Balanced Living | Oct. 23, 2014

By Nate Whitten, Oct. 23, 2014.

Currently, in the fitness world, there is a trend of taking one’s body to an extreme point of exhaustion.

Many of us have jumped on that bandwagon to some degree and enjoyed the adrenaline rush that washes over our bodies when pushing past that “wall” of pain or a mental block.

While this can be seen as a way to overcome challenges or a strategy for pushing to a higher level of performance, it is important to look at both short- and long-term effects of turning exercise into athletic competition.

Experts are starting to weigh in more heavily on the risks and dangers of the various forms of extreme exercising that are popping up in gyms and with trainers all over the world.

YouTube contains an unending array of videos portraying lean, muscular athletes performing amazing feats of strength and endurance. And, according to my Facebook feed, these videos are shared for primarily soft-core porn that is SFW (let’s not discourage that).

But unless you’re a trained and supervised athlete with years of experience, you may want to evaluate your decision to put yourself at risk throwing 45-pound barbells back and forth to your buddy across the gym floor … shirtless … not wearing underwear … with crazy pecs … and an ass that would mesmerize even the most dedicated power bottom. But I digress.

Here are a few thoughts to consider as you gear up to lift 300 pounds of metal above your head tomorrow morning at your high-energy circuit-training club.

1. WHY am I doing this?

Extreme exercising can be fun and exhilarating, but it is rarely beneficial in the long run. When a person pushes their body to the point of muscle fatigue too frequently, there are multiple risks involved, which include muscle strain, torn ligaments and tendons, loss of flexibility and even depression. To engage in this fitness activity, consider setting a specific goal, getting professional support and once you reach that goal let it go and move into a more consistent form of physical fitness that will allow you to maintain health. The extreme is impossible to keep up for long.

2. WHAT is the benefit?

While the extreme exercising is sexy and generates a freakishly hot body, the benefit has to be questioned. To maintain such a Grindr-worthy torso, you can’t eat anything good with your friends, you can’t drink an ice-cold beer, you have to spend more and more time in the gym and your conversation becomes relegated to bragging about how many tires you flipped today. Quite the catch! Although this may be slightly exaggerated, isolation is often a byproduct of extreme exercising.

3. WHO am I doing this for?

Extreme exercising is mostly done in large groups, with high energy and a lot of competitive encouragement. There’s no doubting that this experience can be highly effective, as there’s a rush that goes along with this environment. And yet many participants leave feeling defeated or less than adequate in their performances and esteem. When questioned, many give the reason for continuing such personal torture is the peer pressure. Don’t think for a minute that the fitness group encouraging you to continue spending hundreds of dollars per month on their memberships, are more concerned about motivating you to be your best, than they are making sure your credit card goes through on the first of the month.

If your goal is personal, go for it. If your continuation for the extreme is to please another … go back to that first thought of, WHY?

Outside of the gym, our exuberant LGBT community is known for extremes. Sometimes extreme is appropriate, and sometimes it’s not. Extreme is better left to the occasional white party, drag queens and emotional lesbian love songs.

Instead, practice bringing balance into your daily life as well as your fitness plan. You’ll be less likely to get hurt, more adept at going with the flow for the long haul and your overall health will continue to improve to help you experience your best life.

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