Not All Gains Are Realized in the Gym

Sid workout mexicoI’m Sid, I’ve been a community member here at Blitz for the past year and I wanted to share about my work in Mexico.

I like setting goals. Having goals motivates me to improve and to be better tomorrow than I was today.  When it comes to my fitness, this is no exception.  If I was able to do a dumbbell chest press with 40 lb. dumbbells today, I will probably try to get to 45 tomorrow (or as soon as possible!).  Setting small, specific goals like this helps me to feel like I am making progress, and I have learned that this is something my A-Type personality thrives on.

In the past 6 months I think I have made some significant gains in terms of my overall fitness levels, and often I measure this by what I am able to do now in the gym that I couldn’t do before.  But this past week I learned something else — that the benefits of my work in the gym can be measured in more meaningful ways than just the number of burpees I can do…it can also be measured by how much I can help those around me.  This became clear to me on a recent house-building trip I took to Tijuana, Mexico with my brother-in-law and 35 or so other individuals from his church in Calgary.

Sid 1From March 23 – March 31, 2013, I was part of a team of people who donated their time, money and labour to build homes for people in need.  We also built an addition to a local soup kitchen, and helped them restock their food supplies.  I have done this trip four times in the last 6 years, and every time I go I am reminded of how blessed I am to live in Canada, as well as how “rich” I am.  The dire poverty of the average person in Tijuana is always a wake up call to me — a reminder to be thankful for what I have and that I have a responsibility to help those around me if I can.

Sid Cement

During my time in Mexico, I was privileged to be the build-captain for a team of 10 people (4 adults and 6 teens) who constructed a simple, but solid 11’ X 22’ home for a family of 5.  We literally built the house from the ground up, from prepping the site where we would lay the pad, mixing and pouring the concrete, framing the walls and roof, installing the windows and door, and finally, mixing and applying the stucco.  We accomplished all of this in just 3 1/2 work days, and without the use of any power tools or motorized mixers!  The work is intense, both physically and emotionally, but when we handed the keys over to the family, it was definitely worth it!

What really struck me on this trip, was just how much energy and strength I had to undertake this sort of work, and I attribute this to the time and effort I have put in to my training at Blitz.  As the oldest member of the crew, I never once felt out of place or unable to pull my weight. In fact, I think that there were several occasions when other crew members had trouble keeping pace with me!  So as far as goals for staying fit go, I feel that this trip has highlighted some real physical gains that I have made, and the results of my work in the gym were much more meaningful than beating my own personal best on some random exercise.  I intend to do this trip again (maybe next spring) and I will continue to set goals and progress in the gym so that I am able to do the work and help others in need when the time comes.

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About Chris Tse

I’m a scientist turned owner of Blitz Conditioning, a Fitness Columnist at CBC Radio on Thursdays at 8:20 am, and owner of Tse Social Strategy. Follow me on Twitter or Read my full bio.

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