In this month’s article, I’m really keen to cover a topic that I think will resonate with a lot of people. Self-deprecating and what it looks like from a trainer's perspective.
Not just gym-goers, but most people in general. It’s a topic that has come up more than once in conversations that I’ve had with clients in the past couple of weeks, and a regular theme that I and the team have observed over the years of training clients. With possible solutions to continue on from last month's theme of building habits, to help your adherence to exercise without big fluctuations.
Firstly, a question for you: have you now started a fitness journey AGAIN because you’ve “been slacking” over the past few months?
If the answer is yes, then you definitely aren’t alone in this.
A great example of this is what January does to gym goers: Leading up to Christmas, there is a large number of invites to Christmas parties to a point where you might just be rolling with punches without sleep because you’re already at another one…
In that month, you’ve probably thought about starting the gym again tomorrow or next Monday, but it just doesn’t happen.
Christmas happens, everything calms down, you eat yourself silly, don’t move around much at all and then a couple of days into January, you think “oops, I don’t feel too great, let's get back into it.
Most of the people you know are doing dry Jan, so you can probably get on board with that and then you're going to do all classes and go to the gym.
Doing way more exercise than you’ve ever done, but it's ok because you missed a month, you feel better because you’re not drinking and you are on a detox of all “bad things”…
So, now February has come around and you feel half proud of what you have achieved over January, health wise, but equally you feel pretty exhausted from all of the hard work that has been done.
Now, you feel a few days off have been earned, and that is exactly what you do. The few days turn into a week, but you justify it with the great amount of work you have done in January.
Before you know it, 2 months have gone by and you haven’t done much exercise at all, because… life… Now you think, “blow it. I might as well just wait until the sun comes out and get that summer bod for my holiday.”
3 months in and spring arrives with a slight hint of sun, and you start the process again, training HIIT most days of the week, going to all of the classes in the week, drinking the juices and no more carbs etc… Then a good weekend happens, which rolls into the next week, and before you know it, the whole cycle starts again.
It's exhausting, but you’ve probably been there a few times. At the time of exercise, it might feel like it's working because you’re excited and motivated to be there, but the reality is, if you’re in the same yoyo cycle every year, it isn’t working.
Don’t take this the wrong way, exercise is exercise, so this is not where the fault lies. The fault lies in trusting the process well enough to plan ahead and be patient.
For example, in the year you most likely complete a total of 30-50 training sessions. Now, that’s a fair bit to do when cramped in a small time frame like 6-10 weeks. However, over the year, that works out to be less than one session per week, so that isn’t much at all. Also, over the year you will probably notice fluctuations in your weight, energy levels, mood, appetite, and fitness levels, and this will most likely continue for years to come until you sit down and plan ahead.
Planning ahead and possible solution
This isn’t to say that you need to be very meticulous about exercise selection and training days. Look at it with a more mathematical and sustainable lens and you might just find a solution to keep going and not end up in the same position every year.
On average (based on a few discussions amongst trainers over the years) people turn up to train around 44 weeks of the year, some may be less, some maybe more. But even if you were to look at this year ahead and aim to complete two training sessions per week for the 44 weeks, you’ve already aimed at 88 sessions for the training year, very close to doubling the number of sessions you’ve done over the previous years.
The best results we’ve personally seen from people that we have trained and training ourselves are the ones that put the regular spot in their diaries (e.g. every Tuesday and Thursday at 6pm, fix their other stuff around it, or they want to see us a certain amount of times per week and commit to it). This is very low hanging fruit, so pick it, be patient and commit to it.