Shifting Gears

This article was prompted by a client of mine this morning so it is really fresh in my mind.  Having prepared her workout ahead of time, she walked in looking like a pile of something I would scrape off of the gym floor.  Asking her how she spent her weekend, she told me that her and her husband had spent the better part of the weekend moving furniture, painting walls, sealing decks and she was exhausted and sore all over.  After thanking her for coming in, I promptly revamped her workout completely (no deadlifts needed today!) and made sure she felt a lot better before she left through a combination of joint mobility, yoga and passive simple movement patterns.  She was grateful, but it also brought me to the point of today: shifting gears.

Often in life we get things thrown at us last minute, and as a trainer one of the harder skills to master is when a client comes in and states that they are unable to do something because of a minor injury or illness and we have to change things around without taking away from the time they have paid us for.  I’ve had clients actually walk into the gym on crutches, having a leg workout programmed for that day.  Surprise!  It is really irresponsible of a trainer to just go ahead and do whatever workout they have planned anyway, not realizing that the nervous system of that person may not be able to handle certain movements if they are tired, stressed or already feeling pain.  Being able to flow up and down the neurological scale is really essential to being able to provide a great exercises experience for that client on that day.

What about for us outside of the gym?  Are you easily able to shift gears in your personal and professional life?  Or even in the car on the way to work?  So many of us just move through life without thinking about what’s next because we are either used to a routine or pattern, or just don’t want to put forth the effort to adjust things around.  I have to admit that this type of thing really drives me crazy – which my wife can attest to – but I’m working on it slowly.  Being able to adapt to new and unexpected situations can be difficult, but it does not have to be as stressful as some people make it out to be.  It can also often be fun if you end up doing something or being somewhere unexpected.  I actually have read about a new movement called “Yes Man” like the movie where for one month you agree to do pretty much everything anyone suggests and just see what happens.  Some of the reports from people doing this type of thing are pretty incredible, from landing whole new careers to meeting the partner of their dreams.

Another way to think about this is just gearing either up or down a little bit.  If life throws you a curve ball, you don’t need to necessarily come to a screeching halt, turn around and head another direction.  You might just need to slow down, take a deep breath and keep moving forward.  Sometimes you need to shift into a higher gear to get past a checkpoint and begin to start working on the next one.  The point is to be able to easily adapt and be flexible to what life throws at you, and not let it throw you off.  Some simple strategies when you feel this coming on are to simply stop and take a few deep breaths and think about what you’re going to do.  I know when I have to do it I stand there like Rain Man for a few moments while my brain shifts over and I start thinking about what I have to do.  It might look funny, but it gets the job done.

I hope that I can make you think about this skill and how you can use it in your day to day world.  In mine it is really different than for example in an Emergency Room, or in a Board Room when a customer throws you a curve ball.  It takes some time and skill to master, just like anything else worth doing.  But the same basic principle remains – learn how to do it and if you can do it easily, your life suddenly gets a lot easier in a hurry.

By the way, we are 6 months done with the year – do you need to shift gears towards your goals?  Take a beat and think about it.  Then shift up!

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