By Christian Adrian Brown
Body, Mind and Quill
ABOUT THE COLUMNIST
Quadragenarian fitness model, lifestyle coach and bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Feast of Fates, Christian A. Brown received a Kirkus star in 2014 for the first novel in his genrechanging Four Feasts till Darkness series. He has appeared on Newstalk 1010, AM640, Daytime Rogers, and Get Bold Today with LeGrande Green. He actively writes and speaks about his mother’s journey with cancer and on gender issues in the media.
Venture beyond the realm of ordinary exercise and mundane fitness routines for a world of inspiration that can ignite both body and mind. Journey into the captivating landscapes of heroic fantasy, where dragons breathe fire, elves roam enchanted forests, and knights wield gleaming swords. Among these fantastical tales penned by revered international authors like Paulo Coelho and J.R.R. Tolkien, lies a treasure trove of insights that intertwine fitness, mindfulness, and health with the allure of fiction.
Let’s start with The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, where we embark on a quest alongside Santiago, a young Andalusian shepherd, as he traverses the shifting sands of the Sahara desert in search of his legend. Like our fitness pursuits, Santiago’s journey begins with a spark of inspiration, a motivation that sets him on his path to self-discovery. We, too, experience this initial motivation when we embark on a fitness journey – whether it’s the desire to fit into our favourite pair of jeans or simply embrace a healthier lifestyle. This spark ignites the flame that fuels our determination.
Throughout the novel, Santiago encounters hurdles and temptations, much like the challenges we face in our own lives. However, his mindfulness and resilience ultimately allow him to overcome these obstacles. We, too, must cultivate mindfulness, the awareness of our body’s signals and needs. It’s akin to Santiago learning the language of the universe; we come to understand the importance of rest days, the value of nutrition, and the significance of listening to our bodies.
Now, let us delve into J.R.R. Tolkien’s magnum opus, The Lord of the Rings, where we are transported to a world that celebrates unity, courage, and physical prowess. The diverse Fellowship of the Ring exemplifies the power of teamwork, each member bringing their unique strengths to the table. Aragorn’s endurance, Legolas’ agility, and Gimli’s brawn showcase the various facets of physical fitness. They teach us that achieving greatness often requires us to recognize and embrace our individual abilities while appreciating and supporting those of others.
Moreover, The Lord of the Rings is replete with instances of mindfulness amid chaos. Characters like Gandalf and Galadriel exemplify the importance of mental strength, temperance and clarity. The grand battles fought in the War of the Ring illustrate the sheer physical prowess and spiritual fortitude of characters like Aragorn and Éowyn. These warriors inspire us to push our limits and reveal our untapped potential. If they can face the terror of the Nazgûl, we can conquer our self-doubts and lose those love handles! (Excess visceral fat is one of the biggest precursors of poor health outcomes. We must focus on this goal above other body goals because it is the one most pivotal to our longevity and quality of life.)
The bond between fitness and literature is far from coincidental; rather, it is a symbiotic connection that enriches both aspects. Heroic fantasy often mirrors the hero’s journey we undertake in our pursuit of personal betterment. Much like the protagonists’ quests for greatness, our fitness journeys are riddled with challenges, allies, and moments of self-discovery that shape us into stronger individuals. These fantastical tales remind us that the journey is just as important as the destination. We learn the value of perseverance, the joy of small victories, and the significance of resilience in the face of setbacks.
So, the next time you lace up your running shoes or roll out your yoga mat, remember that you are embarking on your own epic quest.
Article originally Published in the September / October / November 2023 Issue: Global Reads..