Mike Semanoff is a professional skydiver/paraglider, publicist, editor, veteran, husband and father of three. He shares his tips for staying excited and engaged about fitness in the real world.
When playing football and running track in college, there was never a question why I was training with the intensity that I did. No longer part of an athletic team with a structured training program, I’ve had to get creative in my training approach. Being able to enjoy all of my desired activities, without any physical limitations, is my definition of fitness. Here are a few strategies I’ve used to keep my fitness level high and stay fully engaged in my favorite activities.
Redefine Your Reasons for Training
I’ve restructured how I mentally engage in physical training. Biking thousands of miles up the same canyon, running endless laps on a track, and swimming in a pool killed my desire to do these activities with any level of intensity. Heavy weight training hurts. All these things created mental barriers to a good fitness program that keeps me excited and engaged.
I needed to redefine my reasons to continue training at an intense level. At this stage in life, I’m not in active competition. I have 3 kids, a full time job, and have been married for 14 years. I no longer feel the need to impress a coach, my wife or myself.
So what drives me to get up at 6:30 am when it’s cold outside and my body hurts? After a few years of really questioning my why, I concluded it’s my love of adventure and being able to enjoy whatever adventure I want to without being constrained by physical limitations.
Everyone is unique with their history, past injuries, or interests, and there are endless ways to bring life back into your fitness routine. For me, I don’t really enjoy indoor cardio training, and I prefer to do my cardio training outside. After 15 or 20 years of traditional cardio training (swimming, biking, running), I needed to get creative.
I love paragliding, hiking, and trail running. By combining what I love, I create opportunities for fitness and adventure. Hiking uphill with my paraglider is the workout, reaching the summit is the goal, and flying over the edge is the reward.
Do what you love and know your limitations (mental and physical). Find a way to keep your fitness training fun, and it will be more of a game than a daily grind.
Tools and Tips to Stay on Track
Using a heart rate monitor is a great way to gauge your level of exertion and provide real, measurable metrics. Find your anaerobic threshold, and then use interval workouts to increase your threshold. The higher your anaerobic threshold, the harder and longer you can work when needed in the real world.
Start or re-engage in some level of competition. Competition sets standard you can push to maintain or rise above. It gives you incentive to maintain a structured training and can drive you to develop skills in a new activity. Any level of competition will help maintain a focus on your personal development or training program.
If you haven’t done anything physical for a while or if injuries have kept you from being fully engaged, simply make it a goal to do something active every day. It may be just a walk to the store or taking the dog for a run. Whatever you choose to do, do it consistently and make sure you have fun in the process because that’s what going to keep you coming back.