3 Life Lessons I’ve Learned From the Gym3 Life Lessons I’ve Learned From the Gym

By Michele Connolly

Recently I started doing some new things at the gym. I raised my bicep and shoulder weights in my weights class, and I began doing cycling and combat-style classes to replace my treadmill walks. 

The lessons I’ve learned from these changes have surprised me. And I’ve realized that they apply outside the gym, too.

Here are the 3 life lessons I’ve learned…

1. It’s likely you’ll look and feel foolish when you start something new

My first body combat class was an exercise in humiliation. The choreography was challenging, the moves were alien and the pace was hard. The instructor looked like she was fighting, and could hold her own. I looked like I might get a call-back on a Dancing with the Stars audition. I felt lost and looked silly.

But now, several weeks later, I feel more confident and I absolutely love it.

From everyone I’ve talked to – including the instructor – that’s how it is for everyone.

Life lesson: To start something completely new, you have to go through the feeling-foolish stage. This applies to exercise, learning a musical instrument, dancing, making friends, learning a new skill, starting a new role – anything you haven’t done before.

Expect to go through the I-feel-foolish stage. It’s the only path there is.

2. You’re capable of more than you think

After using the same weights for many months, I increased my bicep and shoulder weights in my weights class. As I’d always felt tired after the class, I figured this would be a major adjustment.

Turns out it was pretty easy.

I still feel just as tired after the class, but now I’m using heavier weights and gaining increased fitness benefits.

This is what surprised me: being tired wasn’t an indication that I was doing my best. I was capable of more, but I’d never have known it if I hadn’t tried.

Life lesson: Just because you feel like you’re making an effort, it doesn’t mean there isn’t space to upgrade your standards. Could you be more productive at work, more focused in your business, kinder to your family, warmer to your friends, tidier in your home, more disciplined with your money, smarter about your appearance?

In what life area can you ‘raise your weights’? What might you be capable of, if you try?

3. It becomes easier when you think about the why

I also took up cycling classes. I find these very, very hard, but with summer approaching I thought they’d be a good choice for getting nice, toned legs.

Here’s what I noticed.

When I thought about how difficult the class was, how hard I was working, how much I wanted to be eating chocolate in a quiet corner somewhere, it was a huge struggle to keep going.

But when I thought about my nice toned legs in a pair of spunky shorts, it immediately became easier.

Life lesson: To have the things we want in life, we often have to pay a price – whether in hard work, exercise, healthy eating, patience, persistence, optimism or something else. The more we focus on the struggle or sacrifice, the more energy we lose to those thoughts.

Instead, focus on the benefits you’ll gain – like vitality, an attractive body, achievement, good relationships. You’ll find you gain energy to help you rise to your challenges.

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