“Park Bench” Vs. “Bus Bench” Workouts

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Weird title, huh? Well, don’t blame me, i didn’t make it up. it’s from a book called “Never Let Go” by Dan John, which i read for the first time about 10 years ago. It radically changed my understanding of fitness and how we can use human movement as a pathway for learning and building deeper understanding of ourselves. It’s less of a fully realized book and more of a collection of essays, blog posts, training logs, etc. and while i mostly I remember the general thrust of it, especially Dan’s love and enthusiasm for physical culture, the concept I always remember, keep with me, and preach to anyone unfortunate enough to be in earshot, is the difference between a “park bench” and a “bus bench” workout.Dan describes it like this: imagine sitting on a bus bench. you’re probably going somewhere, and have a distinct schedule, route, and plan for what you’re going to do when you get off the bus. if the bus is late, you’re impatient. if it’s crowded and you don’t get a seat, you’re a little miffed. in general, waiting on a bus bench has purpose and time pressure, and the potential for a bad trip if things don’t go as planned.Now, consider sitting on a park bench. the day is sunny, and you’re enjoying yourself, watching people ride by on bikes, couples stroll hand in hand, birds and squirrels and other little nature gremlins flit about and do cute animal things. you aren’t tied to a schedule and don’t have a ton of expectations about what’s going to happen- you’re just enjoying yourself. if the sun gets too hot, you can slide over to a spot in the shade, or ditch the bench entirely- your experience is the most important factor. Feels good, right?Yes, this is about fitness! Dan goes on to use those settings as examples of types of workouts, or mindsets within workouts. “Bus Bench” workouts are ones that are entirely concerned with metrics, output, accomplishment, and where the workout will take you. “Park Bench” workouts, on the other hand, are more about enjoying feeling your body move, feeling out which parts feel challenging, which feel good, and maybe which don’t particularly suit you. they are about grounding yourself in the present and being grateful for this opportunity to move and grow.Dan estimates that most people think they need to be doing 3 or 4 “Bus Benchers” for every “Park Bencher” and contends that in fact, that ratio should be reversed. Most of the time we should move and work hard for the experience of doing so, and maybe once a week or so spend a session with distinct goals, timetables, and rigid criteria about what counts as “success.” I think everyone needs to define their own personal ration of Bus to Park, and that even that ratio can be fluid over time. What’s important, especially in a pursuit that can be so time, number, and accomplishment focused, is to not lost track of the feeling of sitting in a park, the sun shining on your face, lucky to be alive and healthy and connected to your physical body and the world around you.What would you say your ratio of Park to Bus is? Is it hard for you to “just have fun” or maybe to “do your homework?” Are there elements of either type you’d like to work on?