When people have asked me if I workout I have stammered in my response. One, because usually people are drawing attention clumsily to the superficial appearances like, “Dude, you’re freaking ripped! You must workout!” which makes me feel awkward. But even more unsettling is the term “workout” which has many interpretations, but mainly that of going to the gym, having a membership at said gym, “pumping iron”. Now, I do “pump iron”, and I have had a membership at a gym I frequented, but I have always been irritated by the scope of the definition, and not because you’re really working in- and not out- nor because it should really seem more like playing than working, but mostly because it feels so one-dimensional and linear. Clocking in like a job, spending time and money on glorified rock-pushing, parading around with dumbbells.
I have taken a new approach to the fitness program. While I used to rotate from the gym to the field (working in to playing out), I now operate exclusively outside of the gym. I have reduced the gym cube to a simple, at-home, minimalist set-up and concentrated my energy towards outdoor exercise. This has suited my style and tempo and intensified my temperance and self-focus.
I have never been one to socialize at the gym, so the method appeals to my quieter, more meditative consciousness. As standoffish as it sounds, people are a distraction to my routines (I’m an avid people-watcher) and I’m sure I have often appeared aloof or even unapproachable, which is uncharacteristic of my more outgoing personality. However, it has been difficult to build my body and balance the multi-directional demands of a social landscape. I come to shadow-box, not to be sandwiched into cubicle spaces beside other self-possessed terrestrial bodies.
Now, inasmuch as there is a definitive aspect of labor in repetitive, demanding movements (and these routines are certainly demanding) it has always been more important to enjoy the exercise, to take pleasure in the pain. I have thus experienced more joy in the liberal movement afforded by wide-ranging openness. That is why mechanical weights and treadmills are so counterintuitive. They confine the ambience into a monochromatic chamber and abase the intelligent functions of our emotional mind that are continuously firing. As our sentient awareness is elevated through exercise, becoming more and more expansive, machines anchor us into an uninteresting, uniform landscape, limiting our imagination from its great depths and heights.
It is therefore paramount to this reinvented exercise methodology that the great outdoors become the stage and background to these training circuits. It is a primary factor of this fitness reprogramming that as intelligent beings we are dumbing down not only an intelligently designed physical body, but debasing the divine creativity of the human soul. Reading People Magazine while insipidly pacing a treadmill is an affront to our noble endowment as enlightened creatures. We are meant to leap over the mountaintops, dance under the trees, sing until the rain comes down, then laugh with iridescent smiles, but we trudge from station to station and unhappily flex at our reflection, a mockery of strength and flexibility.
We have become so far removed from our nomadic routes, and our agricultural roots, that we have commodified our vocational labors of survival (and love) into compartmentalized fitness warehouses where recreation is so intertwined with leisure, pleasure and relaxation, we crumble at the slightest discomfort and reach for our energy drink or change the tune on our IPod shuffle. When did sweat become so casually broken? It is not enough to intend to toil and sweat through a grueling set of exercises, we are meant to grin and bear this burden with a hardy vigor. However, when we are plugged into machines that cushion our bodies from directly absorbing the physical strain, we have created a gap in the intimate observance of our natural bodily rhythms and thought streams. We experience the duress as an ongoing nuissance rather than a peaceful catharsis, and our stirring minds are left swimming in a blur of misinformation.
Our vision is meant to be life-giving, requiring openness and transparency. The scope of our creative intellect is enclosed in these boxy gyms. Even with a vast wealth of aesthetic space and free fresh air we’ve been blunted to think these fitness corporations are the destination for our health and fitness. There is an exhilarating feeling in siezing upon the parks, the fields and the children’s jungle gym. Using the current available props on public property seems like the one, true Occupy Movement. Life is a stage, and yet we act behind closed curtains only mumbling our parts. Tear down the facades and become your own health and fitness machine. You have always had the means, but never empowered yourself to rise up and claim your strengths. By this method I have found atonement and oneness with my physical universe and my infinite imagination.
I encourage you to venture outside and bask in the sunshine and stand beneath the great firmament. As for me, working out is really working in, and playing out will never be played out.