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Fitness and the Hierarchy of Needs (or something!)

Hey Everyone,

Thanks so much to everyone who came to train with us last week.  It’s been a bit of a challenging time for everyone at the gym – having a pretty beloved team member (Alex of course) leave us after 6-years really leaves a bit of a hole in our team…and whilst I am sure we will be able to recruit and replace him as a trainer, the humor and sense of ‘balance’ he brought with him everyday – well, that’s going to be a bit tougher to replace.

With Alex moving on, there has been a bit of comment about what is happening to the classes that were “his babies” – ‘Fully Loaded’ and “Boys Club”.  The answer is both simple and complex (we’re modifying the training model whilst targeting the same outcomes is the simplest way to put it) and in discussing this issue with a few people, there has been a lot of debate back and forth about what EXACTLY everyone hopes to get out of their train.  And more specifically, out of each session.  I guess I already subconsciously knew this, but it was made pretty clear to me over the past week or so that people bring a different ‘ATTITUDE’ to class based on what class they are doing.  And when booking into sessions, they will choose the session based as much on what they need ‘emotionally’ on that day versus what will help them achieve any physical goals they might have.  Which – because I’m a bit strange – has had me thinking quite a bit about where ‘FITNESS’ fits into a person’s ‘Hierarchy of Needs’.  Or something.

In terms of what I mean, I guess i was thinking about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – which (I’m sure I don’t have to explain) is a theoretical framework that outlines five levels of human needs starting with basic physiological needs (food, water, shelter) and moving through to self-actualisation.  Fitness could (I guess) be seen as a part of the physiological needs, as it is directly linked to our physical health and well-being. However, it can also have an impact on the other levels of needs, as it can influence our sense of safety, belonging, self-esteem, and self-actualization.  But what might happen – for example – if we were somehow able to move ‘FITNESS’ somehow UP the list?  Would that mean the end of the “I just can’t get motivated” conversations I have with people…and more importantly I guess would prioritising ‘FITNESS’ have a positive or negative impact on the rest of our lives?

Back to the start, I don’t think we can say that ‘Fitness’ is a PHYSIOLOGICAL need.  I mean, yep, sure, it’s important to look after yourself but you don’t need to go to the gym in the way you need to ‘EAT’ or ‘DRINK WATER’.  You just don’t.  But if we start on level 2 with ‘SAFETY’, I guess it would be fair to say that regular exercise and physical activity can (well, SHOULD) help us feel more confident and in control of our bodies, which can enhance our sense of safety and security.  When I think about the sessions we do at Round 1 – group sessions, hopefully fun, hopefully involving some banter with the coach/amongst the participants – that sort of exercise should help foster a sense of camaraderie and support, which can also contribute to a feeling of safety and belonging.

Moving up the hierarchy, we come to the level of love and belonging. Again, thinking of the way we do things at Round 1 with people training together – it really should be a great way to connect with others who share similar interests and goals.  Being part of a sports team should bring a similar benefit and will help us build social connections and strengthen our relationships with others, which can contribute to our overall sense of happiness and fulfillment.

Next, we have self-esteem. Exercise has been shown to have a positive impact on self-esteem, as it can improve our physical appearance, increase our sense of competence and mastery, and give us a sense of accomplishment and pride. However, it’s important to remember that self-esteem should not be solely based on our physical appearance or fitness level, as this can lead to unrealistic expectations and negative self-talk.  BUT positive self talk (in my life anyway) certainly comes from simply ‘getting it done’ – just getting in, doing a class – just the simple task of ‘showing up’ – well, that gives me a nice tick in the mental ‘you done good’ book which is 100% a positive thing…then again, those days when i half-arse it…well, I do get a bit annoyed with myself post session so maybe not 100% positive!

Finally, we come to the level of self-actualization. This level refers to our desire to reach our full potential and achieve our goals in life. Fitness can certainly play a role in this, as it can help us develop discipline, perseverance, and a growth mindset. However, it’s important to remember that self-actualization can come from many different areas of life, such as creative pursuits, intellectual endeavors, or meaningful work.  So – yeah – being ‘FIT’ helps in this but isn’t the be-all and end all – a happy family, successful career etc…you really need to be ticking boxes in a lot of areas here.

SO – where has all of this thinking got me?  Probably nowhere.  I mean, I went in thinking that maybe prioritising fitness in the hierarchy of needs would have a LOT of benefits – but I think the TRUE answer is that it MIGHT have many benefits…BUT more important would be finding a RHYTHM of training that works within the confines of your life AND makes you feel SUCCESSFUL (creates positive self talk)…This (of course) means adjusting your fitness routine to fit in with your other priorities, such as work, family and other personal growth tasks (studying, reading etc), whilst at the same time getting to the gym often enough that you feel good about yourself and the commitment you are making to being HEALTHY + the benefits of community…

It IS important though to be mindful of how your fitness goals and behaviors impact your overall well-being, and making adjustments as needed.  The benefits of getting your training done are multitude – which means it is IMPORTANT – but is it ‘EVERY DAY’ important??  Well – for some people the answer is 100% – yep – everyday (as long as it doesn’t become an obsession).  For most of us though – 3x sessions per week, 52 weeks of the year in a positive, group environment couple with a couple of recovery sessions (think walking outside with a friend) will be more than adequate.  What we want to avoid though is the situation where it’s 3x sessions this week, 5x next week then 0 sessions in each of the 3-weeks after that….

In conclusion, prioritizing fitness in the hierarchy of needs can have many benefits, but it’s important to find a balance that works for you and to remember that there are many different ways to achieve a sense of safety, belonging, self-esteem, and self-actualization. So go ahead and prioritise your fitness, but don’t forget to maintain your sense of humour about it and remember that it is supposed to be a FUN part of your life…

Anyway,  that’s it for today!

See you in the gym,


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