I’m lucky enough to work at a company that provides exercise classes to us. One such class is “Boot Camp” which is exactly as the title suggests, a hardcore circuits type class. A couple of months ago, a few months into my fitness development, I started to wonder if I might be capable of completing the class. I asked a few regulars and was told that it was super tough, and possibly only for the really hardcore amongst us. Frankly, they frightened me. I enquired with The Trainer who told me that the class was a challenge for anyone but there was nothing in it that I wasn’t physically capable of. I was studying motivation theories at the time, and decided that I really didn’t feel motivated whatsoever and I was unlikely to ever attend this class. I was so sure that I wouldn’t attend – what was motivating about a hard, potentially humiliating class that people tell you is really, really awful? I was so sure that I wouldn’t be able to break down the barriers of this demotivation that I offered a bet to The Trainer. If he could motivate me to get to the class and complete it before the end of the year, we would take a cycle ride together but use his route (which would be hilly). If I didn’t go before Christmas, we would take a cycle ride together but use my route (which would be flat). Despite the wager in place, I really wanted to prove that I could complete that class. For me, it was a sign of not having boundaries anymore. Back in July I was unsure as to whether I should even enter a gym. Boot Camp, for me, along with CrossFit, is a sign that there is nowhere I don’t belong or can’t go if I don’t want to. I wanted to get this done before Christmas just because I think “nothing in July to Boot Camp in December” is pretty cool.
Long story short, I completed my first Boot Camp class last night. It was hard but it was alright, I coped.
So you’d think after this major achievement I’d feel great. Sadly not. My negative self-talk kicked in and I managed to convince myself that The Trainer had deliberately made the class easier just for me; I had to swap some of the exercises to avoid aggravating my injury so that didn’t really count as doing the class as prescribed; it was only two people which doesn’t really count as a group. Any excuse my inner critic could think of to make me denigrate the achievement, it did. If my Inner Critic was a person and they spoke to me in this way I would definitely ask them what exactly I’d done to make them act so hurtfully towards me and I’d pretty quickly terminate the relationship. Yet I treat myself that way. It might be time to terminate this wholly negative and toxic relationship and build a better one.
There was progress with the Inner Critic though, as well as the clear physical progress. The first part of the class involved an increasing pyramid of thrusters and burpees. The guy who was in the class with me was quicker than I was and I was very aware that I would soon be plodding through the movements on my own. The Inner Critic was loudly shouting to stop at the same time as him. “You’re last, you’re useless, you’re humiliating yourself, just stop now, it doesn’t matter if you don’t finish as long as you don’t look stupid because you’re taking so long”. There have been so many times when I’ve listened to that voice and it took a lot of energy last night to take control, tell the Inner Critic that I was thankful for her concern but actually I was fine and I was choosing to finish the routine even if I was doing it on my own. It was less humiliating to take the victory in finishing, even if I was slow, than humiliate myself by giving up before the end. So I pushed on. It took a while and I ended up doing the thrusters in single reps because it was really, really hard but I finished. Small victory but big lessons learned. Just because we have Inner Critics doesn’t mean we need to listen. Eventually, once she realises she is getting ignored she’ll probably pipe down. It’ll take time but we’ll get there. She’s there to protect me from hurt but she sees everything as a risk and that means I don’t get to experience everything I want to.
Boot Camp done. There’s never been a bet I’ve been more happy to lose.