Fitness, getting in shape, staying is shape, working out, exercise, whatever. There are only two components to physical fitness. There is the environment we want our body to adapt to and then there is getting ourselves to voluntarily subject our body to that environment. Presently I want that environment to lead to me achieving three specific goals. I want to be able to haul an 80 lb pack up a hill repeatedly, get over the bar (or muscle up), and build up muscle strength and endurance in my upper body to aid keeping the handgun still while shooting out to 25 and 50 yards. Getting over the bar may be a little ambitious but the rest are perfectly reasonable and all of them can be attained through pretty straight forward increments. The only problem is that don’t like “exercising.” I don’t have an issue with exercise. If I am playing soccer, hiking, splitting wood, wrestling, or any other endeavor I enjoy that is physically demanding I don’t mind at all but if it is exercise for the sake of fitness then I have a hard time finding motivation.

Motivation is important in general for staying on track with a fitness program but it is essential for getting over the hump in the initial phase. Getting over the hump is the hardest place. My experience is that I am not good at anything. Everything I do burns and makes me sick, and then the next few days I am sore. Is it any surprise I’m not feeling the motivation to keep pressing on? The only time I was able to really motivate myself to get out on my own was when as a police officer I saw that my strength could be the only thing that would save my life or someone else’s. Since then I have not found what would motivate me to subject my body to the environment I want to adapt to, until now.

I have found that what I need is in a word–accountability. I have found a personal trainer. Having worked with a personal trainer for a little while now I see there are many benefits but the one that makes all the others matter, for me at least, is that I make a commitment.

“Hey Ben, when are you coming in again?”

“I’ll be here Thursday at seven.”

Right there is what makes it work. I gave my word that I would be at a certain place at a specific time. We as human beings have a capacity for self delusion/deception that is for all intents and purposes, infinite. I wake up sore and aching from a previous workout and I can con myself into all sorts of reasons I don’t need to, or perhaps even shouldn’t, hit my routine. For me though, what I’ve found is that the commitment cuts through all that.

There are some other things that make working with a trainer better than when I was trying to make it happen solo. When I show up I don’t know what he has planned for me, I just know I’m going to work. When he tells me to do something that is all I am thinking about. I’m not dreading what will come next, I’m not wondering how I will get through the end of the workout, I’m in the moment. He is there to make sure that I’m doing the movements correctly and when he sees that I’m too far behind the curve stops me or adjusts the activity to suit where I’m at. finally, one of the great things is he is there with positive attitude and encouragement. It feels a little hokey at first but when I’m gassed and my whole body is screaming out, “QUIT” I really hook into the encouragement and use it to get me through. I don’t like working alone and having him and the other folks there makes the whole thing better.

Here is the key. I spent a long time trying to make myself do the self initiated workout. My thinking was that I should be able to motivate myself to do that. I guess I should but I didn’t. “Should” is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is what will really work. I am not advocating everyone find a trainer. I am advocating that everyone make real and ongoing assessments of what they want, and if what they are doing to achieve it is working. If it is not working then change it and change it without reference to pride or ego.

Getting Over the Bar

No, this is not me. . .yet.

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