Sunday, July 13, 2008

Day 115, Baby-Hands

One week when I lived in Morocco my community village decided to put in a concrete tarqua, which I guess in English is known as an irrigation ditch. (There is a whole range of agricultural words I only know in Berber and not in my own native tongue)

So anyway, the first step to make this thing is that you have to dig a big ditch through the village. So of course I'm trying to help out and show I'm part of the community or whatever. I get down there with a pickaxe. Within 30 minutes I got blisters on my hands and couldn't go on. Which leads all the guys of the village to laugh at my "baby hands." There isn't much going on in Berberland, so it became the running joke in the village for a few weeks. "Hey baby-hands, can you come rub my face with your so soft hands?" or "Which of these scarves is softer, baby hands? We can't tell because we don't have baby hands." Eventually my hands toughened up but my reputation never did.

Anyway, I've been doing all this bar work, with the chin-ups, leg ups, and the stuff I was talking about yesterday, and my hands are getting pretty raw, with raised callouses on the pads of my palm. Chen was like, "just get used to it" but I know he was thinking something along the lines of "baby hands"

I was down with getting toughened up hands again, that's no problem, but it occurred to me that this time around things are very different. I use my hands for my job, adjusting people in yoga poses, and for that you need as soft a touch as you can get. Would you like some rough scratchy hands on your shoulders as you're trying to move deeper into Up-Dog? I know I wouldn't.

So this time I decided to not try and be a hard-man about it, and just get some freakin' weight lifting gloves and protect my baby hands. So I went to Sports Authority today after classes and got these cool gloves.

Which is what I really wanted to talk about in this post before I got off on a Berber tangent. I was in Sports Authority, this huge mega sports store, and I swear, every person in there was either scrawny or overweight. It was almost funny. There was this guy with a huge beer belly checking out the protein powders. And a dude with little stick arms testing out the dumbbells.

This is ironic and funny of course but I also find it very uplifting. No matter what kind of shape people are in, there is something inside of them that inspires them to change. Companies take advantage of this self-improvement instinct by selling absolute beginners top-of-the-line stuff, but that's beside the point. What I've learned over and over in this project is that people want to be better. They want to take care of their bodies, they want to be the person on the outside that they know they have inside. And that's a beautiful thing.

But there is a risk that all that excitement that leads you to buy some weights or an exercise machine will fade away as soon as you find that buying stuff is the easy part, it's the actual work that feels like, well, work. And then you have a house full of exercise crap that you slowly grow to despise so much you end up throwing it out.

So, my advice to everyone is, if you want to take up a new sport or exercise routine, start off with the cheapest most beat up equipment you can find. This will tell you truly whether you enjoy the hobby for itself or if it was just a passing fling. And you get two bonuses.

One, your house isn't full of junk from failed fitness projects,

and Two, if you do decide to pursue the exercise, you'll know what you actually need because you've already been doing it. So today for example, I knew just what i wanted out of the gloves, where I needed the padding, how tight they should feel, etc... Who knows what I would've bought if I had rolled up in there on my first day of the PCP?

Time and time again I have seen beginner yoga students come to class with 80$ Lululemon mats and $150 yoga clothing ensembles. And you know what? They usually give it up after a few weeks. And you know another thing? Invariably, the people who most stick with it are the ones who come in an old beat up pair of shorts and a t-shirt, with a thin exercise mat they won in a contest a few years ago.

So don't buy any more stuff, until you can say exactly why you need it and for what purpose. Anything else is just throwing money at your idea of yourself as a better person, rather than actually doing it.


ted said...

I can totally relate to the expensive equipment thing. When I lived in Tottori, I would ski every week, and the skiers that had the best skills were the ones that looked they geared up with props from the film "Hot Dog."
The fashionistas on the other hand were waaaay out of control, but at least you could say, "Hey nice gear dude !" as they barreled into your legs. Seen from the lifts above, their incredible wipeouts would send said gear flying in every cardinal direction, prompting our gleeful shouts of "Yard Sale!"

Patrick said...

Ha ha, "Yard Sale" that's funny dude. LOL.