I've been working with my body for, well, let's just say a while : ) I've encountered many approaches to fitness and movement....dance, ecstatic dance, yoga, Pilates, weight training, Continuum, high-impact aerobics, Feldenkrais, Gyrotonic/Gyrokinesis, are a few that may give you some idea of where I'm coming from. So I titled this blog post "The Pleasure Principle" because I've been thinking about what it is that makes doing any of these practices worth it for me. What do I get out of doing some form of movement/exercise?
I certainly got little to no pleasure teaching high-impact aerobics to women on the upper east side of NYC at 7am on a Monday. Well, maybe when I got my paycheck I felt pleasure. And I can't say I felt much pleasure doing The Hundred or working on the chair in a Pilates studio. However, my abs and butt did look pretty good for awhile! As I think about all these hours I've worked out and trained I am certain that the important thing for me now is not how much weight I can lose or how much I can bench or continuing my workout even though I'm puking. You see, the goal isn't what drives me. Of course, I tried that for many years. After all, one is expected to set goals and strive for them whether they are physical, mental, spiritual, financial, etc. That's the road to being successful and happy and valuable, right? It seems right, yet something is off about it. What happened to the pure pleasure of doing something just because you like it without any need to perfect yourself in the process. No need to even be good at it. Whoa! Give up the goal of perfection? That's madness, isn't it? I mean, if I don't set all these goals won't I just vegetate and be a couch potato and a lazy good-for-nothing???? I mean, really. Don't you have to have these goals in your workout and strive until you get there so you can set another goal and you can feel good about your accomplishment? And then set another one even though you may not know exactly why you want to achieve this goal. I mean who doesn't want to be able to throw tractor tires across the gym?
It turns out that setting up goals for my workout doesn't do it for me. It creates drudgery and routine and boredom. Now, bodies are not boring so moving shouldn't be either! Is anyone relating to what I am saying? Going to the gym is like visiting the land of the zombies......no one really looks like they are having a great time! Agh! But wait, maybe they could have a great time. Yeah. Maybe if they really felt what their body was doing in an exercise or experienced that it was okay to not push beyond what the body really can do that day instead of talking on their cell phone or reading a book or distracting with the TV. What if they developed a way of listening to the body and exploring how it moves rather than imposing all those goals on it. I'm finding that's where I find my Pleasure Principle.....listening and responding to my body. Feeling it change. Asking my body how I might change some aspect of my fitness rather than insisting it change. Not always easy. I don't always get it right, but this kind of pleasure keeps me coming back to my preferred approaches to movement, currently Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis, over and over again with renewed energy and curiosity. And that's empowering for me.
Lynn Hocker, LMT/BFA/Certified Gyrotonic Trainer/Gyrokinesis Apprentice