Q&A: Making a Life Out of Movement

I was sent a great question today that, with the author's permission, I'd like to share here. Annie writes:

Hi Ben,

I have been an avid ELITEFTS reader for many years and have recently been reading your blog.

I am currently a student at Kansas State University studying Kinesiology, and I work as a personal trainer at the campus rec center. I survived a major crush accident in New Zealand in January 2016 where in my pelvis was essentially shattered (I've got 29 screws and 3 plates in me now). Thankfully, I am able to lift and train hard still (after many hours bed ridden and then re-learning how to walk) and am back to being able to squat more than my bodyweight again. Ultimately, I'd like to go to physical therapy school and/or perhaps pursue a masters in Strength and Conditioning.

My question for you is; how do you go about earning a living, balancing training and family life (if you're focused on that right now), and performing your best in your sport (physically and mentally)?

Annie:

First, I'm very sorry to hear about your injury, and congratulations on having come so far in the rehab process already -- it shows real perseverance and dedication to your training.

I'm afraid I don't have an easy answer for you, though. I found that working a corporate job (I spent a few years at Freddie Mac and Google) didn't allow me to live my life and train the way I wanted. I found a balance by choosing a career path more closely aligned with my training goals. My doctoral program is in the history of strength sports, and so staying involved in the modern fitness community (by training, competing, and working with EliteFTS and local companies) is an important part of my continuing education. I've also been fortunate enough to have fellowships to cover tuition, room and board for four of my six years at Texas, giving me some flexibility with how I spend my time. I'm also fortunate enough to have a partner who's not only supportive but in a very similar situation; my girlfriend works for a web-based health and fitness company, so she's both involved in the industry and has a position where she's responsible for her own schedule, and understands the difficulties of both.

When it comes to performing at my best, though, I strongly believe that having an career you're passionate about will support, and not interfere with, your training. Many people believe that, to be a successful athlete, you have to be a full-time athlete, and "save" as much energy as you can in the rest of your life to be able to perform at your best in the gym. But that's simply not true; your body and mind don't work that way. Instead, investing yourself fully in whatever you're doing at the moment -- whether it's work or training or anything else -- fosters the mindset that you need to get "in the zone" during your most demanding work, whatever it is. Obviously, there are exceptions (like shift work, manual labor, etc.), but for your situation, I'd recommend giving 100% to both your studies and your training, and I bet you'll find them complimentary.

I hope that helps. My guess is, given your background, that you'll have success in whatever you choose to do.

Best,
Ben

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