Exercise With A Purpose
In today’s post I take some time to give you the three things that you need in order to exercise with a purpose. Many people exercise, but there’s a big difference between exercising and exercising with a purpose. So, let’s spend some time talking about your health and fitness journey, and how you can exercise with a purpose! Read on to find out more….
At the UMedGym, we have T-shirts with the phrase, “Exercise with a purpose” on the back. That phrase is an interesting one because it calls attention to the fact that so many people have no purpose when they exercise. So, today I want to take some time to talk about what it means to exercise with a purpose.
Now, you might ask, what does it mean to exercise with a purpose? Isn’t any and all exercise good?
In short, yes, exercise in general is good for you, even if it’s just random, haphazard exercise. Of course, doing something physically active is always better than nothing. However, many people fail to see true results from their exercise regimen because when they go to workout there’s no purpose, no intent driving their workout.
In fact, exercising without a purpose is one of the main pit falls for so many people in the world of health and fitness. Because they don’t have a purpose or overriding goal behind their exercise, they walk into the gym, do a few random exercises, walk on the treadmill for a bit, and call it a day. Then they go home and wonder why they’re not as healthy or “in shape” as they want to be, since they go to the gym on a regular basis.
Simply put, the reason they’re not reaching their potential is that without intent there is no goal to drive their workout.
A goal gives you purpose, intent and focus each and every time you step foot in the gym. A goal gives you a benchmark that you can use to say whether or not you’ve moved forward toward your goal or not. So, with a goal your workouts can become purposeful. You can walk into the gym with a plan that you are going to execute, and you can walk out knowing that you executed your plan and moved closer to your goal.
On the other hand, without a goal, not only do you have nothing to drive you forward, you also have nothing to direct your journey. It’s like getting in the car and driving without any end-destination in mind. You might drive around for a while, make a few stops here and there, and eventually end up somewhere. But that doesn’t sound like a very productive use of time, does it? Well, neither is stepping in the gym without any sort of goal or destination in mind.
With that said, you can see why having an over-arching goal is the primary step that allows you to exercise with a purpose. Once you have that goal narrowed down, your destination becomes more defined, and the path to that journey, including each workout at the gym, can begin to be mapped out.
So, what does it take to set your primary goal and exercise with a purpose? Well, let me back up for a minute and give you the three things you must know in order to exercise with a purpose:
The Destination – The Point of Departure – The Journey
That’s it. Once you know those three things, you’re on your way to a successful fitness journey! The only problem is that it’s not always easy to define each one of these points, and it often requires the assistance of a professional to help you determine where you want to go, where you are right now, and what the journey needs to look like to get you to the end.
Unfortunately, I can’t sit here and tell you what all of these points look like for you. However, I hope to give you a better understanding of what it requires to truly define each of these points and ultimately exercise with purpose.
First of all, if you want to have success on any journey, including a health and fitness journey, then you have to know where you want to get to. What do you want to get out of your exercise routine most of all? At this point, just saying that you want to feel better, be healthier, or get better at your sport doesn’t work. It’s too vague. Your goal has to be concrete enough that you can measure it, both subjectively and objectively.
You may start into this work of defining your destination by saying, “I really just want to feel healthier and lose some weight.” But as I said, that’s too vague to really be considered an end destination. So, you must ask yourself what it looks like to you to feel healthier and lose some weight. First, do you have a defined body weight that you would like to get to? Is that weight realistic and healthy, and can it be accomplished in a reasonable amount of time?
Second, you have to determine what it means to you to “feel healthier.” Try to cultivate a mental picture of what you will look like at your destination. Maybe that means that you can easily get up and down off the ground to play with kids or grandkids. Maybe it means that you have less body fat and more muscle. Maybe it means that you are better managing or completely rid of a chronic disease. Maybe it means that you’re pain free.
Whatever that looks like to you, once you cultivate your mental picture of yourself after you’ve reached your destination you now have a more clearly defined destination.
In other scenarios, the destination might be to get stronger, and this could be defined by how much weight can be lifted in a Squat, Bench Press or Deadlift. It could also be defined by the ability to do a certain number of Pull-Ups or Push-Ups. If that’s the case for you, then clearly define what “strong” means to you and then go after that goal!
I think by now you have a better understanding of what I mean by defining your destination. Once you have a destination in mind that is clear and motivating to you, you can begin to define where you’re starting from – the point of departure.
The Point of Departure:
Now you know your destination, but you really can’t define your journey to that destination until you fully understand what your starting point or point of departure is. That would be like saying, “I want to travel to California, but I’m lost in the middle of nowhere and I have no idea where I’m starting from.” Obviously, it’s hard to find your way to California if you have no idea where you are (Fortunately, we have GPS and smart phones these days to tell us exactly where we are at all times!).
The same holds true for a health and fitness journey. You might know where you want to get to, but you must begin your journey by defining where you’re currently at. Once you do that, you can more easily map out points along the way to use as your road map.
This is why it’s important for health and fitness professionals to do a thorough initial assessment for each of their clients. If you don’t assess where they’re starting from, it’s hard to get them to where they want to go.
For some people and some goals, it’s easy to define where you’re currently at. If your goal is to lose weight, then simply stepping on the scale can tell you where you’re at right now. Unfortunately, the hard part for many people is that they’re at where they’re at right now because they don’t have the courage to face where they’re at right now. That may sound crazy, but it’s often easier to live in denial about what your body weight is (or how much body fat you have, or whatever the number of concern is) then to acknowledge where you’re at and start on a journey to better health.
If you’re in this camp, then please realize that you’ll never reach the destination you really want to get to without a long, hard look at where you’re at right now.
In other cases, it may be more challenging to truly define the starting point, especially if the goal is not as simple as bodyweight. If your goal is to get stronger, than you may need help to test your max strength in different exercises. Or if your goal is to improve performance at your sport, then you may need a coach to help assess and define where you’re at now versus what’s required for success in your sport.
At any rate, your journey can’t begin until you define your point of departure. So, do your initial assessment – whether that’s a self-assessment or you see a health and fitness professional for an assessment. Either way, make sure you do what it takes to clearly outline where you’re at right now in comparison to where you want to get to. After you have those two points defined – the beginning and end of your journey – only then can you embark on a successful journey.
Now that you have your start and end points for your health and fitness journey mapped out, you can begin to map out the journey itself. This step is often the hardest part, especially if you have little experience in making lifestyle changes or engaging in a fitness routine. Here is where I would highly recommend the help of a coach – if you haven’t sought one out already.
There are several reasons that a coach is very important when it comes to your health and fitness journey. For starters, if you seek out a qualified fitness professional, they will be much more able to set up an effective and efficient training routine for you than you can on your own. A good trainer, with lots of experience will be able to help you work around any current limitations while also pushing you toward your goal.
In addition to setting up a good training plan for you, having a coach gives you great accountability and motivation along the way to continue on towards your goal, even when it gets challenging. A good coach will help you to map out milestones along the way to your goal and help ensure that you’re staying on course.
Oftentimes, the journey towards better health and fitness is a bumpy one. There may be times where motivation to continue on wanes. There will always be other things in life that come up which make it increasingly challenging to maintain consistency in your journey. There may be times where something happens that takes you backwards or off course, leading you away from your goal.
Keep in mind that these challenges aren’t things that might possibly happen as you’re pursuing better health and fitness, instead they’re almost definitely things that WILL happen. And when these challenges pop up, it’s really important to have a coach to help support you and re-focus you in your pursuit of your goal.
But with the help of a good coach, and some determination on your part, you can be well on your way to your goal. The journey is not impossible, it just requires a plan.
Knowing all this, you can more clearly see what it means to exercise with a purpose. Having a clearly defined destination, a clearly defined point of departure, and a clearly defined roadmap to get to your goal – along with some accountability and motivation – is what it takes to reach your goal.
After you know where you want to get to and where you’re starting from, your journey can begin. And, as renowned strength coach Dan John has said, “The goal is to keep the goal the goal.” So, stay focused on your goal every time you step in the gym and you’ll have purpose when you exercise.
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