30 Days of ZooFit: Building on Momentum

I always feel I need help in the self-confidence department. But then I remember my work with animals, and honestly, I’m not alone.

I remember working with a young dolphin, let’s call him Gage. I don’t have permission to use his name yet, so I’ll change it to protect the innocent for the time being.

Gage was a great dolphin to work with. He was eager to please and soaked up new behaviors like a sponge. He had some fantastic bows (jumping in the air and landing rostrum/nose first in a beautiful arc), and even picked up on a vertical spin (exactly how it sounds, jumps straight into the air and spins). I decided he would be a great candidate to learn side breach.

A side breach is quite a crowd pleaser, and a crowd drencher. It’s when the dolphin jumps into the air like a bow, but instead of landing head first, the dolphin twists and lands directly on his side. This behavior is a great demonstration of a natural behavior dolphins perform to catch prey, communicate to pod members, or simply to scratch an itch. 

Gage was a great learner. But I had such a problem getting him to land on his side, rather than diving back in head first. It took a lot of me stepping back during the session and evaluating what I was doing wrong.

The set up at the time was me on the wall, and a partner down the wall about 30 yards away. This was the furthest away we had ever practiced the breach, but we had to work with what we had. He would build momentum and my partner would slap the target pole to tell him where to go, raise it up for him to touch with his rostrum, and then quickly bring it back to the water with Gage following in such a manner that he couldn’t shift his body in time to change his position back to a bow.

This session, I don’t know what sent the light bulb switch, but it turned on, and it turned on bright. Gage hurtled himself out of the water in a beautiful arc, and arched his back the opposite position of a bow. He was clearly and intentionally landing on his side. I gave him the rest of his bucket of fish and walked away.

The next session, Gage showed he understood what was expected of him. Slowly, I was able to fade out the target pole, but Gage always swam the full 30 yards down the pool before executing his perfect side breaches. It was him gaining the momentum to perform at his best.

We perform at our best when we gain momentum, too. 

This long story has a point. If you feel stuck in your fitness or goal, use the lesson of Gage and Behavior Momentum. Go to something simple, and work up from there. Or use the motivation from a great success to fuel your progress to the next level.

If you want to execute 30 inch box jumps, you don’t start at 30 inches. You start with a lower height, and gradually increase until you reach 30 inches.

If your goal is to do a perfect unassisted pull-up, you can start at whatever modification is needed- ring rows, banded pull-ups, jumping pull-ups with a slow eccentric movement (maintain lots of control on the descent after getting yourself over the bar). As you gain confidence and get stronger, you can make it harder and more challenging until one day, you are doing pull-ups without any assistance.

Today I finally got around to making my initial sandbag. It’s been on my to-do list forever, but we finally gathered the sand yesterday, and I decided to test some of my methods out. These sandbags are made from sand, plastic bags, and old pants. I made my weighted bags, stuffed the pant legs with the weights and sealed them how I planned.

Finishing this craft inspired me to do the workout utilizing sandbags- a WOD I call Hill Hell. Great cardio, carrying sandbags up a hill, doing exercises, carrying it back down the hill, doing more exercises, and repeating 4 times. Challenging, but I was highly motivated. I wanted to test out my new toys.

Doing the workout presented all the issues I would need to fix and modify for my next trial. I want to use khakis or jeans, but I didn’t have any handy. I realized we needed to keep the sand weights at a maximum of two pounds. And I discovered a better way to seal the sandbags without making it awkward or difficult to handle.

This was exactly what I needed to achieve to keep me motivated with ZooFit and the program of Reuse, Recycle, Reduce Your Waist. Yeah, it didn’t go exactly as planned, but it worked on a lot of different levels. Trying it out didn’t discourage me, it motivated me, got the behavior of trying things out revved up. Now my motivation is through the roof and all I want to do is finish my project so we can test it out again.

Behavior Momentum is a great aspect of ZooFit which can break through ruts, setbacks, and pitfalls. Start small, simple, and easy. Build from there and let the momentum of motivation take it from there. You’ll be PR’ing and smashing goals in no time.

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