I am deeply passionate about fitness. I know first hand the transformational power regular, consistent training can have on your life and it is my utmost desire to share that knowledge with as many people as possible.
In addition to the gym I run here in Birmingham, I run a loose knit organization of like-minded fitness professionals and enthusiasts called Mental Meat Heads. One of our tenants is to encourage fitness professionals to embrace what we call the 85%. This term comes from the fact that a mere 15% of our population engages in any form of regular exercise and training. 15%. That’s everybody who trains from your grandma’s Jazzercise class all the way to Olympic level weightlifters and everyone else in between. 15%.
That means 85% of us don’t get regular exercise. Even though we all know regular exercise is an essential part of long term health.
This is my letter to the 85%.
Let’s talk exercise.
I know there are many things that get in your way. You have a million stressors coming down on you. There’s your job, your kids, your spouse, the mortgage, your shitty boss, groceries. Life is full of demanding things and every time you turn around there’s something else pulling on your sleeve demanding your attention.
You know you need to exercise. You know it’s good for you, that you’ll feel better, it’ll move you closer to your goals, the body and life you want, blah, blah, blah. You don’t need me to repeat to you the same things you tell yourself every time you look in the mirror. You have more than enough guilt, shame, and anger.
You know you need to exercise, but you don’t.
Society has set a standard so high that most of us just say, “Forget it. There’s no way I’ll ever look like that.” We’ve become a culture of all or nothing. If we can’t be champions there’s no point in competing. And so we let ourselves slide into apathy, lethargy, and poor health. Ironically, we are the ones who suffer most for it.
Let’s face it, most of us don’t like to exercise. It requires effort and we’re already tired. It requires skill and it’s been painfully apparent since third grade gym class that’s something we lack. Yeah, there are benefits to be had but those don’t show up for a very long time, and the goals we set for ourselves, inspired by the aforementioned societal demands and the covers of various grocery store checkout aisle magazines, feed our egos but leave the rest of us feeling bereft and overwhelmed.
There are lots of reasons why we don’t exercise.
Except that there aren't. There’s really just one.
We don’t believe we are worth the effort.
I wish there was a nicer way to put it, but the truth is most of us prioritize other people and things over ourselves. The irony being that if we took better care of ourselves we'd be able to take better care of all those we put first.
You cannot give to others that which you do not first posses yourself.
Whether it’s $5, time, love, attention, strength, if you don’t first possess the thing, and preferably in abundance, you can’t give it away.
When you continue to give from a place shy of abundance you deplete your own stores. It’s like being a lifeguard and only being an average swimmer. Very quickly you find yourself in trouble and now two people need saving instead of one.
There’s a sign on my door that reads, “You just did the hard part. We’ll take it from here.” It’s something that every gym rat and regular knows. The hardest part is just showing up.
But my saying this won’t make it believable. I sing this song every day. I preach it from the roof tops and beg and plead and cajole, but until you experience it, you won’t believe it.
There are some out there in my industry who say you can’t be worked with. They say you’re too set in your ways, that you’re lazy, unsalvageable. But I don’t buy it.
Lazy? Do you see how much you do in a day? Carpool, job, after school activities for the kids, sports practice, dinner, laundry. Lazy? No, certainly not.
Overtaxed? Yes. Priorities slightly out of alignment? Maybe. But not lazy.
Priorities, that’s another matter. Yes, I know you have a ton of very important things that have to get done. You have obligations to your spouse, your kids, your dog, your boss. (Yes, I did do that on purpose.) But what about you? Where do you fit in in terms of your priorities? Is the best you can do to take care of yourself a couple glasses of wine after dinner or an extra serving of ice cream with Netflix? Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing inherently wrong with either of these indulgences. As a treat every once in a while, they can be quite enjoyable and, I believe, serve your greater good. But as a regular way to “take care of yourself”- are they helping?
Gym time takes effort. It takes time. But the amazing thing? It's the only thing that will actually pay you back in both. Smart training on a regular basis will actually give you more energy. Your increased energy will give you more time, both in the now and in the long term. Can Ben and Jerry’s with Jessica Jones give you that?
Yes, in the short term training sucks. You get sweaty, you get sore. You have to show up and do stuff. But a good trainer, one who listens to you and cares about you, can mitigate that process. She can help you with strategies to minimize your soreness, help you come up with a game plan to maximize your recovery, and in a very short while help you come to the realization that you actually like moving. I know it’s crazy, but I also know it’s true.
Give yourself a chance, find out what it’s like to live a whole life, one that integrates the intellectual and emotional prowess you already know with the physical you’ve been missing out on. You’ll be amazed by what you’ve been missing. You’ll be amazed at how much more capable you truly are.
Agoge Fitness Systems is running a JumpStart Program. This is an on-ramp program that teaches the ins and outs of our classes and gets you ready to join our regular program. You get six classes for $89 bucks. That’s a 15% discount off our regular rates. Come in and give us a try. You’ve got nothing to lose and a whole new life to gain.
To our perfect imperfection,