Principles. Not Rules.

By Craig Hysell

The people that inspire us do not stand on rules. They stand on principles.

Rules are lists of regulations. A principle is “a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning.”

If the principles are strong, and the community buys in, the culture can have a profound impact on your life.*

The following are our gym principles. They have always been this way. And although we see people using everything they learn “In Here” to make everything better “Out There”, these principles can always be refreshed. Enjoy them. Use them. Share them.

1. Be Safe. Have Fun. Learn Something. You have chosen a lifestyle not a quick fix. Enjoy the ride. If it’s not fun, you’re doing it wrong. And it’s okay to have fun challenging yourself, or not challenging yourself that day. (This ebbs and flows with Life. Be mindful. When you are hungry for more, eat more. When you just want to come in and move, do that. When you want to take a step back and re-learn technique or dial in your fundamentals, do so.) Keep things in perspective and do not compare your journey with someone else’s. If you have learned and laughed, it was an epic day!

2. Know Your Why. If you do not know what you want or why you are doing what you are doing it is extremely hard to progress. And progression is a key to happiness. Constantly reflect on what you want, what you’re grateful for and what’s your perfect day? Take one step toward this daily.

3. Remain Open-Minded. Absolutism is the death of learning. You have two ears and one mouth for a reason. There is something to be learned in everything. Be diligent in your Practice and remain self-aware in The Process.

4. Be There For Your Teammate. Focusing on somebody else lessens your struggle. Cheer people on when you are tired. Take people with you as you move forward with the simple phrase, “Come on, we got this!” First one done is the first one to cheer. Do not break down your gear until all are finished (unless you have to be somewhere). Get each other’s backs in tough workouts or full classes. You are One Team and with that comes much healthy progress and happiness.

5. Be Present. Leave your “Pet Rocks” at the door. Forgive yourself your sins. Put down your phone. Tune into each other, to the Instructor, to the movement of your body, to the range of motion of the movement and the pattern of your breath. Live in the moment. Be free. Hold yourself to a high standard. Discipline is freedom.

6. YPIYSWI. You Pick It, You Stick With It. You will never be great if every time you meet Challenge, you defer to an easier option. Ask your Instructor how to break down a workout in accordance with your why. (If you’re just there to exercise- re: move- enjoy it. If you’re there to train- re: move with the purpose of improving something- enjoy that too.) Enjoy the ebb and flow of training versus exercising. Let your choices embolden you. If you are training and something in the workout makes you nervous or scares you a little bit, you’re on the right track to improvement. If you’re exercising that day and just want to practice a little flow and movement during your session, you’re maintaining your development. Enjoy that too! I believe it’s important to go back and forth with both practices for most people.

Note: Should you risk injury when it comes to YPIYSWI? Up to about a year ago, I would have said, “No. Never.” Today, I say, “It depends.” If you are training for your elite athletic profession (you get paid to play), some intelligent risk is not only acceptable, it’s probably a must in the off-season if you are to continuously improve.

Principles do not have to be taught or ingested with “an edge” to them. A person of stout principle is one who is loving, forgiving, patient, humble and joyful. (They are this way because they know thyself. A person of stout principle has a clear conscience, knows where they stand and has a sense of humor. They are the reed in the storm, not the oak tree. They are the water, not the rock.)

Most people we meet in the gym are highly principled. The polish and the reminders are what we all need to continue to be successful.

Do not confuse principles with fanaticism. Do not share or teach your principles as “musts” but rather as “this is what works for me, perhaps it will work for you”. Ask questions plentifully, offer thoughts plentifully, give directives sparingly.

Have fun with this. It makes The Ride much more enjoyable.

*Principles come with a catch. Most people believe they are right and not all cultural movements are a boon to humanity (Manifest Destiny, Nazism, ISIS, Gossip magazines, etc.). Always be mindful of where you stand.

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