Lifting and laughing for physical and mental health is the tagline of my gym, EMF. The reason I have chosen this phrase is to encompass what we do, how we do it and what you get from it.
It is essentially a business credo and a way of helping me inform my practice. We lift weights in EMF and we laugh our way through it. EMF is not a gym masquerading as a comedy club nor is it a comedy club pretending to a be a gym. Lifting and laughing essentially is a place on the spectrum of motivation.
This spectrum as seen below is a model of understanding of why people might exercise and why they might continue to exercise or not. The most powerful factor for maximal self-determination and internal motivation seems to be fun and enjoyment. In the making of something fun, there is an increased chance you will continue to do it versus you don’t care or you feeling guilty if you don’t. you will.
If you continue to exercise for example you will physically and mentally benefit from consistency and adherence If you find you are then physically and mentally benefiting from it you will value the exercise and appreciate the process i.e. “I like that its fun!”
Bar the oddly sounding name it is quite a useful theory to apply to your exercise and training efforts. If its fun you will keep it up. If you identify with it, i.e. you stick at it long enough you become “a gym person” you will stay with it longer also. Healthy choices can then become who you are and not just want you to force yourself to do Monday to Thursday. This can be a place of minimal effort and maximum return. When going to the gym is no longer an effort, it has become a habit. Some form of effort might always be waiting for you in the gym but it is one you relish and one you look forward to. A saying I use from time to time in EMF is;
“You want resistance in the gym, not to the gym”
Regular exercise and positive mental health outcomes is currently getting a lot of attention in mainstream media. And rightly so in my opinion from my own experience. Personally, the feel-good factor I experience every time I lift a weight, kick a ball or more recently submit someone with an ankle lock (took up Jiu-Jitsu 2 months ago) is one of the best feelings I am lucky enough to feel each and every week. The consensus of research on the topic has really laid down the cold hard facts. Exercise really is medicine in some respects.
A recent study on an Irish population (don’t get to say that too often) found those that partook in regular exercise were 3 times more likely to report positive health and those that did not were 3 times more likely to report negative mental health. Regular exercise was considered to be 3 sessions of vigorous activity per week or 7 sessions of low-intensity activity per week (i.e. a daily 30-minute walk).
So doing 2-3 good sessions and 2-3 nice walks per week will have you hitting that threshold. It’s not an Everest amount in fairness but just think about the benefits of starting in any way you can if you are currently doing nothing and just go from there.
To have a gander of the study just follow the link below. They looked at over 7000 people so its actually a pretty damn good one.
So what does one do if one truly madly deeply hate training and exercise? First things first its ok to hate training and exercise, to fear gym environments and to cringe at the thought of ill-fitting lycra and sweat bands. It is not up to you to make exercise fun,
“It is up to your coach to make training and exercise fun and enjoyable for you”
Let that sink in for a moment. Exercise does not have to be horrible.
If you have ever been to a type of class and thought it was terrible, torture, a complete choir and something you could potentially only view as pure evil, then its not the class that is the problem, it’s the shitty instructor. Personal trainers, class instructors and even boot camp instructors can make exercise fun if they know how. Granted it’s not as easy for them as just counting burpees and butchering press ups but if they truly want to view training and exercise as sometime you are going to keep up for years to come, it is pretty useful for you to enjoy it.
In EMF you are not employing me to make you tired, to make you sweat or to flog you for your sins. I am there to make you better at the skill of lifting weights. Screaming and shouting is not how we coach. Breaking or beasting you into the floor is not how we operate.
Crawl before you walk, walk before you run and run before you sprint. Why is different when it comes to gyms and gym type classes then? It is a hard one to answer but a lot of seems to come down to misinformation surrounding what is required to get better.
The principles of training include specificity, overload, recovery to name a few. If you want to look better naked you must challenge your muscles in a way that they will adapt to over time. Its as hard as it needs to be. Smashed, flaed, wreaked, destroyed are not levels of effort that signifies an outcome. However, they can be a sure fire way to injury and disillusionment with the process though.
Lifting gets you all the benefits you are looking for. Laughing keeps you coming back. Coming back ensures you keep those benefits forever more and if you decide to chase newer and grander goals, you are physically and mentally in a great place to do so following lifting and laughing.