Sunday, December 26, 2010

Fitness Is An "Expression" Of Who You Are

Probably the single greatest difference from my teaching of exercise from every other, is the realization that "fitness" has value, as the basic expression and communication of that individual, rather than as most others regard it, as a self-isolating and self-aggrandizing activity -- usually against, or in competition, against all the others, including one's self.

Such people condition themselves to make everything hard and difficult, as their virtue, and justification and rationale for doing it -- because they are uncomfortable with the idea that they are in this context of relationships and communication with all others and their environment. The classic tale of this, is the Greek fable of one who drew his strength from the earth, and eventually is defeated by an opponent, who lifts them off the ground from that contact and sustenance, for an easy defeat.

Even in the context of athletic activity, one's greatest success and triumph, can only come in the success in communicating to one's teammates, what they are doing, and what they intend to do -- and not simply limiting that information, to envisioning in their heads, with nobody else's knowledge and awareness of that fact. We call that mastery, making everyone (the team) better, and not only oneself -- as might happen if one thinks they are in competition with everyone else, including their own teammates, and even against themselves, which would obviously be a damaging and destructive strategy for conditioning oneself -- yet nevertheless, a very common one, by self-destructive individuals and instructors.

So two things to keep in mind in the performance of any movement -- is that one should always move with eyes wide open, and not as many do, with their eyes tightly shut -- because one would never move appropriately and productively, by shutting out that visual information. And so the conditioning, would also be the expression of lifting one's eyebrows so that the eyes are wide open at the moment of maximal expression -- rather than shutting them, as many do -- and in this way, lose their essential contact with what is going on, at every moment of their effort. Because in that blink, the whole world could have changed, and one would not be aware of that.

And secondly, while lifting the eyes and eyebrows (one of the most common plastic surgery procedures), one would wish to communicate approval and acknowledgement, which is the smile, rather than the frown and/or grimace, which indicates discouragement and denial, that one should continue in their own efforts. That is the basic work, as well as play, in contemporary society -- that coordination and collaboration with all others, at every extemporary moment, which is likely to be the "world" most leading edge individuals live in -- that social and environmental context, rather than isolated in a cave somewhere -- and conditioned to live in that mentality.

But such "fitness" would not optimize their lives in the contemporary world, but isolate and put them at odds with everyone else -- for a much more difficult life and existence, and seeming perpetual struggle, against ever greater odds. That whole way of thinking has to be turned around, so that one's basic conditioning (orientation) and fitness, is to first identify, the easiest and most effective course, before applying one's own efforts most successfully and productively.

That is to say, that one's first task, is to take in as much as the information as possible, and with that information, inform all the others of that same information, so that everyone's efforts can be maximized, rather than used to simply cancel out each other's, as a poor prognosis and response for survival. The individual (indivisible) means the whole, and not just the part.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

First, Do No Harm

The most common cause of people giving up their exercise, is because they get injured from it -- whether walking, running, weightlifting, tennis, martial arts or basketball, etc., and so the most effective lifelong exercise, must minimize this possibility, while at the same time, be the rehabilitation from such injuries, which then becomes preventative.

Most people have therefore been advised to do a five minute warm up before embarking on their injurious and often life-threatening activities -- when it should be obvious, that the five minute workout (warm up), is the productive part of their exercise/conditioning activities, and the regular activity, increases the risk-to-reward ratios, which is seldom true of the warmup phase and activities.

But that is why it is important to make the warm up program as productive as possible, as well as realizing that is in most cases, what is necessary before engaging in their normal daily activities, that might include bicycling, swimming, walking, running, even self-defense, and any other, injury avoidance maneuvers -- because that is what one is conditioned to do -- despite not repeating those movements endlessly and thoughtlessly, as though that was enough to convey great skill at the unprecedented responses, skills and agility that will indeed be life-saving and/or life-enhancing.

That is to say, that the great conditioning value, is to be able to rise to unprecedented and unique challenges, and not just repeat a treadmill activity endlessly -- as though the end result would be any other than a treadmill existence of conditioned and programmed mediocrity and routine. Conditioning has to have some greater meaning and purpose in this meaningful way -- and not simply becoming increasingly a mechanical, programmed human turned into a tireless machine. That is what makes humans unique and different from machines -- that perform a movement tirelessly and unvaryingly in the same fashion all the time.

The great value of human activity and conditioning, is that it enables one to break through to a higher level of achievement and performance, and not just repeat the same or present capability forever. That's not what motivates and engages human striving and effort; it has to have that component of improvement, and not simply repeating the same, endlessly -- as though that was all that was meaningful and possible. Most people quit such programs as soon as nobody is supervising and urging them on to continue -- because left on their own, there is no motivation and drive, except for that external coercion.

The fact of the matter is that one came into this world alone, and will probably leave the world in the same way -- and so at some point in one's life, one has has to become their own motive force -- which is to go where they have not gone before, and so what is important, is to define how that might be possible. One can design programs of activity that ensure one's failure and eventual elimination, or one can re-create their lives anew so improvement is perennially possible, so that they always remain engaged.

Yet far too many people, select activities and manner of participation, that immediately and successively, eliminates themselves from that participation. Most common is to compete with the young as one becomes increasingly old, which is a self-fulfilling prescription for failure. But is one perfected at 20, or can there be improvement at 30, 40, 50, 60, 70..., and what would make that progression possible?

Obviously, one has to rethink improvement as something other than just being youthful, and that continuation and perpetuation -- and in that manner, one can become "ageless," so that people will not simply say that one is in good condition for an old person, but the thought of age, never enters one's mind in considering those capabilities -- and in that way, one becomes ageless, and better -- and not merely more of the same.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

If You Don't Get Better, You'll Get Worse

When one is young, it seems like one gets better no matter what one does, but when one becomes old, things seem to get worse, unless one makes them get better. Life is never staying the same, no matter how much one tries to make it so. There is always change, and so the choice one can make, is whether the orientation and organizing principle of that life, is to get better, or get worse -- and if one deliberately doesn't make that effort to get better, they will surely get worse -- which is to achieve a mindless, random result -- and so the great drive in life, is this quest for improvement -- or not.

In this manner, one chooses life (growth) or death (deterioration) -- as long as one can tell the difference and make it matter, as the exercise and expression of their will (to live). Otherwise, it doesn't matter if one chooses life or death, improvement or decline, and eventually, one no longer has the power to effect that desire as the great organizing principle and experience of their lives. This fundamental, and basic orientation, is how one approaches and does everything in life -- so there is improvement, rather than at some point, a reversal that overwhelms one's life until one feels they do not have this control over the course and shape of their lives, existence, experiences and outcomes, and their only hope and recourse, is that somebody else can change that.

Increasingly, that
control is claimed by some expert, professional, or politician, who promises that if one lets them do all their thinking for them, everything will work out perfectly -- which is to say, that one no longer has control over one's own life. And the whole meaning of humanity, and individual lives, is not the control of every other life, but merely one's own, and from that power, derives all other.

It is a very simple and basic lesson -- that changing the world, as one is taught is a very noble purpose, must begin with changing one's own life and immediate environment, as the world one can change -- always. If not, then changing the world one doesn't actually inhabit and effect, has no meaning but is a delusion that one is doing something other than what one actually is -- which would be to make the world worse, thinking one is making it better.

In a healthy, integrated life, there is no contradiction of thinking from doing -- but the thinking is one's doing, and not separate from it -- which are always the problem, the disease, and the struggles of the world -- to become other than what is. That is the essential problem -- and never the solution. Because when one understands what one is (doing), there is no conflict of the world in what is, and what one wants it to become otherwise, which is the nature of violence, force and aggression.

But moving with understanding of what is, and not trying to force what is not to be what is, is the denial that makes the resolution (betterment) of anything, impossible.

For this reason, any discussion must examine the understanding of the facts, and not assume they own the facts, and everybody else better "get with the program," because there is no other way. The great improvements in the human condition, is the discovery of other ways -- and not more conformity and obedience to the one way, any group of individuals or trade associations, insists is the only way that one can think about these things.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Being in Shape is a Skill and Not a State

People are often surprised that the strongest people, are often not the most muscular-looking people, but in fact, have looked very out of shape -- mainly because they didn't think that looking "in shape," in the conventional sense of that word, was very important. In fact, in the old days before bodybuilding became mainstream popular in the '60s, it was regarded largely as a "gay" thing, just like being a "metrosexual" male is presently.

Undoubtedly, many bodybuilders do tend to narcissism, as many do who are overly dependent on the approbation of others, as their chief motivation and meaning, which then makes them very susceptible to manipulation by unscrupulous others. That is the typical experience in being young and in the schools and other mass institutions, where conformity to the norm of "political and intellectual correctness" is demanded for participation and validation, of which the unsuspecting novices in any activity are very vulnerable to.

In time and persistence, they come to realize the validity of their own (personal) experiences and experiments, over the conventional wisdom, and particularly, recognize the insidious way truths come into being, largely by their repetition, and often plagiarism, of those claiming those ideas as the inventor, or at least, one of its first disciples. But the test of that originality (authorship), is whether they can produce another, and a next, etc. -- rather than simply repeating and replicating the conventional wisdom, as though they thought of everything themselves -- which is authoritarianism rather than the authority it hopes to imitate.

Being an "authority" means being the author, or originator of that idea, while the authoritarian, claims that authority, simply as an entitlement -- as many "teachers" do, but wonder why they don't "command" that respect, and frequently, are even ridiculed and disrespected so that they cannot face an audience any more, but have to be promoted to a position as an "educational administrator," because they no longer have a visceral credibility beyond their past honors and achievements.

But that is what "science" and "art" really is -- that productiveness and inquiry into the present great quandary, and not simply repeating the old as though it were the new, to a more uninformed audience.