For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering an email that reminded me of an idea I once had that I’m convinced could really work: organizing group workout sessions like fitness bootcamps only instead of a guy barking orders as you perform a completely arbitrary set of exercises with little regard for technique, the group performs “workouts” that are actually acts of volunteerism. This makes your workouts truly count, not just as stimulants of fitness improvements but to the other people your efforts touch. It addresses an important aspect missing from most fitness programs. Humans used to perform physically demanding tasks on a regular basis in order to live, eat, and thrive. It wasn’t “exercise” or a “workout,” but it made us fit, strong, and fast just the same. And it was essential to living. It helped our immediate family and communities.
We’ve lost that, but training as volunteerism can bring some of it back.