Us Versus Them

Recent national events have been driving me insane, almost to the point of completely getting off the Internet and staying away from newspapers, radio, and television. A lot of things are wrong with the way people have been approaching these issues, and most of them fall well outside the scope of this blog.

One of the biggest problems, however, is the narrative. See, like most socio-political issues, the most recently argued one is on its own simple, but part of a far more complex problem that has been reduced – unfairly – to black and white:

You’re one of us, or you’re one of them.

And if you’re one of them, you are the enemy.

We want things simple. If they seem complicated, we try to dumb it down. If we can’t do it ourselves, we demand someone who can. It’s natural, if frustrating to those of us who know it isn’t that easy.

There is also nothing inherently wrong with conflict, whether of body or mind. Martial artists are judged by their ability under pressure, and debate – when properly conducted – produces new ideas and paths worth exploring.

Man is also social by nature: we seek groups to which we can belong as part of our development and ongoing existence. Consequently, we seek standards and guidelines by which we can measure ourselves and be considered part of the group. It is by a similar means that we identify others as not being part of the group.

The problem I see here is when joining a group is used as an excuse to stop questioning and start rabidly attacking anyone who doesn’t fit in the same circles.

This, I am sad to say, is something I’ve experienced plenty of times on my fitness journey. In fact, I recently had a long talk with a friend who confirmed what I felt: that the place at which we had both trained had become quietly hostile to people who didn’t throw themselves in with the endurance sport crowd.  It never went as far as outright exclusion and overt conflict, but there was a clear preference for triathletes and an unspoken drive for everyone to become a runner. The value of workouts became defined by how useful they would be in a marathon, and people’s achievements were only recognized when measured by the kilometer.

It was why we – the cyclist / yogi and the general fitness enthusiast – eventually left to find places where people were more supportive of one another’s endeavors.

It’s something that happens on a much broader scale. The battle between endurance athletes and gym rats is about as old as the gym itself. There are also the rifts between athletes of various sports: the basketball players who think they have it rough on the hardcourt, the linebackers who bring up the danger they face, and the judokas who have to break bone for a medal, all argue that they have it rougher than that other guy.

They all have valid points, and in the best of times and places this leads to a beautiful meld of ideas. When they start fighting, however – hopefully not literally, given the obvious danger in having linebackers and judokas attack basketball players – things get rough. Excuses for mediocrity pile up as high as the accusations and put-downs.

There can be no growth in such a hostile place. It’s why the best coaches try to drag things together instead of set them apart. The best training plans incorporate the best of every world of fitness to produce the best result possible. The worst throw out everything that comes from beyond their comfort zones.

Runners can’t weight-train. Powerlifters shouldn’t run. It goes on and on, and gets worse and worse with every generation that espouses such beliefs.

At some point, we’re all just going to have to learn to get along.

 


 

Workout

40x Jumping Jacks

40x Front Jacks

40x Twist Jacks

40x Seal Jacks

10x Squat

10m Zombies

10m Cross Zombies

10m Forward Walking Lunge

10m Reverse Walking Lunge

20m Buttkicks

10m Jump Squat

20m High Knees

Single-leg Work

6×6 Bulgarian Split Squat @ 2x16kg / 2min rest

Circuit

On a 10x1min timer

Odd minutes: 10x Goblet Squat @ 32kg, then rest

Even minutes: Woodchopper Sit-up the entire minute – 16 / 12 / 11 / 11 / 9 reps

Cooldown

10min Stretch

Notes:

  • Single-leg work is underappreciated, even by me. I haven’t had much time or motivation to hit an actual gym lately, so there hasn’t been much in the way of deadlifting or barbell squatting. Pistols and now split squats are going to be my work horses for now.
  • The circuit was originally much longer and harder, but I overestimated my strength. The BSS left me seriously debating the endurance of my legs, so I dialed it down. I’m glad I did – ten minutes left me plenty winded. 
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