Despite what you may think, there is a big difference between going to the gym regularly and being an athlete. Whether you play floor hockey on the weekends or are a member of the softball team in the summer, there are a few defining principles that determine whether you are an exerciser or an athlete.
1. What Do You Want Out Of Your Workout?
The first defining factor that proves you are an athlete or a general gym goer is what you plan on getting out of your workouts. Your goals say a lot about you and who you are in terms of exercising. Do you go to the gym to practice particular routines in hopes of improving a skill and working your way to the top of a sport or profession, or do you go based on a commitment you made through a New Year resolution to lose ten pounds?
2. How Does Your Schedule Define Your Exercising?
Working out can be an obsession for many, but even if you go to the gym regularly, this doesn’t necessarily define you as an athlete. For a gym goer, even one who works out intensely, the gym is secondary to other life objectives such as work and family. For an athlete, the gym isn’t a secondary option, it is the primary objective; fitness is crucial to their work and that makes intense schedules a necessity. While you may go to the gym every day of the week and rest on Sunday or maybe not give yourself a break at all, athletes are working out two, three, and sometimes more times a day to get their body to a place where they will succeed in their sport of choice.
3. Training Techniques And Practices
It isn’t just scheduling and goals that separate athletes from those who are simply working out. Your techniques and practices also set you apart. Esquire says:
“The complexity of an exercise is something that should reflect your maturity level in the gym. Athletes will often use complex movements, not only to keep things specific to their sport, but also because their bodies need to be challenged in multiple areas of fitness at the same time (such as coordination, balance, and agility).”
Athletes are usually training for a very specific sport or objective, which means that their workouts are going to be more pointed than your general exercise routine of cardio and weights. While you may have a plan going into the gym to hit the stairs, elliptical, and do spinning before your yoga class, an athlete will have very tailored exercises for their sport or point of interest that must be completed in order to finish their gym visit.
4. Level Of Intensity
How hard you work out is also a factor here, as you will find that athletes must train just as hard off the field as they do on the field. You might think that you give yourself a run for your money at the gym, but unless you are pushing yourself to the limit every time you work out, you may just be a gym goer rather than a true athlete. Of course, it’s important, no matter which category you fall under, to take your workouts one step at a time and not strain yourself. Case Performance states:
“Learn to relax, take things in and on your own terms. Breath, sort the cream from the crop. Always strive to learn more, but learn it out of passion, not out of fright that you’re missing some crucial piece.”
Athletes work hard, but even a professional must rest and give their muscles the required time to heal, grow and repair before hitting the weights again.