Tension, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. Without it, we couldn’t move. Our muscles grow, in part, because of the time they spend “under tension,” which is trainer-speak for “working.”
When we work out, we are obviously using literal tension. Some metaphorical tension can come in handy, as well. I am thinking, specifically, about the tension between observing and doing.
On one hand, when we work out, we want to do it like no one is watching. Who cares what we are wearing? So what if my weights are smaller than yours? Does it really matter that I have sweat dripping down my back? Doing the work is way more important than what it looks like. We always need to remember that we are only doing our own workout and that it has to be appropriate for what we are capable of in the exact moment we are working.
On the other, we need to work out like there is someone hovering nearby with a clipboard taking notes. We want to show that imaginary observer our best form, with our lovely posture and our aligned knees and our lifted abdominals. We want to catch that observer lifting an eyebrow at us when we consider bailing out early on a set, even if we bail out anyway.
The creative tension between the two extremes of observed and unobserved makes growth happen.