A Soldier's Creed - In the Gym
We've all seen the commercials about how hiring someone with previous military experience is a great choice because their training has prepared them to excel in any career. I believe this is true, but I also believe the physical training these people did in the military will prepare them for a successful career in the gym once their military career is over.
You see, I believe that most of us take working out for granted, that a lot of the time we just go through the motions of going to the gym. Many non-military people haven't had to go through the hardships that someone in the military has to battle against on a daily basis. They haven't had to wake up at 4:00am for physical training, experienced the pleasure of pushing through a workout with your troop, or been faced with the minimal choices of workouts due to limited equipment.
Whether you're in the Army, Marines, Air Force, Navy, or any other branch of the military, one thing is for certain - there is no certainty. Military personnel, much like fire and police personnel, have the same struggles finding consistency in their workouts and with finding that "perfect workout plan."
But what is perfect? In the military's case perfect means that when the shit hits the fan, the workouts they’ve been doing have them in shape enough to stay alive. I've had friends in every branch of the military (bootcamp, not-deployed, deployed, etc.) and there are few situations where you can follow the workouts and diets that you read every month in the newest fitness magazine. You learn to work with what you have, and in the generation of information overload, it's hard to find trusted sources (except Breaking Muscle, of course).
I know you see the current and former military members in your gym. They go right to where it matters - the big lifts, mastering bodyweight movements, sticking to the basics, and more importantly keeping the intensity high as they do it. If you’re currently in the military, then I’ll see you when you get out. I’ll give you a spot with your big lifts and tell the other members to watch your workouts because that’s how it should be done.
A lot of us can learn from the Army's “Soldier's Creed.” Let’s take a look at what defines a soldier in the context of our time in the gym:
...is a skilled professional who lives by the Soldier's Creed and Army Values.
If you're following a workout plan, treat yourself like a professional. You wouldn't slack off while you were at work right? While working out is fun, the elite treat every workout like it is a job. When you're in the gym shut the phone off, don't schmooze with the front desk girl, and avoid all small talk during your workouts.
...works with strong Army Civilian teammates who embody the same resilient characteristics.
Pick your workout partners wisely. A great workout partner can make or break the improvements you see. They should push you, know your strengths and weaknesses, and never give up on you or cancel on a workout.
...is a valued member of the Army Team who treats all with dignity and respect.
As a member of any gym you should treat everyone with respect. Use any opportunity to help someone out after your workout is done. Instead of your post-workout flex session, pull that kid aside who you see eyeing your workouts. You'd be surprised how great it feels to give someone direction and be a mentor to them.
...manages sleep, diet and mind/body conditioning to become stronger and optimize performance.
We all have to get better at time management. With the four hours you spend in the gym every week, you better fill the other 164 hours with healthy habits. You can have the best workout plan in the world, but if you’re getting bad sleep, eating poorly, and have little self-control then your results will suffer.
...bounces back from adversity to thrive and meet goals and objectives.
...is self-aware, seeks help when needed and intervenes to help others, treats all with dignity and respect.
You are not going to hit every rep, lose every pound, or grow the biceps that extra inch. Workout plans fail, diets fail, and your self-control will fail at times too. The point is to keep your focus and set realistic goals, and you will accomplish what you set out to reach. At times, you will not be able to do it on your own, you will need help, and the sooner you put your pride aside the more successful you’ll be.
...embraces challenges, solves problems, continuously learns, improves and strengthens.
You should get most excited when things get most difficult. Every day is a challenge. It’s tough for everyone to get to the gym day-in and day-out. What drives me is knowing that there are people out there right now in the military whose job is to protect our country, which is ultimately giving us the opportunity to workout. What’s your excuse?
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