Last week I was training shoulders, and the facility I was training in had their cable machines facing the group fitness studio. The entire time that I was facing the group fitness studio, which was about 20 or so minutes tops, there was a girl in the studio laying on her stomach playing on her phone. She obviously had no real plans of working out, but she went through the trouble of changing into her gym clothes anyway… Sound familiar?
Now don’t get me wrong, there are times when you’ll be resting in between sets for over a minute, and maybe during that time you’ll be answering a text or something. But there should be no reason why you would be on the phone playing around for 20 minutes if you really had the intention of getting a solid workout in, right? Now this is a very obvious form of wasted time at the gym, and I don’t need to further explain how that is… However, in this post I will discuss how not following a specific training program in the gym is just as much of a waste of time as sitting around texting. I have come across way too many people in the gym who have no real idea what they’re doing! I’m not just talking about how people mis-use equipment because that’s another story, but how so many people come into the gym with no real plan of action. A lot of people say that they’re just “gonna do what they feel like,” or they may know what body part they want to do, but they choose the exercises on a whim, and they guess at how many reps they should perform, and how much weight is appropriate. The list goes on… Yet they wonder why they’re not seeing results? And because they’re not getting very far with their fitness, they slowly stop showing up and the gym. Eventually their gym key fob is a relic that never gets used. It’s sad really, because this could all be avoided if they put some thought behind their workouts before hand.
Think about it! How are you supposed to get anywhere with your fitness goals if you don’t have a plan of action, or a recipe to follow to get you there? If you were trying to bake a chocolate cake, but you have no culinary schooling, you’re not a pastry chef, what is the likely hood of you being able to make this cake without any sort of recipe or direction? You are most likely going to fail…The same is true with your fitness goals. I mean, I’m a personal trainer, and competitive bodybuilder, and I ALWAYS have my training split printed out and on hand EVERY SINGLE TIME I GO TO THE GYM!! I like having it on paper rather than staring at my phone trying to read it. I print out two copies, I keep one at home and one in my gym bag just in case I lose one. I always know what I’m doing in the gym, how many reps to do, what weights to use, and so on. Having a plan, having a strong purpose every time you step into the gym, will only make your goals that much more realistic. How do you think I could go from 8th place Bikini to 2nd place Figure in 11 months? How do you think I was so successful with my reverse diet from my last show? I had a well thought out plan to follow. I had clear direction, and because of this, I was able to be consistent with my diet and workouts. What does this all spell? Success. In order to be successful you need to have a purpose, or a plan, and then you need to be consistent in executing this plan.
Now, this may seem very overwhelming, and you may be thinking, well how the heck do I figure out what to do in the gym? Well first of all, this is when a trainer or coach definitely comes in handy. They can teach you a lot about training, how to workout in a way that is specific to your goals, and ultimately they will give you a plan to follow so that you can be consistent in the gym so you can see results. Everybody wants to see results, and everybody wants to be successful. This is why it is so important to seek help, when you really don’t know how to be successful. Even if you have an idea of how to train, getting a coach will only take you to the next level. I’m a trainer with an athletic background and I still have a coach. Sydney Crosby has several coaches and trainers… So if you somehow think you’re above getting training from someone, even in the short-term, you couldn’t be more wrong.
However, I do understand that training is expensive. So, here is my suggestion. Attend small group training sessions, or group fitness classes. When I first got into fitness, way back in my second year of university, I was very intimidated by the gym. I had never really worked out with gym equipment before. I was a dancer, cheerleader, and before that I did skating. I was more comfortable in the studio, than in the regular gym. So, I would schedule a group fitness class into my school schedule every day. Monday- Friday I did a fitness class, and most Saturdays as well. This is how I lost my “freshman 15” and basically how I caught the fitness bug. This is where it all began for me. When I would schedule the fitness classes, I would try to alternate a sculpt or muscle class with a cardio class. I tried my best to create some sort of balance in my schedule. There was a method behind my madness, don’t just pick random classes to go to, try to create some consistency in your training. That way you can actually measure whether or not you’re improving. If you go to the same classes every week, your workouts will be fairly consistent, and you can therefore measure your results. There are also bootcamp programs, and small group training programs run by different trainers that will also help to give you some motivation and consistency in your workouts. Usually these programs are smaller than typical group fitness classes, and therefore you will get a lot more focus from the trainer to make sure that you’re executing the exercises properly.
If classes really aren’t your thing, you can find programs in books, and online. The problem with that is, is that you have no one really teaching you how to perform the exercises. You also don’t have anyone to hold you accountable. When you attend group fitness classes or small group training classes, you create relationships with other people, and those people motivate you to keep showing up. That’s the beauty behind the classes, there’s a sense of comradery. And well, there’s someone there to make sure you don’t kill yourself! If you’re not experienced in the gym, your chances of being successful without some guidance from a trainer, or a class instructor are slim to none. You must have a plan, you must have consistency in your workouts. The better the plan, the better chances of success. Stop wasting your time “doing what you feel like” in the gym, what you “feel like” probably isn’t what you need to be successful in your fitness goals. Don’t throw your new found resolutions down the toilet just yet! Get a plan, and stick to it!