I used to write a regular newsletter for my business, but contributing weekly columns here largely has brought that output to a screeching halt. It’s not a complaint so much as an admission to my limited capacity for meaningful output. To the extent that I lament my newsletter’s slow demise, it’s because I miss having an avenue where I could explore broadly without fear of alienating anyone. That is, if you signed up for the Present Tense Fitness newsletter, you sort of knew that you were just as likely to get a think piece on street art as you were anything about squats.
In this space, I know people tune in a least partially because they want to learn about something fitness related. I confess to being a little self-conscious about the sometimes tenuous connection between what I write here and straight up fitness. This self-consciousness is a close cousin to the insecurity I sometimes feel around my own accomplishments (or lack thereof) in the weight room. I’m not as strong as most well-known trainers, for example, and I’ve never competed in any sport at a high level. So why the hell should you even listen to what I have to say about fitness?
When I describe what I do, I try to be clear that I’m not the guy to go to if you’re trying to achieve a 600-pound deadlift. I can teach you how to deadlift, but if you’re looking for elite, I’m just not the right guy. Sometimes I feel that my niche–people who are new to fitness who are trying to live well-rounded, rich lives–is an excuse used to paper over my own lack of accomplishments. But then my clients remind me why I do this, and why the way I’ve chosen to use the space can be useful.
Earlier this week I was coaching someone who told me they “hate the gym.” We’ve been working together a while now, and this person is thoroughly convinced of strength training’s efficacy. That’s not in doubt. What is in doubt is whether this person will ever be the type of person to love driving to a place, maybe changing clothes and heading over to the power rack, and busting out some barbell front squats. That’s likely never gonna happen.
But yoga, yoga is something this person has always loved. And having been convinced of why strength training is important and can measurably improve one’s life, this person sprinkled in some dumbbell work with a recent yoga workout.
And loved it.
Will this client ever load up 225 pounds on a bar and squat to depth?
Will this client deadlift twice bodyweight?
Will this client compete in a powerlifting competition?
No. I try generally to avoid words like never, but I can safely say in this case the answer to these questions is almost certainly “never.”
But can this person love the body they inhabit?
Can this person live a life full of passion, soul, and creativity?
Can this person with a combination of yoga and selected strength-training exercises mitigate bone density loss, enhance mobility, and increase the amount of lean body mass while decreasing fat mass?
Yes. So much yes.
So whenever I get that imposter feeling, that feeling that I’m not really serving a purpose, and that I ought to use this space to break down the force vectors involved in a high-bar back squat, I remember conversations like I had this week.
Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t find the right mix of exercise for you. That you shouldn’t run. Or you shouldn’t do yoga. Or that you’re wasting your time if you’re not doing X, Y, or Z. (Especially Z. Z is overrated).
I’ll say it again. Every person on the planet ought to be doing some sort of weight-bearing exercise at least two days a week. What form that takes though can be highly individualized. Chances are if you’re reading this you’re not getting ready for the Olympics, so your goal is to find the right combination of exercise that will allow you to live a life full of passion, soul, and as much creativity as your brain can handle. Live. Get stronger and go out there and live.
Edit: I actually sent out a newsletter ahead of this column. It was about songs with outer space as a theme. I’ll say you’re welcome in advance for not writing about that here.