- When someone new to training/ fitness finds the Wolf Brigade site, they will surely find the line “strength & conditioning – kettlebell lifting – critical thinking”. Can you explain what exactly Wolf Brigade is, and what unites the concepts listed above? What does your project offer to those who approach to it? And how about Wolf Brigade’s unusual aesthetic orientation?
We’ve used a few simple “catch phrases” over the years (Subversive fitness, physical and mental preparedness, physical culturalists… ) all with the idea of sending the message that we weren’t just lifting weights and giving each other high-fives for doing burpees. It worked, and yet there was still a bit of vaguery in the wording. So we switched the primary phrasing to include critical thinking, and made very clear what else it is that we do. While we do have a different approach than most to the mental/ conceptual side of physicality, it is important to note that we are among the best in the world at providing unique and progressive training, writing programs, and addressing movement/ lifting/ positioning details that elicit improvement in all levels.
Especially in the fitness realm, many people push a quirky or unusual element of a process simply because they are under-equipped in other aspects of that process- that is not where we are. Physically, philosophically, visually… we’re not guessing. We know what we’re doing, and why, and hope that our well-rounded hard work gives confidence to those that follow what we’re up to.
The visual/ aesthetic side of things is in part a reflection of my background in hardcore music and action sports, but more so it’s just how what we do, looks. Every brand/ project I’ve ever worked with has been visually specific, and it has set each of them apart in their own unique way. Strong, un-manufactured design and non-gimmick imagery help tell a story, and often tell a quicker one than our training programs or writing can; Quality presentation is an important part of the process.
- Dominique Venner, Yukio Mishima… authors of a certain kind of thinking have highlighted the importance of monitoring and care of the body as a direct manifestation of inner life. In today’s world, however, it can seem like something completely superfluous or as only an aesthetic priority. What role should societal influence/ the current state of the world have on our “cult of the body”, and what does the term “bodybuilding” mean to you?
I’m probably too deep in the process to give a truly unbiased answer here, but I believe (and have found through many years of trial) that there is no separation between physicality and “inner life”- mentality/ spirituality/ personal philosophy. The more I learn, and the more people I meet, the less I have in common with those that don’t see taking care of your physical health as a high priority. Taking aesthetics completely out of the equation, there is no sound argument that can be made against the need for reasonable physical strength, and at least moderately developed conditioning and general preparedness.
This world is a mess, and to use a somewhat tired line, it eats the weak. That “eating” may not be overt or dramatic, but for those that simply choose to follow the orders, pay the doctor, cross your fingers, and hope for the best… you’ve made a series of bad bets. Eating intelligently, training with a goal in mind and a proven program in place, and getting your head right in regards to the importance of self-maintenance and improvement are the most important things we can do for ourselves and those we care about. In my opinion, of course.
I’m not a doom-and-gloom, it’s-all-going-to-unravel-at-any-minute type person, but by the same token, no one looking at this world through open eyes should ever feel confident or safe if they are not focusing on both their physical and mental well-being; One without the other is a half-empty glass.
Doing what you’re told by TV, radio, government, advertising, or even conventional education leaves the glass more than half empty; And that’s what they want. When the glass is empty, you’ll always need them for something. The goal is (or at least should be) to proactively insulate yourself, and need them for nothing. Autonomy of that nature requires both your mind and body to be kept to a strong standard.
Bodybuilding: By general use term- an aspect of fitness in which muscles are built for show and primarily visual reasons- it is not something that relates to me in any way. Everyone wants to look nice, but I’ve never really seen the same value in the wrapping paper as what’s inside the box. Presentation takes a distant third-row seat to function in my world. And in my experience.
- Another obsession of our times is the paradigm/ paradox of health and wellness, and the plague of frequent ailment- closely linked to the upkeep/ health of the body. On the one hand, obesity runs rampant and is overlooked as “normal”, and on the other, many fear and develop paranoia of every hoax and imaginary ailment and live in self-inflicted semi-paralysis. Western civilization seems to have a complex relationship with the alimentation that takes place through the “consciousness” of the food industry (for example veganism). What’s your opinion about this?
There is a lot here, and could easily be answered in essay form. Here is the “short” answer:
I’m someone that has been injured a lot, but sick very little. Like, very little. I’m probably jinxing the hell out of myself right now, but I’ve been actually sick maybe once in the past ten years, and it was at a time when I had truly, completely cashed in all my chips; It would have been a miracle if I didn’t get sick.
I attribute that largely to choosing to not be sick.
I know certain immune systems are different, families have a unique challenge, some workplaces… I am not losing that in the shuffle. However just like physicality, choices and actions determine results. If you eat poorly most of the time, and treat your health casually, it will rebel against you in the same way as an un-cared-for automobile.
Meat does not make a person sick, nor does it increase their susceptibility to illness, in the same way that vegetables do not automatically make a person healthy, or in-and-of-themselves minimize their risk. Processed foods, excess sugar and alcohol, and simply excess in general are what pave the way for chronic or frequent ailmentation. We are all products of our chosen poisons.
- Mainly in the USA, but almost in every part of the world, is flourishing the phenomenon of preppers (People preparing for and eventual civilization collapse). German authorities recently adopted a 10-days survival plan for civilians. French author Guillaume Faye for example talked about a “convergence of catastrophes” and prepper Piero San Giorgio wrote an important book on surviving the economic collapse, in which he writes about a future where resources are dwindling and everyone must count on his own.
Do you think these idea to be correct? And what measures can be taken to prevent a worsening consumer society? Micro-communities that do not recognize legal authority are not new, but are still rare (one example is the Oregon Militia, whom recently we noticed). How do you consider this phenomenon ?
Those are questions that could take a page each to answer thoroughly.
Do I think the idea of a civilization collapse is valid/ a real possibility? No.
Do I think civil unrest in record numbers and increasing severity is a real possibility/ high likelihood? Yes.
What preventative measures do I think can be taken to protect a consumer society from itself? The ship has sailed; It’s too late.
Do I feel that micro-communities are a valid, prudent, recommendable method of circumnavigating the entire mess, and staking real independence? Yes, and no.
I live in America, and though I look at what is going on elsewhere, I can’t speak to it. I am the first to admit that while I’m well-prepared for most unforeseen circumstances and have thought about/ trained for/ strategized towards many semi-unlikely scenarios, I am not one that thinks it is all just going to unravel and erupt into total chaos. I believe America is too well-groomed and homogenized for any real “civilization collapse” to occur; Really not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing.
Separately, I do believe that there will be unprecedented civil unrest in America based on the totally asinine political circus occurring this year. No matter who “wins”, we all lose. And there is enough legitimate, well-founded volatility surrounding it all that I believe it will create some pretty serious responses and outbreaks. I feel there are lessons to be learned there, and while I hope no one innocent gets hurt, I respect that people finally seem to be personalizing the really serious shit that is happening, unavoidably, at our doorstep. It might make for some notable messes, but in my (possibly naive) opinion, America is too well-orchestrated to come apart at the seams in a large-scale way. Maybe I’m wrong. But the puppeteers have the strings anchored further above us than we can even imagine, I believe, and they will not be simple to detach from.
Part of that leads into the next question, which was ‘what can be done to protect our ridiculous society from itself?’. My answer to that is- while those that care need to keep trying their best- nothing. People want to consume. They live and die to consume. And even someone like myself that lives simply and attempts to minimize it, does it. I’ve been on my iPhone for at least an hour today, navigating a handful of different shit, and it’s now just 2:30pm. I know better than most that if all of it were taken away I would do just fine, but the fact is, it’s got us.
The more the lowest common denominator become victims of product placement and “thing culture” the more the higher common denominators unintentionally change their view of what is acceptable for them. Something that I would never have seen myself doing a few years ago has become less strange/ more commonplace now, simply because of how absolutely ludicrous so many other things have become. I’m very mindful of that “phenomenon”, and am unwilling to become something disposable and ultra-casual simply because that is the route that everything else is going.
There is still great value in complete language, and courteous personal interaction, and eye contact, and circular chivalry. None of those things can/ should be replaced or omitted for any sake.
Lastly to this question- micro-communities. Such a cool idea, and if done for love of the land, self-sustenance, etc, I believe it is a phenomenal idea, and something I am jealous/ envious of. Those types of things are not in my primary/ current skillset. But done so as an excommunication method, or some sort of imaginary secedence is, again only in my opinion, faulty logic. America is a system; Denying it but still attempting to live within it under your own rules is a losing game. That is not me saying that the measures and limits of independence/ circumvention/ etc. should not be tested thoroughly and routinely, but believing you are truly autonomous while living in the United States is… flawed.
- When this interview is published the USA will have a new president. People had to choose the first woman president or an ultra-conservative tycoon. What should we think of a democracy where vote is just an exterior fact- a bureaucratic matter- and just as seen in many cases in Europe, does not decide anything real? What truly opposes the establishment and the financial overpowering of the citizens?
It is supremely discouraging to think about any aspect of that question; “Which of your eyes would you like to go blind in?”
Feeling trapped in the political system/ hamster wheel/ “cycle of same” gives people the feeling that something is better than nothing, and in this particular case, that is even more misguided than usual. And- simply my opinion- the only true “Opposition to the Establishment” or financial undoing would require some sort of worldwide allegiance with a goal of sending a harsh message to America. No power grab or fringe group or misguided idealist plot within America itself is going to undermine this sordid but well-built infrastructure. Too many rich people have too much on the line and have paid too many of the right people in too many of the most important places. Things will always appear a little “different”, but not much really is.
Again, I don’t fancy myself as a political expert/ analyst or even someone that discusses it; Simply my amateur opinion on my second-least favorite topic.
- In the nineties Fight Club was an important literary insight about the idea of physical/ internal conflict and going against the norms of present society. In the same way it was a reflection on the role of the individual in their own independence, capacity/ capability of violence, and of the mechanism of group rebellion. Is Fight Club/ those ideas still good reference points in 2017?
Yes. The idea of a “Fight Club” very specifically may be alienating or overzealous to some, but the idea of a group brought together by unrest, camaraderie, want for more, and willingness to suffer for it is anything BUT a dead concept; It is the exact concept that Wolf Brigade was founded on, and now that our reach is expanding, so is our worldwide network of those that believe the same.
Physicality is a far more powerful tool for coordinating dissenters than has even yet been discovered. Even when fitness has had an “underground” feel, it has still always been run on the larger scales by those that have lived their whole lives firmly “above ground”. Wolf Brigade is different in that way. The underground created us, and stories like Fight Club have never felt more than a few degrees from non-fiction. There are many out there for whom that is also the case, and it’s our goal and responsibility to bring them together.
- The diffusion/ limiting of certain weapons in the USA brings many polemics, abolitionists, campaigns, and so on. In the eyes of those with even superficial knowledge of North American reality it often appears as propaganda and politicizing. Is there truly a phenomenon of rising violent crime? If yes, is the cause for that the legalized selling of weapons, or a breakdown that must be found somewhere else?
The restriction/ ban on semi-random weapons in certain states in the US is real- definitely not propaganda- and is truly disgraceful. It’s akin to simply tearing pages out of a book and saying they never existed. Violent crime is rising, and has nothing- NOTHING- to do with legal, responsible weapon/ firearm ownership. Criminals get guns from criminals- the same place they get drugs.
Limiting access of weapons to those that want to train with them, gain proficiency, and if necessary use them to defend themselves and others is an ugly political ruse. It is a dirty trick geared to make people that don’t understand crime, or violence, or criminal mindset, or addict desperation, or true self-preservation feel safe and comfortable. The sad irony is that the people they limit weapons access to are the very same that would (very often) be the first to protect them if things went south.
People often don’t see clearly until something comes close enough to physically open their eyes; Denial is the strongest weapon of American politics, and the deadliest blight of American society.
- Concluding: What is the primary message of your brand, and what goals would like to achieve with this project?
Thank you for the interest in our brand/ project/ message. I could take another entire page in answering what we’d like to accomplish, but suffice it to say we intend to splash cold water on the sleepy faces of as much of the fitness industry as we can reach. There are a handful doing a really great job, and many, many more doing a really poor one. The tide has to shift, the awareness has to change, and the only way to make that happen is to do such a great job that eventually what is produced is undeniable. So that is what we will do.
Lastly: Don’t waste your body, don’t waste your brain, and don’t trust the guidance or direction of either to anyone that hasn’t walked the path they’re leading you down long and hard enough to know its true peaks and valleys.
It may take a little more effort than wandering into a local gym and accepting the help of a “personal trainer” or Google searching the CrossFit gym closest to your house, but it is worth looking past the carnival mirrors and novelty workouts and finding a person/ group/ program that has actually worked towards mastering a craft, and has done their full diligence in developing the ability to pass that information on.
Thank you Federico for the offer of an interview, and to anyone that has taken the time to read this. We want to hear from you.
We intend to turn this brand into something that will be recognized as a turning point in strength & conditioning training and independent culture.
If what we represent speaks to you, help us.