Popularity has nothing to do with fitness. That’s something that can get lost in the age of social media and self promotion. We all have different reasons for going to the gym. You can be there to show or you can be there to grow. Some people are comfortable doing both and I can’t be mad at that. But for me, if I’m focused on improving then I’m not focused on impressing.
Some days, the best part of the workout happens before and after. That doesn’t mean that the workout is anything less than it should be. Meeting up with my good friend Mike the other day at Gold’s Gym in Campbell, CA made the pre workout special. Mike, like me, is very good at flying under the radar. The quiet way he goes about his work goes mostly unnoticed by the popular crowd. That same crowd would have worshiped him back before the responsibilities of family and career cut his gym time almost in half. Yet, he’s still there, pushing up crippling weights on the leg press and showcasing impressive muscles that were once even bigger. Still loving the process of putting in hard work before happily heading home to his family. That’s what success looks like.
My heaviest set of presses felt so ridiculously hard that I actually started laughing a rep nine. A couple of deep breaths later and I found 3 more reps in the tank. The energy that comes from working with someone who gets what you do is real.
Once Mike left, much of my energy did too but I still finished relatively strong. Sitting up at the front of the gym, sipping on a post-workout shake, that’s when the after happened. There is often a certain calm and clarity that comes when you’re fatigued. The mind works while the body recovers. It had been a while since I’d been to this gym. There were some new faces mixed in with the old familiar ones. The process of creating fitness was still ongoing and there was something satisfying about that.
Another friend of mine came in and we had a nice conversation. We talked about how, as important as this is, there is still so much more outside of these doors. The world can be defined as large or as small as we want it to be. Fitness is important but not meant to be something that we lose ourselves in. It should not be allowed to limit us or the things we do. It should be a part of who we are, but not the only definition we have of ourselves or others have of us. We should not become a watered down version of who we are capable of being. Fitness should be a part of our personal growth, not a boundary for its limits.
That’s the after. It’s what you take with you. It’s the part of you that knows you’re authentic beyond needing to verify it to others. It’s the satisfaction of focusing on improving not impressing. Of reaching your fullest potential for the right reasons. It’s the out of the spotlight work that only you know you did. It’s a part of your success story that is always being written. Fitness allows us an avenue to pursue and measure our efforts. But it can have a before and after that has nothing to do with static pictures or be anything about impressing others.