Have you found yourself at the gym suddenly wondering, ‘Why the heck am I doing this?’ For whatever reason you question your motivations and reasons for working out. It’s important and valuable to ask yourself this type of question, not just for working out, but for all things in life. This is your ‘Why?’ Why are you performing this goal, task, activity? To what end? What will you achieve as a result of your consistent actions?

You may be an athlete, preparing for a bodybuilding competition, or working out to loose body fat and get in shape. These are reasons. But what about the ‘spiritual’ component for working out? What about ‘working within’? Can you achieve higher self-awareness and inner peace at the gym?

Before you think I’ve fallen off my exercise ball, knocked my head and gone a bit crazy, I want you to understand that life is a journey. You can choose to swim with the current and flow to your objective or you can struggle against it causing stress and a high energy cost. If you don’t have a clear ‘Why?’ for working out, you will struggle against the current, and most likely give up or fail.

I recently read the book, ‘Working Out, Working Within. The Tao of Inner Fitness Through Sports and Exercise” by Jerry Lynch and Chungliang Al Huang. The book looks at exercise and sport through the eyes of Tao teachings and wisdom, the ancient Chinese spiritual philosophy.

‘Tao’ means the ‘Way’ and is a non-denominational, non-religious way of interpreting the world around you. Tao cannot be seen or explained and the more you try to understand Tao the further away you are from clarity. Tao is an experience, an awareness and a perspective, a deep understanding on the spiritual level.

When applied to sport and exercise you can “…use your physical life as a meditation, a way to develop stillness in motion and give in to your more creative self.” This is a paradigm shift for most people, shifting from competing against others, to seeing physical activity as a tool for personal growth and transformation. Not only are you exercising for external fitness but you are also developing your ‘inner fitness.’

The book promotes a different perspective on ‘winning’ or ‘achieving’ than what most people are taught. We have been taught to compete, usually against another person, team or enemy. The Tao of competition is the game you play against yourself, your inner game of bettering your past performance, of achieving your goals with higher, realistic standards you set for yourself and performing at your personal best.

Yes, we can look to others for comparison. Facts or images of reality can help motivate us to our goals, e.g. a picture of a body-type we aspire to; a weight we want to lift in the deadlift or squat; a time we want to better on the track. These are ‘values’ to aspire to, not individuals to compete against.

We can only measure success against our own expectations, not against the dreams, values, judgments, goals or measures of others. This is your life and your goals, not someone else’s. The only person who can truly motivate you is you! Understanding this will save you time, energy and possibly protect you from injury. One of the biggest mistakes I observe in practice, are people who push themselves against unreasonable expectations, or worse, against the expectations of others. As the Tao says with respect to moderation: ‘Do less yet achieve more.’

If you are wondering, ‘why fitness’ in any sense, if you would like to be active in a way that makes you feel good about who you are, excited and working towards your own goals, I suggest you order a copy of this book at: http://www.amazon.ca/exec/obidos/ASIN/0874779685/integratedfit-20"

Yours in health and prosperity,

Darren Stehle

Author's Bio: 

Darren is a Physical Fitness & Wellness consultant in Toronto, Canada. You can visit his websites at http://integratedfitness.ca and order the Health, Weight-Loss & Skin Care products he uses at http://stehle.usana.com