Top 5 Things I’ve Learned After 10 Years in the Fitness Industry

Joy lies in the fight, in the attempt, in the suffering involved, not in the victory itself.
A weird reminder popped up on my calendar this week telling me that I’ve been in the fitness industry for 10 years as of 2014.  Professionally it’s been a hell of a ride from working at front desks, to moonlighting and training in small gyms while working full time, and finally co-ownership of this amazing community we call Blitz. Life has changed a lot and as I reflect on the changes in the industry it feels like it has too. We’ve moved from bootcamps, to Zumba, to Crossfit to H.I.I.T. and then magically back to the classic callisthenics workouts (body weight) like a pair of 70’s bellbottoms. The way we study fitness has changed too: in science the relevance of exercise as a co-treatment to illnesses has accelerated. We now look at exercise, food, and lifestyle as important as any other drug that’s being pumped on the market. I had the opportunity to sit back and just reflect on the top 5 things that I’ve learnt after being neck deep in fitness for the past 10 years.

  1. Exercise is not a lifestyle, it’s a necessity. Saying that fitness is a lifestyle is about as ludicrous as saying that you chose to have cancer, depression, or a heart attack. Our bodies were made to move. The linkage between the four pillars of true health: mental, physical, spiritual, and social cannot be isolated. Even the most spiritual Monks include physical exercise in their daily lives. It is therefore our responsibility to ourselves and to others to exercise regularly. What you chose to practice as exercise is what people define as a lifestyle. You can label yourself as a runner, a Crossfitter, a Blitz’er, or a Parkour fanatic but those are simply launch off points to better health.
  2. Don’t ask me how long it will take to get a result. Results are multi-factorial. It isn’t a linear equation where: as long as you workout you’ll lose weight. Success depends on: nutrition, support network, daily activity levels, day to day stress levels, the initial body composition, the willingness to change, the amount of time a person is willing to invest…. this list goes on.  Yes you might see a quick change in weight by beginning a workout program, or feel amazing after cutting something out of your nutrition but I’m more concerned about the long game. In other words, creating a healthy interaction with exercise that isn’t a consumer based and extrinsically goal driven activity.  Do it because you love it or fake it until you make it. This doesn’t just apply to fitness but to life.
  3. Loving something only goes so far. I’ve heard one of the differences between kids in North American societies and Asiatic countries is the following: Generally speaking, in our society if kids have lost the power of determination. If they’re not good at something they’re more liable to drop it and inherently go back to an activity that they are proficient at. Whereas in Asiatic countries, kids are innately drawn to things that they struggle with.  It becomes their goal to be proficient at an activity or a subject. In other words, people that are great at what they do suck up the pride when the road is tough.  They don’t spend time complaining about their lack of passion.  They hunker down and practice their craft over and over again. You’ll never be an expert at something if you stop when it gets tough.  Tough means you’re on the right road to success.  If it was easy you wouldn’t gain anything from it.
  4. Integrity is the seed that creates discipline, effort, passion, and joy. Sticking to a promise is a demonstration not of discipline or passion. Those are far too simplistic verbs that describe personality traits; these change as a person goes through life. Fitness builds integrity, that’s a characteristic and goes far beyond personality. Integrity is like cardiovascular endurance: the only way to build it is to do things that challenge yourself. It’s easy to say you’ll something and then when there are more tempting options skip out we do this all the time in health and we pay for it later in life. Make a commitment to yourself and stick to it. If you find out that’s not what you want at least you tried and you have a life experience. You have also built a crap load of integrity not only to yourself but to others by seeing something to it’s end point.  As an aside, that end point is doesn’t mean completion; sometimes integrity means knowing when to stop.
  5. Just focus on one thing: crush your fucking goals. Pick a goal, and just annihilate it. Critically learn don’t simply absorb. Don’t look around and compare yourself to others, or what the internet says about what you should and shouldn’t be doing to get to your goals. Stop second guessing what you do and more importantly stop second guessing who you are. You weren’t put on this earth to flatter people or pantomime some false personality. Learn from what others do apply it to your own life.  Learn how to crawl, then walk, then run, and then boot kick the door down to get to success.  Make sure those goals are associated with the benefit of others; that’s true fulfillment. You have a finite amount of time on this earth to make a difference. That difference is accomplished by checking off that goals list one right after the other.

BONUS:

Above all else: welcome the pursuit of knowledge whether that’s learning more about yourself or about others.  Everyone you meet is an expert at something that you suck at; so be humble, ask a lot of questions, and listen before you talk.

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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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