For the past week or so I’ve been seeing this quote float around the internet, with various motivation Instagrams and such. “No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.” (Socrates)
Now this quote is attributed to the great Greek philosopher, Socrates. However, we can’t really be certain of the accuracy of said quote but it did spark some thought as it pertains to what I do at South Austin Gym. First off, I agree with this sentiment and I think it hits a central nerve in today’s society especially. More and more people are living sedentary lifestyles that consist of sitting all day at a desk, in a car and then to a couch. Doing so without truly knowing the heights that their bodies are capable of. Humans by evolution are designed to cover large expanses on foot, on a long enough course a physically fit human being should be able to out run any animal on the planet. Yes, out run or at least out walk. Just take a look at the way indigenous tribes all over the world adapt to their surroundings. For instance the Tarahumara of Chihuaha, Mexico who were made famous in running circles by Chris McDougal’s “Born to Run”, are known to have the ability to cover up to 200 miles in the course of two days.
My question is this, how have we as a society departed so far from being able to be physically conditioned enough for even the most simplest tasks of being able to run 1 mile without stopping, and why don’t more people have an innate drive to move their bodies? And yes, running 1 mile without stopping should not be a difficult task for an average and healthy human being. I mean, I would even take half a mile.
So in essence, what I am looking for is the spark that I see after working with a client for a few weeks. Someone who just came off the couch and for some reason or another decided to get back in shape. It’s the shift that happens after about three weeks of consistent attendance, your body begins to adapt, the workouts become more bearable, you notice your first so called ‘gains’ in strength, and maybe you look in the mirror to see the first signs of a more defined jaw line. This is what Socrates was alluding to, the feeling a person gets in knowing what they can accomplish with their bodies. During my short time in Austin I have seen my clients make incredible leaps and bounds not only in physical adaptations but also in mental resolve. Being able to have confidence, drive and perspective in times of struggle, whether its one of the brutal 60 minute endurance workouts that I so thoroughly enjoy scheduling at the end of long weeks, or a time consuming project at work is what makes the difference between successful people and not.
What’s your mission? Find it and let me know. My 70 year old client came to me with the goal of being able to take care of her yard and wield a chain saw. She’s getting up in age but is not giving up on her lifestyle, she enjoys working in her yard and is going to keep doing it as long as possible. So we’ve done just that, 1-2 times a week we focus on developing body mechanics, lifting properly and using what she already has to accomplish her goal. Now she’s on her way to being able to deadlift her own bodyweight. And yes, she bought that chainsaw.
Think about that, something that I myself take for granted up until recently is my health and fitness. I have never once batted an eye at any sort of manual labor, I’ve always been strong, played sports, enjoyed physical activity, and I’ve always been relatively healthy. My mission usually revolves around running faster, being stronger and being able to endure more than I did the previous day. But how does that apply to you?
So again, what’s your mission? Do you want to see your grand kids graduate college? Would you like to avoid the heart disease that runs in your family? Do you want to be able to pick up a heavy box without thinking you’re going to ‘throw your back out’?
Fitness and what we do here in the gym is about so much more than just shedding a couple pounds. Its about determination, success, self worth, commitment and resolve. These themes are the same things that should drive you to succeed every other aspect of your life as well.
Final question, do you value your life enough to commit one hour a day to making it better? To making aches and pains go away? To once and for all deal with those ‘bad knees’ and make yourself stronger? To invest in being the one at the retirement party that can still dance all night long? Your body is a finite resource and must be tended to with diligence and care.
I want you to discover that feeling of confidence and beauty that physical training can give you. Tell me what that means to you, tell me your mission and I’ll give you the road map of how we’re going to accomplish it.
South Austin Gym
Martin Rodriguez is Head Trainer at South Austin Gym in Austin, Texas. Martin focuses on giving athletes the tools and knowledge to achieve their fitness goals. He specializes in strength, conditioning, durability and active recovery. Find out more at @mrtnrdrgz @martin_southaustingym or firstname.lastname@example.org