I saw a Facebook post today from a friend in the boxing community. He had achieved 2 efforts at the abdominal plank, each lasting 90 seconds. You might know the exercise, if you don't, you perform the plank lying on your front, propped up on your elbows and feet. The challenge is to keep the core muscles engaged, stop the pelvis dropping to the floor - keeping the head, shoulders, pelvis, knees and ankles in line.
It's great that he posted about his success, I love seeing posts like this.
The problem is the second half of his post. He followed his achievement with,
"But I know that's nothing compared to everyone else.".
My comment to him was simple, "Who cares about everyone else!"
Really, who cares?
If you can't do the plank. And then you get to 30 seconds, and then 60 and then 90 - to me that's awesome and you should be very proud.
If someone else does 80kg on bench press and then does 90kg and then 100kg that's just as great. Should you immediately be going to check your progress against the Bench Press World Record? Of course you shouldn't, it has no relevance to your personal achievement. Everything is individual. Everything is relative.
I've been a dedicated strength athlete for 7 months and I've made good progress. If I was to take a novice training with me, they might feel out of their depth and think I was doing well. If I went to train with one of athletes at the World Weightlifting Championships which took place recently, I would suddenly be the novice and I would be well out of my depth.
Does either comparison make me more or less of an athlete? No. If I train with someone less experienced I would still have to lift my weight and they would have to lift theirs. Likewise with the Championship athlete.
So success is relative and all that really matters is how we progress in relation to where we are and where we were. Of course, if we are competitive athletes then we have to be aware of the level our rivals are performing at but, in preparation, we can only control what we ourselves do and that is who we have to compete against ultimately.
Too many people are put off by what other people are doing.
The fitness industry unfortunately can have a guise of perfection and elitism. It isn't always the case and isn't always intended but it is too often the way the fitness industry comes across and it scares a lot of people away.
They think fitness is too hard when it is only improvement that we are after. And that means different things to different people.
Some of us love to go to the gym and work until we can't move, whilst for some just going in the door is a terrifying ordeal.
I get upset when I hear people say -
"I'm not fit enough to go to the gym."
"I need to lose weight before I join that class."
Fitness is individual.
If you want to improve your health and fitness, get started. Head high, believe in yourself and go for it.
It doesn't matter what anyone else is doing, they're concerned with what they are doing. Trust yourself, track your progress and go for it.
Get 1% better every time you enter the training environment and build consistency, and a love for what you do.