The automotive industry has come to dictate the scope and scape of our present roadway systems. Whether car, truck, bus, or motorcycle these wheels and their asphalt tracks are the accepted modality of transportation, representing both speed and status. “The faster, the better” is the driver’s mantra and slowing down is not a consideration. I mean, there is no Fast, no Furious, no Vin number on the Diesel engine, without the ferocity and sex appeal of the car. You catch my hydro-plane, bro? Ahem.
Recently, however, economic recession has become interwoven into a new-age revival of a relatively modern past-time. Former car-owners reduced to the margins of transportation have come to join the “common” pedestrian in the dramatic conditions of uncovered mobility. In some strange poetic twist of fate, those previous drivers of clutch and throttle now debased to a seat-post and handlebars, are being transformed by the raw elements and direct relationship of pedal to gears as they return to the beginning of their vehicular vocabulary. Literally, it’s like riding a bike.
In a similar vein, however more viable, of financial heartache a conscious culture with neo-modern principles began actively identifying themselves in these margins. Gradually gelling the human-powered traffic were all the hipsters on fixed-gear road bikes and college kids on long-boards, the bustling parents with kid-trailers, the arising scooters, the ever-present roller-Blade Runner, not to mention the cute beach girls on cruisers floating down the boulevard with flowers in their hair (who, I must add, have recently graduated to the serious ten-speed and mountain bike) . These young, athletic, good-looking urbanites grabbed the baton (or the torch!) of sustainable, healthy, common sense transit and the energetic upswing complemented the pervasive financial woes and debasement of privilege and status from Darth Driver’s Seat to Luke Sidewalker. A progressive “movement” movement enveloped this new-found, half-lane traffic as a cool, thoughtful reprieve from the hot-headed testosterone of our traffic-jammed conditions, let alone the cubicle stuffiness of these gas-fueled capsules.
Now, if I may, let me take a slight detour from fast lane to bike lane to parking lot to the parks and recreation, off the road, into the outer greenways and fields where we merge into the great out-of-bounds and step into natures wide open arena. We can immediately appreciate the multi-dimensional versatility of these unmotorized machines; light-weight, human-fueled vehicles provide much more agility in the diverse topographies of the off-road: sidewalks, alleys, and medians, mountains, valleys, and rivers. These narrower, steeper corridors# are byways that cannot be taken without a minimalist’s approach, whereby great perspectives are achieved with a little guts and sweat. When luxury and convenience give up, labor and competence take over. Your own two pedals may not get you to the great mountain in a days time, but they will convey you to the top.
Since we’re here under the open sky and landscape, breathing in the fresh(er) outdoor air, let’s compare the two schools of thought that define alternative forms of transportation, in other words, traveling that is not in a private car. On the one hand, mass transportation is the precursor to the personalized automobile; trains, boats, ferries, planes, buses, and subways are the original engines for a mobile general public. And here, recently an explosion of self-propelled bikes and its near and distant relatives have spoken triumphantly in taking back the streets in favor of sustainable, healthy lifestyle. With mass transit you have high capacity mobility made possible by vast stretches of linear motion through mostly insipid sections of town as seen through windowscapes in boxy containers devoid of any creative direction. With self-propelled-mobility (s.p.m.) we are afforded free, uninhibited go-at-your-own-pace (albeit usually 20 mph or less) transportation given to amble broadly and curiously. And here’s where we cross the metaphorical intersection and step into the crux of my speculation.
If we draw a parallel between mainstream gyms and mass transportation, then the same between outdoor exercise and s.p.m. we arrive at the completion of my opining. The standard gym format is conducive to the fitness consumer in need of compartmentalized seating arrangements and mechanized motion devices much like a passenger of mass transportation. Whereas the paradigm shift of outdoor exercise and its fundamental proclivity to body weight-resistance is a direct corollary to the insurgent “self-propulsion” movement, free of charge and free to charge wherever and whenever, whatever.
So, the outcome is this, if you’re searching for the portal into a regularized fitness regimen, get out of your box(car) and grab the reins of your physical presence. Walk, run, bike, or put on a cape and fly, for heaven’s sake, but take control of your own direction. Light your own stage, write your own script, build your own props (they’re not free! J) but choose your own path and become one with its singularity. Unless you’re trying to put on weight, then by all means stop steering yourself apart and go sit on the bench. That’ll be $2.75. Thank you for patronizing yourself.