‘No gain without pain’ is a common phrase – and it’s dead wrong. On two counts. First you might not push yourself so that you feel as if it’s hurting, but you will still gain in fitness. Second, and much more important, it’s wrong because it reinforces the idea that what happens to our bodies when we push ourselves ( heart pounding, breathlessness, sweating, muscles straining etc) is ‘pain’. It’s not. ‘Pain’- e.g. a headache -is a sign that something’s wrong, and it’s beyond our immediate control, unless we resort to some sort of drug. What we experience in exercise is a different thing altogether. It’s what I call the fizz. It’s a sign that our body is working as it should – and we are in control. Back off on the effort a touch and we soon start to recover.
But surprisingly, increasing the effort can have the same effect! Last night towards the end of a session of Spin ( indoor cycling class) we were in an uphill sprint, out of the saddle, turning a heavy resistance and trying to pedal as fast as possible. I was feeling all the fizz symptoms pretty hard but instead of backing off I tried to push harder. It worked. It actually got a bit easier. I was demanding – and surprisingly getting – more energy than I though I had.
It illustrates a very big point about exercise and fitness:
Your body will only give you what you ask from it. If you don’t ask, you won’t get.
What is the fizz ?
The fizz is a word which sums up number of feelings. Your body is warm. You can feel a nice tingle right to the tips of your fingers and toes. Your face is glowing and there’s a pleasant buzz throughout your body. Normal breathing pulls air deep into your lungs. Your vision is clear and sharp. Your hearing is acute and your mind is uncluttered.
Over the next posts I will talk more about it and how to achieve it – and how to keep it going.
We need Science. We do. Where would we be without it? But eons ago, all people had to go on was their personal experience. The world was has they saw, heard, felt and thought about it. People paid heed to what personal feelings and experience told them. When it comes to our health and fitness, I believe we need to get back to doing this. We need to discover how we can stay strong and energetic experience the fizz of fitness, regardless of our age.
The first step is to see how the way we think about our bodies will dictate our fitness, no matter how young or old we are. Some people feel that sweating, breathlessness and aching limbs are signs that they are ill . They see it as a form of pain. (If you are feeling like that just sitting on the couch, then you are ill . But these same feelings during exercise are signs of completely the opposite – namely that your body is working as it’s supposed to! )
Many older people (in my experience, the vast majority) surrender meekly to the idea that their bodies will follow an inevitable path of deterioration.
In this blog I want to challenge ideas like these in the strongest way I can. I want to persuade you that you can experience the fizz of fitness no matter what your age.