By Joey Trombetta (from August 2011)
"I train everyone like they are a professional athlete."....So said I to the middle-aged, overweight, never-played-a-sport-in-her-life woman sitting across the table. The look on her face was an equal combination of confusion, fear, and "Are you nuts?" (Alright, maybe it was mostly "Are you nuts?") "Let me explain...", I continued. Thus was the start of so many of my relationships with my clients...before they were my clients. But it's true, I do train everyone like they are an athlete, and I'll tell you why.
All of us, whether we know about them or not, have certain skill sets for a multitude of different things. Some of us are excellent at multi-tasking, some are great listeners, and others have excellent work ethics. Some people have great balance, others have lots of endurance, and many are just naturally strong. The point is that we have these skills, and yet a lot of times we're not using them. The basis of the "inner athlete" is that these skills, whatever they may be, should be identified and utilized in your workouts.
Let me quickly go back to the first statement I made. I want you to realize that when I say I train everyone like an athlete, it doesn't mean that I would train an 80 year old man suffering from arthritis with wind sprints and power cleans...What I AM saying is that we are all capable of more than we think we are. I've spoken to a lot of people about the intensity of their workouts and pushing themselves, but my words almost always fall on deaf ears. And it's not for a lack of desire (most of the time). I would venture a guess that 90% of the time, people don't try new, challenging things in their workouts for one of two reasons. Either they're afraid they'll look stupid, or they don't believe that they can. There is only one problem with this, and it's a big one...the only way our body will change through our workouts is by constantly presenting it with new and challenging exercises.
This brings me to the question that I've been by asked by more members in the gym than any other. "Why do I come to the gym and not see any results?" I tell this story a lot so if you're a client of mine or have ever asked me this question I'm sure you've heard it. The first gym that I ever worked at was in Pensacola, FL and had been open for 27 years (for those of you that don't know that is a LONG time for a gym to stay in business). Anyway, many of the members in that gym were lifers, and many of them worked out there on a daily basis. On at least 20 different occasions, I was asked "The Question" by people who came into the gym quite religiously. My first response to this question was always the same to these people. "What do you do when you come in to work out?" And they would all give me some variation of the standard answer, "30 minutes weight training, 30 minutes cardio, blah, blah, blah." Then we would discuss what the workouts consisted of as far as machines or free weights, different routines, increasing weights, etc. After that came the kicker...I would ask how long they had been doing that particular routine. I must say that I never heard less than a year. One gentleman even told me he had been doing the same workout for 10 years! I mean, can you imagine that? Coming into a gym and doing the same thing everyday for 10 years and never seeing any results!? Madness!
Like I said, I've told that story a million times, but it's because it is the underlying cause of a huge problem in the U.S. today. The national statistic for gym "dropout" within 3 months is now over 85%. That means that over 4 out of 5 people that sign up to a health club will, within 3 months, never go again (but continue to pay their dues because you know all the gyms have a 75 year contract that you have to sign). And why do most people "dropout" of their workout routine? Because they don't see results. If everyone came into the gym and instantly turned into an underwear model, do you think they would stop working out? I know I wouldn't. So what does this mean and what can we do about it? The bottom-line and basis of this article is that just showing up is not enough. If it was we would all look like the people on the front of the magazines. It takes a lot more effort and knowledge of exercise to really be successful, but everyone CAN do it...You just have to be willing to try.
If you went into the gym, found the 10 most "fit" members, lined them up, and asked them all about their workouts, diet, etc., I can guarantee you that all of the stories are almost exactly the same. They would all eat 5-6 times a day, workout 5-6 times a week, lift weights, do cardio, change their workouts, challenge themselves, blah blah blah. And I say blah, blah, blah because we've all heard this story a thousand different times from a thousand different doctors, friends, and "fit" people. But there is a reason that it's been said so many times by so many people, and that's because it works...In fact, it's the only thing that really works over the long term. And if you take anything away from this article, let it be a new outlook on exercise. When I workout, I am oblivious to the rest of the gym. I don't get caught up in embarrassment or limitations. I try new things and take myself to next level through attempting challenging things. Do I always succeed? Of course not, but I try, and I'm better for it. And I would ask you to try as well. Find your Inner Athlete and play.