Gymnastics and Trampolining:
Exercise and Productivity
Many gymnastics and trampoline athletes know the following to ring true…
“A lot of times when people are fatigued the last thing they want to do is exercise,” said Professor Patrick O’Connor, co-director of the UGA Exercise Psychology Laboratory. “But if you’re physically inactive and fatigued, being just a bit more active will help.”
It seems important to me, at least at this point, to present the following as an account of my experience of going back to training after a hiatus of over 4 years. The reasons for my time away from exercise, not only in Muay Thai but in other physical disciplines like gymnastics, trampoline and acrobatics, which once were so important to my lifestyle and emotional well being, seem now like mere excuses of a lazy body. It is however, important to classify these excuses in a proper scale of relevance, for example: it may be the consensus that education should take priority over any other undertaking in a young person’s life, given the right circumstances. We can also agree that a social dimension is essential to a healthy existence, or that a personal income can help to acquire training possibilities in the way of providing funds to pay for tuition. These are in a nutshell the things I allowed to “prevent” me from getting to the gym, gymnastics center, trampoline club, and Muay Thai. However, even this confession appears to me, embellished. In retrospect, physical exercise could have taken place anywhere if the intention were present. During my many years in high-rise office buildings and complex dormitories; taking the stairs or walking out for lunch break could have made a significant difference in my overall fitness level. The choice at the time was simple, and today it is simply silly: I had things to do, and I had to do them fast, once I did them, I was tired and I needed to rest because there would be more “things” to do tomorrow. There isn’t much one can do in terms of changing the past but I can, and will take it upon myself to warn against this thinking trap. It is known to science if perhaps not to common sense that a consistent amount of physical activity at specific intervals throughout the day can increase energy levels, and consequently, improve productivity. As Clair Bates of the Daily Mail writes “Everyone knows exercise increases your fitness levels by making the muscles more resistant to fatigue. Now scientists have found a regular gym session could sharpen the mind in exactly the same way.”
In my ambition I had overlooked something that could have helped me achieve more, and do better in every aspect of my personal life and career. It isn’t easy to admit this today but in light of accountability I come before you as a born-again- athlete. This process of rebirth was gradual; it had to be because it needed a re-framing of mind to be completed. I had to start looking at the outcome of the process of exercising and measure it against the effort required of me. The preponderance of evidence pointed to one logical conclusion, which made the paradox much clearer than it was been before: I am tired because I have not done enough of the right activity.
It was a hard mental process, and I must thank my partner Bronwen for providing the inspiration for my return to training, and always being such a hard-ass about getting to the gym, gymnastics center, or trampoline facility. – only one of the many ways in which she has complemented me; the serendipitous encounter with Muay Thai instructor Marc Grehan, who will kick me when I am down as not to let me quit. Marc has since moved back to Ireland, but his reminder about perseverance is invaluable – I should one day tell you the story of how he was STRUCK BY A CAR while jogging to the gym, and made there in time for class. I must also acknowledge the privilege granted to me by Airborne Trampoline North of instructing their competitive trampoline team, again. I agree some of these changes in attitude can be difficult, but they are important; they are important to good productivity levels. It is no coincidence that some of the greatest achievers I know count physical exercise as part of their daily routine.
Follow Peyton Dracco on Twitter at @pdracco
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