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Incurring Debt

Bob Dude sent FW an email, asking that it be posted, with the above title.  His email goes on and on about how effective his workouts are, now that he's adopting a different fitness modality. He says he was doing a strength workout the other night, making himself "even more gorgeous, if such a thing is possible," and a fellow he'd shown some stuff a while back was doing his thing. Sort of slow, deliberate, not actually what Bob Dude would suggest, now that he's doing things differently. He asked the fellow what his goal was, and the reply was, "Strength. And endurance." Oh. Both. With that workout. Hmm.

Well, it's possible, the way pyramids on Mars are possible, or base metal into gold. You know, where things happen in a progression that has no relationship to cause and effect -- just one thing that happens after another thing that went before, for some reason other than what logic and experience would support.

But it got Bob to thinking, he says, about what actually is the outcome of such slowish movements, like pushups from dumbbells and then you lift one of them and twist it into the air while supporting yourself on the other one. Like something you see on an infomercial about DVDs that will get you INSANELY RIPPED! There's no actual intensity -- a slightly elevated heartrate, the fellow said, and some perspiration -- we shan't call it sweat -- and some breathing ... but no intensity. But there's muscular activity, so it is exercise.

The benefit of real exercise? There are two goals. Evoking a hormonal response, which builds muscle by adding contractile protein and therefore strength; and evoking CNS efficiency, so that existing motor units fire more efficiently, resulting in agility, strength, athleticism and so on. Which of these would result from the ponderous workout the fellow was doing? There was no meaningful intensity, so there was no effective (in terms of cost-benefit, effort to outcome) hormonal response. The brain responds to the stress of intensity by causing the release of anaerobic hormones, testosterone and HGH. And there was no meaningful CNS training, since the motions were so slow, so deliberate, that they were entirely under the conscious direction of the forebrain.

If there is such a thing as passive exercise, that was it. Like passive learning, sitting in front of the TV and letting it soak in. Maybe. But if so, the last several generations should be supergeniuses. Having someone else manipulate your limbs into the semblance of an activity that requires actual motor skills may have some therapeutic benefit, like, say, if you have spinal damage. But it's exercise the way a ventriloquist act is conversation. Take charge, is the point. Participate in your pursuit of excellence. There's a cost. But there's a benefit.

The benefit of slow, not very intense exercise? Of course there is one. Of course. Long walks, brisk hikes, bowling or golf -- good pastimes that give a health benefit. Not something however that a gym, of any meaningful description, is about. Not what weights are about -- you know, added strength. Not what athleticism is about -- the mild, moderate leisure-time display seen in most glass-and-chrome gyms sucks up time, and promotes short-term self-esteem, and raises heartrate and gives a pump, but in terms of reaching actual training goals, not so much.

Nagging doesn't do any good, of course, and the observations that Bob Dude made aren't really a criticism. People can spend their time and energy as they please. Be happy. And we have to make our own mistakes, hopefully free from harsh judgments or tragic consequences. And we can receive advice only when our experience has brought us to such a place where it may be heard. So Bob was non-committal, apparently non-judgmental, seemingly supportive in the fellow's greater goals, encouraging in his quest to find what works for him. Bob said, "Do what you enjoy doing. It's not as good as the more effective thing that you don't enjoy, but maybe you'll actually do the thing you enjoy." And they laughed, because it seemed funny and wise.

Now Bob Dude wants you to send him one hundred dollars. He says, "Homie. You were warned up front. You can read. This is called "incurring debt". You don't know what that means? This is a legally binding contract. This is my new career, giving unsolicited but debt-incurring fitness advice on the internet. You read it, you owe me. Send me your Social Security Number, so I can sue you for non-payment or at least ruin your credit. Cuz I know how you are."

It seems Bob isn't as wise as we had come to hope. His character is not entirely reformed. Our opinion about him may have to be revised. Bob says that next time his email, that he wants posted, will be called, "Sexual Satisfaction." He says you should be sure to read it.

No matter. Be excellent.


CrossFit Burbank
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