I didn’t sleep all that well last night, not so much from anxiety but excitement.
I watched the second disc of Chip Conrad’s DVD Strength Rituals yesterday and I’m afraid it got me a little jazzed up. This doesn’t bode well for my sleeping hours as the workshop is still a good three weeks away. Maybe I need to calm down a little–go easy on the coffee.
I kept dreaming about working out. How silly is that? My dreams were about combos and complexes, chaining movement patterns together with resistance to generate work and flow at the same time. My anxiety, if you could call it that, was over the need to limit myself to only a few movements. I wanted to do them all and now.
Repeatedly, I would wake up and remind myself, “It’s okay, Dave. There’s plenty of time. You’ll get to everything. Relax. Now is the time to sleep.”
I’d go back to sleep easily enough, but then I’d start dreaming about kettlebells and leverage clubs again. It’s a good thing I don’t keep a set of clubs or kettlebells at home else I might have found myself sleep training at two in the morning.
I know this sounds crazy. I know for many of you what I just described is actually nightmarish. Working out is a necessary evil, right? It’s just something we do to keep our natural tendency toward sloth and hedonism at bay. Like modern day self-flagellates we whip ourselves with exercise to punish our sinful desires for beer and cake and bread.
Working out isn’t supposed to fun. Some of us, though, do learn to enjoy the punishment. We gauge the “effectiveness” of our workout by the “sweat angel” on the floor or how long it took from the point where we collapsed at the end of our last set to when we could gather enough energy to drag ourselves to the car. “Did you throw up? Oh, that must have been a killer workout.”
And that’s another point. We talk about “killer” sessions and use words like “extreme,” “insanity,” and “brutal.” Why?
While combing Facebook this morning, checking in with my people and looking for insight into what I would write today, I ran across this post from Jason C. Brown, it’s a quote from The Exuberant Animal Play Book: Secret Moves and Games of the Play Masters. It’s in reference to the history and origin of the Play Masters,
Disillusioned with laborious workouts, exercise machines and a grinding work ethic, these iconoclasts set out to rediscover a joyous physical training experience.
Their philosophy was grounded in the belief that human movement is fundamentally enjoyable. If only people could remember how to fall in love with movement, they would create a practice that is sustainable. They would integrate movement into their lives and transcend the sedentary predicament of the modern world. If movement was truly enjoyable, people would actually do it.
“Joyous physical training experience.” When was the last time you thought of your workout as a “joyous physical training experience?” My guess is long before you even considered the term “workout,” back when a “physical training experience” was simply called play and the joy was spontaneous and the whole reason for the experience in the first place.
Believe it or not, there are some of us who take great joy from our workouts. We seek intensity because it increases that joy.
Frequently I’m asked if I train my kids. The answer is I don’t. Not because I don’t want to, or because I don’t think they’d benefit from it, but because they’ve never asked. Don’t get me wrong. I try to create as many opportunities for play and movement as I can. In the summer we spend lots of time at the river and Bronwyn pursues her horseback riding, but until they want to train and it’s their idea I won’t force it on them. To make it something they have to do, to please me or meet some external aesthetic, would only kill their joy and for me that is the ultimate sin.
As a child I grew up in an intellectual household. My mother and her girlfriend both had negative experiences in P.E., as did most of their friends, and as a result they developed a negative attitude toward exercise. They elevated callisthenics of the mind over those of the body and actively pursued this imbalance. The resultant health issues were a sad inevitability.
Movement is essential to a healthy mind and body. We are built to experience joy on many different levels and through many different modalities. The abuses of current modes of exercise only serve to further divorce ourselves from ourselves and polarize us into groups–those who elevate their intellectual capacities, deeming sweat and exercise as beneath them and those who deem themselves holy because they’re willing to punish themselves more, to literally whip their sinful bodies into shape.
Both are sadly mistaken.
I invite you to consider my dream, where movement is pursued just for the joy of movement and improvement is seen in the light of, “What can I do next?”
If you’re an active member of our tribe and already train at the gym, you have a real sense of what I’m talking about. If you’re a subscriber, and local, consider joining us for a workout and getting a feel, first hand, for what it feels like to rediscover joy in movement.
Regardless of whether you’re local or not, Chip’s workshop, July 28th and 29th, is a great opportunity to retune your thinking about exercise and rediscover the joy of movement. I hope you’ll join us. To find out more or to register, click HERE.
If you’re reading this on the blog and would like to deepen your connection with the Agoge and be a more active participant in the tribe, sign up for our newsletter by clicking HERE. We’d love to have you.