Fitness has a lot to teach about life. For me, it has been quite a journey of self-discovery. Here are a few things I have learned on this incredible journey.
First you need a goal, then you need a plan
This is true in just about everything. Few things in life just happen to progress, except time. To make the most of your workouts, you need a goal. Workouts should have a focus, and then give it everything you have. Giving it everything does not mean working out like a mad man, but instead focus on the task you are doing. Make each rep count. See the progress towards the eventual goal. Visualize
In life, very often we don’t see results of little steps. But remember, when the rock does break, it is not the final blow that did it, but the 100 before it that broke it. Although the final step across the finish line is the most memorable, the rest of the race is no less important.
Learn, evolve, try out new things, variation is key
One of the worst things possible for your personal development and growth is settling into a comfortable routine. In fitness, the body adapts, and performance plateaus. The body craves varied stimuli. Much like our mind. We fear failure to some extent, and we get comfortable with certain things, like the morning walk or run. Years later we are still running the same route at the same pace with the same body weight. Almost going in circles.
Go forth, explore, venture out of your comfort zone. Try new things, learn what works for you and what doesn’t, keep plugging forward. Trade the walk for a power walk, the run for a swim, the swim for pull ups every now and then.
My fears have almost always been based on not knowing, or looking like a fool. Now, after all these years, I realized how ridiculous that sounds. You don’t know it yet because you are about to learn about it, and only look ridiculous because others are afraid of trying it.
In the end, the most important battle you will ever fight is the one between who you are and what you could become.
Focus on the fundamentals
I learned this from the greatest basketball player ever, Michael Jordan. I was and still am a huge fan of his game. Practice the fundamentals every day he said, and practice them right. The more glamorous aspects will come and go, but the fundamentals will always remain.
In this regard, CrossFit has an amazing concept called Virtuosity– performing the common uncommonly well. Virtuosity pushes for that fraction of an inch improvement in performance, doing the basics right, and working on them day in and day out. Stronger, faster. Every. Single. Time.
Virtuosity applies to everything in life. Very often we stop pushing from improvement in the little things, taking them for granted. Things like your smile, your attitude, your loyalty. Each instance is an opportunity to improve.
Pull more than you push
Muscles, tendons and ligaments in the back of the body are known as the posterior chain of the body. These are critical to athletic performance. The way to work them is using pulling movements, pull ups, deadlifts, Olympic lifts, etc. Muscles of the front, the chest, shoulders, and abs are what we can see in the mirror, and so they get all of our attention. In the end, we get a product that looks good but can’t really perform.
To fix that we have to do more pull movements than push. It applies to life in two ways, one, we fail to see what drives us forward but instead keep working on what makes us look good. And two, happens with people, we push them to get more from them rather to pull them up along with us.
In the end, it’s a work in progress.
I think I saw this on a CrossFit discussion board somewhere. it helps to think of yourself, and everyone else as a work in progress. You might think I am good today, but just wait until you see me tomorrow.
Let me leave you with some sage words from Mary Schmich from her column “Advice, like youth, probably wasted on the young” (popularly known as the “Wear Sunscreen” speech, sometimes accredited to Kurt Vonnegut and created into this wonderful music video)
“Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.”
What are your thoughts on this? Are there lessons from pursuits of your passions that apply to the rest of your life?
Please leave a comment to let me know what you think.