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A Means to an End?

www.ironmanmagazine.comIs the workout a means to an end? In the strictest sense, the workout is an instrument that creates an effect. If you ask the average person in a gym why he or she works out, you’ll get a variety of answers from losing fat and gaining muscle to, “It’s good for my health.” For the most part the answers are accompanied by a passionless, lukewarm shrug.

Readers of IRON MAN are not those average Joes and Janes who think that exercise is some kind of prescription they have to choke down like vile cough syrup. Most of them have to convince themselves at every workout that it’s a means to an end. That’s the reason that so many people quit training: The cost-to-benefits ratio they bought into it did not include the intangible changes that every workout produces, if you are open to them.

While the enhancements may be intangible, they are real. Self-esteem is something that’s often mentioned as being enhanced by a weight workout. It is the “want” of young people as they begin their search for self, but it doesn’t end there. Over the long term, self-esteem is what we think of ourselves, and that intangible is at the heart of the way we feel.

Vince Gironda would always talk about how an exercise felt and how to maximize the focus of the movement to get the most out of every rep. Why? He knew that the feeling was important. Strength and muscle were fine, but the process was an indispensable part of the result. It may be a cliché, but it is nonetheless true: Self-esteem can only be earned. Only you can do the work, and that is what makes it literally a means to an end—and priceless. When you feel that you have had a good workout, it goes way beyond the transitory pump and has a very long half-life.

After the workout you think more clearly because the very act of focusing on the process precludes you from thinking about all of the “stuff” that is a part of your daily life. The workout is pure re-creation, a time capsule that allows rejuvenation. Along with the rejuvenation comes the positive feeling of accomplishment, which is the foundation of self-esteem. The result is that you feel better after the workout than before—more muscle, less fat. It’s not something that you can measure, but something positive has happened. Enjoy every minute of it. IM

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