1. Avoid the common mental traps!
Going into any new situation can be scary, especially one where there are so many opportunities for insecurities to get the better of you. You’re walking into a world where the minority of the people in the world become the majority. Everywhere you look, there are what one would consider to be pretty people, and, if you’re like me, that’s intimidating. However, one of the best things to realize at that point is that what seems like the majority in the world when you’re at the gym is a global minority. At the gym, everyone seems pretty. Everyone seems perfect. The trap is when you let that mentality seep out into the real world and you begin to let it affect your self-esteem. Honestly, think about it this way. If everyone in the world was pretty, celebrities wouldn’t be celebrities would they? There wouldn’t be ridiculous reality TV where they gather unrealistic people to portray themselves in specific ways for ratings. The role of Brad Pitt in Fight Club as Tyler Durden would never have been even written, and people wouldn’t swoon every time Chris Hemsworth wore a tight shirt, let alone got shirtless. People are average! Hell, honestly, if you’re reading this and you’re in America, people are once again the average, but this time, the average is overweight, even bordering on obese! The bottom line here is that, psychologically, even if your confidence may be a little lower in a gym setting, don’t let it fall too low. You’re there for a reason, people. Everyone wants to be in that beautiful top 5 percentile, and everyone’s working to get there. If anyone, EVER, in the gym or ANYWHERE, criticizes you for trying to better yourself, for yourself, then, in this trainer’s humble opinion, that person doesn’t deserve anything that they may have that’s nice. They don’t appreciate it. They take it for granted. They are NOT WORTH YOUR TIME. Screw’em. You’re more awesome than that! Not to mention the fact that you’re showing some pretty dang serious courage for putting yourself in a scary situation and overcoming it. One of my mottos that I always tell my clients is this, ‘What happened in the past is in the past. It either was awesome or it sucked, but let’s face it, it’s in the past. Every day is a new clean slate.”
2. Get a trainer, or, at least, find a friend who has a bit more experience than you do!
Going back to one of my original points, sometimes the thing that holds people back the most is the fact that they are basically, metaphorically, standing on the precipice of a chasm (This is going to the gym) and they are about to jump off the edge and hoping to high heaven that they might be able to fly (Get the results they need.) If this is the case, or if you’ve been athletic in the past, or if you’re getting out of a pregnancy, or if you’re getting over an injury, or -anything- that may might make you feel nervous about going to the gym, then trust me, hope is not lost! Personal trainers, despite the bad rap they get from a lot of people for being absent, non-trustworthy, drill sergeant jerks, aren’t actually that way at all. Sure, there are a few bad employees, but that’s true in any job. I’m not knocking any sort of big gym corporations here, but in my experience guys, these are the places that what I call ‘Training-Wheel Trainers get their start. These are the trainers that have, either through actual studying or even sometimes a random weekend class where you could share notes on an open-book test, a ‘certification that gives them the right to get a job at a gym and call themselves a trainer. In the end, what you can sometimes get is an entry-level employee who has little to no experience in the real world and they tell you that they know what they’re doing when they give you the same workout they give everyone else and call it the WOD or Workout of the Day. If you -ever- hear WOD, workout of the day or something along those lines, walk away. They’re going to charge you for not personalizing a thing and you’re gonna go nowhere.
Getting off my soap box, though, trainers are one of the biggest and best assets you can ever attain for yourself. Trainers (the good ones at least) know what they’re doing, they’ve been where you are, they know what you’re feeling, and they come from a plethora of backgrounds that all can help in both their relationship with you and the results you are trying to get. Personal training is called ‘personal for a reason. If they aren’t customizing your workouts and have a plan, scheduled out, in a visual form which they can show to you, and if they don’t ask you your feedback, then they’re not making it personal. They’re acting like an absent professor with tenure. They’ve checked out. They don’t care if you get your goals, and, at that point, expect the term ‘resign to show up in their vocabulary a lot. They’re milking your back account, guys. What I’m asking you to do is to interview your trainers. You’re hiring someone for a service and you’re going to spend as much time with that trainer as you do with some of your friends. If there’s a personality clash, you’re not going to want to go. If something feels wrong, it’s a slippery slope to you blowing off a training appointment, sitting on the couch, while your trainer burns your session for his own paycheck to increase. Find someone you like, are compatible with, and who’s as serious about your goals as you are. This is the key to success with a trainer. Interview them. Find a good one.
The same can be said for friends, too! Find someone who knows where to start. It’s easier to cross the canyon if you, at least, have a guide showing you the way.
3. Set three types of goals from the start. Then, change them every 2-3 months and toss the old ones out.
This one’s gonna be short, guys. There are three types of goals. Long term, Medium term, and Short term. Set goals of all three types FROM THE START. If you set short goals all the time, you’re going to chaotically succeed, but there’s no end in sight. If you set long term goals, you will, at least, know where you’re going, but the path to get there is cloudy and eventually, you’re going to burn out because nothing ever even feels like a success anymore. Medium term goals are there to fill in the gaps and keep you going at a steady pace. Plus, medium term goals are where rewards come in. If you’ve succeeded at all the short term goals and have completed a medium term goal in the process, then reward yourself. Do something awesome that makes you feel good. This can be anything, really. Quality alone time, a night with friends, a massage, a pedicure, a date night with a significant other. It will definitely make it worth it. Plus, if it’s a couples thing, it will make the night more special, AND your partner will now, (if they haven’t yet) support you with your fitness goals because then they get something out of it too. Woo, support systems!
After 2-3 months, sit down, evaluate where you are, and adjust your goals to make new ones. You’re a new person every day, and today’s you may have a different outlook or perspective on what yesterday’s you held in its top priorities.
4. Find a role model, and be realistic about it. Seriously.
One of the biggest motivators is seeing someone who has something you want, and you 100% knowing that, if you tried, you could totally have it too. That being said, the same thing can be said with fitness. There are rules, though.
- Find someone the same height within 2 inches of you, if you’re over 6’ within 1 inch, and who, as far as bone structure is concerned, is similar to you. This will make what they have an actually attainable thing for you. Bodies are unique, but if you compare yourself to someone similar, then that can blur the lines. However, if you’re 6’2”, don’t expect to look like Tom Cruise or Ryan Seacrest. Dudes are like, 5’7 and 5’8 respectively. It’s just silly. For example, I’m 6’5 actually, and my role model right now is Jared Padalecki. We’ve got similar bodies. It’s doable.
- Ethnicities matter. Different folks have different musculatures and metabolisms and ingrained genetic differences. Scandinavians aren’t Kenyans aren’t Samoans aren’t Indians aren’t Mexicans aren’t Chinese.
- If you do pick a celebrity or someone you know, find a picture of them when they were your age if they’re older. If they’re 30 and you’re 19, you’re at different points in your life. It took them time to get there, and your body is at a different developmental stage.
- Don’t use yourself. You’re never going to look like you were in high school without expensive surgeries and injections of random toxins. However, you -can- look better! Make the most of here and now.
5. Diet counts!
I’m gonna make this one quick. 90% of what you do in the gym and what you can see in the mirror is made in the kitchen. Make good choices and, if needed, get nutritional advice. Nuf” said. Fix it.
6. Do some research.
The best people at anything are the people who know the most about what they’re doing. The internet is there. The magazines (though heavily influenced by products, companies, and corporations) are there. Learn as much as you can. The more you know about yourself and what you’re doing, the better off you’ll be.
7. Give yourself time. Also, expect things to plateau at some point.
This is the hardest one. Nothing’s going to come instantly. If our bodies could change into what we wanted instantly, Mystique from the X-Men wouldn’t be so cool, and Rebecca Romijn wouldn’t have as much in her bank account after three movies. Expect plateaus. They happen. Every step before this one gives you an idea of how to break those plateaus. Nothing is ever smooth in the life of a gym-goer, and if it is, honestly, you’re not trying hard enough.
That’s it, guys! Those 7 steps are my sure-fire techniques for getting back into it and getting what you want! It’s a lot simpler than people give it credit for, honestly, and everything beyond those 7 things is just icing on the cake. I believe in you! Now, get out there! Show the world what you can do!