Competing With Oneself

The first Monday and Tuesday of every month, my gym skips the standard group workouts and does a set of “progress testing.” It’s a checkup of the following:

  • Weight
  • Body Fat Percentage
  • # of Burpees in 1 minute
  • # of Pushups in 1 minute
  • Plank time to failure
  • # of Pull-ups to failure / Hang time to failure
  • Squat with hands overhead time to failure

I understand the need for such workouts in gym culture. It’s a way to open up honest conversation between trainers and members about where they’re at and what their goals can be. It’s the little bit of data we actually collect.

The process itself just disagrees with my soul. It feeds on a competition to beat oneself. I don’t feel better about myself after progress testing, I feel tortured. It’s become more about shutting my mind up than it is about testing my body.

Why can’t I just keep showing up for the sake of showing up? Since when is health a function of ambition? Can’t health be a function of activity without competition?

But this is also an arena where I’m no expert. I won’t pretend to know anything about making my body less out-of-shape, so I’ll do their system while it’s working for my only actual goal of “feel good about me.”

When that goal is attained, just don’t be surprised when this faux-competition with past versions of myself is the first thing I drop.

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