Warning: Your Gym or Exercise Class is Suffocating Your Soul

The OlderBeast fitness philosophy for the second half of a guy’s life is about spreading our focus across endurance, strength, flexibility and balance.  You can work on all those things in your gym, and do exercise classes that cover those bases, too.  So no disrespect intended to the great gyms and classes out there (nor the teachers and trainers who work there).

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The OlderBeast fitness philosophy for the second half of a guy’s life is about spreading our focus across endurance, strength, flexibility and balance.  You can work on all those things in your gym, and do exercise classes that cover those bases, too.  So no disrespect intended to the great gyms and classes out there (nor the teachers and trainers who work there).

But to contribute most to happiness and longevity, working out should do more than “just” work your physical body in these ways.

Brothers, you owe this to yourself, too:  create opportunity to dwell in your own mind and heart without distractions…to get lost in thought, to help creativity bubble up with ideas and solutions…to cleanse the psychic grime that we accumulate daily in the modern world.

This isn’t just philosophy, it’s science.  Researchers see mounting evidence of benefits we get from open spaces and contact with nature.  Access to, or views of, open space have been demonstrated to improve us physically (e.g. patient recovery times at hospitals) and mentally (e.g. managing life issues, performing better in cognitive tests).

We know this at a deep and instinctive level, and have for thousands of years – that’s why we’re drawn to the ocean and mountains.

Does your gym or class environment elevate you to this?  Gyms are packed with TV’s, blast music that’s not what a 40+ guy wants to listen to (to put it mildly), and are full of other people in your face.  Many of them have few or no windows.  Same for most classes, and there, you’re also focusing attention on the instructor and acting in lockstep with classmates.

So, the gym or fitness class aren’t exactly Superman’s “Fortress of Solitude” or the primal hunter’s sense of inner peace as he surveys the plains.  Gyms and fitness classes can get you fit, but on their own, they don’t feed your soul – which absolutely needs feeding, man.

runner-by-mountains

This is why it’s so important to fold in at least one non-gym/class workout or physical activity per week.   Go for a run or take a hike.  Go cycling on your own.  Paddle across the lake.  Even hitting the pool helps here (no views, but you’re really alone with your thoughts; for more on how to starting swimming, read this).

Or…easiest of all, and something that can be purely additive to your routine instead of displacing something else…take a WALK.  In future posts, I’ll talk more about benefits of walking, but I bet you already know a lot here.  The simplest of all human activities is one of the best.

Rotating these non-gym/class activities into your weekly routine is great, vital even, for your spirit and sense of well-being.

And a bonus:  returning to a narrower view of “physical” fitness, more variety is great for that, too.  It exercises more parts of you, and gives you options to keep going when inevitable injuries or physical setbacks make any one activity hard for a while.

Experiment with this for a couple of months – I’ll bet you a case of beer you stick with it!

“It’s been so long since I’ve seen the ocean…I guess I should.” (Counting Crows, A Long December)

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Guys, You Know It’s Time for Fitness…Here’s How to Start

With all the focus here on finer points of tuning your fitness approach, continuing to eat smarter, and mixing the outdoors and adventure into your activities…I worry OlderBeast may feel inaccessible to guys who don’t (currently) make fitness and good nutrition a habit.

OlderBeast isn’t just about getting even fitter and healthier from a solid starting point, though – it’s about getting started from wherever you are.

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Work At Home? Avoid These Five Fitness & Health Pitfalls!

Guys who go to an office daily might think: “Please…cry me a river about your zero-minute commute. I’d love that time back.”

It’s counter-intuitive that working at home, with commute time avoided, has fitness- and health-related pitfalls. After all, the #1 reason for not exercising is “I don’t have time.”

But having worked at home about half the time over the last decade, I can tell you first-hand: here are five fitness/health challenges that arise (and tips for overcoming them).

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Fitness Planning & Gear

One of These Simple Fitness Tests Will Make You More Bulletproof & Motivated

In business, there’s a saying about the benefit of quantifying things to sharpen focus on them and drive results:

“What gets measured, gets managed.”

This is true for fitness and health, too. And for all of us past age 40, periodic physical tests and assessments are especially important because:

(1) We’re more prone to slow-developing asymmetries in our fitness, which become weaknesses over time — chinks in our armor vs. aging. Fitness assessments help flag potential problem areas so we can address them.

And (2) when assessments find strengths, this is great and much-valued reinforcement of the investments we make in fitness. It’s motivation to keep going…something we all need.
With these benefits in mind, have you done a fitness self-assessment recently? And no, the “Presidential” tests back in gym class in 1970-something don’t count, man.

Here are three simple assessments you can do on your own, with descriptions and pro’s/con’s. I’ve purposely left out tests that require any fancy equipment, and ones that are “hard core” for advanced disciples of any given fitness activity. So, sorry, nothing here about how much you can dead lift or how fast you can run a half-marathon.   

8 Comments
  1. […] Plus, it’s a great way to mentally unplug and to be outdoors with fresh air, under sunshine or moonshine (or in the rain – it’s all good).  This “outdoors” part is critical to your sense of wholeness and joy from fitness – more on that here. […]

  2. […] dimensions. Especially Stress Management, but also in that fitness activities bring us both reflective solitude and the opportunity to be in nature…with both being central to the “Environmental” […]

  3. […] usually have you indoors watching or listening to someone else – not getting the full range of wellness benefits from an activity mix that includes solitude, time in nature, and diversity of […]

  4. […] OlderBeast, we often talk about benefits of walking and getting outside for fitness. Here’s a great article that puts those together…about how walking in nature […]

  5. […] of creating a “positive addiction” for yourself. This likely means sometimes getting yourself out of the gym, […]

  6. […] Gets you outdoors and into nature. Getting all your exercise inside a gym/studio can starve you of some important wellness-enhancing things. […]

  7. […] being inside and following on-screen training. NOT offering benefits of being in nature and having reflective solitude we […]

  8. […] for peace and tranquility. Exercise—especially running or walking outside, swimming and yoga—bring us a respite from the constant press of modernity. It creates time for refreshing mental […]

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