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  • Oars + Alps

It has been said, ‘Do what you love, and you’ll never work another day in your life.’ But what if your job is a game? We talked to Professional Volleyball Player James Shaw about how he stays motivated playing and working as a professional athlete.

James' Typical Workout Routine

"My typical workout is 2+ hours of volleyball practice followed by an hour of lifting. I train with the USA National Volleyball Team for most of the year and have my workouts prescribed by our strength and conditioning coach. I realize how fortunate I am that I don’t have to plan my own workouts. Removing this planning step means one less barrier between me and my daily fitness goals.

James Shaw playing for USA Men's Volleyball Team

When I’m looking for ways to stay active outside of team training, I love to go for long hikes with my girlfriend, Molly, and my dog, Buckwheat, or get into my inner yogi and practice some vipassana yoga. In general, I try to keep it simple and fun for my solo workouts: think 30 minutes of spinning or kettlebells."

How Do You Recognize A Workout Plateau?

"It’s easy to plateau in your workouts when you make a living by keeping in shape. The same coach-planned workout schedule that gives me convenience on some days can slide me into mindlessly going through the motions on others. I’ll have the sense I’ve reached a plateau when I’m not mentally present for my workouts. That’s when I know I need a change."

How Do You Change Things Up?

  1. "Ask for help: The key for me has always been seeking out expert advice regarding how to push past those plateaus. Help is out there in many forms - you just have to ask for it! Personally, I recommend a couple of my favorite podcasts where experts (in their field) are constantly being interviewed: The Tim Ferriss Show and The Rich Roll Podcast. I’d also recommend checking out a few of the books I’ve enjoyed going back to over and over again: Sacred Hoops by Phil Jackson, Grit by Angela Duckworth, and Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki. Lastly, I’d recommend a generally curious outlook and disposition - some of the best and most insightful things I’ve learned were when I wasn’t necessarily “looking” for the perfect sage advice, but allowing myself to constantly be open to unexpected lessons or answers."
  2. "Play! Regardless of what type of athlete you are, you often forget that movement should be fun. I do as much as I can to experiment with different movements, try (safe!) exercises outside my comfort zone, and treat the weight room like a literal playground. There’s no better way to get past grind mode than to get back to playing!"

How Do You Ask More of Your Workout?

"I try to foster the right mindset by recognizing the differences between external and internal motivation. As someone who’s always competing against others in my sport, and even to make final rosters on my team, it’s easy for me to get caught up in out-hustling and out-working ‘the other guy.’ In contrast, there’s a concept in Buddhism called ‘right effort’: it is by focusing on the love of the game and the betterment of the work itself that you can better yourself. My personal belief is that external motivation is what holds us back and demotivates; the earlier you cultivate internal motivation, the better the outcomes later on.

James Shaw playing volleyball

I also turn to a few products to keep my physical body in competition shape, including Human Improvement protein powder (my own partner), Klean supplements (a USA Volleyball partner), my favorite icing apparatus: the Gameready, and lots of Hyperice self-myofascial release tools.

After I’ve gotten home from the gym and I’ve taken care of my dietary and joint/muscular needs, I always use my go-to Oars + Alps products like the Body Wash, Aluminum-Free Deodorant, and Solid Face Wash to take care of my hygiene and my most underrated bodily organ - my skin!"

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