Like clouds, notions are formed from the confluence of currents and particles; the perpetual current of human perception mixes and swirls with particles of human knowledge, and a notion is born. Notions can be insignificant, producing little or no mental precipitation. Or, a notion can work its way toward another notion, joining forces to grow into a larger notion still. These notions, captured by the thinker(s) and supported by reason, can produce the precipitation which has helped to nourish and grow all we know as a species.
Too many fitness notions though, are passed along with little or no reason, but prescribed as absolutes by the thinker selling the ideal. These notions release intellectual acid rain, which can stifle the growth of the fitness constituency, which is perpetually seeking nourishment in the form of truth. It is a sad reality that many such notions have become the hard and fast rules of fitness in the modern era; the absolutes of exercise and eating as prescribed self-appointed fitness shaman of this age. Aside from exercising regularly and eating mindfully, I believe there should be no absolutes in fitness, only possibilities.
An absolute notion of how exercise should be:
I know a highly regarded fitness trainer, the head of the fitness and training department for a large chain of health clubs, who once told me that it is dumbbells, and dumbbells only that people should choose when strength training. He often declares to anyone who will listen that machines, cable & pulley devices, other contrived apparatus, and even barbells hold little or no value whatsoever compared to the common dumbbell – absolutely. He insists this, born of his notion which has no reason assigned to it. Many who are not in-the-know cling to this man’s notion and accept it as gospel. Possibilities become stifled by advertising such notions as absolute.
An absolute notion of how eating should be:
There is an internet fitness shaman who touts the Lean Cuisine frozen meal as, “among the poorest eating choices one can make at work” – absolutely. This declaration of poor eating is a concept based on his notions, which are rooted well outside of reason.
I rarely venture to suggest or define what eating poorly really means; in this era, this is an increasingly relative concept. One might make a case against eating a Lean Cuisine for lunch; these are highly processed foods, full of additives and preservatives, and of lesser nutritional content than a wedge of salmon and a branch of broccoli. Though there is no contesting that the salmon and broccoli lunch is nutritionally much more sound than the Lean Cuisine, there is also no arguing the utility of the Lean Cuisine; portion control, nutritional balance, and convenience in this busy world. A lean Cuisine would be a much better lunch choice at work than a double cheeseburger, fries, and a soda.
A few notions, but no agenda:
I’m proud to admit that traditional strength training has its biggest fan in me. I teach strength training, and I will sell its utility to anyone who will listen – based on my own notions. I never sell it as an absolute path to fitness. I also try to ensure most of my foods are more healthy than not – that they come from whole sources, and that they are processed and delivered within reasonable means. But I am not even absolute in this observance or in this teaching. I am not opposed to eating a Lean Cuisine or even a protein bar, out of convenience, or when on the run, though it doesn’t happen often.
I make my living in the fitness industry and I try hard to walk the walk based on my own notions, though I do sometimes fail. I try to do what I what believe is (probably) good for me in the forms of daily movement and right-eating. I encourage others to do the same; to move daily, and to eat mindfully. I do so because I have a notion that we would all be better off if we lived this way – absolutely, and that is the only absolute you’ll hear from me. Be well. rc