I’ve spent more time in gyms than I can even begin to calculate.
I can now recognize how this choice instilled in me a skewed and unhealthy body perception and heavily reinforced my masculine conditioning. However, there were also powerful positive life lessons to be learned within those mirrored walls. Here are a few:
Lesson #1: Let the results (or lack thereof) guide you
Whether I was working with a client or working on myself, I was always encouraged to evaluate, experiment, and evolve — on a regular basis — based on results.
In gyms, I learned how to remain open to new approaches and ideas and to understand the need for perpetual modification and adaptation. If you’re not happy with your outcomes, you automatically try something else. Let the results (or lack thereof) guide you.
Also, as a trainer, it’s my job to point out to others what needs to be addressed. No one calls me “self-righteous” for suggesting their previous attempts were flawed. When new members join the gym and get an evaluation, they don’t call me “negative” for pointing out where changes must be made and work needs to be done. I don’t, for example, focus on how neatly their fingernails are trimmed for fear of appearing “divisive” by telling them about their high blood pressure. Nope, we work together to identify problems and to create a fluid plan for addressing these problems.
It’s long overdue we apply such a logical, results-based approach to our resistance.
Lesson #2: Use it or lose it
You may play a sport, practice a martial art, or run, run, run. Your preference might be yoga or boxing or Crossfit or Pilates or spin or old school weight lifting. Whatever you do to exercise and use your muscles will make them grow. And strengthen. And become more flexible. And more enduring. Use your body and it becomes more powerful.
The same is true of your courage. And your will. And your love. Use them. Challenge them. And they will respond. They will grow. And strengthen. And become more flexible. And more enduring. Use your justice muscles every day and they will become more powerful.
Lesson #3: It’s not a hobby
It’s a funny thing, working out. You might start out dreading it, even hating it. But if you stick with and start to see some results — and find the method that lights you up — you begin to look forward to it. You will even find yourself thinking about your workouts even when you’re not at the gym. You’ll talk about your workouts and encourage others to get involved. And they will. Soon, they’ll be talking about their workouts even when they’re at school or work or out socializing.
It can be the same when you resist oppression. You may begin such work as a reaction or even a resolution. At first, it will be challenging. But if you stick with and start to see some results — and find the method that lights you up — you begin to look forward to it. You will even find yourself thinking and talking about your activism all the time.
You’ll wake each morning on a mission. You’ll go to bed each night knowing you did the work.
Lesson #4: The more resistance you handle, the stronger you get
Mickey Z. is currently writing two books, a political memoir called How to Change Minds & Influence the Future: Rebuilding Activism From the Ground Up and a fusion novella entitled stain red. In the meantime, he can be found here.
First published in World News Trust