Here’s how you can have both (& more).
When I was thinking about my second contribution to the RevoPT Blog many topics seemed to come into my head. I’d write the first paragraph and find myself stalled. I wondered why, as I’d found my first experience writing quite easy (with some help editing/reviewing). If you’re interested in checking it out you can find it here: Get your head right to get your body right.
Suddenly, during a chat with a mentor of mine, it hit me. I was trying to be guided by the industry and what I thought people needed to know, not what I wanted to say. This lead me to question my personal journey and where I wanted to take it in 2018.
The reflection process that followed produced the content you’re now reading, ‘Fun or Fitness? Why not both.’, I have battled this question ever since I moved to Melbourne. Trying to constantly find a balance between enjoying myself and looking after myself. I’d be lying if I said I have always prioritised the latter. More recently however I have found myself struggling to stick to a ‘training routine’, ‘weekly plan’, ‘fitness regime’, all things I thought were a poor reflection of myself as a personal/group trainer and coach. Reviewing my past month, I wanted to prioritise my time so I could focus on four key areas which I highlighted would help me lead a more fulfilling lifestyle; enjoyment (fun), movement (health), challenges (motivation) & environment (support).
This underpins why we should undertake a task. We need to make sure what we are doing whether it be training, working or socialising is prioritised by enjoyment. This is about the development of positive association with these tasks which are important for positive lifestyle and personal wellbeing. Cooking is the first example of this that I can think of that many of us, myself included, can struggle with but it’s something that can have a huge impact on not only what we eat but our energy levels, quality of sleep, joint & muscle health and many more. Setting aside time to cook is often hard because we see it as another task, but we don’t think outside the square to make any positive association. Some things I’ve done to make sure I cook but don’t get bogged down include; play music, listen to podcasts, watch videos on YouTube or (and this is a hard one) get my house mates involved for some team work/bonding.
Another example of prioritising enjoyment through your fitness journey would be the inclusion of yourself to a group or team. Therefore, I love the small group training environment RevoPT can provide people. Get to know others around you, to celebrate with them as you and they achieve their goals. If this doesn’t appeal to you then look at joining a team. Personally, both environments have provided great enjoyment to me and I always make sure to join in where and when I can, especially within my friendship group if there is an opportunity to play social sports games, what better way to stay fit than by having fun with your friends?!
It’s commonly understood that movement each day is good for our health. However, the guidance around what exercise to do for what benefits is all dependent upon who you talk to and sometimes when you talk to them (trends are prevalent within the industry). Perhaps we have overcomplicated it? Simply some days I feel better just for a light walk, solid stretch or informal movement of my body into positions which it feels good or happy. This comes with practice and developing a connection to understand your body better. Some days I know I don’t feel up to training and I used to force myself to do something in the gym (but why?). Then one day I decided why not just go for a run? (sun is also important!) The next week, I encountered the same problem. So, I did some bodyweight exercises in my backyard. Then come week 3 I found myself just at times incorporating simplistic movement on my off days, the ‘rest days’, sometimes finding myself staying in positions for up to a minute or two. These positions would then leave me feeling better and left me with a greater respect of the principle time under tension.
I think, for a portion of time, that my ability to listen to the body and what it needed with regard to movement was compromised. I felt like it wanted to do something but maybe not 50 calories on the bike or 50 reps of a back squat. I’ve found myself feeling better throughout the second half of the year and I put this down to not having set ‘workout’ or set ‘rest’ days. I let my mind and body decide each new day what we are going to do and I’m much better for it. This doesn’t mean I do not train hard, I believe I am now training smarter and more specifically. The three things I would encourage everyone to do when looking at their movement are; establish intent, body awareness and time under tension.
These are designed to keep us motivated and on our toes. Ready for whatever might come up each day. Whilst being mindful of stress and placing importance on relaxation when required, it’s important that we stay sharp and I’ve found challenging myself no matter how big or small, mental or physical helps me to do this. Some of the challenges I’ve set myself through 2017 have been; writing my first (& second) blog entries, Rowing 500m <1.30, Ski Erg 2km <7.30, Bench Press 100Kg (maybe next year), Clean & jerk 100Kg, Snatch Bodyweight (maybe next year), expanding my network/career (VFLW S&C coach) and 20 mins mobility each day (almost!). So, as you can see we can’t always get what we want and you can’t do everything. The key here is that you can try! Some challenges you will fail, some you will succeed but it becomes more about setting them and finding out more about who you are, what you enjoy and all you are capable of.
Whilst you might not be successful in every challenge at least you can say you tried, you trained, and you committed to it. Those three things are more important to leading a positive fitness journey than the result itself. The other thing I do regarding my challenges is talk to people who I know have tried and I gauge my sense of reality. Sometimes this can show I’m overly ambitious and at times not capable but without having these conversations I wouldn’t know. The same as without trying to complete these challenges I would not have known if I was capable or learnt the lessons that I have. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself, be excited to explore what you are capable of both inside and outside the gym.
This is my final point but arguably most important. To make sure we feel positive about whatever it is we do we must ensure we surround ourselves with the right environment. This is different for all individuals but for me I’m more inclined to read/write/study if it’s raining, eat veggies if it’s cold, fruit if it’s warm and I’m more inclined to exercise if the sun is out. These are all examples of the natural environment but what about the area around you? Are you more inclined to exercise if you feel safe? if you have someone to talk to? Short and sweet, RevoPT get the results we do due to the environment we provide. Our environment is inclusive, positive and results driven. We provide everyone with the opportunity to better themselves, are constantly giving constructive feedback, tips to guide people and encouragement to keep you working yourself to your best and we provide the structure to let you track your progress and keep on updating your goals. However, we make sure you get lots of variety to keep the environment interesting, fun and fresh. All of this key to providing you with enjoyment, movement and challenges.
Another example of a fantastic environment is the Victoria University (Western Bulldogs) Women’s Football Program. I’ve never been a part of a club that is made up of individuals that are driven and united from the top down. They’ve set an incredible example for me regarding work ethic, honesty and trust. Three key pillars which I believe help foster the environment that I am now lucky to be part of as Strength and Conditioning coach. So why am I mentioning this and how do these three pillars relate to the everyday person and their journey in search for the right environment. Work ethic will be improved if you are surrounded by people you respect and people who respect you so keep an eye out for this and next time you think ‘I’m going to beat this person’ remind yourself that it’s their effort lifting your work ethic, this is a great sign you’re in a good environment (competition is healthy). Honesty should be able to be applied from both your trainers and yourself. We should be able to push you harder if we think you’re capable of more. You should be honest with us if there’s something you’re not enjoying or if you know you can’t give absolutely everything. Having an honest relationship with the trainers at your gym will make for a more enjoyable experience. Finally, trust is super important in your environment. Trust that you’re safe, you’re doing what’s required to meet your goals and that you’re always welcome at the gym.
To summarise the above I guess this is my personal reflection on my past couple of working years in Melbourne. Something I encourage you to all do is REFLECT then RESPOND. My quote when I started my RevoPT journey was ‘change is the best thing you can do’. I stand by this as I believe change comes in many forms and can provide all of the above-mentioned keys to a good journey to a stronger, fitter and healthier version of yourself. Change can lead to increased enjoyment, different ways of including movement, provide challenges and give you a fresh environment to come to each day.
None of us are perfect and nor should we aim to be, however this should not leave us in a place where we don’t strive to be enjoy, move, challenge and be in a great environment each day. We can make the choices to make sure this happens and it all starts from taking away these finals points from this blog.
MOVE- listen to how your body feels and move with it! Be conscious in what training or movement you think it requires.
CHALLENGE- the sky is the limit, the world your oyster. Look at the small and the big picture. We can take on a challenge each day.
ENVIRONMENT- find the one that makes you enjoy, move and challenge yourself!
Congratulations on your 2017, celebrate it but get ready. 2018 can be anything you want it to be, it’s up to you!
Have a great holiday season and enjoy the company of those around you,