If you saw the male and female gymnasts at Rio 2016 Olympics, you can’t help but have fleeting thoughts (or obsessive for some) of their bodies. Olympic gymnasts are known for their admirable body shapes.
I got into gymnastics training six months ago. While I don’t look like American gymnasts Jacob Dalton, Sam Mikulak, or Danell Leyva, it’s the most fun I’ve had training my whole life. Do I train for fun though? No. It is still hard and I have moments I don’t want to train, but I don’t want it any other way.
If you want excellent results from your fitness training, you shouldn’t be having fun. Let me continue before you thump your keyboard disgust.
You cannot aim to have fun If you have want maximal performance. If you are the lucky few who gets a smile on your face 4 days a week when you squat heavy weight and foam roll your quads, you’re a weird diamond on the bush.
“Entertrainment” is a fast-growing trend that engages things like group exercises, dance, disco, and other weird stuff to get people to exercise. If these people were not exercising and do it because they find the activity fun, great for them. I’m all for encouraging people to move.
However, to get the best results of performance or body composition, there are actions you’re going to hate to get where you want. Three psychologists in their 1993 paper, “The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance” explain that an expert appears talented from years of effort dedicated to the skill.
A person with expertise for years did deliberate practice with the intent of improving skills. They practice for performance rather than for pleasure or rewards. The psychologists go on to say such good practice to develop skills require substantial mental effort.
What that means for you is you must focus during practice or training of your craft with the intent to get better. An athlete does not enjoy hammering heavyweights in the gym; he does so knowing it makes him stronger and faster.
So many people exercise and go to the gym yet fail because they immaturely expect results now or want to be entertained. If you do what everyone does, you will get what everyone does.
Former USA Gymnastics coach, Chris Sommer, agrees. “Not one athlete at the Olympics is there because they trained to be entertained. Not one of them.” In a recent interview on the Tim Ferriss Show, Sommer defines this hallmark trait of a mature athlete and how it differs from an immature athlete that wants entertainment.
“The mature athlete says, ‘I am going to do what I need now to get what I want later.'”
A motivator of the mature athlete comes from a coach, model, or resource that tells them if they keep their nose to the grindstone and trust the process, they will achieve the results. Any fun experienced in fitness training is a side-effect.
Little tangible goals are essential to stay motivated for your training. The big turning point for me came when I hit my first mark of success in gymnastics training with a freestanding handstand for 3 seconds by following a proper handstand training program. What a glorious moment to feel balanced on my hands! I was previously someone who either fell forward or failed to get my feet about my hips when trying the handstand.
For you though, it may not be the handstand. There’s plenty of other bodyweight exercises you can achieve like the pull-up and push-up or more advanced movements like iron cross on gymnastic rings or the front-lever. Maybe you want more mobility to touch your toes or lose 5 kilos of fat.
At the core of boredom could be a frustration with a lack of results. If you stop now, you have to look at the cost of inaction. Sure you might plateau from training, and you need to address that, but the cost of inaction guarantees your strength will deteriorate.
Once you know your goal and trust the process long enough to get your first taste of progression, you build momentum to keep going. You will have moments of enjoyment, but it comes and goes with little psychological attachment. The consistent hard training after many years may just net you a body similar to an Olympic gymnast.