Sunday, July 06, 2008

Wasted Weights

missingpoints classic: Wasted Weights
8 May 2003

A: Pare, tumigil na 'ko mag-"weights."
B: Bakit?
A: Mabigat, eh.

* * * * *

I tried it once and gave up because it was, well, "mabigat." Not just literally but "mabigat" in terms of the time and discipline required. To really get that buff bod one needs to wake up early, do warm ups, do the weight training, and then get down to your actual job. It's also "mabigat sa bulsa" as the gym equipment does not come cheap. Whether you buy your own stuff or pay membership dues, working out can put a dent in one's pocket.

Being the typical "pilosopo," I started to wonder whether it was all worth the time and money. While a lot of people (based on the number I see in various gyms) seem to think that it is worth all the effort, I do not. Being healthy and fit is one thing, being vain to the point of spending more than what (I feel) is proper just to look good is quite another. (Of course what is "proper" depends on the individual)

What gets to me is the effort wasted. And by "wasted" I mean that the energy expended repeatedly lifting and putting down weights could be put to greater use. Imagine the superfluous nature of weight lifting and jogging in place. Calories (i.e. food) are burned and heat is generated but the person exerting the effort just stays in the same place accomplishing nothing. The heat isn't even put to good use. It just gets processed by an air-conditioner, which in turn emits ozone-damaging gases.

I'm probably not the only one who sees the irony in seeing "high society" types pedaling away on stationary bikes after being driven to the gym by their chauffeurs. It's funny the way we spend money on various things to make life easier then spend more money trying to get tired because our lifestyle doesn't allow for physical exertion.

My dad just set-up a beer and soft drink wholesale outfit and is raving about the effect the new business has on his health because instead of letting his workers do all the work, my dad also putters around lifting bottles and cases. He calls it his gym but I think it's actually better. The "weightlifting" he does actually accomplishes something and is not a mere waste of time, money, and energy.

Not all of us, though, are blessed with a job that is physically demanding. While stevedores and bellboys lift weights as part of their jobs, the rest of us spend all day on a desk in front of a PC or a phone. While the former get more than enough exercise, we pencil-pushers need to pay gym membership fees just to stretch our limbs.

This is inefficiency to the highest degree. The system which evolved this set-up needs to be reevaluated and re-engineered to give everyone a better chance to flex and exercise their muscles while at the same time doing something useful. What I find ironic is that there is a group of people (the stevedores and bellboys) who are not paid enough for the work they do and another group of people (pencil-pushers) living alongside them who would pay just to be able to lift heavy things.

Why not even things out?

Instead of wasting their time at the gym, the gym-goers can organize a system where they can put the muscles they're so eager to flex to good use. "Habitat for Humanity" does this wonderfully. College kids with spare time and energy get to help those who can't afford to pay for the construction of their homes. Instead of logging in gym time, we can log in actual work time. We not only get to exercise, but we help someone other than the gym owner.

The gyms can even be the ones to spearhead this. Sports physicians can even help design equipment and prescribe techniques to maximize the workout. ("Lifting hollow blocks has never been this easy! But wait, that's not all…")

Imagine a society where no effort is wasted. Where the energy expended to lift weights actually serves a purpose. Where weights actually need to be lifted in order to get them somewhere. Where people can build both their bodies and something useful for others.

Where no weights get wasted.

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