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03-06-2012, 02:45 AM
Join Date: May 2006
Location: New York City, New York
Into the Wild
I get bored with weights. I get bored with running. I try to avoid doing these things as much as humanly possible, so I like to come up with fun ways to work out. I don't necessarily have access to awesome things like giant tires, or even kettlebells, on a regular basis. This weekend, I found myself out in the woods with a group of eighth graders working on leadership training.
During the weekend, I realized that I had a few extra hours to kill while some of the other adults ran the program. I wasn't needed and, in fact, really needed to get out of the campsite. I also realized that there was an axe that was going to be used to work on some wood skills during the weekend. So I went for a short walk out of the campsite, and took the axe with me.
There are a few things that I really love about working out in nature:
I live in a city that smells like cow ass. I was raised in a city that, while environmentally friendly, is still a city. I don't like the smell of the tailpipe anymore than I like the smell of agriculture. Being able to open up my lungs without closing my nose is nice.
I don't like working out around other people. I find them a constant distraction when I am trying to advance myself. The solitude of a workout keeps my focus where it belongs, on me.
I leave the volume up on my iPod to keep myself from listening ot the sounds of other people working out. I deeply appreciate having the opportunity to listen only to the sounds of my own breathing and whatever it is I'm doing in the workout.
I really do love the space in the wilderness. Being able to take a breath and do something other than bathe my ears in the music from my headphones is a really important aesthetic experience. It also makes it much easier to lower my heart-rate as I take a breath.
There is also something nice about taking an axe to a piece of wood. After the workout is done, there is something that has been broken. There is a task that has been accomplished. The problem with my workouts at home is that I don't find the numbers that motivating. I also don't like to keep track of those numbers.
They feel arbitrary to me. Why am I doing 12 reps per set rather than 14? Why am I running three miles and not four? When I have a task, I can focus on the work at hand and not think about the numbers. I find that the absence of this distraction makes my life much easier. Also, the presence of the task acts as a particularly useful motivator and a good opportunity to explore my own motivational methods.
Anyway, I don't get the opportunity to work out like that very often. I likely will never have that opportunity more than rarely, though I may periodically create that opportunity for myself, as I did this weekend. It was a wonderful experience, and a good reminder of what it feels like to have a successful workout, and what the muscles feel like afterwards.
I should also say that I appreciate the woods as a wonderful place to think. I pride myself in having embraced a philosophical worldview that includes the body and mind in the project of living a productive, happy and healthy life.
While I was out in the woods, I found myself considering some of the approaches to martial arts and philosophy that I had not pondered in a few years. It reminds me why I appreciate, so deeply, the project of an individual style of martial arts; the codification of a series of ideas (which is what a martial arts system ought to be; what matters are ideas and not techniques) is not a simple task.
It is similarly not simple to pass that series of ideas on through generations o practitioners, and allow it to evolve. There are some groups who hand down techniques: the idea that there is a way that a move should be done, and a certain set of moves that work. This isn't something I've ever been able to empathize with.
Anyway, I figured I would share, as I haven't posted nearly enough on here the last few months.
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