Weed, California, May 2007: The other day I learned that the discovery of Bubble Gum was by accident.
A fellow, who worked at the gum factory, was trying some different formulas and discovered quite by accident that his formula (a) allowed bubbles to be blown, and (b) when they burst, they were dry on your face and didn’t leave a mess.
The first version was clear colored. Boring. So he decided to add some food coloring to it, and the only color he had on hand was pink. Voila! Double Bubble brand bubble gum was born. And to this day, bubble gum is traditionally pink.
ACCIDENT BECOMES SOMETHING NEW
There is a saying that “It Steam-Engines at Steam-Engine Time.” Meaning that a thing appears when its time has come. That when conditions are right, the new idea emerges. And we see examples of this throughout history. Marconi and Tesla were both busy inventing the radio at the same time on opposite sides of the globe.
Maybe the time was right, but I stumbled onto the Three Minute Gym quite by accident.
HOW THE TIME BECAME RIGHT
I have always wanted to exercise, because I wanted to be healthy, and to feel good, and to be good-looking. Now, admittedly, probably exercise won’t make me good-looking, but I darn sure can be healthy, and I’d noticed that I felt better when I exercised.
So I’d noticed the Law of Feel Good. That is, I’d noticed that, when I exercised, I had more energy the rest of the time, and my body felt better and my mood was better, too.
And I’d noticed the Law of Pain. Which is that some of the very best exercise for making me have more energy was kind of hard exercise. It wasn’t really painful, but it wasn’t easy. And it wasn’t always so comfortable.
I’d also noticed the Law of Laziness. That is, I’d noticed that, during large parts of my life, I didn’t exercise. Push come to shove, it was just too easy to be lazy and blow it off. And this quickly becomes a habit.
I’d noticed the Law of Short and Simple. That is, I’d seen that it would clearly be better to find something simple that could be done regularly and always, and that this would produce better health and reward than something more magnificent that probably wouldn’t get done consistently.
Lastly, I’d also noticed the Law of Inertia. That is, the fact — we’ve all observed this — that when you’re exercising, then it’s fairly easy to exercise tomorrow. And when you’re not exercising, then it’s fairly difficult to get yourself to exercise tomorrow.
And all of this led me to think that (a) I wanted to exercise, but (b) I wanted it to be kind of simple. I’ll admit it; I’m kind of lazy. But it was clear that, to be effective, (c) the exercise needed to be frequent, and also it needed to be something that could be kept up regularly, meaning that (d) it had to fit into even the busy days.
So it couldn’t be real long. And it would be best if it didn’t require going someplace like a gym or a track field.
NARROWING THE FIELD
I’d read somewhere that there are three kinds of exercise that are real good for a human: Weight or resistance training, and aerobic or endurance training, and flexibility training like yoga.
Although I like weights, I’d found that going to a gym makes it time-consuming, and therefore likely to get ruled out of my busy days when I’m caught up in some project. So if there were to be weights, they needed to be my own weights, at my house or office.
I don’t much like running, plus I’d got fat, and I also knew from a long-ago surgery that my knees were quite worn, God knows why. Swimming would address that issue, and I very much like swimming, but again that requires me to go someplace special, and it’s likely to get ruled out on a busy day.
And while I suppose yoga is good for us, it doesn’t give me the same “feel good” as the more energetic exercise does, and though it would probably be good for me to relax and do it, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t. It would just be too easy to put it off on a busy day.
So I began to search for fairly short exercise routines that could be done at home or the office, involving a very few pieces of weight-lifting equipment which I could use as “circuit training,” and get some aerobic benefit. I found a book by a fellow named Pavel which had a minimal two-exercise routine using very simple weights, so I tried that.
Not bad. It felt good, and the time involved was short.
It satisfied the Short and Simple Law. It passed the Law of Feel Good. It passed the Law of Pain. It seemed to be passing the Law of Laziness.
BUT IT FAILED
It failed the Law of Inertia.
It’s a kind of weight training. And it’s a statistic that with weight training your benefit is far better doing it twice a week, and the benefit is a little better still if you do it three times a week, but though you’ll get a little bit more benefit doing it more than three times a week, the accident ratio also goes way up. That is, you’re more likely to hurt yourself when you go beyond three times a week. So three times a week is the sweet spot for weight training.
And that didn’t pass the Law of Inertia.
It was just too easy, on those two days off, to let it slip and become three days off, and then four days off, and … oops.
My friend Joel Koosed, who started the first Roommate Referral service in San Francisco, and who built the Avenue Ballroom where so many of us learned to dance, used to use the Royal Canadian Air Force Calisthenics. Some folks think these helped start the “fitness” movement back in the 1960’s. I don’t know.
Joel showed me those exercises, long ago, and that was my idea of body-weight exercises. Meaning kind of boring, low resistance and high repetitions. But then I ran across some references to body-weight exercises that were much more challenging.
In fact, I couldn’t do them.
EVERY DAMN DAY
However, I tried. I had to sissify some of the exercises so I could do them at all. And in fact my shoulders were a little too weak for the exercises, so I found some other exercises to make my shoulders stronger so I could do the first exercises.
I liked these new bodyweight exercises. They were short, taking only about 15 minutes for the whole set. And they were intense, so I could only do a few reps at first. And they had me gasping for breath at first, though as I adapted to them, my breathing fell nicely down into the aerobic range.
And … they were good for the Law of Inertia, because I could do them every single day. Remember, the Law of Inertia states that if you’ve been exercising, then it will be fairly easy to exercise tomorrow. And that means if you’ve been exercising the last several days, then it will be fairly easy to exercise today!
A HAPPY ACCIDENT
For completely unrelated reasons, I’d started studying Mark Joyner’s Simpleology method. I know him from a book he wrote, and the book was brilliant, and so I trusted him enough to give his Simpleology method a try. Simpleology is a silly name, but it’s brilliant, too. It’s a way of organizing your day so that you remain focussed on your true goals, and this practice tends to help you attain those goals more quickly and easily.
And one thing that’s in the course is that you set a timer that goes off every hour and it reminds you to stop and take a 5-minute break and stretch and drink some water.
And, lazy me, I thought: Why not break up my little exercise routine into tiny chunks that would fit into these mini-breaks?
I was just being lazy. If I had to take a break, and I had to do some exercise, then why not whack the two birds with one rock?
So I did. I took the first section of my routine and stuck it into the first mini-break. And then I stuck the second section of my routine into the second mini-break. And so on.
SOMETHING WONDERFUL HAPPENED
I discovered that my working energy just soared. Something about the short periods of intense exercise really boosts the metabolism. It boosts metabolism and mood more than doing the same exercises in one session. And it’s less tiring, so I could do the exercises intensely, and I discovered that doing three minutes of intense exercise feels just great!
It’s not particularly tiring. I know that Dr. Kenneth Cooper of Dallas said that you have to go for 20 minutes to get the aerobic effect. But he also said, and it’s true, that you can *feel* how that aerobic effect is spozed to feel after some experience. And I feel energized that same way with these short bursts of exercise.
And it even saved time. I discovered that, for example, broken up into three sections, it didn’t even require the fifteen minutes as when I did all the exercise in one session.
YOU CAN HAVE MORE. YOU CAN HAVE LESS.
If you wanted a more intense day, then you could do more of these short 3-minute exercise periods. Or, if you’re having a horrendously over-scheduled day, maybe you do fewer of these exercise periods.
What works for me most days is three exercise breaks and one shower break in my early morning, and on days when I must leave the house earlier than usual, I still get my first two exercise breaks (plus the shower), and it’s conditioning me better than anything I’ve ever done in the past.
A HAPPY ACCIDENT
It was only a coincidence that I was trying intense bodyweight exercises, and that I tried interleaving 2-3 super-short exercise periods into tiny breaks. But as soon as I began doing them, I knew I was onto something really good.
Three Minute Gym method satisfies:
The Law of Feel Good. While requiring very little time, requiring little or no special equipment, and requiring no unusual conditioning to start, it gives you a powerful conditioning effect right from the beginning.
The Law of Pain. It doesn’t hurt. It’s challenging, but not unusually difficult. And because it is so amazingly short, it’s very, very easy to do.
The Law of Laziness. I think that it doesn’t get any better than this. Used to be, I thought of taking a day off the exercise as a treat. Now I think the reverse. A day without the high energy and up mood from my lovely, short exercise is just not as nice a day!
The Law of Short and Simple. It’s short. It’s simple. This means you can always fit it in. You can do it every day. You can get the benefit of repeated and regular exercise. Plus it offers much of the benefit of resistance training, aerobic training, and some flexibility training as well.
The Law of Inertia. You can do it every single day. This is the best of all possible solutions to the Law of Inertia. This way, the Law of Inertia is working for you.
“You must treat life as if nothing is a miracle, or as if everything is.” — Albert Einstein
I’ve heard people who say that there are no accidents in life. But I think there are accidents.
In this case, a happy one.