“Oh my God, I’m dying!” “I’m so sore, you’re killing me. I’m 50 remember??!”
These are the kinds of emotional responses to physical stress I hear when I train a successful client of mine. She’s an influential southern California business person whom I enjoy taking the opportunity to train whenever our schedules align.
She has another full-time trainer that she trains with at least four times a week, so it always puzzles me when she complains about how tough I am being on her. It makes me wonder what exactly is taking place normally during her weekly training that makes our time together so difficult.
I don’t use any training tools with her that are complicated or out of the ordinary. We focus on the basics: bodyweight calisthenics, lightweight dumbbells, and using my favorite tool, the TRX straps.
Additionally, when she and I train together, I intentionally make it a point to keep the number of repetitions very reasonable, because we aren’t able to train together regularly. I can’t (and won’t) push the intensity of the workout to unreachable levels as if we were meeting on a multi-session weekly basis. When I am able to work with her, I challenge her to achieve a level of motivational thinking and fitness that she’d not normally pursue or achieve on her own.
So then why is my training pushing her to the point of “killing” her?
One of my foundational philosophies for how to push yourself is “anyone can do five of anything.” Now, this, of course, depends on the exercise and the level of effort and motivational thinking needed to perform it, but trust me, everything that I do with this aforementioned client, I make sure they’re exercises that she is wholly capable of doing.
Where the cart comes off of the rails is when I tell her the number of repetitions I need her to do; even if the number is minimal, she can have the tendency to immediately revert to a self-defeating mode of telling herself that she won’t be able to “do it.” Even though I have 100% belief in her ability to get the work done, she doubts herself. This lack of motivational thinking alone will defeat how anyone pushes themselves. For her, it is often the source of her being defeated by the task.
So when she says, “I’m 50 remember??!,” I immediately wonder what she is truly trying to say. What does anyone’s age have to do with getting a workout finished and in the books?
I’m a lifelong martial artist. I’ve traveled the globe and trained all over the world with many sensei. I’ve lived the life story of 10 men, gained a wealth of life experience, and after all of this, I decided to join the military and become a member of the special operations community.
Sixteen years later and having recently completed a milestone as a team leader, I still work on how I push myself. I train and mentor younger team members on an almost weekly rotation, especially in martial arts as it applies to our field. My core styles over my lifetime have been Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai, but when I work on close quarter combative concepts, I employ an anything goes, anytime/anyplace mindset and applicability. In our career field, it’s a must to spend as much quality time as humanly possible preparing for that “anytime/anyplace” situation.
What I failed to mention in any of this was my age. Almost all of my coworkers are young enough to be my children. When I applied to the Special Forces program, I had to have an age waiver signed because I was already four years past the maximum age. Some of my peers, whom I respect wholeheartedly, at times say or act like they’re broken and feeble because of their age. If obsessing over being old means that I have to slow down or change how I push myself, then I don’t want anything to do with that.
Every day I live by three motivational thinking tenets that help challenge how I push myself and keep me motivated no matter the circumstances:
“Consistency is the Key”
A mentor long ago planted the seed of belief in me that true consistency is where you find solid results. As we are creatures of habit, setting a solid pattern, supported by positive motivational thinking, and following through, no matter your schedule, is the best way to accomplish any sort of success. It’s always better for you to do something than to do nothing at all.
“Thoughts are Things and Thoughts Have Wings”
My father used to say this to me, and it’s now something I live by. Your thoughts will have as much traction as you allow them, so knowing how to have influence over them will allow you to overcome most, if not all, obstacles.
Home Run Theory
This third and final tenet for how I push myself, I’ve recently adopted from my special operations community. I find it genius and have observed many of our members try to make happen daily. One example of my daily efforts for a home run would be this:
- “Base hit:” Start my day by surfing or getting out on my SUP.
- “Double:” Get a work out done in the gym before going into the office.
- “Triple:” At lunchtime go to “Fight Club” and sweat with my brothers in arms.
- “Home Run:” At the end of the day, have great sex (or at least attempt to) before going to sleep.
Rinse and repeat. Simple.
These evolutions can be placed in any order and sometimes you may not be realistically able to have a “Home Run” every day. Having this template for how to push yourself, however, helps you keep in mind a minimum goal and baseline of achievement to set the tone for each day, and it honestly makes me feel so much better on a daily basis.
I consider myself an extremely fortunate and driven individual who truly loves being alive. I know that not everyone has the same motivations or motivational thinking as I do; but, if I’ve learned anything, it’s that we are all in control of making minor changes to our lives that work for us and enhance our living experiences. You are always in control and capable of standing apart from the status quo of complacency.
I challenge you to do whatever you can, each and every day, to fill your cup to the brim and drink. Figure out how to push yourself and then do it.
Oh, and by the way, I turn 50 this year. Whatever that means.