I think one reason why adults get so upset with children for asking “why?” all the time is that it reminds us how rarely we ask ourselves that same thing.
In fact – that is the first question I tend to ask 99% of individuals who come to me with fitness problems. – “Why do you think you need to go to a gym?” – the athletes, the competitors, someone who's taken the leap and signed up for a race or event… They are the easy ones. They have a solid answer. They have numbers and measurable goals. They have a concrete reason… – but for most of us the answer is more vague… “i want to be healthier/stronger/more fit” – “i want to be lighter/more muscled/leaner” –
In most cases these are symbols and not the source – if you just want to lose belly-fat or tone up your arms, or grow a bigger butt- why don’t you just get liposuction? Why don't you get injections or implants? really. why not? do you consider that “cheating”? Is that too easy..? ...Why? What does a flat stomach or lean arms & a perky ass symbolize for you? Without a sport those are just shadows of what you really want, so keep asking why – what do all these traits add up to?
Understanding why (or at least getting a glimpse of it) will probably do more for your training than any coach, diet tip or strength training secret. Understanding why will shape your priorities, answer questions, and give you a roadmap for how to proceed. Most of all, it will get you asking better questions.
Many, if not most of us are physically unremarkable. Sure, we may be strong(ish) & fast(ish) and have a modicum of endurance– but more often than not we earn congratulations by not stepping into a mud puddle. Most of us aren’t breaking world records, getting paid to be fit, or betting our lives on our ability to carry an external load for miles on end. So why do it?
As someone who pokes their head barely above average to see what the world looks like, my driving force is control. To me, the gym is a laboratory, a workshop. I can tinker and explore – I can test theories and fail repeatedly in new and spectacular ways.
More than that- i can learn. I can see how I respond to stress – see what breaks and what bends, I can become familiar with the razor's edge, get comfortable with the uncomfortable.
I'm not quite dreaming of social media influence or neck decorations.
I'm just focused on doing what I need to do today in order to be better tomorrow…
It is there where the real power lies, in the gym we use weights and timers as a symbol for stress. The beautiful part is how we can fine-tune that discomfort, expose ourselves, push into that place where the cracks creep in and everything threatens to come crashing down – and then, we learn to hold it together.
The “appropriate” stress that I most often seek is when roughly 49% of me wants to quit, burn the gym down and never speak of this “fitness” shit again. Thats when I know im being given the chance at some meaningful progress.
That voice has haunted me my entire life, closed doors that can never be reopened
– the gym has given me a framework, a way to learn how to fight back.
To get that voice inside my head accustomed to losing.
The hope of this exposure is to inoculate ourselves to stress.
To re-train our habits, to own them, and overcome them;
To become an individual shaped by will and decision and not mere circumstance.
The dieter who begins to feel that same rush of satisfaction by NOT eating that piece of pizza,
the climber that can maintain composure and structural integrity under greater stress & risk,
the runner who can look both at the miles traveled and the ones left to go and not be lulled into quitting or complacency.
...but it is more than that.
This simple asking bleeds into every facet of our lives.
A little discomfort begins to feel more like potential as we begin to see beauty and triumph in the lessons earned by failing. As we continue to seek answers and ask better questions, we earn a quiet confidence – a knowledge of self that is rooted in experiences so personal and visceral that we become both resilient to outside pressure and totally open to it.
We begin to lean into the unknown, to seek experiences that challenge us, that scare us, that force us to confront our shortcomings and find new ways to grow.
Every day i step into my training environment, see the tools, smell the rubber floor and a hint of stale sweat, i cant help but ask myself: “why the fuck am i here? Where am i going? & “what am I going to do today to make myself better?”
Truth is: the world breaks everyone sooner or later
Are you gonna be stronger at the broken places or just fragmented pieces?