Great(er) Expectations

TOTALITY Why it makes sense to expect so much more from your chosen fitness pursuit

What do you expect from your chosen fitness pursuit?

In all probability most will answer something like – improved moods, fitness, physique and health or variations across these themes – and this is a good enough return but what if we changed how we viewed our gym and fitness time and expected no less total personal development from one of the best testing centres we will ever have the privilege to use. A total development that will enhance the whole of our lives in ways never before dreamed of.

The gyms of ancient Greece maybe a good place to look for a better example of total fitness than our disjointed and separating ideas of fitness today. The Greeks knew that unifying all of the parts was what made us unique and that we can be physical, intellectual and spiritual without compromise. Somewhere along the line we have separated out geeks and jocks and any spiritual life as distinctly solitary and convinced us all that we should assume one of those labels at the expense of the others. Well! The Flexarian attitude is all about not accepting a “one or the other attitude” to limit ourselves and thus finding the sweet spots across each spectrum.

I have experienced first hand a loose acquaintance reading my work and expressing surprise that and I quote “someone like me can write philosophically” – needless to say we were not that close. But, that separation and labelling goes on and is rife across our societies. Pathetic and so left brained. Our right brains need to restore some balance, maybe that is one of the things we can work on when we are at the gym. In our research center of life.

In true flexarian fashion I am going to take the liberty of trading some of our 21st century learned gym practices for some of those used by the Greeks in their gyms.

The Greeks didn’t separate the body from the rest of their personal development needs – knowing instinctively that the sum of the parts is so much greater than the whole and in fact a totally different thing than when separated off into parts. The Greeks used gymnasiums as places for physical excellence but on top of that as centres for intellectual excellence also.

The ancient Greek gymnasium became a place for more than exercise. This development arose through recognition by the Greeks of the strong relation between athletics, education and health. Accordingly, the gymnasium became connected with education on the one hand and medicine on the other. Physical training and maintenance of health and strength were the chief parts of children’s earlier education. Except for time devoted to letters and music, the education of young men was solely conducted in the gymnasium, where provisions were made not only for physical education but for instruction in morals and ethics. Philosophers frequently assembled to hold talks and lectures in the gymnasia; thus the institution became a resort for those interested in less structured intellectual pursuits in addition to those using the place for training in physical exercises.

On the down side Greek gyms were men only and the training was naked. For my part I will trade our enlightened attitude to women’s rights and our fondness for keeping our wobbly bits covered up.

In return, I would like to take from the Greeks the use of gyms for improving our minds and strengthening our characters at the same time as our bodies. A great idea and good use of time. I suggest we use gyms to perfect our emotional intelligence to the point of excellence.

There is nothing that we encounter that is not part of the process of personal development. Every moment changes us either a little or a lot. We may as well buy into it and use it to our advantage.

We can then take our new habits into the workplace, family setting and the general run of life in order to foster success and hopefully make the world and our personal world a better place to live in.

But, for now the gym is to become our testing centre

Off the top of my head our list of expected benefits then becomes more like this:

  • Monitoring our emotions & raising self-awareness
  • Managing & controlling our emotions (taming the beast)
  • Motivating Oneself
  • Self-Discipline & Delayed gratification
  • Mindfulness of others
  • Mastering Relationships
  • Better nutrition
  • Improved health
  • Improved fitness
  • Greater mobility
  • Improved physique
  • Better Moods & reduced stress
  • Character development
  • Harmonising mind, body and soul

A vastly improved list worthy of our time –

Gary x