Random Vacation Thoughts

Posted on by Ben Bruno

Well, I just got back from my short trip to Florida, and it was an absolute blast. I know I normally keep blog posts to training-related topics, but I thought I would stray a little bit and just recap some of the highlights from the trip a little bit. I guess you could consider it “Extremely Random Thoughts.” I hope you may find some of it interesting, and if nothing else, it will give you a little more insight into me as a person. My blog, my rules. If you are interested in training-related stuff, just scroll down to the bottom.

1. Cirque de Soleil. This was probably the biggest highlight of the weekend. I had heard some good stuff about the show, but words cannot do it justice. Seriously, it’s THAT good. I am generally not one for superlatives, but this was the probably the most impressive thing I have ever watched live. The show lasts an hour and forty minutes and the whole time my jaw was on the floor and I was thinking “how do they do that?” Apparently there are many different shows that are part of Cirque, and I am honestly not sure which one I saw. It was called La Nouba in Orlando and you can check out the website here. I’m glad there are other shows though because I hope to see them too.

I will say this though: after watching this stuff, nothing I see or do in the gym seems even remotely impressive to me anymore. Any positive self-esteem I had about my physical capabilities went right out the window watching these people do their thing. Here are a few snippets of what it’s like, though it’s way better live.

2. Give Kids the World. Give Kids the World (GKTW) is an organization aimed at helping children with terminal illnesses. I found out about it from my mom, who volunteered there this past winter and spring. Much like Cirque, words cannot really describe just how special it is, but suffice to say I was almost tearing up just driving through. With the help of over 3,500 volunteers, GKTW offers children with serious illnesses (along with their families) a place to go and enjoy themselves for an entire week free of worries. They play games, visit parks, laugh, play, and just have fun for a change. The facilities were outstanding and the service was top-notch. It was so great to see so many people coming together to do good and see all the happy kids and happy parents. Seeing GKTW was very inspiring and really made me think about what I can do to help others in need. I thought I would mention this so that maybe you too can think about it too.

Check out this website for more info on the great stuff that is happening at GKTW. In a time when it seems like the nightly news in consumed with all the bad things that are going on, this sort of stuff is very, very refreshing.

3. Food. I ate great the whole trip. After trying several new foods (Tasmanian trout, for example) and sampling stuff that I haven’t tried for a while, I decided that my five favorite foods at the moment are (in order):

1. Grilled Salmon
2. Soft-serve Ice Cream (Cookies n’ Cream in my favorite)
3. Guacamole
4. Steak (rare to medium rare)
5. Shrimp


4. Movies. I saw two movies while I was there, both of which I recommend. The first was called Water for Elephants. I had not heard anything about it, but my mom read the book and said she liked it, so we took a chance. We both liked it, which shows that you don’t need to have read the book to enjoy it. I didn’t have high hopes going into it because one of the stars is Robert Pattinson, the same tool that is famous for his role in the Twilight movies (gag), but I was pleasantly surprised. Here is the trailer.

The next night we saw The Conspirator, which I liked even more. It’s directed by Robert Redford and based on events surrounding the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Whether you are a history buff or not, I think you’ll like it. Very well done.

5. Weather. The weather was perfect that entire time. 85 and sunny. One day we drove to Sarasota, which is on the west coast of the state. That made me realize just how much I love the ocean. It’s funny though: as much as I like the water, I don’t really like the beach. I’m just not a big fan of the sand. Go figure.

6. Cool ride. Yesterday I went to Epcot, which was very cool. The best part was a ride called Soarin. It’s hard to explain it, but it was probably the coolest ride I’ve ever been on. You literally feel like you are flying (a dream of mine). It was so realistic that I was getting scared. Check out the website to see what it’s about.


7. Family Time. This was the best part of the trip. I got to see my mom and grandmother every day. The older I get, the more I really cherish the time I get to spend with my family. I know that sounds a little lame (ok, more than a little) but it’s the truth. If you had told me ten years ago that I would enjoy hanging out with her for a week and just kicking it, I would have told you that you were crazy. Now, I will be the first to admit that I have become a bona fide momma’s boy even though I don’t get to see her that much. She is my best friend. Funny how things change. I regret not making it happen sooner. Just something to think about.

8. Training. I did no training whatsoever. I did do quite a bit of walking, but that’s it. I haven’t touched a weight in two weeks. I used to worry about taking time off, but over time, I have come to realize that it’s essential for long-term progress. I believe anyone that trains hard needs to take some time off (or at least deload) every so often, but I also believe that the optimal way of doing this varies greatly from person to person. Some people do better with deloading and doing lighter workouts, while others such as myself do better taking the time off completely and not training at all. I have experimented with lots of different strategies, and I suggest you do the same. Some people lose quite a bit of strength when they take time off. In those cases, I’d suggest deloads. Others, like me, usually come back stronger, so complete rest may be a better option. It really depends.

I think a lot of comes down to your personality as much as it does your physiology. One oft-overlooked part of resting is the mind. For me, weeks off are as much about a mental break as they are a physical break, so I like to get away from the gym completely and recharge mentally and physically. The downside to this strategy? When you do return to lifting after a complete break, you get REALLY sore for a few workouts. After two weeks of doing nothing, I have that to look forward to tomorrow.

I’m rambling, but the takeaway here is twofold: one, make sure that you are scheduling breaks into your training program and two, experiment with different deloading strategies to find what works for you.

9. Getting caught up. I didn’t bring my computer with me, so I have a lot to catch up on. I do plan on picking up where I left off with my blog, so don’t worry. I may need some time to put together my normal length For Your Viewing Pleasure and Good Reads posts, so this week they will likely be abbreviated, but after this week it should be back to normal. A lot of people seemed to miss my last Good Reads before I left last week, so if that’s you, be sure to check it out because there’s a lot of great stuff there.

I also need to get caught up uploading some videos I shot before the trip, and I promise to do that as well.

Here is one I did several weeks back of Decline Glute-Ham Raises. I got this exercise from Smitty of the Diesel Crew, and it is a great variation to keep constant tension on the hamstrings. My hammies were screaming for almost a week after this. This was also a personal best, using two weighted vests totaling 100 lbs.

That’s all for today. It’s hard to come home after a trip like that, but it does feel good to be back. I know this was a different type of blog post, so thanks for bearing with me. I hope everyone is starting the week off well. Take care.

  • Niel K. Patel

    #7 is so accurate Ben. I'm finding it entirely true for myself as I get older. Great to hear you had a blast.