15 September 2014

Fitness does not equal tracksuit pants

Does anybody remember 'Health Hustle'?  Where you'd start the school day by performing a series of stretches and exercises to songs like Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder's "Ebony and Ivory", Olivia Newton John's "Physical" and Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger"?

And we had to all stand in a circle to do it because when we used to do it in lines Arthur bit Elizabeth's bottom one time when we were touching our toes.  Arthur was also the lad who in later years would throw the chalk back at the teacher and hurl a chair (and then his desk) out of the window when he got cross so I don't think it was our teacher's attempt to teach us good habits that drove him to do it.

But I'm kind of curious when we stopped having a good ol' stretch at the beginning of the day to clear our heads and get our brains ticking over.  Sure as we got older and went to high school we had PE but that's just state sanctioned torture for those that didn't yet need a sports bra and who couldn't see the baseball headed for her skull without her glasses on.

Somewhere between primary school and adulthood, we stopped focussing on fitness and started focussing on sports and then finally, we focussed on never having to get back into a pair of tracksuit pants again. Except for Megan, she still loves a pair of tracksuit pants no matter what the occasion.

And now fitness has become all mixed up with skinny, and pecs, and protein powders, and 12 week challenges, and being a badass, and gym memberships and the clothing and less to do with the state or condition of being fit.

I mean fitness is as simple and as difficult as moving regularly and eating well so you can do the things you need to do and you stay well.  Right? Wanna know how right I am?  I just googled it and check it out on FOUR different dictionary sites and they all agree with me.

In fact, the generally accepted lexicon indicates that fitness can be achieved by walking, gardening, dancing, vigorous housework, riding, sex, skipping, tennis, swimming, pushing your pram, taking the dog out, trampolining, skating, anything that gets you moving for half an hour or more, four or more times a week.

Okay - sex might not last long enough for some, so you may need to repeat this to count it as fitness.
Before Michelle Bridges - there were the Wombles
Exercise is good for you, laziness is not. The end.
So why do we think it too hard?  Because fitness has become competitive.  If you do something, somebody does it faster or in lycra or it becomes discredited or you realise that the only person that looked hot dancing those steps was Kevin Bacon and you realised you're happy to sacrifice fitness for dgnity.  And not all of us are programmed to want to do things competitively.  (I am not including about 90 percent of my friends in this because most of them feel a sense of personal failure if they choose the wrong queue at the supermarket so you can imagine how competitive they are about other things.) But other people.... normal people.  They sometimes like to do things just because.

And it's boringly true, fitness is best achieved if you choose something you enjoy rather than something that is on trend.  Because otherwise, unless you're some kind of sadist who only does things that make them miserable, it's not something you'll keep doing.

You don't have to get better at fitness. You can do it incidentally.  Fitness does not need to cost money or any other goal than 'do it'.  In fact, you don't even have to wear tracksuit pants to get fit. It's perfectly acceptable to go for a brisk perambulation in jeans if that is what makes you happy.

Incidental exercise as seen in The Walking Dead
So my essential two tips as an elite athlete:
1. Just do something.  Anything.
2. If you must wear tracksuit pants - don't wear velour.  No good ever came of raising a sweat in velour.

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