Ah, the double-edged sword of New Year’s Resolutions. If you make a good one and stick to it, you’ll be jolly all year. But make one and break it, and it casts you down into the pits of despair. Most people make resolutions to eat more healthily, do some exercise and lose some weight. Guess what, training at our Club can help you do all three – a bargain New Year’s Resolution! But you still have to keep at it. Fear not, we know just what it’s like trying to stay motivated, and we have the knowledge and support to get you past those bumps in the road.
For those of you who want to start something new this year, here is FWC Instructor for London South, Richard Wagstaff, to show you how.
“New Year’s Irresolution
You’ve finished ploughing through the turkey sandwiches, mince pies, and Christmas pudding and you’ve just got over the disappointment of another highly-anticipated yet distinctly average New Year’s Eve party. You have the whole year stretching out ahead of you – exactly the same as last year.
“No, this year is going to be different” you say to yourself. “This year I’m going to grab the bull by the horns and do something new. I’m going to get fit and healthy and start that martial art I’ve always thought about doing. Hmm, wonder what I can find on Google? Ah, this Fujian White Crane Kung Fu & Tai Chi Club sounds interesting.”
A Successful Start
Full of enthusiasm, with the thought of becoming the next Bruce Lee you turn up to your local FWC Club. You absolutely love it, a tough class, new and interesting ways to move your body combined with the more traditional exercises you’d expect to help you get fit.
You’ve found the Martial Arts Club you want to train in and help sort out your body and your mind. You are mixing with like-minded people who are also there to increase the fun in their lives and push their boundaries. You’re training at least twice a week and it’s still January! The year ahead is starting to look brighter and you’re full of excitement for how far you can push yourself. Next year’s resolutions are looking easier.
You’ve done it, you’re now a martial arts student. This, however, is only the beginning.
Life Bites Back
Then the hard choices start popping up. Your boss demands a little bit more of your time, you have important exams at school or University you need to revise for, it’s cold dark and miserable outside. And all of a sudden your initial enthusiasm for mastering a new skill is slipping away. You lose sight of your goal. Your training slips to once a week and then you miss a couple of weeks’ training altogether. It’s not your fault. Life just gets in the way.
And now it seems too hard to go back to class. What is your Instructor going to say? They won’t be impressed, and all of a sudden it’s March and you have joined a large group of people who “used to train martial arts”, and “you’ll take it up again when you’ve got more time”. In your heart of hearts, you know you’re kidding yourself. And guess what? That time when life is going to get easier and you’ll be able to pick your training up again doesn’t exist. It’ll never happen.
According to research published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology approximately 50 per cent of people make New Year’s resolutions. The Mental Health Foundation in the UK believes 80 per cent of those who make resolutions fail to achieve them. This can result in a rebound of self-doubt, resignation, and even self-loathing.
Don’t let this be your story.
“So what can I do?” I hear you say.
Even Olympic gold medalists find it hard to train at this time of year. Jessica Ennis-Hill in an Interview with GQ magazine offers some practical advice: “It’s hard to get motivated for exercise when it’s dark and wet. I find it’s easier if you have a goal to aim for.” The darkness and weather may seem to be against you, but there is an interesting article here about the benefits of winter training.
Set yourself both long- and short-term goals. If you just have an unending goal to ‘keep training’ it is very easy to lose sight of what you’re doing. Set yourself small manageable targets, which you can measure – doing your first grading for example, or attending a Saturday training camp. Work towards them and when you achieve them reward yourself and then set some more. Push to enter a competition with the club, maybe even to attend a week-long training trip. All of a sudden a year or two has passed and your motivation is still as fresh as when you started.
Tell those around you why you are taking up this new venture, your loved ones will support you if you include them. Even your boss will appreciate your training if they see you are better equipped to cope with the stress of work and are therefore more productive.
Rugby World Cup winner Johnny Wilkinson, is a man famed for his obsessive practising. In an interview with the guardian.com he explains the benefits: “I’m a perfectionist. I still want things to go amazingly well. And it’s my cathartic release, my spiritual training. It’s my way of just emptying my mind, and simplifying life. You just stop that noise in your mind. It just goes.”
If you’re a teenager with exams or a student at University, don’t forget physical exercise increases brain power and helps with stress. A good balance of revision and training will improve your performance in your studies. Show everyone the new you and the benefits it brings: more energy, more zest for life and living it. There is a great article here by an FWC Cambridge University student about the benefits of training during study and exams.
Keep your Instructor informed
If you do have to miss class (and trust me no reason is ever good enough for your Instructor) then let them know. A text message will do. It will usually be a slightly painful experience for you as the response you will receive to what you feel is a impossible situation will most likely be “not good enough”, or “what’s wrong with you?” or very simply “lazy!” Don’t let this put you off, communicating with your Instructor helps with your own personal motivation, they have your best interests at heart and are most definitely on your side. Keeping in touch with your Instructor will make it a lot easier when you are able to come back to training.
Write it Down
When life gets a little harder it is vitally important to remember why you started training. Write down your reasons for starting and go back to this list every so often – why are you doing this? Why are you taking time out to go to training in the evening when you could be at home relaxing on the sofa? If it was important when you first thought of it then it’s still important now.
We all start training for different reasons. Put a note up on the wall over your desk reminding you why you started to train,
Google the “benefits of training martial arts”. You could even put a recurring alarm in your phone reminding you to go to class. Writing your goals down has a powerful effect. When it’s there in black and white there is no escaping it, you can’t simply forget why you started training.
Get yourself into uniform. It will help to make you feel part of the group. The other students are a great support network. You’re all in it together and the senior students can be a great resource to tap into. They haven’t forgotten what it’s like to start.
Jessica Ennis-Hill again has some good advice (GQ) “And if you can, train with friends or join a club. If you’re training alone you’re more likely to give up. But team camaraderie drives you to complete the session.”
To sum up, play the long game. At times your training may increase and at others it may decrease. Forgive yourself when it drops, but keep at it as training over time gives you longevity. When the pressure of life increases, remember it’s the physical fitness and mental alertness that comes with training which gives you the tools to cope and thrive under that pressure. It’s during the battling hard times that training becomes most valuable. Kung Fu keeps you healthy and grounded allowing you to tackle life’s problems with the knowledge that you’re in the best shape possible to win.”
Thanks Richard. See you in class.