I love working out at the gym! Well . . . let me qualify that statement: sometimes I love working out at the gym. Other times I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck and just want to lay on the couch and sink into the cushions. What I truly love is the result of working out at the gym, so I heartily recommend exercise: it not only contributes to longevity of life – it improves the quality of that longevity.
There are a variety of exercise options out there, of course, so choose what works best for you, i.e. what fits your particular schedule, and personal tastes.
But whatever you do . . . do it right! Yes, I know that sounds a bit legalistic, but the truth is there are lots of folks who try to exercise without learning the most beneficial (proper) ways to do so. And . . . it does make a difference in your results.
Of course, your objectives will determine what exercises you do, and how you do them. But often I see gym-folk (“gym-folk” definition: much like Tolkien’s hobbits, only not so hairy) breaking one of the old cardinal rules of exercise, i.e. failing to use full range of motion. One example from the world of weightlifting will suffice: failing to use full range of motion while doing forward curls (not allowing the muscle to lengthen to full extension).
Once again, let me clarify: if your objective is merely to exhaust a muscle group, or make it pop so that it looks sculpted, then pardon me. But if you are trying to gain strength, flexiblity, and utility you should always attempt to exercise with full range of motion. [Now I realize I may have awakened and inflamed the gods and goddesses of exercise with that assertion. If so, please correct me at will.]
Of course, my point in this blog is not really to discuss exercise. You aren’t surprised, are you? This morning, while sitting in a Chick-Fil-A, I was reminded that life itself endorses the principle of full range of motion. Or one might say full range of e-motion.
We were discussing the loss of a close friend (Brenda) almost two weeks ago, and that led to a conversation about the sides of life from which we tend to shy away: death, terminal illness, devastating loss, grieving, depression, etc. (the list goes on). It’s interesting (and quite telling) to me that even though these and other difficult experiences are just as much a part of life as the “good” times we experience, these are not the topics you see on billboards; these are like the underbelly of life, and we would hide them if we could.
It occurs to me that the major corporations (including the fast food chain I was enjoying) all focus on the aspects of life devoid of this underbelly. In other words, we live and function as if we will live forever, i.e. we exercise the muscles of life without embracing their full range of motion. We accentuate the popping biceps of life; we ignore (until forced to do otherwise) the underbelly that remains soft and mushy, underdeveloped.
And we’re all about results, right? Indeed!
Yet when it comes to walking through these less-than-preferable times of life, experiencing the full range of e-motion in life, we are reduced to beginners, novices. And we fight the full range of motion as if it’s our enemy; we want to show off our sculpted muscles, but that means we can’t show the entirety of our physique.
The movie, Inside Out (2015), is a wonderful story that describes a young girl (Riley) whose full range of emotions (Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust, and Sadness) are all utilized to help her cope with her family’s relocation halfway across the country. The original story by Pete Docter and Ronnie Del Carmen, validates the necessity for the entire orchestra of our emotions, the “full range” if you will.
The bench press of life can be somewhat unforgiving if one does not exercise with the full range of motion required for a proper lift. Underdeveloped areas create a hotbed for muscles strains and tears. And if we’re not careful, we may discover all-too-late, that the areas of life we tried to ignore were, in fact, the parts that would have given us the physique for which we long.