Tag Archives: Functional Fitness

Orbits

outer-space
Am I in the “Goldilocks Zone” where life is best sustained, or am I orbiting in futility?

 

It’s a new year, and for me at least, it seems that here at the beginning of our solar merry-go-round, I find myself looking back along the arc of our planet’s past orbit. What am I hoping to see? To be metaphorical, I’m looking for what I myself have been orbiting. What I’ve done with my resources, how have those actions improved my life and the lives of my loved ones, and has my life’s work continued to nurture what I value?  Am I in the “Goldilocks Zone” where life is best sustained, or am I orbiting in futility?

This is very important to me.

Just like you, I only have a limited amount of time, energy, and attentiveness. Those are the foundational resources of my life, of everyone’s life, and I want to invest them well and wisely.  I strive to make sure I use those resources in places that advance my dreams and keep my spirit lifted. I want to use them in places where I feel like I’m respected and valued, and where the accomplishments I achieve advance not only me, but others as well. Instead of being, as Meghan Trainor sings, “all about that bass,” I’m all about that service and that is my primary orbit.

Every segment of my life, as delineated by my occupations, has been in some way about service: twenty years in the military, going to college and becoming a teacher, guiding people in the outdoors, being a trainer. All of these are service occupations. That’s what I love to do.

In the new year, I am also looking ahead for what new orbit can I place my service in or what can I do to improve what I am currently doing.  The finger I keep on the pulse of the fitness industry is feeling out new ways for people to reach deeper within themselves and discover the pathways for reaching their dreams. And those dreams are not really about looking good. They are about being healthy, more energetic, happier, and more adventurous. These are all things I want I want my solar system of self and loved ones to revolve around, and I find that living a healthy life is a way to gain them.

Which brings up an unusual point. People see me as a personal trainer and often think that exercise is the central orbit of my life, but that isn’t true. Exercise is not one of my orbits, nor does it fulfill my life—it is a means to living fully. The way I want to live and the achievements I want to leave behind as a memorial, are not direct results of my exercise, eating and sleep habits. Those are tools that create a body more capable of achieving my dreams.

Something wonderful
What’s going to happen? Something wonderful.

During this Year’s infancy, I urge everyone to move beyond their habits, and turn their attention to the values they have chosen to orbit. The why’s behind their hopes and dreams. Take the poet, Rainer Rilke’s, famous advice about “living the questions,” and carry into the New Year a pilgrim’s spirit:

• How can I let go of my need for fixed answers in favor of fluidity? To be comfortable with uncertainty is to gain a great peace.
• What is my next challenge in daring to grow as a human?
• How can I open myself to the beauty of nature?
• Who or what do I need to learn to love next? And next? And next?
• What new creation waits to be born in and through me?

Once your eye turns inward, you can begin to discover the values behind your orbits. “How do I spend my time? Why do I value spending it in that way? When did I give so much meaning to food? Why? When did I give so much value to watching TV? Sporting events?” Seriously ask, “Is it really necessary? Is the way I spend my time good for me and my family? Does it keep me from my dreams?  Answering these questions are as important, if not more important, than a gym membership or changing your diet. Discover what you’re orbiting and why. The answers are what will keep your diet, exercise, and health, permanent.

“What’re You Training For?”

A few weeks ago, an older fellow who had watched me groan out four sets of heavy (for me) deadlifts, approached and asked, “What’re you training for?” When I stopped writing in my workout log and looked up, I could tell by his slightly raised eyebrows and turned head, that he was failing to imagine why a gray-haired fellow   should be putting forth that kind of effort.  No prob, I’d been here before.

I had a ready answer–“High Function. I’m in my mid-fifties, and I want to keep myself able-bodied: able to work on my property, able to rock climb, able to hike or bike long distances, and able to play with my children.”

Crack Girl
Sometimes we work out in order to play.

Basically, I refuse to resign myself to the line of thinking that asserts, “strength building is for competing athletes and the young.  As an older person himself, he should’ve known  this, but he didn’t. Why not? Because this line of thinking goes against the mainstream grain. Just spend a little time perusing the internet and gazing at all the fitness selfies. Working out is portrayed to be mostly about looking good.  You never see selfies or videos of folks using their rippling muscles to landscape their yard, haul a load of bricks, or pull their kids around in a sled.  (If there were, the participants would be half-naked) You don’t see the before video of someone unable to carry their own groceries up a few flights of stairs and then the after video of them doing it with ease. You don’t see someone getting out of breath after a few points of volleyball and then six-weeks later spiking the winning point. No, you see overweight people getting thin and telling everyone, “I look great!” Which is fine in a narrow outlook, but fitness is about far more than that.

shoveling-dirt-m
Sometimes we workout in order to work

Athletes and the young shouldn’t have a corner on strength training. For the most part, they are only trying to improve their game or going for finer aesthetics–doing curls for girls and thighs for guys. Their muscles aren’t slowly deteriorating. Their connective tissue isn’t steadily growing stiffer. Their bones aren’t thinning and turning brittle.  Their metabolism isn’t slowing. Not yet anyway. (Heh, heh, heh) In light of those much more serious reasons alone, the old are the ones who should be the most concerned with strength training, because it is the medicine that will keep the symptoms of aging at bay.

So, If you find yourself watching some older person crank out four sets of squats in the gym and wondering what the hell he or she is up to, remember that they have more pressing reasons than anyone to be under a heavy bar.  So do you. Under the flow of time, your body is eroding away, and neither you or anyone else can dam the stream. The best each of us can do is put our time to good use, and as time flows, harness your body’s energy in order to rejuvenate yourself.  Use your time to get inside a gym or start a home strength program and build a better body, one that is stronger, faster, more supple, and tireless.