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Tech Break – 8 Reasons to Train Without Technology

Hey Team,

Thanks for another couple of great weeks in the gym.  I am loving:
– The waves program in the strength gym.  I mean, I know there is no ‘testing’ as such in this block but I just love the RHYTHM of it all…2-weeks to go.
– The continued evolution of the “Moving” classes in boxing.  I mean, it’s taking time – I’m trying stuff – but just the opportunity we have now to do so much new and cool stuff.  I mean, it’s not perfect of course but I do think we’re getting “THERE” (wherever “there” is).
– The evolution/revolution going on in the Strength Gym with Fully Loaded.  What started out as a class with 4-5 exercises, 4x 10 of each has now become a pretty cool and fully fledged Body Building program.  I’m still battling with the ‘BALANCE’ of Fully Loaded on Sunday (trying to make it a ‘catch-up’ day with elements from each day throughout the week) but again…it’s getting there.

Anyway – I know it isn’t Sunday but I didn’t blog this weekend (footy commitments) but I have had something to write about for a little while – and it’s something that I feel a bit out of step with ‘EVERYONE’ else on – why you should throw away those fitness trackers and gadgets that you are wearing when you work out!

I’m going to try and go into it all in a minute – but before I do I just wanted to say that I was a dedicated wearer of fitness technology not so very long ago.  Before every workout I would strap on my chest strap – I mean, the chest strap is SO much more accurate than just wearing the watch (just ask any dedicated exercise tracker!!) – connect it to my watch and…BOOM.  Measuring calories burned, tracking them day-to-day in a spreadsheet, smiling happily when my watch told me that my ‘Goal’ had been achieved, laughing at the ‘recovery duration’ it would spit out after the workout…”15-hours?  HUH.  15-hours is for babies…you just watch what I’m gonna do NEXT!!”

It all became just a little bit of an obsession sadly.  Exercise became just a little less fun, the end of each workout was only ‘the end’ if my watch said that was OK, I became less able to ‘roll’ with the fact that not every training session was going to be the same – some more cardio, some more strength, some ‘harder’, some ‘easier’…yet others that might have involved more technique work and less actual ‘training’ might have moved the needle ‘long-term’ in helping me become ‘better’ but they did NOTHING to help me achieve my (aka – my fitness tracker’s) goal for the day…

So I took it off, put it in a draw – and never put it back on again.  I decided the less I knew, the better off I would be – and the more ‘fun’ my training became.  Do I still track stuff?  Well – yeah.  I ‘loosely’ track my steps each day – my job (such as it is) can become pretty sedentary with my butt welded to a chair so I like to keep track of my steps to see where I’m at…I just use my phone for this (no smart watch for me) so it isn’t super accurate and I’m actually pretty happy with that.  It means it misses a bit (footy training in particular) but I’m pretty cool with ‘approximate’ – it’s a ‘loose’ measure because I’m ‘loosely’ interested.  If you’re interested, here is what I track!

I also ‘loosely’ track my sleep.  I use an app called ‘Sleep Cycle’ – the main reason I use it is because it has this feature that wakes me up when I am in a ‘light’ sleep phase vs at a fixed time.  Anyway, part of having that feature is that it also tracks my time in bed, time asleep etc –   you can see the data from this below as well – if you look at the data, please don’t worry about how much sleep I get – I’m good with it and that’s all that really matters!

Outside of that, I don’t track ANYTHING exercise related.  I don’t measure my workouts AT ALL.  I have tried my hardest to make my ‘training sessions’ a fun part of my life – I love being out in the gym having a go – or a bit less of a go – depending on the day, depending on how I’m feeling, depending on my training buddies and how much they want to chat…I focus on getting out in the gym FIVE (5) times each week (I know, I always tell you guys THREE but five is my number!!) and figure that will cover up the errors of a couple of ‘less than optimal’ sessions!

So here goes. EIGHT (8) reasons I reckon you should think about ditching the tech and get into a bit of exercise for the sake of feeling GOOD!

Get Back to Basics No trackers = No stress about your step count or calorie burn goal…it means no step count AND no cal burn goal!!   Without your trackers, you can just train for the fun of it – rediscover the joy of just moving your body intuitively. Listen to how you feel during workouts, and let your body guide you.
Break Free from the Numbers When you ditch the tech, you’re less tied to numbers.  Rather than thinking about average heart rate and calories burned, your training becomes about enjoying the process and feeling good – it isn’t just chasing a specific data point during your workout…it becomes more about the consistency you are achieving, feeling ‘good’ (whatever that means to you) from day to day and generating positive vibes about your training.
Explore New Horizons Wearing/relying on tech can put your training routine in a box.  If you have a ‘number’ you are chasing, then you will be consistently trying to complete the session you KNOW will get you to that number.  For example – the old me could ‘guarantee’ 600-cals from a 40-minute run (this was during my last marathon training block) and 550 from a boxing class…but a 60-minute strength session was a little more hit and miss!  So guess what I used to neglect?

Without the tech, you’re free to mix things up based on how you’re feeling, what your current training goal is rather than being driven by a watch to chase a number.

Connect…with you! Do you really need to check your watch to understand how hard you’re working?  When you’re not constantly checking a screen for validation, you can really connect with your body and what it’s doing.  It’s that mind-muscle stuff I keep going on about – you can notice your breathing, feel the muscles working…
Medium to long-term focus > short term  Dumping the tech means forgetting those short-term targets.   You can’t measure what you’re burning in the next 60-minutes…so you will find yourself refocusing on what is ‘sustainable’ for the long-term.  If I was to dip into the cliche bucket I would say your training outcomes are more about the journey than the destination…but what I would mean is that it doesn’t matter what you do in the next 45-minutes – it’s the consistent efforts over the next 45-years that will tell the story!
It’s not a competition!  (Well – It shouldn’t be!!) Comparison can be a real motivation killer.  Getting stressed about how fast someone else is completing a bike effort is one thing – seeing a report showing that same person had a higher heart rate and burned more calories??  That is just deflating!  Without fitness tech, you’re on your own path. Rather than ‘compete’ with others, it’s about ENJOYING the session and focussing on what you are doing.
Detox?? Lastly – I think it’s pretty well known that all of us spend a little too much time on gadgets and phones and other such things.  I wish I could say I was exempt from all of this but I’m not sure anyone is.  I have a little mini-challenge with myself right now that my weekly ‘screen time’ report from my phone must go ‘DOWN’ every week (been going with this since April – so far so good) and removing the tech from my exercise is another part of the detox!


So – Am I saying you should stop measuring ‘everything’?  Well – not necessarily – and as I tried (badly) to go through at the start of this piece, despite this ‘anti-tech’ piece I am still tracking “some” things (my steps and my sleep).  I do think that overall we are getting to the point where many of us seem more attuned to what our watch says than what our body ‘feels’ – and I’m not sure that’s helpful – I mean, why does it matter if your watch says you need another 74 hours of recovery?  It isn’t YOU!!)  !  I know for me I went through a stage where the numbers became more important than the training session…clearly that isn’t ideal!  My challenge to you is rather than ‘lean in’ to the tech, take a break from the gadgets and try instead to tune into your body. See how it feels to exercise without the noise of technology. The outcomes – particularly the removal of that layer of ‘performance anxiety’ you get chasing numbers – might just surprise you!

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