Let me start off by saying there is no “right” answer to the question above but how you answer tells a lot about your attitude towards fitness. It is actually a question that I have really struggled with recently.
“Why do I work out the way I do?” And more pertinently “How do I really want to train?”
Maybe it will help if I define the three options for you.
The person who says “I am going to go exercise” typically does not have a real plan in place. They may be the one who hits the hotel gym and decides based on availability as to whether they are going to run or hit the elliptical that night. Now mind you, they are still ahead of 28.3% of Americans, who according to the Physical Activity Counsel have done NO EXERCISE AT ALL over the last 12 months…..and they even included walking the mall as a form of exercise!! The reality is this group is also the least likely to see any type of real and persistent results from their efforts. It is also the easiest mindset with which to skip altogether and find yourself among the 28%.
These are the people who typically have at least a semblance of a plan. They know the muscle group they are going to target or the cardio exercise for the day. They are usually intentional in their workout and they may even have specific goals for the work out (for example, today my goal was 40 minutes on the treadmill at 7 mph). They make their time for their work out a priority.
These people have a specific goal in mind. For some it is a race (think marathon running), for others it is a competition (fighters and bodybuilders), others still it is an amount of weight to drop. For me it has been various rank advancement in karate or the occasional grappling tournament. There is a different intensity to the workouts but more importantly, there is a different intentionality. You are there in the gym, or on the mat, or on the road with a specific goal and purpose all of which leads up to a larger result.
So why bring this up at all?
Because I find myself in a time of transition. For the last 7 years I have had something to train for and right now, I don’t. A random set of circumstances has really thrown my training off the rails.
- Schedule changes at the dojo preventing me from getting in regularly.
- Work obligations getting in the way of my lunch BJJ sessions.
- Nothing on the calendar to run towards (although I am going to run a Disney Race at some point)
- Traveling an average of 4 days a week
All of these have conspired to put me in a spot where I am not training for anything specific right now. There have actually been moments over the last few months that I have found myself walking into the gym with absolutely no plan…..and it terrifies me. The good news is I am still walking in the gym or pressing play every day though.
The reality is that people who have something to train for are more intentional about their exercise regime and far less likely to miss a workout.
No- I don’t have a study to back that claim up other than the anecdotal evidence and my own experiences but the bigger question is how do embrace that fact and apply it?
I want you to think back to High School Physics class and to Newton’s first law of motion. Do you remember?
A body at rest tends to stay at rest unless acted upon by an external force.
Intentionality is that external force to our stagnation. The Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG for all of you Good to Great fans) is what moves people from exercising to training. You have to have something you are working towards, or running from, that is so motivating that you not only exercise but you do so with intention.
I am on the hunt for mine now and I will be sure to share it when I identify it. I am one of those weirdos that are not motivated by a number on a scale but by the things I am able to achieve. That doesn’t mean that the chasing a number is wrong, it is just not what does it for me.
So what is it that will take you from exercising to training? What is your BHAG? Can’t wait to hear from you.