Moon Sunn's Philosophy of Physical Fitness

Updated: Sep 10, 2021

Push-Ups, Cod-Liver Oil and MPPF

The Apostle Paul said, “Physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”

Moon’s philosophy of physical fitness focused on “the present life” part. Fishing, at least the kind we did, was an extreme sport accessible only to the physically fit. Long before Richard Simmons and the exercise obsession caught fire in the US, Moon was already a Phys-Ed freak. Had there been a fishing Olympics, Moon would’ve been a regular on the podium. The more fit, the more fish-catching potential you possessed. If you happened to be tournament fishing, which Moon despises, physical fitness put you atop the leader board before your hook hit the water.

So, fishing birthed a second child, MPPF, Moon’s philosophy of physical fitness. Isometrics, push-ups, chin-ups, toe raises, anything that might give you an edge and increase your fish catching potential.

Scattered in random places in Moon’s house one encountered, chin-up bars, spring-loaded stretch contraptions, barbells, dumbbells, weight benches, and ab wheels.

An isometric ninja, “Shane, you don’t necessarily need any of this stuff to get really strong. Your joints work like hinges. Your muscles are attached to your joints by ligaments and tendons. When you push or pull somethin’, one muscle does the work while the other muscle offers resistance.

Here let me show you, “Put both hands on top of mine. Pull down on my arm as hard as you can."

I pulled as hard as I could, and he might let me gain an inch or two.

“That’s resistance. Now, with both hands try to hold my arm straight”, at which point, he lifted me off the ground.

“That’s called the lever, it’s the muscle workin’ when you push or pull somethin’. You need to learn how to work both kinds of muscles. That’s why you gotta be careful when you’re weight liftin’, it can make you muscle bound, that’s a fake kinda’ strong. If you lift weights, you need to concentrate as much on the downward motion of the bar as you do when you’re pushin’ it up. On the downward motion you need to give it as much resistance as you can. Then you’re makin’ sure you’re workin’ both kinds of muscles.”

A bit annoyed by the way too long and detailed exercise and physiology class, I replied, “Yeah, ok.”

Mistake! A better response would’ve been to ask a question about fishing, to hopefully divert his attention from the impending “run-through”. Lesson, practice, further explanation, further practice; that’s how you learned.

“Shane, see how many one-handed push-ups you can do.” It didn’t take a soothsayer to figure that out, “None, zero, zilch.” Moon Sunn could do more one-handed pushups than most men could manage with two.

He’d demonstrate. “One-hand pushups are good for you because you have to offer more resistance. Start with one arm and then try the other one. Most people have a dominant arm, so when you get where you can do a couple, concentrate more on your weaker arm.”

“Ok”, feigning my growing impatience, secretly hoping class would soon end.


“Shane, grip both handles, start from your toes, keep your back straight and see how far you can roll the wheel forward. Go out as far as you can.


“Find the position where you can’t go any further and just concentrate there. Roll the wheel to that point and see how many times you can go back and forth. When you think you’ve done all you can, try hard to do one or two more. The human body is amazin', it can go a lot farther than you think it can even when you feel like you’ve already reached the point of exhaustion.”

By now, I had already “maxed-out” in more ways than one!

Health Food

But then I was likely to receive a follow-up lecture on the importance of healthy food. All food was looked upon with certain suspicion, it might make you fat or sluggish and keep you from fishing. MPE (Moon's Philosophy of Economics)

and MPPF were always in mortal combat when it came to food selection, all food evaluated accordingly. If food must be healthy but inexpensive your options are limited. There was never any kind of junk-food laying around Moon’s house. Matter of fact, there was never much food of any kind laying around. Only the bare necessities, and most of the time it was ‘just laying around’.

A quick scan of available cuisine made you feel like you had either encountered a desert hermit on a religious fast or a fur trapper in Alberta. Moon believes the healthiest foods come right out of woods or water. During one exercise session, I remember a smoked deer shoulder just ‘laying out’ on his kitchen table. You couldn’t miss it! A sole hunting knife lay beside it. No need for any kind of fancy utensils. You had to take time to wash those and put them back in some drawer.

He walked over, trimmed off a piece, plopped it into his mouth and started grinding away. Then he handed me the knife which was the signal I was to do accordingly. That’s when you knowingly nodded at each other. It was a communal caveman form of dining. I guess that’s why I identify with the scene in Dances with Wolves, when Kevin Costner shares a big bite of bloody buffalo heart with a Lakota warrior. Nod. Nod. Nod again. “Te-tonka!”

When I first saw the movie, I said to myself, “I know that! I’ve done that before!” Nod. Nod--skinning knife, smoked deer shoulder!

“Protein is the most important of all them food groups. Carbohydrates burn up quickly, protein feeds your muscles and gives you that long-term energy.”

Anything else just ‘laying around’, and there were lots of other things, contributed to Moon’s overall fishing fitness regimen. Chief in his arsenal--cod-liver and wheatgerm oil. There were other bottles and jars of awful smelling homemade concoctions that you dared not ask the contents lest it remind him to get you to try a little.

Moon never made me do much of anything. But before the divorce when I was still under his everyday tutelage, he did make me swallow a big spoon full of “cod-liver oil”. Only once a day if I was lucky!

“That’ll make you grow big and strong.” I didn’t want to grow big and strong if it meant having to take a gulp of that awful tasting stuff. I had a certain propensity for Hostess honeybuns and twinkies.

“Don’t eat that stuff, it’ll kill ya’, read what that put in them things.”

Of course, on fishing trips I learned to just hide a honeybun and then scarf it down in three or four bites behind some tree and stuff the evidential wrapper in my pocket.But I could never do this without always feeling a bit guilty and fearing I was one step closer to the graveyard.But man, they sure tasted good.I secretly wondered if Moon Sunn ever violated his own health food code and although I tried, I never found any incriminating evidence.

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When I first penned Moon and Sunn I included a truck load of chapter endnotes. I felt I needed to verify just about every historical detail of the entire book! After endless research editor Bobby Ha