For Whom the Bell Tolls

June 13, 2017 9:00 am

For whom 3.2.1… tolls.

Today I would like to discuss the focus and purpose of training, an area which is often overlooked as a source of motivation but that may ultimately be more meaningful than all others. Most, if not all of us, begin training for personal reasons –  to look better, to feel better physically, to compete with our self and others or just in the hopes of living a little longer. All great and genuine reasons to begin loving yourself a little more through physical training.

I want you to take a moment to think back to your most recent workout. It could have been this morning, maybe it was yesterday or it may have been a week since you could fit a workout into your schedule. Think about that workout, the intensity, the focus required, the energy it took from you, and ultimately the glowing sense of accomplishment upon completion. Ask yourself:

How did that workout leave me feeling?

The hormonal responses elicited from intense exercise have long been documented. We have been talking about ‘runner’s high’ for years and any CrossFitter, yogi or endurance fiend can tell you about that post-exertion exhaustion accompanied by a visceral sense of calm or high. All good stuff and a display of the awesome beauty of nature to provide pleasure where there is a valuable benefit to survival. When you workout at an intense level, you develop a scale for difficulty. When you tackle seemingly unachievable tasks and come out the other side, you expand your sense of competency. You develop self confidence in your own ability through reflection and comparison. You are confident, you are happy.

“That work deadline is nowhere near as difficult as Fran this morning, I got this.”

Opportunities become exciting, not overwhelming. A generally positive outlook is easier to maintain when backed by a strong self confidence that accompanies the regular accomplishment of seemingly impossible tasks (any of Coach Dariel’s workouts!). You live a little more in your stretch zone, less in your comfort zone and good things happen.

But what is really interesting is what effect this has on the people in your life. Every day you have obligations to those around you. Your family, your friends, your coworkers and your community all must interact with you through a myriad of situations both good and bad. Every day you have hundreds of personal interactions and in a city like New York that can very often reach unnaturally high volumes. This all takes a toll. It requires energy of which you have limited supply. It requires focus in a world built on distraction. With every interaction you have a choice, and it is a simple one. To be a positive or negative influence on those you interact with.

The human mind will adapt very quickly. So quickly in fact that after only a few days of difficulty or challenge with work or relationships you may seemingly forget about all that was good yesterday and all that is good tomorrow, all the while missing out on what is good today, right now, right in front of you. You adopt the cloud over your head as the new normal and your interactions begin to reflect this negative undercurrent. You are unhappy.

Luckily a very simple and effective solution is also within reach. When you workout your mind is forced into the present. During an intense workout you cannot think about that aggressive situation on the subway, that awkward date, that overbearing student debt or your boss that is just missing your point. You must focus fully on the seemingly insurmountable workout in front of you. The blood rushing through your eardrums drowns out any internal dialogue as you struggle for breath. Intense exercise is simply forced meditation through presence both physical and mental. I could go on for days about the benefits of meditation, however that is not the purpose of this article. What I am interested in bringing to the surface is the flow-on effects of these regular doses of presence, accomplishment and physical exhaustion.

When you next leave Solace I want you to pay particular attention to your attitude and general demeanor. What are you carrying out of the gym? Are you happier than when you entered? Are you enjoying a more positive outlook on the day? Are you able to see those challenges and hurdles with a little more perspective? Have you ‘got this’ today?

Now I want you to think about who gets to benefit from that positive outlook. Are you a better boss to your staff? Are you a better spouse, or parent? Are you a little more patient on your morning commute? Can you see someone else’s side of the argument now?

Are you a little more of the person you want to be, and a little less of that person you don’t really like?

Exercise brings out the best in us. Physically, mentally, socially. So next time you are in need of a little motivation, or finding you are living with that cloud. Reach for hard work and self dedication and remember all of those people in your life who are relying on you to put that work in so they can get to enjoy the version of you they most love. Your family, your friends, your community will thank you. Your workouts are bigger than you alone. Take Solace in that.

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