There is a difference between people who stick to an exercise program and make great progress and those who don’t. In looking at all of the clients I have ever trained, the common denominator is consistency.
Consistency Is King
Here is the secret: Your body can’t make massive changes all at once. You can only make small changes at a time.
Your mind works differently. You can change your entire world viewpoint in a heartbeat if you so choose. But your mind is on a different plane than your body. Your mind can put up a picture of a mountain and take it away in an instant. To make a mountain in the physical universe, you’ve got to start with a shovel full of dirt, then the next, then the next.
So you’ve changed your mind. GREAT! That is the very first step to improving your health and physical performance. But that energy needs to be directed and guided many months into the future if you want to reach your goals.
Frustration can occur when you put up this awesome idea of your physical health and abilities, but after two weeks (for some reason) you’ve not yet reached superhuman level.
It is in your mind, but still not in the mirror.
This is where I feel like I really earn my money as a personal fitness trainer. I help people look into the future.
Let’s say a man wants to lose 45 pounds, bench press his body weight, squat his body weight and run a 5K in under 30 minutes. These are very real goals and within reach of at least 80%(ish) of the population. It is a good mix of performance goals as well as body composition goals.
But this guy has been sedentary for the last 5 years. There is a runway that needs to lead up to some of these things. If he’s got a bad slouch, there’s some time before I’m going to let him add weight to a squat or any other exercise.
There are also life barriers that need to be worked out. Kids, diet, spouse, holiday temptations, social life rearrangement to a more diet-friendly approach (i.e. less drinking), etc.
Your exercise gear, down to the shoes you wear, gym bag, socks, headphones, etc.
Then there is your exercise program, which can be written by a fitness trainer or you can find one on the internet that may fit your needs.
Financial obligation to the gym, diet, trainer, gear, etc.
Assessment of your current abilities, body composition, any risk factors, etc.
Utilize All of Your Initial Energy To Plan It Out
I love it when people come in with all sorts of fury and fire to make a change. They want to get on a treadmill and I almost can’t stop them.
When someone has “popped” like this, it is the best time to make plans and restructure their future. At this time you’ll never find someone so willing to throw junk food from their cupboard into the trash can, call their best friend and say “We can do lunch dates but no more clubbin’ for the next two months” or make the financial investment necessary to follow a diet, join a gym and get proper fitness attire.
In fact, if you neglect to capture this person at their “high time of change” and let it pass, you’ll have missed a big opportunity to help someone make some change.
So we sit, preferably in front of a calendar. I tell them what a normal, healthy rate of weight loss is for their body. They sit and look at the entire picture, including how this is going to affect their family, job and other acquaintances in life. Hell, at this time I have even accidentally signed someone else up because the girl in front of me called her best friend to come over right now. They ended up doing it together.
I don’t have any special term for it, but I just say they popped. For a period of time, no barrier is too big for them to overcome. If you’re an honest person, give it to them straight and if you have a genuine interest in helping them, then you just made a friend for life.
When I look back on what I have accomplished as a personal trainer – it is these moments that really stand out.
Getting Started With Lazy Workouts
Now, I don’t actually mean that these workouts are lazy. But the person, so full of fire, doesn’t feel like they have really exercised to their limits.
That’s because they haven’t and, when you’re getting started, you really shouldn’t be anywhere near your limits. Rarely are these individuals trained athletes with intimate knowledge of anatomy, training programs, proper form and potential injuries. It requires a slow start.
I make sure that they understand several concepts. I show them graphs of gains in the first few weeks where they skyrocket and then plateau and I explain why that happens. We talk about how it’s not just their muscles that need to get stronger, but their tendons do too. Tendons don’t have as much blood flow as muscles and they just take a bit longer.
I explain the changes in bone that take place when embarking upon an exercise program and how what we are doing stimulates the body to increase bone density.
This is all done to reassure the client that progress is being made behind the scenes and without any further effort on his/her part. It is unreal that such a small stimulus can create such a big response. The person starts to question why the haven’t been doing it for years already. They wonder why the hell they just paid me to take them through a workout they could have easily done to themselves.
I’m just being honest here. And I’m honest with the client: I tell them that the storm is coming.
It’s easy to demolish someone and make them stumble out of the gym by doing hundreds of burpees and lunges. But it is stupid to do that to someone new. The art is in giving the right dose of medicine and in the right way.
Building Good Habits
Consistency is vital when you are trying to drill in habits. Habits such as what gets purchased at the grocery store, where they eat with their friends, what they order when they’re out, how often do they actually show up at the gym, how much water are they drinking, what kind of foods make it in their pantry, and so on.
This also extends to their friends and family. Part of losing weight or improving your health is improving those around you. This is truly a “give and you will get” concept. The more you fix them, the more you’ll get where you want to go.
Building good habits also means stopping bad habits. There are thousands of approaches to this one, but, there is always the trash can for dumping sweets. There is always the block or silent feature of your phone for those “friends” who just don’t want you to stay on the rails.
Once you drill in these habits for yourself and those around you, things will be much easier and you’ll see this whole movement gaining steam. It won’t be a faint hope in the distance. Your changes are making their way into reality and others can see it.
Get them on board.
So we have a big change in mind, paired up with a body that will only make small changes and rejects major ones.
This has caused a lot of people a lot of frustration.
I truly feel for those who want these changes to happen faster.
Use all of that initial energy to plan ahead and blast the barriers out of your way. Even simple things like purchasing a new set of exercise clothes will make you want to wear them and want to go to the gym.
If you get a weird vibe from the first gym you go to, then go to five different gyms until you find the right one. You didn’t choose the easy way, but you did choose the right way.