Mickey Z. -- World News Trust
June 29, 2020
(Part 1 of this series can be found here)
The first line of the book, Becoming a Personal Trainer for Dummies, reads as follows: “When it comes to choosing a career, unless you're a masochist, you probably want to do something that you enjoy.” For me, becoming a personal trainer was far more accident than choice… an accident that remains in progress to this day.
As a result, I’ve spent more time in gyms than I can ever begin to calculate. Yes, this choice instilled in me a skewed and sometimes unhealthy body perception and heavily reinforced my masculine conditioning. However, there were also meaningful and affirmative life lessons to be learned within those mirrored walls.
Why am I telling you all this and what does it have to do with activism? Well, after Part 1 of this series was posted, I got some predictable demands for “solutions.” I’ve said it before and I stand by it:
Far too many folks imply that unless a critic expounds a specific strategy for change, their opinion is nothing more than worthless negativity. This reaction misses the essential role critical analysis plays in a society in which problems and their causes are so cleverly disguised. When discussing the future, the first step is usually a demystification of the past and present.
Besides, of what value would my alleged “solutions” be while we are still in the midst of myriad global crises? I like to imagine if we began detaching ourselves from this oppressive system, we'd create a space in which younger, wiser folks than I could identify paths and options currently beyond our line of sight.
All that said, I have been suggesting a HUGE first step for quite some time now: Recognize and accept how ineffective we have been and how badly we need new perspectives, voices, and ideas.
Q. How do I know this is a good idea?
A. I’ve been working in the fitness industry for most of my life and I have lessons to share.
1. COMMIT TO SEE GAINS
You may play a sport, practice a martial art, or run, run, run. Your preference might be yoga or boxing or Crossfit or Pilates or Spin or old school weight lifting. Whatever you choose will make you muscles grow. And get stronger. And become more flexible… with more endurance. Use your body -- wisely and regularly -- and it transforms and adapts into something more powerful.
The same is true of your courage. And your will. And your wisdom. And your love. Use them or lose them. Challenge them and they will respond. They will grow. And strengthen. And become more flexible. And more enduring. Use your justice muscles -- wisely and regularly -- and they will transform and adapt into something more powerful.
Whether it’s advancing physical fitness or societal fitness, you’ll wake each morning on a mission and you’ll go to bed each night knowing you did the work.
2. ENDURE, ENJOY, ENCOURAGE
It’s a funny thing, working out. You might start out dreading it, even hating it. But if you stick with it and start to see some results and find the method that lights you up, you will begin to look forward to it. You will even find yourself thinking about your workouts when you’re not at the gym. You’ll talk about your workouts and encourage others to get involved. And they will. Soon, they’ll be talking about their workouts even when they’re not at the gym. And the cycle starts again.
It can be the same when you resist oppression, inequality, and injustice. You may begin such work as a reaction or even a resolution. At first, it will be challenging. The vast majority of people will quit. But if you stick with it and start to see some results and find the method that lights you up, you will begin to look forward to it. You will even find yourself thinking and talking about your activism all the time. You’ll encourage others to get involved. And they will. And the cycle starts again.
3. RESULTS GUIDE YOUR EVOLUTION
Whether I was working with a client or working on myself, I was always encouraged to evaluate, experiment, and evolve on a regular basis -- based primarily on results.
In gyms, I learned how to remain receptive to fresh approaches and ideas and to understand the need for perpetual modification and adaptation. If you’re not happy with your outcomes, you automatically try something else. Let the results (or lack thereof) guide you.
Also, as a trainer, it’s my job to point out to others what needs to be addressed. No one calls me “self-righteous” or a “know-it-all” for suggesting that their previous attempts were flawed. When new members join the gym and get an evaluation, they don’t call me “negative” for identifying where changes must be made and work needs to be done.
I don't worry about appearing “divisive” if I tell them about their high blood pressure or stiff calves. Nope, we work together to diagnose problems and to create a fluid plan for addressing these problems.
It’s long overdue that we apply such a logical, results-based approach to our dissent. Do the work. Every single day. Let the results guide you. With activism -- as it is with fitness -- the more resistance you handle, the stronger you get.
In the meantime…
Like any other such establishment, a gym or health club is most effective when its members work cooperatively. For example, it’s crucial that you share equipment, practice personal hygiene, put away your phone, and clean-up after yourself. None of these acts directly contribute to your gains but they help others and create a more pleasant environment as you each move toward your goals. In a way, your gym behavior can be just as important as any push-up or pull-up.
Another important element of your fitness commitment is a sense of community -- respecting and looking out for your fellow gym members. It’s quite common, in fact, for complete strangers to regularly “spot” each other. In other words, you support the other person as they perform a difficult weight-lifting movement.
If you re-read the “In the meantime” section of part 1 of this series, you’ll see what I’m getting at here. Whether you are aiming to be in better physical condition or you’re aiming for better social conditions, there is always fundamental work to be done in the meantime. Sure, you must keep your eyes on the long-term prize. But, in the here and now, be careful not to neglect the basic steps to show solidarity and to offer direct relief to those in need.
Mickey Z. can be found on Instagram here. He is also the founder of Helping Homeless Women - NYC, offering direct relief to women on the streets of New York City. To help him grow this project, CLICK HERE and make a donation right now. And please spread the word!