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I’ve been working as a personal trainer since 2013, and in that time I’ve been fortunate enough to work with a lot of really great people. The great thing about being a trainer is that everyone is unique. Age, fitness level, and physical limitations all impact the type of training programs I develop, but the single biggest, and most diverse factor, is the objective of the client. Some want weight loss, some are after strength, and others want to get better at their favorite sport. Over the years I’ve tried to guide my clients down a steady path of progress toward their goals following three main principles, and today I want to take the time to explain these so that you too may walk to road of success.

What exactly do you want to do?

I’ve found that one thing that can really help with achieving a fitness goal is to be quite specific when setting it. This may seem obvious, but it is a very important first step, as we can only measure our success if we first define what success is. I often hear “I want to lose weight”, which is a fine goal, but how much? By when? Answering these questions really help frame our exercise and put each day into context. Rather than saying “I want to lose weight”, putting it this way would be better:

“I want to lose 5 pounds by the end of next month.”

This gives a specific number to work towards, and a time frame. Even if you fail to meet your goal, it’s good to have a time set on it so that you will have a specific occasion to reassess. So, the next time you think of a fitness goal, remember: be specific.

Slow and Steady

Something I’ve seen my whole life across all age ranges when it comes to exercise is people who try to do too much too fast. This can lead to burn out, discouragement, and general frustration. It is very important to set realistic and achievable goals. Saying “I want to increase my squat by 100lbs this month” is not within reach of most of the human population. Setting such a strength goal in a more reasonable range, 10-15 lbs, is much more realistic.

Similarly, exercise has a lot of great health benefits, but too much can be a very bad thing. Working out too many times in a week, or for too long at a time can be detrimental. The line of excess is in a different place for every person, but it is extremely important to give the body adequate rest from training in order to allow recovery. If you do not, then you will break yourself down faster than you can build yourself up.

I recommend a slow and steady approach. Fitness is a journey and it is very important to look at the big picture. It’s not about where you are next week or even next month, but about where you are next year, or even in five years. Think of exercise as an investment in yourself and make decisions that slowly work to improve your situation one step at a time.

 

Something is always better than nothing

It’s happened to all of us. You had the best of intentions but something came up at the last minute and kept you from exercising. Sickness, bad weather, visiting family, a holiday, a busy work schedule, indigestion…the list of issues can be miles long and they can all make perfect sense. When life gets in the way, it is important to remember that something is always better than nothing. You can always do something that day that will help you toward your goal.

Too busy to make it to the gym? Walk around your house or up and down the stairs.

Feeling too tired for exercise? Make healthy choices at meals.

Stuck at work? Try standing at your desk.Late to the gym? Just do what you can in the time you have.

Every situation is different, but the principle is still the same: you can always do something, and making the attempt will help you reinforce the habit. The next time life gets in the way, look at it as a new challenge to overcome. Even if you cannot get a full workout, just getting in a few minutes of something still helps you take a few more steps toward your goal. Framing it this way can help misfortune look like a challenge, and finding a creative solution can be fun.

Whatever it is that you are trying to accomplish, I hope that this review reminds you of some helpful tips on how to get there.

-Horton