7 Badass Life Lessons You’ll Learn at the Gym
Ah, the gym…
The House of Gains, the Temple of Iron, the Sanctum of Swole…
Okay, okay, I’ll stop.
Whatever you choose to call it, the gym is a sacred place.
It is a place of progress and contemplation, a place to push yourself and hone your ability to focus, to grow, and to achieve self-improvement.
The self-control, discipline, and work ethic I have cultivated within its walls has carried over to every other aspect of my life and has, without a doubt, led me to become a more confident, self-assured, and more complete individual.
Through the years, I’ve come to see the gym as a sanctuary, a place of meditation and reflection.. and I am certainly not the first to think this way.
The Classical Greeks believed that physical fitness and mental clarity were two sides of the same coin?
The Greeks understood that the mind and body are not separate entities, but that they are fundamentally and intimately linked. They regarded physical conditioning with the same importance as they did the pursuit of knowledge and medicine.
To exercise was not considered a preference to the Greeks, but a civil duty.
After all, it was Socrates that said:
“No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable”
The bottom line?
You should take your physical health seriously.
Exercise has been shown time and time again to drastically reduce the odds of contracting a multitude of health conditions and diseases, improve your mental health, and increase the overall quality and longevity of your life.
It is absolutely one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, you will feel better, look better, and learn core lessons that will serve you well as you navigate your journey up this mountain we call life.
Here are seven of them to get you started.
1. Just Do It
I swear, this post is non-sponsored, but Nike has a good point.
So many of us are held back by our own limiting beliefs, especially when we are just starting out.
Typically, it is our fear of failure that stops us from getting started in the first place.
The gym teaches you that you must suck at something before you can be any good at it, and deliberately practicing and repeating the process will be your key in doing just that.
The first time that you set foot in a gym, you are going to suck. You will feel weak, you will feel intimidated, and you will feel completely and utterly out of your depth.
But as the days and weeks progress, you will quickly find yourself improving, setting new personal records, and achieving feats of strength and stamina that you once believed to be impossible.
And the same is true in life.
If you want to get good at anything, whether it’s talking to women, building a business, or, yes, lifting weights, then you need to punch fear in the face and just freaking do it!
And the more frequently that you force yourself to go to the gym and “Just do it” the more this attitude will permeate every area of your life.
2. There Are No Failures, Only Lessons
In the gym, failure is usually a good thing.
When you “fail” in the gym, let’s say to hit your last rep, it’s only because you felt and acknowledged your limits and decided you had the capability to push beyond them, and you tried to do just that.
This is exactly what “failure” is in life.
Every person who has ever done anything worth doing will attest to the important role failure has played in their journey.
It teaches you resilience, it teaches you patience, and it teaches you that each and every time you are knocked down, you have a choice whether or not you will stay down.
If you believe that failure is final, that failure can keep you down, then you have lost.
But if you accept that failure is a natural part of success and use it to aid you in the future, than it will transcend its aforementioned meaning and become one of your most valuable teachers.
Keep this mindset about you and you can never truly fail, you will only ever learn.
3. Life Has a Compounding Effect
Success in the gym is very gradual.
Your body will not change overnight, it takes time.
But the change does come, little by little, bit by bit, until all of a sudden it’s a year or two later, you’re packing 10+ more pounds of muscle, and there’s a stark difference between the person you started as and the person you are now.
While they are happening, you don’t perceive the changes that are happening to be drastic ones.
They happens so slowly that you become accustomed to them while you are on your journey.
But none the less, the changes come, and you continue to evolve until one day, you wake up, look at yourself in the mirror and think “Woah! Who the hell is that guy?”
There is power in this compounding effect, the build up of little actions over time to create significant and noticeable results.
Just think about a roaring tidal wave, which starts as nothing but a small ripple within the middle of the ocean.
That little ripple moves forward and slowly gains momentum and more speed, which results in more size, which results in gaining even more momentum and more speed, which results in even more size, and on and on until the tiny little ripple has become a powerful and unstoppable force.
Do not be ashamed of being that ripple, because you possess all of the potential needed to become the wave.
4. Dedication Beats Motivation
I love the gym, it’s easily one of my favorite places to be and without a doubt one of my favorite things to do.
That being said, sometimes I don’t feel like going.
In fact, while I was writing this article, I didn’t really feel like doing much of anything other than watching reruns of Game of Thrones and drinking wine along with the characters.
And yet, despite this desire to be complacent, I write, and after I’m finished writing, I will go to the gym.
I will do these things because I know the value of my dedication to them, and I know the value of doing them even when I don’t want to or feel motivated to.
And once you develop this mentality at the gym, it begins to infect every area of your life in a positive way.
You realize the value in doing things because they’re the right thing to do, not because you want to do them or feel like doing them at the time.
You understand that movement creates motivation not the other way around and that dedication is the most important factor in building a successful life.
5. Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail
If you have been training for any appreciable amount of time, you know that you cannot show up at the gym without a plan.
Yet so many of you probably do.
Instead of following a specific routine that is tailored to your goals, you show up at the gym with no plan or strategy and decide to do whatever you feel like.
Most of the machines are taken, so you do a handful of pullups, some curls, and use a couple of weird pulley systems before calling it a day.
You go home and eat whatever is in your fridge and then you haphazardly take supplements that you think might help.
You have no plan, no strategy, and likely… No results.
The individuals who succeed in the gym (and in life) are those who have a plan.
The guys who have the chiseled physiques and lean bodies are the ones who follow very specific workout prescriptions, taking note of their sets, reps, and rest time down to the second.
They track their calories and follow a highly tailored nutrition plan to ensure that they maximize their results.
They know how much sleep they need to get, what supplements they need to take, and how often they should deload to allow their bodies to recover.
And this pattern repeats itself in the rest of your life.
If you have no plan for your finances, you will have poor results in your financial life.
If you start a business without knowing what you offer and who you want to offer it to, you will fail within the first six months and contribute to the appalling business statistics about small business failure.
Having a plan is critical to your success, and nothing will teach you of its importance the way that the gym will.
6. The Value in Pain
Most of us hate it and do all we can to avoid it, but pain (of certain types) can be good, and even healthy.
I love the soreness achieved a few days after an intense workout, because it tells me that my muscle fibers have been sufficiently torn, and are now in the process of rebuilding, and becoming stronger and more resilient.
Pain builds mental and physical toughness the way few other experiences can.
It increases your threshold for discomfort, which allows you to open yourself up to more experiences, take more (hopefully calculated) risks reframe your view of pain and failure.
Do not be hesitant to experience pain, make it a part of who you are and allow it to motivate you.
Begin to embrace the saying “What doesn’t kill you only serves to make you stronger” and you will become much better for it.
7. Conquer Yourself to Conquer Your World
The gym is ultimately designed for one thing and one thing only: Self Improvement.
Out of any activity you might pursue, the gym is one of few that allows you to see immediate results for the actions performed.
You pick heavy things up, you put them back down, and you grow.
Simple, clear, controlled.
It becomes a habit, and, eventually, you begin to wonder how you were ever able to live without it. It impacts you, it changes you, and it shows you a glimpse of your power.
You begin to ask yourself “If I was able to take my body and transform it into a leaner, stronger, and more capable version of what it once was, using nothing but my willpower and drive to do so, what else could I transform?” and this is what lifting really shows you.
It shows you that you are capable of making a difference, making a change for the better, for yourself and even for those around you. This mastery you develop over your body and the mindset you gain as a result bleeds into the other facets of your life and you begin to see the truth.
The truth that you are the master of your circumstances and capable of achieving whatever you might choose to set your mind to. And that is a power few come to possess within their lifetime.
Many of the greatest lessons that life has to teach you will be taught in the most unlikely of classrooms. The gym is one of those classrooms.
Lift, learn, grow, and then repeat the process. Go at your own pace, take things slow, but continue to push yourself.
Do not let your self sabotage and doubt of your capabilities cloud your judgement, push past them, and you will find the reality is more often than not far less challenging and severe than you originally built it up to be within your mind.
Incorporating the gym into your daily life will be an excellent start in learning how to do just that, and you will learn all of the lessons listed above and more as long as you are persistent and diligent in your progress.
You only have one life and one body, why not push it to its limits? Why not see what it’s truly capable of achieving and reap the benefits of doing so? Greater self confidence, discipline, strength, and sex appeal sound good to you don’t they? Then do everything you can to embody those qualities and pull yourself into a better reality. Make this decision for yourself, and I absolutely, without question or doubt, promise that you will never regret it. Good luck, now go out and lift.