Updated: Feb 21, 2019
My first experience playing sport took place when I was very young.
My parents signed me up for a local rugby club, as they had done previously with my older brothers. I was only 6-years-old at the time, a little thing, but playing rugby (as above) turned out to be a very important part of my life. From that point on my relationship with the game was mutual and natural.
In short, I loved the game.
The first thing you learn when playing rugby is that physical contact is the constantly beating heart of the game. Learning this key principle is an exciting feeling that comes mixed with a fair amount of apprehension (fear even). You don't know what is going to happened once you get out on the field, or how you are going to feel once the game begins, though you understand it is a serious and engaged activity that you are about to take part in.
The next thing I learned after I started to regularly play the game was that I could trust my body to do the things it needed to do if I believed that I could do those things. You also learn very quickly, as you gain experience with the game, that as with every serious sport, your mental and physical strength are linked and related to your success out on the field.
Another aspect of rugby that you learn when you play the game is that you have to be consistently strong and have good stamina to be successful when on the field.
As you learn that lesson (though it may be a challenge to build that strength initially) it does begin to have a real impact on the field, at which point you can be called an ‘impact player’; that is, you become the guy who is able to break the defence of the opposing team thanks to your impact power. Or you can find that you are able to gain a few additional meters against the opposition to put your own team in a forward position.
You also discover that, because of your increased strength and endurance, that you can repeat your play over 80 minutes of a typical game, and also mentally make the right decisions when you need to make them when out on the field.
The benefits of playing the game are not just physical or mental, however.
From a social point of view, rugby is pure gold.
In France, particularly, the sport attracts people from different social backgrounds, and as a result you learn about the lives and personal situations of your fellow players.
You also learn that although you might have differences with others, all those differences are ultimately left in the locker room. When out on the field you act of a single team, not as a collection of individuals. Because of that unifying aspect rugby is a great team sport and over the years I have met some of my best friends through the game.
Today, away from the field, what I have learned from the sport continues to be applied to my life and my profession as a Personal Trainer.
In rugby, for example, regardless of how you may appear to others, your body is destined to be used efficiently in its best position within the team when it is out on the field. So, if you are tall, you will be discover that you are best able to catch a ball on a touch line, whereas if you are a little overweight you will find your strength being best utilised as a powerful force in a scrum.
In the fitness sector, by definition too often you can find yourself judged aesthetically.
My job as a Personal Trainer, however, is to build the confidence of my clients and to show what they can achieve if they put their minds to the tasks at hand.
Or, to put it another way, how you look won't help you to feel better. Only what you think and what you do can achieve that. What makes you feel better is building your mental strength, which in turn enables you to do the things you want to do.
Fitness informed by the spirit of sport is want I aim for when I work with clients. In my playbook, whether a client or a Personal Trainer we are a single team, and I always aim for my clients to be as mentally involved with their workouts as I am as their guide.
Our roles may be different, but whether we are clients or Personal Trainers we are in the same boat, and ultimately we are aiming for the same fitness objectives.
We are a team.