Stress and the gym

By Dave 0

Something happened to me yesterday in my martial arts training, something which ate away at me and not only ruined my session but also much of the remainder of my day. Quite frankly I had a shit day, I got provoked by someone and predictably I went for the bait and a full blown confrontation ensued. The incident was not very martial arts like but it happens. But what really bugged me was that I let it ruin the enjoyment of my own session and that fact still bugs me as I write this. Hopefully writing about it and addressing the issue will help in naming it and putting it aside!

It also got me thinking about the numerous times I have seen folks come into the gym on the back of a bad day in work and let it eat into their session, further compounding the downward spiral. None of us are immune to stress but some deal with it better than others. I let my emotions get the better of me yesterday and I dwelled on something which in all reality should not have gotten more than 5 minutes head space.

The gym is great for helping manage stress but there has to be an element of consciously deciding to label the problem and then try to put it aside – focus on the present, which in this case is the training session and not dwell on the past. Even body language is vital, there is no point in walking up to a bar shoulders slumped, dragging your feet – you can be guaranteed that it probably wont be a good set. Or having to do sprints on a rowing machine and taking a few minutes to mull over how terrible your day is going and how a row will make it worse. Keep in mind that every training session is a chance to improve – it may only be (and most likely will be) small steps towards your goals but steps forward all the same. Don’t let anyone distract you from this.


In happier times, strangling people…


Sometimes taking 5 minutes before a session, in the car or at home to switch off and work on deep breathing can go a long way to help. I have found this breathing app good in the past. After yesterdays episode, I have made the decision to meditate for the next 30 days (a defined goal) and then see what it does for my stress levels. I am finding the headspace app useful.

Your training and passion for training should be ruthlessly protected, don’t let things get in the way of that. For me, Brazilian JiuJitsu and my time on the mat is my ‘safe zone’, where I don’t let the stresses of life interfere and if it starts to do so, I deal with the causes immediately. This should be the same for everyone in the gym. It is easy to let bad mood carry over to the gym (it happens me!) but you should do what you can to minimise this, the above app suggestions may help. Training should be a time to focus on something positive where you enjoy yourself – something I really try to promote and ultimately I want the gym to be the highlight of your day (Airdyne aside!). This is essentially my mission statement!

I will always do my part to help others enjoy their training but there has to be a buy in from the individual – namely that they are responsive to my terrible jokes and willing to try to compartmentalise their stressors and focus on the gym tasks at hand.


Worth a read for helping keep in the present moment


Having said that, it is a difficult thing to do and more now than ever I am seeing people get hammered in work with ridiculous workloads that are pushing them to breaking point. We always talk about the physical but I would really recommend having a look at the headspace app and try to implement it into your day or at least a couple of times a week. Living in the moment, easier said than done. This, like training and building fitness also takes practice, the more we practice the better we get.

I’m off to meditate, peace out!


author: Dave