Thanks to everyone who got along to the gym during last week’s heatwave conditions. A few of the classes (Wednesday Boxing, Thursday Functional) were super-tough and the conditions didn’t make it any easier. Hopefully, the new cold water dispensers are making things a little easier for everyone to stay cool AND hydrated…remember;
Carry your water WITH YOU. There is no point in it sitting in one of the pigeon holes…you need it when you NEED it.
Drink regularly – every ‘break’ between rounds is a good chance to have a quick sip.
If you need a break/walk outside etc…take a break, have a walk outside.
Other news before I get started?
This week marks the start of our 2019 Christmas Hours – check the link HERE for info on when the gym will be open over the next few weeks.
We have our ‘2020 New Year’s PRE-Resolution’ 6-week membership special running right now – check the link HERE or the post’s on social to get involved.
I’ve just enjoyed a couple of days down south courtesy of the kids – who decided that what they wanted for my birthday was for me to be as far away from them as possible (makes perfect sense when you think about it). Anyway, it has felt a bit strange being out of town for a couple of days, away from the gym, away from technology and away from any sort of time-table whatsoever. For the first time in what would be several years I didn’t touch my laptop for the duration of my trip – I left work around 11am Friday and returned about 1pm today and my laptop stayed firmly in it’s bag throughout the trip. Which is good?? I got to think about the gym and planning for next year (how funny is it that ideas really flow only when you give your self ‘time’ to think?) and I got to think about my own training as well (amongst other stuff of course).
One of the things that got me thinking was a conversation I had after a recent workout. One of the guys I had been training with said to me ‘…about 5-minutes in, we were level and I thought I was going ok. Then 5 minutes later I looked over at you and you had a really determined look on your face – then you were finished and I was still only halfway…’.
Reflecting back on that conversation – I would of course like to have a determined look on my face throughout EVERY session if that’s possible – and that workout I could almost remember what I was thinking and the moment my mindset changed. I had started off with a pretty negative mindset – as I have said, I have been doing this thing where Mon-Wed-Fri I do boxing, Tues-Thurs I do Functional and weekends I do what I can between working and kids sport. I have gone to this ‘set day’ routine because I had found that I was flipping and flopping between classes in the two gyms based on the white-boards…not great. It meant I was always avoiding the stuff I needed to do more of (I’m not good at it therefore I don’t like it) and doubling up on the things I like. A BAD PLAN.
Anyway, the workout on this day was filled with things I would rather NOT do – front squats and sprints primarily – and my mindset before the workout and for sure at the START of the session was just ‘OK – get to the end’. Probably not a great attitude I think that everyone would agree. Anyway, after 5-minutes or so, I realised that I was falling behind everyone – which I am actually OK with in a lot of circumstances, but on this occasion I was falling behind due to pretty poor EFFORT – and I knew that I just had to get my head right and get on with it. In short, I needed to catch-up – or another way to put it would be to say that I had to decide to ‘compete’.
Now, competing in the gym is not really something I am an advocate of. Going ‘faster’ does not mean you are ‘better’. There are elements of form and doing things ‘properly’ that need to be taken into account. At the same time, if you are on the bike and just going through the motions, well, that’s a time where you can look at the person on the bike next to you and say ‘They are going 65 RPM, I am going to go 66!’ and push yourself through to the end of the round. So in the gym – particularly in our gym – it isn’t about ‘competition’ and it shouldn’t be about competition…but there are times when, for your own benefit, you need to make the decision to compete.
(That last statement reminds me of one of those horror boxing classes where every bell you do an ‘extra’ body weight exercise. So round 1 you do 1x burpee, then round 2 1x burpee AND 2x Inch worms, then round 3 you do 1x burpee, 2x inch worms and 3x pushups and so on…I’m sure you get the idea. Anyway, I remember doing one of those classes alongside Jenna who worked reception at the gym for many years – after the class she said to me ‘Yeah – we were racing to finish those exercises…you might not have known it, but me and you were in a race!’. She had made the decision that to get through it and get the most out of it, she had to ‘compete’.).
Back to the example of my mindset shifting during a session and me picking up the pace? I’m not special and I am not trying to say that I am. In fact, when I was watching those poor u18 footballers I coach complete a 2km time-trial in the 40 degree temperatures last Wednesday night, it was an interesting case study. They weren’t racing – all they had to do was beat their own time from a few weeks back…given all the training we had done in the interim, this was a pretty much 100% guarantee. BUT. When things got difficult – and it was hot so it got difficult – that’s when you could see how people react under stress. Some just hid in the pack – hoping for the best. For others – you saw their faces transform – their stride increased, you could just sense them picking up pace despite the conditions. They became unaware of those around them – unaware of anything except for pushing on and achieving the best possible outcome.
You will hear commentators at the Olympics and other sporting events refer to this kind of thing as ‘flipping the switch’ – the innate ability of some people to push HARDER when they need a little bit of extra ‘something’ to get to the end. When you are watching the event – a game of footy, triathlon, whatever – you imagine everyone is working at their maximum level…but they aren’t. They are working hard, putting a lot of effort into it. But when things get REALLY tough, when the game is on the line, they are able to find a little something extra.
So – the question is (I guess), how exactly do we use this ‘extra’ that lives inside all of us for good and not evil. I mean, none of us want to be ‘that guy’ (or girl) who competes all the time or takes short-cuts in sessions just to be first. And most sessions/times, you don’t NEED to compete…so again, HOW do we use it?
The first step is knowing WHEN to ‘lift the effort’. First off – as I have already said, you just don’t NEED to compete every day. And you don’t need to compete ALL THE TIME. You need to think of it as the ‘NOS’ in the Fast and Furious movies that the street racers use to go ‘faster…for a short time’. If you are pregnant – or returning from illness or injury – leave the ‘switch’ OFF. No matter how much you want to turn it on, leave it OFF.
But if you are in a boxing class and when demos are happening, you identify there are 8x stations – 1 is boxing conditioning, 3x are steady effort boxing (bag work combos, speed ball etc), 1x is strength, 2x are cardio and 1x is abs, well, that represents THREE chances to really ‘flip the switch’ – two cardio stations and the boxing conditioning station (‘30x hard straights, 2x burpees, repeat’ is an example). These stations all represent ‘discreet’ efforts where you can go as hard as possible to hit your target. Sometimes the time to flip the switch might be a simple strength station where the coach has ‘prepped you’ with a ‘you need to move QUICKLY to get through these reps’ type preview or a body weight circuit…in any case, you will usually identify the ‘opportunities’ to update your effort BEFORE you get there.
Now you’ve identified the WHEN, the second thing you need to do is understand HOW. We’ve all seen images of Olympic weightlifters slapping themselves in the face or sniffing smelling salts before their ‘lift’…likewise, we have seen tennis players talking to themselves in the middle of matches – whatever the method used, these athletes are trying to trigger a reaction from themselves – they are trying to increase their focus on the ‘moment’. And this is kind of the ‘key’ to ‘flipping the switch’ – bringing your ‘wandering mind’ – the one that is engaged in conversation with the person next to you, or wandering about what might be on the menu for dinner – back to the task at hand.
‘Flipping the switch’ isn’t about the Olympics or major sporting events or even about yelling “C’mon Rock” to the sky Lleyton Hewitt style…what it is about is bringing yourself back to the NOW and getting FOCUSSED.
Last of all – you have to know when to turn it off! No-one wants to train with the person who is relentless in their approach…a couple of minutes of focus chasing that rowing target is cool, but a high-5 and a bit of a joke with the person next to you when it is done is equally important. Just like the street racers in ‘Fast and Furious’, if you try to leave the switch on full blast all the time, you are going to blow an engine! RELAX and destress…after all, whilst we could all do with a bit of improved focus and effort from time to time, we AREN’T in the Olympics – we are just in the gym trying to make ourselves just a little bit better!
See you all in the gym,
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