Motivation, or lack thereof

We get motivation in strange places at times.

To those that say “motivation comes from within” you will be correct, but there are times when that isn’t enough. There are plenty of times when life is a pain in the ass enough where self-motivation becomes almost impossible and going through the motions becomes a part of life.

Each and every one of us suffers through periods in our life when getting to the gym, eating right and being productive becomes a chore rather than what we should be doing.

I have had plenty of those moments in the past few years. I admit fully that since 2010, life has been a series of peaks and valleys, more valleys than peaks.

I have my health, I have a good job, I have people that care about me and I have a steady, loyal client base. None of that matters when you hit a rut. Personal issues can cripple you more than you think. Climbing out of them, and staying out, takes a lot of effort and sometimes the load on you is heavy. That makes getting to the gym and pushing yourself become a monumental task and sometimes the little things make all the difference.

There is one moment (out of several) in my life which motivated me to keep pushing and I will share that with you.

It isn’t your typical story where some old timer took me aside and had a talk with me. It isn’t seeing a handicapped man pushing himself in a YouTube video. It isn’t something online where someone posted a bullshit motivational meme. Its simple and a lot of people would have missed it.

It was a client of mine, who will go unnamed.

When I was back on Long Island I had an old man come to me who just got out of rehab for a knee injury. He hurt it while skiing and needed surgery. He was almost 65, in pretty good spirits but still 65. He owned a business down the street and requested me personally at the gym I worked at.

I always had, and still have, a basic philosophy about training. We will move your body through space as much as possible and use machines sparingly. Machines have their place, but for the bulk of training, core movements pack a punch a seated cable curl cannot do.

The first day I had him, a full squat was impossible for him. He strained to even get a quarter squat with his bodyweight only.

Keep in mind, this man admitted to me he hasn’t touched a weight since he was in his 40’s. Over 20 years without it. That is a long time and when you tack a knee surgery on top of that, you are starting at less than ground zero.

Week after week he came in, wearing his headband and old man gym clothes. You all know the shit old men wear to the gym… so picture it.

Session after session we worked on his lower body strength, mobility and conditioning work. He finally progressed from not being able to do an unweighted squat to having a bar on his back. That was a major step.

As the weeks wore on, we added weight slowly. The workouts got harder and he sweated like a savage during these. Never once complaining, bitching or quitting. He had a single-minded goal of  being able to hit the slopes again that winter and he worked towards it with as much dedication as I have seen from a personal training client.

One day, while squatting, we worked up to 185 pounds on the bar. A nothing weight for almost of all us, but a milestone for him.

He got under the bar and knocked out 10 below parallel reps with it.

I don’t know if I ever saw an old man that happy to be honest. He felt like a million bucks and you feel the excitement from him.

That wasn’t even what motivated me the most….

The next week, as I came into the gym at 5AM to train my morning clients, he was on the rowing machine. I showed him how to use it some weeks before and he hated the thing.

Now, there he is, at 5AM, rowing. Our sessions aren’t until noon (he comes on his lunch break). I walked up to him and said, “you’re nuts doing this shit at 5AM.”

He said, “This is addicting, I haven’t felt this good in a long time and I want more.”

A 65 year old man putting a lot of people half his age to shame.

You bet your ass I worked out hard as hell that day and I remind myself a lot of the determination, dedication and fight that an old man had with a knee injury to just getting his ass back on the ski slopes.


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