I went back to the gym everyday for a week, and I lifted weights.
Every couple of years I feel the curiosity creep back in, and I begin to wonder if it isn’t possible to balance out the intensity of powerful movements like bench-presses, dead-lifts and squats with the elegance of a refined yoga practice.
And I know this, but the pull is hard to resist. I realize that this sentiment is probably lost on your average exercise-adverse individual, but the gym does have its allure to people like me. As a former personal trainer and amateur bodybuilder I have spent countless hours lifting weights, and I have to admit, there is something I find incredibly fulfilling about going to the gym and hitting it hard.
But I’m not going to fool myself either, it’s also not good for me.
What we think of as exercise in the modern world generally isn’t good for us, it’s simply better than doing nothing at all. I’m not just talking about lifting weights, but running marathons, competing in triathlons, and doing cross-fit. None of these things are good for you.
Recently disgraced, former UFC light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones recently discovered this for himself in his last fight. Returning from a forced hiatus from the ring he discovered that the energy he had invested in power-lifting during his time off greatly worked against his overall agility, and he put up a less-than-inspiring performance that barely earned him the victory.
That’s kind of how I felt every morning this past week when I struggled in my yoga practice.
Oh yes, I was stronger. My muscles quickly responded to the resistance training by gaining in size and strength. But my range of motion also shrank. Postures that are normally comfortable for me suddenly became a challenge once again, and the pain and discomfort of expressing the natural movements of my body returned just as they do each and every time I “exercise”.
I’ve been here before. I know what it’s like to be stiff and inflexible. And I know what it’s like to look fit, and to be anything but.
Being healthy, I recently read in a book by Robert Sapolsky, really consists of having the same disease as everyone else.
And I believe exercise as we know it in the modern world is a disease. It’s bringing the body from a natural state of balance (or ease), and forcing it to conform with some bizarre, culturally appropriated standard of imbalance (dis-ease).
What we call exercise these days, may not be so healthy after all