Back before the holiday I was laid up for a few days with a stomach bug. I’m kinda dumb when it comes to feeling bad and despite having woken up to hug the toilet I assumed I wasn’t really sick. I mean, I only threw up once and it totally could have been that the previous night’s chicken was a little “off.”
So I got dressed and drove myself into work. By the time I got to the gym there was no doubt, I was sick and had no business being out, let alone trying to run the gym that day. So I set up my first client with his workout, made my apologies, and drove home. I was back in bed before my wife was even up.
“I’m sick,” I said as I crawled back under the covers and began to shiver.
“No shit,” she said lovingly, “I heard you 45 minutes ago, what made you think you could go to work?”
I mumbled something even I didn’t understand and went back to sleep.
A couple hours later I stumbled into the study and turned on the TV. Being sick is only good for one thing and that’s binge watching movies you might not otherwise get to watch. For me that’s hero movies where things blow up and somebody gets to kick a lot of ass. What can I say? I’m a simple man with simple tastes.
Over the next two days, while intermittently hugging a plastic tub into which I would periodically dry heave (I’m a very efficient barfer, my stomach is usually quite empty by the second go round, but apparently the rest of me feels the need to be REALLY sure) I watched the following:
The Hobbit - all three of them - a megalomaniac king driven by his lust for restored wealth and power nearly destroys himself and everyone around him only to be saved by a meek, mild little man whose greatest strength is his consistency of character - oh, and a magic ring that makes him invisible.
Star Trek: Into Darkness - an egotistical ass of a Space Captain proves he’s really not such a bad guy when he sacrifices himself in order to save his crew. That and the new Spock guy calls on the old Spock guy to help him kill a Kahn who’s way more badass than the Kahn we thought was a total badass when we were kids (Ricardo Montalban, really?)
The Revenant - a fur trapper gets mauled by a bear and then helplessly watches as his Indian son is murdered in front of him by the guy who’s supposed to be watching over him. He drags himself over untold miles of wilderness, floats down a river, eats raw moose, and tracks down the bastards who killed his son and left him to die.
The last few episodes of Luke Cage - an African-American superhero, who is bulletproof and strong as hell, fights bullies in Harlem while accompanied to a kick ass soundtrack.
As I emerged from my cave of sickness and recovery I was struck by the relevance of my choices. Perhaps my subconscious was trying to tell me something. Here’s what I learned.
The Hobbit - Integrity trumps flash. Being a decent person, consistently, beats whatever amazing thing you might have done back in the day that makes you think you can now act like an asshole.
Star Trek - A leader’s commitment ultimately is to his troops. Protect those that follow you. Honor their service and do right by them, no matter what it may cost you.
Revenant - Life sucks really badly. It’s hard. It’s painful. And you might just have to patch a hole in your face by blowing it up with gunpowder. All that, and you still have to do it anyway. Suck it up, buttercup.
Luke Cage - If you have a superpower, you are a total dick if you don’t use it to help other people.
It’s this last one that has stuck, most thoroughly, with me. See, I have a super power. No, I’m not bulletproof. And I can’t pick up a bus. But I am stronger than average and I can work hard, day after day. Coupled with the fact that I run my own business and can afford a few hours each week to donate to others equals a super power. I have no delusions about getting my own comic book anytime soon, but I can do something I don’t see a lot of and that’s putting my strength to work for others.
I started by volunteering a few hours a week at a local park, restoring trails and helping in the creation of new ones. Then the Alabama Waldorf School started it’s garden project. Digging garden beds is something I’m uniquely suited for. So for the past few weeks I’ve been putting about eight hours a week towards that end.
The truth is, there’s nothing special about me. I just finally decided that all that time I spent picking up heavy things and putting them back down might actually benefit someone besides me. You can do it, too. Just take one of those days you would have spent time in the gym getting after it and spend it getting after something that helps someone else.
Want a great workout? Help a friend move. Looking for some good steady state cardio? Raking leaves for that little old lady on the corner burns a ton of calories. Enjoy Farmer’s Carries? Habit for Humanity is usually building something nearby and a construction site always needs a good crew of toters (you know, people who tote.)
There’s no shortage of workouts that actually involve work - a physical activity that actually produces something. I’m not saying you should cancel your gym membership. Far from it. But I do suggest that both you and your community would benefit from taking a handful of your workouts and applying those hard earned gains to the benefit of others. You’d be amazed at the SWOLE you get. Both inside and out.
Starting in March, Agoge Fitness Systems is dedicating one day of workouts each month to the benefit of our community. Be on the lookout as we take the second Saturday in March (that’s the 11th, by the way) and apply all of that day’s workouts to the benefit of Rufner Mountain Nature Center. Check out our Facebook page for more details in the coming weeks and to help hold us accountable.