The following is an excerpt from an Elite Body interview I did with Shawn Phillips, author of Strength For Life…
Jim: What are some of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to exercising?
Shawn: I think the biggest mistake people make in their fitness conditioning and certainly strength training is that they check their mind at the door. They put their work clothes in the locker. They leave their brain there and their mind. They walk into the gym and they go through motions. Going through the motions because it’s an obligatory . . . I’m obligated. I’m supposed to work out. But they don’t vest themselves; integrate themselves and become fully present to it.
When you are there; when your mind is driving your muscles; not coming along like a dog on a leash; you have a more effective workout. Your results are better.
Jim: That’s a big difference. I can relate to that because I lot of the changes I made in my body happened through yoga and it happened naturally. It was the first time I’d ever learned to exercise that way, I’d never learned how to go inside and begin to really connect with my body until I began doing yoga and martial arts. I’d never heard of that.
So what I like about what you’re doing I think is so valuable for everyone listening here is to begin thinking about working out and exercising in a whole new way.
Shawn: I’m going to ask you; you did those things because they were good for you, but did you also enjoy them?
Jim: I’ll tell you what; well martial arts was good for a little while and then I hit a point where I was “What am I doing this for?” So that kind of fell away. Yoga was something . . . because I wanted to change my body and I started going to the gym. I’d go to the gym and go to the gym and it just wasn’t right for me partly because I was doing it wrong at the time and I didn’t realize it. Like you were saying, it was like I was checking my mind at the door and just going through the movements.
I wasn’t getting the results that I wanted and just like you said, as I moved into yoga, all of a sudden that was the first time I’d ever really done exercising that I enjoyed. I literally got addicted to it. It had nothing to do with willpower, I had to do it.
Shawn: You’re talking mastery right there Jim. I love that conversation. You talked a little about the motivation, but that’s it. You are identifying the actual steps to mastery which is moving from “I have to do this thing” into something I enjoy doing and into where it’s a part of my life.
I understand that people can only willpower themselves for so long. If it’s not something you enjoy; if it doesn’t add time, energy and vitality to your life; if it’s not an asset and it’s just something I’m doing because I need to like balancing my checkbook, it will fall away or you’ll wait for your doctor to force you to.
I want to point out that your discussion about the yoga led right into what I wanted to point at which is that the whole aspect of “I enjoy it” . . . we enjoy anything that we are very present to.
Jim: That’s great and again sometimes people just say “Okay, this is what I’m going to do” where they’d almost be better off if they took a step back and said “What’s a plan that I could do forever as opposed to the plan to get the instant results in a month that’s not sustainable?” It’s a whole different approach to it.
Shawn: Creating a reason and it’s that “What am I moving towards and what am I becoming.” When you talk about motivation, I say fitness is something you do. Strength is a way of being. When you become . . . when you stop doing fitness and start being fit; start being strong; that is your life and no longer something you just go through the motions on.