Skip the Excuses and Make Your Own Pullup Bar

Sean Baumstark avatar

by Sean Baumstark |

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push, avoiding distractions, self-care, what matters

In a recent column, Accountability Can Change Everything,” I gave credit to this column for helping me raise the bar in my personal performance by improving my awareness of the excuses I use to let myself off the hook. I have also found other things that motivate me while developing my daily disciplines.

I listen to podcasts, read books and articles related to personal habits, and observe people I admire because of their level of commitment to personal performance. I think of these “influencers” as mentors. Though they may not know me, the ways in which they present themselves challenge me to be the best version of myself.

Today, my perspective on my life and my abilities was stretched to another level because of one of these mentors.

I work for a small, family-owned business based near Sacramento, California. Nugget Markets has been on Fortune’s list of 100 Best Companies to Work For for 14 years in a row. There are dozens of reasons why I love this company and my job, and I’ll share one in this column.

Our entire executive team, including the CEO, actually works. Each member of the team shows up, answers phone calls, responds to emails, and is readily available. Each person at every level of leadership is hands-on within the company.

I recently did something I have never done before. Inspired by an interview I heard on a leadership podcast, I identified people I look up to that are accessible to me.

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I’ve always admired Nugget Markets’ chief operating officer and vice president — not because of his title or influence in my workplace, but because of the way he carries himself and his “get-stuff-done” mentality. He’s perpetually positive, incredibly consistent, and disciplined.

Sure, his title and position are significant, but his commitment to his family, health and fitness, and overall personal performance are equally important.

I crossed paths with Chris last week and asked if he’d meet me for breakfast. I half-expected a passive answer such as, “Sure, let me know when.” Instead, he said, “Sure, pull up your calendar. How’s Tuesday morning work for you?”

I identify Chris as a mentor because of his demonstration of consistency, discipline, and habits that precede his role as “the boss.” So, I wasn’t interested in talking about work. Instead, he let me pick his brain on his routines, his commitments to himself and his family, and the disciplines he employs to hit his goals and realize his dreams.

During my time with Chris, I wrote down keywords and phrases that stuck out while he talked. I wish I could’ve written more, but some of what I wrote is barely legible. Thanks to Friedreich’s ataxia, control of my arms is worsening, and my handwriting looks like a 7-year-old’s alphabet assignment.

We started talking about the gym and personal fitness. Chris told me to write something related to pullups and pushups, and then he said, “Do you want to do some right now?” I looked at him, wondering if I had misunderstood. I hadn’t. He continued with, “We can sit here and talk about it or just go get some in right now.”

I’m not sure if Chris knows that I’m waist-deep into a season of intentional and intensive personal growth, or if he’s as crazy as this story makes him sound. Either way, he knew that I wouldn’t say “no.”

Two minutes later, we had walked across the street from our breakfast spot and found some random outdoor steel structure that we used as a pullup bar. With a little help balancing and leaning, Chris and I proceeded to rotate through a series of pullups and pushups. 

My pullups need some serious attention.

Our makeshift, streetside gym worked perfectly, and it proved a point. Any other time, I would’ve skipped pullups because I didn’t have a pullup bar, or because I was dressed for work, or because they are hard. These excuses would have kept me from even trying.

Instead, I’m going to bed tonight knowing that I did 100 pushups this morning and feeling proud of my accomplishment. I feel satisfied that I didn’t let an excuse keep me from being a better version of myself at that moment.

As we began to brush our knees and shake the dust off, Chris summed it up perfectly, “Sean, most people would’ve said, ‘I can’t because I don’t have a pullup bar.’ Sometimes you have to make your own pullup bar.”


Friedreich’s Ataxia News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.


Barbie avatar


I love this! Who's idea was it to do a hundred? I probably wouldn't be able to stand by myself after a hundred push ups. Is it effective for you to do that many? Or did you just want to prove to yourself that you can do it?

Sean Baumstark avatar

Sean Baumstark

Hi Barbie,
Definitely NOT my idea, lol. Chris does 100 in sets, 10 reps each time. So, although 100 sounds like a lot, if you break it down to smaller sets, it may be more feasible than you think. Also, it's 100% a challenge to outdo yourself, not others. So start with something that is challenging but still realistic. Perhaps 5 pushups 4 times. Thats how I started with pull-ups. I was lucky to get 3 solid pull-ups a couple months ago.
Thanks for reading and commenting, Barbie!


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