Try adding this challenging sequence to your workout repetoire! (btw, that’s me performing the circus stunt)
One of my favourite things about not being a competitive athlete anymore is that I no longer have to compete (no more smashing my body up and taking 10 hour bus rides are some of the highlights). It’s also been one of the hardest things to mentally adjust to as well–especially when it comes to training now.
Let me explain a little further. When I was trying to climb the ladder in the hockey world, everything was a competition, both on the ice and off the ice. On the ice, there’s obviously the team vs team conflict; but there’s also the individual battles to be better than other individual players on opposing teams, and also on your own. You want to beat other teams, but you also want to get a lot of points, so you can get a lot more ice time, so important people notice you and give you the chance to move up. You train as hard as you can in the summers and through the year to give yourself an edge over other players. So season in and season out, it’s a necessity to be your best. Mentally, I’m glad to be done with that stuff as well.
These days when I workout, all that pressure if off and I don’t have to worry about people getting ahead of me. I workout to stay in shape, and because I enjoy it. But as gruelling as the competition used to be, it did do me one favour: it kept me focused on my goal and on track towards achieving it. While my workouts now are far more relaxed than they used to be, without some of that focus and motivation I picked up along the way, they run the risk of becoming completely unproductive very quickly if I can’t stay tuned in.
If you take one thing away from reading this article, let it be the value of goal setting and motivation in your workouts. What are you trying to achieve? Weight loss? Weight and mass gain? Are you training for a sport? Are your goals long or short term? And perhaps most importantly, are they realistic? If I stroll down to the gym once every month and a half in flip-flops, do a set of bench press and bicep curls and then leave, I don’t really have the right to wonder why I have chicken legs and don’t have six-pack abs. However, if I establish a goal (lose abdominal fat and gain muscle mass, lose x amount of weight, run a marathon, etc) set a realistic timeline of when I want to achieve these things by (at least six weeks), and stick to the parameters of an appropriate training regimen and nutritional plan, those goals will begin to shift from unobtainable to obtained. And of course, a fitness professional can scientifically lay out the amount of sets, reps, frequency, intensity, time, and type of exercise that is best suited to your specific goals and are appropriate for your body type, and can show you how to execute them all safely.
Another invaluable point about motivation is recognizing what your personal motivational style is. I always had a difficult time working out on my own, and found I got far better results with a regular workout partner. Some people love to plug in their iPod earbuds, tune out the world, and dive in on their own. Some people benefit from a large group setting, such as a fitness class. Maybe you work best at the crack of dawn, or maybe the evening is your optimal workout window. The important thing is to be honest with yourself about who you are, and what environment is going to be most conducive of getting you to where you want to be. Pick your style, and run with it. If you are unsure, try them all and find out!
That brings me to my last point, which is that working out should be, and needs to be, fun. If you are not enjoying your training time, eventually you will grow to hate it and not see the need for it at all. If your workouts have grown stale, change them up! If you hate the fitness class you’ve been going to for a year, try a new one! If you’re grown bored of working out on your own, invite some friends along. Maybe you would benefit from the competitive element of sports, and should take up a new one. Whatever it takes to keep you off the couch, take a risk and do it. Don’t be too proud or too scared to try new things, nor to not be any good at them. Don’t compare yourself to others, compare yourself now to who you want to become. Changing lifestyles and habits takes work, but it’s got to start somewhere. Discovering your motivational style, maintaining it, setting goals, and enjoying yourself, are all key factors that will go a long way in spurring you on to achieving whatever fitness goal you’ve set for yourself.
If you need a goal setting or motivational reboot in your workouts, I’d be happy to help. Come by World Gym Kelowna or West Kelowna today and see me, follow me on twitter, email me, or leave a comment — I’d be more than happy to help you set goals and make sure you reach them!