Arrive. Light the candle. Do the gesture. Say the words. Sip from the cup. Eat the thing. Read the verse. Talk with some like-minded folks. Leave.
Arrive. Unzip the bag. Lift the thing. Do the stretch. Sip from the bottle. Eat the thing. Read whatever, while your legs move. Talk with some like-minded folks. Leave.
When viewed in these terms, it’s hard not see parallels between the observance of religion and the observance of exercise. Largely, both are based on ritual in the day-to-day practice. I think it’s fair to say, whether we are talking about religion or we are talking about exercise, many who observe these rituals don’t viscerally understand how their rituals, or that their rituals have evolved over time.
It’s also fair to suggest that many who observe these rituals don’t understand how those evolutions have been influenced by those of varying levels of intent through the decades. Often, people have been indoctrinated into these cultures and rituals superficially, without adequate study, and have only the feeling that they should be observant. Many people feel if they aren’t observant, they will be seen by others as missing something important in their life. That is, they go through the motions unwittingly, because they feel they should.
The Bible Of Fitness…
Lore has it Rabbi Hillel was approached by a student to recite the entire Hebrew Bible while standing on one leg. The story goes that Rabbi Hillel took to one foot and spoke,
“That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah, the rest is just commentary. Now go you, and learn it.”
An early Hebrew interpretation of The Golden Rule.
Most religious scripture is just that; commentary on a very simple theme which, when lived by, serves us well as individuals and as societies.
I have been told many times that this book or that book is the bible of exercise. I have purchased dozens of so-called bibles in my fitness life. Each one of them has contained variations and over complications of what can be reduced to a simple theme; eat properly, exercise regularly, be consistent. In a sense, that is the golden rule of fitness.
Most exercise scripture is protracted commentary on the theme of proper eating and movement. A lot of words, variations, and agendas assembled, rewritten, manipulated, and utilized for good and for lesser intent. None of it though, more important than the simplicity that Hillel prescribed to his student while standing on one foot.
Who Wears The Collar: Dogma And Leadership…
I can’t pinpoint the year, but somewhere in my mid-teens is when I made the connection between religious leadership and leadership in exercise. When I was 15 years old my
church gym was the Eisenhower Park Recreation Center in suburban Denver. The biggest, strongest guy there was Gary Dorren. Gary was in his mid-20s, puffy if not muscular, with red curly hair, and made his living as lineman for Mountain Bell.
Being the biggest, strongest guy in the gym made Gary the go-to guy for advice from us smaller folk. In a sense, he was our minister, and he even sold himself to us in this way. One problem; Gary was the beneficiary of good genetics and quality pharmaceuticals, not the pinnacle of wisdom nor education. He was qualified to be a telephone lineman, not a gym priest. It was poor vetting and high expectations of my friends and I which elevated his stature in our naive eyes.
One of the first pieces of advice that Gary offered me was that if I wanted to make good gains, I needed to eat a loaf of bread a day. So I took the sacrament, and for several weeks thereafter, I ate a loaf of bread every day of my life. I gained nothing but body fat. That wasn’t the only bad advice Gary gave me, nor was he the only one who sent my eager mind down counterproductive paths through the years.
As I grew older I sought fewer answers from the exercise clergy – men like Gary who stood on the mountain top. I quit listening to others and began looking for those answers within, where I would ultimately find them. At the heart of my search, alongside common sense, was the golden rule of fitness; eat properly, exercise regularly, be consistent.
Though I would advance to make this a career, create and share my own commentaries on that central theme through the next several decades, I have always kept my opinions streamlined and easy to comprehend, for myself as well as for those I teach. With leadership comes responsibility. From my own perch, the responsibility I take most seriously is the idea of keeping things simple, and keeping agenda filtered out to the best of my ability.
The overcomplicated, relentlessly dogmatic, and ever changing trends in fitness are selling a lot of gym memberships, DVDs, books, magazines, and supplements. Cardio theaters fill like pews on a Sunday, pockets get lined with cash, and though there are some beneficiaries from this process, many more just go through the motions not knowing why, and with little to show for it. At the end of the day, most answers will come from within, and individual success will be the product of simplicity and consistency. Go now, and learn it. Be well… rc
Post Script: Please feel free to superimpose this message over the ideals of religion, business, higher learning, and politics….
Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Harlem. Enjoy!