The new year is almost upon us. For people training hard in big gyms that means that soon you’ll once again be deluged with a swarm of well-meaning neophytes curling in the squat rack and taking up space, ruining your equipment. For about three weeks. At that point many of the newbies will realise that getting in shape is far harder than magazines make it out to be and quickly die out like flies.
But for the rare few who understand that training is a long haul process and actually have the mentality needed to succeed there can be great rewards. The problem is that today’s world isn’t filled with lessons on enduring, or on perseverance but with quick fixes and the need to feel special. Sorry snowflake, there’s nothing unique about you.
Everyone will tell you to set goals – because being successful with your fitness will require some long term planning. But the problem they have is that they’ll fill you with the equivalent of Chinese food – you’ll soon fill empty. Sure, the videos and messages will make you feel empowered and capable but sooner or later you’ll be on your own and have to do the damn work by yourself. All you’ll be left with is the silence of ego as you come face to face with your inability. And right there is where most give up. They settle. They achieve…something…and because they’ve been brought up to believe that a medal for participation is a worthy reward they stop. They stop after losing 5kg when they should lose 10kg. They stop when they achieve a 25 minute 5km, instead of chasing a 20 minute time. Because along the way they’ve realised how much harder they’ll have to work to achieve the real goal. They’ve realised that they’ll have to give up more, work harder, slack off less, and that a life of achieving goals is perhaps the most humbling thing you can try – because you will spend a large chunk of your life failing at meeting those goals.
Perhaps the best thing you can do to help you achieve your fitness goals for 2014 is to write some warm up goals. Think of them as activation drills for your mind.
Figure out if your goal is a need or a want.Many people say they want to get in better shape, but when it comes down to it they don’t really demonstrate that they do. As an example, let’s say I tell you that I really want to get in better shape, but only go to train twice per week. Do my actions match my words? And so would it be any great surprise when I don’t get in tremendous shape? You see, if that were the case, at some point I settled, I decided that I didn’t want to give up something to get fitter. Whether it be a favourite TV show, drinking alcohol every night, or lavish dinners out with other over eating friends – they all demonstrate the same thing. They all demonstrate that while I want to be in better shape I clearly don’t actually need it. If I needed it, like I need oxygen to breathe, then I would stop at nothing to get in better shape. If your goal is something you need then you will succeed. But if it’s just a vague notion that somehow you’d like a six-pack, in the same vein as you may want a bigger TV, then chances are you’ll fail.
I read this thing recently by another trainer saying that if your trainer didn’t inspire you that you needed to find a new trainer. What a bunch of crap. Unless you’re a billionaire and can afford someone to stand by your side permanently and keep you on track at some point you’re going to need to grow up and stand on your own two feet. You are your inspiration and you are your motivation. If you’re not then what you need falls well outside my set of skills, and what you really need is therapy to get some self-belief. While a good trainer can steer you in the right direction, ultimately it is up to you to walk that path. If you look back at the last point you’ll see how important this is. Without your goal being something that is so important to you it keeps you up at night you will likely never be truly successful. You’ll settle. You’ll fall short. But when you have the inner drive from a goal that is truly worthy, a goal that makes you excited and a little nervous at the same time, then you will find a way to make it happen.
I have three immediate goals for next year. One of them is shared by fellow master RKC Keira Newton – a free standing handstand. I think I am about three to six months away from a solid sixty second hold with good form. To achieve this I will train it daily. some days more than others, but likely an average of an hour a day just for Equilibre work. As an example I did twenty-one sets of balance work on Friday last week. (After doing about the same number of Monday and Wednesday too). Speaking with Keira today we both realised we were doing just over twenty sets of work, with her hitting twenty-three. I’ve been working at this for nine months now, and was stalled out, but after a week training with Ido Portal and his equally amazing trainers, I have seen the way forward again. Many would settle at this point – not prepared to give up the hour or more a day for the next half year to achieve this goal. But I am more determined than ever to achieve this, and then take another step forward. That next step forward could be anything, but let’s say that it is a one arm handstand. Ido tells me that a one arm handstand will require thirty to sixty sets daily for another three years for most people. And you see again why people never get there – they settle, unable to give up anything to achieve the new goal.
Because if you want to reach your goal in 2014, whatever it is, don’t worry about the goal, but think about what you are prepared to give up to achieve it. If you want to add something to your life then you have to be prepared to give up something else. Are you prepared to give up being slothful in front of the TV? Are you prepared to give up drinking socially with your friends on Friday night so you can get up early to fit two sessions in on Saturday? And not just for a week or two, but forever? Real progress, achieving big goals comes from one thing – perpetual, obsessive dedication. People want to talk about passion. Forget passion. Upgrade to obsession. Bore your friends with your non-stop talk about a single subject. People are scared to put all their cards on the table, to genuinely try hard, just in case they fail. So what if you fail? In the case of my handstand whether I take six weeks or six months or six years to get there doesn’t worry me, because I know that I will end up better off in the long run by simply earnestly chasing something that is a genuine challenge for me. (And personally I couldn’t care less what people think of me. I am the one who has to be pleased when I look in the mirror every day).
So as you write your wish list for 2014, make sure to write down what you’ll give up as well. Because you won’t fit anything new in your life if there’s no space for it. Clear the decks, get rid of the unessential and refuse to settle for half of it.