Here is a collection of short thoughts that have emerged over the past couple of months.
Breath control has gone mainstream
Yoga master or not, the odds are very good that you’re engaging in some kind of breath control when you go out in public. Specifically, when you pass people on the street.
To be clear, breathwork is still an incredible practice. But our concerns are more quotidian right now.
My system for breathing in public spaces: Prep, Pass, Puff
Here’s how it works:
1. When you see someone approaching, prep by slowly and gently inhaling through your nose. Big, panicky gasps of air are not exactly balm for your nervous system.
2. Hold your breath or begin a very slow, controlled exhale until you’ve reached a safe distance.
3. Puff the rest of your breath out—coordinating with (and not breathing hard onto) any new pedestrian traffic—so that you can begin prepping/inhaling again.
Learn from resistance
The freedom to not wear a mask in public is not exactly the hill I want to die on. I know that this is more of an American thing but we’ve got our own stuff right here in Trinity Bellwoods. So, I’m instead asking what we can learn from this whole situation. That begins with understanding counterwill.
Counterwill is a term that typically applies to a child who resists being controlled. However, adults display counterwill too. Have you ever pushed back against rules or restriction? Felt greater resistance the second someone tells you to do something? That’s what’s happening here.
How do we invite more collaboration? How do we inspire critical thought instead of kneejerk resistance? That’s the million-dollar question (with a trillion-dollar answer). Protip: it’s probably not on social media.
Gyms may never recover. Ok.
I’ve seen a couple of news pieces discussing how people are now used to working out from home and will never go back to gyms. I imagine that I feel the same way a firefighter would if someone told them that 90% of fires had been eradicated. I feel good!
The Bang Coaching Team are magnificent centaurs roaming the planes. Sometimes they stop to reconstruct an entire village. Sometimes they simply help someone ford a river and then trot along. Big or small, these missions have deep intrinsic value. So, even if most commercial fitness falls into the ocean, there will always be things that can’t be scaled or commoditized. That’s our sweet spot, baby!
Accountability works best with a pucker-factor
About a week and a half ago, we began running group challenges. To opt in, you have to bet. So far, we have also secured over $600 of donations for organizations like CAMH and Community Food Centres Canada. How much are people betting? Enough to make them uncomfortable about losing. Need to raise the stakes (for a good cause)? Hit reply.
Find joy before you hitch your wagon to numbers
As you may know, I took up running as a lockdown hobby. I have all kinds of theoretical knowledge about the sport but minimal personal experience. So, it’s been a fascinating process to step outside myself and watch.
For example, as soon as I felt like I had some kind of consistency, I immediately began getting competitive. It’s so tempting to focus on how far or how fast. But I also recognized a really important fork in the road: run in a way that brings me joy or run with a metrics-first mentality. Guess which one’s more fun? Ok, that was an easy one but guess which one has helped me improve technique more rapidly? Same deal. Don’t get married to numbers when you should still be out there swiping right on experience.
You can always quit later
On the same note, endurance sports present a remarkable opportunity to work on your inner-game. As you now know, I’m not particularly militaristic with myself. So, when I want to stop, I can stop. When I want to quit, I can quit. However, there’s a difference between having that freedom and exercising it.
That difference lives within a simple method: time delay. Whenever I want to stop, I simply choose a point a little in the distance. If I still feel as strongly when I get there, I actually do stop. However, 90% of the time, my mind is somewhere else and the urgency is gone. It is amazing how turbulent emotions are. This simple bit of time delay has not only made me more mentally resilient, it’s all but eradicated my own counterwill.
Part of the fun is never having to worry about safety
I think of Ahmaud Arbery every time I run. I don’t forget how lucky I am.
A book is a conversation with the author
How has your reading been going? I was feeling bad about my terrible retention when it comes to books. But then I realized that a book can be seen as the author inviting you into a conversation. The purpose of a conversation is not to memorize what the other person is saying; it’s to explore those ideas together. If your brain is in a better place leaving a book compared to coming into it, then reading has been worthwhile.
Back to the gym
Thank you to everyone—and there were a lot of people—who responded to last week’s questions about returning to the gym.
As per last week, we have also begun organizing a litany of extra measures to space things out, maximize equipment hygiene, maximize air hygiene, and generally just be smart and careful about the whole thing.
I have also decided that we’re going to create our own staged rollout. Here’s what I’m thinking:
Stage 1: Personal training for self-quarantined people
Up to 4 people in-house—including staff.
Stage 2: Hybrid for self-quarantined people
Up to 6 people in-house—including staff.
Stage 3: Hybrid for self-screened people
Up to 8 people in-house—including staff. Separate hours for at-risk populations.
Stage 4: Modified operations
Up to 10 people in-house—including staff. Separate hours for at-risk populations TBD.
Anything beyond Stage 4 is wait-and-see.
Then again, so is Stage 1. Like you, we’re doing our best to stay adaptable.
In the meantime, we’re grateful for our community and looking forward to seeing everyone in-person again—even if it’s just a few at a time.