Hey friends, welcome to this episode of HGTV, where we’ll spend the next 4 minutes talking about this question: “What is the role that you want exercise to play in your life?”
Some of you know that I went to school for health and physical education, and I’m heavily influenced by those educational philosophies. George Graham, founder of the National Academy of Sport and Physical Education wrote the following:
“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.”
These words are both a manta for my practice as a coach and are also foundational to the field of strength and conditioning. Speaking of mantras, vedic meditation teacher Emily Fletcher, who’s the founder of Ziva Meditation, gave an inservice at Mark Fisher Fitness 5 years ago, and she said that:
“We don’t meditate to get good at meditation, we meditate to get good at life.”
Meditation isn’t the goal, meditation is a tool that improves our ability to reach our goals. Exercise, when viewed through the lens of strength and conditioning and physical preparation, should serve the same purpose. The goal isn’t to get good at exercise – the goal is to use exercise to get good at other things. To quote linguist, philosopher, and cognitive scientist Noam Chomsky:
“Do you train for passing tests, or do you train for creative inquiry?”
Most of us are using exercise to try to pass a test, and the test is something that we’ve been trained to care about by the global fitness industry that generates more than 80 billion dollars in revenue per year – they have a vested interest in maintaining a market for their products. (That totally sounds like Chomsky, right?)
Society has taught us to care about how much we weigh, what we look like naked, or what our body fat percentage is. The fitness industry has trained us to care about how much we can deadlift, how many exercise variations we know, or that our score on the Functional Movement Screen is essential to our happiness.
On that topic, one of my favorite quotes from physical therapist and co-creator of the Functional Movement Screen, Gray Cook, is that, “Exercise is a supplement, Activity is our diet.”
I’ve seen Gray lecture at least 15 times over my 10 years in the fitness industry, and each time I’m more aware of his wisdom that our goal isn’t to move perfectly, but to move well enough that we are open to as many movement options as possible.
Exercise, therefore, is about improving the abilities of our human bodies so that we have access to a more refined and robust tool for exploring the breadth and depth of life experiences.
When I think of my role as a personal trainer during an hour long session my job is to give that Ninja the absolute best training effect possible, but the real mission is to empower them to use those newfound abilities to live a more fulfilling life. Let me offer you my own riff on Emily’s words:
“We don’t exercise to get good at exercise, we exercise to get good at life.”Tweet
Now we return to the question, “What role do you want exercise to play in your life?”
No seriously, that’s an important question – take time to think about the answer! If you’d like, send me a message and let me know what you’ve got. I’ve obviously had time to think about it, and for me personally exercise is the space in which I mindfully and intentionally create physical capacity which affords me the opportunity to have to worry far less during recreation and leisure activities.
One more time now, and let me know when you’ve got an answer: What role do you want exercise to play in your life?
Alright friends, that’s it for this episode of HGTV. I hope that this question piqued your interest, and that these words of wisdom from George Graham, Emily Fletcher, Noam Chomsky, and Gray Cook have inspired you to think about exercise as a means to an end, and not as the end itself. I’d love to know your thoughts, so send me a message and let’s have a conversation.
As always, you can watch these words on Instagram. Cheers!