I’m done with the gym. I’m canceling my membership.
A few months ago, Chris Johnson wrote an insightful post about being intense. In it he said this, “We know the real magic happens not with “presence” but with intensity. Focus. White hot burn. Go to the gym. Spend an hour or more on some elliptical machine. Not hard, probably does a little good. Perfectly safe.”
And that’s the problem. I went religiously to the gym over the past year, and dropped a lot of weight as a result. It was positive. It was good. It was safe. But it was not great. Over time, it became too easy to simply show up. It became habit to take the easy way out, even in the process of doing something good.
It is extremely difficult to intensely do something easy.
Sometimes you need to choose harder things – things that force you to be intense, whether you feel like it or not. This morning, I got up at 4:45am, did 30 minutes of yoga and head out for a six mile hike through 1000 feet of elevation gain. It was a more intense workout than I have ever gotten at a gym. And it comes with a bonus.
The bonus is that I love hiking in the early morning. I love the reward of watching the sunrise over the mountains. I love placing myself in the moment, focusing on my breathing, clearing my head for the day. But it’s harder to get up early to make that happen. It’s harder to push up the steep sections of hill that are the only path to the vistas I enjoy so much. The result is worth it. The reward is greater than simply putting in 40 minutes on an elliptical machine.
So, I’m choosing the harder thing. The uneven path, the change in elevation and force of gravity will supply the intensity. I just need to bring the consistency.
What’s the harder thing you could be doing to get your greater reward.
Rich Jacobson says
obviously, a lesson to be applied to all of life. All too many times, we reach for the ‘easy’ button. But choosing the harder road builds depth of character, endurance, and perseverance…qualities we desperately need to succeed in this life. Thanks, Jeff!
Terry Gearhart says
Wow, you nailed it. The easy stuff is…well, easy. The road more traveled. This is a nice wake-up call for all of us. Thanks for making me think today.
Teresa Boardman says
🙂 Nice job and oh so true. I think repetition also causes us to lose intensity.
Jeff Turner says
T, I think you’re right. Anything done over and over and over can become easy and be drained of intensity. I’m looking forward to the day these hikes become too easy. 🙂
There is something about the goal, too. It feels different to finish a long run v. 45 minutes of cardio on a machine with a tv. I feel …. like a really accomplished something at the end of a long run. When I leave the gym I feel like I fulfilled a duty.
Jeff Turner says
No question. The harder thing has to have a bigger reward. 🙂
Renee Burrows says
My gym offers yoga 3-4 times a day at each location so it I obviously get the best of all worlds there! Different teachers – different styles. It is so great!
Jeff Turner says
Wow, a comment from both Renee and Missy in the same day? I need to write about working out more often. 🙂
Missy Stagers says
Intensity…accomplishing what is a challenge gives some of us a lot of gratification. If it is easy, everyone does it. If requires alot of effort, not a little and you really push, then it is so rewarding for just trying. I like crazy workouts. The same repetition works for some, but for me…change, pushing the limits makes the workout worth while. I am fortunate to work out with a trainer who understands my need! Anytime you get to watch the sunrise though is worth while regardless what you are doing!!!