Recently, I was riding my bike with a friend, not to exercise, but to simply enjoy being a boy with another boy. The ride we chose was really tough; I was working hard and having a blast at the same time. Flashbacks to my childhood flooded me. The ride was a portal to my true self, unencumbered by scheduling, “ought to’s,” and body goals. I remembered how I’d leave the house in the morning when I was ten years old. I’d get on my bike, meet up with my buddy down the street and adventure all over town. The rides we created were surrounded by mystery and play. We defeated bad-guys, narrowly escaped near-death experiences and emerged victorious from fantastic battles. We found hidden trails to other worlds, ecstatic journeys and magical quests. Often, I’d not come home until dusk because my imagination was alive and driving me toward experiences.
Time changed me into Finn Deerhart, that same child inside who now helps other adults foster connections with their own bodies. I believe the fitness industry needs to be reminded that it’s all a game really. We can create our bodies however we choose, but to forget that it is ultimately for fun and imagination is to lose the significance of what we are doing. Without play, we tend to get depressed, cling to addictions in the form of food, sex, TV, alcohol and other substances, binging on these delights to make up for the lack of freedom in our lives. Working out itself can become an addiction, a proof that we are good enough or an exhausting task on our ever expanding list of “to-do’s.”
Hot Lava Obstacle Course on Burnet Rd. is bringing play! I went last week with a friend, and we had so much fun trying to figure out how to get over, under, through and in. We could have been ten years old laughing and climbing around the course. We never once said “work out.” We didn’t count reps or sets. Imagination and play were again the center of our day. Robert, our helpful attendant told us that children come in to the course and immediately start crafting their experience, while adults want to be told how to engage with intent to perfect everything. I watched Robert jump from a chest-high wall to a rope about six feet away, using his momentum to swing across the entire room, let go, twist in the air and catch a horizontal bar about eight feet off the ground. I was mesmerized. No amount of gym training alone could get me to this level of trust in body, because imagination was the driving force behind his performance. I’ve been galvanized. My previous workouts were instantaneously boring to me, and I’ve since been crafting all sorts of playful ways to keep myself evolving and changing. Check out Hot Lava Obstacle Course and see for yourself what you might be missing in your life! There is plenty of direction and assistance for first-timers as well as an open-to-anyone weekly Wednesday night Super Hero Study Group that meets after 8pm. Anyone can join and learn from other super heroes, sharing tips, stunts and encouragement. Check out the video!