You’re a lot stronger than you think you are, but how often do you ever get to prove it? How often do you get a chance to show what you’re made of?
Very few people really ever push their bodies to its limits on any kind of regular basis, and there’s emotional and physical evidence that you can and should. Challenging your brain and body not only improves fitness, it builds confidence and character - inside and out of the gym.
Call it no pain, no gain or mind over matter, the way to becoming a badass begins in your head. Train your brain and your body will follow.
Very few people really ever push their bodies to its limits on any kind of regular basis, and there’s emotional and physical evidence that you can and should.
September’s issue of Men’s Health magazine features an article about a radical exercise concept in Utah called Gym Jones, a hardcore fitness mecca that specializes in pain—inflicting it and preaching it. The gym’s members, “disciples” as they’re called, come in all shapes and sizes—from Special Forces recruits and MMA fighters, to your average Joe – but they all have one thing in common: they’re true believers when it comes to getting out of their comfort zone.
Mark Twight, founder of Gym Jones believes “true fitness comes from training the muscle that sits in your skull. Your brain.” Many of the workouts—which range from crushing, hour-long interval circuits to cardio blasts on the rower or AirDyne stationary bike—are insanely intense, as it’s described. Don’t think you can do it? Shut up and try. Stay out of your head, stop thinking, and whatever you do, don’t quit.
“If you don’t push through your mental limits, you’re just going through the motions and you will stay at a certain level mentally and physically for life,” warns Gym Jones' Mark Twight.
I know this to be true from personal experience. As a fitness trainer and athlete, I’ve always subscribed to the theory that in order to improve at anything, you've got to keep upping the stakes, raising the bar, and believing you can. The work may be hard, but the results can be life changing.
Whatever stops you from achieving greatness—be it fear, laziness, or self-doubt—is 100% in your head, according to the mind-first fitness philosophy of Gym Jones. Self-defeating thoughts can suck the life out your workouts, not to mention your life goals, if you let them. For this reason, you need to practice pushing past pain.
“Inside everyman’s brain is a voice telling him to just give up and quit. Gym Jones wants to help shut that voice up, because in that silence is strength,” says Twight.
So how do you breakthrough mental barriers? Just follow these five steps inspired by Gym Jones and complemented by my own training tips:
- Test your limits. Determine what your edge is, then go there for a quick visit. How long can you stay? Where is your breaking point? When do you call it quits? Remember, you’re stronger than you think, now’s the time to put your resolve to the test.
- Make friends with pain. Challenge what you previously thought was your pain tolerance and threshold. “When you reach your edge and push past it, you’ll realize you weren’t really at your edge in the first place,” says Steve Portenga, Ph.D., a sports psychologist who’s worked with Olympians.
- Be accountable. Find a good trainer, workout partner, or good buddy who’ll keep you honest, on task, disciplined and motivated. Give them permission to push you, remind you, and even annoy you sometimes.
- Take baby steps. Whether you’re in the gym, or out in the real world, try going a little harder, a little farther, and a little faster each time. Turn off your inner slacker and fight the urge to quit.
- Be fearless. When you’re gripped in self-doubt, tune out negative thoughts and stay positive. Repeat statements like “I can do this,” or “I’ve survived worse.”
The rewards of pushing past pain and breaking through barriers, aren’t short lived; they’re ongoing sources of pride and accomplishment you can use whether you’re building muscles or a new business, getting in shape or getting through a divorce. The point is, these aren’t just tools for the gym, they’re skills for life.
And the best part is, you don’t have to be an athlete to be a badass. You just have to think like one. And track your progress.
Treva Brandon Scharf
Blogger, Content Creator, Fitness Expert