Facing the Modern Conundrum

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Today’s workout:

Cleans. work up to a heavy double.

Deadlifts. Repetitions at 85-90% of your max. 2 sets of as many reps as you can get without losing form. Next week, either add reps or a little bit of weight.

Brutal Recess: Barbell Bent Rows/cobra-dog-scorpions/barbell rollouts/kb lateral halos. One barbell (heavy), one kettlebell, 3 sets, 8,6,4 reps per set. Let’s play with varying levels of force development and movement. Bent rows are HEAVY, these reps should be a challenge, but we’ll let some tension go and breath deep into the cobra-dog-scorpions, treating them like an active rest before the rollouts and halos, putting the spine through some rotational and flexion movements that will balance all the extension we’ve been doing on the deads and cleans. But can we generate all this force in a fairly short period of time? Time it and see.



Facing the Modern Conundrum

Recently I interviewed Cody Fielding for this documentary project we’re working on. A longtime friend of Bodytribe, Cody is that rare breed of physical culturalist who doesn’t just preach the mind body connection, he actively finds paths to make it happen. Since we have the same mutual concerns about the current roll of movement in our culture, the conversation took many turns in that direction.


Cody: What we’re looking at is “what is the physical heritage of mankind?” We can distill it down to evolution. If the species is evolving over the course of millions of years through its different adaptations, clearly there’s a deep physical history that is wrapped up in that process. It’s inextricably linked to the movement necessities in any given species that are imperative to their survival. People today look at themselves as modern beings, but all of their systems are primitive. And this is part of the problem. We have not yet evolved physically to where sitting is somehow good for us, and being sedentary is healthy.

We went on to discuss how this could very well be the next stage of our evolutionary process though…

The question: With the current cultural trends, what’s the inevitable outcome?

Cody: If the future looks like sedentary people taking pills in order to maintain their health, then that’s what the future looks like. We don’t know if the subculture that currently exists within the physical world, that you and I are part of, will become THE culture, or just maintain a fetish-like position within the bigger culture. Of course I’m an optimist, but I’ve been wrong before.


Cody then prognosticated that the current trajectory is not a good one if you come from our perspective that movement is life. Elemental to being a human is a list of experiences that someone needs to go through. So to experience Humanity some of the things one must experience are:


Cody: And I profess that you don’t fully know what it is like to be a human being if you have not explored your physicality. It’s an aspect of being human that most in our society are not doing. And we’re potentially at a tipping point where that becomes devalued.


We’ve created a culture which no longer has the necessity of movement in terms of completing tasks to keep our flesh packets alive. As Cody and I agree, this culture has even removed movement from our gyms, where the body creates an illusion of movement while actually staying in place, whether by walking or jogging on a treadmill while watching TV or having their butt glued to a machine that poorly loads a specific joint action. If the gym, a place to create movement as a training tool for the body, has existed in a form we might recognize for almost 200 years, it is only in the last quarter of that time period that the actual space for DOING anything has been reduced to the immediate circumference of a machine or rack. Take a modern Indian club into a 24-Hour Fitness and play the ‘where can I swing this’ game on the main gym floor, if you need an example.

Not only has our culture been busy eliminating the need for movement, says Cody, but we’ve also made it less compelling. Ya know, it ain’t fun no more, as the modern gym experience (or what Sara calls the Fitness industrial Complex) has turned movement into a marketable obligation on the path to matching some aesthetic ideal, having little do with the joy of real accomplishment.


So our primitive self, which comes from a heritage of movement as a tool for survival, empowerment and good ol’ fashioned play, is now faced with our modern technocracy, which has ‘conveniently’ removed our need for movement.

As Cody says, we see ourselves as modern beings, but living in primitive bodies. And knowing how we are, how as a species we take everything to it’s final conclusion before we realize our mistakes, this doesn’t bode well for us movement fetishists.

So the official Bodytribe stance on this is the current conundrum we face:

We need to move because we don’t need to move.

Why? I’m holding on to some old fashioned beliefs on mine, which mirror Cody’s concepts of movement as an essential part of Humanity as he explains above. For instance:

Sans movement, we lose the presence of Self; of who or where we are in time and space. In my experience (which, by the way, seems strangely contrary to the common gym experiences I’ve heard about over the years outside of Bodytribe), training and movement help find Self.



Upcoming Stuff:

WINTER STRENGTH CAMP!! Only a couple of weeks away. Read more here, and then ask me about Bodytribe Member Rates!


Saturday Tune Up: Kettlebells! 10-noon, Saturday the 16th. $10 members, $20 non-members.

Movie Night: The Jerk (the Steve Martin movie, not a documentary about my favorite lift) Saturday the 16th, 7 pm. Free!

All events here!

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Showing 5 comments
  • sara

    Hey buddy…you don’t need to keep quoting me on the Fitness Industrial Complex thing…just take the term and run with it. You’ll do it justice like no one else will.

    Cody rocks! I don’t know how we (as a society) got to where we are, but I know the documentary will help. Do we have to get people thinking and talking before we can get people movin’??

  • Jennifer

    This is one of your best posts in a long time (not that the others haven’t been wonderful, but I find that this one hits home with me). This is the first time I have seen it suggested that being sedentary and allowing pills to compensate for that trend where our health is concerned might very well be an evolutionary trend. That suggestion is interesting and has sent my thoughts into overdrive. Thank you.

  • Cody

    This is a great topic for all of us to consider. From Darwinian perspective anyone today can provide procreate (the prime determinant of ‘fitness’) without ever exercising.

    Thus we/society must find new rationale for our movement. The rationale exists, but we must do some searching of the soul to discover those reasons.


  • Tyler

    “Cody: And I profess that you don’t fully know what it is like to be a human being if you have not explored your physicality. It’s an aspect of being human that most in our society are not doing. And we’re potentially at a tipping point where that becomes devalued.”

    So fucking important! I actually developed my favorite analogy for this idea watching The Dog Whisperer: Cesar (The Dog Whisperer) likes to discuss how dogs develop anxiety issues from lack of movement, and how they can benefit greatly from not only playtime, but even more so from directed playtime and chores (like carrying packs or pulling carts).

    Now the vegan in me says we shouldn’t be encouraging domestication and all that – but that’s not the point. I love me some dogs.

    Anyway, it boils down to this: dogs can spiral into depression/anxiety/aggression without sufficient movement. I think that it’s not too far of a stretch to suggest that humans are the same. We have generation upon generation of movement, physical labor, and playtime programmed into our DNA, and we’ve given it all up to sit in front of screens ALL THE TIME.

    We are denying a crucial part of who we are – it can’t end well.

  • Cody

    Tyler, I believe you have a great and valid point. There are many detriments to being virtually ‘inanimate’ but detriments are not pure necessity.

    My only reason for poking further is to stimulate the thinking, not provoke.

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