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Why We Do What We Do
I am a firm believer in and defender of the idea that exercise is a personal expression. So many people think there is a perfect way to perform it, that they avoid even getting started. They hear advice from fitness experts who have labored to find their path of exercise, their personal expression, and if it doesn't resonate with the layperson, well they don't even start.
I love the expression used in yoga--practice. The term practice should be applied to all forms of exercise. The truth is what you practice during exercise—determination, resolve, fear, or avoidance, is what you practice during life. Your body and your brain don’t know whether you are lifting weights or moving your five-bedroom house. It doesn't know if you're on an imaginary hill in a spin class or in a boardroom negotiating a multi-million dollar deal.
Your body is a series of circuits and patterns. It has both a physiological and neurological memory which tries to perfect patterns so that every stimuli, spin class, a weight stack, your kids screaming, your boss's expectations, are just a pattern of response. And that is why it's dangerous to admonish people for doing the "wrong" kind of exercise. Since it's a personal expression, the journey too, is personal.
We all have friends who just get it. They seem to have the faculties to just show up and be successful in life. And then there are people like me. The, “trial by fire” folks. You know, those that see a bunch of people fail at something and think, "Hmmmm, maybe I should try that!" These people, while not particularly prudent when it comes to risk, also tend to be very good learners. We try. We fail. We learn. We do better. The phrase, "I don't make the same mistake twice." was created for us.
If there is only one almighty and holy path to perfect fitness, than the experiential learners, the "lemme try" guys and gals, are left out because it's gonna take us two, or ten tries to get there. And we may never get there if the conversation is we are wrong, bad, or silly for experimenting with what works for us along the way.
The point is this -- is there a perfectly efficient way to exercise? From a purely science perspective, maybe so. But in my experience, here’s where that approach breaks down. Humans are complex subjects and we bring a whole host of variables to this science experiment called exercise. For the majority of people exercise is a way to have fun, to fight depression, to feel empowered, to feel connected to their bodies, or for the pure enjoyment of it. In that case, an absolute path, a perfect approach, ends up isolating and frustrating, rather than empowering.
My advice? If you find something you love--do it! Throw yourself into it. Join a club or group of enthusiasts and surround yourself with it. Buy the shoes AND the shirt. If you don't have the results you had hoped for or you injure yourself (I hope not), consider why. Learn from it. Grow. Move to the next thing. Rather than beat yourself up that you didn't find the one true path, celebrate the journey. Take those things you loved about that activity that got you off the couch, and find something else that resonates.
This may sound crazy, but fitness is like religious practice. There are those that believe they know the “Truth” and spend all their time defending and practicing their beliefs. The evangelicals if you will. And then there are the agnostics. Those experiential learners that draw truth from many different sources to patch together their own quilt of faith and belief. So who is wrong? Those who believe there is only one way to God? Or those who believe there are many paths to God? I default again to my aforementioned answer--it’s personal.
At City Gym we believe in your personal expression of fitness. We provide the tools and experiences to keep you moving down the path. We try and empower you with the education and experiences to help you find YOUR path. Whether you are perfectly clear about your practice or you are just uncovering your passion to connecting to yourself, we've got you covered. All we ask is that you don't let your clarity cloud your ability to show empathy for those who aren't there yet. Things get yucky when perfectionism is wielded as a sword and cuts people down.
So why do we do what we do? Most of us have tried it all and have found what works for us. Exercise has become a practice that we use to respond to the everyday stressors of this crazy thing called life and thus, we want to inspire and inform you to find your practice. We want to cheer you from the sidelines, high five you from the saddle, and fist bump you following a perfectly slow set. We acknowledge and celebrate the many paths to exercise. We will never belittle you for trying. In fact, if you fall, we’ll pick you right back up because we believe in the power and the importance of supporting your personal expression. We believe in your intuition to follow your bliss and enjoy the journey. We believe in you.