The Connection Between Adventure and Achieving Your Dream Physique...
“One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time”
- Andre Gide, Nobel Prize winner
Understanding the Fitness-Adventure connection...
Adventure is fun. Almost all of us who can, will do things like; take holidays away from home, eat and drink in new places and socialise in environments that facilitate meeting new people.
These are all forms of adventure.
To varying degrees, they take us out of our comfort zones.
When that happens, it gives us a buzz.
When the result is positive, such as discovering somewhere new that you love, making a great connection with a new friend, the buzz increases and this is precisely the driver for this kind of adventurous behaviour.
Adventurous types will widely agree that the benefits of adventure can include:
- Building confidence outside our comfort zone
- Expanding the “boundaries” of our capabilities
- Improving our adaptability to new situations
- Inspiration from breaking routine
- Finding new opportunities for personal growth
- Expanding social networks
- Understanding ourselves better
All great things, but what’s that got to do with fitness and achieving our dream physiques?
It’s more about what it’s got to do with NOT achieving our dream physique and why we AREN’T already attaining our fitness goals…
Understanding why the gym isn't neceassrily the answer...
Generally speaking, the gym isn’t fun.
I am one of those “lucky” ones who can actually turn up at the gym, throw some weights around, do a bit of posing and have a pretty decent time. That being said, the gym still doesn’t often excite me.
Why? Because it isn’t exciting!
They are often quite depressing places, artificially lit, full of lifeless machines designed to perform pretty uninteresting movements and largely filled with members who are unhappy with their physical fitness and self-image.
People say things to me like “I just don’t really like going to the gym” in a manner that suggests this is somewhat surprising or unusual.
Yet, when we consider the above, it’s hardly a mystery that many of us feel this way.
In my experience the lack of “fun-factor” is the number one inhibitor holding us back from reaching our fitness goals, because in order to get from where we are now to where we want to be, we must have a complete MAP:
Notice that it starts with “Motivation”.
Without that there is no (or not enough) subsequent application and without application, patience is irrelevant. You simply won’t reach your goals. Ever.
If gyms are that bad, why are people still going?
Great question! Firstly, most of us aren’t.
In fact, for many commercial gyms the business model depends on this.
They know most members will rarely go which is why membership fees are monthly and not per-session.
This limits overcrowding, keeps maintenance costs low and enables the gym to sell more memberships than actual user-capacity.
Those of us who sign up and actually turn up fall into two categories:
- Genuinely enjoy gym training
- Don’t enjoy the gym but believe it’s necessary or optimal
The first category speaks for itself, some weirdos (like myself) do actually enjoy gym training and/or are motivated other incentives, such as improving athletic performance for sports.
In this case the gym is only part of the bigger picture where something more adventurous is also in play (motivation!).
The latter category is where many of us are failing.
We don’t enjoy the gym but we’ve allowed ourselves to believe it’s either the only way or the best way to get to our goals, neither of which is true for 99% of us.
So, what’s the answer?
Well, we simply need to find a way of either:
- Moving ourselves from category 2, out of the gym altogether and into something we can ACTUALLY take pleasure in, or
- Move ourselves into category 1 by finding a big enough motivator to make gym training itself enjoyable
The easy part...
The hardest part of figuring out how to fix something is understanding what’s going wrong.
So, if we’ve now established that your obstacles aren’t that you’re lazy or undisciplined, but that actually, for perfectly valid reasons, you just don’t enjoy gym training alone, then technically the easy part comes next!
Find something you CAN enjoy doing, then do it.
Sounds simple, right?
Well it is and it isn’t. It’s going to be a simple as you make it which is exactly how we go about getting started.
The reason many of us are forcing our way into a gym on a weekly basis in spite of the misery that it entails, is that in a lot of ways it is still the “easy” option.
After all, we know where it is, it’s open the whole day, it doesn’t take any planning and so in these regards it feels like the safe and convenient choice.
This is a false ideology. It seems “easy” but long term it’s the opposite because, as discussed, it isn’t the effective path to achieving our goals and thus can only end with more hardship.
Adventure is the key but in order to be adventurous and find something new, that we can enjoy, we are going to have to step outside the comfort zone and take that first leap to success!
The trick here forms the basis of many methodologies for establishing new habits and that’s because it’s very effective.
We need to make the first step as easy as possible for as long as we need to, until we can consolidate the behaviour.
Basically, the least motivation required to take action is what’s going to get the wheels turning.
The methodology may go something like this...
You don’t enjoy the gym but think you might like boxing.
Find a boxing gym near you.
Don’t worry at this stage about whether it’s the greatest boxing gym in the history of where you live or not, at this stage we are only interested in taking the first step and making it as easy as possible. Find one that’s close and has a class that you can afford at a time that fits your schedule.
Consider every conceivable obstacle that could prevent you from actually turning up there and the ways that you can eliminate them.
If the class starts after the time you’d normally get home and you know that once you’re home and settled you are much less likely to work up the motivation to leave the house once more, see if there’s a café or pub near the boxing gym.
If so, you could avoid going home completely by taking your training kit to work, stopping at the pub/café on the way back and chilling there until the class starts.
Maybe you can even take the opportunity to do something else that you’ve been meaning to make more time for, such as reading, learning Spanish, calling your parents or a friend etc, and secure yourself a double whammy win for the day.
If the idea of participating in a class the first time you step foot in the gym is too daunting, set a date to just go and check the place out, speak with the coach, check out the car parking or whatever else provides a valid reason. All going well you can plan to actually take part the next time.
Chances are you’ll have an encouraging chat with the coach and maybe even notice a few other members who look older or less physically fit than yourself which may provide all the extra inspiration you need to get stuck in.
Write it all down.
The above is so important. Multiple studies show that the likelihood of completing a task that you have not only committed a set date and time to, but actually written it down, becomes massively increased.
Become an addict and you’re path to success is set!
Now, providing that you’ve discovered a new endeavour that you believe you can enjoy doing regularly, there’s only one thing left to do – get yourself hooked!
Even if you’ve had an initially positive experience with a new activity, the unfamiliarity with it may still be enough to prevent it becoming a habit if you don’t consolidate that first experience.
Follow the exact same steps as before.
Set a time and date for session number 2. Eliminate the chances of any obstacles that could arise.
If possible, go the extra step and make yourself accountable by booking in with the coach or training partner, or even telling a friend about your intention and that it’s really important you don’t let yourself down.
Accountability cannot be overrated. It is one of the most valuable practices in aiding us to initially commit to something until the habit is established.
Don’t give up!
As you progress beyond newbie in your chosen adventure, the motivation to improve will snowball and you may just find yourself back at the gym, integrating with the band of oddballs we are that genuinely get a kick out of just training to be stronger, fitter and faster!