In my time in the fitness industry, I’ve learned more than I could ever imagine. I never thought this industry would challenge me in the ways that it has, as well as teaching me everyday. Though it seems there’s something new every day, there are a few key things that I keep learning. Over the years, it hasn’t been word for word the same, but these are the main lessons that fitness continues to teach me.
1. Keep It Simple.
• The exercises that get millions of views and likes on instagram tend to be the flashy ones. The videos of squats while balancing dumbbells on your head while simultaneously standing on a stability ball. You’ve seen them, and I know you’ve been in awe of them, but as captivating as they are to watch, these exercises are really not anything special. In order to keep the public’s attention, gimmicks come out almost daily, but the reality is, they’re not only a waste of time, but they can also be downright dangerous. In Fitness, there are a few simple rules that science has shown to be effective: 1) eat for your goals (either stay in a deficit or surplus) 2) stay active (specifically work towards your goals) 3) Incorporate resistance. 4) recover. Anything outside of those three things, is either to keep yourself entertained or because you got some bad advice. The single most important thing I’ve learned in my years in health and fitness is that the simple things are the most effective.
2. More is Not Always More
• It is common knowledge that you need to stay active and work towards your goals, whatever they may be, but doing too much too quickly can do more harm than good. Progressive overload is the main principle behind resistance training, stating that your body needs an overload of stress, whether it be weight or volume, to continue to progress. However, increasing your squat by 100lb in a day sets yourself up for failure. I know, you’re rolling your eyes because that example was so obvious, but think about it with other examples. Yes, a calorie deficit is good when you’re trying to lose weight, but restricting yourself excessively will harm your body in the long run, damaging your metabolism and your relationship with food, which more often than not leads to weight gain. Yes, we need to workout, but sprinting every day and never giving yourself a rest day will set you up for overtraining, which is the chronic state of being exhausted and at a high risk for injury. These negatives will set back your progress way more than that single rest day will. These are all examples that I’ve personally seen people use in trying to hit their goals, and they are just as detrimental as that 100lb squat increase. Take it slow. Slow = Sustainable.
3. Trust The Process
• Slow = Sustainable right? Right, I just said it. Even though slow progress isn’t as much fun as quick, flashy results, it’s the way to obtain results you can actually maintain. The problem with slow progress is just that, it’s slow. The hardest part of a true lifestyle change is sticking with it long enough to get to your goal, especially when you see “Before and Afters” on Instagram touting a 20lb weight loss in 6 days. Those people with the dramatic before and afters that seem too good to be true, are. Rushing the process either sets you up for an increased risk of injury or to gain all of that weight lost back (plus some) just as quickly. I always tell clients that if they are putting in the work (exercise outside of me, eating choices, sleep, etc), results will come. They need to trust the process. If you are putting in the effort, you will make progress, and progress is progress, no matter how slow. Fitness is a marathon, not a sprint.
4. You Never Stop Learning
• Even in the five years that I’ve been working in this industry, so much has changed. I know I started this post by saying to stick to the basics, and I’m sure you’re thinking how can you keep learning if you stick to the basics? Easy. Almost every day, I read a new study about effectiveness of a certain food, supplement, or exercise. Not only are the studies surrounding new aspects of fitness, but also newly discovered aspects to the fitness classics. I’ve been through it all in this industry. I’ve focused on strength, I’ve competed in bodybuilding, I’ve battled an eating disorder, I’ve overcome injuries, and each experience has taught me something new. In a world (or fitness industry) yelling at you to be perfect and that this is the only way to do it, you live and you learn. With each personal experience and each study read, I’ve molded my fitness philosophy into what it is today, which is that fitness isn’t one size fits all. Not everyone wants to be shredded, not everyone wants to deadlift 600lbs, and not everyone’s body works like yours. With each client I have, I learn something new because everyone is different. Yes, the basics are key, but the way you present them to clients and make them fit their lifestyle is how you achieve success.