Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Cardio Agriculture

This weekend I went to my cousins’ vineyard not far from Belgrade. After a lovely spring morning in the sun and a good breakfast under the blossoming peach trees I was asked to help out a little bit.
It seamed like fun in the sun, so I said yes. The task was simple – collect bundles of twigs scattered every few meters between the lines of grape vines along the steep hill and stack them up at the bottom. Walking uphill in the soft earth I felt, so much more clearly than in the gym, my glutes and thighs doing something right. Ideas started to brew.

A hillside in Serbia, less than an hour’s drive from the capital, perhaps overlooking the swelling Danube, breaking its banks from the melting snows of Europe. Fruit trees in bloom. Sunshine. 25 degrees. A rustic cottage at the foot of the hill. A vineyard, but , oh, so much more – an agricultural fitness centre.

Account executives, and PR managers running uphill in an aerobic lower body workout, under the watchful eye of a fitness trainer. Running again down hill working their upper body as they go, with a bundle of twigs in each hand, breathing the fresh air, tanning in the sun. A balanced training, monitored by professionals. Guests take turns to avoid exhaustion and maximize the positive effects of the workout. A high protein – low carb lunch follows with fresh fruit and home-made herbal tees, in the evening - sauna and a massage, and a good night’s sleep. On Monday morning, guests are back at work in banks in New Belgrade and advertising agencies in the city center, refreshed, firm and fit.

The best thing is that the work has been done. The vineyard owners have successfully transformed the back-braking low-paying job into a lucrative business. All the benefits from the vineyard are still there, with the additional profit from fitness tourism added in.

But this is just the beginning - the first step of a much broader sociological shift. A new form of manual labor. Seasonal workers all over the world no longer illegally crossing borders but coming from urban centers, perhaps flying abroad for the weekend on business class, to take part in the harvest. It is the birth of cardio agriculture. And it doesn’t stop there. You don’t have to work(out) in the field. There’s cardio construction and cardio industry. How about sweating away those extra kilos in a foundry? Or cardio-mining for the more adventurous?

The shift opens up a whole new catering sector centered on the wellness industry! Former manual laborers move up into the services sector. Many become well paid trainers showing their former bosses how to properly do jobs they used to be exploited in.

Everyone is happy.

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