Friday, February 13, 2015

Exercise: reflection, creativity, ethics (Vox)

I was interviewed about How to Think About Exercise for popular US news site Vox. You can read about the book, and my discussion with journalist Brandon Ambrosino, here: 'Exercise can make you more thoughtful, creative, ethical'. A sample, where I talk about my audience:
First, you have people who feel completely alienated from the fitness industry. They see themselves as mind people: bookish, curious, artistic. They see sport as something colonized by meatheads. This happens really early on, for a number of people, who are turned off to exercise early because of gym class in school. It was like physical, psychological torture. They hated it and never went back. So I'm saying to them, look, you are not exiled from the commonwealth of bodies. We are all bodies. There is no reason you can't revel in bodily striving just because you're bookish. 
Second, there are people who have joined gyms because they were trying to lose weight, or because they were worried about their hearts. So they join a gym, go for six weeks, then stop. They treat their bodies like a thing you tune up. The gym is seen as a body shop: you go and get things tuned up, and once things are better, you leave. What I'm suggesting is that these people focus on the intellectual and emotional awards of exercise, the way it enhances the imagination. These rewards would keep people motivated over their whole lives. 
Then you have the jocks, the people who are fantastic at sports in school, and they're fast, and they're rewarded for being swole [someone who is very, very muscular]. But no one ever takes them seriously for their minds. They're not rewarded for their interests in literature, or art, or avant garde music. The book is saying to these people: you can value yourself as more than a body. There are rewards you can get out of exercising that go beyond flexing in the mirror — not that I've got anything against that!
(Photo: Justin Maalihan)

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