One more from the past this week — very busy and writing has not been a priority. However, I intend to have a new column up on the subject of (my) body image, Friday, November 12th. Please check back then. Comments are open and welcome this week.
I’m not exercise obsessed as many who know me suggest. Together, art and beauty are my passion, exercise my medium. And no, it’s not so much about the beauty of the human body which lures me into my daily movement. Rather, it’s about the beauty of the actions involved in forging the human body – my attraction is to the workout itself as a form of art.
My solitary exercise, strength training in particular, is an artistic joy. The process of creation, through movement, has better connected me with my artistic side than any other medium, including writing and sketching. Art through back extensions, lunges, peddling, and sprints…? I find beauty through movement, and art from that beauty.
A point: the act of weight training, to me, isn’t so much about lifting weights. It’s about motion. Scarcely, it’s about painting a picture on the canvas of my body. More so, the real art lies within the brush strokes arisen from a kinetic grace I have learned to master through decades of practicing hundreds of exercises. I enjoy the movements of exercise and feel my most creative when executing them. What I seek to create is not the perfect body at all, but the perfect workout – one repetition at a time. If the body is a byproduct, than I get to win twice.
I understand most people will never embrace exercise in this way – strength training in particular. However, if you are an individual who wants to benefit from strength training but fails to connect with it, perhaps the disconnect is in your approach and your perception of what those exercises are meant to be – let it be art.
Don’t think of it as weight lifting. Rather, think of it as just moving – with weights in your hands and at the ends of your feet. Fact: weight training really is just the act of controlled movement, of stretching and contracting muscles – no different than yoga or Pilates. The weight themselves enhance the stretch. Secondarily, it should be about how much you lift. Primarily, it should be about how well you lift – how well you manage and control the movement. Fluid, like water.
Too often people expect results from exercise overnight, and when the results don’t arrive, they swiftly dislike exercise because there is not a positive to associate with those actions. If this is you, this may be a good time to forsake the concept of the changing body, and pursue the perfect workout. In my late 30s I began to explore the workout, rather than my body, as my creative release. Since that time my connection to, as well as the aesthetic flow of my body has risen in a favorable way. I’m pleased with both the cause, and with the direction.
There can be art in exercise. With art comes joy. Where there is joy, there is always the desire to return. Don’t just do squats, perform them. Don’t just run sprints, decorate the street with them. Don’t just swim laps, paddle into poetry. If you’re going to move your body, strive to move it artistically, and I will suggest better things might happen.
Don’t get me wrong, even within beauty there can be intensity. There should be sweat. There must be challenge. There can be power too.
All too often, the beauty in power and sweat are obscured by anxiety. Power and sweat display much more beautifully when they arise from artistic cause. Make today the most beautiful workout you can – intensely beautiful. Make today’s workout powerfully graceful – challenging, yet seamless and fluid. Live your creative side through each movement of your exercise today, whatever discipline of exercise you choose.
These are some of the words which I use regularly to guide each workout into art – in and out of the gym: grace, seamless, fluidity, mastery, intensity, reflection, sanctity, poetry, concentration, dance, connection, prayer, and joy. To know these as you workout, is to know art through movement. Be well. rc
I will be back in ten days with a fresh column, please check back then. Oh, and speaking of beauty there’s this from John Hyatt… Enjoy!