When you’re a fitness professional, you get asked a lot of questions.
“What weight should I use?”
“What should my macros look like?”
“How long before I see results?”
“What’s the difference between anaerobic alactic power training and anaerobic alactic capacity training?” (SIDE NOTE: No one has ever asked me this but I’d be happy to discuss.)
But the question that I get asked most often about my own training is a simple “why”?
To put it less succinctly, “Why do I consistently train hard? Why have I done so for so long? Why do I need to be strong? What is the point of all this?”
This sounds simple but besides the standard “this is just who I am” it’s actually a challenging question to answer. I could certainly train with a bit less intensity and even frequency and still maintain a lot of the health and physical benefits. So why do I do it this way?
It’s an answer that I thought would show itself when the time was right. When I just happen to walk up to the scene of a gruesome accident and effortlessly lift a car off a family that is trapped underneath. And while that family is profusely thanking me as they all magically managed to escape injury, I excuse myself to quickly catch a dog that’s jumped seven stories out of a burning building.
It was just a matter of time before this happened.
But the true answer revealed itself on May 25th, 2012.
After a nearly sleepless week, a morning spent dodging a tremendous thunderstorm in pursuit of popsicles , a dramatic drive up the FDR that had me feeling like Steve McQueen in the movie “Bullitt”, a quick misdiagnosis, several panicked doctors running into a room and a surgical procedure, my son Henry was born.
And holding his eight pound body for the first time and looking at his sweet, surprisingly serene face made me fully realize why I had put such a high priority on my training.
We are mimes by nature. Imitating what we see is our quickest route to learning things as basic as facial expression and language and as complex as classical piano or a clean and jerk.
And the people we imitate most are our models. Those that we surround ourselves with and look up to.
It’s why parenting is such an important job. Why in-person training is more effective. Why social media can be dangerous.
If you are reading this I am sure you are familiar with the axiom that you are a product of the five people you spend the most time with. That the values, character and behaviors of the people you surround yourself with will influence how you act, what you believe and what you hold to be true.
Everyone wants to believe that they have complete and total free will. That they are what they choose to believe or how they were born. And while thinking and genetics are certainly part of the equation, you would be foolish to presume that you are impervious to outside influence.
Most people will recoil at this truth but it’s actually a wonderfully powerful idea that can be harnessed for your own benefit.
First, seek out people and environments where your desired behavior is commonplace. The benefit of going to music school is not solely the teacher’s instruction but that you are surrounded by students who are as obsessed with music as you are.
If you want to lose weight, spend your lunch hour with the healthiest eater in your office.
In a world that is constantly searching for a hack to more quickly reach a goal or fulfill a task, surrounding yourself with people who are trying to accomplish similar things to you is the ultimate.
(SIDE NOTE: Before I get slammed with responses, this does not mean that you should be close-minded to new thoughts or approaches or not interact with people who have differing behaviors or points of view. Learning doesn’t occur in an echo chamber. But mastery of craft and behavior often does.)
Secondly – and maybe slightly less obviously – when you consistently and systematically repeat a behavior or exhibit a character trait, you get to be the model for others. And, as corny as I realize it may sound, there may be no bigger an impact that you can have on the world than walking the walk and creating the footsteps for others to follow in.
It’s why I train hard.
So that someday, if you haven’t already, you’ll start training with consistency and purpose and you’ll let it enhance every other aspect of your behavior, character and life the way it has mine.
It’s the greatest gift I can give to both you and that eight pound boy I held in my hands.