Know Thy Self

As a personal trainer, my job often entails helping individuals lose weight, start a fitness routine, or reach a personal fitness goal, among other things. One of the problems I usually come across (especially in Manhattan!) is that overly-ambitious starter.

You know these people. After a long hiatus from the gym or never having ever worked out before, they come out of the gates full blast, ready for everything. They sign up for a month of boot camp classes, 3 days a week of workouts with me, promise to run 5 days a week and double down with yoga every other day.

That’s a lot of working out, even for a seasoned veteran. But no, the overly-ambitious starter is gung-ho and ready to go.

And a three weeks later, they drop right off my radar and are never to be heard from again.

You see, these people don’t know themselves at all. Not their fitness selves, anyway. You have to start with the truth about you, about your schedule, about your goals and about what you’re ready to commit to in the fitness world. Without honest answers to the following questions, you will not have a successful fitness routine.

  1. What do I like to do for exercise?
  2. What do I need to do for exercise?
  3. How many days a week and hours a day can I commit to working out?
  4. Do I prefer to work out alone or in groups?
  5. What are my fitness goals?

I guide people through these questions and then we come up with a fitness routine that they can stick to in the long run, not the short term. I also find that they are far more successful if I start slowly and add on as we go along. Usually, every 3-4 weeks I try to make a change to their fitness routine. I add a class, provide a really challenging high intensity interval training (HIIT) workout in our sessions, or change their cardio routine just enough to keep them challenged.

The point is, you can’t expect your life to change overnight. If you have a new baby, you’re probably not going to be able to work out at the same intensity or for the same amount of time that you did pre-baby. You’re tired. Give yourself a break. Maybe workout twice a day for only 25 minutes each so that you aren’t trying to squeeze a full 45-50 minute workout in when you’re also breastfeeding. Do you hate to run? Don’t do it. Swim, walk, cycle. Does working out in a class setting deter you from going to the gym? Get your sweat on one-on-one with a trainer or grab PX90 videos and do it at home.

Know thy self and work with what you got. Set yourself up for success, not failure.

Now go out and run!