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Posts Tagged ‘fitness’

To Gym or not to Gym?

In Health, work life balance on November 9, 2019 at 00:02

I started gymming after a friend pointed out that I was in no shape to defend my girlfriend from hooligans. It was the first year of college. I had neither abs or a girlfriend. And I had no plans. But to my adolescent mind that was reason enough to start. 15 years later I still can’t stop gymming. Motivations have changed and so has the GDP. But I still go three days a week, 4 if I am not touring and not writing such posts at 2 in the night. It is better than any other habit I would have picked up in college. But all these years later I am still not sure if regular exercise is a good investment in time. 

Nicholas Taleb says, ‘Gymming is to physical exercise what social media is to socializing.’ It should come down to goals and my current goals are longevity and aesthetics, in that order. But then Taleb also says, ‘Modernity’s dual curse is to both to make use live longer and age faster.’ And if your gym plays Kabir Singh on loop for 6 months straight, is the longevity even worth it?Research over the past several years has been disconcerting. 
Even at the lowest average of 2 days per week and 45 minutes per session, I have spent 70,000 mins = 50 full days at the gym, more than three months if you count only waking hours. Not to mention, coming and going, shower and supplements. I hope that it is at least adding more days than it is taking away.
Research on this topic over the last several years has been disconcerting. One study shows mice who were on a healthy diet outlived mice who were on a healthy diet plus exercise. The hypothesis is that while there are benefits; exercise adds to the wear and tear of the body which adds up as ageing and all the conditions that come with it. This is corroborated by latest research on ageing that shows intermittent fasting as the surest way to live longer. All the protein supplements and excess calories cannot be helping. Most of us overeat as if we are compensating for dying of starvation in a previous life. Mild exercise and dignified eating are the only way to go.  
What about all the Mr. Olympias and other sportsmen then? The straight answer is, we never hear from the ones who are past their prime and off the air.  And they don’t have a day job to hold on to.
There are fringe benefits of improved posture and confidence, increased basal metabolic rate and an endorphin boost. But as a student of philosophy I am too acutely aware of the passage of time to let these be deal-breakers. In a world of unlimited pleasures, taking out an hour or more for exercise is nothing short of sacrifice. And just feeling good about yourself cannot be reward enough. The media onslaught of perfect bodies and the Nike onslaught of sweaty motivational videos is overwhelming. But if you are someone who reads my blogs you can easily see past these things at least more than the average Salman fan.
The clock of mortality is ticking constantly. Al of our efforts to shore up against its ultimate collection day are so in vain that it is not even funny. Coveting an idealized physique or even some  arbitrary peak  performance may be taking way more time from the bank than the quality it adds. It is like we are all preparing hard for a final exam for which the result is already out. The best we can do is celebrate the anti-climax. To quote one of the greatest movies of all time, ‘Get busy living, or get busy dying.’ 

Marathons and the art of Outrunning Hubris

In Health, humor, SlavesInc, work life balance, Working on Weekends on January 31, 2018 at 17:45

There is nothing like a saleable product. Any product, service or idea that has margins can and will be exploited to its legal limits and beyond. And if it gathers enough steam it will itself become a part of law and eventually canon. That’s how most religions were born and how new social customs find footing.

One of the most saleable ideas of the past decade has been simply the act of running. Everyone can do it, almost everyone. It is very difficult to feel bad about or guilty after running, unless you have caused yourself an injury but more about that later. You can sell everything from space-age t-shirts to cattle tag watches to electrolytes that cost as much as scotch around the mere activity of sprinting. Marathons have become city-defining events to the extent that taxpayers see no absurdity in paying money to be allowed to run on their own calories in their own city on their own streets. In fact, they look forward to it.

Image result for forrest gump gif

It is every marketer’s waking wet dream. Our lives lack many things; direction, motive and target being the most common absentees. A marathon packs all these into one certified package, a space-age solution to an age-old problem.

In the classical world, Marathon runners were employed because the 4G bill hadn’t been passed yet, labour was cheap and capital punishment was indulged in like dessert. Marathon runners would run hundreds of kilometers without Nikes over dirt roads and such to deliver your message. Sometimes, they never made it. Other times, they did but later died of exhaustion. And if the recipient didn’t like said message, they were known to cull the messenger without even offering him Gatorade first. That is probably where the expression ‘don’t shoot the messenger’ comes from (Please do not try this with your Blue Dart guy). You could afford to this if you were royalty of course. If you were a commoner, you probably didn’t have any friends on the other side of the Alps to ping. But in the modern world, marathons have somehow come to stand for celebration of the triumph of the human spirit. Over what? Hamburgers?

At a time in history where most of our frail muscle power is redundant and the parts of our body we use the most are our eyeballs and fingertips, a feeble display of our collective sprinting abilities reeks of vanity. After you’ve worked yourself ragged over the week, the same companies now want you to transform into weekend warriors who will overcome a life time of stuffing your face with cheese with a couple of months of preparation leading up to one day of running. The effort to get a city of over 10 million people into festival mode is a gargantuan one. And they do a scary-good job of it. But with enough profit and political will, we could have been on Mars right now and had a Mars Marathon…sponsored by Mars bars with Bruno Mars as the opening act.

Then, of course, there are those running for a cause.
“I am running for __ (insert cause of choice from pandas to penguins to pygmies).”

If only it were that easy. It is a step ahead of push button activism but many steps short of any real difference. Fitness of the body is an everyday habit and fitness of the mind is a life-long struggle. It is not a public holiday based circus event. Marathon see as high as 50% of participants needing medical attention. Is this not enough for people to wake up from their ad-induced trance and for the health authorities to wake up from their general state of coma? Running for long periods on hard surfaces (few are harder than concrete) is terribly ill-advised. There are enough studies and general understanding of anatomy to prove it. But all the products that can be sold to inactive consumers at home have already been sold. Only your own pain receptors and sense of self-worth can save you now.

Sure some people feel elated after running, specially if it gets 100 likes on Insta. But the rest of us are just caught in a wave of mass paranoia and marketing afterburn. There are many blogs, videos and stories that have you convinced that few things will make you as happy as running. But that faint throbbing you feel in your head after a morning jog through industrial smog…is just peer pressure that under the anaesthetic of daily drudgery and hourly advertisements, it may vaguely feel like happiness. Just like bungee jumping, Zumba and MBAs.

Running is not even a complete body exercise. And anyone who has bored himself to death on a treadmill will tell you that the calories burnt can be undone a couple of glazed donuts or one chocolate eclair. The most dangerous aspect of this entire circus are the stress injuries and long-drawn joint niggles. Prolonged physical stress and exertion shoots up a lot of adrenaline and you feel the damage only next morning when you have only yourself left to blame. Boxers go through this in every match. But they don’t have to submit that sales report the next morning after wading through two hours of rush-hour traffic.

There is nothing like a saleable product. And anything that doesn’t kill you immediately will keep selling with Warning Labels.

– Punit Pania