Thursday, October 27, 2005

What You See is What There Is

The idea that the effectiveness of exercise and conditioning efforts, is not readily, immediately, visibly, and experientially apparent is the most damaging concept introduced into the field of exercise in the last forty years. The reason for that break was not a scientific necessity but a commercial consideration -- of being able to sell measuring devices, such as heart rate monitors, and body immersion sessions. Thus, the measurement of change and effectiveness, became rocket science -- rather than simple enhanced well being and appearance -- as it had been for many centuries before.

In the early 20th century, exercise sessions consisted of instruction on how to hold the body erect and walk properly -- a recognition that change was readily, immediately, visibly and experientially apparent. Many people’s appearance can be drastically enhanced just in realizing that they can hold their body differently -- just as the performance artists do. Doctors seldom think about it, but their first assessment of a person’s health is this visual examination -- “Does this person look healthy?” If they do, the chances are greatly in favor that they are healthy, and conversely, if the appearance is less than robust, there is cause to discover what might be the problem.

But in the fragmented world of contemporary life, we are often convinced that nothing has any relationship to any other thing, and that randomly, good or bad health can affect anyone equally. While that makes good television and melodrama, the fact of the matter is that people who look very healthy are likely to be so, and those who don’t look in top condition, are more likely to have an clinical problem.

Most non-participants don’t realize that a performance-artist looks very different on stage than they do offstage. In the case of competitive bodybuilders, many people have never seen them, and they will not allow themselves to be seen, without every muscle flexed to the max -- often while denying that is so. Another exaggeration of this difference is seen in women gymnastics -- in which little girls are instantly transformed into confident divas -- commencing with their march to the platform.

More aestethic sensibilities prefer the extremely muscular physique in repose -- as a supreme statement of human attainment. They were poses, or postures assumed by those skilled at effecting them. Most people are not aware they have a similar ability to effect a fairly drastic change in their appearance instantaneously -- if they only knew how. That ability to effect a momentary change is more than 50% of one’s change in appearance -- as much or more than a permanent change in body composition.

For the person with a poor self-image, the notion of presenting a confident appearance seems preposterously self-conscious and unnatural. But it is no more unnatural than a poor posture indicating a poor self-regard. So in the movements one performs and the postures one attains, it is with the intent of making the movement and position, familiar and natural.

That is what conditioning does. It makes that which seems unfamiliar and unnatural, second-nature. Understanding this process and strategy, accelerates the results.


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