Okay, so this one is going to be a bit of a ramble.
Self awareness is important. I regularly assess how I am doing as a person. And by regularly, I mean pretty much every day. The internal, and sometimes external, one on one conversation with myself covers how I am doing as a father, businessman, how I interact with everyone from people I know to random people on the street, and how I treat myself, among other topics.
The overall goal is to assess if I am being a good man, that is, if I am being kind, compassionate, and understanding to the people I interact with but also to myself.
These are important conversations, and when brutally honest, lead to growth for me. Other things help facilitate this, such as feedback from the people around me, but it all depends on me. If I am not open, if I am not willing, if I am not motivated, if I do not put in the work, then I will not make progress as a person.
The most important thing to me, and pretty much the only thing I pray for besides forgiveness for my shortcomings, is to be better. Nothing matters more to me, because if I am being a good man, then I am doing right by the people I interact with, and to myself. That is where happiness comes from, in terms of being happy with myself, but also providing happiness to other people.
And, of course, I assess myself at the gym
Standout at the gym
I am 42 years old, and began working out when I was 21. That is 21 years of consistent work in pursuit of my physical goals.
Over the course of my workout life, I used different styles of exercise from isolation training to running to martial arts to Olympic weightlifting to gymnastics and beyond.
Tools used along the way include, but are not limited to, barbells, sandbags, heavy bags, double-end bags, kettlebells, gymnastics bars, gymnastics rings, medicine balls, slam balls, ropes, and more.
Varied fitness has long been an interest of mine and the variety of movements I complete pay homage to that.
At my best, I can back squat 515, complete strict muscle-ups, run 10 miles at a 8:43 pace, farmer carry 540 pounds, perform cartwheels and handstands, clean and jerk 265 pounds, run a mile in 6:40, complete Crossfit Workout Murph in 43:00 vested, complete floor and ring routines, and so much more.
People look at me funny at the gym. I am one of the standouts. I get some of the bros trying to “get swole” eyeballing me and trying to be intimidating. I also get love from some of the other standouts. I get asked for advice and provide help any time I can. I know the gym owners and staff by name, a number of the members by name, encourage the new people I see, and try to foster community.
Hard work pays off in both being fitter and in being a good person to the people around me, in the gym and out. The gym can be intimidating, but if we all work together in some way, even the small ways, it can be a safe haven where we all work hard to progress toward our goals.
But I am getting off point. The thought was that I am a standout at the gym. And part of the reason for that is that I understand what matters and work on those things. Here are those things.
Strength matters. From the moment we are born, we have to build and maintain strength. One of the first milestones for a baby is to lift her head. This is a feat of strength. In that same vein, being able to stand for the first time is a feat of strength.
Running, jumping, playing sports, working out, and doing anything physical starts with strength. If you do not have the strength to stand you cannot walk. Apply that idea to anything.
The pursuit of strength is a worthy endeavor in a very functional sense. If you want to be more capable now and until death, build and maintain strength.
You do not build a fit and/or lean body through exercise alone. Nutrition is paramount to any body composition or fitness goal.
While you will hear about athletes and average people who have crap nutrition when successfully reaching goals, they are the outliers, not the norm.
You are not them. You need to focus on nutrition.
There is no one singular approach you must follow. At the end of the day, the approach that fits your lifestyle and allows you to be successful is what you need.
Progressive Overload Matters
Progressive overload can take many forms. The simplest way to think of progressive overload is the gradual increase of difficulty over time.
Often people think about increasing load or reps, but you can also do other things, such as adjust pace or increase movement difficulty by type.
For example, the l-hang is simply a more difficult form of the pull-up. So, if you are doing ring pull-ups and are reasonably proficient, the l-hang is a good possible option for progression of skill and difficulty.
Plus, getting strong at the movement is a precursor to l-hang muscle-ups and played a significant role in helping me get my first l-hang muscle-up.
Movement matters. A cartwheel is one expression of that, but there are so many more. I enjoy moving as much as I enjoy anything else.
Let me explain.
I like strength work in many different ways, and I have done that as well as running more than I have done any other things.
But, being strong or fast is not enough. I want to be able to move off balance, fly on the rings, rotate in different ways, etc.
Who cares if you are strong or fast if your movement sucks?
Improving Weaknesses Matters
Putting my body into awkward positions points out weaknesses in my strength, mobility, and skill. These weaknesses are opportunities:
- Opportunity to get stronger
- Opportunity to become more mobile
- Opportunity to become more skilled
I get weird looks, and even haters (which is weird to say) because of the things I can do, such as gymnastics rings routines, 265 pound clean and jerks, metcons, and many other things.
Every time I find a weakness, I try to improve it. Building ability on gymnastics rings has been one of the hardest and longest processes in my 21 years of working out. But, I did it and am still going, and my overall strength, mobility, skill, and conditioning has improved because of this.
Weaknesses are opportunities. Where are your opportunities to improve?
And that is it. I could run down any number of things that matter, including those above and more, but this is what popped into my head, and I just threw down all these random thoughts into a somewhat cohesive writing.
Not my best work, but not my worst, and there is logic in what I wrote above.
And that is it. Have questions? Let me know on social media. You can click the links here, or just look up Nathan DeMetz Personal Training on Facebook and Instagram.
Nathan DeMetz holds degrees in Exercise Science, Business Administration, and Information Technology as well as certifications in strength and conditioning, sports nutrition, run coaching, and other areas. His credentials come from organizations such as Indiana Wesleyan University, Ivy Tech College, Utah State University, and the ISSA College of Exercise Science.
Nathan has 20 years of personal and professional experience in the health and fitness world. He works with people from across the globe, including locations such as Kuwait, Australia, and the USA.
To work with Nathan directly on your personal training goals, contact him today!