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6 Things Fitness Has Taught Me About Life

  • 6 Things Fitness Has Taught Me About Life
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by Erin Engelson, Perpetua staff member


1. I can do hard things

Being able to summon the mental strength to push your body is an important skill that extends far beyond the gym. When I’m having a hard time with something I can draw upon the experiences I’ve had – like sprinting to the finish in the last song in a RIDE class, or dragging myself out for a run even when I don’t want to, for example – to reassure myself that I’ve got this. Pushing myself physically and knowing that I can, helps me push myself in other aspects of life.

2. There’s always at least a little bit left in the tank

You (usually) have just a little bit more to give. This is almost universally true. In physiological terms, humans have this little emergency switch where our brain sends signals to our body, telling it to slow down or stop before we reach the point of exhaustion. This is a remnant of our cavewoman origins, where the brain telling the body to slow it down was literally a matter of survival. But in our non-cavewoman, modern times, it mostly just makes you bag that last rep or cut your last mile short. Being able to talk my brain into making my body push through to the finish during a workout has made it a lot easier to force that process in other areas of life – like finishing my graduate dissertation, for example.

3. Sometimes it’s better with a companion

Working out with friends has helped me get stronger and fitter than I’ve been in years. When you’re training with other people, it’s a lot harder to skip that last rep. You feel accountable to your gym buddy, and they feel accountable to you. When I say I’m going to meet a friend for a long run, I’m (probably) not going to hit the snooze on my alarm and skip the run – because I have made a commitment to someone else and I am responsible for honoring that commitment. The way this carries over outside the gym cannot be understated, especially now. We are all accountable to one another.

4. But it’s okay to be alone sometimes, too

Getting comfortable with being alone is a skill that I think too few people possess. Time spent training alone has helped me work through issues, get creative, and unwind. If you’re not at least a little bit comfortable being alone, life is going to be very difficult. If you can train in the gym by yourself or go for a run solo, you can probably do other things alone, too, which is going to benefit you in all sorts of ways.

5. Your problems aren’t going anywhere

You can’t outrun or out-lift your problems. Training can help you work through them and feel better, but at the end of the workout you’re still going to have to address whatever is going on.

6. Good habits in one part of your life can carry over to the rest

It’s pretty amazing what happens when you start making a standing appointment with yourself to prioritize your fitness. Your sleep and mood probably improves. Your eating probably improves without giving it much thought. Your relationships with your peers probably improve as well. We don’t exist in compartments – when you start taking care of yourself in one aspect of life, everything else changes, too.


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