Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Exercising For Life

On the occasion of the recent death of Arthur Jones, creator of the Nautilus machines, I received a communication from my old friend Dr. Ken Leistner, now regarded as the best writer on continuing the ideas in that vein of High Intensity Training -- usually with highly motivated world-class athletes. Such people self-select and pride themselves on their ability to withstand extreme workloads -- which without the proper motivation and support system, will not be sustained by most individuals on their own.

Ken was aware that I also perfected my own version of the high-intensity workout back in the early ‘70s -- on the inspiration of the Nautilus “principles,” which early on, Jones insisted was the only requirement for achieving optimal training results, with no need for special equipment. I established various training projects to actually verify those claims -- independently.

That’s a very important concept and feature of real science -- independent testing, which obviously, Jones or anybody connected with him could not do. That was a tremendous flaw in most of the claims connected with exercise -- that it was simply one person’s conjectures to which they created alter-egos with pretentious and misleading names of legitimacy and credibility, that “proved” everything they claimed was true. The Aerobics Institute, which “proved” everything Dr. Kenneth Cooper said about aerobic exercise, was simply Dr. Kenneth Cooper himself, and not some truly independent research body doing any rigorous testing -- particularly to disprove his hypotheses. And in fact, these entities existed for the sole purpose of this self-promotion.

But the most outrageous of such self-promoters were the Weider brothers, who claimed every idea on exercise, was thought up exclusively by themselves, and verified by the impartial and highly esteemed Weider Research Institute -- in the magazines they published that did much to publicize the bodybuilding world and establish their own place at the top of it It wasn’t surprising that many lent their “names” to such testimonials because the devotees of weight-training were usually people residing on the margins of society by which they could justify anything -- as long as they could perpetuate their own self-promotional delusions.

Later came the "certifying" entities, that actually prohibited any of their publications from being revealed to anybody else, except for the purpose of obtaining their certifications -- as though they were a highly top-secret organization that was charged with the trust of perpetuating mankind’s greatest secrets, or at least their own proprietary knowledge -- which usually turned out to be, all the wives tales, propagated by the previous physical education teachers. The key to their success, was the belief that making somebody feel terrible, was good for them in some miraculous way.

The amazing thing is that those who self-select for such onerous treatment, don’t find it abusive, but actually are the rare exceptions who truly enjoy it -- because it is their thing. But it is not necessarily everybody’s thing, or works for everybody, which is what every individual has to ultimately determine for themselves.

So I was not surprised to learn that Ken was still training basically the same way he did as a young man, as his barometer of fitness and viability, which is a common standard. I informed him of the eye-opening experiences I had had working with terminally and hopelessly disabled people, and was inspired to create exercise for that segment of the population as the most meaningful and urgent -- and realized that the universal principles that worked for the weakest, also worked for the strongest -- but vice-versa was not true, yet that was the widely-accepted model of thinking in this field.

That -- is the shocking revelation -- and the breakthrough idea I claim, and can be demonstrated in every venue, circumstances and condition by those who simply think deeply and quietly on their own -- if such a thing is still possible anymore.

But when one turns the whole fitness paradigm upside-down, the last become the first -- but first, they have to think in that simple actuality, and not reinforce the manner in which they cannot win and have no hope.


At September 26, 2007 11:37 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

Jones had this observation that the strongest (fittest) guy in the room, had no need to constantly "prove" that fact to everyone else.

That's also a truism in the field of martial arts, in which confidence in their ability is gauged by how relaxed a person is -- as the relaxed state, is the amount of potential energy available to that individual, while the person who is hypertensed, has much less of this change of state available to them.

One of the most distressing things to see on infomercials are these exercise experts who are constantly hypertensed -- in the way that they never allow themselves to appear relaxed -- much like competitive bodybuilders, constantly posed in contraction.

That is not an aestethically pleasing experience to be around -- like being around a boss or co-workers under that kind of constant tension that drains everyone around them.

People who are extremely muscular, should spend more time training their muscles to relax -- rather than to maintain constant contraction. Obviously, some people are in a constant too flaccid state -- and that is more likely one's problem than inherent body composition.

One has to learn to be fit -- or at least, to appear to be fit. And for most practical purposes, those who appear to be fit, are fit -- as is required by contemporary standards. One is fit as long as they give that impression of competence and readiness -- and not that they have to bench press their body weight, or run around the block to disbelieving witnesses.

The requirement of modern living, is to be able to access all one's capabilities to do the normal things of their lives -- chief of which is to maintain optimal range and ease of movement for all the things they normally do.

They don't have to create a whole bunch of things they wouldn't otherwise do -- to "prove" their fitness. People exhibit that in everything they do -- whether they realize it or not, or is appreciated by others -- in what is called body language, or the language of movement.

The most expert of these, regard the body itself as their "instrument," like the musician regards his flute, or harp. People who sound the best, usually also look the best doing so. Everything adds up to this kind of totality and completeness of experience.

Such "masters" may appear anywhere, doing anything -- and one is struck by that presence, even if most are not fully aware of why.

So to reduce fitness to one's performance on a treadmill, is to make of life a meaningless and repetitious exercise of thoughtlessness and disintegration. The objective and meaning of life is thoughtful integration -- and that is the meaning of fitness.

At September 27, 2007 12:04 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

Despite the fact that many people have a problem meeting minimum standards of fitness, the industry's response is to raise the bar for that participation rather than lowering it, so that there is unavoidable universal participation.

Virtually everything such "experts" recommend, serves to effectively reduce the possibility for widespread participation -- while increasing the "average" for the decreasing fewer who do persist.

In this misguided way, they hope to bring up the "average."

Even people who have been active all their lives, come to a point where they cease conditioning entirely -- when that is precisely what is needed most in their lives. But the error is in thinking they simply need MORE rather than greatly BETTER and more deliberative and thoughtful conditioning movements -- of such brief daily duration that nobody cannot muster the energy or time to do them.

The problem is making such programs invasive and disruptive to one's normal course of activities -- so that it requires extraordinary reserves of energy to undertake them -- when resources and recovery are very limited.

So one has to adopt a style of exercise that empowers rather than exhausts. It can't be a net negative event -- as the conventional prescriptions are. It has to directly build up one's momentary capabilities -- and not break them down in order to build them up -- which is a conventional notion of the value of exercise.

That doesn't work in a universe and reality of scarce resources. Adult gorillas don't climb trees because they can't climb trees; they don't climb trees because they know to avoid taking undue risks.

The conservation of energy and other resources is one's highest manifestation of intelligence (fitness).

At September 27, 2007 12:59 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

o increasingly, the physical has to merge with the mental, so that in everything one is doing, there is this unified, integrated, focused response that is supremely effective and efficient.

But usually, our expectations move in the other direction -- of not caring whether there is this kind of intensity achieved by integrating all effort. the excuse is that one is getting old and so should be expected to deteriorate -- rather than to improve, and so that expectation becomes the self-fulfilling prophecy.

Champion athletes know that if they wish to hit a peak, it cannot be sustained for long -- but that singular moment of peak, is what distinguishes the quality of their performance -- and just plentiful mediocrity and indifference. Yet that is the popular model of conditioning that fails for so many -- of which they are told simply, they need to do MORE.

Achieving "peak experience," organizes one's entire being in a defining way for everything else they do by leaving that imprint of "perfection." Otherwise, everything devolves into one indistinguishable mass of indiscrimination.

If one can no longer tell any difference, one cannot make any difference -- and even if it did, what would it matter. That's how a quality of life disintegrates.

At September 27, 2007 1:00 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

It's not the workload that is the transformative quality of exercise -- but the attainment of peak experience -- which necessarily has to be brief.

But that is all that is necessary. That "peak" is most simply achieved by simply moving any muscle in the body to its peak -- which is its furthest extreme of voluntary movement.

Bodybuilders are familiar with this concept as peaking the muscle -- but often the exercises and movements they perform, are not the ultimate range of movement for that muscle and bodypart -- but simply the range possible in that movement produced by the use of that apparatus -- with added resistance.

Any apparatus will actually restrict the furthest range of movement possible -- as in touching one's wrist to the opposite ear and continuing to move on in that direction. What kind of machine would one build to make that movement more productive?

None is necessary. The further one moves in that direction, the greater all the muscles in that half of the body are contracted -- without any need to provide resistance. The movement itself eventually provides its own resistance -- but only when the extremes are attempted. In the midrange, there is no resistance -- and that is where most machine manufacturers would provide the resistance. but if one continues to the logical extreme of the range of movement -- resistance is built-in.

That is the range most people don't have a clue exists because they've never been taught to explore the fullest range of their own movements -- but merely perform the movements they are taught, which are greatly restricted to the familiar pushups, situps, chinups, bench press, deadlifts, squats -- that do not even begin to explore the range of easily attainable human movements -- once one realizes they are possible!

That is how most conventional conditioning exercise, actually limits one's movements rather than greatly expanding those possibilities. The same is true for all conditioning.

At September 27, 2007 1:14 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

The heart is the only muscle that typically and invariably contracts to 100% of its capability -- and relaxes to 100% of its capability also, and that maximal difference produces the pulse of blood flow -- which when one replicates in the skeletal muscles greatly enhances that effect.

However, that 100% contraction is seldom achieved -- alternated with the 100% relaxation in the skeletal (voluntary) msucles -- but if it can be realized, produces a healthful effect -- obviously and instantaneously.

Simply increasing the heart rate does not achieve this similar effect but increases the sensation of distress -- which most central nervous systems will interpret as a condition to avoid unnecessarily whenever possible -- because there are only so many heart beats allotted to each individual; they are not infinite -- like the mileage on cars.

Each use exacts a toll -- and so one should use them judiciously, intelligently, conservatively.

Then why things work or why they don't, all begins to make tremendous sense -- and life is not just the bewildering random activity many experts pride themselves on inflicting.

At October 01, 2007 2:30 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

Once one recognizes the specific mechanism by which exercise (movement) provides a beneficial effect, directing flow to the targeted area, then one recognizes the priority one should give to this effort to maximize body functioning.

That would logically be enhancing the flow to the the brain -- and the head which contains the critical senses of the body. When the brain is empowered, it automatically determines what the subsequent order of priorities should be -- because that is the function of the brain -- to do much of this automatically.

That's why it is so important to proceed in this logical priority -- even if one does nothing else. And then the essential other great concentration of sensors and effectors, are found in the hands and feet. There are only five extremities that one needs to ensure obtains this inventory of daily optimal functioning -- preferably, before doing anything else.

This ensures that whatever one subsequently does, he is operating at a high level of functionality -- rather than at his worst. That alone, may make a huge difference in any outcome or performance.

So rather than the conditioning seeming to be an intrusive bother one promises to eventually get around to doing -- it should be programmed as negligibly as possible -- to just be the way one "wakes" up.

It could be as little as one minute and not exceed five. "Five" is kind of a threshold barrier in which most people regard that they are "doing something," and rather than that being the objective as in most conventional exercise prescriptions, the lifelong conditioning strategy, makes it seem as though one is "doing nothing" -- while achieving the 90% that is necessary to do.

That does not preclude that one may want to do more -- as most will want to do because they just feel up to it. But the "compulsion" part does not detract from the enjoyment of that further doing. One is not doing it for some other reason -- ie. for his heart, sex life, fame, etc. -- but for the fulfillment of doing so.

This is a very important consideration in the conditioning for modern life -- which is this fragmentation of reality, experience and knowledge into many unrelated activities controlled by authoritarian figures -- which have this disintegrating effect on individual lives.

Such people will say things as, "Riding a bike is good exercise," rather than that it is good transportation. Proper exercise should not be something apart from living their lives as intelligently as possible -- and obviously displaying that. All these things are not arbitrary and just the latest "political correctness."

People are fit for good reason.


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