Do You Really Need All That Gear? A Minimalist Perspective on Fitness

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A battle between Amazons and Greek warriors, depicted in a marble sarcophagus. On display at the Pio Clementino museum in the Vatican. (Colin/Wikimedia Commons)

There are claims that in ancient times, most people we’re actually as ripped as these fighting Greeks and Amazons – and if you look at pictures of indigenous people who still practice their traditional way of life, you’ll see that they are, too. Of course, this is a frieze, and we can’t know the exact extent of artistic liberties. It’s likely that the models are better looking than their average peers, but, nevertheless, being strong, lean and muscular was the rule – not, as it is nowadays, an exception. And yet, people back then didn’t have heart rate monitors, compression tights, protein bars or cross trainers. Somehow, they managed to stay fit without all that gear. That means: we can, too.

Let’s be honest: if you get your workout at the gym, you hardly need high-tech, low weight, ultra breathable clothes worth a small fortune – no matter how vigorously you go at it. After all, you’re inside an air-conditioned, water proof building and will not be exposed to either wild animals, hail storms or avalanches. Not much will happen during your hour of bouncing up and down, or lifting heavy objects. It’s perfectly fine to wear just about anything that allows you to move around and will not get you charged with disorderly behaviour. Do you remember the times when people wore old, cotton T-shirts and shorts to the gym? Funnily enough, average fitness levels were way higher then, before we got access to all this new, fancy stuff.

PLANET Sports flagship store in Bonifacio High Street, a roomy two-level active-lifestyle boutique. The staff is trained to suggest proper shoes, outfit and accessories that match the users’ needs.
Will any of these thingies really make you more fit? Possibly, if you spend enough time and effort on your shopping spree, running in and out of a number of stores. Picture taken from this article.

Getting on without ridiculously expensive gear, then, is a first stop on the way towards minimalist fitness. We do wear quite conventional training clothes, but don’t let the labels in the picture below  fool you – they’re all bought second-hand, for a fraction of the price. Wallet happy – environment even happier.

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Emmie, post workout, in clothes that could fool anyone into thinking she’s spent more than a total of ten euros on them.

We’re both exploring a number of minimalist perspectives on fitness, and will get back to them in detail as we learn more. One, is the concept of Primal Fitness, which means that you’ll have to pay close attention to how your body responds, and adjust your workout accordingly, instead of going “It’s Tuesday, and that means Body Pump!”. Primal Fitness is about working out when and how you feel like it, learning to be more intuitive. Emmie, for one, is experimenting with disregarding the number of kilos on her barbell, or mapping any quantifiable progression, while lifting weights. Instead, her focus is body response and quality. So far, just a few weeks in, results are promising.

Kristoffer explores the possibility of getting by without a gym membership, saving quite a lot of money. Instead, he’s bought a pair of kettlebells and does some running every now and then – without heart rate monitor and stop watch, which proves to be much more relaxing than turning himself into a cyborg before going for a nice forest run.

We’ve decided to not measure, quantify or count anything – kilos, kilometers, time or repetitions – for two months, and see if we’ll get stronger, weaker, faster or slower as a result. Another point of interest, is, of course – and perhaps most importantly – if we’ll find working out more or less enjoyable. In order to determine the success rate, we’ll do a test before embarking on the two months of primal workout, and repeat the same test after the experiment is finished. We’ll get back to that shortly.

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