I have been recently reading and researching articles about mindfulness. Mindfulness and meditation have experienced a recent surge in popularity. Part of this phenomenon is that we live in an instant access, always on the move MTV era. We have information readily available to us, via our smart phones & tablets, 24 hours a day. We are always plugged in, hence we become distracted by what just happened two minutes ago. One of the things I enjoy is that when I’m training someone they have no choice but to concentrate on what they’re doing. The workouts in my studio aren’t centered on sitting on a machine where you can have a conversation on your phone while you exercise. You have to be in the moment. Squatting while bear-hugging a sandbag or pushing a sled along the turf eliminates that dilemma. To help people get to that flow state, where they feel present and connected, they need to enjoy what they’re doing. Part of why people tune out is because they don’t like what they’re doing.
Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who just complains, glass half empty type of person, and you find yourself mentally fading away from the conversation. I know personally, when at the movies, if I’m not engaged in the first 15-20 minutes, chalk up my $20 bucks for admission as a rental fee for taking an hour nap in the theatre recliner. What really brought this to my attention was when I recently had a conversation with a client of mine. I asked him “How many people do you think enjoy what they do for a living?” He responded, “less than 10%.” My instant reaction is that he’s way off. No way! Google, Siri here I come. After a little investigation I was able to discover that he wasn’t too far off. Based upon a Gallup poll taken in 2013 and later printed in Forbes magazine, only 13% of workers feel engaged by their jobs. “Engaged by their jobs” means they feel a sense of passion for their work, a deep connection to their employer and they spend their days driving innovation and moving their company forward.
The vast majority, some 63%, are “not engaged,” meaning they are unhappy but not drastically so. In short, they’re checked out. They sleepwalk through their days, putting little energy into their work.
A full 24% are what Gallup calls “actively disengaged,” meaning they pretty much hate their jobs. They act out and undermine what their coworkers accomplish. Wow.
This is exactly what has happened with exercise for so many people. Many hate or are disengaged with exercise because they don’t like it. I blame my industry on poor marketing that has led people to believe that if you don’t look like a fitness model you should give up. I’ve written before about the poor representation of the fitness industry in the media. We all know that mantra, “No pain, No gain”.
Outside of the youth with blessed metabolisms and those with gifted genetics (you know the ones who don’t exercise and look great) I understand why people check out emotionally. Just like the job they hate. People work because they need money to survive in our society. They exercise because research has proven all of the positive health benefits. What if you found a workout you enjoyed just like finding a job you’re passionate about? Wouldn’t that be special? Can’t exercise be fun? Can you be challenged and have fun at the same time? I know you can, because I see it every day.
One of the jobs as a coach is to know when you have to push people. More important is to know how much to push. A push can mean motivating someone to hold a plank an extra 7 seconds, completing a 30 second set. That may not sound like much, but it’s huge when they could only hold it for 15 seconds prior. The key is to push an extra 5-10% routinely. Too frequently you hear of people going from a 10 second hold for 3 sets to 5 sets of 45 seconds. I’m going to go out on a limb and assume their form may have been compromised. I compare it to being exposed to the sun. Exposing yourself to 10 minutes of sunshine can give you a slight tan and a healthy dose of Vitamin D, 2 hours can produce a bad burn. Some people experience adrenal fatigue because they have been misinformed. They believe every workout has to be “all out”. I have a sign I post in the studio about every 5 weeks. It’s green and reads “Throttle Back”. I use the week to back off intensity with everyone to avoid burn-out. It’s a great time to work on mobility drills or introduce a new exercise which will require some extra coaching time which will provide more rest.
The bottom line is find a place where you enjoy your workouts and the people around you. I guarantee it will make a big difference. Learn to be in the moment by enjoying what you do. If you don’t believe me, just ask my members.
See you at the studio.