Optimal? Or Practical?

We’re very lucky here in Australia. Our city Councils really look after us. Well. At least I feel they do anyway. Being grateful for them makes me feel ok about paying taxes, so that can only be a good thing right?

Anyway. One of the really cool things they have here is a LOT of parks. They’re everywhere. Dog parks. Kid parks. Barren parks. Parks filled with leafy greens and leafy browns that some would call bushland. They have non-gender specific parks – I mean, they have it all really.  In a lot of these parks the councils install exercise machines.  Ya know, things like pull up bars, dip bars, stationery bikes, cross-trainers if they’re feeling fancy. And it’s just the coolest thing. You really don’t need to be able to afford a gym membership to work out here (not that you do anywhere really – all you need to do is let go of your excuses and you’re away laughing. Or running. Whichever works for you). We also have an incredible climate, so there is rarely an excuse not to get outdoors and reap the benefits of movement and vitamin D.

While I was out walking Daisy (through parks as circumstance would have it) I saw a very overweight man using an ab machine that the council so thoughtfully installed. This man was doing crunches. A lot of them. Now Daisy is a very slow walker (bad hips and bad knees you see) so from the time I spotted him in the distance, to the time I was approaching him, and then to the time I had walked so far past him I couldn’t even see him anymore – he never stopped crunching. Now trust me when I say that that was a looooonnnngggg tiiiiimmmmeee (Daisy really does dawdle).

The very first thought that came into my head (you know – the kind of thought you feel you have no control over, it kind of just appears without any warning) was “what a waste of time”. And then I caught myself. I caught myself being a real judgmental piece of shit and I thought “at least he’s out there doing something!”

But then…

Then I got into a full blown argument with myself. “Yea he’s out there doing something, but he could be out there putting in the same effort with a more reward yielding exercise” “Maybe he enjoys doing crunches” “No one enjoys doing crunches” “Perhaps it’s all he can manage right now” “There is a better way to do it”

Then I shut myself right down. Because there will ALWAYS be a better way to do it. Unless you are a professional athlete that has the employ of elite level world class coaches (ya know, like Luke), there will always be a better way. A more effective way. A more efficient way. A more specific and personalised way. But you know what trumps optimal?


With general population trainees, every damn day practical will win.

While I may not think doing crunches in the park is the most optimal, I am most definitely not in the position to decide whether it is the most practical for this man. Perhaps crunches make him feel a sense of achievement and feel good about himself? Perhaps with his seemingly limited amount of knowledge, this IS the most practical thing for him right now?  But whilst I, and others, may feel he is wasting his time or he could do better, consider that YOU can also do better too.  We all can in some way or another.  And at least this man is out there doing SOMETHING. It is hopefully just the start of an ever-evolving journey for him and if he can use doing crunches to set up an on-going habit of just doing, then the fine-tuning can always come later.

Good on you over-weight man at the park! Good on you for just DOING! Whatever that doing may be!

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