One of the first things Peter ever said to me was, “My favorite childhood memory is having energy,” and it has stuck with me. Working harder may not always be the best thing. Sometimes it’s important to take a step back, view things from a wider perspective, and build back up from there. Life in Dubai isn’t easy, and it gets to most of us.
This is Peter’s story, and how simplifying things may be the medicine we all need when things get a bit tough around here.
Peter started his CrossFit journey six years ago. He started quite late, in his mid-30s. Back then, he knew he had to start some form of daily physical exercise as life as a software engineer and managing teams in various time zones were weighing him down. Endless hours of sitting and hunching forward resulted in the typical computer posture we see around here so often. Things in CrossFit went very well for a long time.
Choose your stressors
Peter, like most of us, is also a creature of habit. He has his own way of going about his day, work, and responsibilities by giving his absolute all. It’s this passion he has for everything in life that has resulted in lifts and performances as a 45-year-old that most guys in their mid-20s will be proud of. His major lifts and compounds are all between 100 and 150 percent of his body weight, and he will just keep going and going until you tell him to stop. Having a back squat of 300 lbs and a deadlift of 400 lbs are numbers we can all be proud of. But being that fit and strong doesn’t last forever. Exercise in itself is stressful. Work and responsibilities are stressful. Traveling for work and sleeping in different environments while still communicating with various time zones is stressful, and one simply cannot juggle all this at the same time. All these various stressors eventually caught up with Peter, and the coaches noticed when Peter simply wasn’t performing and moving like he normally does. Inspection was needed! Peter needed help.
It’s a common occurrence here in Dubai, where life is very transient and changes are constant. All these changes have an effect, and something will have to give eventually.
We all have to be honest with ourselves. We have to work, and often work requires a lot from us. You can’t always say ‘no’, traveling is a reality in Dubai, and disturbances in sleep and eating aren’t always manageable. My advice is to modify or change the stressors you are in charge of—your training is a great example that can be adapted for sure! You can’t always change your job, but you can change your training, duration, volume, reps, sets, tempo, and exercises.
Peter is a perfect example of how less can be more and how 3–4 days per week of smarter training can be much more beneficial than training 6–7 days per week. Peter is just a great guy to hang out with and train with. Always super enthusiastic and willing to go the extra mile, he is at the gym every day. Never late and always there on time to bring his own spice to the 6:30 class. Peter has competed in just about every competition we have hosted and attended every single social we have organized. It’s safe to say that the coaches at Iconic Fitness / CrossFit Duo know him very well; a day without Peter just doesn’t seem right around here.
Movement always heals
I approached Peter about a different method of training where we strip things down to the basics, still train hard but within the capacity of what the body can handle, operate in, and recover as movement heals. Training and exercise are essential to a healthy body, mind, and soul. We simply had to find a movement and regimen that suited his needs at that given time.
Training 3 or 4 days per week in a smart way can be much more beneficial than training 6 to 7 days per week in a program that may not be the best fit for you.
As a coach in sports performance and also a coach in rehab, I enjoy the privilege of operating on both sides of the spectrum when it comes to fitness and performance.
From my sport performance coaching side, I have to constantly weave through the challenges and find the best ways to get a client or athlete to perform at their very best in a given time, be it short- or long-term goals and build from what phase that client or athlete currently operates in. My other responsibility as a rehab coach requires me to unravel and trace where things initially went wrong and to bulletproof and condition the client or athlete in such a way to prevent these issues from occurring again in the future.
There is always a balance between too much vs. too little training; operating in a given window of opportunity vs. pushing things too far and then having to regress; Ideal or adequate performance vs. overdoing things; and even with excellent programming and effective training, it does happen that clients push themselves too far and things go wrong. This can lead to sleepless nights, overtraining, recurring injuries, anxiety, or simply a lack of desire to train or perform at all.
Often, the best way to weave through this maze of performance is to strip down the complexity of it all and simply start at the basics again and build up from there. Giving the body a new beginning and allowing it to recuperate and find its own way to train the way it prefers.
Peter has slowed the training down and has been on his new program phases for 6 months now. He isn’t putting in the hours he did before, but that’s down to me asking him to take more rest days and listening to his body. I’m happy to report that all compound lifts are increasing, and the steady state of progression has started again. He can push himself again and still have enough energy to get to all his major responsibilities without any injuries, niggles, or recurring pain for the first time in 2023.
If you are caught up in it all and need a professional coach to sit down with you to discuss your goals and challenges, let us know. It starts with a simple coffee, and we explore your ‘why’ and what’s preventing you from reaching your goals. Life can be overwhelming, and we all need that extra bit of support.