“Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.”
The Fitness Intersection
There is an overwhelming amount of information in the fitness industry.
To use a metaphor, the highly saturated fitness market is like a bustling intersection that doesn’t have stoplights, street signs, or speed limits. You approach it as you drive in your car, and you stop right before entering.
How do I know when to stop? When do I go?
How do I drive safely?
How do I find my route amidst this madness?
This type of intersection is a colossal danger zone. It’s a recipe for collisions and crashes. Car chaos is created, no one gets where they need to go, and people get hurt. But the intersection must be crossed.
It’s easy to feel this way as a Christian man who wants to build strength and take care of his body.
You pull up to the intersection and stop, looking for a path through the mania.
To the right of you, there’s a path that looks like it leads to strength, but it’s lined with half-naked bodies, ear-tickling influencers, and motivations that do not honor God. Pass.
To the left of you, there’s another path that has billboards with nutrition advice lining both sides. But they all contradict one another; if you follow them all you wouldn’t be able to eat anything. Another pass.
And in between, there are countless other paths to pick from.
One is a path to strength, but it consumes so much of your resources (time, money, energy, etc…) that you don’t have much leftover to be faithful to your other responsibilities. Pass again.
There’s another path that has the opposite problem; it doesn’t require any time for you to build strength, because it doesn’t encourage you to take care of your body. So, while you are faithful to your other responsibilities, you completely neglect your strength. Another pass.
Is there a reliable route through this madness?
Absolutely. And the roadmap is simpler than you think.
Let’s break it down into 3 parts: Stewardship, Skills, and Strength.
Faithful fitness must start here because stewardship answers the most important questions, such as:
What is fitness?
What is fitness for?
Who is fitness for?
Why pursue fitness?
Stewardship acknowledges and believes God is our Creator (Genesis 1-2, Revelation 4:11). Our bodies were created by God, and are for God. They belong to Him and not to us (1 Corinthians 6:19). Fitness then is body-stewardship, where we move, strengthen, and use our bodies to serve God and bring Him glory. We are caretakers of our bodies, and stewardship recognizes that our bodies do not ultimately belong to us.
Fitness must be viewed with stewardship as the foundation. To return to our metaphor, stewardship is the street sign you need to find as a marker to orient yourself properly to this intersection. Otherwise, the competing and noisy roads will disorient you, and you might be led down dark streets you didn’t intend to venture into.
Fitness is a composite of different skills. I typically think of them in one of three categories: routine, rest, and replenishment.
Learning the mechanics of a proper push-up is a skill (routine).
Learning how to go to bed early is a skill (rest).
Learning how to consistently eat nourishing food is a skill (replenishment).
These skills take practice, diligence, and patience. But you have to start, and you must learn.
Pick a few skills at a time. Learn how to do the basic bodyweight movements (push-up, pull-up, body squat, etc…) Learn how to use a kettlebell. Find a program to try. Then try another. And keep trying and keep learning.
To again revisit the intersection metaphor, skill is the process of learning to drive your car through the madness. You have to learn how to use your gas, breaks, read your instruments, fasten your seatbelt, merge, accelerate, swerve, etc… And skills are learned by taking action.
And, without nuancing this to death, every man can learn fitness skills. And he should. Because they are the foundations for strength.
Strength is the result of skills applied diligently over time. Not once, not for a short-lived flurry of activity, but steadily practiced over seasons.
Let’s use the push-up as an example.
Once you learn the basic skill of a push-up, figure out how many you can do at once. That number is your max.
3 – 5x a day, practice your push-up by doing one push-up set at 50-60% of your max. If your max is 20, that means you will do one set of 10-12 push-ups at 3-5 different times during the day. Spread them out over a day (morning, noon, afternoon, evening, etc…).
Do this 4 – 5 days a week. Repeat for 2 weeks, then retest your max. Repeat this cycle with 50-60% of your new max for another 2 weeks. You’ll be surprised at how much your max push-ups will improve over a month, and even more surprised when you repeat this process over several months. You will slowly build strength.
And this is only one type of programming applied to only one type of movement. There are others. Learn what works for you, what you like, and what you don’t like.
The same practice applies to going to bed early and eating well. Learn when you need to go to bed, and learn the basics of preparing a meal. Learn how much sleep you need, and learn what good food is. And practice little improvements daily, and watch your health improve.
Strength is mastery over your fitness skills, earned through experience.
To return once again to our metaphor, strength is the ability to drive your car through the intersection and down stewardship road. It’s the sure-handed ability to swerve around potholes, accelerate at the right times, read traffic, and anticipate and avoid obstacles.
And a man must pursue strength and find his way through this intersection. For you are not alone in the car.
There are others in the backseat who need your strength. They are your spouse, your kids, your church, and your communities. They need your protection and leadership to help them also navigate through the variety of paths available in this intersection.
Strength, whether physical, spiritual, emotional, etc…, finds its ultimate purpose when it is used for others. For their protection. For their good. For their provision. And for God’s glory.
The man who neglects his strength is like the man who sits in his car outside the intersection. The engine is running. The energy is there. All the tools are ready and at his disposal. But the car sits idle and doesn’t move. And no one under your leadership is taken anywhere.
Take your foot off the break. Steadily apply the gas pedal. Tighten your grip on the wheel. And just start moving. Pick up some skills, slowly learn mastery, and earn strength over time.
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- My Year of Walking Barefoot
- A Minimalist Exercise Routine That Works
- 10 Minimalist Workouts You Can Do at Home
- Threats to the Glory of Young Men
Ready to get started?