There are several national gym chains (one in particular) that claim to be judgement free. Many fitness athletes will criticize these places as watered down or not real. As I have mentioned in other articles, I am not going to criticize people who are trying to improve themselves. If people are insecure about themselves and are afraid of going to the gym, the judgement free zone may be a good place to start their fitness journey (as long as they skip bagel and pizza days and put down those tootsie rolls!) However, as they get a feel for fitness, it is time to join the judgement zone.
As martial artists we are used to being judged constantly. It can be the teacher observing us and correcting us in class or a panel evaluating us for a test or a group of judges in a competition, we are always being judged. These judgements can be harsh. When I was younger, some of these judgements were followed with a whap from a bamboo stick. Nowadays, it is more typical to be a verbal correction but those corrections can be severe. Even in the workout classes I am in, I am always being judged and sometimes the criticism is hard-hitting, I am too slow, my technique is wrong, or I am not breathing properly. What is this harsh judgement doing to us? It is making us better.
There are some people who will never be able to take the criticism. Those people will be trapped in the judgement free zone or more likely on the couch in front of the television. If we are going to grow, not just as martial artists but as people, we NEED other people to judge us. We need people to push us to be the best we can be, especially when we have worked out so hard we just want to puke on our shoes. It is very difficult to push ourselves. We are always more motivated with others.
I take a cardio kickboxing class to warm up for one of my advance martial arts classes. My teacher pushes everyone hard but me especially since I am one of his martial artists. He always points out at the beginning of class that I shouldn’t let the others outwork me. It is a challenge to me but it is also a challenge to the others as well. I am singled out as the one to beat. This puts everyone in the judgement zone and establishes a sense of competition that gets us all to work a little bit harder. Last week, we were about three quarters through the class and everyone was a little tired. We were holding a squat. A woman next to me looked at me, saw how I was squatting and then she squatted deeper. I reciprocated and we went back and forth until we were both in deep squats, shaking and trying not to fall down. That is the judgement zone. She looked at me and said to herself, I can do better than him and I said to myself, no you can’t and we escalated this competition with our actions. We judged each other and we pushed each other to be better.
You can float along in the judgement free zone with no one pushing you to be your best and you will get some exercise but you will have trouble improving. By being in a competitive environment with a teacher that will judge you and push you, you will get better faster. If I am going to be working out for an hour or two, I want to get the most out of it. We all have only so many hours in a day. Make the most of your workout time. Work out in the JUDGEMENT ZONE!