Post by Amy Freeman
Someone asked me the other day, how long have you been exercising? I said, ‘well since I can remember I have loved being active. When I was around 10 years old I started going to classes at the gym sporadically but then at around 13 I started going to the gym regularly (that was in the days when minimum age wasn’t enforced much).
In fact I used to pester my parents so much to go that my dad would get me a gym membership for my birthday or at Xmas. I would come home from school, deliver leaflets around the neighborhood (my after school job) and then beg my mum to drive me over the other side of town to the fitness center.
My client was shocked and asked ‘What made you love it so much at that age?’ This question really made me think… and think… and think.
Finally after much deliberation I found the answer was really simple. ‘Because I wanted to be like my dad’.
He was my idol. He never ever pressured me to exercise or workout but I wanted to be as fit as he was. He had run marathons, he was a really good swimmer and generally just really fit. I remember one day venturing out on my first run aged around 11 (not really knowing what a marathon meant or that it was a specific distance) and I called him straight after and said ‘Dad I just ran a marathon!’. In actual fact I had just run around the 5km block that he helped me map out.
I also recall the school triathlon, I entered when I was maybe 9 and he helped me train for it. I remember looking for him in the crowd as I crossed the finish line and I ran and literally fell into his arms totally exhausted. He made me love sport because there was never anything negative attached to it and never any pressure or expectation and that meant I always felt like I was achieving something great.
To this day there is only positive emotions and memories that come from my sporting and exercise experiences. It’s probably why when there have been challenges in my life it’s the thing I turn to for comfort. I guess that’s why I love my job so much and wju I want to help other people experience that.
I tell this story because all to often people come in and they will openly admit they hate working out, or they hate the gym and after I got asked those questions by my client, I can’t help but think, do they hate the gym because it has negative meaning to them beyond just working out?
For example, some people start gyming because they are depressed and hate how they look so the gym represents those feelings related to low self esteem.
Or for some people the gym represents all the failed attempts to get in shape.
Or the gym and working out represents pain and feeling weak.
Does lasting and true motivation come from something bigger and more profound than just doing it for yourself?
I think it does. The human mind is a complex thing and I think that to believe that we are capable of achieving greatness in fitness goals (or really any life goal for that matter), without the belief of doing it for something greater, without the help of something greater than yourself isn’t enough.
Athletes are refreshing to talk to at times because they think of their body as a machine and a tool for doing a chosen task. When I asked an athlete what gets them excited about their sport the answer was ‘when I visualize the crowd cheering me on and the people and kids I’m inspiring it motivates me to bring my best’.
Or on a smaller scale I know a lady that runs marathons and she said that when she is 10km out from the finish line and in agony she visualizes her children cheering her on and that gives her the push she needs.
What if the gym represented part of what you do to stay healthy, happy and fit for your family or for a sport and you took the vanity out of it? I know it sounds crazy because most people have a goal when they join the gym and it’s usually ‘I wanna lose weight’, ‘it’s my wedding in 3 months’ etc etc. These kind of goals cause you to exert pressure on yourself and rather than being present in each workout and enjoying it, all you want is to get your goal and maybe workout again when you have another goal. So your weight and fitness goes up and down and so does your self esteem.
To illustrate this I have a client that has been one of the most successful weightloss/fatloss candidates I’ve ever trained. When I asked her what makes her so dedicated and determined her answer was refreshingly simple and went something like this:
‘Because I want my kids to know that being heathy is important and they are so impressed when they see how strong I have gotten.’
And you know what, this client always turns up with a smile and a positive attitude every day and has never missed a training session.
Happy Training Kuwait.
Post by Amy Freeman, a Strength and Conditioning Coach from New Zealand and currently a Personal Trainer at Inspire Pure Fitness in Kuwait.
Photo by Edie**