In Washington, even exercise gets political.
This morning, the WSJ reported that a small group of Congressmen, primarily Republicans, have embraced the adrenaline-infused exercise regimen that is P90X. They jump, stretch and flex to the tune of Tony Horton, a man who clearly checked the right box on career day. The 90-day results-intensive program celebrates its “I couldn’t move the next day” sensations.
On the other side of the ideological spectrum resides the pragmatic approach of the White House. Last month, the NY Times described the regimented, non-boot-campish routine espoused by Mr and Mrs Obama. Our current executive branch favors a personal trainer who likes working people hard, but…”as politely as possible.” The president adheres to a common sense program of regular morning exercises that balances cardio and strength training. Calm, measured and balanced.
Both approaches to exercise appeal to me.
My Red Side:
The part of me that revels in aggressively racing around short circuits of closed city streets (for $50 payouts) sees the virtue of P90X. Criterium bike racing extols actions like attacking, jumping, and freight-training your opponents. It’s adrenaline worship on a grand-stage–the larger the crowd the better the sensations. Crit racing drains you, it hurts you, and like P90X, it’s rarely sustainable. But it sure feels good at the moment, and nothing makes a cold Coke (non-diet) taste better.
It’s undoubtedly true, on paper, the testimonials of those who commit to the P90X program are remarkable. And to his credit, Mr Horton strongly emphasizes the importance of combining sensible nutrition with daily exercises. He even promotes a less well-publicized maintenance P90X program. Good for him, and good for those individuals that springboard themselves to healthier lifestyles with the bouncy DVDs. Some people need a push to feel the glorious sensations of a thin, flexible and twitchy body.
My Blue Side:
The master-of-the-obvious doctor in me sees exercise that’s constantly intense and always so goal-oriented as troubling. Good health isn’t a race, nor is it achievable in 90-days. Sustainable health is about making daily exercise feel as normal as eating and drinking (or reading a blog). “Healthy” exercisers, like most vital 90 year-olds, dwell not on the final results of exercise, like looking good in a blue suit for the annual Lincoln Dinner, but rather the journey of a healthy life itself—exercise for the sake of exercise.
Shouldn’t exercise do more than just make us look better, or spend calories? In thirty minutes, I can easily burn more kilojoules pedaling my stationery bike trainer than I can tooling around our city parks. But when you ride—or run, or walk—outside, you actually go somewhere. Outdoors you might see a sunset, or a friend, or, you might even garner a new nickname when you note a “pretty flower” on the side of the road. (That’s how my teammate Erik got his nickname, “Flower.”)
I guess you could call me a centrist when it comes to exercise.
Though, I’d rather you call me a “crit-racer.”