Posted by Kyle
Exercise has been a constant throughout most of my life. I would even go so far as to say that it is my favorite hobby. In that regard I count myself very lucky as I know that for most it is a dreaded activity done out of necessity, not enjoyment. For me, it started way back when I was 12 years old. Grade 6 was not my best year; I was chubby, out of shape and didn’t feel great about myself. So when the sign went up at school looking for run club members, I figured, what the heck let’s give it a shot.
During those first years my running style was more meatball then gazelle. I was slow, but I had reasonable endurance and found I could run for a long time. I should note that I have always had pretty good will power so out of sheer stubbornness I would force myself to finish the entire run. Fast forward a few years to grade 9 and I was leading the run club in speed and distance, routinely running up to 10 km.
By the time I got to high school I had shot up in height and was little on the lanky side (6’3″ish, 185 lb). So I decided I would do what all teenage boys do and hit the gym. I joined the YMCA next to my high school and started going a few days a week. In those days I would try anything and everything. If it was in a book, magazine or on the internet I had probably tried it. I had zero direction and was just trying to pump as much iron as possible. It wasn’t until years (and a couple of shoulder injuries) later, that I was introduced to the
cult community of Crossfit.
Now for those of you unfamiliar with Crossfit, their tagline is “the sport of fitness.” In a nutshell, it is a high intensity, short duration training program built on a set of functional movements (I’ll explain these in more detail in future posts). Every day the Crossfit mother-ship posts a different workout of the day (WOD) on their website. Then, Average Joe’s like myself can go online, write it down, then head to our local gyms and crush it. You can also attend classes at Crossfit gyms (called “boxes”), but at the time I simply could not afford the membership and now that I can I am just way to cheap to pay for it.
I was introduced to it by a colleague back in the early days of the “sport” and I was instantly hooked. I was at the gym 6 days a week trying to beat my time or push more weight and I saw huge improvements in my general fitness in a very short period of time. But as with all things – when you burn the candle at both ends you start to get tired. I skipped a day here or there but then days turned to weeks and weeks to months and long story short, life got complicated. A few promotions, several houses and two kids later I am not nearly as consistent as I would like to be, but I’m working on it.
Now the reason I mentioned Crossfit specifically is because even though I do not strictly follow the program any more I do still adhere to their principals. I
believe, nay know, that in order to achieve maximum usable fitness you must do exercises using your own body weight, in movements that you will actually use in real life. There is no use in being able to curl 60 lb dumbbells as that will literally never be useful anywhere but the gym and the beach. Instead, focus on things like sprinting, squatting, jumping, lifting weight over your head; exercises that will come in handy in your actual life.
When our pre-historic ancestors were chasing wild game across the plains they had to be able to run long distances, jump over boulders and logs and use their core strength and shoulders to throw a spear. At no point did they look at themselves in the river and think “my biceps could be bigger, better do some curls.”
As with my philosophy on nutrition I think it is important to look at our evolution as a species and live the way that we were designed to live. By keeping the duration short, intense, varied and simple you will develop complete and usable fitness that will allow you to live a better life.
I want to leave you with a sense of my history with exercise and how I train so you have the right context for my future posts on the topic. I will detail a variety of exercises that you can do with minimal or no equipment at home – saving you time and money. The best exercise plan is the one that you can stick to and by keeping it simple you will be able to achieve your goals. It is well documented that people who eat well and remain active live longer, happier lives in their retirement. So please make some time for exercise, your kids and grandkids will thank you for it.
In a soon to be released post I will share our in-progress home gym project. This combines 3 of my favourite things: exercise, renovating and saving money. I will show you how you can take an unused corner of your house or garage and turn it in to a functional work out space.