Hold on to your hats gym-goers. It’s that time of year again. Your favorite place to worship at the temple of sweat is about to be overrun. The resoluters are coming; the resoluters are coming…..
Like lemmings drawn towards the sea they come. Sporting their new workout gear, full of energy and optimism with their new shaker/water bottle clenched in their fists, they will most surely occupy the machine/bench or rack you were looking to use. Just like that person who wanders over and stands in front of the exact item in the grocery store that you wanted. What are the odds that there are two people in my area that both want toasted sesame seeds at that exact same moment in time? Be patient. They are new. They may not have goals, or be too familiar with gym etiquette. Statistically 6-8 weeks from now 75-90% of them will be gone. Maybe they met their goal and don’t need it any more. Maybe that gym in particular wasn’t a good fit for them. Whatever the reason, the herd will thin out.
Now if you happen to be one of those small percentage that survive the mental selection process that happens for people new to fitness, or are returning from a long break, then to you I say Fantastic! You obviously have motivation and discipline. Here are some handy survival tips for sustaining your new healthy lifestyle. I have developed these over the years through a combination of research, firsthand experience and observation.
First, memorize this phrase if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. That’s right. You need a baseline. A form tangible metric to use as a starting point that aligns with your goal. I don’t care what your goal is. If there is no way to measure it, it’s not a good goal. If it’s weight loss or gain, you need to be on that scale. If it’s mass you want to gain or body fat you want to lose, you should get out that tape measure. If its strength you want, then how much and in what area? You need to know your one-rep max. Your goal is a 5k? Cool, then how fast? Or is it to just finish? If so how far can you run right now? That benchmark is your first step on the journey of a thousand miles. And test your metric periodically. Do you want to get to the end of your 8-week program and find out your plan didn’t work? Periodically, check and adjust.
Second, educate yourself. If the fitness industry is good at any one thing, it’s starting marketable trends. There is always some trendy new fitness plan, cleanse, shake, supplement or gadget, etc. Block it out. You will be better for it, I promise you. There is no substitute for consistency and effort. While some of these things can certainly help you, I assure you their contribution is minor. The internet is a wealth of information, most of which is conflicting or just downright bad. Try and stay with reputable sources. You will know you are in the right place when you don’t see any frills.
Third, get a role model. Someone who inspires you and aligns with your goals. Someone who has already successfully done what you are looking to do. When you emulate success, you will most often become successful. Be choosy and be realistic. If you are new to fitness and looking to lose 15 pounds and get in better shape overall, maybe following pro-Bikini competitor on Instagram probably isn’t the smartest idea.
Last, beware of “trainers”. There are many reputable ones out there. The ones that work at your gym, while technically “trained” and “certified”, can often lack experience. Sure they are experts at implementing the cookie-cutter basic fitness program your chain-fitness center subscribes to. And yes, a twenty-something that lives/works at the gym is generally in phenomenal shape. More than likely they got that way by following a program they created or found and that is not what they are giving you. Too often I have seen a house trainer putting someone through a workout that is either in a booklet in their hand or a template on a clipboard. And if you are not going to engage with a trainer consistently (several times a week at least) it isn’t worth it. If you want a real trainer, go out and find one. They will generally either have their own facility, or have a number of gyms they work out of.
There you go. It’s not pretty. Not sexy. Sometimes it will suck. You’re going to fail once in a while. Not every day will be another step in your progression. But you are in charge, and only you can decide to make it work or not.
I wish you all continued success on your journey.