I experimented with exercise as a teenager, and even then it sabotaged several romantic relationships. I had to have that endorphin rush of pushing myself to failure; to see just how fast and far I could push my body. I went through withdrawals when I couldn’t exercise. Then with injuries and a modicum of maturity, I cut back. But that nagging need was always there. In college someone said those magic words, “Here...try this just once.” I did, and the rush was sweet. I was hooked all over again. This time, it was the hard stuff: numbers.
I know my VO2Max, my lactate threshold, my aerobic training zones, Body Composition; my 1RM Bench Press, Leg Press, Curl. I know my Marathon Pace, my 12K pace, my Century Pace, my Max HR, Resting HR, and the speed difference when I drop into a tuck.
I also have a competitive streak, and I can’t help but count how far off I am from qualifying for the Boston Marathon, the Tour de France peloton pace, or Mariusz Pudzianowski’s deadlift. The big problem with all of this is that it is easy to get distracted by the numbers, and forget why we measure them. As an addict and as a trainer, I understand the desire to lift more, run faster, jump higher, and keep up with Elisa in a Zumba class. There is just one catch; I’m mortal.
When I grab Dumbbells to curl, I’m self conscious about the number printed on the end. When I set up a machine to Leg Press, I’m aware of where the large men who wrap their knees are. I’m aware when I go to the Gold’s Group Exercise classes that people watch to see what “the trainer” does.
When large men start wrapping their knees or putting a Buick on the Bench Press, I pause to watch the show, and I wonder, “Why?” Nobody Bench Presses just to Bench. Nobody runs Marathons without a reason. 26 miles is a REALLY long way. Nobody joins a gym just to have a membership. there is always a reason. Yes, I want to lift more weight and run faster. But why?
If it is your goal to run 1000 marathons before you die, I say “Great. let’s train.” If you want to lose weight for a class reunion and look better than the cheerleader who stole your boyfriend back then, then let’s make it happen. If you love to dance, I can give you exercises that will increase your endurance and stamina so that it is more enjoyable.
Remember why you joined the gym. Remember why you came today. Sometimes getting what you are after means backing off the number printed on the Dumbbell and using the Bosu. Sometimes...MOST OF THE TIME, it means LESS weight, MODIFYING moves in yoga, or NOT doing the super-intense version in the GGX classes. If you are not sure how, we are always willing to show you.
Every single exercise in every gym in the history of the human race has had one purpose; to prepare the body for some other activity. When your time in the gym becomes more about the number on the dumbbell, than what that exercise is doing for you, it’s time for a 12 step program.