Training with friends

Everyone I know has struggled at some point for motivation to exercise.  I have been kickboxing 22 years and I would be lying if I said I have been up for every single class I have attended.  It’s easy to identify reasons for not wanting to train: tiredness, work, family, the sofa is more appealing, the list goes on!  And this begs the question what can we do to make ourselves more motivated?

Granted, some people are naturally more motivated than others.  Having targets and goals always helps and feeling like you are progressing.  It’s hard to stay motivated when the results simply feel like they aren’t happening.  Or training without a target to reach.  So what can we do aside these things to get up and go to that lesson?

One of the things for me personally that has helped me get up and go to class after a long day at work or when I’m curled up on the sofa in the warm, is the people I train with.  Being part of a martial arts club gives you friendships, people with a similar mindset, people who care about you.  People think of martial arts as an individual sport and to many extents it is, you put the work in and you get the benefits.  However, whether you come to make friends and meet people or not, you do and you will.  Many people come to us as introverts.  They come in, they train, they go home.  In many case I have often wondered if they even enjoyed the class because they don’t interact!  However, as the weeks and months go passed I start to notice friendships forming and confidence growing.  I see students laughing, asking each other about their week, making conversation outside of the class environment.

Over lockdown, as well as zoom lessons, I offered to connect my students for ‘buddy training’ where I would pair off two students and they would meet weekly on zoom and train together.  Initially I wasn’t sure if the interest would be there but the uptake was high and I even connected students from other clubs (with the Sensei and parent’s permissions of course).

We can’t always train at 100% capacity, we have days where we feel tired and fatigued.  But attending a class and realising you are not alone in this can really help.  And the people you train with get you through.  There are so many classes where my class mates and friends have gotten me through the training and I know that had I been in the gym on my own I would have been on the treadmill less than five minutes before giving up and thinking this isn’t for me today.

For children in particular, most of their world is centred around school.  It’s where most of their friendships come from, it’s where most of their stress is.  All children will experience falling out with friends at some point.  And whilst as parents we tell them not to worry and it’s not the end of the world, for them it is.  However having friendships outside of the school gives them another area in their life to focus on and achieve in, but also to feel part of something and belong.  I was the girl at school who hated PE.  I wasn’t sporty, I didn’t like any kind of racket or ball sports and team sports made me feel uncomfortable.  But martial arts gave me a different view of exercise.  It was a place that I could just keep practising and actually achieve in.  Whenever there were fallings out at school, I knew I still had my friends at kickboxing to hang out with and see.

Adults can have a similar sensation of isolation.  Moving areas, relationship breakdowns, all sorts of things can effect our social lives and mental health.  And it is much harder as an adult to meet new people and make friends.  But exercising with people not only releases those endorphins to keep us happy but it gives us a support system.  I know people that have been through a divorce and felt entirely alone and martial arts has got them through.  People have walked through our door, new to the area and not known anyone and are instantly made to feel welcome.

Don’t underestimate the power of training with friends and remember, even if you have had a rubbish training session, laughing burns between 10-40 calories and 43 muscles in the face are used when we smile so if nothing else, hopefully we can get a smile out of you! 🙂