Exercise Enlightenment and Your Ticket to Attaining It - Jeff Aker, CSCS
Enlightenment- Achieving clarity of perception, reason, and knowledge.
While there may not be an abundance of the typical fitness terminology in the definition above, I cannot help but believe that for the true exercise success stories, they are products of enlightenment. For these people, it goes well beyond a physical transformation. The changes they have made are associated with an increased base of knowledge and understanding. From this acquired knowledge comes a greater purpose, and from a greater purpose comes a call to action. For the enlightened, there is little hesitation when it comes to walking into the gym for a workout and little justification for taking the easy route. They know what they need to do and they go out and do it.
For those of us looking to get fitter, faster, leaner and stronger an initial resentment is usually replaced by a quiet admiration of the enlightened for their appearance, their fitness, and their hard work and dedication. While these are very admirable characteristics, is it strictly hard work and dedication that got them there? For the enlightened, it is not so much about the grind and the willpower. It is about getting started, learning as you go, and enjoying the ride. THEY ARE IN THE ZONE.
I have been fortunate enough to be inspired by a lot of these people over the past number of years as well as to see enlightenment progress over time. As I see it more and more, I become increasingly partial to clarity and not so much the exercise methods, systems and effort in and out of the gym. While the effort is essential, it is enlightenment that will bring the desire and drive necessary in order to make a change for the long term.
Author Garrett Kramer had a line in his book “Stillpower” that really hit me when it comes to this topic.
“True change isn’t wilful. It’s so fluent and intuitive that we don’t even realize it happened.”
For the enlightened it is not the destination. It is the ride.
For those of you who are looking to get to that standard, here some ideas to get you there.
If you are currently not using the gym, or are doing it sporadically the best advice that I can give would be to just get in there and do something. It may not be especially structured, but doing something is far better than doing nothing. Just like any other success story, there will be times of confusion and a reflection of things that would have been done differently. The trick is that you are doing something and consistency will be your biggest weapon.
Whether improving your wellbeing is something new on your radar or it is something that is a part of your current agenda, I cannot stress enough the importance of assessment. An effective assessment will allow you to ask the more in depth questions that often get overlooked as well as bring you the clarity necessary to understand the key components of success when it comes to following a more proactive lifestyle. To reiterate Martyn’s video on the importance of understanding your current level of fitness, I also believe that a professional assessment is arguably the biggest factor in your long term success.
Go As You Learn and Learn As You Go
An assessment can give you the answers you need when it comes to understanding where you are. For some of us, this may lead you to a whole new set of questions, the most common one being, “so how do I do this?” Unfortunately this question is often the first step to failure for many. In order to know how, we all need instruction. Every day we read instructions, take directions, and acquire new knowledge professionally and personally. Exercise is no different. It requires an evolving understanding to keep it consistent and more importantly, keep it productive. I like to think of it like this. How is your mindset on your first day at a new job? It’s usual to be nervous, eager to learn the correct procedures and practices and to blend into the new environment as soon as possible. The same can be said of achieving a lifestyle change. The reason I like the idea of going as you learn and learning as you go is that it allows for education and repetition. When it comes to going, start with a task that can test you but not put you over the edge. Stick to movement and intensities that you feel comfortable with. When it comes to learning, seek a resource you can relate to and educate yourself in a way that can work in harmony with your physical capabilities.
Understand the technique
I often hear technique being described as practicing proper form. Not taking away from proper form but I cannot help but look at technique as something a little more dimensional than good form. An appreciation of the technique is to be able to put your complete undivided attention into what you are doing in the gym. The ability to establish the technique means understanding and feeling the result of your efforts. If long term goals appear to be off in the distance, keep in mind that your body will be telling you a lot along the way. Whether it is something as simple as being able to comfortably bend down to tie your shoes, or something more profound such as drastic medical improvements. The success stories that I have encountered have been in very similar scenarios where their more superficial goals were met by some pretty incredible change along the way.
To finish this article, I have to say that for anyone who has reached the point where working out is completely natural they all know one thing. Exercise is a must! While they may have started out with aspirations of a better body, it evolves into something well beyond that. Those who experience success in the gym understand that there is a lot more on the line. It is their ability to understand that the intrinsic significance of what they are doing is their blueprint for success. They understand that their body is something that they only get once. There is no return or exchange policy and they know that their time with it is limited so you may as well make the best of it. If you can get to this frame of mind, consider yourself enlightened.