Should we take the risk of exercising, or the risk of not exercising?
You can’t avoid danger. Not completely. You might be the most careful person in the world, but there’s still a chance you’ll be walking down a path one day and not see a little step…BAM! There we go, a badly-sprained ankle. Life is risky.
Crossfit is labelled as ‘dangerous’ by some, as if the athletes are let loose with ‘all the gear and no idea’, damaging their bodies with movements they don’t understand. This is the total opposite of my experience. I have never been injured. My coaches are knowledgeable, experienced, understanding, and wise in their dealings with athletes of a wide range of age and ability.
But still, training your body at high-intensity is not risk free. In fact, no exercise is risk free. Even the most careful and competent athletes get injuries, whether it be general wear-and-tear or a specific incident. Is it more sensible not to exercise?
Well, no. As most of us are aware, there are many potential dangers to living a sedentary lifestyle, including an increased likelihood of cardiovascular diseases, obesity (especially if accompanied by an ‘unhelpful’ diet), depression… I am no expert, but the list is long. The couch might seem safe and comforting to those with exercise-phobia, yet, as we know, it is deceptively ‘risky’.
Maybe you think that, out of the two risks, the best one to take involves being sprawled out on the sofa on the weekend, snacking on chocolate and crisps, flipping between equally-average TV programmes. I understand! I certainly spent enough of my teenage years doing just that. Or perhaps you will have noticed that I’ve missed the middle-ground between those extremes…
What about gentle/moderate exercise, accompanied by a reasonably balanced diet? Surely that would minimise the risk, to a large degree, of injury and illness? Yes, that’s a valid approach, and one that many choose and thrive off. I did this for a while, adjusting some of my eating habits and taking daily walks – walking is a lovely (I should do it more often). Walking and the odd sit-up allowed me to tick the exercise box, and provided me with fresh air and a greater appreciation for where I live. It worked for me.
So why did I choose ‘constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movement’? Why am I risking a more extreme form of exercise, particularly when it leaves me so exhausted?
Gentle walks could only take me so far. I wanted to know what my body was capable of, and to learn to move with good form. I wanted to get to the point where walking around the block felt like nothing – walking on air. I wanted to break fear barriers, in all areas of life. I wanted to show Hannah Retallick that if she could learn to run 5k, then many of the assumptions she had about herself were unfounded. What can this girl do?
We all choose how to use our time and energy, and our approaches to exercise vary. I wouldn’t say that anyone must come to the same conclusions as me. I can only say what I do and why. Boiled down to the fundamentals: I do Crossfit because it makes me feel like a superhero! This is the ‘risk’ that helps me to grow.
There’s the risk of exercise. There’s the risk of inactivity. There’s the risk of never finding out what your body and mind can do.
It’s up to you which risk you take.