Like most things, exercise requires purpose. Sometimes, that purpose is generally looking and feeling good, other times it is a more direct goal like running a marathon or performing better at a certain sport or event.
For some, myself including, the very act of exercising is enjoyable (depending on the type of exercise) and therefore fitness training become something of a goal in itself – it’s worth doing because it’s fun.
Essentially, without some kind of purpose, the endeavour of regular exercise is doomed to fail. The simple truth is that, for those who don’t enjoy fitness training, it often takes too much effort to make any kind of noticeable progress. So people lose motivation and cease to bother.
I am exactly the same.
After years of training in some form or another, often without attempting to progress towards any goal whatsoever, I often find myself bored and at a loss for motivation. When that happens (or preferably before that happens) I like to try to mix it up a little to keep it fun, or go out and find some kind of purpose to my training. For example:
- Achieving a very specific goal, like deadlifting three times my body weight (I failed at that, by the way – I got to 2.8 times and no further)
- Making a clear improvement in a certain ability, like going from being able to perform 5 chin ups to 25
- Developing a new ability, like a hand stand, a back somersault or a one-handed press up
- Taking up a new sport or hobby
It’s that last one that is of relevance today.
As enjoyable as I find fitness training, it’s always easier to motivate myself when I am training for a purpose outside of the gym.
I first started weight training to get better at the sports with which I was involved at the time: wrestling, rugby, rowing and athletics. With improving at these sports as my main goal, regular fitness training was easy – I always had a clear, distinct reason for being at the gym and improvement at the exercises.
Having left my job five months ago to lead a life more full of adventure, the obvious motivation for my training should be adventuring.
The thing is, adventures rarely present themselves – you have to hunt them down or create them out of thin air. When they do crop up, therefore, the last thing I want is to be incapable of being involved, due to a lack of proper skills or training.
I’m not just talking about being able to forage for edible roots, light fires with damp wood and navigate by the stars – although that’s a damn good start! I mean things like this:
- Motorbiking in the Moroccan desert – impossible if you can’t ride a motorbike
- Cruising across Europe, through Asia to America – impossible if you can’t drive a car
- Rock climbing in Yosemite National Park – impossible if you can’t climb
- Cycling around the world – impossible if you’re not very fit
- Rowing or sailing across the seas – impossible if you can’t row or sail
- Climbing Mt. Everest – impossible if you don’t have around £50,000 of spare cash and are willing to risk death
In short, the more adventuring skills I have – fitness based and otherwise – the more adventures I can be involved in. So, as an experiment, I’m going to start including training for adventure into my routine. Not only will this give me a firm reason to keep exercising regularly, it will also involve a number of new and interesting types of training.
Most importantly of all, it will help give me a general direction and purpose which, at the moment, I lack.