Leave Your Comfort Zone, See BIG Results!

By Bill Boylan, Home Bodies Master Trainer.

Top Gun, Anise flavored quail and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu? I oftentimes have to laugh at the sorts of things that inspire me to write articles. Believe it or not all three of these things relate to fitness in their own special way. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the movie Top Gun, first of all shame on you! It’s an 80’s movie about a group of navy pilots who are the best of the best at what they do. They are sent to a special school called “Top Gun” to become even better pilots than they ever thought they could be.

How do they accomplish this if they are already so good? If they listened to what most people say they’d get advice like “keep on doing what you’re already doing”. Hey it works, why change it? Instead these pilots were pushed and challenged in new ways they couldn’t imagine. They endure entirely new and advanced training methods the likes of which they had not seen before. This caused them to adapt and become even more skilled than they were before. The theme song from the movie is called “Danger Zone”, and entering into that territory is exactly what was needed to make them better. They were pushed out of their area of comfort and into the “Danger Zone”. The result was a lot of high fives, aviator shades, and scenes of Tom Cruise blowing up enemy planes.

Oh and a cool idea for an article about improving fitness. Are you living your life on autopilot? Do you ever feel like things are so mundane and boring that you just want to scream out loud? The majority of us are wired that way, and even those of us with the best of intentions fall into this rut occasionally. Since we are concerned mainly with fitness let’s address this aspect further as it relates to exercise. You start working out, and its novel, new, and exciting. You see progress and meet your goals you’ve set up with your trainer, but now what? I train people for a living and even I found myself in a similar situation last year. I am going to use my personal experience to help you break out of your rut and leave your comfort zone.

We all like being comfortable. I’m certainly no different. We like routine, and we like being good at things. I for instance really like kettlebells and strength training in general. I liked it so much that I focused on that and personal training almost exclusively. I began neglecting things I was bad at (flexibility, mobility, and cardiovascular conditioning) to focus on things that were easy for me. I rationalized ideas like “who needs to be able to a)tie their shoes b) stand up straight c) be able to climb stairs without sounding like I had just outrun the cops?” Boy was I wrong! If we never attempt to break out of our ruts or challenge the status quo we become stagnant.

What does this have to do with Anise flavored Quail? Recently at a fancy birthday dinner for a friend I ordered this lovely dish simply because I wanted to try something new. Everyone else was served delicious steak while I received 2 undercooked pigeon skeletons that tasted like black licorice. Yes, I made a bad decision in hindsight, but without risk there is no chance for reward. So you see leaving your comfort zone isn’t always a positive experience at first glance. At least now I know what not to get next time! Go out and try new things, chances are you may fail, but you also may find you really enjoy and value the new experiences you have throughout that process.

Please allow to share another story about new experiences, however this one has a much more positive outcome. One day on the way home from work I was driving by a new gym that was opening up. They focused mainly on martial arts and when I happened to stop in there was a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class going on. This martial art focuses on grappling, so the practitioners need to be flexible, mobile, and in incredible cardiovascular shape. Not letting the Quail incident keep me down, I signed up for a month of classes. The next few weeks I had a lot of time to ponder if this was the right decision as I was constantly pinned beneath whoever I was training with that day. But my time spent contorted and face down on that sweaty mat drove a very important point home to me. Without change we stagnate.

If we don’t ask the body to perform more than it has in the past it will not adapt. That’s exercise physiology 101, yet it’s so easy to forget. I soon started enjoying exercise again, and no longer felt like it was a chore to do something good for my body. It pushed me beyond my comfort zone, and right out of the rut I was living in. Thankfully I’ve ditched all my velcro shoes, haven’t been mistaken for a slouching caveman, and I can make it up a flight of stairs without having to stop halfway.

I encourage you too to find something that pushes you into the “Danger Zone”. Try challenging a friend to a timed run. Tell your trainer how many reps of a certain exercise you plan on doing, then beat that number. Learn a martial art. Take a dance class. Do Yoga. Don’t run on the treadmill, go outside and hike a trail, you get the deal. No choice is a bad choice unless you don’t learn from it. But take it from me, no matter what the circumstance is, you don’t want to order the Quail.

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