People have countless reasons for exercising and considering the sad state that our country is in with regard to fitness and obesity, I guess I shouldn’t question what form of motivation they choose to use. No matter what your motivation, let me toss the idea of “performance” into the mix. I don’t mean performance in terms of competition with others but rather yourself.
For example, there is a small mountain not far from where I live that is my personal barometer for performance. I often go there to sweat away whatever stress and problems I may be facing and every other time I go there, I try to get to the top as fast as I can and then track my time results. It is a little over a mile to the top and my lungs literally burn from start to finish as I run and yes…walk up the very steep and winding trail. The trail is loaded with rocks, roots, stumps, logs, difficult terrain and is an all-out assault on my cardiovascular and muscular systems.
I don’t guage my success on how my abs look or how big my biceps are because looks don’t mean anything when it comes to fighting through the pain of getting to the top of that mountain! My focus is on building a foundation of functional strength and conditioning that allows for not only overall good health but the ability to participate in the actvities of my choice and even explore new ones for many years to come. My grudge match with this beast of a mountain trail is painful yet it gives me a great sense of accomplishment and I want you to enjoy that same sense of accomplishment as well.
If you have an activity or two that offers a constant challenge, great! If you don’t, find some and make sure that they test you every time you participate and be sure to track your results. You can then rotate other activities for variation and to diversify your skill, strength and conditioning levels.
Focusing first on improving your performance, skill, strength, balance, coordination and agility will yield results and milestones that far outlast any cosmetic benefits that most people get fooled into chasing. Its all about good health and the person within you! However, its ironic how the cosmetic looks tend to just come as an added bonus when you adopt a functional and performance based mentality such as this. Flip the script and focus on your health.