For some, exercise is nothing more than a neccessary behavior to counteract their indulgent actions. A weekend of permissiveness and satiation leads to a five day stint of restriction and sweat. Everything in its place to keep the scales in balance.
Others find themselves chasing a goal. Whether it is weight loss, muscle gain, building strength, losing fat, or mastering a specific skill - the details do not matter so much as the motivation. The actions they take are pointed in a specific direction as a needle points on a compass.
Many just do it because they think they should. Inept of what to do and uncertain as to why they are even doing it; they will keep trying nonetheless. Ignorance truly may be bliss as they scan Facebook between sets of bicep curls, or lose themselves in their favorite TV show - barely moving the pedals of the stationary bike.
A few find peace in their training. Whether they lose themselves in the music and ride the high of their endorphins during their favorite cycle class, or they simply align their souls to the rhythm of a basketball rebounding from the hard wood below their feet - they are free.
Training can be all things to all people, so long as they are in the right environment to fuel their motivation. It could be the mindfulness of a Yoga class, or the sensation of invincibility as they bend iron bars with immense loads of iron plates and move them through space with ferocity.
It could be the feeling of pushing themselves right next to someone else who is next to another person just like you.
Regardless of what takes them there - they are there.
It is the time spent training our body, regardless of modality or end goal, in which we can truly grow. We are so focused upon the external adaptations that will occur as a result of our training that we quickly overlook the changes within us.
That is the ultimate value of training.
It is easy enough, simple really, to point at the growth of muscle tissue, or body fat's vanishing act - and affirm that training is effective. It is obvious to look at the increase in the miles left behind your feet and know that you are improving your ability to run.
Absolutely we should train to improve our health and performance markers. There is no excuse in the book good enough to justify laziness and overindulgence. Your cells are a product of your efforts, and those efforts should be towards improving the physical condition of your body.
Go to the gym with the intent to break your previous bests, to burn those calories, and to build every strand of muscle tissue you can. Every dumbbell press, warrior pose, and minute spent doing cardio should be to accelerate your progress towards physical improvements.
Remain resolute that every moment spent improving your body will allow you to better interact with the world around you, and know that you might be able to improve that too.
Arrive at the gym ready to move, focused on creating force, and willing to feel everything you are about to be subjected to - internal and external. It is often in our greatest physical exertions that we feel our greatest emotions. It is in the depths of our hardest hours that we may find ourselves slaying our inner demons between the sets of squats that compelled us.
Training is the fusion of everything that surrounds you and fills you.
It is the teacher and the classroom, the textbook and the homework. It is the bus that gets you to school and the locker where you store your belongings. It is a bad grade on a test and a trip to the office to speak with the Principal. It is also the big "A" circled in red that is hung prominantly on the refrigerator at home.
It is pain and it is pleasure. It is pride and it is trial for transgressions.
What can you learn?
The fear of failure disolves quickly when you've been stuck at the bottom of a loaded squat. Or you abort a handstand and roll on the floor to safety. You've already failed and it wasn't that bad - so of course you'll try again.
It is learning to cope with failure when you can't hold the headstand or that barbell won't leave the floor. You want to cuss and you want to fight. You may even wonder why you are trying in the first place. Yet, try you will, maybe with less weight, or with a wall behind your feet, but you won't quit.
It is the confidence you build when day one and day ninety couldn't look more different. Your body has changed and the world has taken notice. Hooded sweatshirts stay in the gym bag and your new workout gear comes out. Your chin stays up and you smile and nod your way to your first exercise.
It is the indepence you gain when he or she breaks your heart and leaves you to put it all back together. It is the literal transformation of emotional energy into physical aggression that makes you see clearly. With every jab or cross you bury into the heavy bag you repair all the damage. Your worst fears are left below you as you pull your eyes above the bar, or stand up from another loaded squat.
Training is what we all need. It is our sword and our shield as the world around us continues to devolve into chaos. The corporate jobs and the long days, the growing families and the low pay. The loss of a loved one, and losing yourself along the way.
It does not matter what you train, why you train, or where you train. It only matters that you train. It only matters that you allow yourself to dive into the water and swim against the currents around you. Every deadlift, mile, lap, and pose adds up to a better character and a better story.
To Fellow Fitness Professionals
As fitness professionals we need to stop the bickering and arguing about what is best and what is worst. Surely, not all exercise is created equally and there are certain scientific principles that can't be denied, or need to be refuted. Yet, when it comes to caring for our clients and communities it is imperative that we realize that the journey to fitness is going to be different for all involved.
Training is more of a roundabout instead of a four way stop. Many ways to go and many ways to enter - it is critical that we appreciate a clients needs.
To all those who train, "workout", "lift", or "exercise" -
There is no right or wrong way to climb this mountain. Everything has its place when you come to realize that this mountain is meant for you to climb your entire life, and not just some short span of time.
You have no excuse for not moving today, or tomorrow, or all of the days that are laid to rest behind you. You owe it to your body, your mind, and even your spirit - to train.
It is in your training that you'll find appreciation for a sunny Saturday morning, a set of sore glutes, and the refreshing taste of cold water. It is in your training that you'll find reason to quit smoking, to eat more fruits and less candy, and to spend more time building people up - instead of tearing them down with gossip and heresay.
Find purpose behind your movements and intent behind your thoughts. Show up with a plan and never lose sight of your ambition. Most importantly, remain open to the conflicts that may arise within you. Just as the weight in your hands can grow heavier with time, so too can the burdens you swallow in your everyday life.
In training you can find questions and you can find answers. It is the most comprehensive investigation of who you are, and how you'll grow.
Regardless of why you find yourself lacing up your runners, chalking up your hands, or rolling out your mat - know this -
You are doing it.