Finding Yourself Through Fitness

Wisdom from American Top Team 
Asheville’s Chris Sawtelle

What is your definition of fitness? Most people seem to equate fitness to appearance. As a result, we as a society have reduced fitness to “drive-thru” status. Find the nearest fitness center, sign up for two years, go get on some fancy machines, do thirty minutes on a treadmill while catching up on Maury, and your fitness goals are achieved. Studies show that this mundane approach lasts a mere two weeks.

Shouldn’t we expect more from our fitness than just appearance? After all, 90% of us are always going to be unhappy with the way we look anyway. Fitness should be as much about your mental health as it is about the physical. That is something you can’t achieve at a “drive-thru” fitness center.

I’ve been involved in some form of martial art for almost 30 years, mostly boxing and MMA. Whether competing or training, I have always felt like I was challenged, not only by the physical, but the mental aspects of the sport. And as a trainer, I’ve learned that each individual has a very different reason for getting involved in martial arts. Obviously people want to get in shape or learn how to defend themselves, but more importantly, it serves as a therapy for many mental disorders like Parkinson’s, autism, depression, and even more common mental inadequacies like a lack of confidence or stress. Most of the time the customer doesn’t actually reveal (or even understand) the real reason for being there until we expose their true purpose, which generally begins to shine through after a few sessions.

You see, this sport has a way of exposing our weaknesses, which puts us out of our comfort zone. This is a great way to develop real confidence, as opposed to the false confidence we have when we have no idea what we are truly made of. Through sports like martial arts, you can discover what really lies within and become the person you were meant to be all along.