by Ninja Master Mark Fisher
I hate working out.
This may be confusing. This might even be shocking. But most of the time, I fucking hate working out.
Now before we go into the reasons I use to get my ass into the gym, I will concede this. I’m intellectually fascinated (OBSESSED) with movement. I’m endlessly curious about how the body creates movement. I’m also very much into art and creating beauty through movement, hence my love of dance, athletic performance, and exercise technique.
I’m also fascinated by the process of applying certain stimulus to achieve a fitness result. I’m a thinker. I like process. I like problem solving. I love applying training strategies to hundreds of Ninjas and ever-refining our methods of getting the fastest, best results possible. Particularly when it’s my favorite end results—health and hotness.
And I especially love exploring the psycho-spiritual ramifications of training. This applies both to the quantifiable changes in the brain and to the unquantifiable borderline mystical effects of training on one’s life.
All of the above are reasons why I love learning about fitness and why I love training others. I personally don’t particularly enjoy the physical exertion, at least not in and of itself.
But here are things I do like…
1) Making my heart healthier. My family has a history of heart disease, and perhaps unsurprisingly, I struggle with moderately high blood pressure. But I really hope to avoid dying before my time. So I guess I like… “not dying.”
2) Having my brain work at its peak condition. I’m definitely more stimulated by ideas and brainwork than physical labor. And I know that exercise helps my brain work better. There’s a great book called Brain Rules that sums up what we actually know about how the brain works. The first rule? Exercise boosts brainpower.
3) Being happy. We’ve seen research to suggest exercise is more effective than medication when fighting depression. While I’m generally a pretty happy dude, I don’t see any reason to rest on my happiness laurels.
4) Working off stress. I love my life and I love what I do, but there’s inherent stress that goes along with running a business. I have pretty high standards for myself and for MFF, and I am not a Zen master. This means sometimes I have to just go swing a fucking kettlebell or do some deadlifts.
5) Looking good naked. It may not be as high of a priority as it was when I was in my 20’s, but it still matters. I want to look good for my lady and I want to hopefully show the Ninjas I walk the walk. Let’s tell the brutal truth, it’s hard to be taken seriously as a health and hotness expert unless you’re in pretty good shape.
6) Not being in pain. Humans are meant to move. Turns out our bodies don’t like it so much when we never move. Things start getting tight and in some cases, we can wind up in pain. I’m fortunate in that my job has a reasonable amount of up and down, and I spend some of my day sitting and some of my day teaching and standing. That said, it’s still important for me to take the time to take my joints through a full range of motion.
7) Learning. Admittedly this is fitness professional specific, but I believe I have a certain obligation to understand what it is I’m asking other folks to do. If I’m imposing loads and stresses on your body, I can’t rely exclusively on theory. I want to know what that experience is like. Furthermore, I’m a far more effective coach because I’ll have more guidance to offer Ninjas having been through what they’re experiencing.
8) Being able to function in the world with ease. This is as close as I get to a “performance goal.” I really don’t give a shit about anything besides being able to live my life easily. I want to be able to easily handle my luggage when I’m going on trips. I want to be able to walk upstairs and not get winded. I want to do any of the (albeit incredibly limited) physical activities required for me to live my life and not have it be a daunting challenge.
9) Community. I may not love working out in and of itself, but I’m lucky because I work out in a Ninja Clubhouse. I genuinely love taking class or being in the Lair and getting to see the team and Ninjas, play name games, and generally giggle a lot by acting like a fool.
10) Being happy. Yeah, I know. I said this one already. It’s worth repeating. I’m a pretty goal oriented person (UNDERSTATEMENT). The greatest blessing of my life is that I saw at an early age that the most important goal was happiness.
One of my favorite books is Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search For Meaning. I believe happiness can’t really be pursued in and of itself. Happiness is a byproduct of doing what you love. Or as Earl Nightingale said, “happiness is the progressive realization of a worthy goal.”
While I know that the vast majority of my happiness will come from helping other people do shit (become Ninjas, achieve fitness goals, find their personal power, enjoy their life working at MFF), I also know there IS a physical component to happiness. If your body and brain aren’t receiving the mandatory base level of physical stimulus they need to function, you can’t achieve peak levels of happiness. (TWEET THAT SHIT!) This is to say nothing of the fact that health really is the first wealth. It’s hard to be happy if you’re facing significant health issues.
So there. I fucking hate working out. I said it.
But you know what I love? Striving to reach my personal potential and achieving the maximal positive impact on the world around me. And I know for certain that this simply isn’t possible unless exercise is a regular part of my life.
Here’s my challenge to you:
For those of you who naturally love physical exertion and working out… go fuck yourself.
I’m kidding, I’m kidding! You are actually awesome and I really respect you. Keep on nailing it.
For those of you who also hate working out, make your own list. Take the time to write it down. And then anytime you’re tempted to blow off your workout, go back to that list. I think you’ll find it lights a little fire under your ass.
Now I want to hear from you! What gets you out the door on those cold mornings to get those workouts in? What inspires you to get after your fitness on the days you’re really not feeling it?