It’s tough to get through all the nonsense that is the Fitness industry these days. People are constantly using the lack of education within the “consumer” world to try and peddle the next “quick fix” to get people results without having to actually work for them. I am going to attempt to provide some bullet points that I think are a good start to finding not only the ideal training program for you, but also maximizing the results from the program once you find it. These topics can easily be applied to fitness or nutrition programs which I think the needs of the Coach are similar enough to lump the two together. This is mainly meant for those that are in search of a training program but can also be used by those that are currently involved and want to do an audit on their current situation. These are the things that keep me up at night wondering where we can improve in each category with our members at Vitality.
I will preface this by saying that I am not an expert in this field. The only qualification that I have is running my own business for the past 6+ years resulting in over 7,000+ hours of coaching. In addition, I have been involved in some sort of strength and conditioning training for the past 20 years. There are plenty of people with more certifications and more experience, so please take my words as only a suggestion based on what I have seen and learned through my experiences.
Now, let’s get to the list:
1. Accept that it won’t be easy.
If it is marketed as a product or service that requires minimal effort or commitment, this would be the time that you turn the channel or use the pamphlet you are reading as extra TP that you can put into your emergency bag. Just like my parents told me growing up, “What comes easy, won’t last long, and what lasts long, won’t come easy”, the same concept can absolutely be applied to fitness. There is no quick fix to becoming fit. If there was, we wouldn’t be the most obese country on the planet. Everyone would just go out and buy a thigh-master and some shake weights and we would all look like Usain Bolt, right? You have to go into this process knowing that your body will fight you on a daily basis to try and get the lazy, undisciplined version of yourself back. The program that you are looking into should set the expectations up front and explain how the that the design can be scaled for different fitness levels but will offer mental and physical challenges for all participants.
2. Surround yourself with the right people.
There are those of us that can tackle the daily grind solo and continue to stay motivated day in and day out within the silence of our heavy breathing. However, the majority of us aren’t wired that way, we want to be surrounded by other like-minded individuals who have also placed a premium on their health and wellness. There have been many days where the only reason you show up to the gym is because you told someone else that you would be there. Accountability is massively important and surrounding ourselves with a community of people who understand that is one of the major steps in reaching your goals
3. Understand the difference between MOTIVATION and DISCIPLINE.
The difference between these two concepts and why it is absolutely critical to help you understand this is very important to me. Motivation is the buzz on social media. It is the video that shows people training, making the training look fun and enjoyable, trying to link the training to some type of emotion that makes people want to take action. This is a fallacy. Training isn’t always fun, often times, it is rarely enjoyable. These videos create an unrealistic version of what training is and creates False Motivation. I believe that nearly all motivation is “false motivation”. It is something that comes and goes as quickly as someone becoming hungry, or tired, or stressed. You can go from being highly motivated to completely unmotivated in a matter of minutes if the conditions aren’t right. It is completely unrealistic to rely on motivation when it comes to obtaining any of your health and fitness goals. In real life, the world we live in, requires people to do things that no one would be enthusiastic or excited about doing. Your body won’t be able to trick you into being motivated to complete such tasks. This is where discipline becomes the most necessary trait in being successful in your quest for accomplishing your goals. It takes years to cultivate discipline and the bottom line with discipline is simple….do the things that you know you NEED to do, even when you don’t want to do them.
4. Figure out your “why”.
If you don’t have clearly identified reasons behind why it’s important for you to make this change in your health and fitness, the first time things get difficult or it isn’t convenient for you to make it to the gym, there will be nothing stopping you from throwing in the towel and ending up back on the couch. Figure out what will change if you become healthier. This shouldn’t be too hard to come up with a fairly comprehensive list. Your ability to play with your kids, increased productivity at home and at work, improving overall quality of life, getting off medications, saving money on insurance costs, setting a good example for your kids, etc. etc, the list can go on and on. Figure out which is most important and let that fuel your discipline in staying consistent with your training. Remember WEAKNESS IS A CHOICE!
5. Monkey See – Monkey Do
Make sure the person who is making decisions for your health and fitness understands what he/she is doing and isn’t just a great salesman. There are too many people out there that want to tell you how, why, and what you should be doing as it relates to health and fitness. Many of these people are the ones posting Facebook motivational quotes wearing pajamas at noon as they sit on their couch and post updates during commercials of “Three’s Company” re-runs. I want to be coached by people who have put in the work and understand what sacrifice looks and feels like. You also need to ensure that whoever is running the program, has the experience, certifications, etc to do so. One of the first red flags is if this is not their FULL-TIME job. Think about that for a minute. Why would you want to work with someone who hasn’t figured out how to make this their full-time job? What type of priority do you think they are putting on your goals? Their focus is on their full-time job and whatever time they have left, if they aren’t too stressed out or tired from the other job, they will put into you. This is unacceptable.
6. Be Good At The Basics
A large majority of programs would need to be heavily scaled in order to accommodate a new member that has spent the last 9-12+ months being sedentary. If you find yourself getting thrown into a workout with minimal focus on movement and mobility first, this is a recipe for failure. However, this responsibility falls as much on the athlete as it does on the Coach. The athlete has to put his ego aside and understand that he/she will most likely have to re-learn basic human movements such as the air squat, push-up, and deadlift. Many people are unwilling to take a few steps backward in order to eventually move forward. We live in a world where immediate gratification is everywhere. We are willing to make a change but we want that change to happen NOW. Not next month, and certainly not next year. Unfortunately, in most cases, the people that want those changes have spent years not doing anything related to getting fit. It takes time to undo the years of bad movement and neglect. Be patient. Embrace the process. The journey will be worth it, for those few that can stay on course.
7. Social media can tell a ton about who or what you’re following.
Do some research on whatever it is you are thinking about getting involved with. One stance that I am sure many people will strongly disagree with me on is that I don’t think as a business owner or Coach you should be using profanity on social media or in front of your clients within your business. Just to clarify, after 8 years in the Marine Corps, it took me almost a year before i could complete a sentence without using a four-letter word as a noun or an adjective of some sort. But that was the Marine Corps, we were in an all-male combat arms unit, things were a bit different. With the reach that social media has now, if someone doesn’t have the self-awareness to realize that women, kids, etc will all have access to his/her material with them using profanity, then I can promise you that there are a myriad of other issues that their lack of attention to detail will never reach. If you are reading this and you disagree, no big deal, we will agree to disagree, no hard feelings either way. I think there are plenty of ways to motivate people or get your message across other than using profanity. One thing I am confident in is that two major components of being successful in nearly any business is having discipline and attention to detail. I would love to have an example of someone successful that doesn’t possess those to traits..
8. Ensure that you and your Coach have set realistic expectations.
If you are over the age of 35, it is highly unlikely that you can look like the dude in the picture above or have abs like the girl in the picture below. There are a number of reasons why I believe this but the two big ones would be changes within your body based on your age as well as life factors such as children, work, spouse, etc that play a much bigger role than people give them credit for in achieving spefici fitness related goals. There are some misconceptions out there that if you just exercise and change up your diet, you can reach any goal you have. This is the result of the new parenting style that has us telling our kids they can do and be anything they want. Unfortunately, that’s a fallacy. You can have a CHANCE to be anything you want but it will most likely take years and years of incredibly hard work in which 99% of people will quit LONG before they ever achieve those goals. Although I love the thought process of having anything and everything we want at our fingertips, the logic is
somewhat absolutely flawed. However, let’s pretend for a minute that it isn’t and it would be possible for you to change your body and increase your lean muscle mass to have a 6-pack. Do you REALLY want that or is it just something that you think would be cool? Most people that want those things have just seen someone on TV or in a magazine and was like, “Man, I want to look like that”. The first thing I will tell someone if they bring up the “6-pack” conversation is simply, “No you don’t”. Sounds harsh right? Ok, I will explain why I think that people really don’t want 6-packs. Again, if you are in your 30s, the changes in your metabolism that have come with age make dropping bodyfat more challenging than it was in your 20s. This means that your margin for error in your diet and training have become drastically smaller. When you were 21, you could eat a pizza on Saturday and have a few beers throughout the week, maybe miss a workout here and there and you would still have an 8-pack. Now, at 34, those days are long gone. Your diet has to be PERFECT. There is no such thing as “cheat meals” or having a few beers throughout the week….Not if you want your 6-pack back. So, why would you give up your sanity for something that doesn’t improve your quality of life? Goals like that take finding any balance of fitness and your social life completely away and puts you into an obsessive category which isn’t sustainable or enjoyable for that matter. It’s because of this reason that I have never been a big fan of focusing on goals that are centered around aesthetics. Yes, I fully understand that one of the main factors of beginning an exercise program has to do with changing the way our bodies look, however, as a Coach, it is our job to educate these athletes on the most important reason for exercising….to become healthier. To make our lives outside the gym better. Easier. To give us more opportunities to do things in our lives that we otherwise wouldn’t have if we weren’t in good shape. Obviously, our body changing is a byproduct of this but I make it a point to take the emphasis off of aesthetics and put it on quality of life
I am hoping this provides some points to consider when looking into starting a new program. I can tell you that I don’t believe CrossFit is the answer for everyone nor do I try and convince everyone that they need to do it. I think there are a number of programs out there that are run by amazing people, you just need to know what to look for. I just get frustrated when I see people that are trying to make a quick buck off people that don’t know the difference between a quality program and a garbage program. Sure, some of this falls on the consumer but at the end of the day, all we can do is try to get people to ask the right questions. Look for the red flags. Oh, and one last thing, don’t be the one that is waiting until January 1 to start. Contrary to popular belief, you can start a program on a Thursday, in November, even if it’s a leap year….it doesn’t have to start on the 1st of January. Good luck, hope this helps!