Abstract Advice Within Strange Times...

Abstract exercise advice, anyways...


As we're all faced with the challenge (albeit one of many) of being cooped up at home, with nowhere to go, it can pose a practical and mental hurdle to keep on looking after ourselves in the manner that we might usually when the world is, you know, normal...


In regular life, we're encouraged to move, get out, spread our physical metaphorical wings and so on as this type of behavior and habits are pretty critical to our well-being, health, physical aspirations, longevity and yadda yadda. We are all aware of the cliché benefits and why we must be diligent at practicing these behaviours and habits - but like many facets of our new lives, we've come to realise how much things like access, congregation, physical space and environmental context can contribute to us doing the things that can be so second nature in "regular life".


I'll concede, for many, exercise and good physical habits aren't "second nature" at the best of times - for many, we're still pushing shit up hill to truly consolidate these things as habitual. But even for the most tried and true "believer" who is a regular at practicing the physical arts, the reconfiguration of "regular life" has probably posed some hurdles, some from unforeseen places. Like, obvious factors such as "I don't have a trap bar, squat rack or heavy enough dumbells at home on the ready" pose their own obvious limitations and aren't lost on anybody... But other things like "I read that crunches are bad for you, so what the 'F' am I going to do for my core stuff if I'm at home?", or to the more abstract concept of motivation and how exercising at home just isn't as conducive to good exercise habits and practice... kinda like how working from home, or a cafe seems okay in theory - but for many people, the environment of being in a place of work, designed for work and looks "worky" actually sets you up to effectively do the work. Home gym vs gym gym can be exactly the same...


So what ado about all this that isn't explained when you google "home workouts"?


Let's broach the more abstract first, because I love that... I suppose, in every aspect - not just in terms of exercise - our new "regular life" means we need to reorganize our expectations, concepts and understandings as to why we might do things, what we can get out of them and how to be effective when shit is different and limited. What I mean by this from an exercise front is that we might need to try and step away from some of our traditional conceptualizations of exercise and training and reorganize that into a framework of application that fits in better with "new life".


What I'm actually saying: "There ain't gonna be a gym for a while, so unless you want to drop big coin when there's no big coin to drop on some fancy home equipment, you're gonna have to do this shit differently and think about this shit differently"


The abstract; Exercise as "practice"


I've said it once, I've said it 1000 times - exercise, movements, training, sports and whatever else is way more effective as a sustainable, long-term, progressive habit when it's treated like a pursuit. Much like practicing your guitar, keyboard, knitting, tennis serve, trigonometry, Japanese or whatever... When the dose is regular, frequent and consistent and is of an appropriate portion with the intent of excellent execution and small ongoing improvements, then the outcomes and benefits of exercise is profound and lasting. After all, we exercise to be healthy, right? And that should apply across our lifetimes, not just the next 12 weeks, or for this summer...


What's this look like? Well, first we must displace the notion that exercise almost always needs to be punishing to be effective or worthwhile. We need to detach from the idea that exercise is an event that needs to be survived or gotten over with (this is hard to grasp). We need to embrace patience, simplicity, attention and work with those concepts to find improvements. We need to be okay with the fact that every time we practice, it probably won't be the most entertaining, exciting or exhilarating experience. But with work and application, even the most mundane can become encapsulating. Kinda like meditation - once we get our attention in order (this takes work), even the task of mere breathing can be interesting.


We also need to be willing to ride the rollercoaster, but try to make the rollercoaster less rocky. What I mean by this is that within any pursuit or practice (especially exercise), this will be a fluctuating journey and we will not be always perfect. We will not be perfect at always adhering, perfect at executing, perfect at being in the mood, perfect at remembering what to do or how this works and progress will never ever be perfect. As cliche as it is, imperfect is part of it... But our big task is to be big-picture steady - as steady as we can be and still trending upwards. That means if you miss a day, don't drop it for 2 weeks. If you only have 5 minutes up your sleeve today to practice, it's still worth it. Don't train like there's no tomorrow, practice for tomorrow! If you're not feeling it today, attempt some things till the mood comes back or failing that, maybe just be okay that your best effort today was a half-arsed effort - but there will be tomorrow to be better.


When exercise is re-framed as a practiced pursuit, with an eye on being YOUR version of excellent coupled with an ambition of bit by bit, bettering your 'version-of-excellent' everyday and being comfortable with the "2 steps forward - 1 step back" nature of constant, long-term improvement, then you will master this. Like, truly have clocked it.

What's this look like as an actual thing? The less abstract? The concrete? The workout? That might come later.


But it kiiinda doesn't really matter...


As a principle, all this stuff applies to anything. Look up 'deliberate practice' if you want a better elaboration done by an actual writer on these concepts more broadly. In terms of the nitty-gritty and the technical stuff that can be done in our "new lives", yes, we might need to heed to some limitations, like space, isolation, equipment and the like. These factors are obvious, we know this. These are the things we can see and touch and I know that these are the tangible "what's" and "how's" people are after and the reasons many people will click on a health/fitness/exercise blog. But it's the un-obvious that is what I want you to tap into now. Because in many ways, for many people, the gyms are gone, the trainers are gone, the workout buddies are gone... The obvious is gone. Yet there's still an abundance of information out there, easily accessible, good information that still never seems to stick. And then there's just you left... How do you - just you - make this work so it finally will stick?


Again, the methods (equipment, movements, protocols etc) are the infinite and obvious here - let go of these things as being "most important". It's the aforementioned principles which are defining, yet few. This is, and always is, most important.

This is "The Tao" or "The Way" to truly get good at this stuff and, I guess, realise all the real and true promises exercise can give us that we all hear about, that few attain, yet can only seek through empty channels like infomercials, magazines and many Instagram fitness "professionals" out there. If you're able to wrap your head around this, and forge into re-framing the utility of "exercise" as now your own personal physical pursuit, then you're doing it... You're arriving.


"Wax on, wax off", student...

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CLINICAL STRENGTH EXERCISE PHYSIOLOGY, 1/27 ASCOT VALE RD FLEMINGTON, VIC, 3031. PH. 0408177834. NICK@CLINICALSTRENGTHEP.COM.AU