Making fitness progress is so much more than a purely physical endeavor. Underlying most forms of physical effort are several critical mental components: the principles of character that define an individual’s attitude. In my experience, as an athlete and coach, the following fundamental principles contribute substantially to fitness progress: honesty, humility, integrity, tenacity, and ebullience. (Use the acronym “HHITE” to help remember them, pronounced like “height”.) Below, I will define each principle and discuss its relevance for fitness participants.
“Honesty” is the crucial first step for working towards fitness goals, and it means being transparent with where you are at when you start your fitness journey—to your coaches and yourself. Everyone must start somewhere. In order to ensure both safety and efficacy in the training contest, it is important to be genuine about your functional athletic capacity, as well as your reasons for seeking fitness progress. It is not always easy to do so in the group training context, but lying about where you are at can cause injury, delay, and dissatisfaction.
“Humility” is a little bit different than honesty and requires that you look towards others with respect. In the training context, humility means acknowledging that there are others out there—like your coaches—that know more than you do. Relinquishing control over something as personal as physical fitness progress can be a challenge, but your coaches can be a valuable resource if you are willing to listen to their words and be open to their methods.
“Integrity” is a principle akin to moral accountability. To have integrity in the training context means holding yourself to a high standard of excellence, even behind closed doors. When no one else is watching, you must remain disciplined and committed to the training plan established by your coaches. Anything less than that could lead to failure and alienation.
“Tenacity” is a combination of a couple different things. Fitness goals take time and hard work; tenacity is the ambition that fuels an individual, as well as the ability to deliver the effort necessary to make progress. Rarely are things easy in the training context. Despite obstacles, you must be prepared to push yourself, for yourself.
“Ebullience” is a fancy word that, in the training context, simply means being cheerful and energetic. Having lofty goals is a wonderful thing; but, most lofty goals are the composite of small successes that have accrued over a long time. Reaching long-term fitness goals can be a miserable experience if you cannot celebrate and find encouragement in the small victories along the way.
Attitude plays a significant role in making meaningful fitness progress. To reach your fitness goals, you must accept where you are at in the present, be willing to fight hard for what you want, and embrace the little successes, small struggles, and fruitful lessons you can discern from both along the way. May these HHITE principles guide you on your journeys. The greater the HHITE, the more progress you can make.