4Keeps Part I: My Inner Greed
When I earn or receive something that I truly appreciate, it becomes my desire to keep it as long as possible. My favorite shirts, best albums, and even special moments are things I will attempt to hold onto as long as I can. Though we’re no longer married, I speak with my ex-wife almost every day – it seems I’m even a hoarder friendships. I’m just not good at letting go.
My strength, balance, agility, flexibility, and muscle mass are among those things I want to keep until I die. These I get from my daily strength training sessions. I never took steroids. Not because I was opposed to the use of them, but because I knew I never would have come off of them. The physical gains I have made in the gym are the physical gains I can maintain.
Complexity And Polarization
Like everything else in life, the concept of fitness is expanding and becoming more complex. Here’s a duality for you: In an era when the life expectancy of our children is actually shorter than our own, and obesity and diabetes among children and adults are at an all time high, exercise trends and opportunities are increasing. I’m not a math whiz, but that doesn’t seem to add up. We are more obese and less healthy than ever, yet people are working out more and working out harder than ever. Actually the math does add up; as we become less satisfied with our physicality, new exercise trends develop to lure us – that we can make the changes we think we need. This may be a good thing.
In the mid-1970s, there were just a few gyms in the entire city of Denver. I once road the municipal bus nearly an hour each day to workout at the 20th Street Gym in downtown Denver – because it was the closest gym to my home. Today I live in a town of just 40,000 and I look out my gym window and see another gym directly across the parking lot. There is also one just behind me – in the same building I am in. There are at least 20 places in my little town where people can pay to exercise. More people are working out than ever before, and in different and increasingly complex ways. But are we making progress…?
What’s Cooking In Fitness
Cross Fit is the sexy trend in fitness these days. Cross Fit is the sum of interdisciplinary exercise actions, woven together to form an intense, and productive workout – workouts that can cause vomiting and fainting. I have taken a few Cross Fit and similar workouts and I have loved them – intensity, hard work, results. But are they sustainable…? I’ll suggest that the Cross Fit disciples of today will not be taking Cross Fit workouts when they are 88 years old.
Multi-disciplinary workouts such as Cross Fit and Hard Exercise Works practiced without an emphasis on proper exercise form will increase the window of opportunity to become injured during the course the workout. I know three people who have become injured in the course of such workouts, and been rendered unable to workout, or do little else for months as a result. Though potentially very productive, these types of workouts can break a body down…
I love Cross Fit and similar workouts. However, most athletic injuries are caused by forces upon musculoskeletal structures that exceed the structure’s tensile limits. This means injury is caused by excessive force or excessive motion. What could be more forceful or excessive than simultaneously slinging a sledgehammer in each hand, running with a tire chained to your back, or doing fast power movements in successively worse form as fatigue sets in through the course of the set…?
4Keeps Part II: Basics Work
Tom is 88 years old – he is my oldest client. Tom practices basic strength training three days per week, with all movements executed in proper form, and through a complete range of motion. Despite that he’s 88, the slow, controlled strength training Tom practices can be challenging if not intense – but it is also safe. Tom has been lifting weights in this fashion for years, and has never been injured during the course of a workout. He lifts weights to make his life better, not worse.
I have never been injured, nor had a client injured, including my most intense and competitive clients, during the course of one of my strength workouts – not one. I’m not suggesting multi-disciplinary workouts such as Cross Fit are a bad route to get in shape, or get in better shape. I’m suggesting that they may not be sustainable in the long-term, and come with an inherent risk.
My Drug Is A Safe Drug
Basics work. Traditional strength training is over 3,000 years old. It has been practiced by ancient Greeks, Romans, and the Chinese. The standard lunge which I teach every week, has been performed by Spartans and Khans.
I understand that every fitness junkie has their own trip – lord knows I have mine. My drug of choice, basic strength training, will be practiced by me until the day I die – because it can be practiced until the day I die. Done properly, basic strength training offers great utility for life in the modern era, provides a supreme mental release, and is a great prescription for people like me who have a hard time letting go of good things. Be well. rc
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Please check in two weeks for an essay yet to be determined. Oh, and there is this from Sonia Dada, enjoy…