Everyone knows that doing what you want verses what you need are not always the same thing. I’ve always felt like I had a good grasp of this and, in a way, have been very lucky, as I generally like to do things that I thought were good for me.
Working out, in some form or another, has been a staple of my life for over 18 years now.
When I started it was all about getting big and strong. Like many a young man, I thought muscles were the solutions to my problems.
As that faded and my interest in jiu jitsu increased, I started searching for the ever-elusive “functional” exercises.
This led me to the somewhat bizarre subculture of kettlebells, crossfit etc. where people were obsessed with doing all sorts of crazy exercises, then showing off their physiques and claiming they didn’t care about looking good, it just sort of happened.
It always seemed strange to me to be so obsessed with trying to not care about looking like you worked out and yet constantly talking about working out, then putting down people who actually admitted they worked out.
But I bought into it, and thus dropped my “bodybuilding” routines and started my “functional fitness” routines.
I did just about everything you can think of from combat conditioning, to Crossfit, to kettlebells, Ross training, caveman training, Tabata intervals and a whole bunch of other things I’m forgetting.
Some things seemed to work better than others. I definitely noticed certain types of conditioning seemed to help my endurance on the mat and certain types of weightlifting helped make me bigger and stronger.
I know, good work Sherlock.
But I also noticed something else: Injuries. Lots of them.
Obviously jiu jitsu is a sport that is always going to lead to injuries. But at some point I knew I would have to really examine my attachment to always “working out” in the way that I had and what it was really doing to my body.
I had a friend who had been doing jiu jitsu longer than me who had come to this same revelation and started doing posture exercises and was able to rid himself of many of the chronic and acute injuries he had from doing jiu jitsu.
I started doing these exercises but refused to quit jiu jitsu for even a few weeks and continued to “supplement” my training with lifting, conditioning work and whatever else I felt I wanted to do.
The result was continual jiu jitsu progress and consistent injuries.
But I continued on, thinking that if I just got a little stronger, more conditioned, more flexible or some other answer, my game would keep improving and it would be worth it.
And in a way it was. I wanted to get my black belt and I got it. Life was good. But once I got that goal, I started to think about what my next goal was.
I decided that it was time to really be honest with myself.
All these supplemental activities were helping injuring me as much as they were helping my jiu jitsu. And while that made sense to me before, that simply was no longer the type of math I wanted in my life.
What I want now, at 35, is for supplemental activities that make me healthier and offset the damage that jiu jitsu has done to my body.
Part of this formula is to really give my posture work a real shot. And that means no jiu jitsu at all for a few months.
It’s been four weeks of no training and two and a half of posture work. My program will change every week as my posture coach examines the changes in my posture.
So far it’s been interesting to feel some of the changes. The injuries are still there, although feel like they’re fading. I can feel my weight more in the balls of my feet than my heels. My hips are starting to finally be above my knees rather than behind them.
It took a long time to get this bad so it will take a long time to get better.
And if I can rid myself of these injuries, the next step is to start adding more activities rather than “exercise” into my life.
In my mind this means things like hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, swimming, and even playing on a jungle gym.
All these activities can make me stronger and more conditioned but more than anything they can make me a better athlete.
For so long I wanted to train like the jiu jitsu champions trained when it finally dawned on me that I don’t want to be a jiu jitsu champion. I want to master jiu jitsu as best I can and still be healthy enough to do a lot of other fun stuff.
This revelation has been bizarrely freeing and I’m excited to see where it leads.