Today’s will be my last regular column for Dayton Most Metro, though I hope to contribute from time to time if I have something meaningful to say. Thank you, fearless reader, for putting up with a column that was supposed to be about fitness but quite often was about whatever I couldn’t stop thinking about.
I came back to the Dayton area somewhat grudgingly last year. I think it’s important for me to admit that. I came back for family considerations. I didn’t come back because this is the place I would have chosen. And yet I’ve already managed to form deep and meaningful friendships that I’ll have for a lifetime. I’ve been able to build a business here in a manner for which I don’t have to compromise my values. I’ve been able to live and work downtown in exactly the type of urban, diverse, and textured neighborhood I’ve always craved. Maybe I came back to town grudgingly, and maybe there are times when I crave even more diversity, even more density, and even more texture. But Dayton has been great to me and this column has played a significant role in that.
I’m making the difficult decision to walk away from regular weekly contributions because of time. My gym is getting busier and my ability to write for my business–I largely neglect my newsletter for sometimes months at a time–has waned. I owe it to Present Tense Fitness to devote more of my finite energy to ensuring that it and the messaging surrounding it survives and thrives.
Every week as I’ve sat down to write in this space, I’ve tried in part to write for the people who are sitting on the sidelines of fitness. I’ve tried to write in a way that’s accessible and that ties together the seemingly disparate threads of life that come together to form a healthy body and soul. Often what you’ve read here is me thinking out loud. So many millions of Americans–and the vast majority of those who live in our region–don’t get enough exercise or eat well enough to avoid the utterly preventable lifestyle diseases that plague this country. My guess is I’ll still be trying to figure out the messaging around fitness for people who avoid it for many years to come. But this column was a public platform for me to try my hardest to push that boulder up the hill. Though you won’t see me here nearly as often, I promise you that every day in the Oregon District I’ll continue to figure out how to get more people to do a thing that will measurably enhance their quality of life. That’s my work.
This column has allowed me, forced me even, to look at Dayton through a different lens. Because fitness is my business and my life, I tend to take a wellness view of a community. So even when I ventured into socio-political topics like Black Lives Matter or LGBTQ rights, I wasn’t consciously doing so in order to push any particular agenda. These issues are in fact wellness issues. I hope I’ve persuaded at least some of you to see them that way too. This week has been an unfortunate reminder of how unwell we are as a country in so many ways. The solutions, like the problems, will be complex. But they will involve first a thorough understanding of our shared humanity.
I’ve coached enough people over the last ten years that I’ve seen patterns, and I recognize them here in Dayton. People tend to be incredibly unforgiving of their own shortfalls, and that extends into the larger community such that we refer reflexively to certain people as thugs or white trash. When we use terms like this we’re inherently engaging in a form of dehumanization. This needs to stop. I push my clients all the time to analyze and evaluate rather than judge their own behavior. This mindfulness is what we’ll need to see the multi-dimensional humanity of all of our neighbors. Mindfulness and empathy are practices that you can start on your own, and I think you’ll find that the better you get at removing judgment of your own actions, the more likely you’ll be able to see your neighbors and their actions with empathy.
Thank you to Lisa Grigsby for giving me this platform for so long and for being so encouraging of how I’ve chosen to use it. And thank you especially to Teri Lussier, a local real estate agent and Dayton Most Metro contributor who introduced Lisa and I and first suggested the column.
Be well, Dayton. I’m not going anywhere. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions or need encouragement around fitness.
Yours very truly,