friends with your own body

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(Bodytribe Winter Strength Camp, 2010)

Today’s Workout:

Cleans. Heavy doubles.

Happy Birthday Allyson, although it is actually Tav’s B-day. The good news is that he is only 30, so 30 reps each of 4 exercises. Mix and match, or use the ones recommended.

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Friends With Your Own Body

Artist Spencer Tunick, like many of us, has a thing for naked bodies. Spencer Tunick, though, creates brilliant works of art with bodies. Unlike the common photographer who often enjoys documenting the popular ideal of what a body SHOULD look like, Tunick prefers to make art out of what a body actually DOES look like. Sometimes hundreds or thousands of these bodies, all lying down together in a big public space.

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(Part of his Mexico City installation… those are all people, no photoshop, no special effects)

There are a couple of great documentaries about his art, Naked States and Naked World. Thankfully his artistic subjects are choked so full of insight and emotion about our ideas of body awareness (Tunick himself is the least interesting person in these films) that these documentaries are full of wonderful moments, in fact touching moments, where individuals make very bold and conscious attempts to become associated with something they’ve let themselves deny. One Russian artist tells of her dire need to become “friends with your own body.”

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(yup, real bodies, real glacier)

Although Bodytribe does endorse healthy public nakedness, we have other ideas for both the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of creating this friendship. Because he turns 30 years old today, it seems appropriate that Bodytribe trainer Tav Byerhoff give us some ideas about the body and its obvious yet ignored role in our friendship with ourselves…

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(Tunick’s work with individuals is easily as intense as his work with large groups. Spend some time on his website… it’s worth every minute. And no, this isn’t Tav.)

Tav: Gyms all across the globe are full of gadgets and machines and tools that geniuses – real geniuses, have created to facilitate the development of the body in either aesthetics or strength. We have created a mass market with an undeniable appeal: looking sexy, cut, ripped and toned; buzzwords of the time to replace our concerns with being actually strong. But in this drive for the perfect body we have forgotten about the simplest tool in our tool kit. It’s not that shiny and for unfortunates like myself it’s not much to look at but it’s free and easy to use and it guarantees results both aesthetic and functional. Best of all, it can be used anywhere: prison, for instance. I’m using mine to type this blog right now…

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Dun du-du dun, it’s the human body! Crafted from thousands of thousands of years of evolution to be the pinnacle of form and function, our bodies now often come second, third, forth or last choice to all of the ridiculous contraptions we can buy or use in a modern gym setting. Yet, at the end of the day it is our bodies that we need to rely on to perform and be strong and, sadly, our looks and our pocketbooks are not likely to save us or our loved ones in an emergency situation and even more disappointing, curling a dumbbell or shaking some silly plastic doohicky doesn’t necessarily translate into being actually strong, bettering your quality of life or helping those around you.

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Weight training is a lot like weapons training in martial arts. Weapons training is an integral part of many martial arts but when used, weapons are considered an extension of the self, not something separate from it. Where the sword cuts, the arm directs the power through the wrist, into the blade and to the tip. When a staff strikes, the waist and hips engage to deliver power into the strike. No matter what the weapon is doing, just like weights (to paraphrase trainer Allyson Goble), they would be doing nothing if it weren’t for the person using them. Those hundreds of dollars of weights are worthless without you there to move them. They are heavy and dumb and lazy without us and yet so many of us feel we need them to be strong, fit and sexy. As trainers, the first responsibility we have to someone we’re working with in the gym is to show them what an amazing instrument the human body is and help them appreciate all it can do. Moving the body effectively and creatively through space is an absolutely important first step to throwing weights around. If you listen to it, the call of the kettle bells and clubs and tires and all the other icons of the modern physical culture movement tend to get a lot quieter once you meet the burpee or the Hindu push-up or the dive roll. It is fabled that as the Bodhidharma traveled through the Orient he gave the practice of martial art to the monks of China. He didn’t give them shake-weights and body bugs he gave them a system of body-weight exercises to improve their bodies and reconnect them with their selves. Perhaps one could argue that he may have done so not only because their bodies were in decay as they bent their minds skyward but also because he knew that another true enlightenment existed when the body is pushed to new heights through movement. The intensity of exercise which our bodies can readily provide us allows us to forget about the external and focus on the internal, the part that matters, the body and the self.

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Upcoming stuff:

I’ve posted some of our upcoming workshops in the events calendar up a bit and to the right on this screen. Take a look…

Next week we’ve got some groovy announcements about upcoming stuff. Until then… be strong!

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(Tyler Welch of Second Nature Fitness, with Lulu and Jack)

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One Response to friends with your own body

  1. mace

    thanks for this, ninja! awesome words of wisdom…

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