For my summer class in Kinesiology at MSU, we were asked to write about our philosophy for increased fitness and sports performance. This is the essay I turned in for the assignment.
I am not very experienced in coaching or with athletics at the collegiate or professional level. In my life, physical activity comes from group aerobics or personal training, rather than sports or team settings. That being said, I have experienced my own journey with fitness. I believe there are two things that can motivate a person to physical activity; one has the power to bring real and lasting positive changes, the other is destructive and profoundly wounding to the individual.
Unfortunately, I believe the second perspective on fitness is more common. It is a cyclical pursuit that is motivated by shame, guilt, or vanity. I have felt this way before. Any successes I had were small and short lived. They were never enough, either. The first part of my personal coaching philosophy is to abandon the temptation of comparison. I believe the root of shame, guilt, or vanity is comparing oneself to others. The victories I mentioned above happened occasionally, but I felt failures everyday. This pursuit of being “as good” as someone else is futile and deadly. In the most extreme cases, this means literal death, but in many more cases it means an emptiness from searching for relief from the pain of dissatisfaction with one’s physical fitness. This is a good goal to have on its own, but it is detrimental when it is motivated only by will power or one’s own strength.
In my life, the only source of true and lasting fitness motivation comes from God through a relationship with Jesus. Human bodies are made by God. They are beautifully intricate and how life forms and thrives is a truly amazing demonstration of God’s creativity and love for people. It is also true, however that our bodies are subject to the curse of human sin. Disease, obesity, and weakness are all products of humanity’s departure from God’s perfection. From Jesus, we receive unconditional love and acceptance that covers our shortcomings or insecurities, if we choose to accept it. To me, this is the only real message of hope.
That explains my second belief on coaching philosophy: that we should be motivated to fitness because it honors the beautiful bodies God made. The third and final part of my outlook is that we must be always striving forward. Achieving a certain personal image is not a pursuit that I have to rest my joy or security on because I have been completely accepted by Christ and will be ultimately made new in Heaven. Because I know my status in eternity is secure, I have the confidence and motivation to pursue health and conditioning – not to give myself meaning, but to experience part of all that God has for me.