about LIFT, its philosophy and updates on their website. On 3rd August 2019, Angus and Elliot welcomed their members at their brand new location, 3min walk from Shoreditch High Street Overground Station.