Many of us gym because we want to be physically fit, either for aesthetic purposes or to be healthier. We forget there are many ‘intangible’ benefits that indirectly help us. Here are just three that I’ve experienced (but there are many more!):
Discipline: Whilst gym is an avenue to push yourself physically, it’s also a place to exercise your discipline. If you dedicate yourself to going to the gym, you have to overcome every impulse in your body telling you to stay home (because that is easier). By consistently overcoming these impulses, you are practicing the execution of discipline, which makes it a habit and therefore easier to practice discipline in other areas of your life (including career and life goals).
The same occurs when I face the leg press machine. Despite fearing it, I tell myself “I am NOT going to avoid this exercise, no matter how much pain and crying I have to go through. If my legs collapse and I have to be on crutches, I don’t care, I WILL do the exercise”. Constantly overcoming this fear and experiencing the satisfaction after, strengthens my willpower.
Coping: Gym has helped me in so many difficult life situations. It has been a tremendous support and an avenue to vent my frustrations. When I am up to my head in anger or sadness, I grab my weights, utter the words “they have no idea how far I can go”, “they have no idea how much they’ve underestimated me” or “I’ll show them!” and lift the weights, gritting my teeth till they hurt. After this, my head clears and I am in a much better space, almost as if I’ve transferred all my anger to the weights.
Confidence: My self-confidence has been boosted in several ways through exercise. Firstly, because I’ve proven to myself that I can stay consistent with exercise (and diet) to become athletically fit, I am more confident in my abilities to be consistent with other life challenges. I am therefore more confident at approaching life in general. Secondly, because my physique gets people’s attention, this acts as an external source of validation and translates to confidence.