It’s time to change the way we talk about fitness. What it is and what it’s going to be.
By focusing on the next two months and ignoring what happens afterwards, almost everything important gets left out of the discussion.
People don’t like to talk about getting old. It involves wrinkles and liver spots and a lot of gross, squishy things. Part of that is our culture, part of that is ourselves. All of it adds up to a gigantic blind spot about training.
Fitness marketing (and discussion in general) focuses on your next month or two. No big surprise there; that’s when you sign your contract. Gyms traditionally focus on the emotional reaction that gets you in the door. Feeling momentarily inspired enough to do great things or feeling bad enough to change everything gets your name on the dotted line. A contract keeps you paying long after your desire to show up has waned. That is the standard business model: monthly fees without the inconvenience of you showing up.*
Why are we telling you all this?
It’s a simple, unsexy answer: you’re going to be old one day. If you haven’t done everything reasonable to ensure you are vital, strong and mobile, then we’ve let you down. Maybe you’ve let yourself down too but you weren’t the one claiming to have all the answers.
The next two months are not about getting ripped, jacked, swole or shredded. That’s for bodybuilders, figure competitors and fitness models with an imminent competition or photo shoot. That’s the face of fitness you see but odds are it has nothing to do with you. Don’t get distracted by the shiny objects.
The next two months are also not about punishing yourself for the previous year’s lack of exercise or your nutritional indiscretions. Exercise is not a punishment. Treating it that way helps ensure you never find it enjoyable.
The next two months are about doing something that will make the months to follow even better. They’re about improving your ability to move, building your tolerance for training and establishing useful habits. They do not require extreme motivation or getting psyched up to go any more than reading a book or practicing scales on a piano do. They have to do with lifelong practice.
Maximizing your ability to move well into your 80s and beyond has to do with some fundamental concepts:
The idea of motivation (or the lack thereof) being required for exercise is poison. We need to take enough drama out of the process to ensure that you can train at least 3–4 times per week. If that idea seems too daunting, imagine easier and easier training sessions until there’s no doubt about your ability to perform all of them. That might be as simple as a few minutes of brisk walking or some light mobility drills. This is not your destination. This is simply next week.
Spare Your Joints
It really doesn’t matter how many calories you burned this week if it came at a cost to your knees, hips, shoulders or low-back. Calories come and go. The only thing really worth measuring is your ability to continue training. To do this, minimize the likelihood of chronic pain, decreased movement options or even debilitating injury.
Build Movement Fluency
Movement is a language and moving better means creating more options for effective training. This is more than just additional exercise options. It’s a growing awareness of your body and the ability to explore movement on a deeper level. This starts with improving the coordination and timing that go into feats of strength and mobility. It extends into a level of expertise that allows you to modify exercises to fit your own body and movement style. And it really doesn’t stop until you do.
Engage in Deliberate Practice
The famous 10,000 hour rule has been debunked. True mastery is not yet fully understood but we do know it has more to do with simply putting time in. Martial artists like to ask if someone has really put 10 years of training in or simply practiced their first year 10 times. The difference is in our willingness to find the weak links and work on them.
Find a Community
The odds are very good that the kind of people you like and respect are out there engaged in the same challenges you are. Being able to share your experiences and work together will help you with everything else on this list.
*For the record, Bang Fitness offers a one-month membership with no further commitment and a full refund at the two-week mark if it’s not for you.
We’re also a lot more interested in your future than in your past. Call 416.777.2264 for more information.