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I was recently inspired by an article by Robert Dilts, Daniel Dilts and Lily Dilts.
I’d like to paraphrase and add some of my own thoughts and experiences on how NLP can help with fitness training and how fitness training helps with personal performance.
For me personal fitness is the key to a long, happy and healthy life, personal success and peak personal performance. In addition to increased energy, vitality, strength and flexibility, the benefits of good fitness include better concentration, improved mental strength, more stamina and greater readiness to meet life’s challenges head-on! Research also shows that good fitness greatly reduces the risk of a variety of illnesses and physical problems such as osteoporosis, heart disease, and adult onset diabetes as well as most other ‘dis-ease’s.’
Despite the many positive benefits of fitness, people often struggle to achieve and maintain it. Sometimes this is due to lack of knowledge of effective health habits. It can also be because people need help to reshape their lifestyles and reprogram unhealthy patterns of behavior.
The funny thing…even for many athletes’ and physique competitors (figure, fitness, bikini and bodybuilding) they struggle with achieving and maintaining desired levels of fitness.
Physical, mental and emotional fitness all involve developing a certain degree of flexibility, stamina and strength. These are achieved through consistent and persistent exercise and healthy life practices rather than through “quick fixes.” In general, fitness is a result of personal congruence, respecting the value of the body, mind and spirit, and promoting the connection between all of them.
Good fitness is more than just physical conditioning. Complete fitness applies to body, mind, spirit and emotions. To be truly “fit” means to be healthy and strong physically, mentally, emotionally and spirituality. Ultimately, fitness comes from living a healthy and active lifestyle.
Nutrition and exercise are only two areas required for good physical fitness. Yes, both are very important. Eating a healthy diet, for instance, leads to having a healthy heart, a sturdy cardio vascular system, low body fat, strong muscles, solid bones, etc. And without the mental strength to push through the workouts, the emotional strength to stick to the nutrition program and spiritual strength to be able to relax and pray or mediate a person is only partially fit.
Being fit means having a healthy attitude, a sense of gratitude and a positive outlook on life. Attitude (mental and emotional strength), physical conditioning, good nutrition and a center of peace (spiritual strength) all support each other to produce a healthy life style that will lead a person to peak performance.
Helping people to achieve and maintain a better state of fitness is the role of a fitness coach. Fitness coaching is the act of teaching, supporting, helping and motivating clients to achieve a healthy lifestyle. This involves supporting clients on a number of different levels. In addition to the environmental and behavioral aspects of fitness, people must address issues relating to the development of new capabilities, beliefs, values and even their sense of identity. Thus, fitness coaching is much more than just counting repetitions on the weight machine. In addition to teaching proper lifting techniques, correct form and proper nutrition, fitness coaches counsel and listen to problems, acting as caretakers, guides, coaches, teachers, mentors, sponsors and, at times, awakeners for their clients.
The “Inner Game” of Fitness
The mental aspects of fitness are related to what can be referred to as the inner game of fitness. The concept of the “inner game” was developed by Timothy Gallwey (1974, 2000) as a way of helping people to achieve excellence in various sports (e.g., tennis, golf, skiing, etc.), music and also in the workplace such as sales. Success in any area of performance involves using your mind as well as your body and emotions. Preparing yourself mentally and emotionally to perform well is the essence of your “inner game.”
People tend to think of fitness training as being mostly focused on the “outer game” of fitness, but in order for people to successfully reach fitness goals; they must also develop their “inner game.” Many fitness trainers will tell you that the hardest muscle to train is the muscle “between the ears.” You can have a room full of the latest and best equipment, but if it is not used, it is no help. Some key components of a successful inner game of fitness include:
- Setting clear and achievable goals
- Developing the motivation and self-discipline to follow through on those goals
- Having tools with which to break old habits and set new healthy ones
- Updating your self-image and mental maps of yourself
- Appreciating and acknowledging your progress and building self-esteem
Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) provides a model of change and a variety of tools that can help individuals in this “inner game” of fitness. In addition to their applications to problem solving, NLP processes and principles can greatly enhance a person’s fitness in a number of ways.
Creating the Future
Goal setting is the first and primary technique used by fitness coaches to help individuals define what they really want. A key to goal setting is defining the right kind of goals. Fitness, for instance, is not about having the “perfect body”…really, it’s not…but rather about having your own ‘perfect’ body become fit and healthy. It is important for fitness coaches and trainers to help their clients rephrase goals such as “being thin” to “being healthy” (i.e., having strong bones, a good heart, able to touch your toes, etc.).
I often hear guys taking about their goal of a six-pack (abs). Have you ever seen a starving person, they have a visible six-pack! So, reframing and redefining goals is a critical first step that a fitness coach should take with a person.
While people frequently seek fitness coaches and trainers when they are out of shape or overweight, it is not always the case. Many now are looking to improve their personal performance in what ever area of fitness/sport they are involved in.
People who are truly fit make fitness part of their identity. Good exercise and eating habits should be as natural as washing your face, brushing your teeth, bathing, etc.
Achieving good fitness involves making yourself a priority. We do so many things for others in our lives (children, partner, boss, clients, colleagues, etc.); it is also important to consider, “Who is taking care of me?”
Fitness is about doing what you can for yourself. When deciding what to eat, for instance, think of yourself as an expensive car. If you had a Ferrari or a Jaguar, what type of fuel would you put in it? Treat your body the same way. Think of your body as a temple. Care for it the best you can.
In the next installment I’ll continue on what a NLP and fitness coach can do for you in the areas of fitness and personal performance.
My e-book, “Develop the Mental Strength of a Warrior” can assist you tremendously in moving into an area of mental fitness that will support you in physical fitness. If you’d like to experience Fitness Coaching request your Introductory Consultation.
OK…how are you doing with your action? Let me know in the comments below.
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