Don’t take this the wrong way, but exactly what do you think you’re doing?
Alright, now that I have your attention, let me rephrase a bit….
What are you trying to accomplish in the area of fitness? This absolutely has to be the first task in any fitness plan. You must establish your goal concretely and measurably. Let me say that again: you must establish your goal concretely and measurably.
So, if your answer is something like “I want to be more fit” or “I want to lose weight” you’re probably doing it wrong. Instead, you should define what “fit” means to you. Or you should put an actual number on the amount of weight you want to lose. So, this is not a step to take lightly. In fact, effective goal setting can be a process unto itself (and a whole other blog), so today I want to talk specifically about what is “fitness” so that you can actually use it when establishing your goal.
It’s a Program Not A Workout
The truth is anybody, and I mean ANYBODY can make an ass-kicking, heart-exploding workout. You could come up with one yourself that leaves yourself laying in a puddle on the floor begging for mercy. It is literally the easiest thing to do in fitness.
Sadly, these days it seems like the fitness industry built on these kinds of workouts. The “if you’re not sore it’s not working” attitude has become standard operating procedure in many gyms, even though it is based on a false premise.
Don’t get me wrong, we need to be challenged. High-intensity exercise can be a part of a well-designed program. But “workouts of the day” and brutal exercises with the solitary goal of punishment are not the way to go. They are too blunt and inexact, much like a chef who blindly throws ingredients into a pot hoping to create a masterpiece.
And these workouts are indicative of an even bigger problem within the fitness industry, that being a lack of informed program design. For example, I once had someone tell me they showed up for a session with their personal trainer who, after greeting her, asked her, “What are we working on today?” They were paying this trainer. A lot. I actually thought my head exploded.
And there it is…we are meant to follow a fitness program, not a series of individual workouts.
A Better You
A fitness program should not only help you reach your goals but it should actually make you better. you should move better, feel better, perform better and look better.
Think about it for a minute. If you wanted to begin developing an investment plan for retirement you would meet with a professional and work together to develop a strategy. You would implement that strategy and make decisions based on the data you gather over time. A fitness program should be no different.
Go With Something, Anything!
I’m a huge fan of custom workouts based on assessments, history of injuries, and movement screenings. So what do you do if you don’t have a fitness professional in your trusted team of advisors? Well, you find one, right? That probably means looking to the internet and using your best, informed judgment to start finding the right fit. So, be careful, but also be active. As the old saying goes, a good plan implemented today is better than the perfect plan that is never implemented.
My point is to get something started that has a stated purpose and direction. Hopefully, it is backed by science and has been tested, as well. Here is how I would rate the hierarchy of resources you might find online:
- Local Professional: This is the best bet for someone who has a serious desire to reach their fitness goals. By hiring a local professional to develop a plan based on assessments and a working knowledge of your body you are adding accountability to the process. And being coached by a trainer in person is the gold standard in fitness.
- Online Trainer: There are online trainers available, but let me add a word of caution here. Many of these online services are merely cookie cutter programs that are billed at the same price…or more…you would pay for a customized, in-person program.
- DIY: Lots of us have learned how to do things ourselves by using a book. So, you can find a program from a book and be reasonably assured that something is better than nothing. But remember, you must always be mindful of technique, overwork, and injuries that can result from being too aggressive.
If you are still confused or need your sources vetted, shoot me an email and I will see how I can help. 🙂
Trust In…And Evaluate…The Process
Whatever program you choose, stick with it for a time before you decide if it works. As Americans, our attention spans grow shorter and shorter. I urge you to resist the temptation of your monkey mind and focus back on your goal and your program. Would you bail out of your financial plan after just a few weeks? I think not.
After 1-2 months take time to objectively evaluate how the program is working for you. How are you measuring progress? Are you putting too much emphasis on the exercise and ignoring the nutrition component of the equation? No exercise program is going to allow you to eat junk food, limit your sleep and get amazing results. So be sure to keep it real. If you’ve gone through the process and have not made progress toward your goal then it is time to switch gears, and possibly programs, to find one that is designed to achieve your objective.