Totalitarian Exercise, Movement, and Freedom

"It’s totalitarian because machines dictate your movements — it shrinks it, shapes it — you have no choice. You follow a very simplified pattern that’s imposed by the machine."

By Sam Yang - Get similar updates here

We conform to our work schedule, we eat around our work schedule. Our work does not conform to us. Our feet ache, yet we do not wear shoes that conform to us, our feet conform to our shoes. It doesn't end there; our hips and back conform to our chairs; our necks and shoulders to our desks, to our smartphones. We aren't original, in our chase for uniqueness, we try to be unique in the same way as everyone else. And when we take time out for ourselves to improve ourselves and escape the machinery we're chained to, what do we do? Do we go outdoors? No. We switch from one form of florescent lights to florescent lights with bad pop music.

Movement specialist Erwan Le Corre said in an interview with Joe Rogan:

Even the people who are brave enough to go against that inertia of normalcy and go to the gym — they will exercise with machines. I see a huge problem with that. … It’s totalitarian because machines dictate your movements — it shrinks it, shapes it — you have no choice. You follow a very simplified pattern that’s imposed by the machine. This is not who you are, this is not what you’re supposed to be and move like. Because you’re supposed to be highly adaptable in the way you move, but when you try to isolate your muscles — you’re treating yourself like a machine — like a factory. When you should be like a wild forest or a permaculture garden... It’s not what you are designed [for] by evolution … to do.

We get excited when we can exercise within a two-foot radius. When we don't have to go far. Chickens have no choice, they're trapped in a coop. A farmer knows, if given a chance to go outside, they'll all escape. Humans are a curious animal who will voluntarily move from coop to coop and avoid freedom. If the option is free-range or a coup, an animal will pick free-range. In discussions over food, we know free-range animals are superior. Yet why is there no discussion of free-range human beings? Why must we pay to be in a pen when we can go outside and play — for free?

We don't see exercise as an exercise in freedom. We see it as an extension of work, something you're supposed to toil at to gain some status in a society of folks who are doing the same. Then we go inside to another place, to sit down some more and talk to someone about our feelings because we can't understand why we're so unhappy. Or perhaps we do another form of sitting, this time with a drink or joint in our hands.

Physical instructor and theorist Georges Hébert (1875-1957) in The Natural Method writes:

The final goal of physical education is to make strong beings. In the purely physical sense, the Natural Method promotes the qualities of organic resistance, muscularity and speed, towards being able to walk, run, jump, move on all fours, to climb, to keep balance, to throw, lift, defend yourself and to swim.

In the ‘virile’ or energetic sense, the system consists in having sufficient energy, willpower, courage, coolness, and firmness.

In the moral sense, education, by elevating the emotions, directs or maintains the moral drive in a useful and beneficial way.

The true Natural Method, in its broadest sense, must be considered as the result of these three particular forces; it is a physical, virile and moral synthesis. It resides not only in the muscles and the breath, but above all in the ‘energy’ which is used, the will which directs it and the feeling which guides it.

It is movement that stills the mind. The longer you are still, the more wild your mind becomes, like a weed infested garden. Maybe you go to a guru to sit indoors, but this time in a lotus position, to breathe more uncirculated air. Because everything in our lives — from our teachers, parents, bosses, to our gurus — have told us to sit still and be quiet and do what is expected, do what we are told, to conform to these poses, to these systems.

Yet what waits for us outside is light, air, breath, movement, and the rest of the day. In fact, free movement makes the day. You have a choice. You don't have to be impractical, you can balance machinery along with a natural life. It is not "either or." You can earn money, look good, and still remember to be a human being first. Start with a walk. Not on a treadmill. Just go outside and walk. Not for the exercise, not because it's moving meditation, but because you are a human being and it's what you're designed to do. If you don't, you will feel it. You won't feel good, you won't feel happy, that's the human condition. That is our programming. Walk and move through space and time. Be free. Expand your range. Or not. However you choose it, this will be the totality of your life.

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