It’s been 3 months since I’ve stepped foot in a gym. Over 3 months since the boys were beaten by London Irish who rightfully earned their spot back up in the Premiership, where they belong.
I remember Lote Tuqiri (yeah I name dropped, so what of it?!) saying to me one day after NSW Waratahs training as we were doing some cool down stretches
“Geeeeee bud you’ve got a bit of a gut on ya, aye, aye. What’s going on their my man?”
I’d always had a bit of a gut on me, I was ‘thickset’, but only in the mid region really, it was how I built and was accentuated by my back and really poor posture, which I had inherited through my Robinson genes. Even when I was at my trimmest and my skinfolds were in the 50’s I still had this gut on me that I couldn’t get rid of. It was quite strange ,as it had abs on top of it that the boys used to refers to as ‘Fabs’, fat abs or fake abs.
I respond to him “ Aw bud, this ain’t nothin’. Wait til you see me after I’ve retired. I’m going to be the fattest f***** goin’ around. Eat whatever I want and smash the beers any night that I want, I’m gunna blow out in that first 12 months”. We both rolled on the grass laughing at my statement. I was 21 then and in those first 4 years since I had left school, I had sacrificed and dedicated my life to get where I was, I was now playing for the NSW Waratahs with some of the biggest names in World Rugby. I was constantly asking the dietician about what I could and couldn’t eat, what the portion sizes should be, the ratio of protein to carbs to vegies that should be on my plate, what supplements should be taken when. I had sacrificed an unbelievable amount of alcohol drinking and nights out when most of my mates seemed to be going out every 2nd night as they were at uni.
I was loving where I was, but I knew also there were little things that I would regain when the career was over.
I now find myself 3 months down the track and I’m absolutely astounded how little weight I have put on. I haven’t had a night on the beers apart from the weekend that we finished our season, I’ve been too busy working and being an adult and responsible and shit- you know looking after your kids as you do once you have them.
My diet has definitely ‘relaxed’, but I rarely eat out or get takeaway. It’s too much of an event to go out for food with the kids and also we’ve tightened the budget right up (some of you that know me will wonder if that was even possible? I’ve punched another hole in the belt). I don’t eat anywhere near as much as I did when playing or training, I’m not working as hard or using as much physical energy, more mental energy though. I also don’t feel like sitting down to have big meals as there’s always something to do with the kids and housework.
My partner has suggested I should go to the gym. I know there are obvious health benefits, and mental benefits from exercising. I even went to the 24 hour gym and got some prices, was surprisingly cheap. It’s only a 10 minute walk from home, quite convenient.
But I don’t want to. I could use the excuse that now I’m a stay at home dad I’m too busy and too tired with the kids, but that’s just bullshit. It’s just not a priority of mine. I’d rather write blogs, record podcasts, read books.
I’m not going to go to the gym simply because that’s what I should do as a retired professional rugby player. As I said, I know there are mental benefits, which there are for anyone that’s fit and healthy and works out. Some people struggle to find the motivation or ability to get out of bed or leave the house once they retire. Big name stars such as AFL star Barry Hall and Australia’s best basketball player Lauren Jackson have spoken openly about their struggles with retirement.
Having a routine with the kids has definitely helped, and having them around in general. I think coming from a professional sporting environment, routine has been a huge part of my life and I work best when in a routine, there isn’t as much ‘wasted’ time sitting around thinking about things through boredom. I dedicate my time and feel as though I’m generally pretty productive.
I came to resent the gym by the time my career had finished. Being injured means that you spend the majority of your time in a gym rehabbing, stretching, doing weights and cardio. People will read motivation memes such as “when you’re injured it’s a time to make gains” and what not, which is true, it can be. But when you’ve been injured as many times as I was during your career, and particularly in the last 3 seasons where I was injured more than I was ‘available for selection’, you can’t wait for it to finish, it had become mentally fatiguing finding motivation to get up and do it.
But I did. I was a professional. I prided myself on my work ethic and maintaining that professionalism, because that’s what being a ‘professional’ rugby player meant to me. I would sit in the car at 6:25 waiting for the public gym to open it’s doors at 6:30, doing my rehab, weights, cardio and swimming all by myself. It was lonely. Being in the ‘rehab’ group can be very lonely at times, especially when there aren’t many in the group.
When I was starting my career and the early years, I thought I would never see the inside of a gym again once it was over. But as I have gotten older I have found myself appreciating being and looking ‘fit’ which I had taken for granted earlier in my career. I will get back there when I feel the time is ready, and I find something that will motivate me, a goal that I will strive for, whatever that may be will be key to getting me there.
I was thinking about this situation that I found myself in and why I had no motivation to go to the gym and when that would change. But as I sat there and had a think about it at the park, I soon came to realise I wasn’t lacking motivation… I simply had no desire.
What’s the difference you maybe asking yourself?
Well to me, a desire is to say wanting to lose weight. What’s your motivation to lose weights? It might be for summer, to be fitter for next season, health benefits, for your holiday, your wedding or even simply a bet!
I’m not finding myself in a situation where I’m hitting snooze on the alarm and not being bothered or having the energy to get out of bed. I’m not telling myself I’ll go in the evening when Ewelina gets home from work and then saying ‘na can’t be stuffed’. I’m not telling myself I’ll finally go and sign up next week and get a membership. I’m loving not having the burden of having to go to they gym, and that’s what it felt like, I wasn’t enjoying it at all. I’m enjoying not going now and doing the things that I mentioned with this time that could be used to go to the gym. I don’t have any desire to go to the gym next week, the week after, or the week after that. Probably not for October and most likely any other month in the near future, it might not be until 2018.
But I’m OK with that, I’m enjoying that, and that’s what’s most important…
(Please note feature photo was filtered several times to accentuate my abs. This is probably the only chance they’ll be showcased to the public, I wasn’t going to waste it)