Finding and breaking your limits

I recently had a very interesting experience that taught me a lot about the limits we set for ourselves. I woke up this particular morning knowing that I would be taking a group of fitness instructors through a workout that was meant to push them to their absolute limit. These people can handle extremely hard workouts and as I was getting ready for the day ahead I was contemplating how I could create an expectation in the group where they knew they would have to give everything they had to give in this workout. After putting a lot of thought into it I had my plan in place. 

We all met in the fitness studio just before 10am and you could see the instructors were nervous and excited, they were nervous because they knew they were about to work hard but excited because these are the types of people who love exercise and they were looking forward to the challenge they were about to confront. 

The workout I had designed was a simple one, it consisted of 10 exercises and they had 1 minute to do each exercise with the aim of doing the maximum amount of repetitions of that movement in that single minute. Once they had completed 1 minute they would get 15 seconds rest and then they would start the next exercise. For example they would do maximum burpies for a minute, rest for 15 seconds and then move onto maximum press ups for a minute, they would continue this until all 10 exercises were complete. 

To make sure everyone was motivated for the challenging workout I paired everyone up and let them know that while one person was doing the exercise, their partner would stand beside them and write down their scores and help provide motivation to them for the duration of their workout. Once the first person had completed the challenge they would switch roles.

After ensuring that everyone understood how the workout worked I put some pumping music on and counted down to the start of the workout, ‘3, 2, 1 go!!!’. Over the next 30 minutes as each person worked their way through the session I was surrounded by people absolutely blitzing themselves, it was impressive to watch. At the end, everyone had given it everything they had and they had been at their best. This was proven by the sea of people lying on the ground gasping for air. 

As they slowly started to regain composure I quietly asked them to grab their score sheets and come and sit down in a circle around me. With calm, introspective music playing in the background I asked them to look at their scores, to think about what they had done well and to confront where they knew they could have done better. I gave them a couple of minutes to reflect on this then I asked them to look at me. In a slow, strong tone I told them that they were about to do the challenge again. Their aim was to be better than what they thought their best was, they had to aim to beat the numbers on the sheet in front of them and I let them know that we’d be starting in 2 minutes. 

Logic would say that because they had already done the challenge to their maximum ability they would have been fatigued heading into round two, that they would be lucky to stay close to their previous numbers, but what I witnessed over the next 30minutes was one of the most impressive displays of human character I have seen. Everyone in the room was fighting for a higher level of self and they were giving 100% of themselves to achieve this, it was impressive. The results were amazing, everyone improved their scores in over 80% of the exercises!

This was a real example of seeing people breaking through their limits, these high level exercisers tested their limits once and when they saw where that limit was they were able to aim for a higher place and achieve it. We all have limits that surround us and often they can hold us back, but unless we are willing to explore and test these limits there’s a high chance that they will continue to hold you back. Maybe it’s time that you learn where your limits are and once you find them you could be like these impressive instructors and push them out a little bit further. 


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Bevan Eyles