COVID Motivation - Why are you training?
Why Are You Training?
We are living in difficult times and we need to be clear about why we are training and what we are trying to accomplish. It is not easy to train right now. Gyms are closed. Those who have equipment are using it, and those who don’t are making do. These are times when nobody can judge you for not training. We all have a decision to make – will we return to our gyms at the end of COVID as chunks, hunks or drunks?
Making the right decisions in life involves two separate steps – having the right view or thought, and having the right intention. Much of the latter comes down to motivation, that inner drive and rationale that takes a thought to an idea to an action, creating the habits in our lives. There is no doubt that training over the ages of 35, and 40, and 50, requires a whole different level of intention and motivation than training when young, and earns you a whole different level of respect.
So let’s talk about intention for a moment. When we were young, it didn’t take much to have a standard level of mobility, to be strong enough to exert and defend ourselves, to feel limber enough to be able and confident in our movements, and to feel good. Much of the motivation for training, therefore, came from outside, from those around us, from the sports we played, the people we competed against, and the ideals thrust upon us by the outside world in relation to how we should look, feel, play, compete, win, lose and be. When we trained, often we trained to beat someone or something specific – a person, a time, a weight, an ideal. This externalising and idealisation reflected a youthful attraction to the idea of self – the attachment of identity to ideals outside ourselves, and comparisons and competition which appealed at those ages. Our thoughts were to be strong, and fast, and powerful. Our motivation was relativity. When we won, we were better people, more dominant, stronger, faster, quicker.
Things changed of course over time. For many of us, children place the joint burdens of removing time from us and requiring introspection as we teach them how to be in the world. We stop training, not because we want to – in fact, we know we should – but because the opportunity cost of training means no time with the family; and we start to answer questions from our children in a spirit of compassion, understanding and goodness. We want them to feel ok when they don’t win, we want them to feel like they should include everyone, and when they become teenagers we want them to ignore the fashion tips towards starvation and dangerous self-consciousness. In short, we want them to be happy with themselves, even when the outside world rates them down in some way.
Over time, both our bodies and our mindsets shift. We lose the tone and the fitness we had, we gain pounds, and when we start to look inside ourselves for our old motivation, its less than it was. We can’t find an enemy we want to battle, a movie star or an athlete we want to be, or a life we want to emulate. Our mindsets and our lives have changed.
In COVID, this is especially the case. We see every day on social media people who have decided not to train, who take the opportunity to settle into the humdrum of shutdown.
So how do we get ourselves started? It starts when we wake up to the fact that while thought remains the same – being strong, being fit, being lean – the intention needs to change from relative to absolute. For the vast majority of us, there will be no enemies to vanquish, no sand will be kicked in our face, and no challenge will be made to our masculinity. The challenge lies within, with the answer to simple questions – who and what do you want to be, and how long do you want to live? Stronger, fitter people live longer, live better, and enjoy a quality of life which is far beyond that of those who never adjust to this new motivation and the lack of external enemies to vanquish. Part of this stems from the fact that beating yourself – getting yourself out of bed when the soreness hits, without the motivation of competition or friends to train with, and lifting, cross fitting, rolling, boxing in the garage, the gym, in your room or in the local park – is harder than beating anyone or anything external. Because at the end of the day, if you are ten, twenty or fifty kilos over where you want to be, nobody is going to call you on that except you. And any older person will tell you that dying at 90 is better than dying at 60 and that maintaining your health is a competition strictly between you and you.
These times are tough. We need to take the time to stop and examine our motivation, and to look within rather than outside yourself to get back into it. To those who start the journey, maintain the journey, and those that help others remain on the journey, to old man strength, you have our respect and that of the whole OMS community. The scores don’t matter, the struggle does. So train just to train, and roll for the roll, and for the brotherhood, not to be the best, and lift and train for the strength. Our bodies are impermanent and eventually, all we will have is the self-respect, the strength of our mind, and our self-respect. These are times to make decisions for our lives.