“The human spirit must prevail over technology.” – Albert Einstein
Technology for its own sake is at its best a harmless amusement and pleasant waste of time, or at its worst a nihilistic and dangerous dead-end. With exercise, training, and fitness, technology is rarely life-threatening like nuclear bombs, but it can waste a lot of time and energy. Most crucially, it can also conflate means with ends. Technology is not the end goal, but a possible way to reach it! Technology should serve its master, not the other way around. Let me illustrate with an all too often example.
Unfortunately you occasionally see the ugly side of human nature and technology meet in a gym environment, when trainees fight and argue over limited fitness equipment like treadmills, which is especially repugnant when perfectly good roads are available right outside the door to run on. I’ve seen it many times. You’d be surprised how capable of nasty behavior are those overworked sleep-deprived lawyers or suburban moms, phone in hand, earbuds in, yoga pants in place, and trendy running shoes on, when someone takes the treadmill they want! The problem with this infrequent but inevitably recurring scenario is that the ends- getting in shape and being healthy- are being confused and subjugated to the means- the expensive and high-tech machines called treadmills that have everything technological from Facebook, to YouTube, to regular TV, to heart rate on their screens.
The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing, especially with technology. Use it, but use it in a smart way which makes your workouts more efficient, effective, and fun. Or don’t use it at all.
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Another great application is a device which tracks steps, which used to be called pedometers and were worn on the waist. There are now watches and many phones which track steps. The iPhone has a Health app that tracks all sorts of things, probably more than you know! I recently took up Turkey Hunting, and besides the serious fun of being in the beautiful spring woods chasing turkeys, you’re also getting good exercise. The last day of the recent season I walked 23,000 steps, which is about 10 miles give or take. It’s not a bad use of technology to know I’m getting a health benefit from a fun and relaxing recreational hobby.
Technology can be good or bad, its value neutral, and it can be a negative distraction or a positive game-changer. Use it when you can but always keep your hierarchy of values in place. Don’t get sidetracked and turn means into ends. The main goal should remain the simple focus.
Let me give you two simple rules when it comes to technology usage in fitness and training:
- Consider using the latest technology if you can afford it and its simple.
- Only use a technology if it serves your ultimate goal.
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And remember...there's never been a better day than TODAY to make it happen!
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