I joined a gym right before Thanksgiving in an effort to be proactive with my annual holiday food consumption, and I try to make it there at least three times a week. If I’m lucky, I will wake up on the first alarm without hitting snooze, grab a banana, a glass of water and be on my way. On my walk to the gym I am putting together my workout, thinking about which muscle groups I will work, and how much time I plan to spend on the elliptical before calling it a day. After walking in the door and scanning my I.D. card, all of a sudden my mind goes blank as I stare at all the machines. There always seems to be endless possibilities at your fingertips as soon as soon as you walk into the gym. A wide array of machines are available that could make you stronger in many different ways, showing you that they are there options…other ways of reaching your goal. I wonder if I should try a new exercise I read in a magazine, or sit on that new machine that looks like a guillotine. Even with all the machines at my disposal, I decide to just stick to “the usual” workout routine. Those new machines intimidate and scare me.
I stick to that routine because its familiar and after a while, its easy. I know where I’ll have trouble, and where it won’t be too bad. But sooner or later my body doesn’t feel like it’s doing any work. My legs don’t get sore like they used to, and I’m don’t sweat as much anymore. On one hand this is great because I was stronger than before, but I’m not pushing myself anymore…I’ve gotten comfortable. A trainer told me that I needed to change my routine every few weeks so my muscles don’t get accustomed to the same movements, or they’ll get “bored.” I need to keep my body guessing, and by doing so my muscles will grow well rounded. No Pain. No Gain.
I feel that as counselors we need to make sure we aren’t just going back to our old routines. Yes they are familiar, yes they work, but at what point did we stop trying something new? Are we intimidated by a new technique? Scared that it might not go well the first time we try it? I know it’s hard, but it will only “hurt” for a little while. No Pain. No Gain...remember. It’s important to keep in mind the value in changing up our routine and adding new skills to our tool kit. Teaching new skills to that tiny counselor bodybuilder inside of us keeps him healthy, strong, and ready for anything. We need our muscles to be well rounded and strong to support our clients when they may be weak.
Jaime Castillo is a counselor who works for a non-profit agency in New York City.