On new year’s day, I was featured on Fox news 4 in Kansas City with Kelli Peltier. She wanted to interview a fitness professional about how people can get in shape in the new year.
Anyone whose been around gyms for a while knows how the place looks the first weekday after New Year’s day. Every year the gym is packed that day, then every day after that, the amount of extra people decreases exponentially until it's entirely back to normal around the third week of January. Almost every resolution is broken by some date around January 21st.
Many gym veterans and even business owners look at this phenomenon with scorn, indeed, on the surface level giving up on a personal resolution after only a few weeks looks pretty pathetic to someone who has had years of dedication to the iron game.
But if we take a higher analytical perspective, the phenomena morphs from a scornful spectacle into a problem to be solved. Every phenomenon is subject to control via the scientific method, and the interplay between human psychology and physical effort is no different.
It was with this frame of mind that I tackled the question Kelli posed to me- “What advice would you give to people looking to make good on their New Year’s fitness resolutions?”
I knew that prescribing certain exercises, a particular novel piece of equipment, membership at a certain gym, or any otherwise external thing might satisfy many people's hunger to hear a novel answer to the yearly question, but wasn’t primarily interested in entertaining. When I am asked about a problem in an area I have knowledge of, my answer will always be the most robust and most durable solution I can think of.
The advice I gave was absolutely useful for starting and staying with training whether you start on new year’s day or any other time of the year. In fact, it applies to beginning any activity that requires significant effort, no matter how large or small it is in terms of time.
To properly fix the new year’s resolution failure rate, we must first understand a fundamental truth- the reason most people do not see their resolution through is not a physical one. It is absolutely not because the quitters are too physically weak or that they are too “wimpy” to stick with lifting, although the ego of many more consistent gymgoers might like to think so.
The problem is also not one of a lack of novelty, it is not that the exercises, program, equipment, or trainer aren’t entertaining or fun enough; you can put television screens with entertainment everywhere in a gym, and you could could hire clowns to entertain or even have band give a show. The same people will still be gone in the same amount of time.
Even the most dedicated gym warriors know that work is work. There are days that we would rather sit a read a book or watch a film, but we get up and go to the gym anyway. Something overrides the desire to just be comfortable, and the strongest and most aesthetically put-together people in the gym have more of this something than everyone else.
It is not that we were born “tougher” or just naturally have more dedication to lifting heavy things repeatedly but at some point, that “something” came to us.
What is that something? Purpose.
Every person who achieves anything meaningful started with a clear and strong purpose. When you (or a client if you’re a trainer) make a resolution to “get in shape” or “improve their health,” the first question you must ask yourself or them is “Why?” Do not think about anything else until the answer to this question is clear.
The reason every single yearly resolutioner quits is that they need a clear, meaningful Purpose for starting. Any means are unjustified if there is no end. Sit down, think of a clear Purpose, and make it vivid. Write it down and put it somewhere you will see it often. Let others know so they can remind you. If you are a trainer, you need this answer before even considering meeting the client in the gym.
A purpose is what drives you when things get tough.
Once you have a purpose, you can set Goals. Goals are time-sensitive performance objectives that relate your purpose to time. For example, if your purpose is to become a great Boxer (maybe even a champion), a goal is to win a certain fight on a certain date. Goals work as objective mile markers that inform you of your effectiveness towards your purpose.
If you’re a trainer you can help your client set goals, but you really can’t give them their purpose. They really have to find that on their own.
Once you have Goals, you should find a good trainer who has helped someone with a similar purpose. Based on your goals, that pro can make a STRATEGY.
A Strategy is the organization of means and methods across time to achieve a goal. This is the business of trainers. A training program is fitness-specific strategy. The more goals you have and further out you plan them the more forethought and foresight the trainer must possess, and the more determination you must have.
The real-world process of deploying your Strategy across time and fulfilling your Purpose is your Quest. Your quest can even last your whole lifetime, because the most meaningful purposes are really part of your whole being. We can chunk your overarching lifetime Purpose-Quest into shorter Goal-Missions that progressively move you forward on your quest towards fulfilling your purpose.
Your pursuit of a particular goal is a mission, and that mission is a chapter in the larger story of your quest.
You need to be on a quest.
Look at everyone you know or know of. Every person who accomplishes things and leads an inspiring existence is on a Quest. If you want this meaning from your life you must find yours.
This is how you should look at this whole process when you make a resolution (whether it is for new year’s or not).
You must decide on a clear, meaningful purpose.
Find a good trainer for your purpose and set real Goals.
Let the trainer make a good Strategy, understand it, buy-in, and be determined.
Realize you and your trainer are setting out on a Quest, and no one wants to give up on their companion on a quest.
So why haven’t you embarked on a quest yet? Why haven’t most people you know done this, either? Because when you start on your own individual quest, you're taking the proverbial red-pill ABOUT YOURSELF.
Your ego will fight like hell to stop you from daring. It wants you to stay fat and (low-level) happy in ignorant (low-level) bliss about your true self. The ego loves the fantasy of a potential quest but hates the kinetic energy of daring, but this is what the higher levels of yourself require to manifest at all.
The ego fears that it will evaporate at the first problem, and it may. But know that if you are determined, you will succeed in your quest. There is no problem that is dead stop, even Mount Everest is only a road bump for the one who has decided they will climb no matter what.
The beautiful thing about a real quest is that there is always just as much meaning and experience in the means as there is in the end. Once you fully give yourself to the quest you will realize this, just know that.
Another blessing is that every positive step on the way feeds motivation and motivation begins to gather exponentially as you move forward. The beginning is the hardest part, once you see even the feeblest results you will start to become motivated, and somewhere along the way, you will transform from pedestrian to warrior.
At that point not only does the end justify the means, but the means also justify themselves. At this point, you have found Meaning, and that is the reason you and even our whole universe exist at all.
When you’re ready to find meaning, or if you’re a trainer and really want to help others find it, we have the tool for the strategy part.
This process of deciding a purpose, setting goals, making a strategy, and endeavoring a quest is the essence of what we at StratFit mean when we say we will forever ACHIEVE BEYOND.