Feed the Beast at Fitness Class

recovery from addiction through workout classes
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Addictions started out like magical pets, pocket monsters. They did extraordinary tricks, showed you things you hadn’t seen, were fun. But came, through some gradual dire alchemy, to make decisions for you.  William Ford Gibson, author of Neuromancer

By LW Oakley

I attend most classes offered by GoodLife Fitness in Kingston, Ontario. Depending on the class I’m either running (NEWBODY – most tiring), pumping (BODYPUMP – most scientific), jumping (BODYVIVE – most diverse), dancing (ZUMBA – most fun), stabilizing (PILATES – most challenging), energizing (BODYFLOW – most relaxing), or connecting (YOGA – most mindful).

While driving to the gym for my daily one hour workout I recently asked myself, “Where would I be without these fitness classes?”

recovery from addiction through workout classes

If I didn’t go to fitness class I’d probably be watching TV and getting soft. I might even be taking drugs and serving time. And sooner rather than later, I’d be dead resting in my grave, but not in peace. That’s because you have to earn peace. You can’t buy peace at a store, or win it in a lottery, or steal it when no one is looking, or find it in a bag of cracker jacks, or stick it in your arm with a needle. Peace of mind is the single most important benefit of going to fitness class on a regular basis, which means it’s particularly beneficial to people with addictive personalities.

I’ve always believed that most people including myself have addictive personalities. Self destructive people channel their addictive behaviour towards quick fixes and the negative influences of drugs, alcohol, gambling, food and sex. Successful people harness the energy of their addictive behaviour. They commit their bodies and minds to hard work and healthy habits, and the gym is the ideal place for both.

That beast inside us didn’t start out as a wild animal. It was once just like a little puppy that you walked on a leash. Eventually it became your companion animal and developed bad habits. Then one day you realized that you no longer controlled it, It was all grown up with a will and life of its own, and now you wore the collar, and the dog held the leash.

If you go to the gym you can take back your life. The gym is an investment in health and happiness. The gym repays your investment in hard work and self discipline with peace of mind. The key to success is to go to different fitness classes, because they complement each other. Aristotle (384-322 BC), the ancient Greek philosopher said it best, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

There are fitness classes with running, pumping, jumping and running and dancing. But there are also classes to stabilize your core, to energize your body, and most important of all, there are classes to connect your body and mind.

The gym won’t kill the beast inside you or satisfy his insatiable appetite. But it will help you control both. At the gym you will feed that hunger because you will tire him out, you will quiet his mind, you will make him happy and most important of all, you will know him better.

Eventually the beast will become like a little puppy again, small enough to fit inside your gym bag. When you arrive for your workout just unzip the bag and let him go. When you’re ready to leave put him back in the bag, take him home and put him away. In time he will realize that the gym bag is his cage. When you feel his spirit get restless, go back to the gym. If you don’t, he’ll escape on his own, If he gets away, you’ll take his place in the cage.

During yoga we often hold a pose called “down dog” where your hands and feet are spread out on the floor in front and behind you. Your head is down below your heart and your hips are up high. During down dog pose the instructor often tells you to shift your weight at the waist and peddle your feet up and down on the floor.

The peddling motion creates a pleasurable sensation throughout your lower body. The peddling motion is called “walking the dog.”

When you walk the dog at a yoga fitness class, he wears the collar and you hold the leash in the palm of your hand.

LW Oakley lives in Kingston, Ontario and is the author of Inside The Wild, and Inside The Wild 2.

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