Is It a Performance or a Practice?

We’ve all been there! We have all been in the gym where we decided that it was cooler to show off or make our presence known. I know this, because for years I did it.  For years I performed movements that I knew I was good at, made excuses anytime someone asked me to try something else, and made sure if I did try something new I would be as good or better than the person showing me what to do. I would make up rules and conditions that favored me and not them. For years, I was “The Man”. Then something big happened, I got injured. Not to delve too much more, but your ego takes a large hit when you realize that for years you had no idea what you were doing.


After two shoulder surgeries, and countless blabbing of my athleticism, I felt like a fraud. Looking back on my younger mentality, I wouldn’t change anything, the only thing I wonder is, how much better would I have been at certain things if I decided to try and practice new ideas people gave me. So today, I want to address this and tell you, you are not alone, you just need a moment to reflect on what you want and how to approach this whole fitness psychological phenomenon.


Don’t leave your ego at the door, Just Check It!


I have researched and tried to understand this phrase and its purpose in settings that an ego is actually required in some capacity. What I have found over hours of reading and talking to coaches is that, the ego is not a bad thing. In fact, you (the gymgoer) need that ego to survive and make choices to keep you safe. Its basic underlying principle is survival and the last thing I want is for you is to hand the keys over to someone else and let them drive your life into the ground. However, I know that an ego can get in the way of learning. It can be one of the biggest mind molds to admit that “You Don’t Know” and to trust a complete stranger with your well being. So, instead of trying to think about how to let go of your ego, just be in tune with it. Ask yourself, “Does this make sense and align with my goals”? This can be as simple or complex as you want, but really all you need to do is begin the process of questioning where does this bias or apprehension stem from and then make a decision from there.


Try it, before you buy it!


The  fact is, you have already made the jump to trust someone, even if you make it seem like you don’t. You have showed up today and decided to embark on a process, hopefully for the long term. And just the same way you wouldn’t buy a car without looking under the hood and test driving the car, you shouldn’t allow someone to tell you how it is in the gym. The fact is that this fitness space is full of people that have an approach that either aligns with you or not. So, ask questions and get curious with your coach. Ask them why and what is the reason for this movement. They should have an answer or at least know where to get it. Just saying, “because I said so”, is that thing your parents did and pissed you off enough times to realize that that is not something you want to hear again and again. It doesn’t strike much confidence in you to trust this person or make you feel like they don’t have your best interest in mind.


This is a safe place, not a place to race!


The gym environment should allow you to explore your body and the movements in a safe and secure way. Not only physically, but mentally. There should be an established sense of honesty and trust with everyone in the room. Too many times I have seen a person progress themselves to something they are not ready for. While encouragement is great, a coach should be able to explore movement with you in an honest and open way. This, however, is one of if not  the hardest aspects when in a gym training. It can be hard to admit where your fitness level is and stay in one place when you see others doing cool shit. I personally have struggled with this and over the years and can tell you that it pays to be patient. So hang in there, before you know it you will be doing the cool trick/movement.


This is practice, not a performance!


This exploration of your body is yours and nobody elses. This process is beautiful and has a lot to offer if you allow it. Not every time is about performing a cool movement or showing people you know what you are talking about. Performing will put you on a path, where you feel the need to out do everyone in the room and hinder your learning and results greatly. A great way to change this perspective is to perform what you can and talk to your coach about how to get better. Some questions you could ask are: can you watch and look to see what there can be improved with this motion?  Or where can I go from here to challenge myself further?


Remember, this movement and fitness thing goes on forever and you don’t need to master everything tomorrow. Just value the purpose you set out for yourself and use the language of movement and fitness to get there. Along the way you will meet some pretty cool people that can really help you facilitate what you are looking for. 

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