Tuesday, August 30, 2005

How Much is Enough?

The major reason most people do not take up a lifelong regimen of health (movement) conditioning activities is that they’ve been negatively conditioned not to. The “experts‘” requirements for proper exercise are precisely the reasons that people are resistive -- that it takes up too much time, energy and focus. But is the consumption of time and energy an actual requirement of maintaining health and optimal functioning, or is that just the faulty notions propagated by physical education teachers to justify their personal issues of control and discipline?

When the requirement is that it has to take one hour each day and consume enormous amounts of energy -- there are a lot fewer takers than the requirement that it could be done for five minutes each day, immediately upon waking, without requiring extraordinary conditions and equipment, inducing profuse sweating or labored breathing, and elevation of stress and duress levels that require considerable psychological preparation and discipline to undertake. Rather than that being the solution to the nation’s health condition, that is the cause of the problems. It is as though it has been designed to discourage and eliminate people from doing it.

That is the model upon which competitive athletics are premised. Their purpose is not to make the weak, strong; their purpose is to eliminate the weak from further participation. That would not be a helpful model on which to base a national health/fitness program on -- the notion that everyone has the same abilities, and that fitness is specifically one profile that we all compete to manifest. That is the presumption of erroneous fitness models -- that there is one universal standard -- and that is achieving maximum target heartbeats, lifting certain weight loads, running certain distances -- rather than just articulating one’s unique full range of movement, at the critical joints of the extremities, and with that minimal “conditioning,” one moves in that manner naturally throughout the regular and normal activities of one’s day -- reinforcing that pre-conditioning and predisposition.

There is little value in learning for learning’s sake. The reason we practice learning is so that we can learn in a real world application to solve the problems of our lives -- and not merely the theoretical ones of a long time ago, by a people far away. That has little meaning unless we can apply those lessons to our own lives -- and many can’t, because that link was never established, and so many do think the objective in learning is simply to get an “A,” whatever that means. In many cases, all that means is one’s ability to please the will and agenda of another -- which could be entirely exploitative and self-aggrandizing.

The greatest difference in the thinking between the 20th century and the 21st now unfolding, is the realization that simply more is not necessarily better. Quantity may not be the significant difference that quality is -- for it is the quality, that sets the range for all experiences -- rather than just being more of the same (limited experience), which has no similar transformative/transcending effect. The standard of the 20th century was that, “More is Better.” The further evolution of understanding is the realization that, “Better is More.”

Sunday, August 28, 2005

A Simple Lesson

The one thing most teachers wil not teach is how to learn -- on one’s own, because if they did, the need for the teacher disappears. Yet that should be the objective of the true teacher -- to bring his student to that point at which the student is his own teacher, and master, and learns directly from life. But increasingly in a world of “media” and institutionalized learning, we only learn what the pedagogue has to teach, the advertiser wants to sell, the demagogue wants everybody to believe, which might not be what we want to know, and without that passion for learning, it becomes a struggle between the teacher and the student -- undermining both.

In most exercise instruction, what is not taught is the essential principle of all movement -- the muscle contraction, that when one experiences, then knows how to effect in every muscle of their body, and therefore doesn‘t need to be instructed further on the appropriate exercise (movement) for each muscle. The most conveniently instructive muscle is the action of the heart -- which is the muscle that is always working, and the way it works is to contract fully (100%) AND relax fully (100%). That is the characteristic action of a pump.

A person whose specialty is just the heart, might think that the heart is the only muscle in the body that behaves that way, and so if the objective is to increase the circulation, one simply needs to make the heart beat faster. (It can’t beat any harder because it always contracts 100%.) And while there is much talk about exercise benefiting the cardiovascular system, very little attention is paid to the fact that the -vascular component is very different from the cardio- component.

As a purely health maintenance practice, training the voluntary muscles of the body to aid and enhance the circulatory effect by mimicking the action of the heart in producing a full contraction from the extremities of the body towards the heart -- achieves that effect, while requiring the heart to work less hard! The heart is the hardest working, if not the only properly working muscle in the body of many people, and when the voluntary muscles perform that action of contraction (compression) to pump fluids back towards the heart, it creates space for the heart to pump blood into -- against less resistance.

Noticeably absent from most fitness instruction is this basic lesson of what needs to be achieved -- in instructing one to operate the treadmill, the stair stepper, weight machines, calisthenics, virtually any apparatus or movement. Not using the fullest contraction possible as the standard of the objective, it is quite possible that the movement or machine does not achieve this desired effect -- and why the immediately transformative effect is not evident in most exercisers -- when it should not only be possible in everyone, but inevitable proof that one is accomplishing anything but simply wasting his time and energy.

When one has a familiarity with what a full muscle contraction is -- he will know how to recognize it in any other muscle. So that is the essential one thing that is never taught.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Big Brain vs. Little Brain

The Eastern adepts of physical culture, have this concept of the “big brain” that is the nervous system throughout the entire body rather than just limited to the nerve cells within their skull. In this conception, it is possible to talk of thinking with one’s guts and heart -- instead of exclusively with one’s head. In fact, there is no division between the mind and the body as Western students of kinesiology are predisposed to. In the latter version, the division is so complete that the only way to exercise the brain is to develop “mental” exercises to do so, and of course, “physical” exercise has no connection as a mental activity, and is frequently claimed to come at the expense of the mental faculties. Thus, there is no problem in getting on a treadmill or stationary bike and mentally distracting oneself with anything else other than what one is doing physically. In such an outlook of life and activity, nothing is related to any other thing in the world -- just as the mind has nothing to do with the body.

This paradox is solved by realizing that mind and body are merely two views of the same phenomenon and that each is not mutually exclusive -- as all things must be in a cosmology of fragmentation, specialization, categorization, etc. This trend towards convergence, synthesis and integration has been underway for at least a hundred years now, when physicists decided that the question as to whether light was a particle or a wave was decided definitively as, “Both.” If one wanted to see it as a wave, one saw it as a wave; if one wanted to see it as a particle, it behaved as a particle. That fundamental understanding of the basic unit of information led to many other convergences into wholeness and oneness -- after being for many centuries, fragmented into the many pieces so every special interest group could claim their own expertise and establish their own hierarchies for perpetuating their exclusive knowledge.

Each group claimed that they owned the turf -- and so turf wars were frequent unless bureaucracies were established to maintain the status quo -- that each group of experts could not invade the others, as well as, of course, challenging the established order and authority within their own group. “The truth” was pronounced from on high, and those who did not swear their allegiance to the latest version of official truth, was shunned and eventually banished from that association -- completely cut off, disavowed, condemned to roam the world for the rest of one’s life as a lone wolf, persecuted on every flank, by any and every other group and species.

Some people still think in those terms. Their minds are always finding ways to limit one’s range -- rather than to extend the mind/body. Not only does the small mind seek to limit the brain to the skull, it defines its intelligence and awareness to the body -- rather than being without limits. The big mind extends to the further reaches of wherever is reporting information -- in that extended and enhanced sense. The “human body” is even this awareness of the total collection of knowledge as is now possible because it is so easily accessible. It is virtually like the body -- for all intents and purposes. Intelligence and awareness is more than what is resident in the confines of each individual’s skin. The body/mind is the network -- and connectivity and flow is its life’s blood

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Gross Motor Control vs. Fine Motor Control

The underlying premise for most fitness programs is the simple notion that vigorously working the largest muscles of the body consumes as much calories as possible -- as a gauge of the amount of “work” being accomplished -- while failing to recognize, that no amount of useful work is ever done that way. The largest muscle of the body is the gluteus maximus -- for which the typical fitness acolyte will volunteer, its major function is to move the upper leg rearward. However, like most large, major muscles of the body, the much more important function is not to provide movement at all -- but to provide stability and support so that the useful work can be done at the hands, head and feet.

Such latter movement is what is called fine motor control. Simply moving the upper leg rearward is meaningless -- without its ultimate expression at the foot, usually to push off against the ground. But by focusing the axis of rotation at the hip, the nerve impulse from the brain goes no farther than that axis of movement. Therefore, with movements emphasizing the largest muscles, no fine motor skill may be developed to employ that increased capacity usefully and effectively at the ultimate expression at the hands, feet and head.

In order for useful increments of strength and other capacity to be readily available, requires development of fine motor control, which naturally activates the larger supporting structures. But one cannot develop universally available strength and power to do anything else but in the manner in which it was developed -- that is, the practitioner of the treadmill only increases his ability to “do” the treadmill -- and nothing else, and in fact, may disrupt the fine balance already existent in an otherwise well-trained and coordinated person.

That’s why it is very important for any conditioning movement of usefulness, begin at the axis of rotation of the extremities. That focus of movement, determines the extent of the effectiveness of that conditioning. I don’t want to just be better at moving my upper leg back. Instead, I want to be able to move my foot in a much greater range that expresses itself as running faster or jumping higher. In order to do that, what matters is the range of motion at my ankle -- from the extreme of the toe being raised towards the shin, and then the foot being rotated downward in a toe point, or pushing off with the ball of the feet.

The reason that walking is not the ideal exercise for most out of shape and extremely overweight people, is that they tend to shuffle their feet rather than articulating the foot through this greatest range. They’d be far better off if they stood with their feet slightly wider than shoulder-width and just shifted their weight from one foot to the other while fully articulating the foot movement that is supporting no weight. The range of movement at the ankle is important and not how much weight is being moved around.

Overweight people have a painful experience walking because when the foot is not fully articulated, producing the powerful alternating contraction and relaxation (pumping), fluids accumulate in the tissue, making the feet swollen and painful to walk on.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Range of Movement

In every field, the individual with the greatest range of articulation, expression and movement, will stand out from the others. In fact, when a new prodigy comes along who is an exception even among the exceptional, the impulse from the organizers of the competition/event, is to disqualify their participation rather than honor it. They are likely to say, “That move ought to be illegal -- because nobody else can do it, and how can we have a fair competition if everybody can’t compete on the same level -- by being able to do it?” Thus they circumscribe the range of possibilities, and proclaim within those familiar parameters, that they have determined the greatest -- because of their preconceived idea of what that ultimate possibility can, and should be.

That is frequently the problem now when we watch the erratic judging at the Olympics and there is a great controversy on one performance. Some judges will proclaim, “You can’t do that.” When challenged why, they will even more emphatically proclaim, “Because you can’t possibly do that.” Meanwhile, the coach of the perplexed and disappointed competitor will insist, “But she just did.” Denial is not only possible at the highest levels of expertise but is actually quite predictable because of their unshakeable belief in their “expertise.” That’s always been the common reaction whenever something new has come into being. The new information so violates everything one has thought to be true in this world, that he is more apt to deny or ignore one new experience rather than disrupt the whole lifetime of familiar experience and expectations.

One is not conditioned to recognize the new -- but only to accept the old as though it were the new, being discovered for the first time, just as Galileo, Copernicus, Newton did. But that is not the same as discovering the new as the new, freshly. That concept is critically important in being in the shape one hasn’t been before. He has to break new ground for himself. It sounds like a tremendously ambitious undertaking but it’s not; it is merely thinking the unthinkable -- moving through the range one hasn’t moved before.

In observing many people in their fitness programs, despite the great pains and effort they make to convey their purpose and objectives, what has always struck me about the grossly out of shape, is how little they exhibit movement at the wrist, ankles and neck. That such movement is even possible, doesn’t seem to have entered their realm of possibility -- but it is the range of movement at those joints, that is the most productive and predictive of the well-conditioned body. Making a fist, and then bending that fist at the wrist as acutely as possible and trying to extend that range beyond the movement obtained before, is the most instructive example of muscle contraction -- at a joint which is most productive and safe to do so.

The shocking realization is that rather than requiring weights or resistance to achieve that effect, the farther one moves at that joint, the greater the resistance the contraction produces to further contraction. The same is true with all the muscles of the body. The greatest contraction is not caused by the greatest amount of resistance used but by knowing in what extreme range of movement requires the muscle to be fully contracted. That contraction -- shapes the body.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Making a Difference

A logical development of the higher heart beat and largest muscles in isolation training objectives, was the synthesis of these two in the even more absurd notion that all that mattered was highest caloric expenditure or consumption -- while developing no particular skill or mastery in this practice. To anybody who’s ever been involved in training themselves to achieve a high level of skill and proficiency in a discipline they have discovered is suitable to their natural abilities, such advice would be at first offering recognized as an example of the blind leading the blind, and one who knew absolutely nothing about what they were talking about. But because many have no familiarity with a learning besides what others tell them is true, they are highly susceptible to marketing propaganda -- having no way to test the validity of claims through their own experience and thought processes. They are entirely at the mercy of self-designated experts and the institutions that vouchsafe their credibility.

When one observes the great performers of dance and most athletics, what is most impressive and striking besides the extraordinary things they can do, is also how effortless and graceful they make it all seem. They have learned to move with the greatest economy and efficiency of purpose -- and never simply for the sake of burning the most calories doing so. In fact, if there is a great imperative of all life, it is the commandment to conserve energy as one of its highest principles ensuring survival and exhibiting intelligence. The predator in the wild that is most impressive is one that stealthily stalks its prey and sets up the conditions by which a single, quick, decisive movement achieves its goal -- rather than the specimen wildly chasing everything that moves until finally it is exhausted in futility, thinking that gross, random effort is enough to achieve one’s desired results.

Yet many have been convinced that a fitness program should have no component for skill-building as their focusing activity and organizing principle. Thus the objective of a treadmill user is simply to burn as many calories as possible -- while that same amount of energy and less, could mold one into a world champion, or just looking like one, if their intent and purpose were clear. That kind of random “fitness” program, is one of the most damaging conditioning experiences one can do to themselves. It reinforces the notion that the objective of any activity is simply to go through the motions, wasting as much energy and other resources as possible, with no definitive productive purpose in mind. It is so mindless that it is quite all right to grab a magazine while doing it and displace one’s attention to some pleasurable mental diversion.

I hope this does not all sound too familiar -- what one has been led to believe is a qualified, certified, productive fitness program -- because if it is, it is no wonder that many think exercise programs are not worthwhile, and may be entirely a negative drain on one’s life. I wouldn’t engage in such an activity; why would any thinking person? And yet, that kind of fitness for the masses has been propagated by the mass media for these past several decades because they lack this ability and familiarity with any authentic expertise themselves, and are totally reliant on the hearsay of "professionals" -- as the truth.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Getting Started

The greatest difference, is the difference between 0 and 1 -- and not 1 and any other number, no matter how large. That’s always been the simple truth in any undertaking -- “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” By that, one should not assume it to mean that walking would be the logical choice in contemplating the design of a 21st Century fitness regimen. There are far more precise and effective conditioning movements -- for which one doesn’t even need to get out of bed to do. In fact, it would be ideally done immediately upon waking, before getting out of bed and embarking on all other activities and functions. This simple exercise (movement) requiring about a minute, is 90% of what one hopes to accomplish with traditional (conventional) exercise programs of much greater duration, energy, and duress -- but still not doing so because they lack the essential focus of intent and purpose, because it is that intent and purpose that is manifested in the condition (form) of the body. That is, the body is in superb condition, because it realizes that is the condition it has to be to do what wants to achieve.

Immediately upon waking and lying on one’s back, draw the knees up to the chest, allowing the legs to bend, grasping hands around legs just below knees to hold that position easily. Maintaining this fetal position, lift the head up and forward, aiming to see one’s navel, while paying particular attention to the sound and movement of air out of the nose as air is compressed out of the body. When no more air can be forced out, lower the head back onto the resting position mindful of the sound and movement of air entering one’s nose as the chest expands. Hundreds of years ago, exercising adepts made this study of breathing into their key concept for attaining good health. All it requires is the awareness of the movement of air in and out of the body -- and what produces that effect, without having preconceived notions about how it should be done, other than the simplicity and obviousness of air movement into and out of the body.

The movement of the head, producing an alternating full contraction and full relaxation of the neck muscles, will increase the circulation and thus functioning of the brain -- totally overlooked in most conditioning programs. The foremost beneficiary of any strategy to optimize the functioning and form of the human body should go through the critical path of the brain, because the brain regulates everything else! This should be particularly important for those concerned with diminishing or compromised brain functioning, characterized as one’s “declining” years Those who have a problem stumbling around in a fog for much of the early part of their day, will realize clarity upon immediately getting out of bed. The yogis used to stand on their heads, attempting to effect the blood flow to their heads by gravity -- predating the discovery of gravity. This is a more convenient, less painful and effective way to do so -- utilizing a higher understanding of flow as caused by alternating pressure differences (hydraulics).

What most people will note, is that the extreme movement of the head forward produces a maximal contraction of the neck muscles first, and then ultimately, of the abdominal muscles to an extent not achieved with most conventional “abdominal” exercises. The movement of the head, is also the best abdominal exercise, and all most people want to know.

Friday, August 19, 2005

A Brief History of Exercise

At the same time the cardiologists were pushing the notion that the key to proper exercise was the heart rate, the exercise marketers were pushing the notion that working the largest muscles of the body in isolation was the quickest route to obtaining dramatic results -- and when the results from their machines turned out not to be “foolproof,” as advertised, they then insisted every repetition had to be strictly supervised, thus creating the field of personal trainers. By either approach, the promised results were not forthcoming -- no matter how plausible the explanations and elaborate the theories --and rather than turn themselves over to the self-designated “professionals” on these matters, the public largely decided it was not worth the bother, figuring that the extra years they might add to their lives by such torturous regimens, would be entirely consumed in those activities. So unless they enjoyed it, what was the sense in making more time to do what made one’s life miserable?

The obvious was making exercise (movement) enjoyable and rewarding in itself -- which greatly offended the 20th century sensibilities for making everything more difficult, arduous and incomprehensible -- thereby requiring more experts (professionals) to guide one through all the perils and hazards of daily living. These proponents fostered the false confidence in conjectures as facts, and the duly-certified, as possessing inviolable and incontrovertible fact -- when in many fields, professionalism consisted in little more than giving fancy names to common knowledge, and proffering that jargon as unquestionable authority. The use of impressive sounding jargon exploded -- displacing the time-tested and time-honed processes of individual discovery and thoughtfulness on that which could be tested in one’s own lives and experiences. “The experts say…” would be the quick rebuttal to any objection.

Self-evident truth became so dishonored and disconnected in daily lives that the term “feedback,” was the euphemism for common sense. Common sense was no longer to be trusted, replaced as it now was, by “professional expertise.”

What changed all that? One can only fragment, specialize and compartmentalize all experience and knowledge before a few will recognize that a major purpose of life is integrating the whole process into a more comprehensive understanding -- which is the movement towards greater simplicity and elegance in understanding. Every great leap in human understanding reduces complexity by seeing the greater universal principle under which the many ad hoc and seemingly unrelated explanations adhere to -- all requiring their own experts, jargon and hierarchy.

Such turning points in the evolution of understanding are disruptive to all the entrenched institutions, authorities, and bureaucracies -- because they challenge the whole notion of the legitimacy of the existing hierarchy of knowledge, that its staunchest defenders will be those who are its greatest beneficiaries. They don’t want the playing field to be leveled -- to welcome all participants as equals, and then have to justify their lofty entitlements, status, and privilege; they want the status quo to continue, not change.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Rethinking Work

In the Old World paradigm, “work” is this concept of physically moving something, defined, observed and measured as external change produced in the physical world outside the body, as for example, lifting a weight a certain distance in a certain time. It could also be moving our bodies a certain distance in a certain time. Those measures are a function of gravity -- and thus fail when developing a prototype for exercise that would be useful on a prolonged space flight in weightlessness. Astronauts have virtually no way of keeping “fit” using the old exercise paradigm because it is based on a world of gravity and thus, resistance.

The secret is, it doesn’t work very well under normal earth conditions either, but your personal trainer won’t tell you that. They’ll insist you have to try harder and be more dedicated -- and some time in a distant future, a miracle will happen, and all that one wished and hoped for will come true. That such changes can be verified presently, are never considered. Essential to the old paradigm of exercise is that change is a function of extended time, rather than can be effected immediately. Because of that manner of thinking over such extended, ill-defined periods, the individual is not fully focused on the urgency of that present moment -- as being the moment of supreme importance, but thinks some vague future one is more important, more real, and thus the power of his own action in the present one is lost. What is reinforced is the notion that change is not a function of one’s deliberate and purposeful actions but is diffused into the vagueness of time, energy, space, circumstances beyond our immediate control, randomness.

Such thinking is not only unique to exercise activities but is also the cultural infrastructure in which we are used to thinking about everything -- in the last century. Education is also this slow process of time rather than the instantaneous “Aha” moment -- when a person has truly discovered something they did not realize before. Upon such moments, the world is transformed -- and nothing will seem and be the same -- for that individual. Such change, changes the world in the only way the world has ever been changed -- in the power to change oneself. Ineffectual people, however, will convince us that the only way the world can ever change is for us to first change everybody else -- which of course, ensures that no change will ever take place, ensuring the status quo.

It really doesn’t matter how much weight we can lift -- or how far we can run, in optimizing health, function and form. What does matter is how effective we are about moving the nutrients into the body and waste products out of it, which produces the internal operating environment for which we will do all those things more readily visible in the external environment. But it is what’s going on inside -- how the blood, fluid and gas, nerve impulses, molecules are moving around inside which we hope to infer through the old primitive standards of measurement. They might not mean anything significant at all -- but they are certainly convenient and the easiest things to measure.

It’s not the work external to the body that is important -- as much as it is the work going on inside the body, in the tissues and cells, the understanding and thought that organizes the body. That is the essential work of being human, being fit, being all one can be.

The Critical Understanding

The weakness of the human muscular system is usually not the heart -- but the skeletal (voluntary) muscles -- that one hopes to affect by exercising. The heart is always working -- and in out-of-shape individuals, may be the only muscle working, and that is the problem. Critically, the heart only pumps blood out to the extremities of the arteriole system -- but has no effect on the flow of blood coming back to the heart through the veins, that have valves to allow flow in one direction only -- back to the heart. It can be aided greatly in increasing the flow back to the heart by the operation of the voluntary muscles to enhance this effect by the alternation of muscle states between contraction and relaxation -- in effect, mimicking the function of the heart as a pump in doing so.

To achieve this greatest effect, one would begin a muscle contraction at the extremities of the feet, hands and head back towards the heart -- which is conveniently how the body is designed to effect a maximum muscle contraction. Rather than thinking about working the 600+ muscles in isolation, it would therefore be desirable to design movements that serve this essential and productive purpose of optimizing the flow throughout he body in a coordinated muscular contraction that effects all the muscles as though they were just one. In most out-of-shape people, what is typically concurrent with their condition is an apparent bloating of the tissues, indicative of poor circulation -- that is, fluid (blood and cellular fluids) is retained within the tissues rather than being efficiently circulated so that waste products can be filtered and eliminated out of the body. That difference has a profound effect on functioning and appearance of the condition of the body.

Until this excess fluid retention is reduced, it is not a true indication of the actual momentary condition of the individual -- because one doesn’t see them at their best. Well-trained bodybuilders are those most aware of this fact -- that there is a huge difference in function and appearance that can be achieved in just one session! The transformation is so great that it is entirely possible to take a “before” photo at the commencement of the workout and an “after” photo at the end of that one session, that could also be claimed and believed to be the results achieved after “only” six months of training. Obviously, such instant transformations are not only possible but done routinely by those whose aim is to achieve that effect.

The ramifications it has for more casual participants should be obvious -- that this result is not the product of several months on a regimen of poorly designed (random) movements and energy expenditures, but can be the “instant” results of precisely designed movements with this purpose and possibility in mind. Further training merely allows one to become more proficient at effecting a maximal response and transformation, which to some extent, every person will exhibit to some degree. Those who will exhibit it to an extraordinary degree, are naturally gifted bodybuilders. But I’ve never failed to witness an immediate effect in any body training with this intent and purpose.

That should be what one is exercising for -- and not just randomly to expend as much energy as possible -- doing what, and for what purpose? This is how the exercise discussion and instruction has seriously gone astray over these last 35 years, raducing it to almost a random activity, in the name of making it seem more “scientific.”

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

A Different Way of Thinking About Exercise

For at least the last 35 years, “exercise” was dominated by the Idea that one had to raise one’s heart rate and produce excessive sweating as a mark of stress and discomfort in order for it to be effective and productive, and should last for a prolonged, sustained period of at least 20 minutes a day. On that regimen, it was promised one could achieve good heart health -- as though that implied the results most people were after, which is to feel better, function better and look better. For many, the prescribed regimen of dramatically increasing the heart rate, profuse sweating and shortness of breath, was all they needed to convince them that they did not feel better, function better and looked as though they were dying -- from that activity, and so were negatively reinforced not to do it any more.

Rather than the heart function implying feeling better, functioning better and looking better, the more obvious approach would have been surmising that feeling better, functioning better and looking better, implied good heart health, as well as optimal functioning of the whole being. That was a fitness paradigm for an era in which there was specialization and compartmentalization of most activities, and most facets of people’s lives, when in fact, well-being is this feeling of functioning “on all cylinders,” “being in the flow,” “being whole,” “everything feeling right and good.”

Because of the previous mode of fragmented thinking, it was possible and quite common to regard that one was doing good when all systems and feedback were telling him it was wrong. Such people were advised to override their personal feelings and defer to those who claimed to know better, and what was best for every other person -- the so-called and self-appointed experts of these matters. The result was that many decided not to pursue such activities -- if their fate and well-being were in the hands of such unfeeling experts -- who berated them for not being able to keep up with the program, so they were also made to feel inadequate and incompetent as well -- because that was the personal trainer’s “job.“ That is all most people don‘t need in their lives.

Most recognized it as just the old physical education class violating their sensibilities and sensitivities -- to conform to the brute force imperatives of some other person. In the classrooms, the coercion was a little more subtle -- but in the old physical education classes, the full reign of terror was allowed to run unchecked and uninhibited. After all, they were only doing this for our own good.