Re-Imagining Exercise

Can you imagine exercising, without, exercising…

In my experience coaching kids from non-rural backgrounds, I have witnessed athletes struggle with overcoming challenges. For whatever reason, many of our young people avoid challenges at all costs. This avoidance causes many of them to have extreme anxiety or act with ineffective behavior when they are actually faced with a challenge. As we know, challenges continue on throughout our lives and how we react to them is very important to our well-being. I felt it was my duty to find an answer.

What if there was a challenge built into every workout? And each workout would enable the people involved to challenge and support one another? What if workouts were not simply with weights, but rather they were practical and functional? Like farming, bailing hay or growing vegetables? Lifting wood to build a structure? Tending animals?

Instead of going to the ‘mechanical gym’, can you imagine leaving work and heading to do some old fashioned manual labor on a ‘complex, natural, gym’? Think about the positives that would come with having people develop their mental and physical strength while learning about the different tasks that come with farming (or any trade for that manner). Tasks could be divided and split throughout the week to cover different muscle groups, and allow time for rest and recovery etc. The people ‘working out’ on the farm could even have their own small plot of garden and, in the process of exercising, grow their own healthy food, helping to enrich their diet, and function at a higher level!

Actually, we all need healthy exercise in our lives …. What if small offices, or schools, were set up on the same farm that they would be doing their exercise on, alongside the horses and cows that they would be tending to in their free time. Can you imagine tending to the land on your lunch break? Farm Athletics can be more than athletics and can be more than a farm. It can be brought to scale to be an all inclusive, accessible, and connecting experience.

Farmers, or people that work manual jobs, are often incredulous when you mention yoga, exercise or any other of physical exercise to them. Their jobs are exercise! How can we add more natural movement and exercise into our lives. Katy Bowman calls this nutritious movement.

While living in Thailand, the 70+ year old woman that served as my surrogate mother (and best friend) could naturally sit in full lotus position. Most school children in Thailand do not have desks and chairs. Most families eat on the ground. For me, it was a very hard adjustment, coming from a place where I rarely sat on the ground. In the simple act of sitting on the ground, you use so many muscles (think about it, getting up and down etc.). Could you imagine a home, theatre, other public spaces etc. without chairs and tables, but with mats and pillows?

Can you imagine doing away with some of the conveniences in your life, and doing more things manually? To cook, people used to have to build a fire (very physical). What about a squat toilet? Making your own bread? Walking/Cycling to get from place to place? Building and repairing your own furniture? Using a kiln to make your own bowls, cups, silverware? What other ways can you think of including nutritious movement into your life? Not only would this make people healthier, it would likely also improve people’s general well being — making them more capable, self-confident, connected, and happy etc.

Photo by Maksym Ivashchenko on Unsplash

Lead Author: Genaro Scampone (first four paragraphs)

Genaro serves as a High School American Football coach in Upstate New York. For 12 weeks, to adapt to the COVID regulations, 20 athletes, Genaro, and another certified trainer completed their strength-training workouts on a farm. He noticed that the positive characteristics of being on a farm (work ethic, connection, cycles etc.) rubbed off on the kids. It was like they owed it to the farm to work hard and accept challenges. The farm also gave them a sense of peace and a chance to quiet the noise from their daily lives. Not only did they exercise but they were able to meet and play with the animals, fish and swim in the pond, bail hay, and corral the animals back into the pasture. It did not take long for Genaro, and the team, to realize just how far they can take Farm Athletics.

With the completion of the first Farm Athletics cohort on their temporary farm location, they are now in need of a more permanent property to carry out this vision. “With the current state of our society, there is no better time than now to make this vision come to life and offer Farm Athletics to our community in the Mohawk Valley in Upstate New York.”

Anchor Author: Daniel Rudolph

Daniel Rudolph is interested in exploring alternative, experiential learning opportunities for people of all ages. He is passionate about forming community, and building public spaces for meaningful, transformational gathering. Currently he is spending a lot of his time learning juggling and facilitating gatherings. He also enjoys writing and sharing poetry. Daniel is a very curious and playful person and is always open for creative collaborations.



Can you imaging a more harmonious future?

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