Loose Cannon Fitness = Hip Replacement -> Marine Corps Drummer -> Fitness Program

bruce_flex_gradientJust prior to undergoing hip replacement surgery you’re required to attend a class that walks you through the things you need to be sensitive to as you recover: Being diligent with your physical therapy; being mindful of not lifting your leg up above the plane of your hip – simple but important things that you’ll want to keep in mind.

I hated it.

I didn’t want to be there. Everyone in the class was either old or very overweight. At the time, I was in my early thirties. I had been dealing with a lot of discomfort in my hips and knees but it wasn’t until a friend of mine took some x-rays and confirmed that I had arthritis that I was now obligated to embrace the fact that I didn’t have a mere chronic case of tendonitis. Rather, I was going to have to get my hips replaced at some point and here I was now, a few days away from going under the knife and listening to people a full generation older than me lament their difficulties and limitations.

My surgeon, on the other hand, was awesome.

I even broke down and cried in front of him at one point – I was that concerned that this procedure was going to eliminate any semblance of an active lifestyle. While I had some individuals like Bo Jackson to consider, for the most part it looked like a very risky surgery, as far as being able to resume any kind of an aggressive workout program. I had spent nine years in the USMC. I boxed some, I had taken some martial arts classes, I ran…

Now, I was walking like a duck and having to sit down on the floor and get up against a wall in order to put my socks on. Anytime I held my infant daughter – if I was standing – I was looking for a chair almost immediately. I had tried some holistic options, but they didn’t result in anything substantial. I was scared, I was frustrated and now, confronted with an undeniable need to accept a titanium prosthesis, I was despairing, not sure how things would look in the aftermath and I was bawling.

“I’ll take care of you.”

That’s what my surgeon said as I was trying to wipe the tears from my eyes and get it together. Thing is,  I don’t know if he could’ve said anything more perfect. Nothing patronizing or overly compassionate, just a solid articulation of a resolve to get me on my feet.

And that’s exactly what happened.

With the go ahead from both my surgeon and my physical therapist, I ran the Marine Corps Marathon six weeks after I had my second hip replaced. I had a new lease on life and I couldn’t have been more thrilled as I ran across the finish line!

With the Marathon behind me, I pondered the whole realm of “fitness.” In the military it’s about performance and endurance. As a national recording artist with the band, “Western Flyer,” you had a professional appearance to be mindful of. But now, it was about being a good steward of what God had accomplished through a skilled surgeon. If I was going to enjoy any length of time as a fully engaged and altogether active human being, then I needed to be more than just consistent in the way I exercised, I needed to be wise in the way I trained.

In the Marines, especially in boot camp, you’re constantly being held to a standard when you exercised. With the exception of timed runs or specific training regimens, you were almost always training as a unit with someone up in front of the platoon dictating the exercise, the number of reps and – most importantly – the pace of those repetitions.

In the past, regardless of what might’ve been my focus – even when I was training for a marital arts competition– it was the accountability provided by an objective standard that translated to a truly productive workout. But how could that be duplicated without a workout partner or someone to spar with?

Most of the more popular apps and workout programs will have you glued to a DVD or a computer device while you follow along. But, again, without someone or something “insisting” on a rhythm and a regimen, there were gaps that could be subconsciously exploited and you could you find yourself perspiring but not really sweating  – even with the image of a fitness guru modeling the recommended routines.

It can be especially challenging when you’re on the road. Most hotels, while they have a fitness “facility,” rarely do you find one that is fully equipped with the kind of gear you might be accustomed to. So, you might go for a run or do 30 minutes on the treadmill, but, inevitably, you’re having to really labor to come up with something that keeps yourself challenged and improving in the absence of the equipment you typically depend on.

Normally, I don’t even know if this would’ve registered as anything other than just a mild inconvenience and a nominal topic of discussion. But, again, “fitness” was no longer just about being able to feel comfortable when I pulled my trousers on. There was a different kind of urgency driving me to establish something consistent, something adaptable and something that mimicked the kind of accountability and intensity I had experienced in the military.

I was vacationing with my family on the beach. One morning, I went out by the pool and started doing some calisthenics when I had an epiphany: Rather than just doing a predetermined number of repetitions, I broke out a metronome and allowed that pulse to function as the equivalent to a Drill Instructor barking out a cadence.

It was awesome!

I grabbed a pen and a piece of paper and started documenting tempos to go with different exercises. By this point, I had become certified as a Group Fitness Instructor at the county Rec Center, so I had whole routines that I was now going through and assigning tempos to each exercise.

I was stoked!loose_cannon_fitness

Not long after, I went into the studio and performed various grooves at specific tempos and then recorded a voice-over each rhythm that guided the listener in what exercise was being done, the number of reps and the pace of those repetitions. I then assembled those tracks into different workout packages and imported them as unique playlists into my iTunes. Now when I workout, I’ve got some legitimately challenging exercises lined up that I’m hearing in my ear buds. I don’t need a gym, a computer monitor or a DVD player. And I don’t have the option of just going through the motions because I’ve got an objective standard being imposed with each audio track. Plus, I can mix and match those tracks however I want to so I can, not only keep things varied, I can also focus on specific muscle groups.

I have since built a website and a book around this program but however it might be engaged by the masses, it’s proven to be a truly effective resource for me in my quest for a regimen that requires a “best effort” every time. If I choose to “cheat,” there’s no denying that I’ve fallen short because there’s still four more reps to do unless I just hit the “stop” button. In other words, my butt is getting slayed every time, and that’s a good thing!

I ran my second Marine Corps Marathon this past October and I earned my black belt in Tae Kwon Do not too long ago. I teach two exercise classes during the week and I’m just as engaged athletically as I was when I was serving.

One of my daughter’s High School teachers recently got his hips replaced and I was gratified to know that it was my example and my having recommended the surgeon that operated on me that gave him the courage and the resolve he needed to get it done. His situation was similar. Early thirties, active lifestyle and scared to death that he was poised on the threshold of something as dramatic as it was limiting. Being able to see my situation and my recovery was a huge encouragement to him.

But it’s “Loose Cannon Fitness” that has me truly fired up! Here’s where I want my experience to result in people seeing a clear path to that place where their fitness goals are being realized and not merely pursued.henderson

Whether the priority you place on fitness is inspired by a prosthesis or just a desire to look and feel your best, head out to loosecannonfitness.com and experience a program that will change the way you train. It did that for me. Whether you’re travelling or you’re working from home, whether you’re a member of a gym or not, whether you’re getting ready to undergo hip replacement surgery or you’re on the short list for a football scholarship, this is a gamechanger, a butt-kicker and a serious gut-burner!

Head out to loosecannonfitness.com/burpees, and download a free sample of the “Burpees” exercise and get a taste of just how deliciously miserable this program can be. Give it a try, buckle up and experience the workout that comes from a Marine Corps drummer with two titanium hips and a passion for showing others the difference between getting through it and getting to it!


Bruce Gust served for nine years in the USMC, the last five years of his enlistment were spent as a Drum Instructor at the Armed Forces School of Music in Little Creek, Virginia. Upon his discharge, he moved to Nashville and became a part of the band “Western Flyer” that would go on to score several charting singles on the Billboard Country Music charts.

He’s a Certified Group Fitness Instructor and author of the book, “Muscular Christianity: 90 Day Fitness Plan” that features the “Loose Cannon Fitness” audio workout system.

Leave a Reply