“Never be afraid to try. The ark was made by amateurs and the pros built the Titanic.”
Steven Tyler’s Mom
After 20 years as a personal trainer, I discovered at least half of the population is holding onto secret wishes. The conversation would usually go like this: “Are there any athletic goals or aspirations you have ever thought you might like to try?” “Oh, yes, a marathon. But I’ve never even said that out loud before!” “Ok. Cool. Do you run?” “Never.” “Well, we have much to do. Let’s get busy!”
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I love the Olympics! It doesn’t matter the nation, sport or season, every two years I get obsessed. If you’re calling me to go out, don’t bother; if you want to spend time with me, park it on the couch and no talking except during commercial breaks! When the two weeks are up, the torch extinguished and regular snoozefest programming returns, I literally slump. Several of my friends also go through the Post-Olympic depression knowing that many cool sports, that we’ve become addicted to, like Bi-athalonand Snowboard-Cross, we just won’t see for another four years. The separation is difficult.
But the great thing I find about each and every Olympics is how much harder I begin to train in my own workouts. That’s not to say that I get delusions of grandeur and start pumping iron five days a week, three hours a day. It’s simply watching graceful individuals with purpose, dedication and discipline inspire me to emulate those qualities within myself and it starts coming out in my workouts first. It’s not that I consciously even intend to work harder and better; but I get to the end of my planned workout and I have given it my all and it has left me in a better place than when I started.
It’s true that the Olympics like church is often beset by scandal, corruption and politics. But the true Olympic spirit burns so brightly that it casts all those petty incidents into the shadows and the world is drawn together in a celebration of camaraderie and the best we have to offer each other. It doesn’t matter that I can’t pronounce the name of the athlete who just went off pace by a fraction of a second and is brought to tears, my heart breaks just the same. I yell encouraging “coach-like words” from my perch on my cushions as I see two athletes battling it out, both exemplary and both flawless – it doesn’t matter that they don’t speak my language or that they can’t hear me through the screen. The elation I feel as I do a victory lap around my living room having just watched someone achieve absolute perfection and a world record leaves me feeling like I’ve just won the gold. It doesn’t matter if they’re from my home or not.
This great spectacle of empathy allows us to celebrate the triumphs and lows of the individual, but it draws us together in one world of experience. And that is magical! And while I will be sad when the closing ceremonies turn the lights out on the athletes partying on the stadium floor, I will have been enriched by witnessing others strive to be their absolute best, not just to themselves, but to their fellow competitors, to the dogs of Sochi and to the human race!
Still shopping? Let’s face it, when shopping for loved ones year after year the situation can be daunting to try to find something they will really enjoy and isn’t a pair of socks or a tie.
Maybe you have parents who are retired but whose knees ache when playing with grandchildren? Maybe you and your hubby keep talking about getting in better shape but never do? Maybe you have a friend that needs some extra support to make needed lifestyle changes? Maybe you’re done shopping and it’s time to get a goody for yourself?!
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For Tracy L. Stevens, MD, a cardiologist in the Saint Luke’s Health System in Kansas City, Mo., and a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association, at the top of the list of causes is that more Americans are overweight and too sedentary.
“A big thing is Americans, for the most part, have lost track of who is responsible for their health,” she said. “Americans think it’s someone else, and they don’t have that discipline every day to be on top of their risk factors.”
Hey Victory Fitness – Do you train kids? “Check”, Do you train adults? “Check”, Can you help me lose weight? “Check!” THEN LET’S DO THIS!
Attention fitness professionals: Why is there such a focus and an assumption that everyone on the planet should or wants to look like a Navy Seal?! Over and over I see fitness professionals trying to “motivate” people by putting them through the same paces an athlete goes through. But the truth of the situation is that 1) Most athletes are bit on the nutty scale psychologically, myself included – how else could I have completely ripped my hamstring off the bone but still went out for a pint with friends?! 2) Most athletes, including ex-military pay a price for pushing their bodies so hard. Ask any paratrooper over 50 how their knees and back feel on most days. 3) The general population can benefit greatly by exercise, but are “boot camp” and “cross-fit” style workouts appropriate? I see fitness professionals trying their best to motivate but without a good sense of how they are being perceived. To a die-hard gym rat, these high energy classes seem like “fun.” But to the person who is shy, weak and uncomfortable with their body this approach can look like a coked-out 80’s aerobic instructor or a tatted up Russian UFC fighter – neither is going to be terribly successful on enticing the people who really need our help!
If we truly want to practice what we preach as fitness professionals, that our goals are to help people have better day to day health and to reach physical and mental goals previously thought to be unattainable, then we must stop trying to expect everyone to be the same or to be motivated the same way. We must stop putting the average client through workouts that we would find exhilarating and rather begin where they are.
I do believe that every person can train to their individual highest level. But the job of the trainer is to shore up the weak spots and develop that individual’s best skills. Imagine if you were putting together an elite team. Yes, you would want everyone’s base level of conditioning to be up to the level that will be demanded in the game. But you wouldn’t take your fastest guy and make him your blocker. Nor if you needed an agile, swift and light person would you send in the strongman competitor.
If we want to create better health in the nations, we have to do it via good management. Adaptable training can serve all people successfully – but the trainers’ need to shift approach to make that elite team happen!