Neuroplasticity – The Birth of the Gym Brothers.

By Ashley Dube

I was always intrigued by Batsirai, the guy who lived next door. He woke up every morning around 5 a.m for a jog en-route to the gym which was about ten minutes away from home. His consistency was unmatched and admirable. One day he came up to me on his way from the gym. I was reading a ”Pelican Brief” by John Grisham. We eyeballed each other before he broke the silence and said, ”Another book, why?”

”A mind needs a book as a sword needs a whetstone” I replied with a huge grin. It is one of my favourite lines from Tyrion Lannister in the epic book ”A song of Ice and Fire” by George R. R. Martin. Before he could say anything, I hit him with another one, ”preparing the summer body to  the slay queens, huh?” We shared a chuckle a bit as Batsirai got the banter attached to it.

”It’s not all about that” Bastirai responded, “There’s more to physical exercise than to get all the girls in the hood. ”Serious?” I said with a little amazement. ”Come on, you’re the wise-man here, you should know better.” He was now trying to stroke my ego, I figured. ”What else then?” quizzing him. ”Neuroplasticity wise man, neuroplasticity.” Before I could say anything further, Batsi jogged away.

He had left me with more questions than answers to be honest, I never heard of the term neuroplasticity. I kept on staring at the same one page, I swear John Grisham would’ve been offended as I have neglected his thrilling writing to ponder on a new ’biological’ term. What is neuroplasticity, I kept on asking myself as I googled the term immediately. Neuroplasticity was defined as the ability of the nervous system to change its activity in response to intrinsic or extrinsic stimuli by reorganizing its structure and functions. A whole bunch of jargon altogether but as an avid reader it was relatively easier to decipher or I hoped so. Basically it’s the altering of the nervous system (brain) in response to internal and external actions by reconfiguring its structure and functions.

With this information on hand now, I thought maybe my dear friend Batsi was onto something here, physical exercise is an external action that might have a positive impact on neuroplasticity. Is it really so or he was just trying to show off? He was absolutely spot on, exercise promotes brain plasticity by stimulating the growth of new connections between cells in many cortical areas of the brain. How is it advantageous to an individual, one may ask. Increased brain plasticity has several benefits as it enhances existing cognitive abilities. These cognitive abilities include essential day to day tasks such as reading, remembering, paying attention, and learning. These are all fundamental abilities needed in almost every facet of life whether at school, workplace and even in our social interactions.

I marveled at this, my guy Batsi surely was in search of a greater cause. Maybe he is the wise man after all. I smiled to myself as I continued with my novel.

Two days later, Batsirai came by my house yet again following his daily gym session. Excited with my latest discoveries I couldn’t wait to share with him”BRO!” I exclaimed like an excited 10 year old, “you were right about the neuroplasticity thing and exercise, it really is super accurate.” I said this as I showed him all my saved pages from my Opera Mini browser scrolling fast like sonic the hedgehog, I doubt dear old Batsirai caught up with it. He smiled back at me with his relaxed demeanor and with a chuckle he said, “I was counting you to look at all that, wise-man.”  “You were right though absolutely spot-on and I was contemplating joining the gym as well” I said. 

Batsirai thought I was messing around at first and kinda downplayed my new intention to go to the gym. But I went on pressing him asking about how much is this gym membership and stuff and the most ideal working hours. “You serious about this?” Batsi asked. “Yeah I mean why not, I could also use a pinch of neuroplasticity” I reply.

Batsirai agreed I could accompany him to his gym, hence I could pay for my gym membership and register with the instructor. Batsirai and Lee, the gym bros were born. We went there every morning and I wouldn’t lie, it is a refreshing experience. I’m still getting used to the more arduous workouts but other than that it is  pretty good physical and social exercise as well. The fellow gym members were all a courteous bunch and they all gave me a warm welcome. My relationship with Batsi is much stronger now, one might say we’re now besties!!

30 July, 2023