Minimalist and pervasive exercise

Category: Lifestyle

I didn’t want to workout today. Or yesterday. But I did it anyway. You might not even call these sessions workouts.

Yesterday at 21:00, the body had all but checked out. Being up since five in the morning, I faced an overwhelming urge to simply lie down and read Victorian English prose. Instead, I dropped to the solid floor and produced five sets of push-ups, each to the last ounce of energy. The session occupied 15-20 minutes with light stretching in-between. An ice-cold shower followed. (The weather has cooled down in the onset of persistent rain. Accordingly, the pipes render the sufficiently cold water temperature.)

Today, with six hours of the morning elapsed in a fasted state, I looked forward to lunch. However, the course took a different turn. I transitioned into a series of bodyweight squats, performing about 180 between two sets, with some calf exercises throughout. Bodyweight squats are the worst. They are light intensity, last awfully long, and after midway point, I count off each additional ten with increasing torture.

Many days, I don’t even plan for exercise. I merely hope that my neocortex will triumph over the lazier side of the brain in the wake of the moment. Fortunately, it does most of the time.

Sometimes Nearly always, walking the streets of Rio, I encounter an exercise kit (planks, pull-up bars, etc). Whatever problems the country may have, horizontal bars are ubiquitous in major cities. I can’t say the same of many more-developed economies.

The clock might strike two in the afternoon on a busy plaza, the hustle and bustle of the working day in full course. Yet I eye that exercise kit and cannot resist. I approach, remove my shirt, and transition right into the pull-ups, one grueling set after another. The ceremony lasts 15-20 minutes. Who knows if the willpower delivers later on. Must take advantage of the moment.

These spontaneous street sessions are actually the easiest to engage. Perhaps it’s my narcissistic side, but I prefer exercise in presence of many observers.

What requires far greater drive is to be at home and find the resolve to perform sessions of abdominals, stretching, and yoga contortions on the barely cushioned solid floor on a rainy evening (or morning). Does anyone genuinely enjoy this?

And yet it’s necessary. So much of that well-being and mental health owes itself to consistent workouts. Make it a daily priority. Do it first thing when in doubt about the rest of your day. At least until the point that it acquires shape of an innate habit, at which point you can afford to experiment with alternate time frames.

Regretfully, many of you rely on gyms. Some rely entirely on exercise classes. For many, exercise is an abstraction coupled with a “working” schedule. Come the holiday, the vacation, or any eventuality that distances you from the beloved gym or bodyworks class, and exercise doesn’t even enter consideration. And it doesn’t require much of a lapse to all but destroy a habit. Then comes injury and depression. Much of my 20’s followed this fatal cycle of gym reliance and work/vacation-mode dichotomy.

Rather, make the habit pervasive. Mold it into an irreplaceable daily routine. Have the drive to exercise anywhere. Travel with a jump-rope. I do this from time to time. No gym in your hotel? Perform a bunch of push-ups in the suite first thing in the morning. Or head out to the hotel patio and improvise there.

Be capable of engaging this habit in settings of any pleasantry or unsightliness: on brick courtyards of a warehouse district with garbage dumpsters and the smell of raw fish; in the unbearably humid setting by an indoor swimming pool; in the ravage landscape of a plain afternoon sun; in a closet-sized tech-noir Hong Kong hotel room; on a decadent city playground full of litter; in an abandoned factory of chemical ooze and poison fumes (my imagination works overtime).

Don’t condition your habit on external factors not within your control.

You might say that I too frequently cover this topic. Or do I? I’ll probably continue to do so. All around we witness immobility, obesity, and obsession with high glycemic index carbohydrates and sugars. The latter is aggressively merchandised, yielding the greatest profit margin by a large differential. (I’ll take for granted that plastic bags of potato chips, processed foods, rice, pastries, and sweetened carbonated beverages yield more income than dark-green seafood salads.)

Your health is not the priority for the food industry. This consequently creates wonderful opportunity for medicine. Both complement each other incredibly well. Both form a sort of symbiotic relationship of great stimulus to the economy. But at what cost?

Questions, comments? Connect.