The Dubious Motivational Benefits of Showing off at the Gym.


In my efforts to develop every part of myself as much as possible. Mind, Body and character. I am disciplining myself currently to concentrate each day on less of something and more of its opposite or vice versa if you prefer. All will become clear as you begin to read. You may join me or start to compile your own list of areas for improvement in your own lives. The harmonising of opposites is key to understanding and accepting the excessive separation we human beings like to enforce when in reality each opposite is on a continuum and one would not exist without the other. We all tend to favour one side but maybe that mentality does not serve us well and it might be a good idea to examine how we could balance our opposites towards a better life for self, others and the living planet. When viewed in this way personal development seems much more of a probability and just a small shift in one direction more or less can make a massive difference in the most simple of ways.

Today I plan to be less proud and more humble. An example of this in my life and a situation where I am a very different person than I am normally is in the gym. I have been working out for over 40 years and I am never more at home than when I am working out. Alas, this has led to some less than ideal shadow behaviour and this is my opinion from observing myself critically. The first step is always to observe critically our behaviour. I feel I need to be less posy and aggressive at the gym and to remain covered up and less demonstrative in general while we workout. I am a real Jekyll and Hyde personality when it comes to the gym.

I am aware that 1 day of exemplary behaviour doesn’t allow for this to become my default behaviour. However, this is just the first day. I aim to continue to be humble in my workouts. Each day I will introduce a new behaviour goal of a more or less nature. I can hear my gym demons complaining “we have worked long and hard for this body, let’s show it off”. Sorry demons it’s time to retire the peacock or at least calm him down a little.

It is important to be more humble and my gladiatorial arena is the place to begin. I am quiet and solitary otherwise. Maybe this is the stiffest challenge for me or at least one of them. Over forty years of getting comfortable with gym environments. Starting today – Less pride (gym posing) more humility.

I have a list of “less more & more less” that will occupy me for the rest of my life in all probability.

Okay! Just back from the gym. My efforts were okay. Sensible (skin tight) ‘T’ shirt, tracksuit bottoms – 2 sweatshirts – resolved to exhibit less pride and more humility.

I have underestimated how motivating showing off for others can be. Even at 4 am in the morning. Caring about what others think is one of the many ways that capitalism thrives. I recall a conversation with a Britains strongest man multiple title winner. Curious as to what made him tick! His answer was that he was a show-off and this added to all of his genetic physical and psychological strengths is what has driven him on to perform.

Thinking about it further a society where we all dress the same, have the same possessions and behave uniformly under constant watch is not only unappealing but doesn’t work very well (communism). Capitalism is not ideal but we are a complicated species and the fact is we are not created equal. Each of us is unique in so many ways. We should endeavour to create equal opportunities for all but what each of us makes of those opportunities will be infinitely variable.

My writing is about being motivated throughout our lives and for me it would seem that showing off (subtly) in the gym is what motivates me. I care what others think. I want others to have a high opinion of me physically. And once they know me emotionally and intellectually also. However, having said that I still believe less pride and more humility is a worthy goal for my development. Getting the balance right is the key. The pride – humility continuum will have a sweet spot for me and one for Julie, my wife and training partner. Mindfully exploring that with good awareness and noble intentions must be the goal.

“Being honest about what motivates us is the starting place to getting better and to avoiding becoming so self-absorbed that narcissism results. I see many narcissistic members of society with nothing to warrant the self-love and total lack of regard for others. It is realistic to be proud of ones accomplishments and to care about others in their pursuit of similar goals. The two are not mutually exclusive.”

To remain motivated in mid-life and beyond we should nurture (love) and control our inner showoff and recognise humility as the noble value that it is at the right level. As usual with opposites it is not either or but both and. None of this will be easy but all very possible in the capitalist world in which we live. It is crucial to find our individual niche and not deprive ourselves of a valuable source of motivation such as showing off. In closing, There is an art to showing off that I will learn by observing the masters.

The art seems to be to let your actions and appearance speak and not to appear to be showing off at all. This can be inspirational. Julie and I have often been told we are an inspiration. That is the place to be. We all have our stuff, our niches that we feel define us. Ultimately the most successful showoffs appear not to be showing off at all. Effortlessly excelling and actually inspiring without any obvious “in your face” showing off. Other trainers often copy our workouts in order to achieve similar results. It does happen. I joked that I would send a guy a bill for my services the other morning when he was obviously mimicking our sessions. He said that we inspired him. He was in his early twenties I would guess. He asked how old I was. That was a nice moment. I am not sure what I think about the age question. I prefer to be in good shape for any age not in good shape for my age.

Maybe there is never any need to show-off but rather just act how you want to at that particular time in your life. Tomorrow it may be different. But today this is who we are.

Julie also shows off but is much more subtle. She has often said how tired she is after sessions or how strong she was and commented that is because she was showing off. I could learn from Julie. Maybe Julie is one such master. Julie feels she works hard to show off to others so it actually increases the intensity of her workouts. Julie uses positive energy to fuel her training. I suppose the question to ask is how would we behave if there were no others present. That is a hornet’s nest for another time.

AGREE OR DISAGREE! If you like my writing or it at least gets you thinking – please check out my books here.

Adam Senex x