Jaw Cardio; the death of progress…

Jaw cardio is not an exercise, yet it is the most practiced activity in gyms across the country. More words seem to be spoken in health clubs each day than weights lifted, miles run, and stairs climbed combined. Jaw cardio is the unbending deterrent which stands impregnably between you and the results you seek from your workouts. Jaw cardio is number two, just behind poor eating choices, as the leading cause of diminished exercise returns. Jaw cardio must be stopped in our lifetime.

Far be it from me to play the part of buzz-kill in your weekly fitness endeavors, but there is a very good chance you practice jaw cardio. If you’re not a practitioner, you are likely willing to receive it, fresh from the mouths of Mr. or Mrs. Gym-Spew, seated on the machine next to you. As such, it might be concluded that your workouts are not providing the maximum benefit they should. Straight up; what is it you seek from your time in the gym, results or social satisfaction?

Time: The less time you spend doing your workout, the more time you will have for your other interests in life; business, family, community, etc. Flapping your gums, or lending your ears to a would-be gum flapper during your workout diminishes your time for interests away from the gym. There is no reason for a healthy individual to rest more than 30-60 seconds between sets of a resistance exercise.

For fitness enthusiasts of any level, minimal rest between sets will serve you better. Rest long enough to stretch the muscles you just worked, and stretch those muscles long enough to catch your breath. This simple rule of stretching will serve to promote flexibility, strengthen tendons, keep you focused on your workout, and promote intensity within your exercise scheme as you use time to your advantage.

Results: Jaw cardio, particularly while you are performing an exercise, will absolutely minimize the affect(s) that an exercise will have on your body. There is a direct relationship between concentration in strength training, and the results you seek. If you are talking during the course of an exercise, you are less likely to maximize that opportunity. Talking during your exercises may distract you from paying attention to proper exercise form, possibly resulting in a muscular injury, a tendon or joint injury, a tweaked back, neck, or worse. If there is an exercise Satan, the primary mechanism he’ll use to steal your fitness soul is injury.

Crowds: Forgive the simple math, but if cutting down on your talking between sets will get you out of the gym sooner, then it stands to reason that it will get other people out sooner too. Particularly at peak hours, the elimination of jaw cardio will minimize crowds in the gym. The result? Less people in the gym which translates to less stress and tension in the gym, more available equipment, and more room to move around the gym floor. With more room to move around, and more equipment available, you are that much more likely to get the results you seek. In this instance, a group effort is needed, so spread the word!

Cure: Though there is no current vaccination for jaw cardio, steps can be taken to halt it’s spread. For those doing the talking; shut up and workout. ‘Nuff said.

For those on the receiving end, avoid eye contact with everyone in the gym — especially those in torn sweat shirts with the Tap Out logo inscribed across the chest. Another sound course of action is the I-pod. Nothing says “Stay the hell away from me you jabbering yay-hoo!” better than a pair of form fitting headphones.

Lastly, the best way to stop jaw cardio is to lead by example. Somebody is trying to talk with you during your rest, gently pat the seat of the machine you are taking your rest from and utter the phrase, “Your turn buddy.” Humility has great silencing powers.

Practitioner: Pardon the self-loftiness, but I’m often asked about how I maintain my shape and conditioning at nearly 50. The questions asked in this regard usually relate to which exercises I perform, how many days per week, sets, reps, etc. Sometimes people will be so keen as to actually ask which foods I eat. Indeed. One of the main reasons though, I am able to maintain this level of physical conditioning is by promoting intensity in my workouts. Intensity begins with focus. Focus begins with silence. Be well. rc

Exercise, and a clear head…

Next month it will have been one year since writer, David Foster Wallace, ended his life. His death has affected me more than any other – even more than the deaths of my own friends and family members through the years. His death still haunts me, and I’m glad.

I feel compelled to share something with you that you might find alarming. If that statement alone concerns you, then please read no further. You see, many days of my life I wake up and must decide whether to put a toothbrush in my mouth, or a revolver. This has been a choice I have faced on awakening on many occasions since my teens. Since I don’t own a revolver, and possess an obvious genetic predisposition toward dirty teeth, and that I still see so much beauty and so many possibilities in the frame of a day, toothbrush always wins.

A voice for my generation... A voice for my generation…

I work hard, very hard, at reminding myself of all the reasons why toothbrush should win – and it should. No, I’m not suicidal, just more honest about a taboo subject than most; depression, and the thoughts depression fosters in the lonely cave of an active consciousness. I do understand why people do it though – why people choose to end their lives. I understand better though, why people don’t do it – why we shouldn’t do it. This understanding is getting easier with age – the understanding of why people choose not to kill themselves. The anniversary next month of this sad loss will be a reminder to me, of why a beautiful mind should prioritize, and strive to fulfill it’s possibilities and potential. 

David Foster Wallace was a person I admired, and even sought to be more like. His writing style, thought process, flippant attitude in the public eye, and express honesty in speaking, all captivated me. Though I never read Infinite Jest, I absorbed his essays and short stories. To me, he remains more relevant to my generation than Kurt Cobain or Tupac. I learned only after his death, that he and I had a common antagonist; the relentless clashing of thoughts in the blender of our heads which comes from cyclical depression.

Exercise, rigorous exercise, has been my medication in dealing with (my) depression for some time now. Exercise works, and it’s how I cope – how I deal with life’s challenges, and the puppets of another ilk perpetrating lesser thoughts in my head. There are a lot of reasons to exercise; looking good, keeping blood pressure down, staving off the loss of bone density, improving balance and flexibility, increasing every day strength, and so-on. Tonight though, I reflect on the most important reason (for me) to exercise – it keeps me stable.   

One cure for that which ails me... One cure for that which ails me…

Increasingly, physicians, psychiatrists, and psychologists are recommending exercise for persons who live with depression, as well as other mood related disorders. In some instances, exercise can help minimize or even eliminate the need for medication – this to be the judgment and the discretion of the treating authority. A dose of exercise goes to work quickly and has few side affects – its good stuff. Rigorous exercise can make a difference and how one may receive a moment and a circumstance – or not. Exercise, for many, can also pave the road for a new day tomorrow. Be well. rc

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