When I look back at all the time I spent in the gym, lifting weights as a teenager playing high school sports and then later pumping out my frustrations with work and the city as I got older, the memories are downright haunting. For some reason, men have been conditioned to think they need to weight train for optimal fitness and their "best body ever."
But it's time for a shift in the way we — especially men — shape and sculpt our bodies. Here are a few reasons why we should stop lifting weights and instead opt for a more mindful, body-conscious approach to all-over health and wellness:
1. Our body doesn't need weights to be fit.
Our body does need conditioning and strengthening, but it's not necessary for us to pick up and put down dumbbells to achieve this.
While living in Bali, I met some seriously ripped dudes. A lot of them were surfers, and many more were practicing yoga. Among them was Moshe, who at 6'4 and with muscle to spare, looked like he was definitely doing squats and bench presses on a regular basis. But the reality was he was more likely to be found meditating, Qigong and yoga than pumping iron.
Just one look at this brother and you could tell he wasn't just talking about being healthy and mindful, he was living it. Something about his patience, awareness and ear-to-ear grin inspired me to follow his routine — the "conscious workout" — no weight-lifting required. This approach to fitness has led to me being totally and completely present when I workout instead of mindlessly counting reps until I reach an arbitrary number.
2. It's about quality, not quantity.
For years, I wore bespoke suits every day and I'd be lying if I said I didn't like looking good in my clothes. My time spent working out certainly helped me achieve a nice sartorial fit, but there were guys in the gym who looked like if they were to flex just a little bit more, their clothes would split at the seams.
I wondered why us guys were so conditioned to want huge muscles, even with our high school "glory days" behind us. Now, I understand that it's more important to have a quality workout resulting in sustained energy and fitness, rather than one that focuses on repetitions and achievement-based results that diminish quickly over time.
3. Fitness shouldn't be something you dread.
After years of practicing yoga in a studio, Qigong on a grassy knoll or meditation in a cave (literal and figurative!), I now understand that they all lead to the same path of mind, body and spirit connection. The thread that connects each of these practices is holistic, serving all three layers of who I am equally.
It took me a while, but once I realized working out was about more than the physical benefits, it became so much easier and more enjoyable to do something that made me sweat, something that made me work to be better in both body and mind. I want to look forward to my workout routine, not dread stepping into a gym the way I did for most of my younger years. Work time is work time, and workout time should be "you" time, don't you agree?
So put down those weights just because you think it's what you're supposed to be doing. Never do something because someone has told you to, do something because you want to, because it brings you joy and grounds you and let's you live in the present.
Want to experience the Conscious Workout for yourself? Check out the video below and let me know if you'll be returning the weight room anytime soon.