Using Your Fitness at “Other” Gyms
Written by TJ O’Brien

I’ve been using my fitness outside the gym quite a lot over the past few months.

Ya see, I was going HARD into the strict gymnastics training for like, 2 years. I had an online coach, I learned a freestanding handstand push-up, a strict nordic curl, and ALMOST hit a one arm chin-up.

Anyway, I wanted something more interactive and social cuz like, getting back out there after a pandemic, ya know?

I started jiu jitsu a few weeks ago, I’ve been going to Muscle and Motor class, surfing, and recently have become part of a core group of people attending an incredibly fun “hip hop cardio” class on Saturdays.

The point, other than highlighting that you can stay fit in a variety of ways, is that each of these forays into a new “physical culture space”, for lack of a better term, seemed to enrich my own experience back in my home gym of Invictus.

Here are a few things I’ve picked up from Brazilian Ju Jitu:

I could wax poetic about the virtues of this sport for pages and pages, so suffice it to say that in the short time I’ve been doing this sport, I’ve become a bit obsessed. I feel like I did when I first started CrossFit!

Greet Everyone on the Mat
Simple as that. When you enter the mat, be there 4 or 14 other people, you go around and shake hands with each person, introducing yourself to anyone new. I sat in a sort of far away corner on my first session and then person after person came up and introduced themselves to me. I CANNOT exaggerate how much more comfortable that made me feel.

Higher Belts Help Lower Belts
I wrongly assumed that life would be very hard for a new white belt. With little technique, I’ll surely just get my butt kicked each session, I thought. But no! More experienced members help the less experienced ones, applying just enough pressure to make your life hard, but not so much that you feel hopeless. They’ll even stay with you after class and help you review your mistakes. These are NOT coaches, they are just experienced members who know that a rising tide lifts all ships. If they train around better people, they themselves will get better, so they lift each other up.

Here are few things I picked up from Hip Hop Dance Class:

Hip Hop Cardio is a beginner-friendly dance class. You learn a routine to the music, step by step, then run through it a few times. 

Breathe to Find Flow!
Intense focus on getting the steps right can lead you to actually forget to breathe. The challenge is learning the right amount of effort to apply. Too much and you’ll overthink it, too little and you’ll get lost. But when you find that balance and settle into flow, you might actually have FUN with the workout.

“Who cares?!”
Our instructor, Paul, reminds us of this each class, right before we do our final routine. “Just have fun,” because the stakes are NEVER THAT HIGH. If it’s 22.1 or L.L. Cool-J’s “Headsprung,” life will carry on when you’re done, whether you aced it or not. When you realize that no one cares if you mess up, only if you give your best effort, it frees you up to actually enjoy the process.

Have YOU been to a different gym lately? What did you notice about their gym culture? What did you like, what could be better? Ever wish you could bring the best of all gyms to ours? Me too, tell me about it.