Why do we exercise?

I was talking the other day to a close friend about the reasons he exercises. Right up there was aesthetics; too look good which I’ll go into more later. Other reasons were stress management, the sense of accomplishment when you feel and see yourself getting stronger, social aspect, a chance to meditate and reflect on the day.

Lets expand a little on those reasons. Firstly aesthetics, in a nutshell looking better naked. Many may see this is as a vain pursuit but lets face it deep down I think there isn’t a person that wouldn’t mind looking better in the mirror. The mind and body are deeply connected. It’s my belief that it’s impossible to have a body transformation no matter how minor without also changing you on some level as a person. If you look better, feel better, have more energy, stand and sit taller with better posture and core strength you’re more likely to act more confident. People will respond to you differently and in doing so it will change the way you act.

Stress management and a chance to meditate and reflect on the day are related. I find I do some of my best thinking when I’m in the gym or doing an outdoor workout with the kettlebells or battling ropes. The great thing about training is it’s just you and the task you’ve set yourself. All you have to focus on hitting that next rep. One of the great things about seeing a trainer whether it be for group fitness like boot camp or personal training is the fact that someone else is creating the workout. All you have to do is follow the instructions. I find this greatly improves workout effectiveness because with better focus comes increased intensity.

Let’s move on to seeing results. This may be with losing weight or increasing the weight on your bench press. The great thing about exercise is normally you have clear parameters to test yourself against.

A strength program, am I getting stronger, am I lifting more weight? A hypertrophy program, are my girth measurements improving?

A fat loss program, is my scale weight dropping? Is my body fat percentage decreasing? Are my clothes feeling loose? The problem happens when the goals get fuzzy, or we try and focus on too many goals at once. Remember “the goal of the goal is to keep the goal the goal.” Dan John. Lastly the social aspect of training. The thing I love about running my boot camp sessions is the camaraderie of all the guys (and girls) training together. They help to push each other. Everyone has days where they’re not feeling the best, the great thing about training in a group is suddenly you forget you’re training. We tend to take on the energy of those around us. In other words if you’re having a low energy day but others in the group are fired up it won’t be long till you’re feeling the same. It’s for this reason that I try to make all workouts fun, different with an element of teamwork or partner based exercises. In summary, there are many different reason’s people train. I think every few weeks it can be a good idea to assess how your training is going, are you progressing towards your goals or stagnating? If so maybe it’s time to change things up. Remember the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. Have fun and keep training!