It’s January 9th and the gyms are getting less crowded by the day. The “Gymcensus” is almost over. With the holiday season having just ended, the story behind Christmas should be in mind but I’ll recap just in case. The story of Christmas starts with Joseph bringing Mary, his betrothed, to Bethlehem to be counted for the census. Due to the large influx of people, Joseph and a very pregnant Mary were forced to stay in a stable because there was no room at the inn. In that stable Jesus was born. Then he and his family had to flee in order escape the wrath of King Herod who intended to kill the child. Now we have created the modern equivalent.
The Gymcensus is a slightly skewed reenactment of the story of Jesus. After the holidays, all people who want to believe that they will be fit this year must travel to a gym. They must go as often as possible during the first few weeks of the new year in order to be counted in the Gymcensus. Since it is so crowded and there are a limited number of elliptical machines, people are forced to lift weights or run. At that point these people must flee the gym because they are afraid that exercise might kill them. Either that or they flee from their friends that they told about the gym commitment because they cannot face their “failure”. While this depiction of a New Year tradition may be comical, it does not need to be so pervasive. Most gyms give you the tool that you need in order to stay through the census and actually become more fit. That tool is the mirror.
The mirror is an underused tool in and out of the gym. In all honesty, the trip to a gym is completely unnecessary. The main action that needs to happen is to look in the mirror and come face to face with your opponent. Once you have looked your opponent in the eye and sized him or her up, you’ll have a very good idea of what he or she is capable of. Then all you need to do is beat your opponent by 1%. Perhaps I grazed over that too quickly. The only person that you are competing with is you! You just need to start by doing a little bit more than the lazy version of yourself would do. If you do that, then you’ll gain momentum. DO NOT COMPETE WITH A PICTURE IN YOUR HEAD OR A PHOTO IN A MAGAZINE! You’re setting yourself up for failure by doing that. Only compete with you, the you of today. Don’t take part in the Gymcensus! Use the mirror in your gym, bathroom or wherever to regularly challenge your greatest opponent to be better. If you don’t, then no one will.
You’re not here just to be counted, you’re here because you count!
Jocko Willink does an AMAZING job of illustrating a more intense version of this lesson when he talks about the “man in the cave” in his interview with Tim Ferriss. It’s worth a listen.