I’m not a reflective person. I don’t set serious new year’s resolutions – my list for this year included “eat a meatfood,” “stand on a thing” and “run at people going ‘SKREEEEAAARRRGHH.” So at the start of 2014, I didn’t have a massive plan to get fitter, hit any parkour milestones, lose ten pounds, eat more vegetables or any of those other things people get resolved about.
However, I started lifting, and it turned out that I really like it. It is genuinely the first time in my life I have tried a sport and thought “hey, maybe I don’t have to be the worst at this forever.” That’s probably the most confidence in a physical activity that I have ever experienced. I mean, I really, really like it. If I could marry weightlifting or strength training, I’d probably get down on bended knee and propose.
With the interest in strength gainz came an interest in nutrition, and with advice from a friend (thanks, Emmett – his blog is here, and you should all check it out) and with a bunch of strength training through Parkour Generations (thanks, Kristian and Bobby – you tha mans!) I somehow ended up at the end of 2014 fitter than I’ve been in my entire life. Now, this isn’t saying a lot. I’m still not great, but the improvement from my starting fitness level was huge. I lost about 6-8kg, and probably more than that in body fat, considering I visibly gained some muscle mass and more than doubled my initial back squat. Basically, I’m not as fit as pretty much any of the parkour guys, but I can pass as okay if you put me in a room full of office workers.
This has changed everything for me. I’ve noticed so many changes that may not seem impressive to the hardcore people out there, but they matter a lot to me.
- Things that used to be hard work have become pure play. Sometimes I do stuff for fun – just going for a bit of a run (just a jog, let’s not get excited. I’m not an ultrarunner), going slacklining, trying random new things like hash running – that a few months ago would have been “exercise” and probably quite tough on me.
- Basic day to day mobility – this is something that people who have always been fit may not appreciate or understand, but there are people out there who get tired out climbing a small flight of stairs. I have had workmates tell me that they consider a 600 metre walk to the shops a long way. Welcome to the world of the deskbound worker! I take it for granted that a few stairs or a short walk won’t be hard. That is not the case for everyone.
- There’s a whole new world of things out there to experience and learn. I’ve spent my whole life pretty much assuming that only a certain type of person could try awesome things. Those people were “physical people,” and I was not “physical.” This probably sounds unbelievably stupid to anyone who has always been regularly active, but I swear it’s not just me. I hear other people express similar sentiments so often, without even thinking about it. I still catch myself thinking that way sometimes, but I’m slowly outgrowing it. Last summer, I tried acrobatics! Handstands! Tumbling! Things that I’d always watched from the sidelines, sure that they were not for people like me.
- Certain goals (not flying or squatting 500kg) are achievable and concrete. I used to unconsciously divide things into “possible” and “nope.” Pull ups, for example – it never stopped me trying, but I never believed I would be able to do a pull up. Once I learned that structured and consistent training genuinely does make these things happen, it changed everything. Instead of categorising things as undoable, I now look at them and consider what to work on to achieve them.
I’m sure all of this is obvious and quite laughable to people with a sports or athletic background (if you make fun of me for writing this, guys, I will cut you), but I firmly believe that there are loads of other people out there who always lag at the back of classes or running groups, who feel out of place training with other people, who have “never been physical,” who have “bad coordination,” and who have come home from training sessions crying because they feel useless. I promise it will get better. Please don’t ever give up!