“I want a flatter stomach.”
“I want a bigger chest and arms.”
“I want a perkier butt.”
“I want the jiggly arms to go away.”
“I want a six pack.”
“I want my legs more toned.”
As a trainer, I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people say things like this over the last 20+ years. And to be clear, there is nothing wrong with wanting any of these things. But there’s a problem. Every one of these statements begins with “I want”. The leaders in the fitness industry tell me that when I am performing a “strategy session” or “consultation” or client intake with a prospective new client that I am supposed to get these kind of statements out of you. The really good ones tell me that I need to go beyond that and find out why you want a perkier butt or a bigger chest/arms. I am supposed to find out what is the emotional driver behind why you want that. They tell me that I am supposed to craft my “sales pitch” so that I am the solution to whatever your problem is.
But you see, here’s the thing. I am going to tell you something that I am not sure I have ever heard anyone else in this industry say.
It’s not about you.
Yes, I said it. It’s not about you. Your fitness, your workouts, your exercise plans are not about you. Now, I understand that some of you may find this to be a little confusing, maybe even controversial but here me out first. If you disagree, that’s okay. We can still be friends.
Here’s what I mean. I honestly and truthfully believe that we are all here for a purpose. As a man of faith, I believe that God created each and every one of us with a purpose in mind. Jeremiah 1:5 says “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations”(ESV). Now in this verse, God is speaking to Jeremiah. But given God’s unchanging nature, we can extrapolate God’s promise that as His children, He knows us and has plans for us as well. The word consecrate means to dedicate formally to a religious or divine purpose. As a believer, then what I am reading here from God’s word, is that before I was a twinkle in either of my parent’s eyes, God knew me. He knew who I was going to be and He had a plan for my life.
He had a purpose for me.
He built me for a reason.
That means He built you for a reason too.
And it is for this reason that you exercise. It’s for this reason that you train. If you are the best, strongest, healthiest version of you, then chasing down that purpose, that reason you are here, becomes much easier. I believe that you can “do you” on a much more powerful and effective level when you are stronger, fitter and more healthy.
- If you are a youth league sports coach, being fit enough to actually demonstrate to your kids the drills and skills you want them to practice and master becomes much easier if you are fit and healthy.
- If you are a first responder and you are called into tense, sometimes dangerous situations, strength and fitness not only makes you better at your job, it could save your life. It could also save someone else’s.
- If you’re a teacher and you deal with grade school children all day long, having a higher level of fitness can help you keep up with those kids. I have one in that age range and I can tell you for a fact that exercising helps me keep up with her. Barely… but still.
- If you’re a contractor and your on your feet all day long running a job site, a healthier, more fit version of you is less likely to make mistakes out of fatigue or exhaustion.
- Maybe one or more of those kids I mentioned above belong to you. Being healthy and fit allows you to set a good example for those children.
- If you volunteer for a local charity or serve in a volunteer capacity at your church, your level of health will definitely impact the level at which you can serve.
I don’t believe that you can actually come up with a scenario where being more fit and healthy wouldn’t make you a better version of you. Obviously I say that with an eye towards balance in life since pursuing fitness at the expense of what you were put here for, at the expense of the bigger picture, would be counter productive. Honestly, I feel like not being strong and healthy actually cheats the world out of the best of what you have to offer. It keeps the rest of us from getting to experience the best of what God has placed in you.
So if you are on the cusp of beginning an exercise program, or you are having a hard time sticking to the one you are already engaged in, it might behoove you to take some time to do the dirty work of understanding who you are fundamentally supposed to be. Then, train physically, along with whatever else you need to work on, to be the best version of you.
So you see, fitness is not about you. It’s not about you fitting into that dress at the back of your closet that you keep eyeing. It’s not about your “guns” looking better in that sleeveless muscle shirt this summer. And to be clear, there’s nothing wrong with any of that stuff. It’s just not enough to sustain a lifelong commitment to being fit and healthy. It’s not about what you will get out of your fitness routine. It’s about what you bring to the rest of the world that only you can bring. Being more fit and healthy allows you to do so at a higher level. All that said, I leave you with this quote from psychiatrist David Viscott:
“The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The work of life is to develop it. The meaning of life is to give your gift away.”