Editor’s note: The following article is by one of our GMB trainers, Verity Bradford. To learn more about Verity, click here. Take it away, V!
You are only as old as you feel.
Your attitude towards how your age affects your abilities informs everything you do. If you think you are too old for something, well, you just made yourself too old for it with that thought.
Age does matter, though, especially when it comes to our physical condition and health.
We are not immortal, and yet, there are times when we treat our bodies as if they are bullet proof, only to break them down, and this is something that can happen at any time, at any age. Succumbing to the pressure to “be the best” can wear us down, physically and mentally.
In past articles, we’ve written some amazing stories of people who have experienced incredible improvements and changes later on in their lives, as more mature adults. Here, I’ll explain why GMB’s balanced approach is also important for younger people such as myself, and how it has impacted my outlook and my approach to how I train my own body.
I Can Push Myself to the Limit – But Should I?
I am 25 years old. I guess that’s relatively young. According to Ryan, Jarlo, and Andy, it is… I am aware that my body can get away with quite a lot right now. I can push myself pretty hard with my training, and I do.
But it’s not always easy to know when to back off from it, especially when you can train for hours and not feel it, recover fast, and wake up each morning ready to go after three hours of sleep and a very strong coffee.
This isn’t a particularly smart approach, nor is it a balanced one.
But there is so much pressure out there to TRAIN HARD! To work as much as you can until you can’t lift your arms up more than 45 degrees thanks to nerve impingement, or you can barely sit down after that one rep max squat you performed for 10 sets, or you ripped the skin off your hands because working snatches wasn’t enough without those muscle-ups you threw in at the end of your session.
I know there are some people who can train very intensely every day, because they are conditioned to do so or because it’s their job. But what about those of us who aren’t? What if we are still “young” but just getting started with training?
Doing More vs. Moving Better
I’ve only really been doing the “movement” thing for the past two years.
But in every training session I want to work harder, do more, improve faster.
I’m not the most patient person. I don’t like slowing down, and as I’ve talked about before, it’s very easy to get wrapped up in the common, unrealistic idea of perfection.
Then I had a thought:
How will I feel if I spend the next ten years chasing something that will deprive me of a lot of other things in my life, potentially my happiness and sanity, and end up running my body into the ground?
Finding Your Purpose in Training
Each time I train I’ve started to try and think about why I am doing this.
I think about what I want to achieve long term, not just which skill I am training for, but how I want to feel and how I want to be able to move my body in the future.
I still want to be making gains in twenty years time. This allows me to start to back off if I feel like I’m overdoing things.
Every time you train, you are working towards something bigger; think about what this is for you.
It might be that when you reach a certain age you still want to be able to perform a particular skill, for example, a cartwheel; or if you have children you want to have the energy to play with them. Whatever it is, use it as a way of putting your physical health and your training into perspective.
Be in the moment each time you train, remaining mindful of your reasons why and what you want for your future.
What it Means to Find Balance
This Fall, I accompanied Ryan on a trip around Europe to assist him with several GMB seminars. On this trip, we talked a lot about finding balance, not just with training, but in life.
To be balanced means relinquishing some of the “control” that we hold onto and think we have, but that actually controls us.
It means letting things go to make space for something else or someone else in your life.
It’s being given that permission, from either yourself or someone else, to expand your tunnel vision and see everything outside of the focus you have solely on your training. Look left, you see adventure. Turn right, and walk towards love.
When I look at Ryan’s life I see a much healthier future for myself. With his family and business responsibilities that he puts time and energy into because they are important to him, he cannot be solely focused on training. It’s a very different situation than a younger person in a different stage of life.
Yet I look at his ability to move and perform so well, and how he continues to improve and move toward his goals. He hasn’t let training rule his life, or stop him from putting importance on his family and career as a coach and teacher.
This, to me, is balance. And this is what I try and remind myself of all the time.
Allowing Movement to Free You, Rather Than Restrict You
There is a much bigger picture, but only if we want to see it. I realise I am able to have other things in my life, and still have a life. Unfortunately, I don’t feel there are many people who really embody this.
There are so many amazing movers out there, but sometimes that’s all that is emphasised. It’s rarely ever put into context within someone’s real life. When you find someone that can do this well and also flourish in other aspects in their lives, then it makes sense to seek out what it is they are doing and look to them as role models.
When we are lucky enough to find a mentor or someone to guide us, it keeps us on a positive path that we otherwise might not be on. It keeps us grounded, which is something that can be hard to do for ourselves.
Still at times, I get too caught up with how I think I should be and what I think I should want.
I forget that every time I train it’s not just about right now – it’s also an investment in my future and for my health. I don’t want to train excessively for the next ten years only to end up with an injury that forces me to slow down or worse, stop altogether. I also don’t want to close myself off to other opportunities I might come across in my life.
If I put all of myself into my movement and one day it isn’t there, then I will feel like I have nothing. I will be completely lost and unable to see what else is out there.
So I chose to engage in movement to allow me to have everything else I want, rather than limiting and restricting me.
Find Balance and Get What You Really Want Out of Life
Whatever age we are it’s so important to take care of our bodies. We want to be strong and healthy to be there for the people who need us, but we have to start with being there for ourselves.
It’s about finding balance and staying aware of what we are experiencing with our training and with life.
Sometimes we need that reminder from someone else to slow down, or think about how what we are doing will effect us in the long run. Having that support and guidance can make all the difference and that’s what I’ve experienced with GMB.
It is possible to have everything we want in life. We don’t have to sacrifice one thing for another if we are able to find balance.
Movement makes our quality of life better if we respect and take care of our bodies. When I practice handstands, I’m constantly looking to find balance, and it’s the same with the rest of my life as well.
I’m looking for balance and trying to take things a little less seriously, so I can enjoy my life with the freedom I have to move in my body.
Editor’s note: In the next article, we’ll continue this discussion of life balance by looking at why extreme training isn’t useful for your physical or life development.
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Images via Simon Carter Photography