Bus Bench vs. Park Bench Workouts

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I hate doing laundry.

Photo Credit: Pierre Bonnaf

Lisa and I moved in together coming up on three years ago now, and as much as we love our apartment and the neighborhood we reside in – Coolidge Corner – the one major drag about the place is that there’s no laundry room on premise.

It’s certainly not the end of the world, and I don’t like to consider myself someone who complains about trivial things – especially when there are people out there suffering FAR worse than myself.  But still, I think I’ve come to conclusion that I hate doing laundry more than I hate a dumb Tracy Anderson quote.

And that’s saying a lot.

Lisa and I have an understanding, though, and we’ve done a really good job at “divying” up the chores around the house. She does the bulk of the cooking and food prep (okay, she does ALL of it), and I wash the dishes and make the two block trek down to the laundry mat – colors and whites in tow – every Sunday morning.

I’ve been doing it for a while now, and I still somehow manage to mess it up occasionally.

To quote her, “if it’s silky, satiny, or sexy…..it DOES NOT go into the dryer. FOR. THE. LOVE. OF. GOD.”

In three years I’ve managed to completely destroy only two blouses, two pair of dress pants, and a baker’s dozen of Lisa’s fancy underwear.

Not the greatest batting average in the world, but it’s definitely above the Mendoza line.

But no one reading really cares about mine and Lisa’s laundry woes. The point was to serve as a segue to today’s post.

Lately, to help pass the time in the laundry mat, I’ve been happily enjoying my copy of Dan John’s Intervention: Course Corrections for the Athlete and Trainer.

I’ve been enjoying it like I enjoy a cup of delicious chai tea……………………Slowly!

I haven’t devoured it in one sitting, but rather, just reading at my own pace – namely, between spin cycles – taking in all the savory components as they come.

Yesterday I read the section where Coach John discussed the concept of Bus Bench Workouts vs. Park Bench Workouts, and thought it was one of those brilliant analogies/points that never dawned on me until that very moment.

To reiterate his point:  the fitness industry does a bang-up job at selling full-throttle, death-march, total-commitment training concepts.  And frankly, most of us can’t do that day in and day out.

To help elucidate his point, Dan referred to the Tale of Two Benches, by Archbishop George Niederauer.

Bus Bench

Anyone who’s familiar with “city life” knows how much public transportation can suck the life out of you.  The Bus Bench fills us with expectation. We wait for the 5:13 bus, and if the 5:13 bust doesn’t arrive precisely at 5:13, we get anxious.

We….want….the…5:13….bus…..now!!!!

And if it doesn’t arrive at 5:13, but instead at 5:17……our day us ruined.  Grab the Ben & Jerry’s!

Far too often this is how most people train. With too much urgency and a “I want it now” attitude. It has its place, mind you, but shouldn’t be a priority.

Park Bench

Conversely, the park bench is more casual, and goes with the flow.

We can relax (so-to-speak) and enjoy the ride.

We can sit and people watch if we want, or just sit and read a book, or just sit.  There’s nothing wrong with that.

As Coach John noted in his book, most athletes (and non-athletes) tend to take the bus bench route. For athletes it goes like this:

On Saturday the 26th, I will defeat all who show up, break all my personal records, find perfection in all I do, and meet the person of my dreams.

For non-athletes it goes like this:

I have a class reunion/vacation/World of WarCraft Convention in July and I need to look gooood.  I will go to the gym six times per week, train for a marathon, maybe hit up a CrossFit class or two when I can squeeze them in, between yoga class of course, omit all carbohydrates, find perfection in all I do, and meet the person of my dreams.

This approach rarely (if ever) works out in the end.

Instead, for most athletes most of the time, and for most of us for most of our lives, the park bench model is much more appropriate.

As Coach John states, “When you compete or train, take time to enjoy the view, breathe the air, and don’t worry about the minutia! Whatever comes along during your competition or training should be viewed through the lens of wonder and thanks.”

Fitness doesn’t have to be a ball buster all the time. And, not coincidentally, taking the park bench approach is often what yields better, long-lasting results.

Did what you just read make your day? Ruin it? Either way, you should share it with your friends and/or comment below.

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  • Matt

    This book still drops knowledge bombs on me and I have read it 3 times. My friends/family are getting sick of my constant Dan John quotes.

    • TonyGentilcore

      I’m right there with you. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve used the “your goal is to keep the goal, the goal” quote with clients throughout the past 2-3 years.

  • John J Brooks

    Having two kids taught me this lesson like nothing else.

  • Lavanya

    You just blew my mind, Tony. Or maybe you just reminded me to step back, soak in the awesome feeling that comes with just one workout, focus on how far I’ve come and just keep chugging along. Thanks for the reminder:)

    • TonyGentilcore

      hahaha. Well, I think Dan John should take the bulk of the credit, but I’ll take 3%…..;o)

      I can’t stress enough how I agree with this mentality. Far too often I feel people miss out out their accomplishments and fail to understand that “fitness” shouldn’t be some two-month endeavor. There’s a reason why people who are yo-yo dieters and exercisers never see progress.

  • Brian Hartley

    Great advice! If everyday was a PR we would all be world champions. At least once a week I hear a different group of guys in the locker room at the gym I work at talk about how they are doing great now that the workout is over. They are missing the point. Enjoy the journey! I just read Dan John’s “Never Let Go”, and am looking forward to ordering “Intervention” ASAP.

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  • asdf

    So long as your park bench doesnt involve a recliner bicycle while reading the latest fashion magazine…

    • TonyGentilcore

      Now THAT is a good point.

  • ronellsmith

    I’ve read and watched so much of Dan John’s work that I memorize quotes inadvertently and

    replay them in my head all the time, and not just when I’m training. His approach and demeanor are easy to follow and inspiring. I owe him a lot of credit for my success, in the gym and beyond.

    RS

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