How Many Revolutions?



My European born grandparents lived through the (Second) Industrial Revolution. They emigrated from The Old World ‒ Eastern Europe to The New World ‒ Canada prior to the onset of World War II, for the promise of religious freedom and economic opportunity. My Canadian born parents (Silent Generation – “The Lucky Few”) came of age in the Scientific-Technical Revolution. My cohort (Late Boomers and Generation X) has experienced the Information and Telecommunications Revolution ‒ with globalization and social media taking centre stage. For our Millennial kids (Gen Y), 4.0 ‒ Fourth Industrial Revolution ‒ a fusion of technologies are transforming more rapidly than ever. We are all caught in this high speed spin cycle.

My grandparents remembered epic inventions such as commercial passenger airplanes, cars and television. My parents recall significant innovations such as colour TVs, cable TVs, credit cards, microwave ovens, fax machines and the extraordinary Apollo 11 – landing on the moon, signifying “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind”. My peers and I reflect upon our curious introduction to the amazing World Wide Web, electronic mail, cellular phones and digital music. Who knows how society might be incredibly revolutionized in my kids’ lifetime? Artificial intelligence, 3D printing ‒ the possibilities are mind-boggling.

Wow, in each generation we have witnessed a whirlwind of revolutionary discoveries.

Planes, trains and automobiles. From sedans to station-wagons to vans to SUVs. We drive everywhere: to school, to work, to the mall, downtown and uptown. We drive everywhere, except when we are going for a walk; which is never quite often enough! And so…undeniably, we need to exercise.

The Healthy Lifestyle Revolution ‒ for our entire lives (Baby Boomers and Generation X, Y and Z) we have been consciously exercising. We are the quintessential treadmill generation. We struggle with the inclination to become couch potatoes. We threw away our recreational cigarettes, and we make substantial efforts to read food labels. We strive to eat clean ‒ in some form or another (vegan, Paleo, detox, organic, whole foods). Enter Generation Green. Certainly we have a far advanced awareness and interest in nutrition than did our parents. We were raised on classic processed foods (Swanson TV dinners and Campbell’s SpaghettiOs), and sugar / salt-loaded cooking. (It sure was tasty!) Mm…remember whipped cream from an aerosol can? (What food group does that belong to?) On the heels of the Baby Boomers, we Gen Xers are deeply concerned about our health, wellness and longevity and no doubt, we will do our utmost to sustain our fading youth. Enter The Healthy Aging Revolution (Pioneered by the Boomers).

I am a product of the Fitness Revolution. For better or worse, going to the gym has forever been a way of life for me. Working-out at home simply isn’t for me. During my first pregnancy I ambitiously purchased a stationary bicycle which soon became a handy storage site for surplus clothing. Subsequently, I discovered that home exercise machines are among the most popular garage sale “never-been-used” items. Over the years, I have acquired a hodge-podge of gym buddies and a time-tested gym routine. Some days I’m into it, and some days I’m not. I don’t have a personal trainer, so it’s all up to me. Sometimes I do everything imaginable at the gym to procrastinate the inevitable ‒ putting in my hard time on the elliptical. I don’t run. I don’t do the stairmaster. I don’t do the (wildly popular) spin classes. And I no longer do any impact aerobic classes. (I did way too many in the 80s and 90s.) (I’m not a true fan of Zumba or cardio-Hip Hop either. I guess I’m old-fashioned that way; dance is dance and exercise is exercise.) To clarify, a trend or a fad (Tae Bo or cardio-step) does not constitute a revolution. So that doesn’t leave much for cardio: elliptical trainer, walking and kick-boxing. Anything that doesn’t cause pain, and produces a good sweat. The good news is; I like these three remaining options. The bad news is; I can only tolerate each of them in moderation. Too much intensity or frequency inevitably leads to one of two dreaded evils ‒ boredom or irritating sciatica.

Cardio aside, my all-time favourite physical activity is posing pseudo yoga-style stretches in the open-air beauty of any natural landscape. Wind power. Ocean Power. Mountain Power. These natural wonders transcend all generations and revolutions.

So this brings me to the multipurpose yet monotonous elliptical work-out. It’s great because it generally doesn’t cause any excessive strain and I can enjoy my favourite playlists to keep myself adequately distracted and pumped. Best case scenario: I place my headphones on and close my eyes. My music magically transports me to another place or time depending on the rhythm, melody, and lyrics ‒ my personal Songza! Other times, I find myself compulsively watching the digital data: seconds, calories, or distance flashing in high resolution digits, progressing in painfully slow motion. How many revolutions per minute? Per hour? I remind myself: do not fixate on the RPMs. My legs go round and round hundreds or thousands of times. Focus on the music, focus on breathing.

My parents or grandparents did not use the elliptical trainer, hence the relatively recent phenomenon ‒ the Elliptical Revolution.

And now I’m back to my starting point – revolutions. How many in a minute? An hour? A lifetime?

We tend to think of the timeless bond between the generations as links of a chain. Perhaps we are joined together in time through a sequence of progressive revolutions and the elliptical machine is among our more recent additions. Hence a new dimension of evolution.

It’s hard not to wonder; perhaps we are spinning out of control.


About Author

Liz Pearl, M.Ed., is an educator and therapist with a particular interest in psychogeriatrics and expressive arts therapy. She is the founder of PK Press and the editor of several collections of personal narratives including the recently released revised edition of Mourning Has Broken (KOPE Associates, 2005, 2015) and the Living Legacies series featuring Canadian Jewish women including, Volumes I - IV (PK Press, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2014). Now available - Volume V! Her immediate goals include streamlining her Pearls of Wisdom and social networking nonsense into a succinct blog and adjusting to the looming empty-nest stage.

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