Like many others, I often wondered about self optimisation. How to strike the balance between art, productivity, relationships, etc. Naturally, exercise fell into this equation countless times. Inevitably there were periods where exercise was one of the variables which was lost in the hustle of daily life. Probably because, well, it’s really not always that enjoyable.
Being something of an introvert for most of my life, it has been notably difficult for me to maintain consistent exercise.Even if there are countless health benefits, the promise of a more alert, keen mind, for the longest time this just wasn’t enough to push me out into the gym for very long.
It was, at one point, my saving grace with regards to mental illness. Running for miles in the winter of 2017 was a gateway to escape from long stints of self-loathing. It built me up as a person, gave me a sense of pride, accomplishment, and a way to crush suicidal or manic depressive thoughts.
But after overcoming that adversity and settling comfortably in a more serene mind, I had fewer reasons to return to rigorous exercise.
That is, until I found out about aerial circus arts.
After I found my passion for aerial acrobatics and what artistic feats could be accomplished with a body strong enough to attempt them, I found a very specific purpose. A destination for all the physical effort. There then appeared a litany of reasons to workout everyday and to pursue a physique my body has never known before.
Being graceful with our temporary, mortal body is one of the simplest yet greatest pleasures of human consciousness.
What was lacking from my equation, though, was the specific acts that made me excited to exert my body. I was never interested in football or the usual suspects.
But when I found the physical outlet that spoke to me on a personal, artistic level, now, pursuing the groundwork for it isn’t a chore in the slightest. Much in the same way that it isn’t a chore for me to write every day to keep up my skill as an author and podcast host.
I am sharing this because this was utterly lost to me. And I fear that others who consider themselves purely ‘artists’ might be blinded like I was to the possibility of enjoying athleticism.
It’s no wonder creatives are stereotypically disinclined for exercise. They don’t see the point.
Why would somebody practice writing hundreds of words a day if they didn’t want to tell a complete story? Eventually, we want to know that the practice, discipline, and passion we put into something will result into a creation more complex than its requisite parts. Maintaining peak health and fitness simply isn’t enough to spark initial interest.
Lifting weights isn’t good enough for me because, besides getting good at the motion of the weights and the health of the body, there is no performance. No greater accomplishment. There is the consistency of a well-tuned and oiled body, great! But … even the prospect of a drastically improved mood and mental landscape isn’t enough for me to enjoy building up strength.
This is key. We can encourage ourselves to exercise in order to feel and look good, but what if that’s just the tip of an iceberg? We don’t have to sacrifice our main passions and pursuits for another. We can blend them together. So, if we’re going to be spending hours fine-tuning our body, why not do so while learning to weave our bodies with silks? Dance in a lyra? Accomplish a difficult jiu jitsu manoeuvre? Climb the face of a mountain?
We may be lifting the weights or crawling across the floor in preparation for all this more specific skills, but when we do get to the particular passion, we will find, finally! that it might have all been worth it.
And perhaps, beneath it all, we may begin to find that we enjoy movement just for movement’s sake before the art. The inherent beauty of our natural form. Much in the same way that words have a sensual potential when prepared well, discovering ourselves in our body’s movement is its own kind of beauty.