You Are Not A Leopard
By Jules Delorme
As a professional trainer, I’ve encountered many different exercise theories over the years. The most popular among those of late have been systems that claim to train your body the way it was meant to exercise, the way it was meant to move. These theories propose to train you like a caveman, tiger, or a leopard. However, there’s a simple truth that should be obvious to everyone – you are none of those things.
As a matter of fact, your body wasn’t meant to exercise at all. Animals don’t exercise. What they do, they do to survive. Evolution designed your body to walk or to run, to lift something heavy or to climb something, but only if you have to.
It is true that our ancestors do seem to have been persistence hunters. They couldn’t outrun or out-wrestle their prey, so, much like wolves, they co-operated to wear other animals down. If you look at our ancestor’s weapons, they could not have taken down a large animal with one strike. It would have taken more than one arrow, more than one thrust of the spear to bring the animal down. Your ancestors would only have done this because they had to. They would never have run or lifted or exercised in any way because they had to do it to stay alive.
So, am I saying that you shouldn’t exercise? No. I am saying that exercise is not natural. Don’t be fooled by those who tell you that their exercise system is more natural than all the other systems. All exercise is unnatural, and so is the world that we live in today. Nothing about our modern lives, nothing about the food we eat or the things that we do, is anywhere close to what our ancestors would have known. To some extent that’s a good thing. Our ancestors led short and brutal lives.
We have to exercise because nature just didn’t plan for our lives to be this easy and this inactive. What a good trainer or trainee does today is avoid exercises that stress the body in unnatural ways, avoid movements that your body’s structure is mechanically not designed to do. However, that is not the same thing as being natural.
So the next time you don’t want to exercise, don’t be quite so hard on yourself. Exercise isn’t natural, but it is very necessary in our modern world. Do what you can to stay healthy but remember: you’re not a leopard. You’re not a caveman. You’re a modern human being. Exercise because your modern body does need it, but don’t push too far beyond its limits. The people that do that don’t last very long because what they’re doing isn’t at all natural. Keep that in mind, and you’ll outlast the leopards and the paleo fanatics. Do just enough to stay healthy, which really is the point, isn’t it?
~ Jules Delorme is a Personal
Trainer & MMA Coach,