“This belief was general among the ancient Greeks — that the secret of eternal youth is ‘to be always learning something new.’ There is the basis of great truth in this idea. It is the healthful activity the strengthens and preserves the mind as well as the body, and gives it youthful quickness and activity. So, if you would be young, in spite of the years, you must remain receptive to new thought and must grow broader in spirit, wider in sympathy, and more and more open to fresh revelations of truth as you travel farther on the road of life.” – Orison Swett Marden, Every Man a King, 1850-1924
I have been exercising solo for a number of years now. Really, I haven’t worked out with a group of guys on a regular basis since boot camp. Recently, a guy in my neighborhood invited me to workout with a group of guys that meet in a church parking lot, just outside the neighborhood…at 5:30…AM! I mulled it over for a few days and really had to talk myself into it the first morning I went. “What am I doing?” I thought. “Is this really worth it?” But, I went and I’m glad I did. As it turns out it is an F3 group and the guys there are just excellent. Also, the workout kicked my butt and every time since I have found that I am learning something about myself that wasn’t as in-my-face obvious when working out on my own.
Comfort Kills Growth
This is certainly a true statement when it comes to exercise and muscle growth, but it is just as true when it comes to our personal growth or really any type of growth, except maybe cancer and fat. We need to be challenged. Unfortunately, being challenged isn’t going to happen naturally for most of us. At some point it has to become a decision and often times the decision to purposefully challenge ourselves may come before the desire to do so. The night before I went to my first workout with F3 I was pretty pumped, but that morning I was literally walking around my bedroom talking myself into it. But I learned something there. I got a little taste of just how deceptive and sabotaging I can be towards myself. I knew this already, mentally, but it has been a while since I have experienced it. I had to rely on my decisive nature to get me there and I often have to rely on my decisive nature to get me through the workouts.
I Learned That My Weaker Self Likes to Trash Talk (Still)
As mentioned already, I haven’t worked out with a team since my boot camp and naval training days. The F3 workouts can vary per group and per day, but they are very much of the boot camp nature: lots of burpees, push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, and a bunch of crazy other things I don’t even know what they are called just yet. The scenario is obviously different from that of the military. While you have someone leading the group, each person is on their own and you aren’t going to be punished for not finishing a set. It’s really a tough but encouraging environment which makes it very different from boot camp. That being said, it does kick my tail and again, I learned something. Those old temptations started right up where they left off in boot camp years ago (and I don’t mean the band…I’m not that old): “What does it matter if you give in now? Who’s going to know?” and “You’re the new guy, no one is going to think less of you if you can’t complete the set.” There are also some new ones: “You do have a job to go to today. You don’t want to be completely worn out!” and “If you push yourself too hard you’ll be too sore tomorrow to workout!”
But, I have also found I am much better at getting those old temptations to shut the hell up. Sometimes I say that to myself: “Shut the hell up!” And I remind myself that I am there because I want to be there and I do what I do when I’m there because I want to do it. It sounds easy and fairly plain, but often times that is all the logic I can muster up when staring at a pool of sweat on the concrete. The good news is that I win these little battles. I learned that I have matured some and that the side of me that wants to punk out is not as strong as it used to be.
I Learned That I Can Keep Up (On a Good Day)
No doubt, every guy that comes to a new workout with a bunch of other dudes of unknown athletic prowess — though likely far more prowessier than yours — wonders if he can keep up at all or if he will be puking in the bushes or having someone drive him home after blacking out. But here is the deal, guys like to see other guys puke, or at least push themselves to the point of retching for relief. We also like to help another guy out, and seriously like to see guys who have a long road of weight-loss and fitness ahead of them, start on that journey at a sprinter’s pace. But, we, personally, also don’t like to show our weakness to others.
Yet, I learned that on most days I can keep up. And, I’m not alone when I can’t. (Tuesday, two days ago, was not a good day. #nearlypuked #headforthebushes) That being said, bring what you’ve got to life’s challenges, even if it isn’t much.
I Learned The Goodness of Peer Pressure
Once you settle into your own family and your own life, peer pressure seems to dissipate. This can be a good thing, because in most circumstances, up to this point, your peers have been immature. But, if your peers are a group of solid dudes then having some pressure from such a group is a good thing, yea, a much-needed and missed part of modern, individualistic society. Sure, I knew that I could use some accountability, but really knowing it, living it out and seeing yourself wanting to quit but pushing ahead because some guy says, “2 more!” is all together different and sorely needed.
When Are You Challenged?
This article isn’t about exercise, it’s about challenging ourselves so that we might learn something about ourselves. As Marden said, “…to grow more and more open to fresh revelations of truth…” Revelations about the kind of man we are and contrast that with the kind of man we want to be. Maybe for you the challenge is exercise, or maybe it’s relational. You may need to speak up and say what is on your mind, but there will be fall out, so you keep it to yourself.
One thing is for certain. If you can find a good group of guys to get around, you’ll pick up some manliness and you will be challenged. And, there’s a good chance you’ll thank them for it later. If you make a habit of learning about yourself, the student will eventually become the master.
If you are interested in getting fit for free check out F3 and see if there is one in your area.
Web – http://F3Nation.com
Twitter – @F3Nation