Ask Rocco: 06/09

Movement is essential, exercise is optional

By Rocco Castellano

For years, actually since 1968, when the book “Aerobics” by Dr. Kenneth Cooper came out, the fitness establishment has been shoving down our throats that we need to exercise to stay in shape.

But really, what is being “in shape”?

Isn’t being in shape relative to what you want to be doing physically? To some, being in shape is the ability to walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded; for others, it’s surviving a Tough Mudder or Spartan Race. For the running crowd, it’s running a 10K, half marathon or the full 26.2 miles.

For me, it’s still being able to do 60 pushups without stopping, 10 one-armed pushups or going 10 three-minute rounds on my heavy bag. Every individual is different with different defined goals.

If you are in a sport, exercise or training is essential to provide a baseline to be competitive in that sport and prevent injury. Hmmm… but what about life? Don’t you need to exercise to stay healthy and live a better life?

In a word, no.

Ahhh… here it comes from the cheap seats, all the fitness pros out there cursing me for letting the average Jane and Joe in on our pathetic little secret. You don’t really need to exercise or train to be healthy. Training, as in preparing for a competitive sport, can be counterproductive to providing health. What? Get the f–k out of here.

Yep, that’s what I hear almost every time I speak out about exercise and the object of health. Exercise does not ensure us health and most of the time causes undue stress, which exacerbates degenerative diseases. Yeah, I used several 50-cent words in that sentence: I hope you’re still with me.

Here are the facts. If you are overweight, the most important thing you can do is get your eating under control, not your exercise. The reason you are fat is because you eat like you are going to the chair, every hour of every day. The next thing is to stop lying to yourself about how you are not eating like you’re going to the chair. For years I would be that asshole that preached and preached… and preached even louder about how lazy, fat and stupid you were for not training hard and losing that fat. I even wrote a book called “Fat people are stupid.”

I still think fat people are stupid but for different reasons, which will be revealed in a future column.

Being as transparent as I possibly can, I can say now I was an asshole and I was wrong … as are all the other fitness professionals with antiquated training philosophies. Shit, there I go again with those 50-cent words.

Movement is essential. Exercise is optional.

Write that down somewhere like a Post-It note and stick it on your computer, your bathroom mirror or your refrigerator to remind you to move your body in a way that moves all of you.

Many of us “gym zombies of the apocalypse” (yes, I include me in that “us”) either go to or would go to the gym, get on a treadmill and walk for 45 minute straight, go home and think that was a good workout because you produced sweat.

Sadly it’s just not true. And most of the time, you wasted about 17 minutes of your life walking on the treadmill. I’ll explain that another time.

The average person believes that in order to get real results after a long day of sitting at a desk they need to go to the gym and train hard. Some even think “training hard” is a great stress reliever, when it’s actually the opposite. Training hard or exercising hard after the body is exhausted from mental stress and sitting stress, (yes, sitting in the same position for 8 or so hours is very stressful on your body) can actually be counterproductive to your health. As I’ve written in past columns, exercise is stress and if you introduce more stress with exercise it can be considered degenerative to your body.

Almost always, when people like you go to the gym to get in shape, you are most likely over-training your body and creating undue stress, which, my friend, is not good. After a long hard day at work, sitting, thinking, dealing with an idiot boss and eating garbage out of the vending machine, the first thing you need to do is stand upright and allow the body to re-align itself.

Go to the bathroom, look in the mirror and see what your posture looks like. It probably looks horrible. Rotate your neck several times to the left, then to the right, bring your chin to your chest and raise your chin to the sky. Reach for the sky with both hands like you’re being stuck up and stretch, put your hands down and roll your shoulders forward 10 times and backward 10 times. You should begin to feel your body re-align itself. You shouldn’t feel stuck or achy anymore.

Your stomach muscles and back muscles have taken a beating all day from sitting so it is important to tighten your abdominal muscles and then release them, then put your hands on your hips and rotate your trunk forward, to the left, backward and to the right. Now do 20 squats and walk down the stairs. That’s all you have to do to keep your body healthy. Move it. If you have specific goals for competitive sport or better physical performance, then I do advise you to train pursuant to that goal.

Rocco Castellano is the author of “askROCCO Uncensored v1,” a speaker and a controversial fitness personality who has won an Emmy for his fitness training role in MTV’s Made. For more information, please visit

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Rocco Castellano is the author of “askROCCO Uncensored v1,” a speaker and a controversial fitness personality who has won an Emmy for his fitness training role in MTV’s Made. For more information, please visit

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