Loss of Electricity Isn’t Revolutionary

Television has left me emotionally crippled.  It’s not because of the questionable morals of the Laguna Beach cast.  Remember them?!  No, it’s because it seems that every damn time I find a show that actually looks good, they cancel it on me!  Fox cancelled Lie to Me, then they cancelled The Chicago Code.  Cancelling the few good shows, along with the awful crap that is fed through the news and reality TV keeps me away from Television.  Except on Monday nights.

Last night NBC returned Revolution to it’s Monday 10pm time slot, and I love this show.  The premise is simple:  Fifteen years ago he power went out, and “America” is a broken land of territories run by opportunist soldiers.  Let’s catch you up quickly:

If you found that intriguing, here’s a teaser on what will take place in the remainder of the season:

My inner Boy Scout loves the adventure and survival aspects of the show, but the biggest reason I’m a fan is because there’s no goddamn electricity.

Some of my friends and colleagues love to pitch me as the technology guy, and every time I hear that I cringe in surprise.  Technology?  Me?  I hate technology.  Technology makes us lazy.  I think we’re too dependent on the latest device and app to make our lives increasingly simple.  I know, #FirstWorldProblems.  That’s why I like Revolution; the power is out, and life seems simpler and slower.  (Other than that they’re fighting bad guys with guns.)

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When Halloween wore Hurricane Sandy as a costume last year, parts of Long Island were devastated, but the most that we had to deal with at my house was no electricity.  My old phone had a 4 hour battery life, and I  loved when it would die.  Removed from the “civilized” world, I was able to practice drums, read books and articles by candlelight, and workout to my hearts content.  Considering the state of the fitness world right now, that’s not normal.

The fitness world loves technology.  It seems that most Americans hate exercise, so companies dream up expensive products that they can use for 6 minutes, twice per week, to magically walk away the pounds.  These usually fold up, so they can hide evidence of another failed attempt at fitness.  On the “performance” side of things, we have gizmos and gadgets that let us measure sleep quality, heart rate, force production, GPS, calories burned, etc.  Regardless of your state of “fitness”, there’s a gadget for you.  That’s why I liked when the power was out.  That’s why I don’t want the folks on Revolution to turn it back on.

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A Google Image search for “Gyms” shows pictures of well-lit facilities with rows of treadmills, ellipticals, stairmasters, rowing machines, and other pieces of equipment that require electricity to run.  They require little technical skill to use, and serve as little more than human hamster wheels that allow us to burn calories.  During the Sandy-induced panic on Long Island, we wanted to return to normal as quickly as possible.  For many, this includes going to the gym, but without power, it wasn’t possible.  I’m glad that Long Island is returning to normal, but if Revolution was a reality, I wouldn’t want the power back.

If I had to hole up, I’d make myself a survival shotgun, find myself a squat rack and barbell, buy an extra TRX and some Power Block dumbbells, and I’d be set.  As things settled down, I’d build myself a little warehouse gym with all of the amenities of the modern warehouse gym:   Power racks, dumbbells, sandbags, tires, sledgehammers, farmer’s walk handles.  I’d prefer if this gym was near a forest and/or river, so that we didn’t have to go that far for firewood or for animals to hunt.  (That would count as cardio, after deadlifting or squatting.)

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It’s not that there’s anything wrong with using technology in your workouts; there are some great devices and apps that let us help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of what we’re doing.  That being said, most of the “technology” that’s being used is marketed to make fitness easier, to allow you to get away with less, and to prevent you from the self-actualization that comes along with moving well and moving often.  Fitness isn’t the physical process of burning fat or building muscle.  Fitness is a personal journey of preparing for planned challenges you set for yourself, and the unplanned challenges you encounter along the way.

There are very few differences between my Revolution-era gym and one I’d plan for tomorrow.  The equipment is the same.  The programming is the same.  Maybe the hours are different because training in the dark could be tricky.  If I had electricity, I might add a stereo system with the Rage Against the Machine anthology as the only playlist. My last workout included a barbell, dumbbells, a suspension trainer, and a resistance band.  Think about your last workout; what equipment did you use?  Would the quality of your workout be changed if the power went out?  Is your pursuit of fitness limited by the hours at your gym, or how long the line for a piece of equipment is?  It’s likely that they are.Avoid electricity at your next workout.  Sure, you can use your iPod, but that’s it.  Avoid equipment that plugs in, that lights up, that beeps, that vibrates.  Pretend that Revolution is real, and that the power is still out.  Explore the equipment that’s electricity free.  Use the barbells, the dumbbells.  Push a Prowler.  Do some chin-ups.You’ll experience greater challenges, have more fun, and most importantly, you’ll practice what to do if the power goes out for good.

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