One of the hardest situations an athlete will face is getting back to physical activity after a long hiatus.
Sometimes the break comes as a result of a change in schedule, sometimes it’s because of an injury, and others it’s simply because of laziness.
Well, if you’re sitting at home, like me, watching episode after episode of Aerial America and going through your menus to figure out what restaurant in your neighborhood you haven’t ordered from, then this article is for you.
I’ve been a martial artist for a long time. I started when I was nine years old. I’m now in my 40’s. I’ve practiced many different martial arts and I’ve gone through many periods if inactivity.
My first long one of those was in college, when I first got to New York to go to NYU.
I had been studying Aikido in Puerto Rico. When I moved, it wasn’t like there weren’t any schools in the city. It was just that my life had changed. I had classes to content with, a new home, a new life.
I spent a few years away from the martial arts then. It was just a natural absence while I adjusted to my new environment.
I was young and getting back into it wasn’t that hard. By the time I got back to training I was craving it so bad, I used to have martial art dreams almost every night.
Soon after graduating I joined a Kung Fu school that became my martial arts home for the following nine years.
Much later, after I had moved to LA for a while, I went through another long break. This was the result of an injury.
It was a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class, the guy went for an arm-bar and I just didn’t tap on time. The outcome was a small tear in my elbow ligament. Not a serious injury, but the circumstances this time where different.
I was already well into my 30’s and it took several months to even get rid of the pain.
When something like this happens it can be very discouraging. Especially as you get older because it becomes harder and harder to get back to training. It’s not just your age. It’s inertia. A bad injury can make you give up on the martial arts all together.
So if you’re going through a long break and you’re thinking it’s that time when you need to get your ass back to class, then here’s a few words of encouragement:
Fist: An object in motion tends to stay in motion. I didn’t say that. It’s one of the laws of aerodynamics. And it’s absolutely true.
It’s much easier to stay in motion, so if you’re already working out and going to class, stay that way. Avoid the long vacation. If you haven’t been for a while…GET STARTED NOW.
I know it’s hard. And it’s going to stay hard for a little bit. There’s no way around that.
But here’s the good news, each day you work out it’ll get easier and easier. Guaranteed! Soon you’ll be craving more.
Second: Remember this, your body always feels better after. I have to remind myself of this one all the time. It’s true.
When you decide not to work out and stay on the couch eating nachos, you’ll regret it for the rest of the day…the rest of the week maybe.
But if you get up and do some exercise – even just a half hour – even just walking, you’ll feel great for many hours after.
It doesn’t matter if you decide to go back to the couch and eat those “muchos nachos grandes.” You’ll still feel better because at least you did some sort of exercise.
Third: Your brain will feel better too. Guess what? We think of brain and body as two separate things but that’s just nonsense. They are connected. They are one. The better and healthier your body is, the better your brain will feel.
You’ll think faster, your problem solving skills will increase, you’ll get a boost in memory and many of your creative qualities will boom. Nothing better than a nice workout to solve many a creative problem.
Also, if you happen to practice martial arts, your brain will remember. Martial arts training stimulates the nervous system and promotes muscle memory.
You’re body and mind will feel younger every second that you do it. You want proof? Go to any park in Hong Kong at 6 am and watch those little old men doing forms and demonstrating flexibility that would put a 23 years old to shame. Nothing speaks like success.
And last but not least: There’s a reason you started martial arts training in the first place – you love it.
Nobody says that love comes easy. On the contrary – true love is hard – but aren’t the hardest things in life always the ones worth doing?
I don’t know…maybe…but one thing’s for sure, you’re not going to find out by sitting on the couch.