#1 Purpose, Physical Autonomy, and Taking Action
First in a series of articles we’re calling tips from the top. These articles will share different perspectives and disclose the secret sauce that elite coaches in the fitness industry not only know but apply to their own regimen.
This week we dive into the 'Why' (do you go to the gym/train the way you train etc. what's your 'Purpose" in this aspect of your life?), suggest perhaps a different perspective around attaining physical autonomy, defining your own fitness as a sustainable and enjoyable lifestyle choice and unravel the myths and misunderstandings of often cliché doctrines around ‘motivation’ and ‘sticking rigidly to the program’. We'll typically close with a call to action and offer a way to act now. Hint, taking action is how we develop best!
Understanding Your 'Why' in Fitness
When you step into the gym, what drives you? Many of us adhere (for a few months anyway) to a discipline (e.g. weightlifting), counting reps and sets, but have we ever paused to question why? This isn’t just about the physical act of lifting weights or the hours spent on the treadmill. It's about understanding the deeper purpose behind these actions which are (or should be) a means and not the end. At Gravity Laboratory, we believe the first step in any fitness journey is to discern your true purpose. Why do you go to the gym? Is it for health, aesthetics, stress relief, or perhaps something more profound? For our members and clients, its typically a lifestyle choice.
The Pursuit of Physical Autonomy
One purpose that might resonate with many is the pursuit of physical autonomy. This isn't merely about being strong, lean or flexible; it's about nurturing a body that moves well, safely and is free from pain (which more than 50% of readers of this article will experience daily - back pain, arthritis etc.) - and lets not get into the proven psychological / neuroplasticity benefits from moving, being strong and learning new skills.
Physical autonomy is about empowering yourself to live your best life, unencumbered by physical limitations. It’s about being able to play with your kids, embark on adventures, and enjoy the full spectrum of life’s experiences without the constraints of physical discomfort or weakness. But this pursuit can be fun and some of the best coaches in the world train with this purpose in mind and the way they train is radically different than the 'commercial' programs packaged and offered at a big box gym!
Did you know, Animal Flow is Movement Training for the 'Human' Animal
Redefining Strength Training
At our core, we believe strength training is not an end in itself. Yes, it’s satisfying to see muscles grow and body fat diminish. Yet, we must ask: what are we doing with these gains? We advocate viewing strength training as a means to enhance your lifestyle and support skill
development. The true goal isn't to deadlift twice your body weight; it's to utilize that strength in ways that enrich your life. Whether it's through playing a sport, engaging in a hobby, or simply being more active in your daily life, the aim is to live well and perform better in all aspects. And skill development is enjoyable and always evolving reducing monotony and the specter of 'motivation'. Its the practice that is fun/engaging and consistency of practice is the key to progress/results.
Movement can be fun
Beyond Motivation and Rigid Programs
It's time to debunk some myths, particularly around the concepts of motivation and strict adherence to workout programs. Motivation is often seen as the key driver for fitness success. Let's be clear, motivation is a) intrinsic and b) it comes and goes - in everyone!!! No one can "motivate" you to act, only you can do that. We can encourage, inspire or even cajole but its not possible to motivate you. The number one success factor all elite coaches know is that it's not motivation, discipline to finish the sets/reps, or holding yourself or even having someone else hold you accountable to execute the prescribed plan. Its consistency. To improve, humans need to practice. To get better/alleviate discomfort, we need to be consistent in our practice. It's the old martial arts adage - "step on the mat".
Understanding your 'Why' or 'Purpose' serves to fuel consistent action even when motivation wanes. You will 'step on the mat' as you want to, its fun, and the purpose deeply resonates with your very being. So why wouldn't you show up! Take a Doctor for example. Lets make the assumption you get into that profession to save peoples lives. If that is a deep routed driver for you, and I can't think of many better, then you may feel tired and not like going in, but turning up and saving a few lives might just make things all right and empower you to go again tomorrow!
Similarly, rigidly following a program without considering its alignment with your personal goals and lifestyle can be counterproductive. If a plan is so strict that it doesn't allow some flexibility (exercise, volume, days and more) then its a bad plan that few will adhere to. Flexibility and adaptability in your training are essential for long-term success and enjoyment. Some of the best, most sophisticated and knowledgeable coaches and health professionals leverage strength training for skill development - example, to learn a two-arm straight handstand. Do we/they count sets and reps for handstand specific drills - no. We focus more on quality, ensuring sufficient rest to ensure effective practice and we listen to our body and adjust in each session. But by showing up to practice on your chosen cadence, the skill will develop, you will progress, you will develop strength but also balance, coordination, improved posture, vitality, energy, confidence and more.
Movement training and skill work like this are tremendous fun and address many more aspects of fitness than just weightlifting for example. Do a few sets of deadlifts this week if you feel the need - no problem - definite benefits to doing that. Its just not an end unless your near term goal is to be a competitive lifter!
Being Human - Learning New Skills
Taking Action with Purpose
In conclusion, your fitness journey is uniquely yours. It's a personal narrative that goes beyond just physical transformation. It’s about discovering your 'why', embracing physical autonomy, and using strength training as a tool to enhance your life, not just your physique. At Gravity Laboratory, we encourage you to reflect on these concepts, challenge traditional fitness norms, and take action with a newfound purpose. Remember, the goal is not just to train but to train smart, live well, and perform better in every aspect of your life.
Call to Action
And here is the final lesson all elite coaches know. Take action - now! If anything in this brief article resonates with you, pick up the phone, send us an email, complete our contact form on the website, DM via Instagram or hey, pop in and see us and engage in one of our movement and/or skill centric sessions such as Stick Mobility, Animal Flow, Restorative Yoga or Calisthenics and perhaps you will start the process of redefining your possible.
Gravity Members & Coaches Developing Fun Movement Skills