Many people seem to be discouraged by the length of the name we chose for our coaching system, many try to forget it and opt for its acronym, some ask: "What does it mean?"
I hope I can represent the rest of the team in sharing my view of what sustainability means and I hope I can do it in a concise fashion as not do demoralize those who don't appreciate long articles.
In its widest meaning, "sustainability" indicates the endurance of systems and processes (which closely relates this article to my previous post on the learning process). We hear about it mostly in the context of ecology, where it describes the ability of biological systems to remain healthy and productive indefinitely, and it calls on our sense of responsibility as ethical beings. "Sustainability" contains all tenses: despite being a current issue and a trendy noun, it involves processes that started long in the past (habitat loss and deforestation date back to the Neolithical Revolution), that need action to be taken in the present moment to achieve balance in the future. We are a biological system as much as oceans are, and we're going to take a look at what we've done to ourselves and what we can do to repair the damage and make our future sustainable.
No-one seems to care about health these days, it's not on top of our goals list. We have been asking people what they train for, and we got answers that spanned from strength gaining to improving body composition and performance, but health wasn't mentioned. Do we take it for granted? Can we afford the luxury of doing so? Health is the foundation of everything we do, no other goal would be achievable without it. Perhaps our goals tell us already that we are not healthy: if we need to lose body fat we have allowed it to deposit over time, if we need to become strong is it because we have allowed ourselves to become weak? Writing about the sustainability of systems I quoted the ability to "remain healthy" in the long run. I'm going to get straight to the point I was going to make at the end: Sustainability is a lifestyle. It's not about embracing a diet, a training programme or a mindset for a month. It's about making a choice to be healthy to approach the future with energy and vitality, making small manageable adjustments in the right direction. We are not going to stop global warming in one day. One day is not enough, nor is a year, or ten: sustainability for the environment implies consistency of effort. We are no different. It's about the habit of making better daily choices, not about being seeking perfection and giving up on it blaming unattainability. Perfection is not sustainable, it doesn't fit our lifestyle. Managing stress for mental serenity, eating thoughtfully, moving playfully and sleeping deeply are all factors that can add to our base of health to improve all aspects of life.
Not all stress is good. In the context of training and physical performance, it is agreed that a stress must be applied to obtain a change (adaptation), it is also true that stress must be designed for the individual. Everyone is unique and will respond differently to various stress inputs, it is the job of a coach to discern how much of what stress can be positively absorbed without causing breakage to reorganize and evolve. Training is as much an outlet for stress as it is an intake of stress, and it's good practice to ask ourselves how much more can be imposed before a mental and physical breakdown. Is high-intensity training good for everyone? And what about gymnastics? How much is enough and how much too much? We see people overtraining every day, and people training inappropriately for their abilities and their goals. I see people training without goals, too. We see people in the gym every day who never make any progress, and as the years go by they become exhausted, bored and too broken to keep going. A sustainable training method is goal-oriented: knowing where you're going and why you are going will keep you focused and motivated throughout your life. Training smartly, taking into consideration the other stress factors in your life, will keep you energized and will allow for recovery and growth. Sustainability comes from resilience and self-renewal.
You are not going to keep doing something you don't enjoy. It's that simple. The lifestyle we have in mind is not a punishment, it's a tool towards feeling better, more fulfilled, healthier and consequently happier. Many associate exercises with feelings of guilt and self-hatred, but we don't. Sustainability comes from the pleasure of doing what we love, from knowing it's creating a better future for us and the ones around us. Training can, and should be, fun: it's a chance to play, to let go after sitting at a desk all day, to express ourselves. Most people stop moving as they approach adulthood, before they know it the lack of movement has turned into the impossibility to move. Stiffness, weakness, lack of energy and mental acuity become a reality. We believe everyone has the potential to enjoy the freedom of movement into old age, and now that technology has made the world smaller we can see every day grandparents doing splits, pull-ups, cartwheels. It gives us hope and it shows that exercise can be pleasurable, rewarding, useful and social: sustainable.