Monday, April 16, 2012

Do You Have a Life Outside of Fitness?

Marriage is one of life's greatest and most peculiar events. If someone was writing your life into a book, marriage is a chapter in itself. not mentioned in some boring chapter between your adolescence and retirement, it is a chapter onto itself. I'm sure you know many people in your life that are married or have been married. When someone is first married, it is a topic of discussion to have when you meet old and new friends. It is routine to blurt things out like:

"I just got married."
"We've been married for about 3 months now."
"Our wedding day was spectacular."

However, after a period of time, many couples don't mention their marriage anymore. After a few months, the wedding is "stored" and "logged" in memory as an event; and ultimately, life moves on. Now, this is not intended to minimize the power of matrimony, but I want to tickle you with a question:

How many people continue to talk about their marriage?

Not many. Unless, they are having problems or are still living in bliss. In either case, as the recipient of such conversation, it would be routine to yawn, roll the eyes, or change the subject. Do you know anyone that always talks about the same thing every time you see them? Everything and anything you know about them is the billboard of their life they are holding up. Billboards are meant to give you short, quick information on a subject and nothing more. If you want more, you have to inquire by contacting the owner.

The same goes for people.

This occurs many times in the fitness industry--especially around fitness instructors and personal trainers (yoga instructors are notorious for always talking about yoga). Personal trainers and group exercise instructors always talk about fitness. Runners always talk about running. Fighters always talk about fighting. Marathoners always talk about marathons. Power-lifters always talk about power-lifting. The list goes on...but you understand what I'm getting at. In the fitness industry, if you are not flashing your billboard, people may not identify you with health, exercise, and strength.

What happens when you "announce" or "proclaim" your profession or passion of fitness? Most people feel obligated to reinforce their identity for fear of losing it or blending in. That's cool. But a billboard doesn't tell us much about  a topic. It tells us a snippet. Connecting with individuals calls for more than just snippets.

Why are fitness professionals reluctant to identify themselves with anything other than fitness and exercise?

It's about identification.  For some it is their family, for others it is their jobs. For others it is their hobby or a life-changing event in their history. In fitness, people like to be identified and regarded as being healthy and "into fitness". The identity is fueled by the time and energy they dedicate to their craft. Psychologically-speaking... their reward for the time and effort put into learning their craft and refining their skill, is being identified by it. 

I witness this mostly in people that have decided to become personal trainers in their middle-age years. Finding your niche in life is an on-going search. And there is nothing wrong with figuring out what your passion is or how to disseminate it; but I'm here to tell you that fitness should enhance your life--not consume it.

Since 1999, I have been employed as a personal trainer or manager. My career has been in some sort of fitness capacity for 13 years. It is what people identify me with, but it is not what I solely identify myself in. As a matter of fact, most people that meet me for the first time cannot really put their finger on that fact that I work as a personal trainer.

Did you see what I just wrote there?

I work as a personal trainer. If people cannot fathom a connection between myself and fitness, it doesn't bother me, insult me, or hurt me. I know who I have become and who I am. That is the key. I have established a confidence that transcends any bewilderment, negativity, or ignorance from others.

Close relatives or friends know me by other things in my life. In the past couple of years, I have garnered some old hobbies of mine to sprinkle my mind with things outside of fitness. I have gotten into the habit of picking up my electric guitar to strum out a few rock licks while I battle writer's block from time to time:

Thanks to my wife who has shown me that relaxation is not a bad thing--especially at the beach or a park; I've re-discovered a likeness for reading again. I've picked up a few books over the last 12 months. And I am not afraid to say that the last few books I've read are outside of the fitness realm:

And I have discovered that I enjoy creating, breaking, and fixing things around the house. I have a new-found love for gardening and making our home look nicer with pleasing aesthetics:

This sounds corny, so why am I sharing this with you? I want to show you that there is more to being a fitness professional than just talking about fitness. There is life. Fitness is a huge role I've enlisted myself in a long time ago and it engulfs me; but if you don't look outside the shell you've built around yourself, you will burn out or eventually lose your passion.

In this age of social networks, we tend to hold billboards for to see. Billboards with messages of identity reinforcement. But when does the level of confidence rise enough to be comfortable in your self-efficacy? People want to be identified with something. We live in a society where we want to "be part of something" and  provide testimony to it. Today, we have to show proof of everything including events, celebrity encounters, and other ridiculousness.

How many people do you know that always identify themselves with a medical condition or illness?

"I have ADD"
"I am gluten-intolerant"
"I have a bad back."
"My knees are bad so I can't walk far."

Do you know what identifying themselves with impairments does? It reinforces their identity and that validates their decision to accept it. Without an identity,  they fear blending in a crowd of faces with no distinguishable features. How sad is that? Well, if the confidence level and knowing who you are (self-worth) are apparent, there is no need to consistently reinforce who you are and what you do. Life is not short in my opinion. Life is a long journey. Depending on what you spend too much of your time doing, may make it feel like a hastened consumption.


  1. John this is great - very insightful.

  2. Great read John. A good topic to talk about.


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