Whether you're just starting your fitness journey or you've been at it for years, the concept of mastery can seem alluring. After all, who wouldn't want to say they can perform a one-arm handstand consistently or achieve a perfect 180-degree split?
But, as Rad Burmeister, Director of Unity Gym, points out in his reaction to a recent Fitness FAQs video, the path to mastery often involves a massive investment of time and effort, and the payoff might not always be worth it.
In the video, Daniel from Fitness FAQs shares his journey towards mastering the one-arm handstand. Two years, five days a week, 90 minutes a day - that's what it took for him to be able to hold a one-arm handstand for about 10 seconds. A colossal investment of time, and for what? An additional five seconds?
This brings us to the crux of the issue: investment vs. payoff.
It's a question you, as a fitness enthusiast, need to ask yourself: is the time you're investing into a particular skill or fitness goal worth the outcome you're seeking?
Perhaps your answer is yes.
Perhaps, like Daniel, you decide it isn't.
Rad has personally grappled with this conundrum, whether it was during his relentless pursuit of flexibility or his time spent on Kung Fu. He reflects, "how much better am I going to get for the same amount of time investment?" Could that time yield a greater return if channeled elsewhere? Perhaps into developing other skills or aspects of fitness you're not yet good at?
Unity Gym is built around the philosophy of being fitness generalists, focusing on achieving a balance of strength, flexibility, and skill, rather than obsessing over one single fitness facet. We want to be good, even great, at multiple facets of movement practice.
Take flexibility, for example. Rad shares his experience of striving to be extremely flexible in his late 30s, eventually reaching a point where he was considered exceptionally flexible in an average gym setting.
But compared to elite level gymnasts or dancers? Not so much.
Rad had to ask himself, was it worth investing more time to gain that additional 10% of flexibility?
The answer was no.
The payoff, that slight increase in flexibility, simply wasn't worth the investment.
The truth is, maintaining 90% of your current level of skill, strength, or flexibility requires only about 10% of the effort it took to reach that point.
This might be a hard truth to swallow, but it's a valuable perspective shift that can help optimize your training and better align your fitness goals with your lifestyle and other commitments.
But remember, this isn't a one-size-fits-all solution.
Some people might find joy in the pursuit of mastering a single skill, dedicating hours each day to that one feat. If that's what drives you, go for it. However, remember that running towards one thing often means running away from something else.
As a fitness enthusiast, your journey is your own. Whether you choose to be a generalist or a specialist, always remember to evaluate your investments versus your payoff.
Are you happy with the balance you're striking?
We'd love to hear your thoughts. Drop your comments below and join the conversation.