In our modern society of convenience, our bodies are arbitrary and rarely require moving, or we must move in repetitive patterns. As a result, most of us experience fitness as meaningless. The treadmill or stationary bike is the ultimate symbol for this, as is lifting something heavy and putting it down again. Exercise in a society of convenience where we experience our bodies as an alienated “other” thereby becomes another to-do on an endless list.
Functional fitness puts some meaning back into the structure of our fitness programs by working with the mechanics of our human structure. But functional fitness is often still arbitrary — why become fit? Function for what? Answering “anything” is still too abstract.
When deciding what to be fit for, we are facing questions of Existentialism again: meaning derives from choice, which expresses authenticity. Even 99% of martial arts practice and fitness is meaningless in a world of guns, bioterrorism, and nuclear bombs. Yet we are burdened with the responsibility of having to choose.
Arts like Parkour attempt to solve the problem of meaninglessness movement through authentic creative expression amidst modern landscapes. Bodybuilding addresses the question of our meaningless bodies by turning them into grotesque meat sculptures that simulate strength. Somatic psychotherapies address the problem by experiencing the body as unconscious creative source…but fitness remains unaddressed. Yoga asana treats the modern, arbitrary body as a temple — for better or worse (better: health, calm; worse: body-worship, self-absorption). Some advocate a romantic turn to “natural” movements, some to a Golden Age of fitness, others to generative and highly structured movement patterns. Ultimately though the individual is left to make the choice and take responsibility for creating one’s own meaningful expression.
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