The Hero’s Journey – 12 Things ‘Star Wars’ And ‘Lord Of The Rings’ Can Teach You About Fitness

By 01.19.16
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Star Wars hit the box office in December, and to nobody’s surprise it demolished records. A franchise like Star Wars can make toilet paper and people like me are going to buy it. The same can be said of other cult fantasy stories like Lord Of The Rings and Harry Potter.

People are rabid fans even though these stories are basically all the same thing if you think about it.

Seriously, give it a good hard think. All of these stories are the exact same. They follow the same plot line, with the only difference really being their characters and settings.

What gives?

If you’re unfamiliar with classic literature, then this is probably all new to you. You may have never heard of a guy named Joseph Campbell, or of something called The Hero’s Journey.

Campbell was an American mythologist, writer, and lecturer who is most widely known for identifying the arc that all great stories follow, and distilling it down into 12 steps. 12 simple steps that Star Wars, Lord Of The Rings, Harry Potter, and any other story follow.

But why is this important at all?

Sometimes pretending you’re a Jedi or a Wizard is awesome. You know what else is awesome? Becoming the Hero of your own journey, specifically when it comes to fitness. You can do just that if you follow The Hero’s Journey and apply it to your path to getting jacked.

The 12 steps of The Hero’s Journey – applied to fitness.

  1. The ordinary world:

This is exactly where you are now. Everything in your life has gotten you to this rather unspectacular point. Life is mundane, you seemingly aren’t very special at all, and things are more or less the definition of mediocre.

2. The call to adventure:

Maybe a girl dumped you. Maybe you got your ass kicked. Maybe you took a good look in the mirror. It doesn’t matter. Something shook you to your core and got you moving. You’ve decided to change.

3. The refusal of the call:

But getting fit is hard. Where do you start? That involves going to a gym and watching what you eat. At this stage you, the hero, is pissing everyone else off because we all know that you need to be the hero. You just haven’t accepted it yet.

4. Meeting with the mentor:

This could be a friend who is steadily guiding you in the right direction, a gym partner, or a Coach that you hire. It doesn’t matter, what matters is that you find a mentor to help guide your process and offer interesting bits of wisdom while you raise your X-wing star fighter from the swamps of Dagobah.

5. Crossing the threshold:

You’ve accepted that it’s time to get jacked and shredded. It’s time to do just that. You’ve committed to it, and you’re going to make it happen. You’re crossing a threshold into a Special World.

6. Tests, allies, enemies:

This is where you begin sorting things out. You’re now in a Special World, and you’ll soon begin figuring out who is here to help you, hurt you, or stand in your way when it comes to reaching your end goal. Be weary, because sometimes people that were allies in the Old World become tests or enemies in the Special World.

7. Approach:

You and your allies are preparing for a major challenge in your new Special World. This could be setting a fitness goal like competing in a powerlifting meet, bodybuilding show, or running a marathon. The challenge is unique to you and your allies, but when it comes to getting jacked we all have them.

8. The Ordeal:

This is where shit hits the fan. If you’ve struggled with certain aspects of fitness or health, this is where they will pop up again. It could be a body image issue, someone trying to sabotage your success, or something entirely different. You will have to confront this ordeal, and you do have to win. Your six-pack depends on it.

9. The Reward:

You faced down your demons, and you now hold the treasure. The treasure varies depending on you. It could be a brand new set of washboard abs, a big deadlift, or anything else. The important thing is that it’s your treasure, and you’ve worked for it.

10. The Road Back:

In most stories the Hero decides it is time to leave the Special World a changed man, and head back home. For you this could be to woo a certain someone, to show off to family members, to prove everyone who doubted you wrong, or some other reason. What’s important is that you’re now heading back to where it all started, but you couldn’t be more different.

11. The Resurrection:

You didn’t think it was all done did you? Fuck no. You’ve got to face one last task. When it comes to fitness, this is likely going to be a psychological shit storm. You might try and sabotage your own behavior because you’re worried about coming back home, or whatever your prerogative is. You will have this last test though, and to be the Hero of your story you’ve got to pass it.

12. Return With The Elixir:

This very point is the stage where you see many people who have made mind-blowing transformations become Personal Trainers. You’ve changed yourself, and now you want to share your secrets and success with the world. Go forth young Hero, change the world just like you changed yourself.


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