Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Why do we workout?

I've been feeling burned out--long summer of training for a long race.

I need a change, probably temporary, but a break from the usual running, biking etc. regime.

Looking for the fresh, I tried a new workout yesterday morning. It's called the Nalini method--but elsewhere in NYC (and, I gather, LA and other like locales) a similar workout is variously called Physique 57 (which I tried this morning) or Core Fusion. The workout is billed as a combination of yoga, pilates, barre work (i.e. ballet), strength and resistance training, with, it seems to me, some boot camp thrown in. All this will make me longer and leaner--I wish.

Or do I really? Is that even why I workout?

I'm not usually a class person (so is it really the change I'm resisting?), except for yoga, but somehow that doesn't feel like a "class" in the same way. The yoga I traditionally take focuses on alignment and calming the mind. For me, yoga is simultaneously energizing and soothing. So is running, and biking, and hiking, and swimming, and cross country skiing and so on.

So is that why I workout? To soothe and calm?

Or is it to be outside, rain, snow or shine? Or maybe to be strong, to test my mental and physical endurance? To forestall aging? So I can eat chocolate cake?

Or maybe it's to do something special, that I think other people can't do?

Then I get knotted up worrying that some of those reasons are vain, or arrogant, or delusional.

Until I remember the reason of reasons--joy. Too much thinking is going on, and not enough feeling. I need to stop wondering "why" and feel the answer. Do my Eckhart Tolle, Power of Now, scan of my physical-emotional being and ask, am I happy? Do I feel pleasure in my very fibers?

Then I have my answer--for me, the joys of owning this body are in all the things we do together (my body and I, that is), the places we can go together--to the little red lighthouse on a morning run, to ride over a mountain pass, to swim in a lake, to explore a new city. The sheer pleasure of propelling my body through space is what I want from my sports in the end. The other night coming home alone, after dinner with a friend, I was overtaken by a rush of profound happiness, the air was heavy,pre-rainstorm air, and the damp sidewalks shimmered, I started running--I'm sure I looked silly in my platform boots and velvet pants, handbag gripped awkwardly to my shoulder, but it felt oh so good, I didn't care.

So will I stick with these classes? I don't know yet. But I know that answer is connected to whether they will be of benefit in my sports. Will my hamstring attachments stop their constant complaints? Will I run more easily? Will I feel stronger on my bike or my skis?

I'll give it a Tolle feel, while I nurse my sore muscles.