Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Exercise Ecology pt 3

A couple more points have popped into my mind overnight, regarding what I am calling Exercise Ecology

The first idea is of creating communities of people, doing exercise in the form of useful labor for society as the bulk of the work-out(side) - finished off with some more conventional exercises to balance out the movement patterns of the labour; specifically strengthen certain muscles/patterns of movement, and/or add a 'finisher' of sufficient intensity for those who like that type of thing. 

One possibility for this would be working on constructing permaculture or urban agriculture structures.  You and a group of mates get together, work for a designated period (practicing body-mindfulness the whole time, of course), then finish with a 20 minute strength workout and/or some stretching/mobility/yoga/qigong/meditation. 

Alternatively, you could have a timer set for every 5 minutes or so; when the timer goes off you do 2 minutes of continues lizard crawls; or a set of chin-ups, or 3 minutes of kettlebell swings - you get the picture..   Finish up with recovery work and lunch (I know Simon and the 'peaceful warrior' group do a similar format to classes, down Melbourne-way. This is so cool to see; the communal aspect to exercise, which is not new, but fulfills some primal urge). 

The human body can get a lot of work (manual labor) done on fairly little food, so a lot of positive work could get done for the good of society.  Think about how many units of human energy are 'wasted' on treadmills through-out the country each day!  IF you put that energy into good old fashioned activities, you could provide massive benefits to society whilst shedding unwanted kilos.

Body-mindful outdoor work also feels extremely goodly in the body.  Chopping wood; digging wholes; carrying bags and wheeling wheel barrows are all awesome strength and movement patterning exercises - when done with awareness and sound technique. Plus you get vitamin D and fresh air, and could grow your own organic food instead of paying shiteloads for it!

More on ecology; gym equipment and lighting/heating for gyms uses a large amount of non-renewable energy.  Working out outside, using natural objects, or bodyweight (or things like kettlebells and chin-up bars that, whilst energy intensive, last a fairly long time), does not have the same ecological footprint.  Minimalist equipment (no equipment) and natural movement really more on a 'knowledge economy', or, as Steve Maxwell's site used to read - 'high-minded simplicity' (I love that phrase). 

Doing useful work (ala 'Be strong to be useful') also provides cultural-body medicine whilst doing wonderous things for your own, personal physical body.  The re-directing of the massive amount of human-potential energy away from hamster-wheel style self-serving exercise, towards communal projects (and, sure, add some high intensity work in there for strength & conditioning or fat-loss) would achieve the same personal goals, but with the added ripple on effect to society. 

Being stuck in the body-as-machine, personal-focused reductionist style exercise blinds people (somewhat) to possibilities of this ecological, communal exercise; though I would say that even people who are working out to get in shape personally are doing good that will positively effect the whole.  Exercise in groups seems to be on the rise (people are feeling the lack of community/isolation of cities, perhaps).

It makes sense to me from an efficiency perspective; if you're going to exercise and lift things (for general health and fitness - specialize training is somewhat different), why not move useful objects into their correct place (beams into position; dirt into garden beds; etc), rather than just lift piece of iron or steel around?  Again, this is hypothetical, as I do personally lift bits of metal around to get in shape - and as I said, you could do a hybrid workout and communal work thing. 

Someone probably is already doing this.. if you are (or want to), and are in Sydney, let me know.

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