To say ‘fitness is a hot topic these days’ is quite the understatement. It seems you can’t go on Facebook without having somebody shove into your face the marathon they completed, or the shiny new six-pack they have, or the shockingly difficult yoga pose they just achieved.
It was my favourite time of day; birds chirping, cool weather, beautiful light. I went on the verandah to welcome the dawn. My neighbour passed by in sweatpants and sneakers out for his morning “walk”. Immediately I thought to myself,
This guy is going to spend all this time ‘walking’ in the morning, then jump in his car and drive to work.
I think (most) humans – who are able – feel the need to move. In the past, hunting and gathering, climbing and jumping were all more integrated into everyday life (as explained in this article which is basically saying all that I want to say, but better). But a couple hundred years of industrialization didn’t overpower millions of years of evolution: we need to move.
This is hard-wired into our programming, but all the messages we receive of moving – as people who were born in a world where there are cars and airplanes – are…pretty skewed if you ask me.
What’s The Point of the Gym?
*steps big toe into the water then takes the plunge*
Gym culture has always fascinated me as sort of the grand culmination of two “great” American values that are highly useful in moderation, but evil incarnate in the extreme: individualistic narcissism, and capitalism.
You know what I’m talking about. The gains, trains and protein shakes (if you can afford them). The checking of the BMI and BFP and constant measuring and prodding and flaunting of body parts with the intensity of a professional bodybuilder.[insert funny gym meme here because there are too many and I couldn’t choose just one]
I’m not being critical of people who go to the gym here.
Yes, I know that going to the gym improves discipline.
Yes, I know that lots of people get the exercise they *need* and wouldn’t get otherwise at the gym.
Rather, I’m being critical of a culture that orients itself so that natural movement – like walking and running and dancing – is outside of our scope of action. It’s so “normal” to drive to work and spend a lot of time sitting, that we’ve needed to create treadmills and ellipticals and spinning classes. We’ve created a culture where it’s impossible to get exercise, then charge people money so they can.
This culture pretty much ruins this one thing that is as natural as breathing, and downright enjoyable as a matter of fact. Not fitness…not exercise…but movement.
It takes our natural need for movement and disfigures it into something ugly and unrecognizable, and makes it a breeding ground for feelings of inadequacy.
And if you feel inadequate, you may become motivated to move, but do it for the wrong reasons, or you may just never work up the will to move at all.
So after all my big talk, what exactly am I saying?
In short: practice mindful movement. This isn’t some New Age-y psychobabble. Our bodies are simply tools controlled by our brains, and whatever we use our bodies to do WILL influence our minds and ultimately, our outlooks.
Do you use your body as a tool for useful movement? Is it healthy and strong and able to carry out the movements you enjoy on a daily basis? Will it last into senescence and still do you proud? Do you train your body as a tool for developing discipline? Or do you work your body to shreds to feed a frail ego?
Dance is my movement of choice. I simply love music and I get such a huge rush of endorphins from dancing that I can’t imagine going through life without it.
Team sports can help us with social interactions. Martial arts can help with assertiveness and confidence. Yoga can help with calming and conscientiousness.
However you use your body, use it mindfully.