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Olympic Ring Training v Learning Spanish

By Mr Grumpy - Thu 29th Mar 2012

Way back before I moved to Spain, and when I was earning a half-decent salary and with little else to spend it on, I was the member of gym. The Gym was part of chain and was seemingly more popular with middle aged women who half-heartedly attended one or two aerobics classes every month, and frowned at anybody who wanted to something ridiculous like lifting weights.

For ten or so years I engaged the services of a personal trainer. I guess I wanted to ensure that the time and effort I put in at the gym brought me the best possible results.

The reality was that the money that I spent ensured that he taught me all the things that he wanted to teach me without little regard for what I actually wanted. And because I didn’t actually know or understand what I wanted myself I found myself doing pointless and irrelevant things like one legged split squats on a bosu ball etc...

In retrospect it seems like the majority of exercises and routines were things that would make him look good in front of all the single Mums and other potential clients in the gym, rather than focusing on what I actually wanted.

I swear to god, I wouldn’t have been surprised if he had asked me to have a spray tan, and do clapping press-ups whilst stripped to the waist and wearing ray-bans.... all impressive stuff, just totally pointless.

And like many people with the time, money and inclination to train, I fell for it and paid the cash.

Don’t misunderstand me – I’m not having a go at personal trainers – just that I didn’t understand how to best engage their services and what I actually wanted or needed from them.

So after a few years, when I knew I was about to move to Spain, I set myself some goals.

My fist goal was to be able to do a decent number of bodyweight Pullups and dips on Olympic rings – in time building up to a muscle-up and maybe even an Iron cross. I didn’t kid myself that the latter two were unlikely to happen, but a goal is a goal ....

I can remember one day asking the advice of an old-timer in the gym (as opposed to my personal trainer) on how I could “get good at pull ups”.

His advise struck a chord and has stayed with me for years : “ If you want to get good at pull ups you have to do a lot of pull ups “

Genius !

You don’t need the costly protein supplements (at least not until you get to the elite level); you don’t need the fancy equipment (most of which ends up at a car boot sale after 6 months); you don’t need the jazzy ‘fitness club’ with the euro-pop blaring at you and the endless treadmills; nor do you need some skinny teenager calling himself a personal trainer that wouldn’t know the difference between a squat and a deadlift.

If you want to get really good at something you have to practice a lot.

...So I moved to Spain – without the resources of a personal trainer or fancy Gym nearby, and without any state of the art equipment. I just strung a pair of Olympic rings up in an Olive tree in my garden.

Rain or shine, winter or Summer I trained on them religiously 5 days per week over a 7 year period and saw my strength, stamina, endurance and vascularity improve.

All without cost or the services of a costly personal trainer.

My Point ?

That one peice of advice : to get good at something you need to practice is something that has stayed with me.

If you have the will and the motivation, quite often figuring things out for yourself, making mistakes and practising is worth much, much more than any short cut or ‘quick fix’.

I remember at school, the kids who were the best at languages weren’t always the ones with the biggest dictionaries. They were the ones who wanted to learn and who tried the hardest

I also learned that Spanish teachers, like personal trainers, could not work magic. Simply paying the £30 per month alone did not ensure success – it requires a clear understanding of what you expect from your investment of time and requires a degree of effort if you wish to see the results that you expect.

And yes, it really has taken me 20 years to work that out.

Comment on this Blog

I totally sympathise. And at the risk of sounding smug, congratulations on working things out for yourself (I think I´m at the point where I do that too). My latest post is an example - I´m very clear about what I think though it might piss some people off. I also think it takes 20 years to learn Spanish, less if you live here and just keep at it. The thing to remember is to live in between! Once you add up all those 20s you´re sixty or eighty and where did your life go???
Mo - Sun, 1st Apr 2012

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