_ The gym is a place for experimentation, play, and physical expression. It is not a place for punishment, shame or degradation. In my imaginary utopian society, the gym is a place where people are free to express themselves physically, without overbearing structures, pressures to conform, or any kind of humiliation.
Trying to ‘work off’ the cream tart you ate three days ago is futile. It’s a socially sanctioned form of self-flagellation, and will ultimately lead you to self-loathing and feeling like a failure.
Your health and the shape of your body are not determined by a primary-level mathematical equation comprised of a whole bunch of pluses and minuses. Your shape is determined by your hormonal environment, your genes, your sleep and stress levels, and a billion other things that cannot be calculated, let alone controlled. Whatever you ate, and however you judge it, it is done – it’s assimilated, it’s metabolised, and there isn’t this special pocket of fat that’s reserved for donuts or chips, that you can dip into for energy when you’re exercising or skipping a meal later on. It doesn’t matter how much you ate before, in the future, you will need to eat again.
_ Health and fitness have infinitely more to do with physiological processes than numbers. No surprises there.
The gym is a place for personal development and self-expression through movement, and the acquisition of self-knowledge is not possible in an environment where you are constantly (or even occasionally) judged and humiliated. It will cause you to retreat, it will keep you from seeking the truth of your own development.
In order to develop yourself, it is important that you feel safe enough to explore your own physicality without fear holding you back. The immediate effect of strength training is that it makes you weak, and in an environment where you do not trust that your contemporaries care for you, where you do not trust that they will take care of you when you’re at your most vulnerable, exploring and developing yourself isn’t really possible. And if free expression and physical play is what you’re after, that wont happen in an environment where you aren’t free to be yourself.
As adults, we seem to respond well to some kind of structure. Or maybe we have been told so many times that we need structure, that we have come to believe it’s true? Children play with freedom and intuition, and in a society obsessed with the preservation of youth, isn’t it worth investigating your sense of play through physical expression?
Training is meant to be fun, and I don’t mean fun in a masochistic or cathartic sense. I mean fun in the sense of it being fun.