Occupy Radical Fitness: #MaintainMilitantMuscle

by Adam

Mickey Z.

“Any workout which does not involve a certain minimum of danger or responsibility does not improve the body; it just wears it out.”

– Norman Mailer

Being radical needn’t require one to eschew sleep, smoke a pack a minute, and sport a rail-thin heroin addict physique. Then again, neither should Michael Moore serve as anyone’s role model for healthy rebellion.

Fitness—both mental and physical—is a crucial component for any serious subversive. If you think smashing capitalism is hard, try doing it with clogged arteries or carpal tunnel syndrome.

It’s radical to take responsibility for your own health. It’s radical to reject the standard American diet. It’s radical to reject the prevailing attitude that with age comes weakness. It’s radical to throw away your remote and get busy. It’s radical to have more energy than your enemies.

To follow are some simple suggestions designed to keep activists active…


Any dissident worth his or her non-sweatshop sneakers knows all about the destructive automobile culture. So, if you don’t want any part of the internal combustion engine while Corporate America wages war to keep the world safe for petroleum, walk. Walk for exercise. Walk as transportation. Walk during those all-day marches. Walk.


The bicycle is one of humanity’s greatest inventions. Cycling not only gets you from point A to point B without needing a car or SUV…it’ll also condition your lungs, your legs, and your soul. Put a new spin on your revolution.


Those manifestoes don’t write themselves…but what about all that time spent in front of your laptop? Eye strain is one concern and then there’s the wear and tear on your wrists and forearms (also a problem for those in the drum circle). Don’t forget to get up, rest your eyes, and stretch.


Holding up signs and placards during protests and demonstrations can put undue stress on your shoulders. In an ironic twist, the exercise that might help you keep that OWS slogan held high and proud is typically called a “military press”. I say we rename it the “militant press.”


When a cop whips out his baton, you can be certain it’s not because he’s happy to see you. Anyone who’s ever had their midsection jabbed with such a weapon can appreciate the value of strong abdominal muscles.


Having your arms yanked and bound behind you before being jammed onto a bus can cause damage to the muscles of the shoulder and upper back. To better prepare for this seemingly inevitable scenario, you might wanna seek help from the camel.


If you’ve ever screamed “The whole world is watching” for hours on end, I don’t have to tell you what that does to your vocal cords. Fortunately, soothing relief is available without becoming a lab subject for a pharmaceutical conglomerate.


An activist’s eating habits offer the best opportunity to put theory into practice. If you consume a plant-based, whole foods, locally grown diet (organic, whenever possible), you’ve taken yourself out of the equation, re: animal cruelty, environmental devastation, corporate welfare, and a growing health holocaust.


As Ralph Nader sez: “Once we stop growing up corporate and grow up civic, we will be much more focused on nutritious food, rather than junk food; we will be much more inquiring about different kinds of products; we will look at pollution as a form of violence, not just something that is nasty and dirty; we will demand the mechanism so we can control what we own and use these great resources for an enlightened, just, prosperous, happy society where the pursuit of justice is filled with such joy it itself becomes the pursuit of happiness and the pursuit of happiness becomes the pursuit of justice.”


If we were to appreciate our unbreakable bonds to other humans and the entire natural world, we’d be more likely to act in “self defense” when engaging in green activism. I see it as sort of a literal and metaphorical left hook.


Water + dishwashing liquid = pepper spray antidote


Working in so many gyms for so many years has afforded me the unique opportunity to observe the peculiar workout rituals of homo sapiens. It’s not unusual to witness individuals (usually beefy white guys, draw your own conclusions) employ the same archaic routine—day in and day out, for years—without creating positive change.

With that in mind, I proffer the words of the late WBAI-FM host, John Harris: “If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting. If you don’t like what you’re getting, you gotta stop doing what you’re doing.”

#OccupyChange. #Occupy4RadicalFitness.


Mickey Z. is the author of 11 books, most recently the novel Darker Shade of Green. Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, he can be found on an obscure website called Facebook.