Act First, Think Later

 In any field of invention or application for early man, actions preceded structure. In the dawning age of man, this applied to everything. That is, things happened first and man, as his intellect grew, applied rules to his actions. After he recognized what had transpired from his actions, man then considered how that which had transpired might be improved upon and/or communicated to others. He applied structure to his actions to enable this. We call this institutionalism.

The (crude) analogy is this: Maybe 100,000 years ago an upright hominid may have hit a stick on a rock several times in succession. The she-ape beside him might have heard this and moved her hips to the rhythm and the sound. He might have noticed her movement, liked what he saw, and chose to hit the stick on the rock again in similar patterns. This course might have been observed and copied by others. The beginning of music might have been born this way – everything else after would be derivative of that.

 In the begining there was no music theory, only sounds which came to be appreciated.

As man evolved, music evolved and expanded, was more widely practiced, and along the way became institutionalized. Evolved from and applied to music, long after the fist stick hit the first rock, were patterns, time signatures, notes, scales, bars, measures, etc. Over time the evolution of those boundaries became primary to music, and now the great majority of creation in music is taught to begin from within those literal borders. The initial act though, the stick on the rock, preceded these rules and was free to go wherever it might have gone, without fear of violating intuitionalism.

Beautiful structure ensures growth.  Does structure promote potential success, or does it limit potential success?

This applies to all avenues in life; faith, business, politics, science, art, and sport. First there was action; a stone thrown through a basket from a great distance away. Then there was the institutionalization of that action; the foul shot at the free throw line. Institutionalization is the largest part of the process — the process of how we have learned, and how we have advanced as a species. However, institutionalism is also how counter productive paradigms have been created. Actions born of those paradigms, can be why we have often faltered as a species. It takes free thinkers to identify and break from stale, or counter productive paradigms.

Like these other areas, fitness and exercise have been excessively institutionalized into a rainbow of paradigms. Some fitting and appropriate paradigms offer utility for the improvement of a man, and provide a reasonable path he can walk upon in achieving his goals. Others, stale and counter productive, silently steer a man away from his goals, despite his best intentions and the intentions of those directing him.

 Paradigm shift

Man has likely been taking inventory of himself and striving to improve himself with exercise since shortly after, or perhaps even before, that first stick was hit against that first rock to create music – exercise is that historic, and for many reasons. The act of exercise, be it for testing, for competition, or for self-improvement, had to be born of man’s inherent movement and abilities. I am not convinced that the institutionalism of recent science and research can contribute as much to a man’s exercise and wellness, as an individual man can contribute to himself by way of his own trial and observation – the scientific method on a very personal level. That is just my belief.  

 Structure in the form of movement 

 Monkey see, monkey do.  Ehrr, ape see, ape do; I see no tails.

I think of the elderly woman who came to work with me a few years back because she was having trouble getting in and out of her car. So we exercised. I took her to her car, supervised her, had her get in and out of her car cautiously several times during her first workout. We continued this over many weeks. In time, her ability to get in and out of her car improved markedly. I have little doubt that an educated physical therapist would have not used this approach. More likely, he would have just slipped her into a physical therapy paradigm, with minimal results.

 Is she getting what she needs?

  Structure in the form of volume; weights, repetitions, sets, days per week, etc. 

On a large scale, the body doesn’t know 6 repetitions from 12, nor 3 sets from 5. What the body understands much better is fatigue, range of motion, and reasonable exercise form. Much can come from applying fatigue, range of motion, and proper exercise form within whatever number of sets, reps, poundages, and days per week one chooses – relative to one’s goals. Form is key. If one practices exercise form, based on what his instincts tell him about how that movement should transpire, he will likely move properly.

Though I appreciate the value of structure in exercise, I don’t always follow the traditional rules of exercise and encourage many of my students to do the same. Much of what I do and what I teach in the way of movement, I invent. Movements should be born of consideration for the objective one trains for – how exercise might help enhance and protect our lives, or allow us to reach our goals. This desire differs with each individual. 

Even standard exercises have less rights and less wrongs about them than one might think; a bench press done to the neck versus one done to the base of the chest. Lunges done in conjunction with a dumbbell arm curl, an overhead press, or juggling chainsaws. Proceed with caution, and mix things up. Explore range of motion.  Pay attention to form. Don’t cheat an exercise. Breath fluidly. These are the primary rules of exercise. Most every other rule is just someone else’s agenda – rules which limit possibilities. 

I’ve recently come to believe the world would be better served if individuals spent more time writing bibles than reading them.  That is, defining who one is in this way might serve the individual, and the world, better than copying who someone else is pretending to be.  Those who suggest that certain rules should always be applied to certain actions in exercise might be limiting your exercise progress. Further still, those rules might be limiting your enjoyment and your creative outlet with your exercise and your own body. Of course the same could be said of your faith, your business, and your politics. Be well. rc

That Bodybuilder Look

In adolescence I craved and coveted one personal asset above all others. Early in life, I took to pursuing it. The pursuit turned into a mission. The mission turned into a quest. The quest had me bound and tied by the age of 15, and didn’t let go until well into my adult life. In truth, it still tugs at me.

From the time I was in the 5th grade, I wanted that bodybuilder look. You know, that look that bodybuilders have; that awe striking, eye popping, mind blowing physical form. The aesthetic which confiscated my youth from me, in exchange for the ransom of all my spare time, more than a few relationships, and many thousands of eggs. Yes, the bodybuilder look was a slut, a teacher, a mentor, a whore, and a holy grail to me, all rolled into one. 

That bodybuilder look as defined by me (from my personal journal) at age 15:

 “Important, Necessary, Unique, Aesthetic, Freedom, Success, Wisdom, King” 

Roy at age 13.  Let the voyage begin...

Roy at age 13. Let the voyage begin...

A great part of what drove me to pursue that bodybuilder look was it’s unique and radically contrary nature. In the entire city of Denver in the early 1970’s, there were probably less than a hundred people who truly maintained that bodybuilder look; wide shoulders contrasting a small waist. Cleft biceps, triceps, calves, and quads. Shirt sleeves so tight they were stretched to their limit. Having to turn sideways to fit through a door jam. This was my dream. At the age of 15, it was always a small and unexpected surprise if I saw a bodybuilder walking down a sidewalk or in a store. That uniqueness was a great part of the lure. I wanted to stand out from others physically, and do so in a large way.

In time, and with the help of Arnold Schwarzenegger, bodybuilding caught on. Within a couple of decades, it was a lesser surprise to walk into a grocery store or a public venue every once and again and see a man with the bodybuilder look. Even so, it still was not commonplace to see such a being. Well into the 1990’s, and well after attaining this look myself, I still considered the bodybuilder look unique, and was proud to carry it. Through the 1990’s, in nearly any gym, at nearly any time of day, you still might see only one or two men with that look, or none at all. Things have changed. Look at something obvious, do so daily, and you can be assured that you will overlook something about it.

Age 39; goal attained... I guess.

220 Lbs, age 39; goal attained... I guess.

I have a girlfriend now which means I spend my evenings watching HGTV and pretending I like it. HGTV is a TV network hosting a never ending loop of programs which takes beaten houses, and turns them into swans. The crews which are used to foster these transitions generally consist of a real-estate adviser, a designer/decorator, and a carpenter & crew.

These experts have the power to transform a house well into decline into, well, into a bodybuilder house – so to say. But that’s not the tie-in here. The connection is this; every freaking carpenter on those shows, as well as the carpenter’s crew, always look like recreational bodybuilders. Even some of the male designers have that bodybuilder look. The abundance of the bodybuilder look on something as benign as HGTV got me thinking about this quite a bit – so I began seeking and identifying it on other shows, and in other places in life.

Hugh Jackman has that bodybuilder look.

Hugh Jackman has that bodybuilder look...

Apparently I have had my eyes closed for the past 10 years or so, because it now appears that if you are male, whether you are on TV or not, you are likely obese, or a bodybuilder – with decreasing room in-between. That bodybuilder look is everywhere! It almost seems the American male standard. Over simplified perhaps, but not too far off the mark.

When comedians look like wrestlers, somethings up...

Carrot Top? really? When comedians look like wrestlers, something's up...

The gym where I sometimes go:

At any given time at the 24Hour Fitness in Oceanside, CA, where I meet my workout partner, Marshall, each afternoon, I see a dozen or more men of varying ages, who have that bodybuilder look. Not sure where I was or what I was doing when this happened, but I only began noticing it just this month after identifying so frequently on television. Not to suggest that these are competitive bodybuilders, but they possess physiques which could have been on stage competing in bodybuilding 20 years ago. Some days, men of this look actually represent the majority of those working out at my gym.

So what’s shakin’ here? Why now? Why so many? Why everywhere? Lots and lots of reasons, some good, some not-so-good.

LL Cool J has his tikcets... for the gun show!

LL Cool J has his tikcets... for the gun show!

Stay tuned for my thoughts on all the “why’s” as I will explore this concept in more detail next month.
A more fit, post-marathon Roy at 165 lbs.  Less muscle, more sense.  Circa 2009

A more fit, post-marathon Roy at 165 lbs. Less muscle, more sense. Circa 2009

Also next month, I will share my thoughts on the reasons why my quest for muscle was a lost cause and a large waste of time for me, with far too many casualties — yet is was simultaneously the most important part of my life. Be well. rc

Life-Specific Training

Sports-specific training; the concept that athletic performance can be heightened by an exercise, or a series of exercises designed to replicate a sports related function, motion, or skill at the kinetic level. Example: swinging a dumbbell to increase the capacity of swinging a golf club, sliding side to side on a Teflon surface to improve pushing off with an ice skate, or throwing a medicine ball to enhance the velocity of throwing a football. A majority of exercise physiologists and athletic trainers suggest that engaging in “sports-specific” training is the best, and often, the only way to improve in an athletic function, or skill relating to athletic performance.

These are educated and experienced people who make their living studying and prescribing exercises, exercise schemes, and exercise methods which should enhance athletic performance and athletic skill. Most often these protocols will work to some degree – especially if the trainee is committed, and competes at a high level within his sport. But these sport-specific exercises are not the sole path to improvement, especially for athletes competing at a lesser level; recreational and amateur athletes.

I’ve never been sold on the concept of sports-specific exercises except for athletes competing at the highest level – and even then, minimally. That is, if one wishes to improve his golf swing, he should practice that swing with diligence and before and educated eye. If one wishes to play better racquetball, then it is practice and critique from the right coach that is what’s needed most. Be it pitching, surfing, golf, martial arts, etc., I will argue that no sports-specific exercise can significantly improve an athletic skill or athletic performance in a specific movement.

Performance exercise for any athlete should be minimally about improving a particular motion or skill, as no exercise (in or out of the gym) will sufficiently replicate an athletic skill. Some of the more common sport-specific exercises I see people engaged in can actually be counter productive to improving a particular motion or skill, as it can produce a false muscle memory which is sought during the actual skill – and an opportunity is missed or minimized. Swinging a weight is not the same as swinging a golf club. Reaching with a medicine ball or dumbbell is not the same as reaching with a racquetball racquet. False habits can be created with the wrong exercise.

Rather, I believe that training and conditioning for athletes, in particular recreational athletes and amateur athletes, should take place primarily for these reasons;

  • building strength
  • improving flexibility
  • enhancing coordination
  • maximizing endurance
  • most of all, to dispose the athlete to staying injury free during the course of his athletic performance

 So why have I summarized my belief on sport-specific exercise for you, the fitness enthusiast, amateur, or recreational athlete? Because if you’re having trouble performing a kinetic task in your recreation or in everyday life, exercise will help – but no sport-specific exercises will help you more than practicing the movement itself.

Most of the exercises I suggest to make people more flexible, stronger, etc, take place in the gym – not always though. I have a client; female, and nearly 80 years old. She visits me twice per week. She is in reasonable shape, great health, and is way ahead of the game for her 80 years. Though she sees me in order to improve her golf swing, she often complains about having difficulty getting in and out of her car. So guess what? That’s become part of her workout; getting in and out of her car – 10 times, followed by a brief rest, and ten more times, and so-on. Since I have been coaching her to do this (safely), she has felt increasingly confident and stronger getting in and out of her car. Her golf swing remains the same—because she rarely practices swinging her club.

Athletic trainers will suggest that sports-specific training is the best way to improve in a given athletic function, or skill relating to athletic performance. But the best way to improve in a given athletic function is to maintain your fitness, and practice the function—the movement itself, rather than trying to replicate the movement with exercise.

I’m just a little guy who works in his gym but has a passion for athletics, fitness, and their relationship with kinetics. Exercise is a lot of things for a lot of people. One thing I believe that exercise is not, is an easy substitution for practicing any difficult or challenging movement such as getting in and out of your car, swinging a golf club, or throwing the perfect backdoor slider.

Not Enough Time

  Assuming the sun rises on a given day, we will be blessed with 1440 minutes to live, give, and to complete the tasks of our day. If but 30 of those minutes were given to exercise, you would still have 1410 minutes remaining to live, give, and to complete those tasks.

Still, many say feel they don’t have time to exercise. 

the weight of time surrounds us...
The weight of time surrounds us…

The average person sleeps for 460 minutes per day – a grand bank of time to be sure. Withdraw just 30 minutes from that account for your exercise, and you are still left with 430 minutes to spend on your sleep – nearly twice the sleep that the human body needs. Now add-in the increased energy and productivity that comes with daily exercise, and a more efficient day will be at hand.

Sleep = time in the bank.  Its okay to make a withdrawel here and there; thats the function of savings...
Sleep = time in the bank. It’s okay to make a withdrawel here and there; that’s the purpose of savings…

Still, many say feel they don’t have time to exercise.

 The average American will spend 360 minutes every day watching television, socializing, or engaged in leisure activities such as computer solitaire, XBox, knitting, or whatever. These may bring about relaxation and escape, but will do little to promote increased energy, self confidence, and improved health. Subtract 30 minutes for exercise from this time and you will still have 150 minutes remaining for your TV viewing, though I doubt you will find anything worthwhile to watch.

Still, many say feel they don’t have time to exercise.

What else could this guy be doing...?
What else could this guy be doing…?

Don’t want to miss American Idol or the latest police drama series? In this instance you can actually combine TV and exercise – for real. I do it all the time. Sports Center is my core training and balancing time. Stuart Scott amuses me while my low back gets strengthened, and my body gets stretched. That’s a lie; Stuart Scott isn’t funny.

 The average American spends 330 minutes doing little things each day such as eating, drinking, shopping, and general dilly-dallying. I’ll bet with a little planning these could be done in less than 300 minutes, and you could eliminate dilly-dallying altogether. More exercise time has just been made.

 From simple math, we can see at least 90 minutes of time from which 30 minutes of daily exercise can be had.

 Still, many say feel they don’t have time to exercise.

There is time to exercise – lots of time. It can’t be found though, it can only be made; taken from the bank of time you use for the less productive aspects of your life. I say so often, what you are looking for is not to be found, but to be created. Your exercise time will not take you by the hand and lead you to the gym. You must take your own hand and lead yourself to the time that you choose to make your life better with daily exercise.

And ah, if the sun doesn’t rise? Don’t sweat the caramel frapacinno – it will be the least of your worries.

Don’t fear pain; re-define the term

Muscles often burn when we exercise. People I know sometimes describe this burning as “pain”. Muscles often get sore after we exercise. People I know sometimes describe this soreness as “pain”. Muscles occasionally ache when we exercise. People I know often refer to this as “pain”.   Me?  Momma raised me right, so I don’t use the “P” word. I much prefer the term; sensation to describe my exercise experience – has certain romance to it, don’t ya think?

Muscle that burn, light the fire of progress..

When muscle burns, the fire of progress gets lit..

A burning sensation. A sore sensation. An achy sensation; like little reality checks for the infrastructure of our senses, and the carpentry of our design. Perception is everything says the physicist, and perception can redefine attitudes. Attitude is everything, says the optimist, and the right attitude can help you embrace your workouts, rather than fear them.

If it were easy, we would all look like this...

If it were easy, we would all look like this...

The term sensation can also be used as a synonym for inventory. When muscles burn, when they are sore, when they ache just a bit, that sensation is a great inventory of what we are made of – a nice reminder that we’re made of stuff more tangible than the attitudes and egos we cast about us each day. We are made of flesh; something we forget too often in this highly advanced era we live in. Flesh needs cultivation to flourish, and sensation reminds us of where we stand in the cultivation process. 

 

 

Were all athletes under this skin  Do you know what youre made of...?

We're all athletes under the skin. Do you know what you're made of...?

Most of the people I work with are over 40 – including myself. Many of my clients are over 60. I have some clients into their 80’s, and a few who are young enough to be my children. Regardless of age, most of my clients (myself included) experience regular periods of muscle burning, onset muscle soreness, and muscle occasional aches. I am okay with this – even for fitness enthusiasts into their 80’s, for this is not true pain.

When one challenges the human machine regularly, one can expect to experience some level of these sensations – especially in the beginning, or if we step away from our exercise regimen for a period of time. The more regularly we exercise, the less we will succumb to such sensations. However, as the routines of our exercise change (and they should), new exercises are introduced (and they should be), or workout cadence and pace changes (and it should), such sensations can manifest during and post-workout for a day or two.

A bit of soreness can be an inventory of what were made of...

A bit of soreness can be an inventory of what we're made of...

I will always disagree with the term no pain, no gain. This is the credo of the 1970s gym ignoramus or, gymnoramous, as I prefer to think of them. How such idiocy wove it’s way into the fitness world is beyond me. Pain, I reckon, is what one feels when a vertebral disk gets compressed, when a meniscus tears, when a bone breaks, or when you drop a weight on your foot – that is pain. Pain can also be a torn muscle, a pinched nerve, or punctured skin – that too is pain. Anything less, as it applies to the human body in exercise, is just sensation – in my opinion. Some I know speak of the “horrible pain” of soreness, of the “wretched pain” of burning, or of the “torturous pain” of aching muscles as a result of their exercise. Those who think in these terms need the ultimate attitude check — and need a dose of real pain to remind them just how valuable that sensation really is.
Perhaps a fitness credo for the new era should be introduced: No sensation, no restoration. 

What’s in a word? Your entire attitude!

Here is a list of words and terms which I relate to my own workouts each week. These words all matter to me because I care — I care about each workout as though it were my child.

Read these words. Repeat them. Get familiar with them. Cut them form this book and keep them in your gym bag, or just keep them in your head.

When revisited on a regular basis, and practiced within your workout, these words can help you maximize your gym time and your workout attitude.

Train like an athlete, eat like a shark, walk like a god!

Train like an athlete, eat like a shark, walk like a god!

There is no specific order here. In fact, to construct the perfect workout I believe these terms should all be practiced in equal proportion:

  • Achievable
  • Challenging
  • Focused
  • Relentless
  • Intelligent
  • Engineered
  • Basic
  • Athletic
  • Form
  • Functional
  • Artistic
  • Seamless
  • Controlled
  • Consistent
  • Improved
  • Pure
  • Balanced
  • Aesthetic
  • Cleansed
  • Commitment
  • Style
  • Moderation

Go ahead. Take these words and weave them into your fitness psyche. There may just be a better workout waiting for you next time you are in the gym, on the road, at the park, or wherever you exercise.  Be well.  rc

An absence of desire; a passion for success

Sometimes relationships don’t work out. And some times relationships don’t workout.
Many of us know too well what it’s like to go through the motions in a relationship, knowing full well that the relationship is dying, dead, or was never alive to begin with. Still, there are those who choose to carry on in false hope day-to-day, week-to-week, pretending they are happy and convincing themselves that the relationship will work out. This happens too often because society looks down on those who walk away, even when walking away is what is best — what is right. As a point of fact, and at their deepest level, most people know better – know when a relationship has expired; their instincts tell them so, even when those around them won’t. Still, it is up to the individual to listen to their instincts.
 
 

 

Breaking up is hard...

Breaking up is hard...

So too can be the net of the relationship between the fitness enthusiast and their exercise of choice. In many ways a relationship with exercise is like a marriage; there needs to be respect, appreciation, trust, and a reason to want to continue each day, each week. Should there be no deep connection between a person and their chosen form of exercise – no passion nor appreciation, they may find themselves going through the motions. In-turn, they will be wasting their time, their energy, getting no return on their investment, and becoming resentful of the scenario as a whole. As in a human relationship, many fitness enthusiasts go through the motions of their daily workouts when they should be channeling those energies into another form of exercise.

There are many people who dread going to the gym each day to lift weights, yet each day they go. They drudge, they grunt, they grumble, and the get nothing from it at all except tired, achy, and put off by the experience — and then they resent their exercise and think hastily of it When confronted by friends, family, or co-workers, they speak of their exercise in expletives and utter disrespect. Their dedication to this relationship should be applauded – for that daily commitment is nothing short of admirable, even if it isn’t that productive. But their feelings for the relationship aren’t conducive to success, and I am convinced that people who disrespect their chosen form of exercise, as in disrespecting a spouse or partner, get little if anything from it.

Some people hate exercise with all the hate they can possibly hate something with...

Some people hate exercise with all the hate they can possibly hate something with...

Though I will always champion strength training as the best all around form of exercise, these same people who loathe lifting weights, might be better off going to a yoga studio each day and bending, stretching and contorting their way to an improved body. Perhaps a workout in an aerobics class might be better appreciated, a group bootcamp workout done on the beach, or a marshal arts class might serve well to consummate a better fitness fit. And speaking of fit, there’s always CrossFit. In return, the investment of their fitness heart and soul might offer much more to, and garner more from their relationship. One thing we can all agree on; a bad relationship can not be forced — nor can a strong one be intentionally divided.

Like a human relationship, a long-term relationship with exercise may take time to cultivate, will likely experience many highs and lows, and ultimately a person may find they have to live through several fitness relationships before they find the right one – before they find their fitness soul-mate as it where. And even when it is right, it will still take work – take effort to keep the connection between fitness enthusiast and exercise alive. I would say though, that if one has done Pilates for fourteen years and still hates (disrespects) Pilates, it’s time to move on and look ahead for a better fit — it’s time to quit forcing it.

There are no bad guys here – no wrong choices either. Only the trial and error of learning what is right for the individual. It is the subtle differences which lend themselves to a true fitness friendship — a true connection, or to a dysfunctional fitness family. As such, choosing the right form of exercise for you is as important as choosing the right spouse – that you stay connected with your exercise for life. Because like a human relationship, we should be partnered up with the right exercise for all our days.

Hmmmmm, exercise.... the only one who ever loved me back....

Hmmmmm, exercise.... the only one who ever loved me back....

I believe that respect and appreciation are at the heart of any relationship – human, fitness, or otherwise. If one appreciates their exercise as they appreciate their spouse, if one respects their exercise as they respect their family, one will be willing to give much more and in-turn, receive more fruit from their labor.

There are many forms of exercise, and many ways to go about conditioning the body. Where I once thought weight training was the best way – the only way to condition one’s self, I now realize that it’s the connection to exercise itself which matters most, and that the relationship be nurtured and respected as any relationship should.   Be well.  rc

A Case For Strength

by Roy Cohen

 Reach. Extend. Bend. Stand. Carry. Pull. Lean. Twist. Sit. Push. Hold.

 The ability o perform any of these should not be taken for granted; no one a luxury, each one probable in the course of a day. Only two gifts are awarded at birth; the conscience and the body. In matters of virtue, most seek to nourish the conscience by use of the conscience; prayer as a means of better fulfilling one’s purpose. The virtues of love, forgiveness, healing, compassion and others can be enhanced by prayer, providing vast returns. This kind of prayer is practiced by billions each day.  

  

Folded hands, conscious thoughts…

 There can also be physical prayer; actions of a body practiced to better enable the virtues of movement, and connect with one’s ability. That investment in regular action can provide both intimate internal, as well as cascading external returns – just like conscience prayer. Move with confidence. Direct your body without fear. Live with ability, and be poised to give more of yourself to family and to your community. To connect with one’s body in this way is to be closer to fulfilling one’s purpose and potential. I believe this in a literal sense.  

 Statistics tell us those who practice exercise are a great minority in comparison to those who practice conscience prayer. In the current era there are many genres of exercise practiced world wide. I will not say that any one form of exercise is better than any other. That should be left to the individual. Today I only suggest that traditional strength training, seemingly on it’s way out of the modern exercise agenda, is an exceptional way for individuals of any age to connect with, and to expand their capacity for movement – to body-pray.  

cohen00584

It’s a different kind of altar…

 Strength training offers many secondary values; improved flexibility, enhancement of athletic performance, slowing of bone density loss, decrease of blood pressure, improved balance, ability to shape and tone the body, and much more.

As a vehicle of prayer, the primary benefits of strength training I speak of are derived from two elements; range of motion and capacity. Combine range of motion with capacity, be it done with free weights, machines, dumbells, or bricks, and one can not help but live inside of, and better identify with their body. When one slowly and deliberately extends a loaded muscle or a group of muscles, concentrating on how these muscles feel throughout the extension and subsequent contraction, one experiences a very intimate connection between mind and body – a literal inventory of that which enables us. This can be grounding and poetic.

 100_08642

l know who I am and have well learnedl, how I am able to be…

 There are those who will suggest that exercise today is better done out of doors and not in gyms. Others propose that since strength training devices; barbells, machines and the like were not around 100,000 years ago, they are not relevant for human beings. Others still will suggest there are better forms of exercise to connect with one’s body; the ancient yoga, the well-thought Pilates, the in-vogue endurance and cardio classes, martial arts, running, etc. They all make great cases too, though not exclusive ones. I have been a practitioner of all of these and none, in my opinion, offer as much utility and benefit to the human experience as proper strength training practiced in moderation. My strength training is how I know I’m the physical me. 

  

“I extend and contract under load, therefore I am.” Rene Descartes, 16th century fitness trainer, philosopher, and mathematician.

 Where human priorities were once completely instinctive, they are now largely manufactured and clearly this will ever turn back. This is our time, and this is our place – we should make the best of our options and opportunities. In no way am I suggesting that strength training be one’s exclusive outlet for exercise – there is so much more out there than the dirty old gym. I do much more physically in the course of a month than just lift weights; kayaking, trail hiking, running, stretching, yoga, and more. I am saying that, as an investment in prayer, strength training is unique, and has an amazing return value per moment of effort.

 Historians 200 years from now may shake their heads in disbelief that gyms, barbells, Nautilus machines, and dumbbells ever existed, or needed to exist. This may be true. Those same historians though, will also shake their heads in disbelief at the notion of cars, manicured green lawns, neck ties, trash bags, recreational drugs, hedge funds, television, Krispy Kremes, labor unions, and prejudice – but that doesn’t seem to be stopping anyone from embracing these.

  dscf0514

What will be thought when my time capsule is unearthed 200 years from now…?

 This is my time, and this is my place. Since the weight room exists in my here and my now, I accept it, and will continue to use it as one sanctuary for my body-prayer. Be well. rc