I have been in an out of nearly every type of gym and fitness facility over the past decade and I have seen one fairly consistent type of membership model…the ‘client’. When you walk into most gyms you are generally viewed as a ‘client’ just like at any other type of business, such as at a mechanic’s or a bank. A client walks into a gym does their exercises, leaves, and goes about the rest of their day without much more thought on their fitness. I liken it to taking my car to a mechanics and then driving off without much further thought on the state of my vehicle. However, we need to have a shift in perspective. Instead of viewing ourselves and our members as ‘clients’ we should all start viewing and calling ourselves ‘athletes’. It may seem like a minor shift, but this seemingly minor change can have a major impact on our lives.
There are a few key things athletes do, which leads to a fitter and in my opinion more fulfilling life.
Athletes Ask Questions: They are constantly asking themselves how their decisions outside of practice will affect their sport. ‘Am I eating the right foods to support my activities and performance?’ ‘Am I getting enough sleep and recovery?’ ‘Should I really go out and have a bunch of drinks tonight when I know I have training in the morning?’ A good athlete realizes that training is important, but it is only a small piece of the pie. Much of our health and wellbeing is centered on what we do outside of the gym.
Athletes Prioritize: You have time for what is important to you, and to an athlete, that’s training, fitness, and their sport. I have seen this change in myself as well as many others. Things that once seemed fun or important are no longer as fulfilling or as satisfying as they once were. Siting on the couch and watching TV is something I used to enjoy doing. Now I don’t even own a TV. It lost its importance, because I would rather be doing something active or something that I can better myself with over “vegging” out on the couch.
Athletes have a Team: Athletes foster a team atmosphere. This above all other things in my opinion is why a model of fitness, such as CrossFit, works so well. No other model that I have seen can bring such a varying group of people of all different ages, heritages, ethnicities, abilities, religious and political outlooks together and unite them as a team. As a team we can maximize our growth far more than we could ever do on our own.
Athletes Compete: I challenge you to start thinking of yourself as an athlete in whatever you do. One of the best ways to get into this mindset and find motivation is signing up for a competition. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy to start. Signup for a 5k or 10k race, join a church or intermural team, or try a CrossFit competition. There are so many different age and ability categories that there really is no excuse not try. There are always things to do. The hardest part is signing up, but once you do you’ll be glad you did. I am a firm believer there is an athlete in all of us. It stems from the oldest, deepest, most primal parts of our beings which has been nearly stamped out by modern life and conveniences. However, through competition we can for a brief time become more in tune with that extremely visceral and powerful part of ourselves and can teach us many lessons. In my opinion, it is one of the most vital aspects of the human experience. So the next time someone asks if you want to play on their team, run that race, or join that competition, try saying yes and remember; you are not just an client, but an athlete.