The Farmer in the Gym

So here is an interesting question: Other than with the Ancient Greeks, when in history did gyms start becoming really popular? Oddly enough, “gyms” like we know them today, were not a huge societal norm until the early 1900’s. Today they have grown to be almost a societal expectation. What is the first common thought that many people have when they are feeling like they have gained too much weight? “Oh, I need to get back to the gym!” What is one of the most common New-Years resolutions that people have? Get a gym membership and stick with it this time!  How often does that really last for the majority of people? I would say 2-3 months if that.

Back about a hundred years ago, what was the most common occupation for people? Well, if they lived in a city they probably had a factory job and if they lived in the country they were probably farmers. Neither needed to “go-to-the-gym”  because they got all of the “working-out” that they needed in doing their everyday work. Especially farmers. From putting up fencing and pens to mowing the lawn there is no lack of cardio, weightlifting and flat-out endurance building in farm life.

Let me give you a prime example from just earlier this week.

We have a shed on the side of our house that was leaning due to the fact that it was not on level ground. It started out that way because there is very little level ground here at Refuge on the Ridge (we live on a ridge!) and it was an impulse buy that was constructed without the proper planning. 

So, anyway… It was starting to ruin the shed so Dad and I had to fix it. We started with hauling landscaping blocks (weight-lifting reps.) Then after we had those set in, we hauled around 160 cubic feet of gravel!!! I am not kidding! We went to the gravel place and filled and hauled all of our own gravel. Scoop into the bucket. Lift up onto the bed of the truck. Lift from the bed of the truck. Dump into a bigger barrel. Repeat X 100!!

Then there was dumping it out at home and leveling it out. You would think that just moving it around with the rake would not take that much effort, but it does. Anyone who has raked leaves in a yard bigger than 200 square feet has at least an idea of how raking can “catch-up” with you! Gravel is A LOT heavier than leaves!!

Then, after everything was smooth, we had to move the already put-together shed onto the level area. We weren’t running, but there was plenty of cardio going on there. That was just one project on one day. Back when most everyone was a farmer, gyms would not have stayed in business!

Who wants to go and run in place when you know that you are going to have to chase the cow out of the back field when you get home. Just get your cardio in chasing the cow! Who wants to sit and bench press 50-100 lbs when you have to go home and haul 20 50lb feed bags from the truck into the barn?!

I think you all get my point. Farmers don’t have ordinary gym memberships. If they do, I don’t understand why. Why pay to do a bunch of exercises when it doesn’t accomplish any of the daily tasks that need doing anyway? It is way more rewarding to see the actual “fruits” of your labor.

Oh, and when you do all sorts of outside work you get really tan, like me!

Just kidding, it was dirt! But that is fun too!

Now if you live in a city and don’t have the opportunity to get a lot of exercise in your everyday work, gyms are wonderful things that help bring about more healthy lifestyles. Just don’t laugh at the farmer who isn’t going to join you. But if you do need a gym to get healthier, I would recommend a specialized gym where there is more support and community around you to encourage you to stick with it or find another purpose to motivate you.

Oh, warning when hauling gravel… Try not to rest the bucket on your forearm as you are dumping into the barrel… it has colorful and painful after effects…


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