What drives you to get to the gym? What are your motivations? Have you ever taken a step back from your workout and thought about what you’re inspired by the moment you set foot in the gym? Perhaps your goals are related to an upcoming race, sporting event, or competition. Or maybe there is a specific movement or task that you want to accomplish that requires you to train in a specific pattern. Whatever it may be, goals are a great way to hold yourself accountable for your work, allow you to objectively measure progress, and to strive for success in the fitness setting.
Leading group fitness classes and participating in individual workouts is something that has been a huge part of my life over the past 10 years. Despite constant visits to the gym and countless group exercise classes taught, I had never really taken time to determine what my personal drivers were. I always hoped to teach successful, challenging and fulfilling classes for my participants but I myself, was only driven by the “feel good” factor when leaving the gym. Let me point out, that the “feel good” factor that you get upon leaving the gym, is a great motivation – as I believe many people work out for this reason. The question is however, are you capable of more? Could setting objective and measurable goals for yourself influence the feeling that you get when you leave the gym, and/or influence how excited you are to get your workout going? For me, setting goals has made all the difference.
A few months ago I decided, “I want to do a pull up.” I don’t want to use assistance, bad form/mechanics, or feel unsuccessful. I want to successfully pull myself up from a bar and be able to control my weight downward. It seemed frightening and unachievable at first. In fact, I often wanted to avoid even attempting the movement pattern as it was intimidating how difficult it felt. But I decided to put that aside, and incorporate the achievement of this new movement into my weekly work outs. I started with a lot of help – both physically (whether my boyfriend’s assistance lifting me up, or the weight assist of a machine) and mentally (words of encouragement and self-talk). Initially, movements just focused on grip strength involving holding myself up at the top of the bar and trying to maintain an isometric hold. From there, I began practicing the art of eccentric control – lowering myself down in a slow and controlled manner (again, with assistance initially, progressing to less and less assistance). Finally, the concentric part of the motion (the actual pull up aspect) was incorporated. As I became more successful with these movement patterns, I started to increase my range of motion through the pull up and increase the amount of repetitions I was doing. And now, I can successfully say that I can officially do a pull up – in fact, multiple pull ups, with good form and control.
Now this post is by no means written to tell you about the journey to do a pull up or boast about success I achieved in the gym. It is intended to inspire you. It is intended to motivate you to create goals and go after them. It is intended to make you go after things that may seem unachievable or confronting and put your best effort forward. In creating goals, you have the ability to enter and exit the gym with a purpose, and with the ability to achieve new and exciting movement patterns and activities. So give yourself a break from all the craziness of your day and write down one to three goals you have for yourself from the fitness perspective. Hold yourself accountable and go after them. You can do it, and you will feel great!