In Life

Spotlight on The Obstacle Of Your Former Fitness Glory

The other day at the gym, I struck up a conversation with someone I hadn’t seen in a while. I remembered our last conversation was after a spin class before the Covid pandemic. Back in the day, a few of us regulars occupied the front row of the cycling class. The classes were exhilarating and we delighted in the fact that we expended a lot of energy spinning at max pace. On that day, he mentioned that he no longer enjoyed the class like before because he couldn’t reach his former high. I remember finding what he said that day somewhat comforting because I was experiencing the same thing and I couldn’t figure out why. I offered him words of encouragement, urging him to stick with it. However, I stopped seeing him in the class. 

When I ran into him again recently, he asked if I was still cycling, to which I replied affirmatively. He confessed that he had gained some weight and was finding it challenging. Once again, I encouraged him to give it another shot and get back on the bike.


How our former fitness glory can become
an obstacle.

Initially, it was incredibly difficult to accept that my glory years of cycling were behind me. I hoped it was just a temporary setback, a phase that would pass, that I’d regain my form someday. Week after week, I attended classes in the hope of reigniting my passion, but each session left me feeling more perplexed. Why was I struggling so much? Where was my fitness glory?

Interestingly, I was still burning roughly the same amount of calories, but oftentimes it felt like a struggle, a real battle. If there’s a thing called cycling depression, I think I might have experienced it then. Although I found it difficult to step away from cycling after so many years, my ego took a hit, and I became increasingly self-conscious about my struggles. This made me understand how the guy felt and why he gave up. There is certainly no joy to be found when one drops from peak form.

 

The questions I asked myself

Every time I sat on the bike, I found myself questioning why I was still there. Initially, I struggled to find a clear answer, as I avoided confronting my thoughts. However, over time, I began to delve into introspection and contemplate my actions.

Why continue doing something I no longer enjoy?

Uncertain.

Why has the enjoyment faded?

Maintaining my maximum speed has become challenging.

What does stopping entail?

Avoiding the inevitable—ageing.

And the outcome?

Declining form.

And that’s pretty much how I made the decision to continue indoor cycling for cardio health. However, the journey hasn’t been a smooth one, because, my decision coincided with an overhaul of our health club’s cycling program. My favourite class was discontinued, and Cyclone cycling was introduced as the main cycling class. Initially, I disliked it, especially the weekly FTP tests. I felt the classes catered primarily to outdoor cyclists, which held no interest for me. Despite this, I attended weekly, often deviating from the program to combat the monotony.

Then, something interesting happened. One day, I found myself following the class from start to finish. The sections I found monotonous felt okay. It took about a year and a half of doing a class I didn’t particularly enjoy to get to this point. Eventually, as a result of listening to our feedback, the programs’s structure changed to accommodate cyclists like me who prefer varied terrain.

 

The state of being fit at any age is fitness glory.

Today, as I walked into class, I noticed the man I encouraged to get back on the bike a couple of weeks ago. When the class ended, I asked him how he found it. He mentioned he wasn’t at his peak form but didn’t mind. He expressed gratitude for my encouragement, acknowledging that it was what motivated him to re-join the class. He was on the 4th row, and I was on the 3rd. With my cycling fitness glory years behind me, I’ve left the first row for the younger generation and outdoor cyclists.

I’ve become quite content with not pushing myself to my max in the class. It now feels satisfying to leave the class with the sensation of having completed a moderate-intensity workout. Surprisingly, the my last FTP test result was my best ever and my VO2 Max is in the high range for my age. So, there’s something to be said for conserving energy sometimes.

In conclusion, even elite athletes can become trapped by their past achievements, let alone the rest of us. It’s crucial not to let past achievements negatively influence our present and future. This is why I coach individuals to leave their past behind and concentrate on what they can accomplish today. We can’t stop the clock from ticking but we can keep our fitness level way above average for our age.

How can you take action today, and what steps can you take to keep progressing?

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