Be average. That might seem like an odd thing to say. All we seem to hear is to be exceptional, or excellent and stuff like that. That is of course, true, and actually what I am talking about, oddly enough.
Jim Rohn, a big self-improvement guru said that you are the average of the five people that you spend the most time with. It goes way beyond that, to more like 20 or 30 people. In fact, the people you work with, hang around with and the people they hang around with can all influence you in profound ways. The Framingham Heart Study is a massive study that found this to be true over an extended period of time, with a huge number of the population.
It was found that if your good friend becomes overweight, you are 45% more likely to do the same. If your friend smokes, you are 61% more likely to smoke. It goes on and on.
One of the things I hear a startling amount, is that people do not want to come to the gym because they want to get fit first. It may sound odd at first, but I totally get it!
I remember so clearly the first time I set foot in a gym. I looked like the Pillsbury dough boy, 230 lbs, no muscle mass, weak as a baby kitten.
I wanted a corner where I could hide so that nobody could see me. I was there under doctor’s orders, because I had been sick for most of the year, and I felt 70, not the 29 that I actually was.
I felt awkward, lost, out of place and embarrassed. That’s pretty normal I have discovered in the 21 years since then.
But here’s the thing – you WANT to feel that way!
When you arrive at a place that you have chosen to help you get fit, you should look around you.
When you talk to people that have been there a long time, you should see people that are a LOT more fit than you. They should essentially be the fit human organism that you want to be just like.
Sure, newcomers might look less fit or whatever, and that’s awesome.
Anybody who has been there three months or longer should be healthier and stronger than when they started and if they have been eating well – leaner.
Let’s say for example that you are very out of shape and arrive on scene at the place where the program is.
Looking around to see that all of the people are seriously overweight, can’t move well and look like they ‘just started’ after years and years in the program means you will likely not improve either.
Yes, it’s true there a few people that are strong and not lean, that’s cool. I’m not discounting them. But when you arrive in a room full of unfit people, as a beginner yourself, it is likely that you will likely feel very comfortable.
Not threatened, or worried about what others think, maybe a little at ease.
That’s nice, but it could be that you are in the wrong place. If people have been at it for years with no results, this is a social club, not a place of fitness. And that’s fine, if that is what you are after.
When I learned to ski, I hung around a bunch of great skiers.
I tried to keep up with them. I asked them questions, I learned fast and I got better. When I got into triathlon, every single person I hung around with was a better swimmer, cyclist and runner than me.
I was always out of breath, last to finish every workout and the most exhausted. But I also improved at an incredible rate.
It is no different than children.
My brother’s first child took over a year to learn to walk. Two years later his second child was walking in under a year. Their third child was walking after hardly half a year – trying desperately to catch up to his older brother and sister. From many other parents and books I have read, this is quite typical.
You are no different.
When I was unfit, played video games every night, pool and pizza at lunch, and knew the TV schedule by heart, my circle of friends was very different than it is now.
Thankfully my best friends joined me and got more and more fit and I made new fit friends. When we hang out, it is often for a swim, a bike ride, a run, a hike, or something involving movement.
It is logical to this group to go do something physical – it makes sense. There is an alignment.
When you hang around people that are unfit, eat poorly and do not take care of themselves, you have two choices – fit in and join them, or be the outcast.
I am here to tell you that being the outcast is really uncomfortable and the temptation to just join them is strong. Soon you will do as they do and be as they are.
When you start hanging around with people that are super fit, super healthy and crave the best in life, that too will rub off. When you go out for lunch with the fit crowd, you make good choices and feel awesome about it.
When you are in class with them, they encourage you and you encourage them.
So, when it comes to fitness, you want to be average, the average of the fittest people you can find.
Scott McDermott is a personal trainer and owner of Best Body Fitness in Sylvan Lake.