I want to talk about bravery at Nerdstrong.
While we have members with varying backgrounds at Nerdstrong Gym, many of us are people for whom traditional fitness options were uncomfortable, ill-fitting, or downright scary. We've a lot of members who are working on their fitness for the first time in their lives, and a lot of members who are fighting their way back to fitness after an injury, an illness, or simply years and years of a sedentary lifestyle. These people are walking in to a gym where the workouts are grueling and asking us to help them change their lives. That, at base, is incredibly brave.
Many of us are just discovering that it is important, to ourselves, to our loved ones, to our kids, that we get fit and stay fit. It is so much easier just to accept where you are in life. Change, real change, is hard. The specific change we're asking for at Nerdstrong is difficult and exhausting in the moment, leaves you sore and tired afterward, and, just as that soreness and tiredness is leaving your body, or even *before* it leaves (in the beginning), we're asking you to come back and do it again. On top of it all, we're asking our community to be mindful of how they eat, and how they live their lives in and out of the gym. We’re asking them to care for themselves for the long haul - a hard thing for so many of us. Committing to all of this, to themselves, to their loved ones, to make meaningful, difficult change is brave.
There are more brave things you can do during workouts at Nerdstrong. Here are a few:
- When you've reached your limit in a workout, stop and rest. Sometimes that means rest for a few seconds or a minute, sometimes that means step away for the duration of the workout. We want you to push your limits, but when you reach them, we need you to be aware of your body and care for yourself. We're around and watching everyone, but only you know when you are done. It's hard to stop when you feel like everyone around you is still working, but we're all in this for the long haul. Better to rest today and come back in a day or two, stronger than you were before, than over-tax yourself and have to spend a week recovering. This is not an invitation to sell yourself short, to work less hard than you can. It is simply a request that you listen to your body, and stop when it has reached its limit.
- Be patient with yourself. Often, it will be a frustrating journey. You'll have trouble learning a new movement. It may take weeks, even months, to master a technique. You may find yourself struggling with a weight or movement or distance that two years ago, ten years ago, you'd have found easy. Some days you will be the newest person in class. Some days you will finish last in a run. Some days you will lift lighter weights than the person next to you. Some days you will not finish the workout. It is easy to become frustrated with yourself on those days. But that's a trap. Be kind to yourself. Be mindful that you are not in competition with the person next to you, or with your twenty-year-old self. Know that this is a long journey, and that the most important thing is that you are here and you are committed to your health. Tomorrow is another day, and you are slowly getting stronger.
- Pay attention to the scaling options on the board, and be kind to yourself when you need to scale-down. As with resting, it’s hard to scale-down a movement when people around you may not be doing so. It can be frustrating, especially with a movement you used to be able to do, or one that looks easy on the person next to you. But, we all workout together, no matter our experience, and we are all in different stages of our fitness journey. Scaling-down and focusing on form is how you build strength and endurance. Sooner than you think, you’ll be able to step-up your movements, your reps, your weight.
- If you’re struggling during class, ask for help. We try to make sure there is at least one coach for every ten people at Nerdstrong, and often that ratio is higher. We’re there to help you. We may see you struggling and offer assistance or an alternate movement without you asking, but sometimes we don’t. In those moments, you must be brave, and ask for help. That’s what we’re there for. We may break down the movement again for you. We may ask that you use an alternate movement. But we’ll figure out something that works for you.
- Challenge yourself. If you feel like a movement or a combination is no longer challenging, step up to the next movement, to a higher number of reps, a higher weight. Remove the ab-mat or steel bell or other implement you’ve been using to assist your movement. Jump up on that box if you’ve been stepping up to it, or move to a higher box. It’s scary to move from something with which you’ve become comfortable to something more challenging. You won’t be as fast. You won’t feel as confident. You won’t be able to do as many reps. You’ll have to focus even harder than you did before. But, challenging yourself is how you grow. Sometimes, a coach will tell you you’re ready to move up. But other times, you must challenge yourself. The worst thing that happens is that you find you’re not yet ready, and you step back down. But you also may surprise yourself.
Stepping out of your comfort zone is brave. Nerdstrong is here to help, to offer our members a safe place to push themselves, without judgement. We are a community here to help each other get stronger. There is a not a single person at Nerdstrong, coaches included, who is done with her or his journey. We are all working to move to the next level, to improve our lives and our fitness. We believe in you.
Thanks for being brave, Nerdstrongers.
~ Coach David