This post is for both trainers AND exercisers.
Anybody who is involved in fitness.. ESPECIALLY people who are thinking about starting a fitness routine.
Not long ago, my husband and I attended Jon Gilson's AF Project 2.0 seminar. Fucking FAN-TA-STIC. Shell out the money, attend. It's worth it. Anyhow...
Jon was discussing strategies for gym member retention and brought up the point about managing peoples' expectations.
As I looked around the room, I realized that not all trainers or gym owners are upfront with new clients about what they're about to experience.
Now, I don't mean these fitness professionals were intentionally misleading people. I just think some of them don't remember what it was like when they first started their personal fitness journey...how crappy it may seem in the beginning before they started to experience the positives.
They've been in shape and training for so long that the mental grind, the dietary temptations and the physical challenges are not only just a part of their routine but they're welcomed with open arms. It's our lifestyle.
There were quite a few people that questioned this strategy. I could see it on their faces. They were thinking to themselves "why on earth would you tell a new client about how sore they are going to get?!" "Why would you tell them how revealing and humbling their first few weeks --- even months --- will be?!"
Don't we only want to tell our clients the positives? Rave about their potential results? After all, we are selling a service.
I realized that...
A - We've been doing something right at SPSC Crossfit by telling our new members what to expect in the beginning of their journey. I want them to KNOW they will be sore. That they will NOT feel like coming back at first. That it will probably be harder than anything else they have done, both mentally and physically. And that if they're not willing to get out of their comfort zone, try new things and fail...then our program is not for them.
B - Trainers need to be more upfront with their clients. We need to manage their expectations. We need to explain to our clients that it's not glamorous. In fact, it can down right suck at first. And I'm talking about training individuals with some serious resistance training and challenging conditioning...not fluffy home workouts or fancy step/dance "fitness" routines.
So to all of my fitness noobs...the people who have mustered up the motivation to start training...I'm about to hit you with some truth. REAL TALK.
- Be prepared for some serious soreness. Yes, you will adapt. Proper nutrition, hydration and recovery techniques will aid in helping you manage this soreness. You will probably look like a baby deer upon attempting to walk after sitting for a period of time. Your T-Rex arms will straighten out after you get some blood flow. Keep training. Work through the soreness. You will adjust to this new stimulus. This is how we change our bodies; strategically challenging it and then recovering from said stimuli.
- You will be out of breath. You must accept this. Your lungs will burn. Your breath will become shallow. No, you will not be able to carry on a conversation while attacking your conditioning. The conditioning is the part you will HATE (at first, maybe always) but is absolutely crucial to your health and body composition goals. If you're involved in a Crossfit program or something similar to it, you will hear from the veterans that it never gets easier. You simply learn to accept the challenge. YOU MUST GET COMFORTABLE WITH BEING UNCOMFORTABLE.
- You will get blisters on your hands from all of the new gripping and pulling you will be introduced to. Yes, you will adjust. Your skin will be tender at first but we want you to build up some calluses. Calluses are good (if they're cared for properly). Calluses are like built in gloves. Wear them as a badge of honor...they're a sign of hard work. Ask your coach how to take care of your hands.
- You will fail. It is extremely rare to be great at everything at first. We incorporate a lot of movements and skills in our program. Some of the movements haven't been performed by our new clients in a long time or ever. Or they've been performed incorrectly. Be ready to mess up. Be ready to fumble through things for a while. You won't grasp everything right away. You must be in this for the long haul. Our program is not a 30 day fix. Be patient.
- You will be criticized, but not personally attacked. As your trainer, I will be criticizing your movement. It's my job! I will tell and show you what you're doing correctly and what you're doing incorrectly. This is how we learn and master new things. Try not to take it in the wrong way. Don't get insecure when I approach you and suggest new ideas, methods and strategies. You must keep an open mind and have a positive attitude. I will also touch and manipulate your body to help you get into positions you can't feel out for yourself. Yes, we are professionals and respect you but know that we will be in your "personal space".
- You will learn how uncoordinated you really are. When most people are introduced to our Crossfit program, they haven't jumped rope since they were young. You will stumble, get tripped up, whip yourself and get super pissed at times. Be patient. Dynamic movements like the Olympic lifts take some coordination, body awareness and a lot of practice. They won't be smooth, fluid and sexy for a while. You'll get there. You just need to feel it out, listen to your coach and be patient with yourself.
With that being said... this training stuff may not seem that great at first. You will experience a great deal of negatives before you start to reap the benefits. You will be sore, tired, confused and not competent at first.
But I promise you...
If you stick it out, you will reap the benefits.
If you keep an open mind, fight the urge to quit the moment you are challenged (mentally or physically) you will improve. Your body will start to change. Your mind will start to change.
To be honest, if you're overweight when you start your fitness journey...you will still be overweight two weeks after you start. But you'll be a little less over weight than when you started. You are on your way to reaching those goals but they will not happen overnight.
You need to stay the course. Give yourself a chance to change. A chance to adapt. A chance for the program to work. And I'm talking about a 90 day chance...
You will eventually not be as sore. You will eventually learn to pace yourself. You will eventually learn the lingo. You will eventually get more comfortable with and master the movements.
Be patient. Fitness is a journey and it's one hell of a ride.
If you're ready to start your journey, we want to be a part of it. Click here to start your free week trial.
-Nicole Race, Co-Owner St. Pete Strength and Conditioning, home of SPSC Crossfit