Northeast Tennessee

The Circle of Encouragement (and pain), Part Deux

Northeast Tennessee Johnson City Iron Horse (Founders Park)

15 men and 60 really, really ridiculously humid degrees.


  • Stair Lap
  • Through The Tunnel 10 IC
  • Side Straddle Hops 20 IC
  • Merkins 10 IC
  • Squat Wall Jumps 10 IC
  • Merkins 7 IC
  • Dips 20 IC
  • Merkins 5 IC


Since the majority of the PAX weren’t a part of the Iron Horse faithful when I introduced the Circle of Encouragement & Pain last December, I thought I’d revisit it, with a few tweaks, because we’re stronger now than we were then. We begin with the Circle Knee Jerk.

  • The PAX line up with the tallest man in the middle, extending out to the shortest man in either direction. Once they’re in line, have the shortest PAX (should be at each end of the line) close in to form a circle. The goal being that like-heighted men are next to one another. Close in tight. We’re going to lean on one another.
  • Once we’re in a circle, count off 1s and 2s. 1s and 2s will alternate exercises, either placing their body weight on their neighbors shoulders to support them while they work OR supporting the body weight of their neighbor while they do work. Note: If we have an odd number, the Q will opt-out and count/lead from the center.
  • 1s: Place your arms on top of your neighboring 2s shoulders and lift your knees to your chest as a starting position. Once there, we’ll do 10 knee lifts in cadence, counting “down” as we lower our legs, and counting the appropriate # as we lift our knees to our chest again. On the final lift, we’ll hold in the up position for a 10-second (or alternate unit of time at QICs discretion) countdown.
  • Switch arms so that the 2s are on top. Rinse. Repeat.

Back up into a big enough circle to allow individual work in the Circle of Encouragement & Pain, a cycle of eight exercises that we did in cadence, in decreasing number of reps, starting with 10, down to 1 (Surprise! Instead of 1, we did 10 to finish up, because we’re studs.) In between sets, we encouraged each other with the QIC-defined statements below.


  • Speak the appropriate encouragement for this round (noted below) to two PAX.
  • High Knees 10
  • Side Straddle Hops 10
  • Squat Jumps 10
  • Al Gore 10 Seconds-ish
  • Merkins 10 (hold last one for plank)
  • Plank 10 Seconds-ish
  • Boat/Canoe Crunches 10 (hold last one)
  • Canoe Plank 10 Seconds-ish


  • 10: Man, you fill out those shorts really well. Just saying.
  • 9: You look good for your age.
  • 8: #stud (fist bump)
  • 7: You are my man crush Monday.
  • 6: What’s your favorite movie? (wait for response, then say…) That’s badass.
    Note: We had at least one Top Gun, a couple Shawshank Redemptions, a Tombstone, and one Sixteen Candles (Kardashian). Mine was Glengarry Glen Ross or Princess Bride, for different reasons.
  • 5: I work harder because you’re here.
  • 4: I love you, man.
  • 3: If you’re not climbing, you’re sliding.
  • 2: Almost done, dude. You’re killing it.
  • 1: (surprise, 10) Someday we won’t be able to do this, but today is not that day.


  • Stair Lap
  • Rite Aid: Box Cutters 20 IC
  • Red Card: Carolina Dry Docks 20 IC
  • Twilight: High Knees 20 IC
  • Chum: LBC’s 21 IC


I asked for prayer requests, but apparently everyone is doing just fine and isn’t in need of any help or prayer of any kind so — I prayed for humility and confessed weakness for us all. What I should have done, is asked for prayer myself. It continues to be a tough season. Divorce wreaks havoc on finances and emotions and just about every aspect of life. I’m still struggling. My kids are too. It’s just a tough season. We’re still very blessed, and we are grateful for the faith-building, grace-revealing process of trials and — we believe better days (or at least eternal glory) is out there, but — we’re also tired of the struggle, and I’d appreciate you lifting us up, not just for relief from trials, but also, for the strength to resist the temptation to respond to them in the wrong way. Thanks.


I’ve been so encouraged and built up by you men over the last 16 months. I know we say this all the time, but I’m pushed to go further than I’d go on my own every single time I post. Your example, encouragement, leadership, fellowship, transparency, acceptance, and faithfulness has encouraged, challenged, strengthened, and inspired me. Thanks for that.

Even today, when I was psyching myself up for the final set of boat/canoe with canoe plank, Rite Aid repeated that round’s encouragement back to me saying, “Some day we won’t be able to do this, but today is not that day” and we got it done. That’s such good, man-building stuff, and great leadership from our AOQ. #stud


There’s still time to get on the Goliath at the Gorge bandwagon. We’ve got three four-man teams and are working on a fourth (or is it four, working on a fifth?). Either way… Come on in, the water is fine.

Donatello is still looking for more GrowRuck participants. We’ve got a solid group, but need a few more to hit the numbers we need. Holler at him for details.

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