The word ‘maintenance’ can be a real wet blanket in a gym setting, whether we’re talking about nudging mobility forward through daily practice or simply hanging out at your current level of fitness. Watching folks hit PRs while your lifts are holding serve can induce disquiet on the stillest seas; one day you’re trucking along, the next day you’re still…trucking.
But let’s flip the script a bit. The root of the word ‘maintenance’ is the French ‘maintenant’–an elegant little adverb that packs a sure, direct wallop: it means ‘now.’
When I begin to feel that my training is dragging a bit, or that I’m in a rut, the first thing I ask myself is this: where am I now? Am I at a place that’s worth maintaining? Am I happy with my now? Often times the rut is a legitimate valley–I’ve let my conditioning slip a bit, or haven’t been attending to my flexibility work. In those cases, a cursory inventory usually reveals the areas I need to shore up, and a few weeks’ attention to those details lifts me up out of my ditch.
But just as often, I’ve simply lost sight of where it is that I have already been. Sitting on the floor playing with my kids, getting up and down with no knee pain, having the conditioning to run around on weekends without getting tired and the strength to do more with ease than I’ve ever been able to do in my adult life–shit, that is a pretty good place! My workouts these days make me feel good; I do them in places and with people I love, and I am much more present during my day. I suspect that if you’re reading this, you’re pretty darned close to that place if you aren’t already here.
And this is a place that is well worthy of maintenance. This is something that we have built; it is something we can enjoy and tend to with a gardener’s diligence. Some of my most enjoyable and fruitful periods of training have come after realizing that I wasn’t wanting for any new goals or benchmarks at that particular moment; the key is the now, the root of our maintenance.
We’ve linked to this podcast before but this seems like a great place to do it again: here’s a wonderful interview with George Beinhorn on the simple joy available within the athletic process. Give it a listen and enjoy your day!