The power of habit is the corner stone of good discipline. Discipline is essential to have when cultivating a fit and healthy body.
I've been a fan of Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and I couldn't help wonder if these same exact habits are applicable in fitness.
After doing some correlating, I discovered some fascinating things. Here's what I discovered.
The Private Victory of fitness is made up of the first 3 habits that lead to independence.
Habit 1: Be proactive
Being proactive in your fitness is about having the initiative and responsibility to engage in the sport of physical activity of your desire. With or without the help of others.
If you want to get into a sport, activity or recreation badly enough, don't let solitude, isolation or lack of money stop you. I've learned several styles of martial on my own initiative by looking for information and experimentation through just exploring those styles through practice.
As long as you have the genuine desire and a mind to learn with, you can just start.
Habit 2: Begin with the end in mind
This isn't just about having a goal but rather, having a goal that inspires you.
So, for you to be able to achieve your private victory in your fitness, base your programs, exercises, workouts and training sessions towards what you really want to achieve with your body.
What do you want to be able to do with your body?
What inspires you to the point that you yourself want to embody those skills or abilities?
What could you aspire to by developing or improving a specific skill, sport or physical activity?
If you master this habit of envisioning exactly what you want in your fitness and why, then every exercise, routine or workout you choose will naturally compel you.
Habit 3: Make first things first
In order for fitness to be a way of life it has to be prioritized. So, in order to make fitness first in your life, you either make it first in your heart or first on the clock.
What do I mean by that? If your fitness is geared towards a workout session or exercise routine around a sport or physical activity you are truly inspired and passionate about, then you will find a schedule that you know deep down you'll be able to commit to consistently.
On the other hand, if your fitness is anything less than a burning passion and you struggle to show up, then you need to prioritise it in your day by either doing it first thing in the morning or if you can, first thing as soon as you come home or right after work. Make it the first thing before you move on to anything else and you'll have one less excuse.
The public victory is about habits that supports your growth in a group fitness environment no matter what sport you play. They are also the 3 habits that lead to interdependence in fitness. Interdependence can be a powerful way to leverage collaboration to make gains and progress in fitness while at the same time being a source of leverage for somebody else in their fitness.
Habit 4: Think win / win
Whether you play competitively or you just play for fun, your likely to have some humbling moments where you experience defeat by a rival or just feel less adept than others.
Thinking win / win is about seeing the value in such humbling moments as for it is in these moments that are trying to get you to improve your game and performance by showing you some weaknesses.
Just see every defeat as an opportunity to ask some fresh questions and receive some fresh insights and information. You'd be amazed at how such humbling moments can open your eyes to something you weren't aware of before. Even criticism about your technique is valuable because you can't see yourself in 3rd person POV and I guarantee that from your 1st person POV, you miss some things.
Habit 5: Seek first to understand before seeking to be understood
In a group fitness environment, it's extremely useful to maintain the attitude of a student. Even if you happen to be the teacher, instructor, trainer or coach.
We all come from different backgrounds and have different experiences with fitness from various sports and activities. So, in a group fitness setting it's good to stay open and exchange teachings and distinctions about how to perform specific exercises, skills and techniques.
Habit 6: synergize
Group fitness also have the distinct benefit of compounding growth by having the use of others to not only push and motivate you but also to facilitate drills and routines that can yield exponential results that you would not normal be able to reach on your own. Or at least, not as quickly.
For instance, a lot of things that require partner work. Towel sprints is a fine example of synergising in order to develop explosive power in your running. Having another person holding you back with a towel wrapped around your waist while you drive out those legs in order to move forward is one of many examples of leveraging others for your own gains.
It doesn't stop there because the beauty of synergizing in fitness is that you can also benefit others while making gains yourself. The towel sprint example is one where you would have to take turns but there are also exercises that you can do together whereby all parties can benefit from that non would benefit from on their own.
And lastly …
Habit 7: Sharpen the saw
Sharpening the saw in fitness is essentially the habit of always training and refining your sport or physical activity. It's about practicing the fundamentals so that over time they get cleaner, sharper and make you better in that sport or physical activity. It's also about staying open to new learnings, new drills, exercises and routines in order to develop or refine specific aspect of your fitness.
Really, there are 2 main aspects of Sharpening the saw.
Refining and sharpening the skills, techniques and qualities you have now that are fundamental for that sport or physical activity.
Learning, developing and lasering in on new skills, strengths, qualities and attributes that will improve you as either an athlete in your sport or just improve the quality or experience of your physical activities.
That second point about sharpening the saw is pretty important because it's all too easy to get stuck into a fairly static exercise routine and letting yourself plateau out. I've been there. What you want to do is to frequently ask yourself if there are any traits, qualities or attributes in your fitness that you wish to develop or refine and then spend some time laser focussing your program around that. You could say that you need to leverage habit 2 (begin with the end in mind) in order to answer that question.
Habits are powerful because once they are installed, you don't have to rely on will power quite so much. These 7 habits are beautifully broken up.
The way to see it is you start out at the level of dependence. Whether that's dependence on a trainer or raw will once in a while. Then as you master the 3 habits of your private victory, you reach the level of independence meaning that you'll have engrained in you the habits that allow you to integrate fitness into your life effortlessly.
Then, from the level of independence, if you choose to enter a group fitness environment, you get to develop the 3 habits of your public victory. These habits will get you to the level of interdependence whereby you get to leverage massive growth and progress in your fitness by leveraging the effects of collaborating with others.
And of course, sharpening the saw is the master habit as it doesn't lie at any particular level but is the habit to have throughout, no matter what level you're at.
Inspired by fitness,