My gym has two quotes on the wall. They represent in their entirety all of the sort of motivational or inspirational fare that exists in the gym.
At first glance you might think that they are intended to be motivational, which I guess is possible if you’re the type of person to get fired up for a deadlift PR by an Einstein quote.
But they’re not. Rather they’re a restatement of our philosophies and a reminder of the core tenets.
The first is an Einstein quote, “nothing happens until something moves.” This of course has been used endlessly as motivation to spur action, but to us it means something much more fundamental. We believe that movement itself is truly one of the core functions of a human being and there aren’t many problems that can’t be solved by movement. In a pretty well-known Ted Talk neuroscientist Daniel Wolpert argues that the reason for our big brains is to control movement. Can you believe that? It’s not to recall movie quotes.
Which is to say, if one of the primary functions that led to the evolution of these giant brains is movement, maybe should do more of it?
Of course with anything that we find is true it scales up and down. In other words movement is usually the answer in matters outside the body: quit your job, change your career, move to another city, move on a project and so on. And we get there by just starting anything moving.
The second quote is a little more exercise specific to us.
“Develop the strength to do bold things, not the strength to suffer.” – Niccolo Machiavelli
First of all I think it’s important to know that the quote itself doesn’t appear in Machiavelli’s writing, and it’s certainly not from The Prince as it’s usually attributed. Instead, there’s a passage in Discourses on Livy that it’s probably paraphrase from.
In this passage, Machiavelli criticizes Romans’ religion as asking man to have strength simply to suffer rather than doing something about the circumstances, or “think more of enduring their beatings than of avenging them.”
A lot of fitness religion revolves around suffering, it seems purely for the sake of suffering. It can’t be for any other reason because you don’t need to suffer to get better.
I’m more interested in what you can do with the strength you develop in the gym. Honestly, who cares what you can do IN the gym? What can you do with what you develop in the gym, outside the gym?
Hike? Move furniture? Play with kids? Bike? Take stairs two at a time? Play sports? Not have your back hurt?
Whatever you like to do there’s a good chance that a little bit of work in the gym will help you do it better, and there’s no suffering required to get the body to adapt. Bodies do that even if you don’t want them to, so all you have to do is head in the right direction.
I got to thinking about these quotes because we’re going to be launching a new program for new people at the gym and I was thinking about how I’d explain things to someone new.
I think it’s good to have some anchors like this to your core philosophies, things that you can reference back to and check decisions or choices against.
These are some of ours, what are yours?