At 36, I’ve come to the realization more than ever before, that many factors are at play when dictating someone’s success levels in the gym.
I’ve had injuries.
I’ve had surgeries.
My goals have changed.
I’ve likely trained over 1000 people by this point in my career.
As an industry, I think we often suffer from a bit of an identity crisis, and dare I say, an inferiority complex.
We don’t wear blazers and dress shoes to work. A Master’s Degree isn’t the hard and fast barrier to entry. We don’t have offices. For these reasons and more, it may be subconsciously more difficult for people in the general public to take this craft as “seriously” as other professions. Especially when it comes to scientific depth.
So we overcompensate. And we shouldn’t.
We willfully go down pigeon hole after pigeon hole of material drenched in esoteric nuance, in the name of sounding smart and legit – which often causes us to miss the forest for the trees. As useful as this information can be, it’s only going to apply to a small amount of people we ever work with, especially if we work with or belong to the general population.
I’m going to get one pivotal question out of the way early: When will we as professionals realize that basically everything works for every goal?
Seriously. If attention is shifted toward consistency, effort, and of course, good technique and cues, there’s not much that isn’t going to render results to the average person. Learning this should be liberating for both a trainer and a client. There is truly a very short list of principles (not rules) that need to be applied to reach literally any goal under the umbrella of fitness. The one rule that’s usually missing and spoken of less is that of being committed to the process. Do any “good” thing repeatedly over time, and good things will happen. And that’s the area most people truly struggle with.
Now let’s talk about how this applies to you.
You have a lot more control over your own health and fitness journey than you think.
You heard my history. I’ve been around.
Now that you know you don’t have to be a science wizard to get the results you seek, you can focus on the consistency piece. If you hire expert guidance from someone who does what I do for a living, I’m a believer that a lot will come out of you just showing up on a regular basis. Some results will come from doing the right exercises the proper way, but a lot of results will come from another factor: Fit.
Here’s the thing about the personal training business. It’s another title for the People Business. And if your trainer is someone who can’t find a way to get you to like them, it may curtail your lifespan in the gym.
That’s what’s cool about what I do; It takes a special kind of person to be good at it, and being “good” transcends having theoretical knowledge at your disposal, or being able to list all 8 of the carpal bones of the hand. It takes a person who has a personality dynamic enough to wear several different hats, all in the same day, all real branches of their own personality and all accurate representations of their authentic and genuine selves. The ability to possess good social skills and be a strong communicator is something taken for granted both in and out of my industry. A 70-year-old retired lady, a 14 year old high school swimmer, a 7 figure corporate lawyer, a waitress, a surgeon, a pharmaceutical sales CEO, a judge, and an orthodontist don’t seem to have much in common with one another on first glance. That may be a correct assessment.
All of the above, among others, are active members of my current client roster. It’s my job to build rapport with each unique personality, by finding branches of my own that can gel beautifully with theirs. That’s what creates the ideal client experience. And that’s what encourages people to come back to see me. The quality of the workouts is what I like to call a “required bonus”. If I can’t do all of this successfully, I’m not very good at my work.
As a person who’s after goals, it’s worth noting how many unquantifiable and intangible factors like layout and location of the gym you belong to, its membership demographic, the music it plays, and the personality of your trainer (if you have one) matter in the quest for a healthier you.
As I’ve created these hypotheticals, we’ve been assuming a pretty level playing field across the board, but it’s never the reality of the situation. Keep them alive long enough and most people, at some point, will go through something that challenges their mental health, their patience, and possibly their ability to really go after their best self with a vengeance. It’s during times like these where the smallest steps of proactivity are equitable to the biggest wins.
As I write this, I’m on the plane home from Edmonton after speaking at a conference for trainers and health professionals.
One friend and former coworker of mine was there. I hadn’t seen him since before a catastrophic attack to his aorta that left him fighting for life, and almost losing an entire limb during recovery. Without a doubt (and he’s said this before), the simple ambience of the gym – seeing a collective number of people in the same place, all working toward a common goal – can be encouraging and extremely helpful not only to mental health, but also toward rate of change. I strongly agree, and experienced a similar feeling after each of my surgeries. All of this is completely independent of the actual training we do to get to our preferred goal or destination. These are the intangibles.
Jejune as it is to think there’s only one way to measure “success” when it comes to a fitness journey, it doubles down on one point: Due to what’s proven to be a very fluid definition of success, there are naturally more factors to consider than simply being a good transcriber-dispenser of sage workout advice. And if we belong to the fitness industry, 90% of the help we give a client will likely be via things they gain outside of their actual workouts. That could involve changes to their habits and behavior, increases to their self-esteem and confidence, or simply a better understanding of what life and lifestyle works for them. We need to face it: What fitness represents to each individual can vastly differ, and a big part of the journey is finding out just what that means – with or without help to do it.
And I’ll bet none of that has to do with finding out the numbers for your 3 rep squat.