A s I walk into American Top Team(ATT) every Friday night for my workout class, I know I’m the most physically challenged person in the room. I have a mild case of cerebral palsy that challenges the balance of my core. I know I’m not likely to fare well in a sparring match, though given the approach I take every time I enter the room people may say otherwise. That is because one area in which every person in the gym is given fair game is to work through the class with a progressive mind-set. I have to set my own expectations on what I can do, while keeping in mind that I’m still working all the right muscles, and all the same body parts as everyone in the class. I can still achieve the same level of satisfaction in my workout as all the other class members. Keep in mind though, I’m not comparing myself to the other people in the room. I’m achieving the same level of self-satisfaction. There is a distinct difference between those two perceptual outlooks. The answer under my approach to finding the winning formula in this situation lies under the fine line of creating balance and focus through the mind.
The self-satisfaction concept of setting my own expectations and not being deterred by others follows the basis of a thought process I like to refer to as the mind equalizer. It’s the concept I’ve developed and followed that’s allowed me to become a respected member of the ATT community every time I walk through the front door of the gym to put my gloves on. By achieving a similar satisfaction level as the other people in the gym, I’m able to relate my perception of being pushed hard by the instructor for 60 minutes versus their perception of being pushed hard by that same instructor for 60 minutes. The instructor knows what I’m capable of, and what each other individuals are capable of. The physical range might be different for me than the others, but I’m being pushed by the same instructor, working the same muscles, sweating just as hard, and taking the same class, feeling and witnessing the same empowering energy in the room.What does this all mean? We are all born into different circumstances. Some perceived uneven, more challenging than others, physically, and sometimes mentally. Some of us are born into lives that are more opportune than many of the people that walk among us. But there is one area in which we all are given an equal chance, and that is to form our own perception of how to define ourselves. This area lies in our mind.
Our mind presents us with the natural gift of freedom of thought. It allows us to be ourselves, accept who we are in this world, and relate to others on different levels. There is a level of connection in all of us, that allows us to see things from another’s perspective, even if their situation initially feels better or worse than ours on the surface. Through our minds this level of connection equates feeling and compassion all into one, allowing us to see past initial feelings of comparison and uncover our connection to the individual beside us. Allowing my mind to equally balance out good and bad thoughts, gives me a method to remain focused on the task at hand,putting aside disturbing or intrusive thoughts of discouragement. I try to abide by this concept on a daily basis, and carry into it into my kickboxing class every Friday night.
Creating balance in my thought process, allows me to operate with a focused mindset at the gym. My mind becomes equal to the common goal in the minds of those of us that show up every week when we step onto the mat. It’s the real connection that allows me to relate to the others on the same level in that gym, and become a respected member of the American Top Team family. We all have one common goal when we put our gloves on. It’s to remain focused on becoming stronger, not only physically but mentally every week. I’ve recognized that goal and learned to equate it with other members of the class. I’ve uncovered the common mindset we all share that brings everyone together as one community in that gym. It lies in a formula that equates us all as winners. I like to refer to that formula as the mind equalizer.