Exercise has been sold as a great health tool, and it is.
Regular exercise prevents cardiovascular disease, lowers cholesterol and triglycerides, raises insuline sensitivity, lowers the chances of developing Alzheimers, Parkinson (unless you indulge in activities were head trauma sis frequent), some types of cancer, helps with Asthma, depression, anxiety, stress… If ever there was a magic pill to help you live a happier healthier life then exercise would be it.
Exercise Never Lies
But that isn’t the only benefit of exercise. It also gives you great feedback on what your current state of fatigue is, and how your body is doing. For instance, I have recently been sitting down more, and if I didn’t squat twice a week, I wouldn’t have realised how deleterious sitting down was for my body, and would not have taken measures in order to change the habits that were killing my back and hips.
Exercise, in all forms, will tell you where your weaknesses are, and will not try to be nice about it. It will hurt you where your weakness is, and make it scream. And if you don’t take care of it fast and well, you will suffer the consequences.
You HAVE to make it stronger. Ignoring it will only lead to more pain and suffering down the line. You have to dig deep into the weakness and kill it.
To understand what works or doesn’t work, you must exercise.
If you haven’t slept enough, you won’t simply “get by”. The bar will crush you, and you will have to adjust. If you drank too much, dehydration will make you cramp up and feel sick. Part of the magic of exercise is you can’t be good t it of you are unhealthy.
Exercise As A Teacher
Exercise also teaches you about pain. Because we use one word to describe what is actually a plethora of different sensations. From stabbing, to burning, to tearing, to searing… A whole canvas of input that help you understand the difference between something normal or something serious.
- Have I targeted the correct muscle groups or am I developing tendonitis?
- Is my muscle burning from lactic acid of did I just injure it?
- Is my muscle too tight or is it a tendon? Which muscle is it?
The gym is a world of internal an external messages that all shine a light on what you really are physically (unless you are one of the delusional quater-squatters, or half rappers). After many years, by just grabbing the bar you can tell if you can lift a weight. Depending on how snappy you feel, how loose you are, how focused, your energy level, where your intent lies, they are all signals of mental and physical preparedness.
Are you angry, sad, happy? Try and exercise and you will know. Exercise will teach you about who you are.
It will teach you about adversity, about overcoming difficulty, and how some pain should be ignored in order to finish something you are doing. it will teach you how tough you really are, and how fare you have come along in your mental preparation for life.
Exercise As Meditation
The gym is an incredible space to practise meditation. If you use it wisely it is a space that can become like a cave where the echoes of your mind are sent back to you to become a better person. You become the observer and the observed. You become your own project. If you don’t listen you will be punished. If you believe your are better than you are, injury awaits at the next corner. Lifting weights is reality. Iron doesn’t lie.
You learn to fend off gazes while you lift, to focus on how your skin feel against the iron, how it wraps tightly around the cold handle, how the chalk help you grip tighter, and send the generative force from your hand to your chest, how there is a groove, a path your must follow that is perfect for you, and if your body feels off, and you listen, you will get better.
You can meditate in this space, you can forget about the world and focus on you for an hour or two. Whatever your goal is, going to the gym is never a bad idea. It is a great benefit for your body and your mind, and if someone tells you certain sports are better than others, then they have not mastered their discipline yet.
If you understand there are not better paths than others, then you have earned the right to call yourself a teacher, because your openness will help those you teach, and instead of shoving stars into squares, you might be able to clear a smooth path that your pupils will be able to walk on.
So as you step into the gym, put your shoes on to go run, slip your yoga pants to stretch out, use the time you have when you exercise as a moment to reconnect with your body, with your mind, and even with your soul. Let them tell you where you are right now, and how they need to be treated.
Yes you should push it, but you mustn’t hurt it.
There is a narrow path you should be walking on, and understanding when you are too tired, stressed out, anxious, exercise can help you see it if you use it correctly. A cold shiver down yours spine as you warmup is probably a sign you are going to be ill. If weights feel heavy you probably need more sleep. If your back and neck are tighter than usual you are probably very stressed out.
Use exercise as a health monitor, for your body and your mind, and as your practise becomes better, you will find balance between monitoring and curing.