“Rowers always have strong arms!” My boss’s boss then grabbed my wimpy bicep, covered the awkwardness with a quick platitude, and we changed topics during our lunch meeting last year. Only last week did that sink in: I have weak arms. My leg-focused rowing form made my leg muscles solid, especially my calves, it’s just I’ve been under-utilizing my arms. I’m seeing an increase in my meter counts now that I’m building my arm muscles.
I face my fears during every rowing set. Sometimes, it’s nothing dramatic; just investing time into moving my limbs around. Usually, I’ll focus subconsciously on some internal turmoil along with routes through that. If it was one awkward conversation, I might ruminate about how much I care about future similar awkwardnesses. If it’s addressing some lingering stress, I’ll gather up the courage to face it down. We should often practice these sorts of fear staredowns.
I am not in fitness for the crossfit, gym bro, “get buff” mentality. I’m in it for me, my general health, and increasing writing potential. I don’t want to give in to fatigue while writing, miss “the shot,” or not complete a task because I didn’t have the physical or mental fortitude. I view fitness, then, like sharpening a tool to a point that’s good enough rather than spending hours trying to make it perfect.
I strive for independence from external validation. As nice as it is to read positive comments, ruminate on constructive criticism, and receive compensation, I honestly believe all of those vindications mean nothing if you are not content with yourself and what you’re doing. Fitness helps me practice internal validation. When I row with my best effort, it doesn’t matter when the results aren’t great compared to yesterday or your stats, because I’m practicing my independence.
Fitness instills this sense of discipline: minor inconveniences will not impede major progress! Throughout any typical set, if all goes fine, there shouldn’t be any long-term strains or short-term pains. There shouldn’t, at least, other than maybe the mild sting of moving your muscles. Once that soreness is gone, all that’s left is the single-minded focus on your objective: completing the set/goal. It may not be great, or good, but the result will be complete.
How much can we prepare for negative situations? I think most of us live in trepidatious fear of minor inconveniences, hypotheticals, and having our mettle tested. Safety, comfort, and leisure are all addictive frames of reference. Fitness tests my boundaries and improves my life’s endurances. Annihilating my left hamstring on an improper landing this week, what would have been weeks of limping before returning to fitness was just a minor inconvenience and encouragement to proceed!
Wrote something well? Drew something dandy? Recorded something rad? Programmed something perfect? Time to celebrate and call it a day with just that one? When will you work on the next one? Tomorrow, next week… never? Exercise is about continually stressing certain muscles to train them to improve. You can’t lift a weight once or row one stroke and expect results. Similarly, this is the 500th publication on Better Zombie. Only 500 reps? Time for 500 more!
How often do you consider self-correction as part of in your daily life? How often is positive yet critical self-analysis part of your weekly tasks? Once I’ve figured out how to do something, and feel comfortable doing it, I’ll try different approaches. Though I’ve experimented with different rowing forms in the past, this week is focused on one topic: sleep. Can I stick to a regular sleep schedule to decrease fatigue and increase rowing performance?
My initial draw to rowing machines, and what keeps me interested, is their efficiency. Not only can doing four motions repeatedly instill lasting physical/mental discipline, they’ll also exercise most of your major muscle groups! Unfortunately, they’re not multi-tools. I’m always caught off-guard when an obscure muscle becomes sore. Though rowing is certainly a great cornerstone for anyone’s journey into weight loss, improved health, or casual warm-ups, it’s not the end-all. Which might explain the change…
The hardest mountain to climb is our internal struggle for good health. External factors can usually be resolved, diminished, or bettered. No amount of physical gear or mental training can prepare us for moments or days where summiting that internal hypothetical mountain to health and wellness seems impossible to climb. The trials and tribulations of lazy days and unsuppressable appetites seem too grand. Do we just give up? No! Real life awaits our good health.