The best way to get into shape is to follow what has worked for others, right? Those shredded dudes in the gladiator/Spartan-based movies, that super fit guy you know who never shuts up about exercise, or that “transformation” specialist who turned 40 years of unhealthy living around to become an inspiration for their friends and family (this person will always end up in the fitness industry by the way). That’s how you should choose how to get into shape! Right?
Nope! Think again you lazy bastard. Yes, a one-size-fits-all solution would be fantastic; something like a magic pill that makes you fit instantly and forever. Too bad! It doesn’t exist and probably won’t in your lifetime. The good news is that even if it did exist, it wouldn’t help you to become more functional or skilled anyways (the purpose of our special brand of training).
Let’s put aside everything you know about “getting into shape.” Pretend all the fitness infomercials, advice from friends, naked dating shows, superhero/ancient war movies, beach trips, and summer prep diets never happened. Pretend that you simply want to maximize your short existence on this planet by improving your health, enhancing your body & mind through exercise, and you want to get started the right way.
Working Out Versus Skill Development
First things first, we have to draw a distinction between the basic definition of “Working Out” and what we call Skill Development. Working out involves moving your body a bunch of times to burn calories. It doesn’t matter what you do, how you move, or whether you’re actually improving your physicality in any way, shape, or form; you move your body, get sweaty, and lose weight (sometimes).
Skill Development, conversely, is all about how moving your body can improve your physicality (the calorie burning happens too, but that’s not the point) and proficiency in exercise. The better you get, the more you improve your abilities (i.e. strength, conditioning, agility, balance, mobility, etc.) and the better your abilities become to continue improving.
The funny thing is, you’re doing the work anyways, so why not improve your abilities and efficiency through Skill Development while you’re at it? Stop moving your body to get sweaty, and start moving it to improve your abilities! That is what functional proficiency is all about.
3 Reasons Why Skill Development Trumps Working Out
You may still not be convinced of how Skill Development leads to an improved life. Not to worry! Here are three reasons why Skill Development is the way to go:
1. A Lifetime of Fitness (Not Just a Summer)
The reason both the fitness industry and individuals push 1, 2, and 4-week “get ripped quick” schemes are twofold; they satisfy your want for an easy fix to a complex problem, AND the fitness industry gets another chance to sell you something new every time you need your “fix.”
Getting into shape is difficult for most people, it’s a trying process that requires discipline to avoid all the daily temptations that confront you. That’s why the solution must be tied to personal development and not a simple need to “look good naked.” You never heard a successful surgeon say, “All the other doctors went to school for seven years, but I became a success with this 4-week program!”
Same goes for all athletes, skilled professionals, and anyone who takes pride in their hard-earned achievements. Making Skill Development a priority will give you a lifetime of results.
2. The Older You Get, the Harder the Results Become (Unless You Have a Plan)
Anyone who exercised consistently in their lower to mid-twenties knows this: working out is easy, results are quick, and you look sexy as hell without even trying. Problem is that all that stops when you hit thirty, unless you have a progressive plan to keep developing.
Results get slower, recovery gets longer, and any mistakes you make in the nutrition department will have a direct effect on your performance. Skill Development allows you to keep progressing despite the fact that you may not have the “bounce back” that you had in your youth.
3. Your Time Has Run Out! Efficiency Is What You Need
You ever want to hit a young person because they said, “I’m too busy! I had to go to school, make dinner, AND hit the gym!?” Me too. Unlike in your youth, you REALLY have no time. A full-time job/career, kids and family time, and managing a household will suck up more than just your physical energy, it will exhaust your mind. At the end of the day/week, all you want to do is sit there and shut down for a couple of minutes.
Skill Development doesn’t require hours and hours each day; since it’s based on a program (or should be), you don’t need to put much thought into where you need to go. Better yet, functional training methods are designed for efficiency; maximum output in the shortest time possible through full body coordination and engagement. Since Skill Development is also about consistency, your cumulative effort leads to better results than any short, unsuccessful “fitness binge” you could think of.
Tools That Encourage Skill Development
Fortunately, there is a list of fitness implements that will fit your need for enhanced physical abilities through Skill Development; we call them Unconventional Training Tools. There are several more in addition to the following list, but these are the primary tools that fit the principles we espouse at Onnit Academy:
Given the amount of options that encourage Skill Development, how do you, Mr./Mrs. Fitness Newbie, choose which one is best for you? Using our “Choose Your Own Adventure Map” below, you can choose a tool and get on your way to building skills (if you have a local, competent trainer and the means to pay him/her that is)!