Meaningful Work: Evaluating My Fitness Routine

Deprived of meaningful work, men and women lose their reason for existence; they go stark, raving mad. ~Fyodor Dostoevsky

We’re not idiots.
Maybe the “busywork” that a vacationing teacher left for her substitute teacher to give us worked through our first few years of elementary school, but it didn’t take us too long to wise up, did it? At some point, we were like wait a minute.

There are so very many fitness fads floating around the Internet and our home communities these days.
Fitness. Working out. Work.
And sometimes I think, “Everybody’s doing X, so I guess I need to do X too.” And then at some point–usually the point at which I find myself pondering a hamster on its wee hamster Ferris wheel–I think wait a minute.
How do I know if my fitness routine is busywork, or meaningful work?
Well, I have to ask myself:
Will doing those particular exercises help my body immediately and long-term? More specifically: Does it go beyond strengthening my body for ordinary life tasks to pushing my body toward overuse and unnecessary movement? Do the people advocating this fitness trend seem to be in it for the money, or the bragging rights, or the competitive nature of it, instead of centering their concern and passion around helping participants enact healthy, realistic lifestyle changes? Will I be able to physically do this sort of workout (although modified) in a decade or two, or is this workout heavily dependent upon my relatively young age, my currently-problem-free body, and the physical presence of the venue? Is it going to hurt me more than it will help me?
Because, sure, I can do fierce-looking side crunches (or a number of yoga poses) now with the majority of my body weight resting on my little wrists, but I am going to need those wrists later in life. Those cast iron pans aren’t going to lift themselves off the stove.
Because, sure, I can run up flights of stairs and then drop for twenty, and then do, like, 100 burpees (Actually, I cannot. I cannot do that many burpees. I will not.), and then run again, but the food, oh my goodness the food I must consume to support this intense cardio routine…..really? For what? Seriously, for what? I want to be healthy, but I don’t want to be hungry all the time because I’m making my body a kiln. And I want my old self to be able to thank my (relatively) young self for not smoking my joints on a whim in the name of some fitness craze that reached it’s apex and nadir both in the same year. I want to experience the emotional high and that good muscle soreness that I get when I know I’ve just completed a quality exercise session, but not that pain that ensues after I’ve just forced my body into some unnatural position–or the headache after an exercise bout that was just too intense for too long.
I want my workout to be meaningful. I want it to be a good investment, not just a thoughtless purchase.

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