The Fairness of Fitness

In an evolving world where participation trophies are given out to teenagers, Bowl Games are awarded to sub-.500 teams, and multi-million dollar contracts are given out to unproven/ mediocre head coaches, there are few corners of society remaining that can humbly bring us back down to earth and give us the reality check we deserve.

Truth be told, I wish I could be writing about the fairness of sports. The long and short of it is that sports imitate life in such a raw primal way. Athletics, and life by extension, is built on the foundation of competition. Everyone is vying for the championship, win, starting slot, or the roster spot. The punch in the face is that not everyone can have them. Nothing is guaranteed regardless of effort. You can put in 10 hours a week in the weight room, watch 8 hours of film, go through 12 hours of practice, and still come up short on game day. It’s as beautiful as it is devastating. Sports, much like life, does not always seem fair.

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Enter fitness. Fitness is not a team sport. You can’t ride anyone’s coattails to success and achievement. You can’t hide from your maxes. You can’t run from your effort level. There is no safe space from your body fat. There are no offenders. There are no victims. Fitness and strength & conditioning is as brutal a reality check as there ever was. Whether you are an NFL running back or a CPA, your only obstacle is you. You get out of it what you put into it. Come to grips with this or it will forever hold you back.

If this sounds unfair, you’re not listening.

“You get out of it what you put into it.”

If you make excuses about your DNA, skip the gym, or gorge on junk food, you cannot in your right mind expect to see the kinds of results you were hoping for.

If you make time for the gym, put in honest work, and fuel your body with the right food, you’ve automatically raised your physical ceiling. Continue these efforts to meet your ceiling and push it to new heights.

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Fitness IS fair. It’s harsh to say, but if you’re not seeing results, it’s YOUR fault. We are all unique and have been blessed or cursed with various physical traits and have vastly different ceilings. But while we’re not all going to deadlift 600lbs, run a 4-minute mile, or shed fat at an alarming rate, we’re also not necessarily competing against those people. You’re competing against you and you have a uniques set of obstacles to destroy..

Even if you’re one of the very small percentage of Americans that actually have a thyroid disorder, that fact doesn’t render you unable to sweat. It means that you have to make the necessary adjustments to your diet and workouts to combat the hand you were dealt or let the excuse consume you.

If you were “blessed” with a surplus of slow-twitch muscle fibers and want to run a respectable 40yd Dash, then put in the work. Systematically, expose your fast-twitch fibers to new stimuli to force them to adapt and grow or be doomed to slow speeds.

Granted, a lot of thought and education goes into program development, but you don’t need an advanced degree in effort.  The proverbial dead horse has been beaten when analogizing sports/ fitness lessons to life but it always bears repeating. The kind of effort you put into the gym translates to real world situations. If you can mentally and physically overcome obstacles in your workouts, there is no reason it can’t be done elsewhere.

The fear of failure is by large the biggest fitness obstacle I’ve seen. If you fail to reach your goals there is no one to blame but yourself. Without a safety net or scapegoat, people are often paralyzed by this irrational fear. They set their expectations lower in an effort to protect themselves from the shame of defeat. News flash: failure happens every day in the gym. It’s not physically possible to move more weight than you’re capable of moving or run faster than you can run. You’re going to fail and fail and fail until you succeed. Those that can manufacture tenacity and get over their fears and excuses WILL succeed. Those who refuse to, WON’T.

It’s not all doom and gloom and shouldn’t be. Fitness can be fun. The successes and victories come through the journey and the destination. Find a training modality that sparks your interest and get to work.

And if you find yourself resorting to excuses and caving to fears, like Bob Newhart says on MadTV, “just stop it!”

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