Here’s what my typical fitness assessment with our clients looks like…
I Used to
“I used to” is a common beginning to sentences I see in the exercise history section of our client fitness assessments at SCHC. I commonly ask clients, “What sort of things do you like to do in terms of physical activity and recreation?” Answers like “I really used to love to mountain bike.” My response to this admission is always, “So what happened?” Without fail, a sort of puzzled look of uncertainty takes over their face as they try to come up with an explanation. I usually chime in here and save them, offering simply that “Life happened!”
It is an unfortunate, but far too common reality among men especially. As we grow up and begin families, personal interests are often replaced by the strong need or expectation to provide for our families both financially and otherwise. In essence, the well-being of our loved one’s often trumps our own well-being. We tell ourselves to “suck it up” and just “bear down”, but stress and unhealthy habits usually end up depleting our personal wellness to the point that we are way out of balance. It is during these times that many people make the mistake of using drugs and alcohol as an escape or release from the stress, pressure, and emptiness (or “vacuum“) that can overwhelm to the point of hopelessness.
I personally, do not have a family of my own yet. However, I can sympathize with so many of our clients that feel the need to provide and protect the best interests of their family to their own extreme detriment. I’m not excusing them, but I can empathize. Still, every person is the author of their own life and has the ability to change.
As I navigate this delicate terrain with each new client, I can see a real inner conflict regarding this realization that they have no longer engage in activities that they used to hold near and dear to their personal identity. Some clients, who used to be high-level athletes, can’t name one physically active thing they still do on a regular basis. It always pains me to see guys who, at their core, self-identify as a healthy, active person, come to realize just how far they have slipped from that person.
Seeing the Light
With all the cards on the table, it’s now time for some optimistic and sunny skies to move towards. I explain the bio-psycho-social benefits of exercise and physical activity, and how we at SCHC are committed to allowing each client to decide what their own individualized plan will look like. My go to tagline is “If you don’t like it, you won’t do it very long!” (See the New Year’s Resolution crowd who flames out by the end of January – ever think you just don’t like the gym?!)
In essence, for every one of our clients, I try to foster a supportive environment for them to re-discover or re-kindle a love for being healthy and active. In a perfect world, my last words to a client at the end of this process are “Just because you don’t use drugs or alcohol anymore, doesn’t mean life has to be boring!” Seeing them come to that realization is an unreal moment. Now the ball is in their court and we can begin the process of trial and error to discover exactly what type of activities “fill them up” and give them feel a renewed sense of vitality as they begin to write the next chapter.