A recent study examined people’s perceptions of control over their life choices. There was a substantial difference in perceptions of control depending on the health status of respondents. People who rated themselves as being in excellent health, scored an average of 20.0 on the mastery scale, compared to 16.1 for those who reported that their health was fair or poor.
If one follows the popular press, the fitness fora, and the so-called blogosphere, it would seem that masculinity is in an unprecedented state of crisis.
In fitness terms, the masculinity crisis occurs at several levels, some of them contradictory: the brute strength guys disparage the “bodybuffers”, while the bodybuffers disparage the “pencil necks”; the guys training for mass rip on the guys training for strength; the guys lifting barbells dump on the guys lifting kettlebells; the guys training with the new technological gadgets regard old-school trainers as a bunch of shambling Cro-Magnon morons; the weight trainers think endurance athletes are wimps and the endurance athletes say the weight trainers are so muscle-bound they can’t wipe their asses, and so forth. Running through this divergent collection of j’accuse is a “lady doth protest too much” level of angstiety over male weakness.
“The gym… Where musclebuilding takes place: crowded, funky, out-of-the-way, insufficiently equipped, wrong atmosphere and full of smudged mirrors and jerks. I hope that doesn’t describe your local iron-and-steel watering hole. If it does, think garage, Olympic set, squat rack, and a bench. The person who must work out can train in any dungeon, believe me. For the beginning trainees, the last impression they need is the most common scene they are introduced to across our fertile pastures and fruited plains: hyped energy, endless stationary bikes and running and climbing machines in a dazzling fluorescent white convention-hall setting, lined with mirrors and occupied with gaily outfitted, but disillusioned hopefuls strutting in unison. Who are they and where do they come from?” –Dave Draper, Iron on My Mind
Leaving work late one night, I spot the headlights of the approaching bus. If I sprint, I can catch it. No friggin way am I going to stand out in the dark at a freezing bus stop! Although I’m laden with full-length winter coat and a heavy knapsack and bags, and therefore run with the grace of a three-legged hippo (not to mention a strange rattling sound from deep within the bowels of my luggage), I go for it.
Even as a sedentary office worker, my day is full of mini-challenges. The morning of the day I ran to catch the bus, I had to tromp through several inches of snow to do a number of errands. Working on campus, I often find myself walking, climbing stairs, running to make appointments, and carrying loads of books.
At the gym it dawns on me how far our fitness practice has come from the demands of real life…
“Who am I?” is the question that most of us are really asking when we fret about challenge and change. I remain convinced that for most people, a chronic injury or illness is not spiritually debilitating primarily because of pain. In the majority of cases, the pain and lack of mobility is controllable and manageable, and does not dominate every waking moment of consciousness. Rather, the psychic blow comes from this damage to our identities, to our sense of ourselves as physically whole.
Those of us living in North America tend to be a bit smug about the quality of life we enjoy. Not to toot our own horn (ah hell, I’m gonna toot it good), but until 2001 Canada ranked consistently as the best place in the world to live according to the United Nations Quality of Life survey.
That North American smugness has recently been tested by various world events and our own shifting demographics. We are getting older, more sedentary, and sicker with illnesses of affluence that previous generations knew little of. Late summer’s hurricanes showed us the creaking, crumbling, moldy underbelly of the United States’ social infrastructure…
For many folks, September remains the psychological “start of a new year”. After all, most of us spent 15 to 20 years (or, in my case, even more, argh) living by the rhythms of the school year. Labour Day is past, we’re mentally off vacation, the days are cooler and our heads are clearer, and we’re ready to sharpen all our nice new pencils to write in our lovely empty ruled books. Now, the shocking true story of an evil mother who MAKES HER CHILDREN WALK TO SCHOOL!!
Not one shred of evidence supports the notion that life is serious!
Raise your hand if you have trouble finding motivation to go to the gym.
Now raise your hand if you have trouble finding motivation to goof off, screw around, be silly, and have fun.
“I like those odds.” –Homer Simpson
Regular readers will recall from my last rant that there are nasty sciatica gremlins in my ass. Yes, my low back and hip are grumpy things at the moment, forcing me to do a little butt wiggle every time I get up from the couch, in order to try to remove my femoral condyle from my sphincter, or whatever the hell is actually wrong in there.
I started seeing a chiro.