Wednesday, December 18, 2013
There's a lot of debate out there about group exercise classes. I have no interest in participating in that debate, so I'll use my favorite dodge I got from a good friend on the Left Coast - I think group exercise classes are a wonderful thing and their critics are almost entirely correct.
I did a group exercise class for a few months when I was having trouble getting motivated to stay in shape. The big advantage of the group exercise class - SEAL Team, if it matters - for me was that it got me in MUCH better shape than I realized I could be in. It opened up a lot of possibilities for me because when I'm in excellent shape (as opposed to just "decent shape") I feel really 100% mentally healthy most of the time, which is a new experience for me.
One thing that rubs me the wrong way about a lot of fitness coaches is their relentless positivity. I'm not into the whole positivity thing. When someone is constantly trying to reframe stuff that sucks into something wonderful, or to redirect my attention away from what sucks, I find it extremely annoying. I want to kick them in the head and say "There! Enjoy that wonderful learning experience, did you? Why not focus on the positive? Think of all the people who DIDN'T just kick you in the head!"
As it happens my instructor for many of the fitness classes I went to was a big Australian named (I think) Gundlach, and I loved Gundlach and learned a great deal from him, including how to do positivity the right way. He wasn't a chipper guy; he actually had kind of a sour affect. But he had an optimistic worldview and the combination for me was perfect.
I thought of him today because I obviously failed to remember one of his constant refrains yesterday - "Hydration is not drinking a bottle of water in the car park on the way to your workout. You're sipping on water," and here he would pause for dramatic effect, "throughout the day." This morning I was very dry during my run and I'm sure it was because I didn't sip on water enough yesterday.
At the end of my run I thought of him again, because I had a weak time that wasn't very close to a new low, which I found dispiriting. The "positive" response would be to say "The important thing is that you did it!" or something like that. But Gundlach's answer would be more like this: "The faster you get the more runs you are going to have between personal records. So when I have a bad run I think "Good! I'm one run closer to that next record."
If you wake up sore, you say "Good! I can tell I'm getting stronger." And on like that. You don't have to talk yourself out of feeling shitty or "look on the bright side" in some superficial way. Just do what you have to do to keep going and reach your goals. That's the Gundlach way. Thanks Instructor!