Today I want to talk about fear. We all possess it, and sometimes we’re so scared of something we do all we can to avoid it. We all have different kinds of phobias. Mine are large crowds, and I’m always forced to bring my earbuds with me if I’m at a sporting event or packed in a tight space with hundreds of people I’ve never met before and jam to Nightwish, Blackmore’s Night, and Arch Enemy for the time. I’ve gotten better since I first started experiencing this back in 2008, when I had to talk myself into leaving my house all the time, even for something as simple as going to the grocery store or even the gym! Yeah, and you thought the fitness guy had to talk himself into going to a gym to workout. Why do you think I’ve become a master at all things playground, track, and street-style workouts? Quite frankly, it was because I thought I had no other choice, but that fear of large crowds of unknown people is still there, but it’s under control for the most part. For a guy who would love to travel the world, write of his experiences, and repeat, it’s a good idea I have strategies in place in order to do just that. There is just too much good (don’t be a sheep in the field and let the mass media fool you) in the world to see and do.
Right, so today it’s going to be all about facing and conquering what we fear the most. What are some fears I’ve conquered? My favorite one are severe thunderstorms, because when I was young, I was convinced the world was ending every time one occurred. I would feel nausea simply by looking at the window and seeing a giant black cloud looking right at me and coming right for me. I used to be afraid of the dark and scared of all things ghost and horror, and these days, I prefer to watch The Conjuring in the dark or A Haunting, which these days are always about demonic possession. Then I can fall right asleep afterwards without another thought. Unless it has to do with possessed dolls, those things are creepier than anything. Or the time a few friends and I hunted down a local legend I read about on ghostsofamerica.com. Just go to Ohio, scroll down and click Toronto, and you’ll eventually find a story about a creature on a road called Brandywine, which resembles something from the Wrong Turn Series. That thing exists, because what happened to us down there fit that exact description of what was said in the so-called story. But I want to go back down there again, at midnight, and investigate some more one day!
So, now that I’ve caught your attention on all things horror and fear related, you may want to ask me what this has to do with fitness. Are you serious? Come on, show of hands. How many of you are intimidated by the pre-conceived notion of a gym? You may think bodybuilders are in there, women who look like fitness queens, young men with egos so large you’re wondering how they fit through the door, and a slew of other negative stereotypes. Let me tell you something, other than the young ego-maniacs who peaked in high school and believe the world owes them something, you’re going to be rather surprised that the gym is full of friendly people and hard workers. At least a private club will be. The smaller box, private clubs are really where it’s at because they have everything anyone would need in order to achieve their goals, and with that comes a ton of friendly faces, from the staff on down, who want nothing more than to help you achieve your own goals.
Look, the hardest part about getting into the gym is to simply cross that first threshold. It’s just like the classic story of the hero, who is initially called upon a journey, but the second step is his refusal to take the call. The third step for our hero is to cross the first threshold. And in the world of fitness, no one is calling us to take this challenge except our own minds when we look in the mirror and dislike what we see. Sure, we may have a refusal to take our own call for a time, such as a week, month, several months, year, two years, ten years, or even further. However, we eventually build up the courage to cross that first threshold. Now that we’re officially a member of the gym, we look over at the free weights and we once more cringe in fear, so we go straight for the less-intimidating cardio equipment and machines.
Have you ever heard this saying before? Those we fear the most are typically the best things for us? Did you know that free weights are hands down the best thing for you in the gym? If you didn’t know that, well, now you know. If you knew that but are warped in your very own self-justified fantasy that you’re going to see the results you are looking for on your own by staying in your little comfort bubble I call the cardio machines and weighted machines, then go ahead and continue to fool yourself. Feel free to continue to fool yourself until you get so discouraged and believe your destined to never succeed in fitness, give up, feel sorry for yourself, and then try to make yourself feel better by telling your hardworking friend who discovered free weights were the way to the ultimate fat loss and muscle building they’re only going to get bulky by using free weights although they’ve been doing this for a few years now and have experienced the opposite effect.
Sometimes, it’s better to just go all-in and face the fears. Look, people always misconceive me for insisting on remaining in my comfort zone, but what they failed to realize over the years was the fact that I snapped out of my comfort zone years before I met them. I was a video-game playing couch potato when I was younger, as well as rather unathletic, lazy, unmotivated, and always proved those around me correct about their assumptions about me. So, never sit there and say I’m in my comfort zone, because fitness was never my comfort zone, but about twelve years ago I said I was sick of being the way I was and did anything and everything in my power in order to adopt the new lifestyle at a young age.
So, why don’t I ever go to bars? For some odd reason, most of America loves this past time and those of us who choose not to go are typically maimed by the fact that it’s not in our comfort zone. Actually, I grew up in a bar. Wow, aren’t I proving everyone with these little preconceived notions about the health and fitness-oriented Todd Matthews wrong? It was called the Mingo Sportsman’s Club. Half of the five-hundred members have the surname Matthews. The other half are related the Matthews. So, I decided to change the identity and culture of the name Matthews. It takes a rather strong soul to do that and not conform to family traditions. So to be completely honest, I really have no desire to go into bars and drink beverages that are counterproductive to my fitness and life goals. The second I was told most of those club members entered the club after work and started pounding down beer from six until ten in the evening, and from sun up to sun down on weekdays, I told myself I wasn’t going to be one of those guys. Man, I hope my relatives continue to scroll when this article is shared…I can see disownment coming. Luckily, my main character in Once who is based off me has the surname Robertson, but I’ll talk about that another time, because today it’s all about fear and how to conquer it, which is going to be outlined below.
Honestly, you just have to do it, and what I mean by that is to quit talking about it, stop being overly analytical about this minor situation, cease debating with yourself about whether or not you should do this, and just walk into the gym the second you feel the instinct to do so. Sometimes, I feel our instinct is really a higher power telling us what we need to be doing. You know that old adage that tells you to “follow your instinct?” Yeah, that’s likely a higher power, if you possess belief in one, telling you that you’re destined to do this. It’s that evil half telling you you’re destined to fail, so do yourself a favor and snuff that little demon back to where it came from. Wow, I’m glad this is Holy Week, as I think it’s called, because I’m surely getting on Satan’s bad side this morning. Ah, I don’t care, it doesn’t really concern me. So just do it, and stop waiting for the right time or the perfect time in order to so, because there is no perfect time. Time continues to slip into the future and our planet, or circular disk (don’t judge me and research the topic), isn’t getting any younger, and neither are you. So, like I tell you all the time, stop talking and start doing. There is no perfect time, there is only time, and what we do with that time is what ultimately makes us or breaks us. The choice is yours. Are you going to conquer fear or fall victim to it?