Have you ever thought about what the opposite of "fragile" is? Being fragile is defined as:
So it stands to reason that the opposite of fragile is to not be those things, right?
Author Nassim Nicholas Talib, in his 2012 book Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder takes it one (or more) steps beyond. Here's how he describes Anti-fragilty;
"Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and love adventure, risk and uncertainty. Yet, in spite of the ubiquity of the phenomenon, there is no word for the exact opposite of fragile. Let us call it anti-fragile. Anti-fragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the anti-fragile gets better."
Now Mr. Talib and I don't agree on everything, who does? For instance he isn't a big fan of training in gyms, not random enough I guess.
I on the other hand look at it this way; consistent resistance training using progressive overload absolutely fits the antifragile paradigm. You are breaking down muscle tissue in the gym, and when you use proper recovery methods - nutrition and proper rest among them - you then create a physiological response that makes your muscles stronger and more resilient to the same stress through supercompensation.
In many circumstances our immune systems work the same way. Exposure creates resistance. Vaccines work this way. I am convinced that kids need to play in the dirt, run around, and take some bumps and bruises for the same reason. And we can all be big kids, right?
It also goes way beyond training in the gym. Nancy and I are looking at ways to make our business more antifragile. Covid-19 hit our industry hard. Being classified as "non-essential" hit our psyches pretty hard. In response we are creating a new division called Cr8tive Gardens and are building the infrastructure so that if something like this happens again we are able to provide additional essential services.
In my other life as a business coach focusing on finance and profitability, I have seen a very tangible outworking of antifragile in action. Individuals and businesses who have cash management strategies in place and were debt-free before the crises are the ones who are in position to take advantage of the rebound; not just survive but actually thrive and get stronger because they were actively preparing for worst case, even when there was no evidence anything was going to happen.
Look, you don't become antifragile overnight. Robustness and Resiliency are worthy goals and achievements. I hurt my hand pretty seriously Friday (stupidity, don't ask) and I am amazed by how rapidly it appears to be healing. I try to stay in good shape and keep my immune system healthy for circumstances just like this. I don't quite have the healing powers of Wolverine, but it really does help.
So how can you work on being anti-fragile?
Practice good health habits. A anti-inflammatory diet rich in nourishing foods. Good sleep habits. Recreation that challenges the body and mind. And of course, regular exercise which includes resistance and weight bearing exercise. That's where we come in.
Covid-19 has pulled us into places we never thought we would go. Right now we have training options that are practically "excuse-free". We are back to training in the gym 5 classes a day following the state safety guidelines. We simulcast those via Zoom so you can train at home if you choose. That training is also recorded and posted so our members can do it later if needed. And we have added 2 outdoor classes a day.
Robustness, Resiliency and Anti-Fragility don't just happen.
You gotta Make It Happen.