Virtue Principles Part 2: Balance
Virtue Strength and Conditioning was created out of a desire to help people realize their true strength and in order to do that it is important to discuss balance.
The body thrives on balanced strength, mobility and nutrition. This means that balanced strength across the fundamental human movements provides the best performance and keeps injury to a minimum. This is why when we perform a strength training session at Virtue we perform a push, a pull, a squat, a hip hinge and a carry with proper sets, reps, and loads.
The same can be said for mobility, if an someone comes in with a mobility imbalance they are at a significantly higher risk of being injured. If one joint in your body is not functioning properly, you will begin to see problems in other joints and surrounding musculature. When one area is stiff it usually irritates the neighboring area, which means that stiff hips can result in low back pain and a immobile thoracic spine can result in shoulder pain. All of the above will decrease the quality of your movement in everyday life.
Nutrition is also a balancing act. While exclusionary type diets work for a time, long-term I have found that balance is still best. Yes, yes, sugar is the devil and all that, but are you telling me you're never going to have another piece of birthday cake, or a cookie? What about carbs for all of those out there trying the Keto diet? Time and time again a balanced approach to nutrition wins out. It's not sexy, but it does seem to work the best long term. So choose balance over nutritional extremes.
Clearly balance is an important principle in physical training and nutrition. However, this principle relates to more than just physical training and nutrition at Virtue. Life outside of training thrives on balance too. Think about the times that you have been happiest. Odds are that things were going well for you professionally, your family life was stable, you were fulfilled spiritually, and growing and expanding as an individual. Looking back in my personal life, some of the times that I have been the most miserable were when life was thrown way out of balance.
I see everyday life in four quadrants. Personal, professional, spiritual, and relational/social and we should strive for balance across these quadrants as much as possible. Before defining each of the quadrants let’s first discuss what balance is.
I used to think of balance in life as the even distribution of your energy in all four quadrants of your life. However, as I get older and hopefully wiser and take a step back and ponder the concept of balance I find that balance as defined above is a myth. Perfect and even distribution of your energy in between all four areas of your life doesn’t exist. Now I view balance now as more of an oscillation between the quadrants where, for a time, you put focus and drive into one or two quadrants at a time and neglect the others until you shift focus.
For example, if you spend the next 8 weeks focusing on your professional and relational life, you are going to need to retreat and spend time on your spiritual and personal life. A failure to do so will result in poor performance and, in this specific example, spiritual and physical health and wellness problems .
The Professional quadrant of your life is where you devote time and energy towards your career and ambitions as a working professional. This part of life includes business trips, professional development courses, and even social work gatherings. There is a lot of pressure to devote more and more time an energy to this quadrant of life in our culture today. We must deal with this pressure in a virtuous manner. Remember to ensure when climbing the ladder of success that it is propped against the correct wall. What good is a successful professional career if your spouse and children hate you and you have no one to share that success with?
There is a saying that states that, “you are the sum of the five people that you spend the most time with.” While this may be a bit of an over simplification it is obvious that relationships can have a tremendous impact on who we are and how we view the world. The relational quadrant is one of the most rewarding places to spend time and energy. Great marriages and friendships are worth investing your time and energy in them. Think about the amount of energy that you are investing in the rest of your life. Is there balance? We are relational beings and investing in relationships is a virtuous investment however, just like your professional life, too much time and energy spent on maintaining relationships can detract from your effectiveness in the other areas of your life.
Your spiritual life is also an important quadrant of your life. While both coaches at Virtue are openly Christian, if you are not, there is still a portion of your life that I would argue you should spend seeking Truth and understanding what your purpose is during your time on this earth. I have observed in my own life that this is the first quadrant where time and energy get sacrificed. When life gets out of control my personal devotions and prayer time are usually the first on the chopping block. This is a mistake. 99.9% of the time more focus on spiritual life is the answer to problems I create in the other quadrants of life. When I devote time and energy to this quadrant of life every other quadrant is put into the correct perspective and I am a more effective person in the other quadrants.
Your personal life is the final quadrant. As a family member and working professional it is very easy to give up time and energy that should be spent on yourself. This quadrant of life is where you fit in your physical training sessions, sleep, reading for fun or personal development, and any other needs like taking care of your personal health, fitness, and hobbies. Spending time in this quadrant, if you are staying balanced, is restorative mentally and emotionally and allows you to be a more engaged and effective version of yourself in all other quadrants of your life.
Take a minute to think about the quadrants and where you spend the bulk of your time and energy. Are you happy with where you land on the quadrants in your life?
Every quadrant of your life requires you to spend time and energy maintaining it. Choosing to neglect one part of your life will cost you time and energy down the road. Neglecting your professional life will cost you time, energy, and money later as you try to catch up in your work, while neglecting your relationships will not only impact your life but the lives of loved ones. Neglecting your spiritual life can potentially cost you an eternity and your personal life if neglected can cost you your health and fitness. Seek balance.