“A quiet weekend at a bed and breakfast in the Berkshires.”
If I were to make a list of the things that I didn’t think I would enjoy, this would be at the top of it. Unbeknownst to me, KK found and booked a trip to Lakeside Terrace in Monterey, Massachusetts, and we visited this weekend. Turns out it’s a damn good time.
We spent a good deal of time on Lake Garfield, rowing, kayaking, eating along the water, and playing with some baby ducks. (They were made even more adorable given the teriyaki duck we had at a local sushi place the night before.) During our weekend exploring the quieter side of life, Katie and I continued a conversation that began earlier that week at MFF.
The last statement that I had made was that, “Everyone should be able to plan their own workouts.” This is a fitness philosophy, not a business model, and she was trying to clarify things. I returned to a quote that has become a centering tenant in my approach to movement and exercise:
“The goal of physical education is to educate people to the point at which, when given the choice, they’ll voluntarily choose to be physically active.” – George Graham, Ph.D.
Take out the words “physical education” and/or replace them with your preferred movement profession, and we quickly realize that we’re all on the same team.
As our conversation slipped between the flow of paddle strokes, Katie helped me clarify the message I had hoped to share with the MFF Team.
If the only exercise you have in your life is going to the gym, you have to do it. It may not be the sexiest thing for everyone to schedule with a trainer, or a lifting buddy, or set a regular schedule to go to the gym. Regularly exercising by following a dedicated program, or ‘training’ as we like to call it, and to me this is the starting point.
Last week I discussed balancing out types of exercise throughout your week. If you’re thinking about what to do within a fitness program, check that out HERE. Today, let’s consider what we think about as exercise or physical activity.
I believe that we typically understand exercise as something that has positive benefits from regular participation, while the benefit of physical activity is the participation itself.
Consider that of the 5 hours that Katie and I spent on Lake Garfield this weekend, none of that time was about reaping physiological benefits. We didn’t care about aerobic markers of performance, or about setting a flat water speed record. Nope, we just wanted to relax and move.
The benefit was the experience itself. Exercise on the other hand, is often touted as a means to an end. We practice our fill-in-the-blank exercise because it will give us fill-in-the-blank quality. It may be a surprise to strength coaches everything that not everybody loves to deadlift. It’s often a bigger surprise that this is okay.
If some one has a preference for a specific type of exercise, that’s fine. Seek balance. If someone eschews exercise or physical activity all together, well then it’s simple: You don’ gon’ and fucked up!
Everyone should develop an appreciation for develop the ability to move in the ways that they prefer. This may be dancing, lifting weights, swimming, skateboarding, or even playing chess. It would be wrong to underestimate the impact of movement competency on elective physical activity. We will regularly engage in the activities that make us feel good, and unfortunately begin weeding out new movement experiences from a young age.
If someone’s informed and authentic choice is to avoid physical activity, let’s respect their choice. If that decision and in-action comes from the inability to move appropriately for that activity, or a lack of confidence to regularly engage in it, then we can be doing something better. We need to develop the skills that allow us to bridge the gap between our comfort zone and the activity that we crave.
When it came time to check out on Sunday, the innkeep’ was nowhere to be found. We saw her car, but only her assistant was around. Goodbyes were shared, and it was off to the car, and from the bottom of the driveway we spotted a figure afar. We drove up the hill, it took us a while, and at the top met Meredith, wearing a smile. “You motivated me to walk, up and down the hill!” For KK and I, this was a thrill.
You see, physical activity is easy, but training is hard. Some may find one empowering while the other is too taxing, or loose, to fit their personality and lifestyle. Ain’t nothing wrong with that. The beauty is that there are nearly infinite ways to get it done. The most important thing is that we find a flow and rhythm that best suits how we currently live and how we want to live, so that we can live our best life.