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Toe to Toe

Fit and focused

Fear. It is an emotion that every single person has dealt with in some fashion, the difference between success and failure comes in how you handle this emotion. When I first started boxing, I remember my coach telling me during sparring to ‘bite down on your mouth guard and go in swinging’. This, while may not be the most technically sound advice, definitively set the tone for my endeavors into the world of boxing and eventually spilled over to other aspects of my life.

Toe to toe. Boxing terminology that means the two fighters are standing right in front of each other and engaging in a fight, often associated with a certain amount of fearlessness, grit, and courage. It takes a lot to go into a ring and just slug away with someone who wants to and has the power to cause you physical harm. This phrase also applies to you and how you live your life. Fear of failing keeps people from reaching their full potential constantly. I know many people who never pursued their dreams for the simple fact that they may not succeed. Fear of losing a financial investment, fear of disappointing loved ones, and even fear of their own success. Fear in the form of feeling self conscious is the one of the biggest barriers of entry to new people in the gym. Fear that you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re not as strong as everyone else, you’re going to look weak, you’re going to be put in an uncomfortable situation.

Plain and simple, this is bullshit. You need to get over it and I am going to tell you the truth. Conquering your fears will be difficult, will force you into an uncomfortable situation, and will take away the control you have in life. At the end of the day though, what do you have left? Honestly, the best investment, gamble, roll of the dice or whatever you want call it; will always be on yourself. Always, always, always bet on yourself. Even if you fail in spectacular fashion, you will have still fought. You still rose to the occasion, which is saying a lot.

Go toe to toe with yourself, your fears, and your inhibition. I teach a large format functional fitness class that focuses largely on developing aerobic capacity, down here in Austin. I often hear from friends and other gym goers that they ‘need to get in shape just to workout with the class’. This is fear talking, fear of not being the best, fear of being uncomfortable. The truth is, you don’t. You’re ready the way you are and its my job to make sure you are challenged just enough to insight some physical adaptations. Does that mean you will sweat, feel your lungs on fire, feel muscles fatigue, feel a pit in your stomach when you’re half way through the workout and still have plenty of reps to complete? Absolutely, and you will grow from it.

What do really know about yourself if you’ve never been in a fight? Not necessarily a physical fight, but a struggle. A struggle to beat the odds, to conquer a goal and to really have your back against the wall. When I was 22 years old, I had just graduated college and had failed to find a ‘real’ job, my heart was set on pursuing a profession in music. I remember it came down to one day having less than twenty dollars to my name and thinking I may have to pack up and move back home to figure out my next move. In my eyes, this was failure. Failing to make it in the big city. On that same day I got a call for my first teaching gig, and then the next day I was hired by a wedding contracting company to begin playing music. This was not out of sheer luck by any means, in the time leading up I had been beating the pavement, sending out emails, volunteering and doing anything I could to jumpstart my career in music, fighting tooth and nail to my last twenty dollars. No, I didn’t end up with a cushy 9-5, but I was able to forge my own path and pursue my dreams. For the simple reason that I had a belief and I fought for that belief. The belief was that I could do it, I can see opportunities where others can’t, I can hustle and I will out work anybody. This belief has brought me to where I am today, and has been with me since that day sitting in my room in a crummy apartment in Logan Square (before it was cool), staring at a nearly empty bank account.

So fight, go out there and double down on yourself. Whether that means finally taking that jump to start your fitness journey, getting back to your former self or conquering your fears that have hindered your personal growth. Go toe to toe with your fears, because at the end of the day. It really is your only option. Otherwise, you will remain stuck in your current state and that is way worse than fighting and losing.

Martin Rodriguez

Head Trainer

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


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