You can call me weird, but I loved being in school. I loved being around my friends, the extracurricular activities, and I enjoyed playing sports and the atmosphere of a Friday during football season. In college I loved meeting new people, living in a different town, and just all the new experiences college brought into my life. I think towards the top of that list of things I loved, if not at the very top, was just being a student. I always loved learning new things and bettering myself. I enjoyed the process that was school. It turns out that it was a good thing I liked school because at twenty-five years old and a graduate from high school, a four year college, and another year to earn my master’s degree, roughly 92% of my life so far has been spent in an academic setting. My experiences and lessons learned in high school led me to what I wanted to study in college.
Earning my bachelor’s and master’s degrees gave me a foundation of knowledge that I use every day. These countless lessons shaped me into the kind of professional I am today and I am proud of that. However, what I am more proud of is the type of person I am and continue to develop into. Besides my parents, who obviously played an enormous part of developing me into the person I am today, I can honestly say next on that list is the gym. The gym is an enormous part of my life but the reasons and benefits extend far beyond the bench and squat rack. Here are a few lessons the gym has taught me over the years.
Discipline and Patience
I went back and forth about which word to put first in the heading because both are important and you can’t have one without the other. If you aren’t disciplined or you lack patience you will not succeed in the gym. Heck, I guess you can say that about almost any goal in life. You learn fast that you better have the discipline to consistently go to the gym. Especially the days when you have other offers on the table or you didn’t get a good night sleep the night before. The thing most people forget is the discipline you need outside the gym to help reach your goals. The discipline to go to bed earlier, meal prep for the week, to stay in on Friday night when you are supposed to work out Saturday morning. This discipline will also come in handy when your patience is starting to waver and you become discouraged. And trust me it will happen at some point! When you are at the gym you better possess patience because nothing happens overnight, or in a week.
Depending on the situation you might not approach your goals for months or years at a time! I truly believe that the success I have had in the gym is because I honestly love the process. I am a nerd when it comes to winning the little battles. I love it when I improve on a lift by five or ten pounds even if it takes a month or more.! Learn to love the process and be patient and results will follow, guaranteed.
The Skill to Adjust
This one is definitely the one that I naturally struggle with the most. I love routines. I love knowing what I am going to do well in advance. This is actually a good thing regarding the gym because routines, or programs, are how you progress. However, the gym, like life, is not always perfect with impeccable conditions. Things happen and you must adjust. Unfortunately, I had many injuries during my football career that ultimately ended my playing days. While trying to combine preparing for the upcoming season and still rehabbing an injury I was forced to learn how to adjust and work around things. Even now that my playing days are over I still struggle with the inconvenient injuries that come with training. Anyone that works out regularly can attest that you are not always going to be 100% all the time. So you have to adjust so that you still get your work done. Bodybuilders are great at this because not being able to train a certain body part because of injury is just not acceptable. So they become masters at finding different ways of working around an injury. I have also had to adjust my routines when certain equipment is not available for whatever reason.
The third reason you may have to adjust is because something is just not working. In training almost everything will work when you first try it. Then your body adapts and you must adapt with it. You must adjust what you are doing to continue down the path to success. This realizing that something must be adjusted leads me to my next and last point, self-awareness.
Okay, maybe I lied. Honestly, I’m not sure what I naturally struggle with more, adjusting or being self-aware. But I am aware that self-awareness is not a strong point so does that mean I am actually self-aware? Ironic, but I digress. I believe that self-awareness is one of the most underrated skill sets not just in the gym but in life in general. I hold it in such high regard that it is probably the one skill I would choose if I only had one choice. If you are self-aware you know exactly what you are good at and what you aren’t good at. Sounds like common sense right? Not so much. I see it all the time in the gym. People have an inflated idea about what they are good at and completely ignore what they suck at. In the gym that is a recipe for disaster. You need to attack what you are bad at. See my article about training weak points Weak Point Training – Training With a “Why?”
I am continuously trying to improve my self-awareness not just in the gym but in all other aspects of my life. The gym is a great way to practice this. Being self-aware about what body parts are my strong points, which ones are lagging behind. What movements am I good at? Which ones need some extra attention? This a skill set that will not only improve your performance in the gym but in everyday life. Self-awareness and being honest with yourself can become uncomfortable at times because no one wants to admit that they are bad at something. Maybe ask a family member or close friend to help you figure out what your strong points and weak points are. But remain open minded and remind yourself it will lead to growth in more ways than one.
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