EXERCISE: A Social Activity

Lemur_CinZoo_036*At the end of each TKD class, Master Kim and his students rotate through the room, shaking hands and passing along thanks and encouragement to each other.

Photo by Kabir Bakie

*This is my favorite part of the class.  Not because it signals the end of another Master Kim led sweat fest, but because it reminds us that we are all in this together.  We watch each other suffer and succeed.  With a handshake and a few words a bond is formed.

*Exercise inevitably leads to social interaction.  At the pool or on the field, out for a run or in the gym, connections are always being made.  At your loneliest, when you retreat into yourself and seek sanctuary in exercise, your body will still communicate your anger, frustration, and sadness to others.

*I know.  I have been there.  There was a period, when I felt like the wheel of fortune was grinding me into the dirt.  In the pool, I could slip beneath the surface of the water and disappear from the world for a few moments.  Sprinting, I beat the water with my feet, as my arms powered through the resistance.  If I worked hard enough, rumination would slow or stop.  I would come away spent.  Exhausted.

*One day, as I was skulking off the deck, Dee, a lifeguard yelled across the pool, “You better put your shoulders back and stand up straight.  You look like an old man.”  She was right.  I was letting the weight of my problems break me down.  Her less than subtle remark got to me.  Plus, she shamed me in front of the regulars at the pool.  Now, I had no choice but to stand up straight.  Walking off the deck with my shoulders back and my head up, helped.  So did Dee letting me know that she cared.

*Human drama unfolds around exercise every day.  As a result of working out, I have witnessed athletes performing at their peak, veterans conditioning themselves for another run at the NFL, future world champions sparring, young people flirting, fights, future lovers hooking up,  pregnant women preparing for childbirth, parents with new babies, young men and women reaching for adulthood, old guys passing on knowledge, soldiers adjusting to life as a paraplegic, battles with AIDS, friends seeking refuge from the meltdown of a marriage, personal bests, people challenging themselves and each other to reach new levels of performance, I helped a guy who had a seizure, gym members passing, and most importantly, friendships being forged.

*SEE is a virtual extension of this social experience.  So, let’s take a moment to shake hands with the rest of the class by leaving comments for the people that we share the experience of exercise with.  Words of thanks and encouragement go a long way.

Master Kim Shaking Hands

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5 responses to “EXERCISE: A Social Activity

  1. stoffainkorea

    Kirsten and Jonathan: I no it is stressful, but it will be worth it. Can’t wait to get to NYC and celebrate your wedding day with you! -Adam

  2. my,my how many times to how many people have I said “stand up straight” hope it has made a difference

  3. stoffainkorea

    I would like to thank three guys that have made a difference in my performance: Brent, who was my lifting partner in high school, Jay, who worked hard and studied hard with me during law school, and Darren, who ran me through the mean streets of DC. Thanks, I owe you guys big time! -Adam

  4. stoffainkorea


    *I hope you had a good long weekend and things are looking up for you. Hang in there man! -Adam

  5. Alaskan Ninja


    I couldn’t agree more. Notably, in my Seibukan Jujutsu classes, we have particular rituals based upon ancient Japanese training, but one of the most striking and bond-forging, is the practice of bowing and stating “domo arragato gozai mashita” or “thank you very much for the class/training.” This is said after each bout with a partner, at the end of the class between the students and sensei, and finally, the student create a circle, bow, and repeat it to each other, finishing the session with a round of applause. While personal drive and determination is admirable and worthy of emulation, the encouragement and validation of efforts by others and from others are of equal value and likely of greater need. Afterall, not everyone is John Wayne.

    Therefore, domo arragato gozai mashita.

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