A few weeks ago I went to see the movie Man of Steel, and have to admit that while I try not to perv on topless men in general, Henry Cavill did an amazing job bulking up for that movie (though, pecs a bit big? Maybe? If there were to be just one criticism?)
So, naturally, being only interested in the workout details, and not at all to watch You Tube videos of Cavill, I spent sometime googling him. (Which, by the way, just brought up another example of why the google sidebar should automatically refresh and not keep the last thing you googled showing... my best friend gave me a few snickering glances. Thank you google.)
Now most of the fitness articles etc. point you towards Episode 4 Man of Steel of the Soldiers of Steel series on You Tube. After watching this for the 2:40 I found myself less interested in Henry Cavill, and more interested in the trainer Mark Twight, his company Gym Jones, and his philosophy.
By the way, in case you didn't know this is the same guy that trained the boys for 300. You really do have to love his work. Especially if you are a not-so-in-the-closet Gerard Butler fan... And, I have to admit that as a Classicist, Thermopylae was always my favourite battle in history. It was like it was fate... or something.
Anyway... back to Soldiers of Steel.
Going back through the series, it's actually episode 1 I want to draw your attention to.
(Here it is if you haven't watched it. It's only 4 mins long.)
Twight begins talking about how he got involved in the training for Man of Steel, but goes onto how he works mainly with the Military.
At 1.45 he starts getting to the really interesting bit. He says that the first principle of training at Gym Jones is that the mind is primary, and that training the mind in the gym should bring about good values.
Being a gym-bunny should equal having good values? As a dedicated Christian, I'm all for the development of character, but also being a Melbournian, I've seen what the footballers are like and it doesn't seem a given that if you train hard you also are a better person.
Well, lets look at what he says.
Loyalty: you always do what you say you are going to do, you show up every day.
I'm not sure this exactly equates to loyalty, but someone who is dependable, who turns up even when it is hard, is more likely to stick by you when things don't look so good.
Duty: getting into the habit of always doing more than you are asked to do, and not trying to settle for less.
Once again, not sure this is my definition of duty, but it is definitely related to building a strong character. I think Jesus might have said this first: if someone asks you to walk one mile, walk two. (though, in a slightly different context, just to be clear. I don't want to fall into dodgy exegesis just in order to make a fitness point!).
Respect: starting with self respect which proves to others that you are worthy of their respect.
I have always unconsciously agreed with this. When internet dating, if I see someone overweight and out of shape, I'm just not interested. Not because of what they look like, but obviously they don't care about their own bodies and have no discipline over what they eat, and so I find it harder to respect them.
Selfless Service: working out with a partner, and making sure you give more to help them out.
This is a particular principle Gym Jones uses in their training, where one partner has to complete a task while the other one has to keep working out until they do (eg. one will have to go 500m on a rowing machine, while the other will have to hold weights until they finish). Twight argues that when someone else is suffering, you are more likely to go harder. I think this is a great training tool if there is a connection already between the people. So maybe something you want to look at incorporating into your partner workouts.
Honour: if you are telling the truth, it will be evident. You need to do what you say you are doing in terms of diet and training.
It is true that there is only so long you can lie about your training. If you say you can run 10km in 30 mins, it's going to be pretty obvious very quickly if you can't. It is also one field where you don't need to blow your own horn, your actions are the only thing that matter.
Integrity: when you are working out by yourself, do you maintain all these values?
It is easier to hold yourself to these standards if you are working out with a group. But do you push yourself as hard when you are just working out by yourself? No one would really know... well, not for a few weeks anyway. You need to show integrity to do what you said you will do when no one is holding you accountable, but you will reap the rewards.
Courage: training on a daily basis to the extent where you are confronting your fears and limits takes courage.
Some sessions are just going to hurt. There are no two ways around it. So do you skip those sessions, or try to take them easy? Or do you go in there knowing it is going to hurt but determined to do your best, because that takes courage.
Now I have always appreciated exercise and training for the self-discipline it instills and the character it can develop. But it had never really occurred to me about all these other values.
And to be honest, it's convicted me quite a bit. I (very) often don't do quite as much as I say I will do, or don't go as hard (in a hard session) as I could, because I tell myself that even getting out there is more than most people.
After watching the video, I'm beginning to wonder whether I am encouraging a bad character flaw of trying to justify my way out of work. If I say I'm going to do something, then I should do it if I want to be a woman of character. It might only be a training session, but if I can't make myself do that, what happens when it is something really difficult or painful?
Of course, a natural consequence of this is that I'm probably going to give myself lower targets to aim for at first, but that is probably better than setting higher targets and never meeting them. (Though, because I'm doing a set training plan for the half marathon, I don't have too much wiggle room.)
So I'm setting a challenge for all of you to use exercise to develop your strength of character and values. Do what you say you are going to do, because who you are as a person depends on it.
Do you want to be true Men and Women of Steel?
If so, in training:
- always turn up.
- do whatever you say you are going to do.
- give more, not less.
- confront your fears and get past them.
- be accountable and be honest.