The JOY of Training

By on August 11, 2022

For many people, training is treated like a punishment.

A punishment for eating too much. For getting out of shape. For being lazy in the evenings.

For not being good enough.

fun training

This is a form of self-flagellation at worst. At best, it amounts to a chore. Something that you need to do a few times a week but absolutely do not want to.

Just like washing the dishes. Or eating vegetables.

And that attitude can bleed out of the gym too. As we never give ourselves permission to relax. Or to eat something we enjoy.

Is it any wonder that most people don’t eagerly look forward to their training? When this is their psychological approach to it? Is it a surprise that we struggle with motivation and adherence to a program?

This doesn’t strike me as terrible healthy, either. And it’s mad because it seems that this is precisely what a lot of influencers seem to be preaching as ideal.

See also: Home Batcaves: Building Awesome Home Gyms and Work Spaces

Wearing just how miserable their training makes them like a badge of honour.

Again, iiiiis that super healthy??

And does it need to be that way?

Relax About It!

For me, it’s quite the opposite. For me, training is a form of self-expression. It is love for life and for your body.

And it’s really fun.

Thing is, once you start taking an approach to training that’s a little more like this, you’ll often find it’s much easier and more fun to stick to a program.

Often, you’ll actually get better results.

You’ll be less stressed. You’ll have a healthier relationship with your body. And you’ll even reduce your risk of injury.

Tuck Planche

Here’s a good start:

Instead of thinking of all the things you don’t like about yourself. Instead of training to “fix things” or to “get rid” of things. Instead, think about what you want to be. Think about what you want to be able to do.

Even this, though, still falls short of truly embracing the joy of training.

We know that simply working toward a reward is enough to kill the fun in pretty much anything. The quickest way to lose your love for something is to get paid for it. Or to study it, formally.

So, really, we want to enjoy training as an end. Not just as a means.

Roundhouse Kick

For the Love of Training

Don’t get me wrong: there are lots of really good reasons to set goals and work toward them.

But how about you try training without a goal? Just for a few weeks? See what you gravitate towards. See what you actually enjoy doing.

Because, here’s the thing, there’s no “requirement” for you to do anything specific in the gym. Don’t like squatting? Don’t do it. Don’t like cardio? Find a way to get some endurance benefits from other forms of training. Don’t like curls? Don’t do them.

See also: If You’re Moving, You’re Improving

Love curls? Do loads of them!

Think outside the box and explore your options. There’s LOADS out there. You might find you take to powerlifting, or you might discover that you have a love for hand-balancing and calisthenics.

And it doesn’t need to fit the usual definition of “training,” either. If you love football, then playing lots of football will get you fitter than a LOT of people, and you’ll have fun doing it. Rock climbing is amazingly good for you, so are martial arts, so is swimming.

Dance is insanely good for you. Pick a few of these and you’re absolutely golden. You don’t need to do strength training or running in a conventional fashion, if you don’t want to.

More on all this in a future video.

The Only Rule…

There are no rules. No one is in charge. You’re not in competition with anyone. Just enjoy moving and expressing your physicality in a way that is authentic to you. Thing is, you’ll find a style of movement and strength that suits you and it will be unique to you.

Of course, it’s important that we maintain a basic level of health if we want to age gracefully, play with our kids, and feel good about ourselves. Though, of course, it’s your body, man.

This is fine

But all we need to do to meet this basic criteria, is to move often and in a variety of ways. That’s it.

And this is where a lot of the narrative on YouTube seems a little warped, again, to me. People talk about strength training like its an obligation. Or running. Or whatever their flavour of training.

But, as I’ve explained on this channel many times, you are likely already strong enough for your every day tasks. And if you move regularly you’ll maintain the basic stability, core strength, and mobility you need to fend off natural deterioration.

Anything on top of that is optional.

Relax About It Part 2

And it’s maddening when people talk about gym culture like it’s not just a bit of fun. Like it’s this life and death mandate from the heavens.

I train because I want to be like Batman, or Jackie Chan, or Arnie and Stallone, or even Sonic the Hedgehog. That’s pretty nerdy and I own it.

Cossack Squat
I do Cossack squats because Sonic and Goku do them…

But I also suspect that a lot of those other, very serious people, are actually just playing as well. They just don’t want to admit it. Unless it’s your job (in which case you likely were attracted to that job because you were inspired by something less-than-grown-up).

If you’re training like the military but you’re not actually in the military… guess what? You’re playing.

If you want to be like a top athlete, but you’re not actually an athlete… you’re playing! And if you want to get massively muscular then surely, on some level, you were inspired either by a movie or something equally silly.

Which is all really great!

As children, we play intuitively. My daughter regularly turns our living room into a jungle gym by turning over ever piece of furniture and then leaping off of it.

The gym is a playground!

Psychologists are generally in agreement that play is training for later life.

By the same token, then, training… must be play!

And the gym is a playground!

So, can we all just lighten up about it?

Stop the Arguing!

When people start savagely arguing about whether powerlifting is better, or bodybuilding… they might as well be arguing which is the best Power Ranger.

I never liked Power Rangers, I was a Transformers guy.

Likewise, when you scoff at someone because their squat form isn’t perfect yet, it’s basically the same thing as bullying the kid who doesn’t have a Sega Megadrive yet.

That was me, by the way. I had a ZX Spectrum.

Horse Stance

This is true of Martial Arts, too. People get SO up in arms, shouting about fake martial arts and what has and hasn’t been “tested.” Guess what? NO martial arts work when you’re in the street and jumped by 5 guys with knives and/or guns.

When I got attached I was also extremely drunk.

Martial arts are AMAZING for you. But taking them too seriously is a big mistake. And being self-important is just… not a great look.

This goes for so many other walks of life, too. Very powerful, important businessmen often look and act like they’re very important indeed.

But are you really telling me there’s not a little voice inside their heads going “eeee I’m like Bruce Wayne in my suiiiiiite!!!”

Or is that just me??

If we all just lightened up about our hobbies and our ways of moving, there would be a lot less aggression online. We could learn from each other and play in eachother’s pools. We might stop tearing people down for giving advice we don’t quite agree with.

It’s All Just Advice

Because it is all just advice.

Of course, it’s very important not to teach bad form on a movement that could hurt someone. Or to manipulate people’s insecurities to sell things that don’t work or haven’t been proven.

But there is a limit here. Waiting to criticise anyone who tries something different or gets something wrong creates a toxic culture.

Lizard Crawl Closeup

I remember once wondering whether it was a good idea to include a shot of me climbing a tree in a video. I take my responsibility very seriously and I never want to encourage someone to do something that might get them hurt.

Then I remembered: six year-olds climb trees.

No one taught my daughter the perfect form for leaping off the sofa. She hasn’t busted her knee yet!

More injuries come from ego lifts and people feeling they need to prove something. If you scale back the intensity and the weight, you have more room for exploration and fun in your training.

And forget all these rules that you hear online about what training should and shouldn’t involve. Want to take selfies for Instagram between lifts? Go for it! You do you.

Planche Lean

Want to take 10 minute breaks and read your phone? Sure!

Look, this isn’t school. Just be courteous to other people and we’re good.

Why I LOVE Training, Like Kel Loves Orange Soda

So, yes, I think we should all train, ideally, for the sheer joy of training.

Before I close out, then, I’d like to just briefly express that joy for a moment. Why I LOVE training for its own sake.

Because, even as a fitness YouTuber, I spend a LOT of my time sitting down typing. When moving through polite society, I am encouraged to walk rather than run, to look presentable, and to go and do the thing I’m meant to be doing.

Typing

In the gym, or on the field, it’s different. Here, I’m actually encouraged to throw, jump, run, climb, lift, pull, and push. I’m allowed to actually use my body to its fullest.

This is when I get to feel the wind through my hair, when I get to explore new areas, when I get to swing upside-down from rings…

This is the closest you get to being like an action hero. It’s the closest most of our lives will come to looking like a movie.

That, by the way, is partly why I love making this YouTube channel. It lets me frame training in that way. Show how we can do stuff that looks awesome with just the right lens and a bit of dramatic framing.

Training Changes You

Better yet, the more you do this, the more you CAN do going forward. You increase your strength, unlock new moves, and increase your energy.

You become more formidable and you literally increase your freedom by increasing the number of options open to you in any given moment. People talk you differently and you feel more youthful and energetic.

Deep Squatting

I love READING about training. Which is also pretty much my job now. Even that part feels like a comic book, as you discover new secrets about the human body, new ways to tap into latent strength and ability.

And I love the challenge of training. I love having an obstacle to overcome – one I set for myself – and chipping away at it until I do. I love pushing out one last rep and really surprising myself with what I can do.

The moment when you unlock a new move, or beat your PR is absolutely priceless.

I even love the feeling you get after the training. Where your muscles are all kind of fuzzy and you feel all relaxed.

Aaaaand Relax!

It gives me permission to relax on the sofa and watch Gogglebox that evening, guilt free. And to eat Haribo. Because I’m a grown-up and I can do whatever I want.

Yep, I’m an “influencer” who watches Gogglebox eating Haribo. And you know what? Actually, relaxing in that way and letting my brain turn to mush is partly what has given me longevity and the mental fortitude to keep doing this stuff.

Rather than just doing more work, or meditation, or taking a cold shower.

It’s a topic for another time, but I think we need pillars in our lives to be well-rounded individuals. Making fitness and productivity EVERYTHING is missing the point, in my opinion.

Pike Pushup

And you know what? Gogglebox is actually a good way to get a roundup of recent TV highlights and even some news.

So….

Bottom line: training is absolutely awesome. Don’t let the internet ruin it for you. Or that shouty guy at the gym.

And remember: somewhere inside that shouty guy at the gym is just a little boy who wants to be Superman!

About Adam Sinicki

Adam Sinicki, AKA The Bioneer, is a writer, personal trainer, author, entrepreneur, and web developer. I've been writing about health, psychology, and fitness for the past 10+ years and have a fascination with the limits of human performance. When I'm not running my online businesses or training, I love sandwiches, computer games, comics, and hanging out with my family.

3 Comments

  1. Cale Albert says:

    I love it, great advice. We do take ourselves a little to seriously, and I miss pretending to fight off 20 ninjas with some stick I just found. There is a link to our adult brains and the loss of pretend creativity here too, I am sure.

  2. UltraD64 says:

    You really have to have a love for the process to make it work. Spot on, Adam.

  3. Jim Markley says:

    You are becoming one of my favorites because of the common sense (not very common anymore) you bring to fitness thanks!

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