You (+desire/will) Are Enough

I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.” – Henry David Thoreau

I don’t want to hear from them who know they can buy but can’t put on my clothes.” Eddie Vedder, Pearl Jam

One of the things that we see suggested again and again for people struggling with depression or anxiety is that they get more exercise. This is a solid idea, because well, exercise is good for the treatment of depression and anxiety. The flip side of this is that asking someone with generalized anxiety to go to a gym is going to be a social challenge, and someone with severe enough depression may struggle with the motivation to leave their house.

I’ve thought a good deal about this, and I actually understand the social pressure to fit in can be daunting for someone who would most benefit from actually going to work out. The year 2020 has made going to a gym even harder due to social distancing rules and regulations for non-essential businesses. There’s really only one thing to add to that…

…don’t let that stop you.

There are tons of things that can be done in the home with minimal to no equipment. Most of my own climbing work comes down to a board that supports my stairs and some nylon straps thrown over a support beam. I do have some dumbbells and a few things that I have made or “acquired” (such as large stones) that I may use in addition to the above tools, but they’re not nearly as important to me as stuff that essentially had nothing to do with fitness in their original design.

That isn’t to say that I have not previously used modern gyms or more complex weight systems. Truth be told, when I was really into powerlifting, I had a very nice rack in my garage..with the little resistance bands so I could emulate Westside Methods and I had about 3300# of iron weights. If you’re training to be as strong as possible in a few competitive lifts, this is a great system. That doesn’t mean it’s a requirement for the kind of work that is being discussed in the above article, though.

What matters, perhaps more than anything else, is the drive to keep going even when you just don’t want to. Finding that is a type of zen practice, and one that actually required that I get rid of all of the things and get back to what I really wanted out of my own practice. When I was training for powerlifting, I was actually at one of the lowest points in my own mind. I went from hitting up the gym regularly to simply staring at the mass of expensive equipment and asking myself, “Why do I even bother?”

Intrinsic motivation is a very fluid construct, and realizing that I didn’t care that I won big trophies and what I really wanted was to be capable of moving myself through nature in challenging ways was a huge mindset change. Now, I personally do it so that I can share these moments with my own children. In hindsight, I wish I had known then what I have learned since.

It isn’t the fancy clothes that help. It isn’t the pictures of your meals on social media. At the most serious levels of training, all of these things stop mattering anyhow. The best martial artists I’ve ever met train in cut-off sweat pants. The best lifters train in the same, normally with an old band t-shirt with no sleeves. Yoga? The most notable masters train naked. Bouldering? You need a pad to fall on, chalk, and a brush. Climbing shoes are very nice, but…you can accomplish tons without specialized gear.

I’d even go so far as to say “You get extra-credit for making due with non-manufactured gear. A chalk bag from REI is cool, but it isn’t “A chalk bag made from an old plushie you got at a thrift-store” cool.

In the end, you’re enough. You + Desire and the Will to accomplish are all that is ever required. If you lack ideas of ways to make it work, a brief search online will lead you to tons of free or inexpensive ideas.

RossTraining is putting a book out there right now on being “never gymless” for a $1. I haven’t read it, but I have read his stuff before and he seems like a pretty cool guy.

Nerdfitness has provided a simple plan for bodyweight work.

Onnit has their recommendations as well.

If those and your own searching still leave you with questions, then hit me up. We’ll figure out what progressions serve your goals. Now, I’m not some famous super trainer, but I’m also not asking for anything in return. None of this is super complicated, but what is complicated is making yourself stick to it when you really don’t want to. For that, something deeper and more spiritual needs to be manifested. Do you want to feel better, not just physically but mentally as well? Do you have goals that require you work towards them?

…then get on it. No new clothes are actually required.

Diet: Lean meat at lunch with cheese. Need more vegetables. Exercise: Let’s Simplify This,

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