I’m a gym rat, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
I do love exercising outside, and when I was working 9-5, I would throw my work clothes into my running pack, strap myself in and run 7 km to work. I love to ride my bike, hike, kayak, and all that outdoorsy jazz.
But during these rainy winter months, Sport City is my haunt. It’s not even the equipment that brings me to bike through the pelting winter rain to get there. I bring my own jump/skipping rope knowing I could just as easily do it in my back garden. I do like swinging through the circuit a few times, but I know I can go to the park and work the same muscles through manual exercises like the Dirty Ballerina, Cliff Hanger and Turd’s Nest (I decided not to do Tough Mudder since I don’t fancy deliberate electrocution, but the workout regimen is great).
I go to the gym because the joint is radiating with energy from people that feel good. They are silent and present. Nowhere have I witnessed such a powerful, collective feeling of personal satisfaction than through the simple act of getting the heart rate up. I myself feel awesome pumping iron to badly remixed Faithless, and I nod at other gym rats each day over our sweaty secret: going to the gym makes life more tolerable. Being fit just feels good.
Sport City has a comfy lounge area, and after I wrap up my own workout, I drink a coffee at the bar and mentally absorb endorphins from other gym-goers. The place is crawling with bouncing, happy trainers who can cheer me up on the worst of days.
As we sit in that time between Christmas and New Years, many of us are thinking about how 2014 is going to be different. We’re busy convincing ourselves that we will succeed where we failed last year; that this coming year is going to be the real game-changer. We’ve created our plan, spent hours perfecting it, and come January 1st, watch out world.
What I’m saying is, get yourself to a gym as the most basic of things. If not the gym, get your butt outside and do something to break a sweat. Try yoga, tai chi, kick boxing, rowing, dancing, walking, running, skipping, spinning, biking, canoeing, hiking, or whatever makes you feel good.
I listened to a webinar by life coach Michael Burnoff yesterday, and what he said struck me: most of us want to be more “disciplined”, and we think we need to punish ourselves by taking things away or stopping something. We tell ourselves to stop eating candy bars, stop smoking, or whatever. But they key, he insists, is to add something and do it regularly. He says to take action with something small, and just DO IT.
Drink a smoothie every evening, walk every morning, make one difficult sales call, smile at one girl…do one small thing every day that boosts your confidence and gives you a good feeling. Don’t focus so much on what you don’t need to do, but on that single action that will contribute toward building a skill you need in order to become the person who can achieve your ultimate goal. It’s about taking action, however clumsy and imperfect, to those build skills that must precede the goal itself. Plus, I think the happiness lies in those small, progressive actions anyway. They are about right now, and that’s all there ever is.
Side note: I took Burnoff’s 5-day Call-to-Action seminar last year, and I can recommend it. While he’s on the verge of being a total cock and demonstrated to fellow attendees how to “shock people into submission” by cutting me off mid-sentence as I rambled about my irresponsible financial habits, he was right. I had to put down the phone and cry a bit because I’m tender, but he did shock me into realizing how powerless I sounded as I talked about money.
I can be insecure, I guess just like everyone who pushes an edge. Still, I know that getting myself to a gym or outside to exercise each day significantly improves my outlook on everything else. It’s not about having the perfect body. It’s about self-care, and to me, that is the single most important foundation of realizing any ambition.