I have been training for 17 years, I have been in the fitness industry for 10 years, and I have owned a gym for 5 years. Along that time frame I have helped over a thousand people in training, nutrition, and life. I have watched people succeed, fail, struggle, bounce back, do awesome, do terrible, far exceed my expectations, and fail to reach their own potential. This journey is one of constant learning and reflection and is never as straight line as I seem to want to think it is. So to those just beginning, this article is my experience given to you. It will chronicle the five stages you will go through and need in your fitness journey. I hope they help you reach your goals in 2017.
Whether it’s a significant life event, looking at yourself in the mirror, or listening to a motivational speaker, at some point that flip is switched and the catalyst for change has begun. There is the realization that something needs to happen, something needs to change. During this phase of change, I recommend continuing to dump fuel onto the motivational fire. A rocket needs a lot of boost from take off to reach it’s final destination. Likewise people need as much momentum as they can get on the front end of change. The friction of changing life habits can be a very hard to overcome force, so a strong motivation is vital. If you find yourself in this phase, surround yourself with whatever motivation tickles your itch the most.
At some point motivation isn’t going to be enough. Using the previous rocket ship analogy, just because you have a giant booster rocket doesn’t mean you’re going to reach the moon. You need a plan of action, a map, a course to follow in order to ensure that your energy is harnessed and aimed in the right direction. Here is where a fitness professional becomes vital in your search for success. While I recognize the appeal of free stuff off the internet or your friend who is in such good shape, people who have been making a living year after year helping people just like you reach their goals know exactly what it takes and how to help you get there. Joining a gym with the goal of getting in shape is like buying tools with the goal of working on your car: knowledge is still a mandatory ingredient. Once your motivation is at it’s requisite amount, hire a fitness professional to be your copilot.
The sea of fitness is not one full of smooth sailing. You’re going to have problems. Your progress is going to stall, life is going to get in the way, you’re going to fail, you’re going to get hurt, you’re going to want to quit. I’ve seen too many people with unrealistic expectations begin their fitness journey. Not unrealistic expectations for what they can achieve but for what the journey to get there will be like. This where a support system becomes vital. A support system will not only help provide you with a realistic view on the journey to come but will also be there to help you up when you falter. Human beings can achieve great things by themselves but they can achieve even greater things in a group. Find a great support group to bring along for your journey.
At some point, your need for motivation is going to go away. You don’t necessarily need tofeel motivated to brush your teeth. You’ve been doing it since you were young and now it’s just a habit that you do. Exercise, eating right, living a healthy lifestyle all reach this same point as well. After training for 17 years, I can promise that I am far from motivated to workout every time I’m supposed to but it’s ingrained so much into my life at this point that it’s just the natural thing to do. Likewise, after a significant time pursuing your health and fitness goals, you will learn a good bit a long the way. You’ll know the tools of the trade and you’ll have experience to help give you direction. This isn’t to say you can’t still benefit from working with a coach but instead to say that you will not rely on them for the same help you did originally. Once your habits are established use them to excel you to higher levels.
If you’re just beginning your fitness journey, I’m going to give you a little spoil alert: there is no end. There is no final weight, body fat level, strength level, endurance level, etc that you will finally be happy at. As you progress you will realize your opportunity for even more success and you will want it. If you run a 5K you’ll start thinking about running it faster or running farther. If you bench press 225 you’ll start wanting to bench press 315. If you can see your abs you’ll eventually want to see striations in something else. The pursuit never ends and that’s a good thing. You will learn that happiness doesn’t truly come from reaching any one goal but instead comes from the pursuit of self progression. It comes in the realization that you have the power to make change in yourself.
Greater in battle than the man who would conquer a thousand-thousand men, is he who would conquer just one — himself
If you are starting a New Years resolution, I want to encourage you to follow these 5 steps in your journey. I have watched many people transform their lives through this process and I am excited for you to do so as well.