It’s the Fourth of July. Independence Day. The holiday always brings to mind summer, playing in the pool, grilling, homemade ice cream and fireworks (My brother had a love-affair with bottle rockets; I’m jumpy to this day.).
My adult mind can now appreciate the holiday for more than just a chance to eat extra hot dogs and dread what my brother’s allowance afforded him at the fireworks stand. Independence Day is a celebration of becoming independent. And for me, it goes beyond government, politics and economies. It has meaning way down here — at our level. The exalted, wonderful state of being independent, beholden to no one, able to exude our individuality no matter.
That, my friend, is freedom.
How on earth does this have a dang thing to do with fitness? I’m glad you asked.
Many of my clients are folks heading into their 50s and 60s. They’ve moved beyond skinny jeans and muscle shirts. They enter the gym for one main reason: their independence.
They seek to avoid reliance on medications, devices or third-party living assistance. They want to carry their own groceries, drive their own cars, pick up their grandkids and carry their laundry up the stairs.
To someone in their 20s, this sounds ridiculously simple and far from concern. When we are young, we take our physical abilities for granted, much like most of us take our country’s independence, and the freedom it affords us, for granted. When you haven’t known any different, it’s hard to recognize that what you’ve got deserves honor and respect.
Appreciation of your body’s independence — your ability to do what you want when you want — can come from a health challenge or time spent with people who’ve lost theirs. Imagine having to wait for someone to drive you somewhere, to help you take a shower and get dressed, or having to wait to eat.
Those who enjoy good health have choices. We may not act on all of them, but there’s a sense of happiness that goes with having them. I can hop in my car and just take off. I can rearrange my living room furniture every week, just for fun and without permission or help. It sounds crazy to think of such things, but there’s an optimism and sense of hope when you have freedom, both political and physical.
Our health and fitness is about more than what size jeans we wear (We’re squeezing into the wrong size most of the time, anyway.) or how attractive we are. It is about our independence. Are you working to hang on to yours?
• Shannon Sorrels is an NSCA-certified personal trainer and owner of Physix LLC in Ahwatukee Foothills. Reach her at (480) 428-5660 or azphysix.com.