On discipline and deadlines..

I’m self employed, self determined and for the most part, self motivated. Freedom is something close to my heart. Having the freedom to say what I want and to be who I am is central to ME.  Its one of my core values and its also central to my work.

Having the freedom to MOVE pain free and with the greatest POTENTIAL is what I give my clients. Healthy children are unhindered by pain and can express themselves freely through play. Healthy, fit adults can play too, with competitive or non-competitive sport. With a lack of conditioning, and because of the impact of modern lifestyles, some adults cannot enjoy their bodies the way they should, and that’s something that I feel passionately about changing.

Discipline is not one of my strong points. Which might seem obvious, since at first glance freedom and discipline seem antithetical.

But perhaps not.


A month or so ago a client of mine made this link for me after having spent time with some friends. Debbie and I have been working together for about six months now to resolve back pain issues which were getting in the way of her enjoying an active lifestyle.

Her friends had commented on how easily she was moving, when previously her back was affecting her on a daily basis. Naturally, Debbie was pleased that all her hard work had resulted in visible progress and reflected this back to me in the context of a quote she had come across in the workplace:

Freedom takes discipline.

Working in the field of therapy as she does Debbie and I laughed at this. Often we pay no heed to these sometimes clichéd ‘inspirational’ quotes, but it HAS taken enormous discipline for her to get where she is now, six months after having the discipline to make time for DAILY exercise. What’s more, for people with pain problems in particular, that first six months of exercise is often not that much fun at all.

Re-learning how to move properly, or how to engage muscles correctly can in the early stages be a painstaking process. Allowing time for new neuromuscular pathways to develop, or to identify provocative and alleviating factors can be boring to say the least. If you’re injury free and moving well, its something you take for granted. Its only when that freedom is taken away from you that you realise what you are missing, and you have to find the discipline to get it back.

For sports people, training can often be monotonous too. No one really likes to work on their weaknesses and training sessions can become boring when you have to repeat them for long enough for your body to adapt.

Not the sexy stuff.

This was something that I discussed with a personal training colleague over the Christmas period too. How it’s hard to keep some clients engaged through these early stages before they can get to the sexy stuff that they might want to do – Olympic lifting, or handstands, or ski-fit or whatever. In the health and fitness industry, there’s a lot of shiny fun out there in the New Year, and lots of people will have launched in FULL TILT with a New Years resolution hoping for that freedom to move and feel the way I think we all want to. Come mid February some will find that a slightly longer view with a little more discipline might be what’s needed to reap the rewards of a truly healthy, fit body.

Debbie was making fun of me too over this discipline business because at the time I was in the midst of slogging out a deadline for my forthcoming book to be published later this year. Those of you who have been following me for some time will know that this project has been in the pipeline for what seems like forever, and I’m excited to say, the manuscript is now in.

My book - Ride Strong; Essential Conditioning for Cyclists, will be published by Bloomsbury in October this year.

To say that meeting the manuscript deadline has taken some discipline would be an understatement. I love to write, but I love to move too, and my normal day to day self-employment never requires me to sit down at a computer for more than a couple of hours at a time. Over the Christmas/New Year period I worked solidly at my laptop sometimes ALL DAY. Sometimes I didn’t get dressed. Sometimes I considered cleaning the bathroom as a leisure break. Not since University have I had the discipline to work that hard on a project with the pressure of a deadline looming.

But I’ve remembered that anything worth going after will take some discipline in the processes that will get you there. If you want to change your body, you have to stick to a plan. If you want to change the way you think or behave, you have to keep working at at it.

With the discipline needed for any worthwhile endevour you earn a new level of freedom. A freedom to move better, to think clearer, to be calmer.

This time next year, my book will be on the shelf for any cyclist to use as a reference. I will have the freedom to say, ‘Have a look at my book which explains more about stretching, strengthening and core training’. And readers will have the freedom to design their own conditioning program, so that they can ride their bikes pain free and performing at their best.

So I’m adding self-disciplined to my list of ‘selfs’. I don’t know what I’m going to do with it next, but I know its there when I need it. And I know it opens up many exciting opportunities.

Photoshoot for Ride Strong