“Only five more to go,” my trainer growls at me as I struggle to bend into another lunge. Instead, I collapse, pathetically.
“Nope. Ten more now! I know you can do this with at least ten more pounds in each hand. I’m going easy on you!”
I huff and try to straighten out. “Ugh…” is all I can mutter. My body seems unresponsive, but after a few months of training, I know that this is all in my head. Those five reps (ten now) are definitely doable. I just need to ignore the reptilian part of my brain that is just trying to protect itself. Once I shut it off, then I’m free to destroy every muscle in my body, much to my trainer’s sadistic pleasure.
I originally signed up for personal training because I was having trouble getting to the gym, and I thought it would be a good kick start. I’d also just moved into my new apartment, and the introduction of a forced habit (i.e. paying for exercise) seemed like a good idea. I’ve done a little bit of personal training in the past, but I wasn’t ready for the insanity that he threw at me (granted, he’d probably say he went/is still going easy on me, but I’d prefer to be the victim here). We seldom use machines, mostly, it’s a combination of lunges, squats and jumps. There are also the weighted ropes and pushing around a weighted down bosu. Each exercise is terrible in its own right, and each one elicits its own unique flavor of vomit when it is introduced as part of a set (though thus far I have managed to keep myself from a full blown up-chuck).
My hopes for this experience were to get into better shape and make it difficult to skip workouts when I’m feeling lazy. Both of which I’d consider successful (DISCLAIMER: I still can’t finish a full hour workout without almost passing out, but I’m so close!). I didn’t really anticipate making some grand discovery about myself, although, admittedly, I do read way too deeply into most situations. So, it’s not really surprising that I’ve made a “mind-blowing” discovery about myself. I probably would’ve manufactured one anyways.
What I’ve come to understand is how much my mind tends to hold me back, and I’m learning how to fight against that urge. I realize this isn’t some new insight, but it is a lot more impactful when you’ve discovered it for yourself. During a set, I start getting tired, so I want to stop. Without outside coercion, that’s the most logical decision. My body signals pain, pain is bad, stop doing what’s causing me pain. This loop has worked for billions of years, who am I to question it? Yet, with my trainer’s help, I’ve found a massive reservoir of energy, just past the initial wave of pain. What’s amazing is that once he helped me break through the first time, it’s become easier to recognize it again. I don’t mean to say that it’s easier to do the breaking, but rather, it is easier to see when I need to fight the hardest to keep going. The breaking through, by definition, will always be at that point just “out of reach,” but that makes it all the more satisfying when you get there.
I’ve only seen my willpower get stronger over the past few months and not just at the gym. It has spilled over into the rest of my life, and I’ve found myself pushing further outside of my comfort zone. It’s been a tremendously exciting experience, and it works on a positive feedback loop (the BEST kind of loop). The more often I recognize and push through, the more I want to keep doing it.
I understand how common it is to be told, “You need to go outside of your comfort zone to get great results.” Yes, that is extremely easy to say, but until I started really understanding what that means, and more importantly, how it feels, it’s was very difficult to actually internalize. I know that this will continue to be a struggle, and it will only get more difficult as I push myself harder, but it is a challenge that I’m very excited to take on.