I went to a therapist recently, and she asked me to describe a normal workout to her. When I did she did a double take and asked, “Why do you feel the need to punish yourself?”
I started working out when I was 14. I was really shy and didn’t have a lot of friends. I didn’t like how I looked. I wanted girls to like me. I wanted to be better at sports. The bodybuilders I saw in magazines looked happy and successful. I wanted to be them.
I had no idea what I was doing. I just knew I had to work really, really hard and so I did.
I ran hills until I threw up. I lifted weights until I could hardly walk. I didn’t take days off. I was consumed by the idea of hard work and sweat.
It’s been 28 years and I still am completely consumed with fitness. I know more now, of course. I’ve learned in my 22 years as a trainer, I have to force myself to have days off and not workout as long as I did before.
Somewhere along the line it changed from wanting to impress girls and get better at sports, to just the passion for hard physical work.
Am I obsessive? Most definitely. My friend Brad, who’s a psychologist, told me I took my issues and made a career out of them. I think there’s truth in that.
But I don’t feel like I’m punishing myself like my therapist thought. For me, exercise is when I feel most alive, the most in the moment. I have ADHD. I don’t say I suffer from it because I don’t.
I had a client once, who was a pastor. He told me the time he felt most alive and present in his body was when he exercised. There was no other time in his day that he was aware of his breathing, heart beat, and sweat. That has always stuck with me and I think he was right.
Exercise slows my mind down. I can’t overthink when I work hard. I have to keep moving forward from one exercise to the next. Its the time I feel the most calm and relaxed as strange as that sounds.
I don’t expect people to be like me. We are all different but I do believe its very hard to be in the moment. Exercise allows us to be in the moment fully.
Devin Sherrington was named #2 trainer in Canada 2015, is 8 time Best Personal Fitness Trainer Halifax award winner, and owner the award winning fitness studio 360fit in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. He lives in Fletcher’s Lake, Nova Scoita with his children Reign and Journey.