Brutal Honesty Is The Best Policy

“You can do it!”

“You got this!”

Or….

“If you do what you’re capable of, you’ve got a shot.”

“It’s going to take some time, but I think we can figure this out and make it happen.”

It wasn’t that long ago we were all glued to the TV every week to watch “The Last Dance” to be absolutely obsessed with Michael Jordan and the 90s Bulls dynasty. Every week we were discussing on social media and beyond how MJ was just this incredible tour de force and his mentality will never be replicated. He not only held himself accountable, but held every single person around the bulls franchise accountable for the success of the team. If you weren’t on the same page as Michael, you weren’t in the building, from the head coach to the security guard flipping quarters with him. Before the Last Dance, we were all reminiscing about the late Kobe Bryant and the “Mamba Mentality”, speaking about the exact same mindset. Kobe would LEAVE PRACTICE if he thought the guys weren’t good enough to push him. Watch the tapes, he didn’t tolerate “hoping to win”; you’re either on the train or on the tracks, no in between. Even after Kobe and MJ, we idolize athletes like Dame Lillard, Messi, Ronaldo, Kawhi, Brady who still have this win or go home mentality.

I believe it’s time for coaches to regain this mindset as well. It is not okay to just almost make it happen. I know not everybody’s client roster is filled with athletes or driven individuals, but that doesn’t mean a coach can’t treat them as such. I don’t care if the goal is to win the championship or just get in shape, the goal is the goal and you’re either trying or you’re not. To accept that a goal “isn’t that serious” so therefore you can treat somebody differently is complete BS. If you hire a coach or trainer, that’s an investment and it needs to be treated so. TRY AT IT. WORK. HARD. COMMIT. 

As a coach, it is important to hold everybody accountable. You were hired to complete a job, so make sure your client is working as hard as you are to accomplish the job. What does that mean? It means that when a client says “hey I didn’t get to do the session you wrote, sorry about it” you don’t respond with “no biggie there’s always next time”. You ask why. Why was the goal not a priority? Why did it all the sudden become okay to put the goal on the back burner? As a coach, you need to be able to ask that question. Now, let’s say the client is pretty consistently uncommitted, you need to be able to let them go. If they don’t line up with your style, then there’s no need for them to hold the spot. There’s plenty of athletes out there who just need the right staff supporting them. Lastly, if you’re okay with uncommitted clients and athletes, maybe you shouldn’t be a coach. Why accept money to help people accomplish their goals, no matter how big, if you don’t truly care whether or not they accomplish it? What’s the point? Be honest with yourself, are you trying to coach or are you just trying to convince people you can coach. 

Honesty is the best policy, but often the hardest virtue to uphold for struggling coaches and athletes. Accept your strengths, accept your weaknesses, and accept the strengths and weaknesses for those you surround yourself with. After that, hold yourself and everybody around you accountable for those. Make sure everybody upholds their end of the agreement to accomplish the goals at hand. Don’t idolize great mindsets like MJ and Kobe then allow shitty mindsets to take place around you. Otherwise you’ll always idolize people accomplishing more than you. 

Take Yourself Seriously

“I don’t know why I can’t figure it out.”

“That seems like a lot.”

“I don’t know if I can commit to that.”

“It just doesn’t seem to be working for me.”

Those are just a few of the random quotes I remember from times when I have watched and listened as clients, athletes, and coaches quit on whatever their goal was at the time. Let me start by saying there is absolutely nothing wrong with quitting; not every attempt is meant to be successful. There is, however, something wrong with being dishonest about WHY you’re quitting.

You don’t quit because you CAN’T do it. You quit because you never WANTED to do it in the first place.

If I told you “Complete these 3 tasks and you’re guaranteed a billion dollars”, you would probably do whatever it takes for an infinite amount of time to earn that money. Why? You want it. So, you’ll do whatever it takes to make it happen. Now, if I said “complete these 3 tasks and you’re going to be in better shape (stronger, leaner, faster, etc.), but it will require you to continue to work hard after the fact to maintain it”….now THAT is a different story.

Most people, and I am speaking strictly from my experience as a coach, don’t want to be in better shape permanently. They want to be in better shape for a few choice moments coming up, and then they’re okay with letting it slide until it is important again. I.E: Beach season, wedding, reunion, milestone age. The people that truly CARE about their health and ability tend to be the people that have at some point had it threatened or taken from them. The old, the injured, the sick. That or they have something riding on it, like an athletic scholarship or a paycheck. What happens to those people is that they officially have a reason to take this sh*t SERIOUSLY. They see the purpose and the need to succeed in their training so they invest the full time, energy, resources they can into making it happen. When you truly care about something and want it to be successful, you TRY. You CARE. You EARN it. Lo and Behold, people who take it seriously tend to get more out of their training experience, which of course makes them crave more success, which leads to them training harder, eating healthier, and making sure they get to bed at a decent hour.

True or False: It is not a secret that water and veggies help you become and remain healthier and stronger. ANSWER: TRUE.

True or False: Weightlifting and Cardio are known to help you become and remain healthier and stronger. ANSWER: TRUE.

So, my next question is, if we all know that regular exercise and healthy eating are necessary to have a healthy, awesome life, then why is it so damn hard to convince people to do it? Here’s my thought…It’s because most people have found ways to be successful DESPITE their health and habits, so therefore it’s okay to put those things on the back burner. Drink all weekend, eat like crap, deprive yourself of sleep, repeat. Meanwhile, workout hard enough that you feel accomplished, but not hard enough to feel challenged. That way, there is no sense of failure and therefore, no threat that we may need to work HARDER aka take this a bit more seriously.

If you want to change, good. Do it. Just know that if you truly want to change, you need to TAKE IT SERIOUSLY. It’s a priority, not a hobby. It will take time, it will be hard, it will suck at times, but it is all part of the process. Take it seriously and you’ll see the rewards of it.

Joy Vs. Effectiveness

Look, I get it, change is hard. It is really tough to convince yourself to get uncomfortable and create a change in yourself at the physical and physiological level. Most trainers and coaches understand that point, so they start to look for ways around the discomfort to convince their clients that the work is not work at all, but actually an overall enjoyable experience.

Not a fan of that. Sorry.

If you are not enjoying the training, that’s okay. Like I said, change is hard. You know what else is NOT enjoyable? Being less than what you want to be. Not liking your own reflection, feeling uncomfortable in your own body, being unable to keep up, all of those things and more are NOT FUN. So, at the end of the day, you have got to ask yourself, what do I hate more: The way I feel about myself or the way I feel about this workout? Chances are, more often than not, the workout being a little difficult is the least of your problems.

Having fun is great. There will be times when training is fun. Those times will most likely be when everything is easy. More often than not, the most beneficial work you do will be the work that you spend most of your time not enjoying. After awhile, something really cool is going to happen…you’ll enjoy USING your body. You’ll look forward to the challenge and enjoy the feeling of having to overcome something new. You can only get there, though, if you’re willing to suck it up, not have as much fun, and put your body and mind in some uncomfortable situations. It seems strange to think right now, but I promise it will happen and it will be so worth it when it does.

Go out. Get uncomfortable. Make the work hard. Have a little less fun, and then enjoy the process of succeeding in creating change for yourself.

How to Be A Decent Trainer

It is no secret among people that know me I tend to be the “grumpy old man” in any gym. It is very tough for me to look around a public training space because I often get frustrated by little things all around the gym; I don’t like where somebody put their equipment, I don’t like the way a circuit is designed, I don’t like an exercise selection or a cue somebody used, the list goes on. Honestly, it isn’t the fault of the people I see in the gym. It’s my fault. I am the one who is frustrated. I am also the one who isn’t doing anything to change the situation. So, here are my thoughts on what it takes to be a decent trainer. Maybe, after making this list (which I promise to keep short…kinda), I’ll have a concrete thing I can take with me into a meeting or an interaction instead of just being a grumpy guy. So, here we go.

Disclaimer: This isn’t about certified trainers on any staff in particular. This is about everything and everybody in a health and fitness space. Whether you’re training yourself, somebody else, or a 1000 people on some platform, I always feel these feelings.

  1. Have a principle. Maybe two.
    • I don’t care what that principle is. Nobody does really. Just have SOMETHING that you believe in and are willing to base your program and decisions on.
  2. STICK TO THAT PRINCIPLE
    • So many newer, shinier things are going to show up and maybe even challenge you. That’s okay. Stick to what you believe in and continue working on what YOU want. Not what social media or somebody else wants. Changing your mind is absolutely fine, but unless there’s a reason to change, it just muddies your own water.
  3. Respect the space you’re in
    • Perhaps the easiest one. Just clean up after yourself. Also, every now and then, look around the gym and inspect whether or not you are disrupting somebody else’s experience. If so, change. If not, that’s fine. Keep an eye on it.
  4. Self assess
    • Mirrors exist for a reason. No, I don’t mean for checking your bicep peak or wiping that sweat off your chin in hopes of seeing your abs. I mean actually assess what you are doing and measure it against the principles you chose to believe in from step 1. Sometimes, we get distracted and change without even realizing it. Nothing wrong with that, just make sure to check yourself every now and then and make sure you’re doing what you actually want to be doing.
  5. Learn something new when you have the time
    • It is very easy to get stuck in a rut and assume that there is no new way to “skin the cat”, if you will. But, you’d be surprised with how many people are believing in the same principles you are but maybe just doing it differently. Check them out, learn from them, and add to your toolbox. Key point: WHEN YOU HAVE THE TIME. Don’t force things for the sake of doing it. That’s how exhaustion happens. Just learn when you can and enjoy doing it.

Let’s just start with those 5. See how those go for you this week. Next week, we’ll touch on some more ways to be decent in a fitness space.

The Forgotten Principle: Overload

Most people can write themselves a good exercise program. Let’s get that much out of the way. 100% Honesty: the programs you need in order to make yourself successful are already published online, you just need to google it. There is a program for weight loss, for marathon running, for athletic prowess, injury recovery, you name it. It’s been done and shared and posted all over. Writing workouts isn’t where people make mistakes. The program isn’t where training becomes special.

Where training becomes special is the ability to push PAST the threshold of comfort. In order to create a new adaptation, whether that be a larger muscle, less painful joint movement, or a little less body fat in the midsection just to name a few, the stimulus you apply has to be a bit more intense than the stimulus the body normally undergoes. This principle is called overload.

Everyday, you exert force and lift weights. You move yourself, you move your children, you move your things around the office or house, you do a lot of force production and exertion. Your body is the PERFECT body for doing just that much exertion. It does it everyday with minimal to no effort and little strain if any. You didn’t even consider it weightlifting until I told you just now. Your body is perfectly adapted to the strain you put on it every day. If you want it to become an even better body, you’re going to need to give yourself a little more to handle. That means the dumbbells need to be a little heavier and your breathing needs to become a little more strained. Those 10 pound dumbbells are nice and easy, but they aren’t accomplishing jack shit for you anymore. Time to grab some 20s. I know you’re awesome at running a 5k, you’ve done it every week for a year. Guess what? Now it’s time to run 7k.

Your body wants to do one thing: Be. Comfortable. In order to change your body, you need to do one thing: GET. UNCOMFORTABLE. Run harder than you ran last week. Lift more than you did yesterday. Push yourself to that brink of “Oh Shit, I might not make it through this set.” Once you do that, your body has to relearn what comfortable is. It has to develop new muscle, pump blood more efficiently, and move in a different manner than before. It has to ADAPT. It has to improve. Until you’re willing to make yourself a little uncomfortable, that body is not going to change.

Good trainers meet you where you are and ask you how hard you’re willing to work. Great trainers meet you where you are and push you past that. The best trainers meet you where you are and somehow convince you that you are even further along than you gave yourself credit for and get you to push past it without even a second thought.

Figure out what you can handle. Then look to push a little bit past it. Do a few extra hard reps, go the extra mile, LITERALLY, and maybe even make that workout last a few extra minutes. Then, once your body gets used to doing that, do even a little bit more.