Sian Toal - Why So Serious?

I got some great feedback from my last instalment on the 'other side' of training and the benefits of being mentally healthy. That 'bit between the ears' makes everything but also nothing happen. Some comments were really touching on how lives have been improved by finding the joys of training and achieving. So well done to you all!!

Ok, this week’s observations....

Whilst in a chain gym the other day, I took a little look around at the members and I tell you something.... (Well actually I won't say it exactly to keep an element of decorum....) but faces everywhere like smacked behinds!! When did it all get so serious? Earphones in, no eye contact, no smiles, a grunt to the receptionist, even in the classes as I peeked through the door looked like some kind of drill exercise in the army. Don't mean to sing my own praises.... but my classes are full of smiles, singing and high fives (sooo cheesy but sooo much fun!) I've just always found when participants of the class have fun; they're not scared of working harder because you can laugh about it after! It's a bit more of a team effort. Solidarity in numbers.

My clients look forward to training, even the tough sessions, because it's made to be inspiring and fun. I have high expectations of them and they want to do well. The most subdued people have sometimes proven to be the most beastly in the gym and love the feeling of hard training when before it was about going through the motions.

What I saw in the gym were lines of grumpy faces and tired bodies being dragged through a training session. And the moaning!! 'It’s too crowded', 'it's too hot', and ‘it’s too cold'.  Well, welcome to the real world people! Man up and deal with it! Or do something about it. I've worked in chain gyms so I know how it gets. January will be, as always, like a bees nest that has been poked with a stick. Now I know I'm spoilt by being based in a private studio but I've been in that crowded gym environment for three years.  If you're in that bees nest make the most of it. Buzz off the vibe!! Or maybe it's time for a change?

If you're a city dweller over crowdedness is not a new concept, and the January gym madness is as predictable as what you're going to eat for Christmas lunch. But....why can't training be fun? I'm sick of journalists reporting on the new 'gruelling' workout or the 'punishing regime' they're featuring that month. Are they actually trying to make you dread it before you've tried it? The connotations of being barked at by a burly, tattooed ex army officer start to spring to your thoughts before you've even had a go and made your own judgement. A little hard physical work that brings great rewards is being sold to you as something you'll hate and pray for when it's over. Perhaps it stems back to the P.E days at school? There were always the activities you dreaded. For some, the freezing cross country runs, the cold swimming pools, being whacked across the knuckles with a hockey stick....on purpose..... (I tell you, some girls are mean!) But you're grown up now, time to find something you love doing, have fun doing it and don't be scared of hard work! It's more rewarding when you finish....

Those of you who know IFBB Pro Zack Khan, I watched a training video of his recently on YouTube where he talks about being too serious and moody in the gym. So whilst doing his low row he keeps turning to the camera and pulling faces! It’s a good watch! Funny but gets his point across.

Now the main reason I bring this up is that I fell victim to losing the fun in my training.  I lost sight of why this feels good and why I do it. Focussing on negatives and pressurising myself for no real reason. After a successful season of competing I'm now in the improvement stage. But I was preoccupied with putting myself down, staring in the mirror picking faults, and losing sight of the bigger picture - Which for me right now is looking ahead to 6 months time when I hit the stage again. I should be looking ahead to that and the proud moment of knowing I worked hard and consistently. I fortunately have a great coach and a partner who both turn round to me and put my feet back on the ground. I had to stop being too self absorbed and open my eyes to what I have and what I'm working for. Every day counts.

If you're in the same boat as me and you want to change your body I want you to think about something. All you have is now. Doesn't matter whether you had an entire chocolate cake last night, or ordered one of everything from Starbucks for breakfast. Or you're feeling sorry for yourself. Start now. Not Monday. Now. From this point only think and act positively. Got a long journey? So what? You're not the only one.  You work consistently keeping your end goal in your mind, keep track of your progress and take everyday as it comes. If it took you two years to get into your current state don't give yourself two weeks to fix it.  If you can't stop criticising yourself in the mirror every session there are a few things you can do. 1) Don’t look in the gym mirror. Seriously. Train away from it and feel your workout. Concentrate on good form and focus. 2) Show off your target areas (e.g. working on legs....wear shorts) keep reminding yourself of your goal. 3) Or cover up! Again focussing on feeling the workout and thinking of when you'll reveal your hard work. Classic bodybuilders trick. You have to find what works for you.

It's time to take control, no more feeling sorry for yourself, blaming other people or the gym you're in. You have to start somewhere. Everything in life requires doing it for the first time. Think it then do it. Stand up tall, take positive actions, and work constantly. (Then wish me Happy Birthday on the 12th.....!!!)

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