A man and a woman recently joined my gym. They simply joined at the same time, they are not related in any way... Well... I do live in Oklahoma, so they may be related some how (hahahahahahahaha Oklahoma jokes are funny). Anyway, both are morbidly obese people. She weighing about 300lbs, he well over 400lbs. Neither had any martial arts experience before. They knew what the UFC was, but hadn't seen many, they had no idea what Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was or what Muay Thai was. I asked them why come to American Top Team, and both said they wanted to try an exercise program, but didn't want to go to an "exercise" gym.
I go to the day classes, and what I have found in every gym I have ever been to, that the day classes usually have a more fit group of people that show up. Mostly because the day classes are smaller, and you get a harder more focused work out. Also, for some reason, the day class people are a tighter knit group than the night people. So the day class people tend to push each other harder, and tend to seek out the other day people that miss class to find out why.
So here are these two new people. They have no idea what they are getting themselves in to. You don't need any equipment to get an intense very difficult work out. (Do 50 squats in place and tell me that it didn't suck.)
Anyway, getting to the point... Everyone in class welcomed the new people, telling them to listen to their bodies, and that we only care that they try. At the start of the warm up we typically run around the mat. Everybody runs at their own pace. Right from the start, after maybe two laps, the woman just stops. She is red in the face and huffing and puffing like she just ran a marathon... And maybe she felt like it. Her fitness level was such that she simply could not keep even a slow pace for very long. The man was doing the same thing not much later. Instead of having them just stop, the instructor had them walk. They thought that they could do this so they started that.
As the body starts to warm up from the run, we do exercises to get the heart rate up. Pushups, burpies, squats, all sorts of stuff. Of course our two new students could not hack it. Instead of not doing anything at all, we just asked them to try. If you can't do 50 squats, can you do 5? If you can't do 25 push ups, can you do one? Can you do one from your knees? Once the two new students learned that the only failure in class was not to participate not to try, they began to attempt the exercises in one form or another. All the while the instructor telling them to listen to their bodies. If they felt any pain, they needed to stop. After the 20 minute warm up was done we have a short session where you stretch on your own. Then we move in to techniques. Clearly, these new people had not exercised 20 minutes in a very long time. The woman was grabbing her side and said, in a very loud voice:
"I think... I think... I think Imma pass out!!!"
After determining that she was not going to pass out we moved on to techniques. They were shown the basics, how to punch, and kick. For every technique that the new people did, the group did maybe 10.
After class I was sure that I would never see the new people again. For not going to an exercise gym, they sure did exercise.
The next time I went to class, there were the two new people. Sore, and stiff, but ready to go. They didn't do any better this class than they did last class, but they knew to listen to their bodies, and to try.
Over the next few weeks, I saw them at class at least twice a week. Working out, enjoying the class, and even starting to joke with the regular class members. About a month after they started, the woman announced that she had to go and buy new clothes, she had dropped nearly 50 lbs since starting the class. The man admitted that he was on his last belt hole, and that he too would soon need to buy new clothes. I remarked to them how they could now run the entire warm up with out stopping, and could do 2 one minute rounds on the Thai pads.
The man said something that hit me as very insightful, he said that the hardest thing he had to figure out was the difference between discomfort and pain. Injury is pain. Working hard in the gym is just discomfort.
This is the power of just trying. Your body hates to work harder than it is used to. It likes to stay where it is comfortable. It takes a conscious will to force the body out of its comfort zone. When out of its comfort zone... It sucks. There is definite discomfort. The body will complain like a 3 year old child that wants candy. The longer the body has been in its comfort zone, the worse the discomfort will be. Then something happens. The body will adapt to the new stress, and soon will incorporate this new stress in to its comfort zone. They you have to do the whole conscious will thing to get it out of its comfort zone again. But if you just try, you can achieve these things.
I admire these two new students. They obviously have not cared about their fitness until now. They obviously were content to stay in their body's comfort zone, until now. The hardest thing about working out, is getting your ass off of the couch. And for those two people, getting their asses off of the couch took some serious guts.
We now use the phrase "I think Imma pass out!" as kind of an inside joke in the day class. No one gets a bigger kick out of it than its originator. She sees it as a milestone to where she was, and how far she has come.
If you are not doing any exercise, or are looking to start an exercise regime, first... See your doctor. Make sure that your body is healthy enough for exercise. Then... try. Slowly run that 1/2 mile, listening to your body the whole way. Find out the difference between discomfort and pain. Keep your self in that discomfort zone, and far away from the pain zone. Pain requires time to heal. Discomfort just needs rest.