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Entering the Gym: Mind Tricks for Performing Your Best During a Workout

 

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Give me a run-based workout, and I will crush it. Give me a workout full of gymnastics movements, and suddenly I want to use my running skills to run away. I start thinking negative thoughts and no longer see myself as capable and strong because I have told myself over and over that I am a runner and I am not a gymnast.

Your head game, or perception of yourself, can either enable or disable you from meeting your fitness goals. Below are two tricks I have started using before I set foot in the gym to get ready to crush any workout I encounter.


Trick #1: Figure out what is REAL and what is OPINION

“It is important to recognize how much of your athletic identity is 1) changeable, 2) based on how you see yourself in relation to others rather than what you have actually accomplished, and 3) colors how you are most likely going to approach your future athletic goals.”

In one paragraph, I want you to describe yourself as an athlete. We will call this your ATHLETE NARRATIVE. Tell me anything and everything you want. There is no right or wrong way to write this.

Now I want you to underline anything that is objectively and factually true. This is the FACTUAL YOU. This is the stuff that cannot be changed or manipulated. Some examples include your age, any injuries you have sustained, how long you have participated in a sport or activity, and your PRs. These are things that are not opinion based; they are simply facts.

Second, highlight anything that is opinion or interpretation-based. Look for adjectives (descriptive words) or “I statements”. Some examples could include “I’m slow,” “It takes me a long time to learn weightlifting movements,” and “I’m great at bodyweight stuff”. These are all RELATIVE statements because they stem from non-objective comparisons to what you perceive are the standards of being an athlete. These are not immutable facts like the lines you underlined. Instead, these are feelings or ideas you have about yourself that can be changed.

Below is an example ATHLETE NARRATIVE with facts underlined and relative statements highlighted:

I am 24 years old and started lifting weights in the 9th grade. I began learning about CrossFit in the tenth grade where I attempted my first cleanit wasn’t great. I played basketball for 15 years and was pretty good technically, but I didn’t have travel-ball experience my teammates did and so I struggled with organized ball. I did track in high school for 4 years and wasn’t very great at it but at least I didn’t give up. I did martial arts intensely for 2 years where I qualified early for my black belt. I felt like I naturally excelled. I have a shoulder injury from martial arts, which is why it takes me a long time to warm up for overhead lifts: it’s frustrating. While I followed CrossFit throughout college, I always felt super intimidated to do Olympic lifting because I didn’t have a coach to tell me what I was doing wrong. Now I’m in between scaled and RX. I’m not as strong or good at gymnastics as I need to be to go RX, but I’m good at the bodyweight/aerobic workouts. I would like to do RX soon.

Whether your RELATIVE statements are positive or negative in nature, it is important to recognize how much of your athletic identity is 1) changeable, 2) based on how you see yourself in relation to others rather than what you have actually accomplished, and 3) colors how you are most likely going to approach your future athletic goals.

Related:Positive Self-talk: What is it Good for Anyway?


Trick #2: Be the best version of yourself by not being yourself

“Sometimes we have negative RELATIVE statements or narratives we tell ourselves about who we are as people and as athletes that hold us back from reaching our true fitness potential.”

Once you have finished trick #1, you are better equipped to identify weaknesses in your head game. Trick # 2 will help you rewrite your ATHLETE NARRATIVE. I picked up this nifty trick from The Brave Athlete Calm the F*ck Down and Rise to the Occasion. Sometimes we have negative RELATIVE statements or narratives we tell ourselves about who we are as people and as athletes that hold us back from reaching our true fitness potential. But what if you could re-invent your ATHLETE NARRATIVE? What if instead you were as kick butt as G.I. Jane? It may seem silly at first, but I’m challenging you to create a fitness alter ego, someone you can become when it’s time to dominate the gym. Make this alter ego a compilation of any and all people (even fictional characters) that inspire you and make you want to be as tough, fierce, or cool as they are. Below are questions to help construct the person you want to be when it’s workout time.

  1. What is your alter ego’s name? It can be made up or the name of a character/person you want to be (i.e. Wonder Woman).

  2. Whose personalities and traits are you borrowing to create your alter ego? List the people and traits (i.e. fierceness from Katara, Boldness from G.I. Jane, ruthlessness from Katniss.)

  3. What’s your alter ego’s back-story? Where did they grow up? How did they become so awesome? What have they accomplished?

  4. How will you trigger yourself into being your alter ego? Will you wear clothing that makes you feel strong? Will you flex your biceps before a lift? Do you strike a power pose?

  5. What is your alter ego like in the gym? Are they serious and get straight down to business? Do they avidly record your results? Are they insatiable for feedback?

  6. When you feel your lowest during a workout, or when you feel dubious about finally attempting a heavier weight or harder variation, what does your alter ego like to repeat to themselves? Think of a mantra (i.e. dig deep, get it, you got this!)

Related:Thank You Note to My Body

Before coming to class I challenge you to try Tricks #1 and #2. It’s uncomfortable to confront the narratives that keep us back, but once we can identify our weaknesses, we can begin to re-write who we want to be and what we are capable of accomplishing. If you want help with Tricks #1 or #2, email me at jasmine@crossfitslipstream.com,

–Jasmine Gerritsen

Coach/Trainer

jasmine@crossfitslipstream.com