Video games have always been a part of my life. My brother and I were first indoctrinated to gaming on a Sega Genesis playing Sonic the Hedgehog and then proceed to advance through just about every game station that has come out in the last 15 years except for the Playstation franchise. My current game station of choice being the XboxOne.
And while video games have just inherently continued to be a part of my life out of habit they also fulfill a more important role for me.
I struggle at times with the ability to "turn everything off" in my head. I constantly feel the need to be reading fitness/health related blogs, staying up to date with what the leaders in the field are doing via social media, writing my own blog posts, sharing stuff of my own on social media to build an audience, reading for professional development, writing programs, selling services and products, and in general just trying not to be left behind.
I have this deep fear in me at all times that somewhere someone is doing more than I am or getting better and they will outpace me. It's how I felt as an athlete and what drove me to be in the gym and on the field as much as possible. I wanted to be the best and didn't want to be beat by someone else. I have the same feelings and wants when it comes to being a fitness professional.
However as a rational human being I know this isn't a healthy feeling nor is it realistic to believe that I can stay constantly up to date and ahead of others. It is in a way possible to outwork your peers, but it isn't possible or good to be focused on your professional life all the time no matter how much you love what you do.
I have found that making time for other things in my life that are unrelated to fitness or health although me to be a better fitness professional. It also provides the opportunities that seem to spark the most creativity out of me for writing and business development.
Video games help me with this because it gives me an opportunity to step away from that "always on" mode and get into something completely unrelated. While having fun and enjoying myself.
It may seem like goofing off or a waste of time to some people, but for me it is an integral part of my program of "self mastery."
As I sort of mentioned earlier the time I take away from fitness and health related things are often when I come up with my ideas for topics for blog posts. As is evidenced by the title of the blog post.
Yesterday morning I was playing Assassin's Creed Unity, the latest game in one of my all time favorite video game franchises, thinking about why I liked these games so much and some of the overarching themes in all the franchise's games that make them so great. Three big things stuck out to me.
1. Respect for Consistency
There are several things across all the Assassin's Creed games that I have fell in love with since picking the first one up these include:
- The character movement and combat is smooth, seamless, simple, and yet offers plenty of variety to keep you playing for hours. The
- The blend of historical facts and landmarks with conspiracy, legend, and imagination.
- The realism of the game environment.
I am sure there are many more but those are a couple of the ones that stick out in my mind at the moment. The creators of the franchise have kept these elements in every game produced thus far. They recognize that these are what make their game unique, interesting, and fun and while they may add or subtract from the franchise from game to game they keep these things constant.
2. Belief in Autonomy
Assassin's creed is at heart an RPG (role playing game) in which you play through a fictional character's life via memories. However the creators have made sure that the game is not just simply a linear, fixed, and forced progression of mission after mission. The user can progress through the game at their own pace taking deviations from the main plot whenever they feel like. The user can also choose how they will complete each mission in the main plot. They can do so in the traditional cloak and dagger method favored by Assassins, but they can also choose to be more of a berserker favoring strength over stealth and guise.
3. Lots of Opportunities for Exploration and Experimentation.
The creator's of the franchise create a stand alone world in each game produced in which their are a multitude of activities, tasks, and missions the user can partake in that are completely unrelated to the main plot. This means if you are interested in finding out as much about the history of the city you are planning in you can spend your time roaming the map and building your database. Or if you prefer to grow your wealth by going on a contract killing spree you can do that too. This kind of free exploration and ability to try different things brings another degree of fun to the game.
After thinking about this more yesterday I couldn't help, but be struck by the fact that while these things have been essential to making jumping off roofs to assassinate fictional characters a lot of fucking fun they also in my mind are the essential features of what makes an approach to fitness sustainable.
I think not because I think these three things are things humans are naturally inclined to gravitate towards and motivate us.
A sustainable approach to fitness should first and foremost be concerned with likelihood of repeatability or put another way whether or not we will be consistent with it. There is no one size fits all model for getting this accomplished. It has been determined by the individual. It has to take into account things such as how much time you have to dedicate towards training and exercise, where you train or exercise at, previous experience with training and exercise, current fitness level, and so much more.
The key I believe to determining what this is for you is starting small and starting with something you honestly believe you can do. If you meet these two criteria you are already on your way to winning the consistency game. Then you simply add to your fitness habits as you feel ready to.
But above all whatever you do there should be a hinger likelihood that you will do that thing than you won't do that thing (yeah I know I am rather poetic).
A sustainable approach to fitness means you are involved in the process of choosing when, where, and how you will go about getting and staying in shape. If you have the freedom to decide these things then you are more likely to take ownership of the habit and internalize it as part of who you are. The likelihood that you will stick to something that you have no say in is very low.
A sustainable approach to fitness will give you the freedom to explore and experiment with anything that grabs your interest. This could be taking up olympic lifting. This could be jumping on the "functional movement" bandwagon buying a bunch of Bosu balls and squatting on them. This could be trying out dance or martial arts. It could be building a jungle gym in the backyard for your kids and you to practice your acrobatics.
Whatever it is your approach to fitness should not be confined by a set of "rules" given to you by an "expert" about the best way to get "jacked," or "toned." Instead it should promote exploring new methods, trying out different implements, and expanding your knowledge of movement.
To simply my thoughts basically Assassin's Creed is a fun game franchise because it surprises more than it disappoints and it gives you total freedom to play how you want to play.
A sustainable approach to fitness should do the same.
It should ensure you move more than you don't and give you the freedom to exercise where, when, and with what and who you prefer.
The more regimented, rigid, and forced your fitness approach is the less likely it is going to become something you partake in for the long term.
Happy moving and heavy lifting!
Practical, Purposeful, Effective Training