Workout Bias / by India Choquette

We climbed around a waterfall. We took photos, overanalyzed our lives, and covered some pretty steep terrain.

So we went on a hike.

And I had a moment, at the base of the mountain, when I looked over at my friend and said, "This is actually hard." Because it was and I was winded. I didn't actually expect it to be that challenging physically. It was just walking, after all. And I had been so convinced that it was going to be an easy day that I had gone to the gym to get an early morning training in before we left. I wasn't really aware of it at the time, but I didn't consider hiking ro be a "real workout." And this realization lead me to the question...why not? Why on earth would I not really count hiking? I think partially that comes from my personal differentiation between training and recreation, but it also comes from my workout bias. And I'm defining workout bias as the mindset that some of us get stuck in wherein the only workout that counts is the one where we wear that special outfit, go to that specific place, run x number of miles, take that class at that studio. And while it is true that some training is more effective than others, it is also true that variety is the spice of life. When we become attached or biased towards a particular form of training, we lose the whole motivation behind fitness in the first place: to meet the demands of any physical task put in our path with strength and grace. If we only train one way (in one place, with the same programming...), we will only be able to meet the physical demands of that one activity....and sometimes, through sheer monotonous volume, we become bad at that one thing (think about the avid spinner with tight hips and knees pain). Mastery of one specific thing isn't helpful, so I think we all need to check our workout biases. Hiking counts. Yoga counts. Crossfit counts. So does yardwork. That doesn't mean you can substitute gardening for mindful conditioning, but maybe if you spend all day digging up potatoes, you can skip your HIIT class and foam roll instead.

And here's my last thought about workout bias: beyond limiting variety, it is also not healthy psychologically. Having only one kind of program or ritual that "counts" leads to obsessiveness. Training is important to your health, but unless you are a professional athlete, it should not take precedence over your family, responsibilities, or contributions to the world. You must find a healthy way to include it in your life FOREVER, and that means restricting yourself to one place or program will set you up for failure...or it will compromise your relationships etc. because, in order to get your "real workout" in, you will have to push some people and commitments aside. And that's not healthy. Fitness is about being able to meet any physical challenge that crosses your.path with grace and strength. Don't define it as anything narrower.