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don't call it a workout

Updated: Mar 27

It’s Not Exercise, It’s Not a Workout, It’s Training (here’s why)

When I talk about the kind of work that I do, or how I move my body, you might notice that I never refer to my “workouts” or “exercise.” This is a deliberate choice that speaks to the kind of work that I do and the ways in which we can disrupt what Decolonizing Fitness calls “toxic fitness culture.” Let’s take a look.

Etymology of “Workout:”

First, it might be helpful to look at the origin of these terms. The term “workout” was first seen in 1909, where it was used to refer to a “boxing bout for training,” from work (v.) + out(adv.). By 1922, there’s a general sense of “workout” meaning a “spell of strenuous physical exercise.”

Strenuous physical exercise is only one kind of training, & it’s naturally exclusive. When we think “workout,” most of us imagine a specific type of training. I think of sweat, and movement, and being tired afterward. This is great, for some bodies, some of the time. Not every body is capable of this type of strenuous physical activity.

Additionally, all bodies need a variety of training. Strength and conditioning are important, but we also need to train mobility, dexterity, speed and agility. Our brains need training, too, as do our nervous systems. We may need to train our ability to rest or recover (yes, that’s really a thing).

The terms “exercise” and “workout” are concepts from the fitness industrial complex.

Our “wellness” culture is a reflection of our larger

society. It promotes certain body types (younger, smaller, healthy, strong, able-bodied, cisgendered, heterosexual) as more worthy. It also denies access to services for those who are less worthy, either explicitly (such as health care disparity) or implicitly (via marketing, etc).