Let me start off by saying that this article is based on my opinion. Sure, it’s an informed opinion, but it’s an opinion none the less. Although I am not a psychologist, I have been a health and fitness coach for over a decade. As such, like any other professional who has years of experience in an industry, I start to see trends in my clients. Recently I have started asking the question Why do you train? I want to bring this reflective question to your attention because I believe that is has profound implications – for your training and your life beyond the gym.
I fundamentally believe that there is a massive disconnect between the reason why you train and your actual behaviour when it comes to maintaining your training regime. Your training and goals should have a symbiotic relationship. However, in order for you to achieve your goals then the reason why you train needs to be bigger – something beyond your goals. It is only by having a bigger reason for training that your behaviour will lead to achieving your goals.
Let’s use an example to bring some clarity here... Let’s say that you train to lose weight. Admirable, sure, but this will get you only so far. What happens when you don’t reach your goal weight? Do you stop training? Sadly in most cases the answer is Yes. If your goal is the fundamental reason why you train then if you don’t achieve it within a certain period of time, you stop training. Herein lies the problem.
Do not get me wrong, your goals are important and have inspired you to come and train. However, to continue with the above example, if losing weight is the reason why you train then, according to my years of experience, your training cycle will be short lived. You will either not see the results you want quickly enough, or what you are doing will never ever see you achieving your goals in any case.
To rely on your goals as the sole reason to train is foolish and your training efforts will be short lived. However, training to be better than yesterday will see you achieving and continually surpassing your goals.
Bear with me here...
Your training = your goals but your goals ≠ your training.
In other words, your training (when based on a ‘bigger’ reason) will lead to achieving your goals, and more. But your goals (as your sole motivation) will not lead to sustained training.
This conversation is not about setting better goals, or even trying to achieve goals. This conversation is about redefining why you train.
Essentially what I am saying is that your reason to train needs to go beyond achieving a goal. If you train for the right reasons, you will achieve those goals and surpass them as part of the process. The right reason will keep you coming back for more and more training, and see you achieving more and more goals.
You will only see your goals become reality through consistency and effort. There are no fads; there is only application and effort. Some days will be good and others will not, but coming back day after day is what counts. The daily (or almost daily) consistency and effort will see you achieving your goals, even though these goals aren’t the primary reason why you train.
Training is about so much more than simply aiming for one goal. Training enables you to push your limits, to dispel your self-imposed boundaries regarding what you can and cannot do. It teaches you to stay positive under adversity.
I believe that training is a metaphor for life and that your training space is one of the very few places where you can choose to be truly better than the day before. Training makes you a better you because the studio is one of the few places where you are exposed, truly exposed, on a day to day basis. Your weaknesses are on display and you have the choice to take those weaknesses, accept them for what they are, and then fucking destroy them.
Where else in your day to day life do you attack your weaknesses with that level of tenacity? Where else do you hold yourself to that high standard? Where else in your day do you allow yourself to be vulnerable? Where else can you consistently progress, improve and develop?
Your training allows you to refine body mechanics, consolidate technique and the increase the level of intensity. It will empower you to tackle your weaknesses head on – and not just physical weaknesses either. Your training will make you a better human being in and out of the gym.
You may have heard this before...
The squat is the perfect analogy for life: something heavy pushes you down and you stand back up again.
So yes, you can set goals. But have a bigger aim behind why you train. Create a process whereby achieving your goals is a natural by-product.
It is my aim is to start getting people to say I TRAIN TO BE BETTER THAN YESTERDAY!