A few weeks ago my former trainer, Sam, who is now my coworker and who I'm increasingly apt to call friend, was getting ready to compete in what I consider a "gun show." Part of this process involves doing unnatural things to one's body. Don't ever be under the illusion that bodybuilding and physique competitions have anything remotely to do with health. The aesthetic side of the fitness industry is the antithesis of health; it simultaneously inspires and alienates. It sets artificial ideals and then places undue emphasis on them. Health is an afterthought, and it is easily sacrificed in the name of whatever the judges the day of the show consider desirable traits.
Saying that - I have tremendous respect for people who participate. My disdain for that side of the industry is not a disdain for those who compete. Quite the opposite. I hate the war, not the soldiers. I admire anyone with that much discipline.
But I knew that was never the direction I would take my personal goals - I'd be years away from even attempting to compete anyway, but the idea of standing in front of people judging my physical appearance pretty much dredges up every fragment of insecurity I have remaining and enlarges them. Even seeing my friends and coworkers do it kind of makes me feel bad for them, as proud of them as I may be. It seems somehow degrading, borderline dehumanizing. Then again, I'm still new at this. Maybe I just don't get it.
No - I knew I something to work toward that didn't have me checking and rechecking and posing to the side every time I walked past a reflective surface. I knew didn't want to be somebody who measured their obliques with a ruler. Even if I ever enter the local abs competition it will just be to have done it. Faces aren't in the pictures, so I could almost handle that. But I knew that no, that's still not what I needed to have as my first major goal, as much as I considered it. But then I heard something at work - a phrase. The phrase was rolled out of someone's mouth here in the office recently, and it echoed around my head for a while. It was an idea, anyway.
And besides - what I do now will just be the first goal. Once completed, I'll set another. But if I did this, it was going to be in the three to five year plan. Sam suggested I do it in two, and I conceded. Any longer risks my stagnation. So I started working toward it this weekend. I'm on the lookout for training partners. I will do this. By this time in 2014 I want to have completed an IronMan Triathlon.
I've got my eyes set on my first half-triathlon in June of next year in Raleigh. I would like to complete at least two other marathons next year. My cousin is donating a bicycle for me to adapt for triathlon use, and Sam will be giving me pointers on my freestyle swimming stroke. Janet, another trainer with K180 has agreed to look at my running stride and let me pick her brain. For the past three days I've been running five miles a day and plan to up that in the coming days. I'm modifying my diet to add some calories and try to minimize losing some of the muscle I've worked hard to build. I'm researching ways of continuing my strength training as I also train for endurance. And as much help as I'm getting, and as many questions as I'll likely ask my coworkers in the coming months, it's ultimately up to me this time. This thought occurred to me as I worked out the other day: Trainer, train thyself.
In that, I'll in turn be a better trainer. After the IronMan, what will I do? Who knows? All I know is that I've just started down a very interesting road. IronMan is just the first stop. But for a while, at least until it's done, along with what I'm learning as I'm becoming a coach - is the new focus of this blog.
This is my new life. And since I managed to earn myself a new life, found what I was supposed to do and found a way to do it, I feel like it's also up to me to help others do the same. And every day, it's up to me to help my clients find out what's inside of them, half asleep, waiting to wake up and stretch its legs.
Are you ready?
Let's make it happen.