Good evening dear readers. I’ve been given a challenge and it’s a doozy. It’s to prepare a proposal to speak on the topic of human innovation. So, I’d like to take this time to organize my thoughts and would love your feedback on the topic.
Just the word innovation gets me excited. It speaks of imagination, possibility, brilliance and human potential. I get pumped just thinking about it. Exploring human need, behavior and our individual and collective potential is where my passion truly lies. And innovation – well, isn’t that the byproduct of need, behavior and potential?
Humans have made jaw dropping innovations from irrigation to airplanes to iPhones. If you consider our accomplishments seriously – no matter how cynical you may be – you gotta be awestruck. The only reason we are at the top of the food chain is because we are the only animal capable of taking complex ideas and organizing them into form. We innovate – it’s a defining and exciting part of the human experience.
If I view human innovation strictly through the lens and goals of my vocation as a fitness professional – it is plain to see that our greatest human innovations are failing the human body. Our innovations have led us to a sedentary lifestyle and crappy food. You know the stats – obesity is an epidemic. I’d be willing to go out on a limb here and say melancholia is also an epidemic. I see a lot of unhappiness in this world – not agony as such – more a low level of enthusiasm and a high acceptance of mediocrity. Very few people are really jazzed up and excited to be alive. As a pretty jazzed up trainer, it is my opinion that collectively our bodies, minds and spirits are suffering. Somehow our innovations have led to a buzz kill of the highest order.
Every day some new diet/fitness trend/pill/book comes into the market with the hope and promise of fixing it. But it doesn’t. And it won’t because excessive product innovation got us here.
I think it started with irrigation – which was brilliant. Irrigation made farming possible. Which made city living possible. Which made cleanliness possible. Which made a growing population possible. Which made specialization possible. And every step we took made sense because our needs were still basic and we were taking care of them. But as we raced up the hierarchy of needs we took our basic needs for granted and now our vitality and the health of our planet is failing.
The invitation I received asked the question: what innovations do we need now? From the fitness perspective I know what we don’t need. Please world – stop innovating fitness equipment. We don’t need another Ab Buster. We also don’t need another Something Something Diet or cleanse. We don’t need another exercise video, or dare I say, another 30 minute circuit. We need to innovate a new way of looking at health and fitness in a culture which demands nothing from us physically. We need to understand that physicality isn’t an option – it’s not something that some people do – it’s part of being human and without it – we suffer.
Trainers can always try to innovate new ways to make training accessible. Businesses and policy makers need to include the wellness and physical health of it’s employees and citizens as a top priority. Here’s a nudge to the City of Victoria – make it easier for fitness facilities to do business please. Don’t base your zoning requirements on how many parking spots a building occupies. Cars shouldn’t have more rights than people. Let’s get our priorities straight. (Sorry – personal beef there).
But physical fitness always come down to the individual inhabiting their unique body. In our heady rush to progress we have lost the sense of being/living/thriving in our bodies. The innovation we need now is a new worldview that establishes ourselves as humans with bodies in motion in a technologically advanced society. We need to see that as far as we’ve come we can’t thrive in a sedentary state. We need to prioritize movement because it’s primordial and as much a defining feature of humanity as is the ability to innovate. We need to understand that joyful active living in a technologically advanced society is possible. And then we need to integrate that viewpoint into the core of our society.
But you know, if we can’t have that, I’ll totally settle for this: